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Packing and Preparations - Trekking in Nepal

Visa Information

Nepal visa: A visa is required to enter Nepal except for Indian nationals. A single entry visa for 60days can be obtained from any Royal Nepalese Embassy or Consulate upon payment of US$ 30. You can also get a visa at the point of entry upon arrival. Visitors who require single, double or multiple re-entry visas can get them by paying an additional US$ 25, 40 and 60 respectively. For extension of visas once you are in Nepal, the Department of Immigration charges US$ 50 for each additional month. Children under 10years are not charged any visa fees.

India visa: All nationalities, including Commonwealth citizens, are required to have a visa for India. Visas are issued at Indian embassies. They are valid for 90days and can be extended for a further 90days. Visas must be obtained no more than six months before your arrival in India. Indian visas are usually triple entry so you can travel to Nepal or Sri Lanka and return on the same visa.

Note: that if you apply to visit Sikkim, the Punjab, or any politically restricted area, your visa application may take a minimum of three months, and sometimes far longer, to process. Once you have applied to visit a restricted area you cannot reapply for an ordinary tourist visa until your original application has been cleared.


The Medical Kit

A basic medical kit proposed here that can be purchased quite cheaply in Kathmandu will help trekkers be reasonably prepared for most problems and can be considered a kind of insurance. In most developed countries, prescriptions are required for some of the drugs. An understanding physician should give you these if you carefully explain why you need them. Do not use these medications when medical assistance is available nearby. When you are sick and there are appropriate treatments, it makes sense to use them. By following the suggestions given below, the chances are excellent that you will recover, and the benefits of treatment far outweigh the risks. If you are not getting better in spite of self-treatment, then consider other alternatives, especially if the situation seems grave.

Names of drugs are always dilemma. While the official or generic names are generally the same throughout the world, the advertising or brand names vary greatly from place to place. The generic names are used here where possible.

The recommended medical kit- enough for a party of two- includes the following:

Moleskin. Felt or foam (molefoam) padding (about 1mm thick for felt, 2or 3 mm for foam) with adhesive backing, used for the prevention of blisters. About half a square foot per person should be enough. It is not available in Kathmandu, but adhesive tape or zinc oxide strapping can be used as a substitute.

Bandages. One roll of 2-in. adhesive tape, and five to ten adhesive bandages per person for small wounds.

Elastic Bandage. One 3-in. roll for relief of strains and sprains.

Thermometer. One that reads below normal temperatures (for diagnosis of hypothermia) as well as above (for fever).

Miscellaneous. Scissors, needle, or safety pin, and forceps or tweezers.

Plastic Dropper Bottles. One-ounce (30ml) size for iodine. This is best brought from home. If your pharmacy no longer carries empty plastic dropper bottles for dispensing compounded ear, eye, or nose drops, buy a plastic dropper bottle of nose drops and dump the contents.

Water Purification Chemicals. Tetraglycine hydroperiodide or iodine in various forms. Vitamin C powder masks the taste.

Nose Spray or Drops (optional). Phenylephrine HCL (0.25%) for stuffed noses and sinuses. Put two drops in each nostril two or three times a day when symptomatic and when changing altitude. An alternative is oxymetazoline, used no more than twice a day.

Nasal Decongestant (optional). For those accustomed to taking these tablets for colds.

Antihistamine (optional). For treating symptoms of colds and hay fever. If you do not have a favorite, try chlorpheniramine maleate tablets (4mg). Terfenadine and astemizole are expensive, non sedating antihistamines you could try.

Aspirin or Similar Drug. Twenty-five tablets (5grain, 325mg) of aspirin for relief of minor pain, for lowering temperatures, and for symptomatic relief of colds and respiratory infections. Ibuprofen (200mg) or acetaminophen (paracetamol)are appropriate substitutes for those who can't tolerate aspirin.

Codeine. Fifteen tablets (30mg) for relief of pain, cough, and diarrhea. A good multipurpose drug. It is customarily compounded with acetaminophen tablets in the U.S.A.

Anti-motility Agents. Codeine, as already mentioned, or loperamide (2mg), or diphenoxylate compound tablets. Take twenty.

