Research and preparations

When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.

It was one of the most difficult holidays to go on. Not because of amount or complexity of planning involved. Not even because of required fitness level and getting physically ready for it. No, none of that.

It was one of the most difficult holidays to go on just because it required us to be able to take 4 weeks off our jobs. At the same time. That's why it took us almost 8 years from the moment we first started thinking about it till the day we arrived at Paris-CDG finally ready to leave for Nepal and Himalayas.


Why 4 weeks? Because I pessimistically assumed that it might be our only time to go to Nepal (there are so many fantastic places around the world we would still love to go to!) and we should try to see and do as much as possible in a vain attempt to satisfy our insatiate apetites.

The basic requirements were:

  • an awesome trek - something more interesting/challenging than ordinary EBC trek
  • Island Peak summit (my highlight of the trip)
  • try to spend night at the Everent Base Camp (Anna's highlight) and touch the Khumbu Icefall
  • see Kathmandu and its neighborhood


Spent lots of time on TripAdvisor Nepal forums and many other sites researching interesting planned and executed itineraries - routes worth following, peaks worth climbing, places worth visiting, and how all that could fit within available timeframe. At the end of the day, a slightly customized 3 passes trek seemed to best fit the bill.

Once I've started putting my own itinerary together I asked for more specific recommendations and advices here (clockwise version) and later here (anti-clockwise). After even more reading I have settled on customized, more adventurous anti-clockwise version, which should also prepare me in time for the Island Peak climb.

When to go

Most popular months with best weather are March/April and October/November. Most popular also means most crowded.


For our stay in Kathmandu I was looking at Kathmandu Eco Hotel, Kathmandu Boutique Hotel and Kathmandu Embassy Hotel.


The cheapest way to hire a guide is to wait until you’re in Lukla, this way you can have a mini interview to see if you get along well and you save on the cost of their flight.

The price for a guide might be 20-30 USD per day, for a porter about 10 USD, and for a porter guide, maybe 15-20 USD/day. That includes their food and accomodation on trek. You will also pay them for the days of travel to and from the trail head, and pay their bus tickets as well.

When hiring out “Staff” the secret of a successful trek is to set the ground rules Before you leave Kathmandu and these rules should include:

  1. Always interview your “Staff” Before you go trekking with them, Preferably get them to give you a walking tour around Kathmandu, Then they are away from the office, will be able to talk freely and you will be in a better position to judge their ability to communicate, character and if you are going to be able to get on well enough with them on your trek.
  2. Ask if he has already trekked the route you are going on and how many times
  3. Tell them that You Always retain the final say where you will stay and where and when you will eat.
  4. I also mention to them that as long as I am happy with their services then they will get a Good Tip – I think this clears the air and gives your “Staff” that extra incentive to ensure that you are well looked after.
  5. The agent that I use provides all his “Staff” with a mobile phone – I also think this is an excellent idea so that if there is a problem then (providing you have a phone Signal) these can be Quickly sorted out.
  6. Before I start a trek is to have a rough schedule, then I know approximately how many days I will be trekking for, to this I usually add one buffer day, so If all goes according to plan I am usually back from my trek one day ahead, With this the agent that is use I can claim one days fees back, but in reality, as I have always been happy with my treks, I have never done this, but have ensured that my “Staff” are still paid the extra day.
  7. It is also worth making 100% sure that your “Staff” are insured and that the agent is making sure that their clothing is up to the standard for the area / season you are trekking in.



  • 15 days - $25
  • 30 days - $40
  • 90 days - $100


Once outside the airport the pre-paid taxi service charges NRP 750 to Thamel, the other taxis in the lot can be talked down to NRP 500.

Once away from airport - by law, taxis are supposed to use their meters. But few will for tourists. So (hard) bargaining is required.

