Home to many of the world's tallest mountain peaks, including eight of the ten highest peaks on the planet, Nepal presents its visitors with a chance to enjoy the natural disposition of its majestic Himalayan peaks in a comfortably unforgettable way. Not only that but visiting Nepal is also a matter of enjoying unique cultural traits and ethnic facets, many of which have been in practice without change or adulteration for centuries.
As such, beside the many wonderful attributes that Nepal presents in terms of natural beauty, cultural variety and Himalayan ambience, one of the aspects that make visiting Nepal so attractive for many is perhaps its affordability. Comparative to other South Asian countries, Nepal is relatively cheaper and present more options. It is genuine in its characteristics in terms of ethical and sustainable tourism and is one of the best places to visit with family, friends or even solo.
As a matter of fact, for many backpackers around the world, Nepal is one of the best choices for backpacking adventures on a budget. Easy accessibility and affordability is Nepal's strongest feature when it comes to budget travels, and the contribution in exchange is simply breath-taking- the Himalayan beauty unlike anything else on Earth. Thus, as unrealistic as it may sound, it is possible to trek the Himalayas of Nepal on a 30$ per day budget.
Estimated Daily Budget While Trekking in Nepal
Accommodation Cost: $ 3 to 6 $
Foods and Drinks Cost: $ 15 to 24 $
Most of the treks in Nepal consist of accommodations that come in the form of lodges, guesthouses, and tea-houses. More often than not, trekkers will be required to share a room with other trekkers on a twin-sharing lodge to lodge basis.
For lodging, it costs, in approximation, about 0$ to 5$ per day, based on what type of accommodation you decide to stay in. It is also important to note that the accommodations do vary in terms of quality based on the location and the trekking destination.
In comparison to popular trekking destinations where there are larger influxes of tourists like the Everest base camp trek in the Khumbu, the accommodation quality is also higher than those found in the off-beaten trails like the Kanchenjunga trek for example. Thus, based on quality, the price also differs.
For daily food and drink cost- it can range from 20$ to 25$ per day. This is, of course, an extrapolated range of estimation and the range can vary based on the location and the trekkers themselves.
For elaboration, "teahouses" provide lodging and cost very little because it is expected that trekkers have dinner and breakfast there during their stay. Another important thing to note is that it is important to bring Nepali currency while trekking in the mountains as there are no ATMs or banks or currency-exchange centres available, except in the cities.
Food and drinks are cheap as well, and they can easily be covered within the 20 dollar range without having to spend any higher than that. Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals are available in the mountains.
Likewise, any extra food items or other things like souvenirs of any kind may vary in price; the higher the altitude goes, the higher the price range becomes. This is due to the cost of the transportation that the items require at higher altitudes.
Thus, to live off on a low budget, it is best to have a drinking water supply that depends upon water purification methods, like tablets rather than buying bottled water from the shops in the mountains. A bottle of drinking water in the mountains can cost up to 5 to 10 dollars, depending on the altitude and the remoteness. Using purification methods can save a lot of water, and also help in reducing plastic waste.
Similarly, immediate up-front costs are also reasonable in Nepal. The entry visa to the country costs 40$, with hiking permits being around 40$ and 50$ dollars. Like the food and accommodation, hiking and trekking permit cost-range also varies according to the location. For example, trekking permits to Upper Mustang can cost different than the ones at the Khumbu.
In addition to the food, the lodging and other items that potentially cost money on treks, it is also important, and often mandatory, to have travel insurance while travelling to Nepal, with a good policy that covers emergency helicopter evacuation and injuries or illnesses while trekking.
Considering a Guide While on a Budget-Travel
In general, hiring a guide from a reliable travel agency while trekking in Nepal has its pros. For starters, having a guide can significantly reduce hassles and give you more time to enjoy the treks without having to alter time waiting out on queues for permits and other documents.
Travel Agencies can handle all of these responsibilities for you and thus, you will be left with no responsibilities other than just enjoying your adventure. Plus, local guides have extensive knowledge about the treks and the field. They can show you the best routes and also arrange the accommodations and the food for you.
Hiring a reliable travel agency and a guide while in the field is a good option to consider, especially if you are travelling to Nepal for the first time as traveling to a foreign country can be rather intimidating. Tipping the guide is not mandatory or is it a necessity as the guides are hired by the travel agency and thus get their share of the work. But, tipping is expected, and the standard amount depends upon the trekker himself and their satisfaction of the work.