Antibiotic. The current trekkers' wonder drug is probably ciprofloxacin, in 500mg tablets. Expensive, but adequate for most of the infectious bacterial causes of illnesses that might befall the trekker. Take twenty capsules at least; the dose is one capsule twice a day. An alternative is norfloxacin, 400mg tablets, taken three times a day. A related cheaper drug, nalidixic acid, has been used successfully in Nepal and is the drug of choice for children for diarrhea. Other choices would best require that two different ones should be carried, a cephalosporin (cefaclor, cefuroxime, and cefadroxil are choices in the United States) and co-trimoxazole. Carry a 10-day supply of a 250-mg cephalosporin. The dose for the cephalosporin is either one or two every 8hours (cefaclor) or 12hours (cefuroxime or cefadroxil). If allergic to penicillin, you might also be allergic to a cephalosporin, but this is relatively rare. Erythromycin (250mg capsule) would be the best choice for allergic individuals. Take forty. Bring co-trimoxazole (trimethoprim 160mg and sulfamethoxazole 800mg) in so-called double-strength tablets if not allergic to sulfa drugs. Bring twenty of these tablets. Be aware that there may be resistance to this drug in Nepal.

Antiprotozoan. Tinidazole is the best drug to self-treat presumed Giardia or Amoeba infections while trekking. It is not available in the United States but can be purchased in Nepal. Take twenty 500mg tablets.

Antiheminth (worm medicine). Six 100-mg tablets of mebendazole. one tablet taken morning and evening for 3days will take care of most worm infestations in porters. You won't be there long enough to require treatment in Nepal.

Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS, Jeevan Jal). A mixture of salts and glucose, this powder is added to a liter of water to provide the appropriate drink to rehydrate in almost any situation, but especially from diarrhea. Not easily available in the United States- buy it in Nepal.

Altitude Medicines. Acetazolamide (DiamoxTM), 250mg tablets, take twenty, and also dexamethasone, 4-mg tablets, take five. The first is to treat symptoms of mild altitude illness, and the second is to take if someone has the serious, cerebral symptoms. The first drug is appropriate to use for prevention in suitable situations.

Gamow BagTM. A hyperbaric chamber for treatment of serious altitude illness. Enquire to Chinook Medical Gear, P.O. Box 1736, Edwards, CO 81632, phone 1-800-766-1365 or (970) 926-9277, fax (970) 926-9660. Recommended for parties in a group trek to significant altitudes.

Anti-inflammatory Agent. To be considered if you are prone to arthritic conditions or tendonitis. Aspirin or ibuprofin are good choices; acetaminophen is not meclofenamate. The latter is a good all-purpose pain medicine.

Sunscreen Preparation. One with a sun protection factor (or SPF) of at least 15 in order to get adequate protection from the sun on snow slopes at high altitudes. Sunscreens are best applied 1or2 hours before exposure and reapplied after heavy sweating. Be sure to apply them over all areas that can receive direct or reflected sunlight, especially under the nose, chin, and eyebrows. Lip balms containing effective sunscreens should also be used.

Topical Ophthalmic Antibiotic. Good choices of ophthalmic antibiotics are those that contain bacitracin, gentamicin, polymyxin, or tobramycin. Avoid any that contain steroids such as betamethasone, cortisone, dexamethasone, hydrocortisone, prednisolone, or others. If you wear contact lenses trekking, be sure to bring antibiotic eye drops.

Malaria Suppressant (optional). Chloroquine, for instance, if you and your doctor think it is necessary.

Packing List

Packing for a foreign trip is never easy, no matter how experienced or inexperienced you happen to be. There is always something that you’re likely to forget and always something that seems to get in the way of a “good packing job”.

The first time that you head to a foreign country is the toughest- you don’t know what to expect. You aren’t sure what you should be packing and you aren’t sure what things in the other country will be like. You pack everything and anything because you just aren’t sure! After you’re a bit more experienced and have made more than one foreign travel trips, you’ll get better at the packing part of it all- you’ll finally learn that packing the least amount you possibly can is the best way to go.

