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Know Before You Go

We want you to be as prepared as possible for your trek in the Himalaya. Below we have put together a guide on what you need to know before you go trekking in the Himalaya. If you can't find an answer to your question here please contact us, our team have many years of Himalayan trekking experience and would love to help. No question is too small!

Kandoo supports the ‘Know Before You Go’ campaign from the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). Here is the FCO Travel Advice for Nepal, Bhutan and India that we recommend you read before travelling.

Fitness and Training

Treks in the Himalaya present a substantial physical challenge, and the more fit you are before you start, the more you will enjoy your trek.

However, the number one most important thing to cultivate is mental toughness. Most of the people who trek in the Himalaya aren’t professional athletes or mountain climbers. They are average people with an unusual degree of determination. You will be walking for five to seven hours each day, every day of your trek. The best way to prepare is to hike, trek or climb any mountains or hills near where you live, and get used to really putting the hours in. With the right attitude, nearly anyone can undertake a trek in the Himalaya.

Specifically, we recommend that your exercise program focuses on these four key areas:

Cardio training

Studies show that high intensity training is the best way to improve your cardiovascular fitness. It involves intense, very short ‘blasts’ of activity. We suggest bursts of 30 seconds of absolutely maximum effort followed by a short rest and recovery period. Just five cycles of this every other day will show real results fairly quickly.

Stamina

The best way to build your stamina is to run, cycle, or cross-train. Zumba, aerobics and spinning classes work well also. Work your way up to doing at least 30 minutes three times a week at a fast, energetic pace and you should be fine.

Leg Strength

You’ll be walking for 5-7 hours a day. On some routes there will be very long ascents on steep stepped paths. To prepare your legs for this you need to plan a routine of leg strengthening exercises such as squats and lunges. You can do these at home, without any special equipment. Alternate this with your stamina routine, each three times a week for the best results.

Flexibility

Many of the most avoidable trekking injuries are due to lack of flexibility. We recommend stretching properly before and after your workouts, as well as before and after hiking on the actual trek.

Equipment and Clothing

The defining characteristic of weather in the Himalaya is the combination of extreme heat and extreme cold in a single day. The best way to cope with these changes is to have lots of relatively thin layers that can be combined or reduced as the temperature goes up and down.

You can download a full infographic of our kit list with links to the specific items of kit we recommend in our Himalaya trekking kit list. Also for when you are packing there is a printable checklist of all the items you need. Please note that airline baggage weight restrictions for domestic flights in Nepal are 10kg for your main equipment bag and 5kg for your hand luggage.

For peak climbs we will increase the weight allowance of your main equipment bag to 15kg. However, if the airline is unable to take the excess baggage on the same flight, we will need to re-pack your climbing kit separately so that it can be sent on a later flight. A porter will then catch up with you on the trek to deliver it.

If there are any items of kit you would prefer to hire please let us know. Most items we can provide ourselves and there are also lots of opportunities in Kathmandu to rent or buy good quality kit at sensible prices.

Getting to the Himalaya

Please use the sections below to read about flights to the various countries in the Himalaya.

Flying to Nepal

There are several ways to get to Nepal from Europe and the USA all of which involve an international flight to Tribhuvan International Airport which is the main airport in Kathmandu.

There are a lot of flights that fly to Kathmandu through the Middle East. Qatar, Gulf and Air Emirates offer daily flights from Europe and the US to Kathmandu, with a stopover at their central hubs. You must be careful though, as some of these layovers are very long indeed. Check the schedules carefully, and consider using Qatar. They seem to have the shortest layovers (at Doha) by a substantial margin.

The other alternative is to fly via Delhi, with BA , Air India or Jet and then catch a shorter flight up to Kathmandu. Again be careful of long layovers and be warned - some of the reviews for Air India are less than glowing!

Ebookers and Expedia are good sources for low cost flights. However, we find that Skyscanner is the best at the moment, and we recommend it highly.

Domestic flights in Nepal

The majority of our trekking itineraries in Nepal involves a domestic flight. Airfields such as Lukla are among the most remote and difficult to land on in the world and are a challenge for even the most technically proficient pilots. It is not uncommon for bad weather to cause lengthy delays, as the airport will be closed if the cloud cover is too great. If possible you should allow some extra days in Kathmandu at the end of your trip so that we have some leeway if any of your flights are delayed.

You should also be aware that flights in Nepal have a poor safety record compared to international flight standards. In 2013, all carriers from Nepal were put on an aviation banned list, preventing them from flying in EU airspace. This ban does not mean that these airlines are prevented from flying in Nepal, nor does it mean that an EU national cannot fly with one of these airlines. Since the ban, some airlines have been proactive and have retained an independent aviation safety expert to audit their operations. Wherever possible, we use one of these airlines.