On the other hand, Nepal is perhaps one of the easiest places to travel solo. It is safe and relatively manageable via tools like a good map, a reliable guidebook and a relatively competent sense of direction. The Himalayan routes, especially the popular ones like the Annapurna Base Camp Trek and the Everest Base Camp Trek, are well-trodden and follow the valley or the river. Thus, it is hard to get too lost.
Correspondingly, the locals are more than willing to help and will stir you in the direction you need to go, as renowned trekking destinations are not strangers to the large influx of visitors, especially during the peak trekking seasons. However, an important factor to consider is that travelling alone, while still feasible, is still susceptible to vulnerabilities, like injuries or sickness- more specifically, Acute Mountain Sickness.
Thus, it is best to get properly acclimatized and not rush the trek. It is important to notice and take care of the symptoms of the sickness and get rest if the onsets occur. If you are alone in the mountain wilderness while the onsets occur, it can be a bit dangerous. That is why first-time trekkers are strongly advised to be in the company of a local guide in the mountains. Howbeit, overall, it is simply a matter of preference, and also of precaution, especially considering one's health.
Best Time to Travel
Speaking of peak trekking seasons, Nepal has four seasons- two of which, the spring and the autumn, are considered the best time to travel to the country for treks. While trekking in Nepal can be done all the year-round, high-altitude treks are best done during the spring and the autumn.
Springtime lasts from March to May, while the autumn season takes place from September to mid-December. These months present suitable weather conditions for treks, with good visibility and clear atmosphere and very less chance of rainfall.
Thus, flights seldom get cancelled due to weather during the spring and the autumn months, which is why the number of trekkers to Nepal rises quite significantly during this time. While internal flights may get delayed due to over-booked conditions, cancellations of flights are not common as the weather is lenient.
The winter and the summer months, however, can present bad weather conditions. Winter months can result in the high mountain passes being blocked due to snow. Flight cancellations due to poor visibility are also plausible during the winter.
The summer months experience summer showers, and thus, it presents a muddy wet trekking trail, that is often infested with leeches. Rain clouds also obstruct the visibility and the temperatures are not suitable for a comfortable trek in the mountains. Nevertheless, low-altitude treks can still be done during these months.
During the peak trekking seasons, it is important to book flights early as a large number of visitors can result in the hotels and the accommodations being over-booked. The same goes for the fight availability as well- booking earlier can save you the hassle of dealing with crowded conditions.
While trekking, you have two options on the procedure of getting your travel luggage from one place to the next in the mountains. As is obvious, the trekking trails in the mountains are steep and occasionally riddled with rough terrain. You have to cross rivers over suspension bridges and navigate steep valleys.
As such, it is best to travel light and only pack the necessary items. Regarding the two options for transferring the luggage- you can either hire a porter in the mountains who can carry your luggage for you, or follow through with the other option, which is you carry it by yourself.
Either way, it is best to pack light. Packing many items, which you can do without while on an adventure, can tremendously reduce the hassle of chugging along with a large backpack and breaking you’re back climbing the steep landscape.
Instead, it is best to opt for light rucksacks with only the necessary items. To boot, it is also extremely ethical to tip porters generously for the amount of hard labour they do, should you decide to hire one on your trek.
Furthermore, while it is important to pack light, it is also equally essential to pack right. Make sure that you have a good pair of hiking boots which have been broken into and are the correct shoe size. If you feel the need for it, make sure that you also have a pair of hiking poles, along with the right clothing and items that you may need on your travels, like First Aid Kits.
In like manner, it is also relatively cheaper to rent hiking equipment locally. You can do so upon your arrival in Kathmandu as the city has many outlets that let you rent items at a reasonable price. Except for hiking boots, which you must purchase on your own before the trek and which you must be comfortable wearing for extended periods without getting sores or blisters, practically everything else can be rented. Getting sores or being uncomfortable in your hiking shoes can be enough to ruin your travel experience.
Nepal is a wonderful country. It is cheap, quite accessible and offers the best Himalayan beauties on Earth. There is simply no reason to not have Nepal on your travel list for trekking holidays. While there are many options for luxury treks as well, there are also ample opportunities where budget-friendly travelling can be done without having to compromise on the overall enjoyment of the trip in terms of the natural, cultural and Himalayan attributes.
It is one of the best destinations for budget travels. What makes Nepal so appealing are its mighty Himalayan peaks, whose magnificence cannot be described in words. Combined with the natural pulchritude of the land and the ethnic diversity, Nepal is a treasure-trove of fascinating facet and alluring hallmarks. It is a place that you must simply visit at least once in life.