Of course, there is no possible way that I can just throw a list your way that you should print out and go by when you take your next trip to France, item by item. We’re all different types of people with different types of needs… with different types of items that we own and use. On top of that, our trips might be for different purposes- you may be heading on a business trip to London and need to bring suits for meetings all day long and I may be heading to Sweden for the time of my life- no dressy clothes needed. What I can do is offer a generic list that will include most items that most people will use while in a foreign country- from there, you make your own list and add the things and items you use on a daily basis that might not apply to me.

Making A List… Checking It 100 Times…

It’d be nice if we only had to check it twice. First of all, make sure that you do make a list- it’s one of the most important things you can do before packing. I know too many people who just go about the day and stuff things into a suitcase before they leave- so not the way to go! You’ll end up forgetting too many things. Make the list a few weeks in advance (or longer) before the actual trip- you’ll be much happier this way. I often find that when I pack and make a list at the last second, I’m walking around the house and saying to myself “H-e-l-l-o Erika… how could you forget this?!”

Making sure that you pack each and every little thing that you need is pertinent- heading to a foreign country can (and often does) mean higher prices for the things that may cost very little in a local grocery store at home. On top of that, who wants to spend the day at a grocery store in Stockholm trying to decipher the price on a tube of toothpaste that you forgot? Not me. Even though you need to make sure that you bring everything along with you, you also need to make sure that you don’t bring the things that you just won’t be using. Another extremely important thing that you need to do is find out how much luggage you can bring along on the trip- don’t think (if you’ve never traveled before) that you can bring along 5 suitcases weighing any amount you want them to weigh, you can’t. You’re restricted. The amount of luggage and carry-on’s that you’re allowed to bring is different for each airline- make sure you check this before you pack and leave. Not only might you be limited the amount of luggage, but you might be limited to how much it weighs- make sure you find this out. If you are limited, you’ll need to make sure you pack carefully- yet making sure you don’t forget things.

Foreign Travel

Foreign travel is, obviously, different than travel would be within the USA. Before your trip out of the states (or into the states if you don’t live in them), make absolute sure you find out the “rules and regulations” of the country you’re headed into.

Passport- It’s a 99% chance that you’ll need a passport when you head into another country- make sure you have one! Make sure that, if you don’t already have one, you get it taken care of as soon as you find out you’ll be taking a trip- passports aren’t made in one day. You don’t want to be stuck without one because you waited until the day before to get your snapshot taken- you won’t be getting on the plane. Make sure that you’re fully prepared when you go to get your passport- make sure you bring the needed identification (birth certificate with a U.S. State or county embossed seal, your naturalization/Citizenship certificate), a picture (taken at a “passport shop”), a driver’s license or Military I.D. issued over six months ago, a completed passport form and the cash to pay for the passport (I’m not sure what the current fee is since mine hasn’t expired, yet, from years ago). If you’re passport will be expiring soon (within 6 months) make sure you re-new it… the country you’re heading to may not let you in because the expiration date is so close.

Visa- Depending on the country you’re heading to, make sure you get your visa if it’s needed (an endorsement on your passport). For the country that I visit each year (Sweden), I do need a passport but not a visa because my stay does not extend 90 days (although I wish it would). Make sure that you allow several weeks time if you need a visa… unlike a passport (which can take 3 months to process) a visa may only take a few weeks, but you don’t want to take any chances.

• ”Drugs”- Before you go “drug happy” and pack your aspirin for your headaches and your Midol for your cramps, make sure you check out the ‘medications’ you can bring with you- what may be perfectly fine and legal here in the US, might not be ok for you to bring into a foreign country. If it is ok to bring in, make sure that you don’t just stick a few in a baggy for easy access and less space when you have that terrible headache- bring the medication in the bottle it came in to prevent any problems. If you’re on a prescription for something you have, make sure to bring a doctors note along with it.

The Usual Stuffs

Of course, when packing you’ll need to bring the basic things that you would bring whether you’re traveling to Florida or South Africa.