Flying to Bhutan

Currently there are only two airline operators that fly to Bhutan, Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. The main airport is in Paro (2,225m) and currently receives flights from Bangkok, Dhaka, Delhi, Kolkata, Bagdogra, Guwahati, Gaya, Kathmandu and Singapore. This means that you need to get to one of these hubs to catch a connecting flight to Paro.

The flight into Paro is pretty exciting as the position of the airport requires the plane to get much closer to the mountain tops than most other flights in the world. If you are lucky enough to fly from Kathmandu to Paro and the weather is clear you will fly over 4 of the 5 highest mountains in the world - Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Kangchenjunga.

A second international airport is currently under construction in Gelephu along the southern border of Bhutan to India.

Domestic flights to Bhutan

The majority of our trekking itineraries in Bhutan involves a domestic flight. The airfield at Paro is subject to Visual Flight Rules (VFR) and as such can be affected by poor visibility when clouded in. It is not uncommon for bad weather to cause delays, as the airport will be closed if the cloud cover is too great. If possible you should allow some extra days in Paro at the end of your trip so that we have some leeway if any of your flights are delayed.

Important general notes

Top tip: Our number one tip when travelling to the Himalaya is to wear your walking boots and pack as many essential items as possible in your carry-on luggage. If your luggage is delayed we can do our best to kit you out to start the trek on time, but your worn-in boots are the one thing we cannot replace.

Airport security checks: New enhanced security checks were implemented in July 2014 at a number of international airports, including in the UK and USA. In addition to existing security measures, passengers may be required to show that electronic devices in their hand luggage are charged up, and you may therefore be asked to turn on devices such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops and e-books in front of the security team. If the device does not have power, then it may be retained by airport security, or you would need to book onto a later flight once the device has been fully charged. You should ensure that all electronic devices in your hand luggage are fully charged prior to travel. If you are transferring between flights, make sure that you do not deplete the power on your devices on the first part of the journey, as it may not be possible to recharge the device at the transfer airport before boarding your next flight.

Deep-Vein Thrombosis: When travelling on long-haul flights (especially over 8 hours) there are a number of recommendations that are believed to reduce the risk of DVT. These include keeping well hydrated and avoiding alcohol, stretching and moving around the aircraft, and wearing compression stockings.

Travel Insurance

Before you can join any of Kandoo’s Himalaya treks, you’ll need to insure yourself against accident, injury, and illness.

Your insurance must cover the cost of helicopter evacuation and repatriation if necessary. Make sure your insurer knows of your travel plans, and verify that your policy fully covers your trek, climb, and any other activities you will participate in. Specifically, treks to Everest Base Camp and the Annapurna Circuit, and all Bhutan treks require insurance coverage up to 6000 metres.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are fully and adequately insured for the duration of your trip. Please ensure that all activities, excursions and destinations in your itinerary are included in your travel insurance policy, in addition to your regular cover for cancellation and medical expenses.

We ask that you keep a copy of your policy summary (containing policy number and the emergency contact number for your insurer) in your day sack at all times, so that we can access this information should we need to contact the insurer on your behalf.

We recommend the global supplier of travel insurance, World Nomads. Make sure to add 'hiking up to 6,000m' on check out and be sure to read the small print carefully for any policy you are considering.

For peak climbs, which involve using fixed ropes and going over 6000 metres, we recommend you contact your national mountaineering organisation (BMC in the UK, American Alpine Club in the US) to get appropriate insurance coverage.

Passports and Visas

Please use the sections below to read about respective country visa and passport requirements.

Nepal

Please double check that your passport is valid for 6 months beyond the date of arrival in Nepal. We recommend that you take a photocopy of your passport and keep it separate from the original, as this will be useful if the original is lost while you are travelling.

Most visitors to Nepal (including nationals from the UK, Europe, USA and Australia) require a tourist visa to enter Nepal. To secure a visa you will need to present proof that you have a return ticket, and proof that you have sufficient money to support yourself during your stay in Nepal. Visa can be obtained at your local Nepalese Embassy or on arrival at Kathmandu Tribhubhan International Airport. We highly recommend securing a visa before departure as this will ensure you have no problems passing immigration, as well as speed up the process of clearing immigration. You will need at least one blank visa page in your passport. Certain nationalities not mentioned above must apply for a visa in advance, so check with your local Nepalese Embassy. Visas are valid for 6 months from the date of issue, so do not send off your application too early.

Most of our tours require a 30 day tourist visa which usually costs in the neighbourhood of $40 (around £35). Visas can be extended once you are in Nepal, but overstaying your visa is taken very seriously, and can result in your being detained or not allowed to leave the country without paying a fine.

If you are planning to arrange your visa on arrival, you can submit an online application up to 15 days prior to travel which will speed up the immigration process. Applications can be made at http://online.nepalimmigration.gov.np/tourist-visa

Bhutan

Please double check that your passport is valid for 6 months beyond the date of arrival in Bhutan. We recommend that you take a photocopy of your passport and keep it separate from the original, as this will be useful if the original is lost while you are travelling.

