What should I bring?
Your equipment requirements will depend on where you are going and when so email us and we will give you a list specifically tailored to your needs. A very extensive packing list is provided to all Himalayan Sunrise travellers. Himalayan Sunrise provides good quality sleeping bags, mattresses and tents and can assist with hire of other equipment if required.
What money do I bring?
In Kathmandu it is easy to change major currencies for rupees at the money exchanges that abound. You may want to carry some US$ as well. Having a credit card for a cash advance is good for emergencies although you will not be able to use these outside major centres like Kathmandu and Pokhara. Traveller’s cheques are rarely used now. Cash cards (eg. Travelex) are good in Kathmandu. When you plan your budget, take into account that while food is comparatively cheap, alcohol is not and can easily double your food bill. Also allow for souvenirs, as there is a very tempting range.
Outside major centres, especially in the East, you need to take all the rupees you need as you will not be able to exchange other currencies and are VERY unlikely to find ATMs. And you will need small denominations such as NRs 50, NRs 100 and NRs 20. People will often but unable to change NRs 1000 in villages. Himalayan Sunrise will accept payment in US$, AUD, NRs based on exchange rates at the time of transaction. Tips should be paid in NRs.
Let your bank know you will be spending money in Nepal or they will freeze your card in response to unexpected expenses from unexpected quarters. More extensive information on money issues is made available on confirmation of booking.
A word about boots
The most important thing is that you trek in shoes that you have worn in and that are VERY comfortable. This means you have worn them doing repeated descents and ascents as these can cause rubbing in different places. You want to avoid blisters at all costs. Take a blister pack but do not rely on it. At lower altitudes, if you are not walking through snow or mud or lots of gravel, runners/ joggers/ walking shoes are absolutely fine. Obviously, at higher altitudes and in Winter etc. you will need to wear waterproof boots. Whatever shoes you wear, they must be worn in. Have we stressed this enough?
Can I get a Nepal tourist visa on arrival ?
Yes! A Nepal tourist entry visa is easily available when you arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport Kathmandu. You will need to pay US$ 40 (or equivalent in major foreign currency) for a 30 days visa. It is also possible to get a 15 day visa on arrival.
Do you have airport facilities?
Definitely! We have free airport pick up facilities for those who have booked on one of our trips or packages. Let us know about your arrival details. In our full board package trip where we are arranging international airfares, we obviously already have this information. If your booked trip begins in Kathmandu just let us know with confirmed arrival details so we can help.
I’m doing a “tea house trek”. What can I expect?
Nowadays, on many the main trekking trails of Nepal you will find small, simple teahouses and lodges that have become better and better at catering for trekker's needs. If you are doing a teahouse trek, you will be sleeping in these clean, comfortable and functional places. The rooms generally have two beds and shared bathrooms are the norm. Dinner and breakfast will be taken in the lodge where you stay overnight, but lunch is usually taken somewhere along the route.
How long will be walking on an average day’s trekking?
Each day you can expect five to seven hours trekking, covering 10 to 14 km. However, above 3500m, you will walk for the same length of time but you'll only cover 8 to 9 km. It is important to remember that all our itineraries are flexible and can be altered to take into account your physical condition, weather, geography, transport issues and other situations that are beyond our control. Sometimes it is these unplanned changes that make for the best memories or most exciting discoveries of your journey.
Who will be our guide?
Your guide will be a local Nepali who is a fluent English speaker. Most of our guides come from the mountainous regions of Nepal, above 3000 m. Our staff is made up of the many different groups of Nepal's diverse ethnic community; including Rais, Sherpas, Gurung, Magar and Brahmin.
What are the minimum and maximum number requirements of your trips?
Aside from some areas where a group minimum is required - such as Tibet, Mustang, Dolpo, Manaslu and Kanchenjunga – we run trips for any number of people, even just one. We do, however, prefer to keep our groups to a maximum of ten people, as we've found this to be a great number for a successful trip. However if you'd like to make a group booking for more than ten we can arrange that. If you have a smaller group, such as a family group, that is easy to arrange as well. An observation: if you are travelling with young children, they often enjoy the experience more if another family is involved. Costing is based on a specific number of participants. If your group is smaller, the costs will be slightly higher per head.