Clothes- It’s not wise to forget these, and I’d be a bit freaked out if you did. Pack wisely when it comes to your clothes- there is absolutely no need to pack your whole wardrobe, there’s no need to pack 23 pairs of pants when you’ll be gone for a few weeks just because you won’t know which ones you’ll want to wear when you wake up in the morning. Make sure that you bring clothes that you can mix and match so you’re not stuck with one sweater that will only go with a specific pair of pants- you’ll be wasting a lot of room this way. To save some space, pack your socks underwear and bras (and whatever else you can fit) into your sneakers. More detail CLICK HERE

Toiletries- Things such as your soap, facial cleansers, hair care products, sunscreen, razor, shaving cream, nail files, nail clippers, deodorant, tooth brushes and toothpaste, dental floss and all of your makeup are things you won’t want to forget. Just make sure that you tighten all of the jars, lids and tops… you’ll be sorry if your nail polish remover leaks on your favorite shirt. It’s a good idea to just take what you need- there’s no need to bring along 6 different lip sticks… for a few weeks (or however long you’ll be away) you can deal with one or two. Put the things that you can into a small plastic bottle of your own- all of these beauty products and toiletries can be heavy if left in original large sized jars of pumps, etc. If you’re staying in a hotel, it might be a wise idea and make a call ahead to them and see what toiletries they have in the bathroom for you.

Money- when traveling to a foreign country, it’s obviously pretty stupid of you to bring your Filenes card with you when there isn’t one located in Africa. It’s also not wise to bring a Discover card because it’s probably not accepted. However, do bring your Visa or Mastercard if you have one- this is better to use than cash in foreign countries. Don’t forget your traveler's checks if you’re using those and your ATM cards.

Electric Stuffs- if at all possible, make sure you can try and avoid bringing any types of products that need to be plugged in (hair dryers, curling irons, alarm clocks, etc). Towel dry your hair instead of blow dry, have the hotel give you a wakeup call instead of bringing an alarm clock. Most of the countries out there use 220 volts at 50 Hertz but some use 110 volts at 60 Hertz. On top of that, all sockets are different and what you plug in at home, might not fit into a socket found in a hotel in India. Of course, adapters and converters can be purchased for this slight problem but it’s money and space that’s not completely necessary.

Camera/Video camera- definitely one of the most important things you can bring along. A foreign trip may be a once in a lifetime opportunity into a world that you’ll never venture again. To capture this trip and provide memories, and moments for the rest of the family to see (who weren’t as fortunate to go with you)- take a lot of pictures. Don’t forget the film!

Plane Stuff

If you’re like me and hate planes, you’ll want to bring things to occupy you- if you love planes, you still might want to bring things to occupy you; books, magazines and paper and pen/pencil should keep your attention for awhile. Make sure you bring gum for the horrible ear popping that occurs when you’re changing altitudes and getting higher.

Final Ramblings

Packing is what you make it- if you wait until the last minute and rush around without a list, you’ll be stressed out before you even hit the airplane. If you plan weeks in advance, start your list early and pack as close to your leaving date as possible, you’ll be less stressed and worried that you forgot something.

Clothing:

Clothing considerations differ widely from trek to trek. A short hike up in the middle of August could be undertaken in shorts, T-shirt, a warm pullover, sandshoes and a sun hat; a higher altitude say above 3000m in June, however, would require a far more comprehensive clothing list. One of the most important considerations is the manner in which you trek.

In all mountain areas you should be prepared for inclement weather. On the other hand, excessive clothing takes some of the simple delight out of the trekking and it can also be very expensive. Remember that most of the clothing that you would take on a weekend bushwalk is also suitable for trekking the Himalayan foothills. During the period in which you will be walking in Himalayan Kingdom, heat will be just as much a consideration as the cold. For the majority of treks you will not be walking in snow, and it is not necessary to equip yourself with double boots and heavy down gear as if you were about to climb Everest. A sturdy pair of boots is always recommended, as is a good wind-and waterproof jacket and a comfortable backpack which is adequate for your needs. An invaluable extra is a sturdy walking stick - useful on muddy trails and for warding off over-friendly shepherd dogs.