Most visitors require a tourist visa to enter Bhutan. Visas are issued only when you arrive in the country, either at Paro airport or (if entering by road) at Phuentsholing, Gelephu or Samdrup Jongkhar. You must apply in advance through us before you travel to Bhutan to receive visa approval for the exact amount of time you are staying.

In order to process your Bhutan visa we require a clear readable colour copy of your passport containing the passport number and photograph in JPEG or PDF format at least 40 days prior to date of entry into Bhutan. The Bhutan visa fee is US$40 which is included in our tour cost.

Health Considerations

The most important aspect of staying healthy in the Himalaya is avoiding altitude sickness, which has been dealt with in a section separately below.

The next five most important health issues you will face are dehydration, body temperature issues, sunburn, proper diet, and avoiding maladies like malaria and diarrhoea. Each is detailed below.

Avoiding dehydration

Dehydration can be a very serious issue when trekking at high altitudes. You must drink plenty of fluids (at least 3 litres a day, preferably more) each day or you risk serious health consequences and an early end to your trek.

The higher you climb, the harder your lungs have to work to get the same amount of oxygen. You will be breathing faster and more deeply, and therefore losing substantially more water through your lungs with every breath. This is in addition to the water lost through perspiration and increased activity.

There are two quick tests you can do yourself to determine if you might be dehydrated: the pinch test and urine colour. For the pinch test, pinch the soft skin on the back of your hand. It will remain white for a moment. If it returns to normal quickly, you are probably not dehydrated. If it stays pale for a few seconds you probably are dehydrated, and you need to increase your fluid intake immediately. For the urine test, if your urine is clear or a light straw colour, you are probably not dehydrated. If it is yellow or even orange, that means you probably are becoming dehydrated. It is concentrated because your kidneys are trying to conserve water. You need to drink more water before you notice any more serious symptoms.

The easiest way to stay hydrated is to drink more water. 3 litres a day is really the absolute minimum you should drink while trekking at altitude, whether you feel thirsty or not. Many people spoil their entire trek every year through ignoring their hydration, and not drinking enough. Don’t let it happen to you!

While hydration is important throughout your trek, it is never more important than during a summit ascent or when crossing a high pass. You will be under mental and physical stress, and it will be difficult to remember to keep drinking.

The best way to ensure dehydration does not become a problem on a summit ascent is to drink a full litre of water, tea or other fluids before you start the day’s climb. You will be given two litres of water to carry during the climb. Make sure it doesn’t freeze! Exposed bottles or drinking tubes freeze very quickly over 5000 metres. Keep your water bottles insulated in your daypack (by wrapping them in fleece, or stuffing them in thick socks). Pack them upside down, as water freezes from the top, and that way even a partially frozen bottle can still be used.

If you are climbing a peak above 6000m, we don’t recommend a platypus for a summit attempt but if you do use one make sure to keep the entire tube inside your jacket, as it can freeze and become blocked very easily. We strongly recommend keeping a back-up one litre wide mouth Nalgene bottle as well.

Lastly, we recommend in the strongest possible terms that you drink at least another litre of fluids once you get back to base camp. You will be exhausted, and won’t feel how thirsty you are until it is too late.

Regulating your temperature

Mountains have their own weather systems, and you can expect widely fluctuating temperatures from day to day as well as big shifts between day and night. Monday could be sunny and warm, followed by rain or even snow on Tuesday. The best way to adapt is to wear layered clothing, so you can always wear just enough to stay warm and dry without overheating.

If you will be making a summit attempt on your trek, you will absolutely need the best quality gear, especially warm, breathable and waterproof clothing. You can expect wickedly cold temperatures above 5000 metres, as well as high winds and even snow storms. Please see our full advised equipment list here.

Sunburn

The higher you climb, the more careful you will have to be of the sun’s harmful UV rays. These are strongest between 10am and 2pm, and can be a problem even in cloudy or overcast conditions. Many pieces of kit offer UV protection, especially long sleeves, broad brimmed hats and sunglasses, but high SPF sunscreen is absolutely necessary as well!

Sunburn Tips:

  • Apply SPF 30 or better sunscreen to your face and other exposed skin several times a day.
  • Apply the first sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going into the sun.
  • Use a high SPF lip balm regularly.
  • Wear a billed or brimmed hat to shade your face, nose and ears.
  • Make sure your sunglasses are UV Protection Category 2-4.

Eating properly

Physical exertions like trekking usually give you a healthy appetite. Unfortunately, the effects of high altitude can interfere with this, and you will not feel as hungry as you really are. As you will be using an extra 3000 calories a day, not replacing these with food can be crippling.