Can I arrange Tibet visa myself ? Can I travel alone in Tibet ?
Unfortunately, due to China's very strict tourism policy for Tibet, it is not possible for you to get a visa yourself and it is not possible to travel Tibet on your own. As an authorized travel company, we can organize everything; visa, permit and all other paperwork. We will require ID photos and a photocopy of your passport three weeks before your arrival so we can organise this.
Does your company help to arrange domestic flight, international flight, hotel bookings and other services?
We can take care of all domestic flights, hotel bookings and other services. However, we suggest you arrange international flights from home, but we can provide assistance with this.
What type of insurance should I have before come to Nepal? Can I get insurance there?
It is better and easier to arrange your insurance before you leave your home country, but, if necessary, we can arrange it here for you. The main thing is to make sure your insurance covers you for both medical and evacuation costs.
Is Nepal safe? Is a woman traveling alone safe with your company?
Absolutely! Nepal is really not a dangerous country (and in some regards may be just as safe as your own country!) We take all reasonable precautions, but obviously can’t guarantee that the unexpected will not occur. Common sense prevails and you need to exercise caution in some situations. Just as you would at home!
What is a wilderness trek?
On a wilderness trek you get off the beaten path, going into areas with no teahouses or lodges. Locations are often more remote and these treks are often more demanding logistically as camping and food preparation cannot be outsourced. Having said that, the rewards are often huge! For a wilderness trek you must bring guides, trained cook, kitchen staff and porters. If you are flexible, curious, adaptable and fit, you will love one of our wilderness journeys. Join us!
How high can you get me?
As well as an extensive list of trekking itineraries, we do expedition climbs peaks up to 6500meter If you're new to climbing in the Himalayas, we can offer advice on a peak, or if you have a particular one in mind we can make it happen. For more please contact us.
What equipment do you provide? What should I bring myself?
We provide sleeping bags, tents, mattresses, kitchen equipment,etc . However, trekking shoes/ boots, personal equipment and climbing equipment is your responsibility. Much equipment can be hired in Kathmandu.
What are the best times to come on a trek/tour/expedition?
The best months are September to December, and February to May. January is also recommended for tours, safari and low altitudes trek below 4000m. But for some areas of Nepal, Dolpa upper Dolpa, Upper Mustang, Tibet and India, May-August is the best time because these areas are 'rain shadows' and monsoon is much lighter here. Ask us or details about the area you want to visit.
Can I trek in the Himalayas even if I haven't done any trekking before?
Sure you can! The Himalayas can provide a wonderful introduction to trekking and we have had young children hooked on trekking by the end of their treks! Here are Himalayan Sunrise, we’ll take your fitness, experience and interests into account and can help you make decisions about choosing a fantastic trek. We offer a very wide range of experiences and are sure that we can come up with one to suit you!
What about hygiene standards?
The cooks who work with Himalayan Sunrise all prepare delicious, energizing food to a very high standard of hygiene. For some trekkers, food becomes a diary entry! We only stay in teahouses and lodges where our years of experience have shown that the food is prepared well and hygienically. On the trail bottled water is available, but an environmentally unfriendly option. Instead we prefer water that has been boiled or purified by tablet, which is ample precaution. Some treks have Safe water plants where you can refill your water bottle as you go.
Is your company environmentally responsible?
Himalayan Sunrise is dependent on maintaining the beauty and ecological balance of our country. Not just for tourists but because the whole eco-system of our world is affected by all each of us do! We live and breathe eco-awareness and don’t just pay lip service to it. We stay at teahouses and lodges where the owners are eco-aware and tell the others why we don’t use their facilities to encourage them to adopt environmentally friendly practices. We take great care to have as low an impact on the environment as possible and you may sometimes find yourself co-opted to pick up a bit of rubbish if we find it now and then!