Durbar Square - 1000 NPR Bhakatpur - 1500 NPR



  • A Fully Licensed Trekking Guide will cost around $25 to $30 per day
  • a less qualified Porter/Guide will be round $20 to $25 per day
  • a porter around $18 per day

All these rates are what you should expect to pay when hiring out trekking staff through a reputable TAAN registered agent and include their food, accommodation and insurance, but not transportation or tip


You will need about $30 to cover your own food and accommodation costs – This will get you rooms in a mid class lodge, a good and varied diet, an occasional treat as well as an occasional shower


Typically it was 200 rupee for a basic double bed room, or 500 with private bathroom. It was 500 higher up for the basic double room where we stayed.

At most places it specified that you were to eat at your place of sleeping or incur an additional fee.

Find a room that runs off the main dining building or that isn't standalone with a hallway that is exposed to outside - colder!


Usually it cost us 450-700 for dhal bhat.
200 for a chocolate bar.
800 for a breakfast set.
300 for porridge.
120 for lemon/honey/ginger tea.
400 for chow mein.


How to / where to exchange currencies / get local money:

  • banks - basically the best possible rate, but slower process, need to have passport, fill Hotel address etc. Difference to kiosks debatable. One convenient office opposite North Face/Mountain Hardwear/Marmot stores, next to Fire&Ice pizzeria.

    • Tourist Development Bank, Thamel (scoodly)
    • Himalayan Bank
  • kiosks - most convenient, offered rates in same area tend to be the same, Boudanath seems to be slightly better than Thamel (more commercial large amount exchanges done there by Tibetans, I suspect). Bargaining can get up to 1% better rates if exchanging fair amounts of large bills at once (like more than 1000 euros with 100-500€ denominations).

    • Boudanath (arienkeli) - at the ground floor of the hotel/restaurant about 50 meters from the Boudanath main gate turning left from the gate when entering (direction of the flow). The booth is at the foot of the stairs leading to the rooftop restaurant.
    • East West Money Changers
  • ATMs - people have been burned: small daily allowances (have to stay 5 extra days in KTM just to get enough money to pay for the trek...), worse rates up to 7% because of bank charges at both ends, unfavourable rates which you do not even see before the transaction. And they sometimes just do not work.

    • in the grounds of Kathmandu Guest House in Thamel - only one with limit 35000r (standard limit - 10000r)
    • all ATMs charge 500r per withdrawal
  • hotels - usually not a good rate, but might sometimes be passable (not worth going out at night for small amounts)


Things to look for

  • emergency helicoper evacuation & medical insurance

    • cover your evacuation from the mountain in the case of injury or illness
    • cover to the appropriate altitude
    • cover medical expenses until you return to your home country
    • repatriation cover
  • comprehensive travel insurance

    • trip interruption
    • baggage losses, damage or theft
    • delayed flights
    • other similar incidents that may occur during your trip

Squaremouth might be worth using to try to find an insurance.


  • TrueTraveller

    • If you intend to go trekking in Nepal, please note that there is a policy excess of £750 if you need to be rescued by helicopter or air ambulance. Note this excess cannot be waived by taking out the Excess Waiver.
    • Extreme Adventure Pack for trekking over 4,500 metres.
    • Not Covered: 4. Mountaineering ordinarily necessitating the use of ropes, picks or other specialist climbing equipment.
    • from FAQ: No, we don't cover mountaineering, which for the avoidance of doubt is combination of walking and scrambling as well as rock and ice climbing in mountainous areas, for example Everest North Ridge, Manaslu and Ama Dablam in Nepal. If you can trek to the top of a mountain then that is fine, like Kilimanjaro in Tanzania or Mera Peak in Nepal, but if you need to use ropes to climb up vertical or near vertical cliff faces at very high altitude, then we don't cover that.
    • from chats with TrueTraveller: Louise: "Yes, the Extreme Adventure Pack will be appropriate for trekking Island Peak." Chris: "Hi, I'm Chris, yes that's fine, there's a bit more info on our FAQ. (...) You can be 100% sure Extreme Pack is more than adequate. You'll get a copy of this transcript."
    • Policy wording

I have contacted True Traveller to verify if their Extreme Pack would cover summitting the Island Peak at 6,189 m (including usage of standard safety equipment like crampons, harness, rope etc, but with no technical climbing involved, as it is classified as a trekking peak).