In order to stay in top shape, and ensure than you can finish your trek you have to eat, and eat quite a bit, whether or not you feel hungry. Carbs digest much more easily than protein at high altitudes, so eat as much of these as you can to maintain your energy levels.

If you are making a summit attempt, you won’t have time for much more than a biscuit and a hot drink during pauses. Make sure you have eaten a really hearty meal the night before, and bring a lot of small snacks with you to eat as you climb. Keep them close to hand, but make sure they don’t freeze! Keep some wrapped up in your daypack, and a few in fleece pockets under your jacket where your body heat will keep them warm.

Make sure you bring some of your favourite things to snack on. Hard candies and small chocolates are good choices. Nuts, seeds, biscuits and crisps take the extreme cold well. On the other hand, chewy bars and items containing syrup or treacle become impossible to eat when frozen.

Avoiding malaria and diarrhoea

The good news is that mosquitoes cannot survive at altitude, so there is little if any risk on the mountain itself. The bad news is that low-lying areas like Chitwan are vulnerable to malaria, and precautions should be taken. We advise Proguanil or Chloroquine tablets, and wearing long sleeves and trousers, especially between evening and morning. Use an insect repellent containing DEET on any exposed skin, apply permethrin to your clothing, and sleeping either in an air conditioned room or under a mosquito net.

Diarrhoea can be a problem for any traveller, but there are ways to minimise your risk:

  • Avoid water you are not absolutely sure of. Don’t drink it, use it for ice cubes, or brush your teeth with it. Kandoo will provide you with filtered water for drinking.
  • Wash your hands vigorously before handling food or eating, and definitely after using the toilet!
  • Bring antibacterial hand gel, and use it.
  • Avoid uncooked vegetables and salads.
  • Avoid meat, except in the main towns.

Diarrhoea can have any number of causes, but it needn’t end your trek. Keep well hydrated, and drink specialised rehydration solutions like Dioralyte.

Many health professionals recommend the prescription medicine Ciproxin (ciprofloxacin) in an emergency. You should talk to your own GP about this possibility before travelling to areas where it may be needed. Most recommend a single 500mg dose for healthy adults who are not breast-feeding or pregnant.

Immodium (loperamide) is very helpful with mild cases, and we do recommend that you bring some with you.

Vaccinations

The following vaccination guide is an information resource only. You should not rely on it for diagnostic or prescriptive purposes. You should always speak with your GP or other health care professional about any vaccinations or other medicines you are considering taking. They will have more information about your specific health needs, and can make much more specific, reliable recommendations for you.

In general, we recommend the following vaccinations:

  • Hepatitis A&B - Everyone
  • Typhoid - Everyone
  • Polio – We recommend a booster shot for adult travellers.
  • Yellow Fever – Necessary for all travellers who will arrive via areas prone to yellow fever.
  • Rabies – Not necessary unless visiting lowland areas, including Chitwan.
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) – We recommend a double dose for anyone born after 1956, unless they have already been given this vaccination.
  • Tetanus & Diphtheria – This vaccination should be renewed every 10 years.

Malaria

There is little risk on the majority of Himalayan treks that we operate, due to the altitude. However, there is a risk of malaria in areas below 1,500m so we recommend you take advice. If you are travelling in Nepal and planning a safari extension to Chitwan National Park or any travel in the the lowland region adjacent to the Indian border, then you will need to take anti-malarial medication. In addition to any medication, we would recommend you take every precaution to prevent mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved trousers and shirts at dusk and dawn when the mosquitos are active, and by using a DEET based mosquito repellent.

Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness (also known as AMS, Acute Mountain Sickness) is a potentially serious medical condition that can develop when you are physically active at high altitudes without having become acclimatised to the lower pressures experienced there.

Of course, altitude and air pressure tolerance varies widely from person to person. People who are more fit tend to have less trouble with AMS. However, even very fit people are vulnerable to AMS if they trek too high in too short a time, or without acclimatising properly.

AMS hits some people at altitudes as low as 2,400 metres (8,000 feet), but serious symptoms are quite rare below 3,700 metres (12,000 feet). It is the lack of oxygen, coupled with physical exertion that most often triggers AMS.

At 5000 metres the air pressure (and the amount of oxygen available to you with each breath) is only 55% of that at sea level. At 6000 metres it is less than half. This has a major impact on the body's physiology. AMS is not always a gradual worsening of the kinds of mild altitude related symptoms most people experience, including headache and shortness of breath. It can have a rapid, severe onset and can completely disable a trekker in minutes.

AMS has three primary components:

Drop in oxygen saturation

Each breath you take at high altitude will deliver less oxygen to your blood, while increased physical activity will only increase oxygen demand. Slight reductions in the oxygen saturation in your blood will lead to feelings of fatigue and breathlessness. Larger drops in blood oxygen levels can cause impaired mental function and have other dangerous effects.