Do you look after the people who work with you?
Probably the fact that many of the guides, porters and cooks working with Himalayan Sunrise have been working together as a team of many years shows that they are happy with how things go! Many of us grew up together and would prefer taking a job with HSR ahead of working with other companies. There is a real sense of respect and we are committed to providing our team with award-rate salary, proper equipment, training and excellent medical treatment. We work in conjunction with other organisations that are actively campaigning to improve the standards of Nepal’s guides and porters.
Is the food & water on the lodges and camps hygienically prepared?
This is a good question to ask. We choose to stay in teahouses and lodges where we have stayed many times and where we know a good standard of hygiene is maintained. We have spent time in the kitchens watching the food being prepared and if we are doing a more exploratory journey where we haven’t stayed before, we will supervise the proceedings and make sure everything is OK! Most trek guides have done their time in the kitchen tent and know what to look for! On camping treks we take one of our well trained cooks and can even bring one on a tea house trek if required for an additional cost. We will provide water boiled and then purified by tablet. We also carry some bottled sealed water in case of emergencies even though we are conscious about current environmental issues. We are also able to cater for vegetarians or those with special dietary requirements such as coeliac or other food intolerances.
Is your staff fully equipped? What about their insurance?
We know that Himalayan Sunrise is only as good as its staff so we look after them. We all work together as a team and have done so for many years. We all are boss and we all are workers. We work in conjunction with the porters’ assistance project and we ensure that our people have enough good clothes and adequate footwear. We are very careful about he weight of the loads that are a carried as well. The rights of the staff are protected and they are insured. We encourage further training.
Electricity in Nepal
If you are using electrical equipment from your own country in Nepal, you will most likely need an adaptor to use it. These are probably easier to get in your own country but are available in Nepal. Electricity will not always be available on treks.
What does grading (Easy, Moderate, Difficult, Strenuous) mean?
“Grading” is a term used for rating treks based on difficulty. Generally treks can be graded into four types, namely Easy, Moderate, Difficult and Strenuous- treks become more of a challenge both technically and in terms of geography as we move higher in that order. So, Easy Treks could be suitable for all while Strenuous and Difficult Treks are meant only for those who have certain experience and capability.
This can help you choose a trek or climb to suit your fitness level and experience. Please keep in mind that this is a general guide only. A variety of factors, including weather, may add to the challenge.
You do not need previous trek experience and only basic physical preparation is required to do a trek graded easy. An interest in walking will be enough to take up such treks. Such treks usually vary from 2 days hike to 5 days trekking and can reach up to an altitude of 3000 m. Treks are usually on well maintained paths and passes through ridges and involve walking up to 5 hours a day.
These will require at least 6-7 hours of walking most days, crossing 4000 m above high altitude passes, and long and exhausting walks through sometimes difficult terrain. Therefore, you will require physical and mental fitness, a positive attitude and interests and previous hiking or camping experience is preferred. You should prepare to face high altitude.
Previous trekking experience and technical knowledge is essential in Difficult Treks. Besides walking through rough trails for 6-7 hours and crossing high passes as high as 5000 m, you will also be glacier crossings on snow/ice. You will be facing high altitude air with low level of oxygen and continuous walking over huge stretch of Himalayan valleys. Positive attitude and perseverance is required.
Strenuous Treks involve long days, long hours of challenging walks, high altitude passes above 5000 m, difficult terrains and glacier and snow walking. No doubt you need to be mentally and physically fit and in excellent health condition. As part of technical requirements, you will required to have rock and ice climbing experience with the knowledge of use of ice axe and crampons. You should consider joining rock climbing and glacier walking classes prior to heading for ne of these treks.
“What is the difference between teahouse trekking and camping?”
Both teahouse treks and camping treks have a lot to offer. Both offer slightly different experiences as you would expect. Nowadays, on many the main trekking trails of Nepal you will find small, simple teahouses and lodges that have become better and better at catering for trekker's needs. Obviously, there will be quite a range of accommodation but if you are doing a teahouse trek with Himalayan Sunrise, you will be sleeping in clean, comfortable and functional places. The rooms generally have two beds and shared bathrooms are the norm. Dinner and breakfast will be taken in the lodge where you stay overnight, but lunch is usually taken somewhere along the route. Some teahouses offer a wide variety of food and some actually have what they offer. Others offer hearty but basic fare. Depending on the time of year, you may meet many other trekkers doing the same trip as you and your “support crew” will be more compact. If you are particularly tall, you will be able to stand up more in the evenings on a teahouse trek than on a camping trek! Don’t laugh-it can be an issue if you are tall!
A camping trek is often a little more expensive and requires a lot more organisation but allows access into more remote areas. You will be less likely to meet up with other trekkers and will become closer to your group including your support team. The team will be much larger as it will include porters, a cook, his team and several guides. And camping is camping! On a Himalayan Sunrise camping trek, you will be in large comfortable domed tents with a fly, have reasonably thick foam mattresses on thinner insulation liners, sit on stools at a table for meals and have dinner in a large, stable mess tent. A toilet tent will be set up at every site and sometimes, if conditions allow, a wash tent will be erected. A guide will be “on duty” throughout the night. Hygienic food preparation of food is assured, as is a great variety. A unique feature of Himalayan Sunrise treks is our “Gourmet Cooking Lesson” which evolved as the result of trekkers demanding to learn how to prepare some of the delicious food they ate on their holidays!
How much will I be able to communicate with family/ friends on a Himalayan Sunrise trip?
While internet services abound in Kathmandu and Pokhara, it is not always easy to keep in touch with family and friends back home while you are trekking/ travelling. There are so many variables that affect whether you will be able to stay in touch-such a load shedding and signal, let alone the presence of internet facilities-that it can lead to unnecessary frustration and anxiety if you have told people you will be in regular contact. Your guide will have a mobile phone and some trekkers have had success with texting using global roaming. Others have not! In bigger centres such as Lukla and Pokhara you will be able to access email if there is power.
Is Himalayan Sunrise the only company offering gourmet cooking classes on some treks and the “Cultural tour”?
We think we are but maybe others have copied us! We are proud of our cooks who provide delicious Nepali and Western food on our camping treks. We are not surprised that people have asked them for their recipes. And now, on camping treks, whenever we have time, we offer a fun filled, hands on “class” where trekkers help prepare our final night’s feast! They learn about spice and vegetable selection, food preparation and how easy it is to whip up a Nepali feast with fresh and wonderful ingredients!
What other costs do I need to factor in when I am working out what my total costs will be?
Detailed information is provided on trip confirmation but, unless otherwise stated (and we do try to be very clear) what you pay us covers accommodation, trek/ tour associated costs, meals where stated, internal/ domestic transfers (usually a hired vehicle or plane unless stated), pillows, mattresses, tents etc on treks, and hotel accommodation in Kathmandu the night before we leave and the night we return. We do not pay for alcohol, which can add a LOT to your budget depending on what you drink, tips, medical precautions such as immunisations and other medication (which can be expensive) and, obviously shopping!
Our costs do not include tipping or gratuities. Tipping is part of the culture here and, if tipping is not part of your culture, you may find it awkward. At hotels and in restaurants, tips are expected and should be generous if you are particularly happy with the service. A figure of around 10% is a guide. At the end of the trek, it is traditional that trekkers will each contribute an amount which is then pooled and divided amongst the team who have supported you throughout your journey. Your leader may give you a more specific indication, but again, an amount of at least 10% should mean you are able to give a reasonable tip to the porters, cook team, head cook, guides and head guide. The rates are proportional as there is a hierarchy to be acknowledged. If you particularly want to thank a specific person over and above this, feel free. These are generous and hard working people and your acknowledgement will be gratefully received.