If you are travelling exclusively in Himalaya and are not prepared to carry huge quantities of trekking gear around all the time, you can practically equip yourself in Nepal. A local tailor can make up a pair of shorts and comfortable long trousers in an afternoon. Raw wool pullovers, long johns, string vests, gloves, socks, and balaclavas can be purchased in the bazaars, while local hunter boot

Clothing Checklist

Walking Boots: These are the most important item when considering your trekking gear. Boots must give good angle support and have a sole flexible enough to meet the anticipated walking conditions. A sole fitted with a three-quarter length shank is not necessary unless you intend to tackle extensive snow and glacial terrain. Ensure that your boots are well walked-in beforehand, and don't forget to bring spare laces and some waterproofing application such as Dubbin.

Jacket: Unless you have a very tight budges it is worthwhile investing in a top range Gortex jacket. This will serve your needs in the Himalaya, and be an invaluable asset on any outdoortrip you undertake when you return.

Down Vest: Recommended for those chilly mornings. If you already have a full down jacket then there is no harm in bringing it along, although the temperatures on your trek are seldom likely to call for its use, unless you really feel the cold.

Wool Shirt or Pullover: A thick woollen shirt is worth its weight in gold. This is an item that does not cost the earth but can contribute greatly to your total wellbeing. As an alternative, raw wool pullovers can be purchased locally in Kathmandu.

Breeches: A pair of woollen walking breeches is ideal. Ex-army woollen pants are another option. Pile trousers provide a satisfactory alternative, or even track suit bottoms if you are not likely to be going above 3500meter. A lighter pair of reinforced cotton ex-army pants is also a useful item. Jeans are totally unsuitable in wet conditions.

Over Trousers: A strong nylon pair is indispensable in wet weather.

Shorts: Ideal for most trekking, although they should not be worn in villages, monasteries or other places were they may cause offence to the locals.

Shirts: T-shirts are OK, but include some cotton shirts with collar and sleeves to give much-needed protection in the sun. Ex-army shirts with plenty of pockets are ideal.

Thermal Underwear: Both the vest and bottoms can make a significant difference to comfort. A double layered vest is especially recommended, particularly if you are unsure of the adequacy of your sleeping bag. Also inlcude a normal guality of regular underwear for the trek.

Gloves & Balaclava: Both items can be purchased locally. A balaclava is particularly important as considerable body heat is lost through the head.

Socks: A sufficient supply of thick and thin pairs should be taken. Use cotton inner socks and woollen outer socks when on the trail.

Sandshoes: For campsites and days when you have blisters.

Sunhat: Absolutely essential.

Tracksuit: A bit of luxury for sitting in the mess tent in the evening

Snow Gaiters: Recommended, especially during the early part of the season when there is likely to be snow on the passes.

Snow Goggles/Sunglasses: Good quality snow or ski goggles are necessary to combat the side glare on the snow. Even if you are not actually walking on snow, the side glare from snow on the ridges can make goggles necessary. For non-snow conditions sunglasses are adequate. Back to top

EQUIPMENT

Holdall: A strong duffel bag or holdall is necessary for carrying your gear on the packhorses. The bag should be large enough to contain all your personal gear.

Stuff Bags: To protect your clothes from elements you should bring a few stuff bags, as most holdalls are not totally waterproof. Strong plastic bags are an ideal alternative.

Backpack: Internal frame backpacks are ideal for longer walks. Ensure that the sack is large enough to carry your toilet gear, camera, waterproof jacket and sweater, as the packhorses may not be at hand during a sudden change of weather. It is not recommended to bring a large backpack as a means of packing gear onto horses, as the condition of the backpack will deteriorate rapidly after a few weeks of rough treatment by over-zealous horse handlers.

Water Bottle: An aluminium or ex-army make is recommended, although plastic bottles can be purchased locally.

Swiss Army Knife: The pride of any shepherd's possessions, and always useful for peeling fruit and opening tins; one with a small screwdriver is invaluable for carrying out camera repairs.

Torch (Flashlight) & Candles: Available in Kathmandu. but don't forget spare batteries and bulbs.

Umbrella: For the rain, and shielding yourself from the sun; also handy when making discrete calls of nature. Available locally.

Miscellaneous: Toiletries, toilet paper, waterproof matches, sun block, towel, laundry soap, sewing kit, safety pins, and length of cord, and some small plastic bags to carry toilet paper and litter until you can dispose of it properly.

Optional Extras: Altimeter, compass, binoculars, notebook and pens.

 

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