Any drop below 80% is considered very serious. If your blood oxygen saturation ever drops below 75% you will have to begin your descent immediately.

Cerebral Oedema (HACE)

Reduced air pressure can also cause body fluids to seep into your skull, or even into the fluid that protects your brain. At low levels, this results in mild headache. If it advances, it can put excessive pressure on the brain itself. If this occurs it can result in severe disorientation, coma or death. The onset (and development of the most serious symptoms) can be extremely fast.

Pulmonary Oedema (HAPE)

In the same way, the lack of pressure in the air can cause fluid to seep into your lungs. This can lead to pneumonia-like symptoms, and can be very dangerous if it occurs during sleep. High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema can occur without any other symptoms of AMS, and can be serious on its own.

Protecting yourself from AMS

Our guides monitor all of our trekkers closely. You will be given a daily health check, which includes checking your pulse rate and blood oxygen saturation level, and evaluating your acclimatisation status using the Lake Louise system. They are all highly experienced in working at altitude, and know how to look after our trekkers.

It is vitally important that you share information about your health and any symptoms you may be experiencing fully and openly. Failing to do so puts not only yourself at risk, but your fellow trekkers as well.

Recognising the Symptoms of AMS

The primary symptom used to diagnose AMS is headache. Because headache can also be a symptom of dehydration, it is doubly important to remain well hydrated during your trek. This is dealt with more fully elsewhere, but you must drink at least three litres of water every day while trekking.

If at any time you are above 2,400 metres and experience a headache coupled with one or more of the following symptoms mentioned below, you may be experiencing AMS, and must report this to your guide for assessment.

Other symptoms: Vomiting, nausea or loss of appetite, Weakness or fatigue, Feeling light-headed or dizzy, Difficulty sleeping, Numbness, pins and needles, Shortness of breath, Rapid pulse (especially if persistent), Sleepiness or drowsiness, Overall malaise, Swelling or oedema of face or extremities.  

Symptoms Common to High Altitude Cerebral Oedema (HACE): Disorientation or confusion, Unusual behaviour, Fatigue, Difficulty speaking or walking, Nausea or vomiting, Hallucination or vision problems.  

Symptoms Common to High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPE): Extreme fatigue and trouble walking, Tight or congested feeling in the chest, Persistent wet cough, with or without blood, Gurgling or crackling sound whilst breathing, Shortness of breath, especially during rest High pulse at rest (90 to 100 bpm), Excessive sweating or fever, Blue or grey lips and/or fingernails

No matter what symptoms of AMS you experience, the treatment is the same: descending at least 1000m immediately, until symptoms abate.

Kandoo’s Emergency Descent Protocol

If your guides have concerns about your health, or believe that continuing the trek would be dangerous for you, they will insist that you begin your descent immediately. This decision will be made using the protocol detailed below to make sure that you remain safe, while maximising your chances of a successful trek.

Your blood oxygen levels will be measured. If they are below 80% you must rest every 30 minutes for the next 2 hours. If your oxygen levels fall below 75% and do not recover, you must begin your descent immediately. If it does rise above 75%, you may continue your trek, subject to close monitoring. Please notify your guide immediately if your condition worsens, even slightly.

Your Lake Louise score will be measured. If it is above 8, you must descend. If it is between 6 and 8, then your guide will consider your score, your blood oxygen levels, and your overall well-being to determine whether it is safe for you to continue. Again, notify your guide immediately if you begin to feel worse.

Tips for Avoiding AMS Altogether

  • ‘Walk High, Sleep Low’: We make every effort to give you the opportunity to do a short walk at a higher altitude every day, rest there for approximately 30 minutes, then descend again to sleep.
  • Go slowly! You need to maintain a breathing rate low enough that you could easily maintain a conversation. If you find you are breathing hard, slow down. Overworking your heart and lungs puts you at much higher risk of AMS.
  • Drink more than you feel you need: Proper hydration not only makes AMS less likely, it makes you less vulnerable to a host of other problems as well. To protect yourself, you need to drink at least 3 litres of water each day, especially if you don’t feel thirsty. If your urine is yellow (or worse, orange) you are not drinking nearly enough. Dehydration can be mistaken for HACE, and cause you to be taken back down the mountain, so drink up!
  • Diamox: A great deal of research has been done on Diamox, and its effectiveness in protecting against AMS. (Just google ‘Diamox’.) Our UK team use it, but it is a prescription drug, and some GPs do not advocate its use. As with any medicine, you should seek professional advice. It is important to remember that Diamox is a preventative medicine, it helps with speeding up the aclimatisation process, but is not a cure for AMS. If Diamox is to be used effectively, it must be taken before you start to trek. It will be of no help at all after you begin experiencing symptoms. Various sources recommend between 125 mg and 500 mg per day, beginning a few days before you move up to a higher altitude. We personally recommend ½ of a 250mg tablet in the morning, and the other at night, especially for anyone planning on ascending up to 3000 metres in one day. Trekkers who do take Diamox report side effects including pins and needles or numbness in their fingers and toes. It also makes you want to urinate more frequently. Combined with the 3 litres of water you’ll be drinking each day, you’ll need an extra jug. Interestingly, it also makes all fizzy drinks, including beer, taste terrible.
Arriving in your destination

All Kandoo tours include private transportation for you between the airport and your hotel.

A member of the Kandoo team will be waiting for you just outside of the arrivals hall. They will be wearing a brightly coloured Kandoo uniform shirt, and holding a sign marked Kandoo, so they will be very hard to miss! If for any reason you do have trouble finding your driver, just ring the contact number printed on your itinerary, and we will sort it all out immediately.

It is only a 15 minute drive to any of our recommended hotels, though delays are not uncommon. After you have checked in at your hotel your guide will contact you to arrange a time for your pre-trek briefing. He will make sure you have all the kit you need to make the trek safely and in comfort, and answer any questions you may have at the time.

After your trek (and perhaps a night or two at the hotel to rest up or explore) you can book a transfer back to the airport. Please double-check the time you are required to check in at the airport before arranging transport, as it is your sole responsibility to get to your flight on time!

Lost and Delayed Baggage

We recommend that you travel in your hiking boots and pack as many important items as possible in your carry-on luggage.

Once you’ve collected your bags you need to make sure you have your airline baggage tags handy as they check these off against the flight tags on your luggage before you can leave.

In the unlikely event that your luggage is lost or delayed, our procedure is as follows:

  • With your guide, establish which critical trekking items are missing
  • If your luggage has not turned up by 18:00 on the evening before your trek departure, we recommend you buy and/or hire hiking items immediately as a precaution
  • We can arrange for the rental of sleeping bags, trekking poles and mats for you to be paid locally
  • Our team will also take you to a shop where you can buy other essentials, like toiletries and snacks for your trek We will do everything we can to support you if your luggage is delayed or lost, but all out-of pocket costs will need to be covered by yourself.

We recommend you keep receipts so you can charge these costs back to the airline or your insurance company. This includes the cost of taxis for shopping and/or trips to the airport to collect your bags.

Hotel Accommodation

Please use the sections below to read about the hotels we use in the various countries we operate Himalaya treks. 

Nepal

Our standard hotel in Kathmandu is the International Guest House, a 3 star rated hotel, in Thamel. It is a small guest house, designed in the Tibetan style, and is located in a beautiful, central area of Thamel, about one minute away from the bustling market but nicely tucked away in a quiet residential location. A night before and after your trek is included in all our trek packages. If you want to upgrade your hotel we offer a range of lovely hotels both in the centre of Thamel and in the quieter suburbs. On open group treks we are not able to offer hotel upgrades before the trek as all clients need to be in the same hotel for the pre-trek briefing.

Electrical sockets in Nepal

There are 2 types of electrical sockets in Nepal – type D which are old UK style (3 round pins) and type C which are standard European style (2 round pins) – and are 220v, same as the UK. The type D socket is commonly found in India, so any adapter that is suitable for India will be the right size, and a European adaptor will be fine for the type C socket.

Power cuts in Kathmandu

Nepal relies heavily on hydroelectric power which cannot provide a sufficient supply of power. As a result, the electricity is routinely cut for several hours each day to control demand, particularly during the driest months when the rivers are at their lowest and supply drops even further. The schedules for this load-shedding are issued in advance, so your hotel will normally display a timetable of electric cut offs for their district and will try and help as far as they can, but please be patient as these outages are outside their control.

Getting around

Take care when crossing roads as the traffic may be coming from an unfamiliar direction, and may not stop as expected at pedestrian crossings. When travelling by taxi, make sure it is licensed; ideally ask your hotel to book one for you.

Vehicles and driving standards

The general standard of driving throughout the country is poor and badly regulated. Roads in Kathmandu are very congested, many drivers are not properly licensed and vehicles are poorly maintained. During the monsoon season (June to September) many roads outside the Kathmandu valley are prone to landslides and may become impassable. We insist on using a high standard of vehicle and driver for all of our transfers. In Nepal it is not a legal requirement to have seatbelts fitted in the back of vehicles, and while we try to use vehicles that do have rear seatbelts fitted, this cannot always be guaranteed. If you are unhappy about any aspect of the vehicle or the standard of driving, please speak to the driver or our local office immediately.

Bhutan

 

Hotels in Bhutan are not categorized into stars as in most of the other countries, however all hotels have to be approved by the Tourism Council of Bhutan. Your full day by day itinerary shows what is included in terms of hotel accommodation and meal basis. All of our pre- and post-trek accommodation is based in Paro. Where appropriate your hotel basis is half board (breakfast and dinner). You can usually purchase snacks or meals at the hotel, which can be paid in local currency or Indian rupees. For private treks we offer a number of hotel upgrade in Paro. On open group treks we are not able to offer hotel upgrades before the trek as all clients need to be in the same hotel for the pre-trek briefing.

Electrical sockets in Bhutan

There are 2 types of electrical sockets in Bhutan – type D which are old UK style (3 round pins) and type C which are standard European style (2 round pins) – and are 220v, same as the UK. The type D socket is commonly found in India, so any adapter that is suitable for India will be the right size, and a European adaptor will be fine for the type C socket.

Vehicles and driving standards

We insist on using a high standard of vehicle and driver for all of our transfers, typically these will be a Hyundai Tuscan, Santa Fe for a small group of 2 - 3 guests, a Toyota Hiace Mini Van for a group of 4 - 6 guests and a Deluxe Toyota Coaster for a group of 7 - 18 guests.

General Notes

Hotel safety

When you arrive at the hotel, take a moment to familiarise yourself with the layout and the procedures in the event of a fire, especially your escape routes and fire exits.

Food and drink

If you choose to eat outside your hotel, use your common sense when selecting where and what to eat, and drink bottled water.

Valuables

Please keep all money, passport and valuables on your person at all times. Make sure your hotel room is kept locked, even if you just pop out for a few minutes.

Left luggage

Any items you don’t wish to take on the trek with you can be left securely at your pre-trek hotel and collected when you return. Please make sure you have a spare bag for any items you are storing.

Kandoo Support Crew

Nepal

We have carefully chosen our guides to ensure that every trek is a safe and fun experience for all of our clients. They all have many years of experience guiding in the Himalya, and are licensed by the Nepal Mountaineering Association. Both our climbing guides, Jyamchang and Pimba, have climbed and summited Mount Everest twice and are qualified to the prestigious IMG standard. All of our guides come from the Sherpa region which sits at high altitude in the far East of Nepal near to the border with China. Life in these villages is extremely tough and it is these conditions that produce the strongest, toughest guides who are used on all the Everest expeditions. Extended families are still normal in Nepal and through cross marriage between villages nearly everyone in the region is related. You will find that all our guides are cousins, second cousins, nephews etc. These family bonds mean that all the crews work together extremely well and are extremely trustworthy.

Bhutan

Our guides in Bhutan all have many years experience of trekking throughout the Bhutanese Himal. Like Bhutanese people in general, our guides have a wonderful way about them. They are super caring, informative and deeply respectful. Once you are on your trek, you should speak to your lead guide about any problems, whether it relates to food, equipment or health. We would much prefer you to sort out any problems with them on the spot, rather than allow them to spoil your trek. Your guide is in contact with the office if further assistance is required.

Lodges and Sleeping

Sleeping arrangements vary by country and route itinerary. Please use the country information below to review the accomodation arrangements throughout your trek.

Nepal

Trekking in Nepal is more popular than ever. As a result, the standard of accommodation available on most of the trek routes has improved dramatically. Where there were once simple peasant huts, large hostels have been built featuring running water, indoor toilets (some en-suite) and electricity. However, development is still ongoing, and as you get higher into the mountains the lodges become more basic. Furnishing is generally fairly spartan, and most rooms feature little more than a bench bed and a thin mattress, so your sleeping kit will probably see some early use.Lodge bedroom The exception to that rule is Namche. Namche features some really great lodges, including the Hil-Ten (this is not a region that makes much of copyright infringement) and if you are in need of refreshment there both Illy and Lavazza coffee are available Kandoo has a list of lodges that we prefer to work with, all of which are regularly inspected to ensure the best quality rooms available. Even at the worst, they are clean and well-kept. When the route is busy, we send a porter ahead to hire rooms for the night, as they cannot be reserved in advance.

Bhutan

Sleeping arrangements for our treks in Bhutan consist of hotels pre and post your trek in Paro (and Thimphu depending on route itinerary), and camping during the trek. We use only the best camping equipment and our tents sleep two people comfortably.

Food and Drinks

High altitude treks are physically draining, and one of the most important ways to keep healthy and in peak condition is to eat and drink as much as you can. Kandoo provides micro-filtered water at meals and for your drinking bottles every day. We also carry plenty of extra water, so do not hesitate to ask for more at any point during the trek. Please use the sections below to read about food options in each of the countries we operate.

Nepal

As of 2011, we have stopped offering ‘full board’ treks, and lowered our prices to reflect this. The primary reason is the improved sophistication of the lodges, and the wider range of food options available to trekkers. Where once there was a choice of perhaps 5 different rice or lentil based meals at any one lodge, most now offer a wide menu of 40 or more choices from the basic (such as dahl baht) to the sophisticated (yak steak with blue cheese sauce). More and more of our trekkers expressed a desire to order ‘a la carte’ rather than the provided meals, so that is now what we provide. An added advantage to ordering off the menu is that almost any diet can be accommodated, including vegetarian, vegan, kosher/halal, and most medical restrictions. In addition to the main meals, lodges also serve a wide range of cold or hot drinks, and all manner of snacks to bring along the trail, even Pringles crisps! So, you choose what you want to eat at the lodges, and settle your own bill in the morning. While you can eat heartily for very little money at any lodge, we do recommend that you budget £15 to £20 ($25 to $30) per day for meals and drinks. This will ensure that you not only have plenty of food, but that you enjoy it a lot more. Please note that we prefer some of the more expensive lodges, so the prices are higher than they might be at more spartan facilities. This is particularly true along the Mera Peak route, and you might expect to spend a bit more if you choose that trek. One word of advice, place your meal order as soon as you can upon arriving at the lodge as it is strictly ‘first ordered, first served’, and the best lodges are quite busy at meal times. If you are joining us for either the Island Peak or Mera Peak climb there will be a number of days when you will camp before your summit ascent. During these days all food will be provided by our own cook. Expect simple but substantial meals for this part of your adventure. Please note that old or damaged US dollar notes are not accepted in Nepal.

Bhutan

On our Bhutan treks meals are provided during your stay at the pre and post trek hotels, and dishes will be prepared for you on your trek. All meals are provided on a fixed menu basis, with enough options for vegetarians. Bhutanese cuisine generally consists of steamed rice (red and white) with a varied choice of spicy curries, both vegetarian and non vegetarian. Most hotels provide meals buffet‐style. There are usually continental, Indian, Chinese and Bhutanese dishes. The food in hotels is often the best in town, but restaurants in the main towns are increasingly becoming popular. All tourist hotels have a good selection of international and Bhutanese beverages.

Daily Trekking Routine

At Kandoo, we never put pressure on our trekkers to rush or meet strict travel deadlines. That been said, it is nice to be one of the first few groups to leave the village each morning and beat the crowds, especially in the high season.

Every morning, you will have a hearty breakfast and pack your bags, then a quick briefing with your guide(s) to discuss plans for the day when you have a chance to voice any questions or concerns. During this briefing your guide will do the daily health check and blood oxygen level test. Once this is complete you will start the day's trek.

On the trek itself, most of your luggage will be carried by porters and / or pack animals (depending on route). We do ask you to keep your main equipment bag to below 14 kg. All you will have carry is a day pack which holds your water bottle, sun screen, a spare jacket or extra layer, camera, etc. We encourage you to leave any valuables at your pre-trek hotel for the duration. Most hotels have a locker system, and issue receipts for any valuables left in their safekeeping.

You can expect to walk for 3 to 4 hours then stop for lunch at a lodge or campsite along the route. The afternoon’s travel is generally shorter, and you can expect to arrive at the next village or campsite by afternoon tea.

Sometimes, because you cannot ascend too quickly, the entire day’s travel will be achieved before lunch, and you can spend the rest of the day exploring, having a wash, or even sitting down with a book. After dinner, the evenings are free as well and we would recommend that you bring cards, scrabble and a good book. Many of the lodges (not campsites) have internet access but this is unreliable particularly at higher altitudes.

Tips for your Kandoo Crew

Before you book a trek with Kandoo, please review the information on tipping customs using the country information below, and make sure you are comfortable with it.

Nepal

Kandoo is a member of the Nepal Mountaineering Association. The NMA works to regulate the climbing and trekking industry in Nepal, especially by training and licensing guides and setting the standard for the wages and other compensation guides and porters receive. We are committed to meeting or exceeding all NMA standards, and to providing emergency evacuation insurance for every member of our crew. The NMA recommends tipping at a rate of $15 (£10) per day per guide, $12 (£8) per day per cook, and $8 (£5) per day per porter. These figures are per group, not per person and where necessary should be adjusted for longer or shorter treks. Just to be clear, tips are not seen as a substitute for regular wages. Kandoo pays all of our crew members a good wage that is higher than NMA's recommended levels. Please note that in Nepal, old or damaged US dollar notes are not accepted

Bhutan

Tipping is not approved by the Bhutanese tourist board. However, it has become customary practice to tip the guides, cooks and porters who have assisted you throughout your trek. The decision on how much to tip should be determined by how well the team served you while you were on the trek. Tips are always discretionary and if you are not happy with the service you have received you do not have to pay tips.

Speak with an expert Start planning your next adventure by contacting one of our destination experts.
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Rachel Miller

Destination expert

Phone: +44 (0) 1283 499 980

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Andrew Lloyd-Jones

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Phone: + 44 (0) 1283 499 981

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