Their FAQ, answering the question "Do you cover Mountaineering?", says:

Do not confuse mountaineering with trekking. If you can trek to the top of a mountain then that is fine, like Kilimanjaro in Tanzania or Mera or Island Peak in Nepal, you should choose Trekking cover from either the Adventure (to 4,600M) or Extreme Activity Pack (over 4,600M) depending on the altitude you’re trekking to.

And that's what we ended up buying - their Traveller Pack + Adventure Pack + Extreme Pack + Trekking in Nepal + Baggage, Money & Documents.

  • Big Cat Travel Insurance

    • Don't buy with AXA in any case, they won't give evacuation authorization even on serious case, recently happened with us! (from Lonely Planet forums)
    • Big Cat Travel Insurance’s Extreme Activity Pack covers any altitude above 4,500 metres, and is suited to the most challenging of mountain treks such as Aconcagua, at 6,961m, the Annapurna Circuit, Everest Base Camp, Mt Kilimanjaro, and Mont Blanc.
    • Helicopter rescue is classed as a necessary Medical Expense, so is covered by the Medical & Repatriation expenses section of cover.
    • Search and Rescue costs are not covered.
    • We class mountaineering as any section of a climb that you can’t walk or scramble up, or that requires more than standard additional trekking safety equipment (Ice axes, crampons and ropes to tie the party together are classed as standard equipment). Using ropes to ascend a vertical rock face would be considered mountaineering and therefore not covered. You must be able to trek to the summit of the mountain, or other specific destination, i.e. Everest Base Camp as opposed to Everest Summit; otherwise, there is no cover. So, even if you are ascending a mountain that requires climbing or mountaineering for only a very short time, we can't cover injuries sustained anywhere along the route, even if you were trekking at the time.
    • No cover if trekking on unrecognised routes without a guide.
    • Policy wording
  • Austrian Alpine Club UK

    • provides cover for helicopter rescue, evacuation, repatriation and some medical expenses (albeit fairly low cover for the latter), covers search party expenses
    • or: AAC only offers helicopter rescue insurance?
    • KNOX Alpenverein Premium Single Trip cover - if you will be going above 6000 m
  • British Mountaineering Club

  • Trailfinders

  • World Nomads

    • Mountaineering (no cover for this sport for purchases or extensions on or after 1 February 2012?)
    • up to 6000 m only?
    • more comprehensive? WN offers helicopter rescue, medical insurance (so tratment is covered when you get to hospital and other aspects of travel insurance such as baggage cover)
    • £500 excess for heli evac
  • Global Rescue

  • American Alpine Club

    • The American Alpine Club policy uses Global Rescue.

Insurance reading

TripAdvisor discussions and recommendations:

Nepal insurance scams:



Mobile / Wifi

Local mobile works perfect up to Everest Base Camp. You can get either NTC or Ncell (better), both works.

However in Dingboche and Pheriche reception is weak. There are landline V Sat Phone in these places.

WiFi is available up to Gorakshep.

System works using solar power so it quite often problem during heavy snowfall in winter.


Free charging station in the Himalayan Java Coffee in Namche Bazaar, right next door to our Khumbu Lodge.

For regular EBC trek from Lukla, there is good electricity up to Pheriche.

In Lobuche and Gorakshep they had solar energy. So during mid winter it could be a problem in these two places.

Also in some small hotel area like Thangnak, the will be limited availability during winter.

There is certain price to charge your gadgets. For mobile it could be up to USD 2 for one hour and little more, i.e. up to USD 2.5 for charging a laptop. Just for charging the mobile, you can bring power bank.


In no particular order:




More reading

General Nepal forums:

Interesting TripAdvisor threads:

Random blog posts and articles: