Tour type: Private
Group size: Min: 1 | Max: Any
Accommodation: Boutique hotels & trekking lodges
Transport: A/C minibus
Highlights: Kathmandu temples & bazaars, trekking in the Annapurnas, sunrise on Poon Hill, majestic mountain views in the Annapurna Sanctuary, Newari village of Bandipur, hike to Ramkot.
The 'Annapurna Sanctuary trek' takes you into a hidden bowl in the heart of the Annapurna range, where you are surrounded by a spectacular panorama of towering peaks, ten of which are over 6,000m. One of the more popular Annapurna treks, this trek takes you as far as Annapurna Base Camp at 4,095m. We reach the sanctuary after a beautiful and varied trek through the Himalayan foothills, passing through small villages, mixed forests and terraced farmland. En-route we enjoy great mountain views at sunrise from Poon Hill, and finish with some time relaxing in the lakeside town of Pokhara and exploring the Newari hilltop town of Bandipur. An excellent introduction to Nepal and trekking in Annapurnas.
You begin your tour in Kathmandu with a guided tour of this bustling city, taking in tiny markets, corner temples and the famous central Durbar Square. From Kathmandu you have a scenic road journey to Pokhara where your trek begins from nearby Naya Pul. Staying in lodges throughout, you will get to meet and talk with other trekkers and guides each evening, and discuss the places you've visited, and the route ahead, as well as making a contribution to the local economy.
Starting in the foothills, immediately north of Pokhara you start the trek by climbing to Ghorepani, where you can enjoy beautiful sunrise views of the Annapurna range from Poon Hill. From Ghorepani you cross several valleys and then ascend along the beautiful Modi Khola valley. Deep Rhododendron forests, with sprinklings of a whole range of orchids, and bamboo forests replete with chattering monkeys, are a dominant feature of this trek.
As you walk further up into the centre of the Annapurna Himal, you will visit Machhapuchhare Base Camp followed by Annapurna Base Camp itself. As you enter the Annapurna Sanctuary (a mountain ringed amphitheatre of immense proportions), you will be rewarded with spectacular views of 10 snow-capped peaks above 6,000m. The peaks include: Fang, Glacier Dome, Homunculi, Annapurna, Annapurna South, Annapurna 1, Annapurna 3 and Machhapuchhare. All of these, combined with the impressive backdrop of the south face of Annapurna 1 (8,090m) make this trek a truly unique and unforgettable experience. After some time exploring the Sanctuary, you retrace your steps for a couple of days to leave, before trekking back towards Pokhara, stopping along the way at the hot springs near Jhinnadunda.
You have a free day in Pokhara which we leave to give you time to relax in this peaceful lakeside town, and to allow for any delays on the trek itself. From Pokhara you travel by road back to Kathmandu via Bandipur and have a little free time to do some last minute shopping or a little more sightseeing around the city and surrounding valley.
One of the great things about the Annapurna region for trekking is the huge variety of routes and paths available. This means the itinerary below can be both shortened and extended in all kinds of different ways if you have more or less time available for your trek. Options are also available to explore the ancient areas of Patan & Bhaktapur outside Kathmandu, do a mountain flight up to view Everest, or extend the tour to try some white-water rafting or visit one of Nepal's wildlife sanctuaries.
We greet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel in the centre of Kathmandu, where our Encouners Travel rep welcomes you, helps you settle in, and explains the agenda for the rest of your tour.
The first part of the morning will be dedicated to a pre-trek briefing and introduction to your trekking guide. After this you'll take a relaxed walking tour through the tourist district of Thamel, and on through tiny markets, past local temples and on to the central Durbar Square with its splendid array of Hindu temples, stupas and palaces. The rest of the day is then free to explore yourself and to make any final purchases from one of the many trekking shops.
In the evening you have an opportunity to try out the numerous, restaurants and bars, and soak up the feel of the place that makes Kathmandu a magnet for travellers from all over the world.
Today you set off early heading west for Pokhara. You will travel by private car or minivan with a driver and your trekking guide, and once clear of the city's surrounding hills, there is a wonderful vista of snow-capped peaks as you wind your way down into the Trisuli River valley. You may well see white water rafters on the Trisuli river below you. The drive continues through the junction town of Mugling, and on to Pokhara (approx. 7 hours). The journey will also give you your first glimpses of Himalchuli and Manaslu, away to the north.
On arrival in Pokhara, after checking into the hotel, you are free to explore the busy Lakeside area.
Your trek starts today after a drive of around 1 1/2 hours via the large village of Lumle to Naya Pul. The route starts by passing Birethanti (1025m), a large and prosperous village. Your path follows the main trail to Sudami where you climb steadily up the side of the valley, reaching Hille (1,495m) before pushing on to Tirkhe Dhunga (1540m).
Trekking time: Approx. 2½ hours
Thirkhedhunga trekking lodge
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
From Tirkhedhunga the trail crosses a stream and then ascends a steep stone staircase to the large Magar village at Ulleri (2,070m). You trek through rhododendron and oak forests and across streams before making a short, final climb to Nangethanti. From Nangethanti you finally trek up to Ghorepani (2,850m). The distance covered isn't too huge today, but you are gaining over 1300m in altitude so be prepared for tired legs by the end of the day. The views of the Annapurna foothills improve with every metre gained and provide a fitting reward for the hard work.
Trekking time: Approx. 5 hours
Ghorepani trekking lodge
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
It is no surprise that many people come to Poon Hill to see the sunrise and an early start allows you to watch it from the summit. At 3,210m it is considered one of the best viewpoints in the Himalayas. Most of the way up, there are good views of the Annapurnas and Dhaulagiri, while on top you are surrounded by a whole panorama of mountains. There is an observation platform at the summit with picnic tables around the edge of the hilltop and usually a local selling welcome hot drinks. The snow-capped peaks are the first to be set alight and while you watch, the mists gently dissipate and lines of hills poke their ridges through to welcome the sun. When the sun breasts the hills to the east its warmth suddenly takes the chill out of the air. (Take an extra layer of clothing with you because it can be quite chilly before this).
You next descend to Ghorepani and from here you follow a gently forested ridge for a while. There are views to both sides and the air is often busy with the sound of chattering monkeys. The peak of Machhapuchhare is visible, before you descend steep, muddy slopes and a heavily forested narrow gorge. As the gorge widens, you arrive at Banthanti. Continuing on, you descend steeply before climbing through dense, dark forest up to Tadapani (2,630m). Sunrise and sunset offer particularly good photographs of Annapurna South, which towers above the town and Machhapuchhare, which is visible across the valley.
Trekking time: Approx. 4½ hours (plus another 4½ hours for Poon Hill)
Tadapani trekking lodge
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today you descend through a jungle-like forest (notorious for leeches in the monsoon season) where the tree branches are draped with hanging mosses and the air is mixed with the scent of decay and flowering trees. Eventually you emerge past a woodcutter's sawstation and onto terraced fields on the side of a deep valley. From here, you follow the valley down past cowsheds and small houses, stopping to watch local farmers working on the terraces. At the river you cross a sturdy bridge, before climbing up to the other side of the valley. Here you round the shoulder of the hill and join the much larger Modi Khola Valley. It’s only a short distance along the valley, which leads you directly up to the Annapurna Sanctuary before we get to Chhomrong (2,170m). The village of Chhomrong is relatively large, and spread out along a steep stone staircase down the side of the valley. Water burbles down cleverly built channels following the hundreds of steps down to the bottom. There is a hydroelectric project at the base of the hill, which now provides most of the village with electricity. It is the last major inhabited village you'll encounter before you return from Base Camp.
Trekking time: Approx. 3 hours
Chhomrong trekking lodge
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Following a well-worn trail, you rejoin the Modi Khola valley, walking through rhododendron forests, gently climbing uphill and passing through high bamboo forests populated with monkeys, and with occasional meadows above. You eventually reach a divide in the trail and bear right down to the lodges of Bamboo near the river, and a welcome break. If you don't have walking poles with you, this stretch of walk provides a good opportunity to pickup a stout bamboo walking stick for the coming climbs to Base Camp (ask your guide what you can take). You leave the river, walking again though wet rhododendron forest and start to climb up to the lodges at Doban before pushing on through some quite steep sections to the grandly named Himalaya Hotel (2,920m).
Trekking time: Approx. 6 hours
Himalaya Hotel trekking lodge
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today you leave the tree line behind you, as you progress steeply upwards into open areas. Traversing past Hinku Cave, a huge overhanging rock that can be used as a makeshift shelter in winter if the weather turns bad, you then cross two regular avalanche flows before you get to Deurali. Then you ascend to the narrow entranceway into the Annapurna Sanctuary. Machhapuchhare is now clearly visible, towering above you and just across the valley. Travelling across a barren rocky area you arrive at the Machhapuchhare Base Camp, which at 3,700m is perfectly positioned at the gateway to this inner Annapurna panorama. From here it’s less than two hours to the Annapurna Base Camp (4,130m), and perfect views of some of the worlds highest mountains. You may struggle to get this far in the winter months, if there is a lot of snow, recent avalanches, or the weather looks like it will turn for the worse. Your guide will have the final say, but walking through these peaceful valleys in the snow, with huge icicles hanging from Hinku Cave and the rocks above, makes up for not getting right to the top. The distance covered isn't too long today, but you will be feeling the altitude now and should not stay any higher than Macchapuchare BC.
Trekking time: Approx. 3 hours
Machhapuchhare Base Camp trekking lodge
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Much of this day is spent enjoying the spectacular scenery that surrounds you. It's not a long walk up to South Annapurna Base Camp (4130m), though you are gaining over 400m in altitude. There are various routes and paths in the sanctuary allowing you to try different viewpoints from which to view the peaks. The huge south face of Annapurna I (8,091m) provides an impressive backdrop, while the closeness of 10 peaks over 6,000m, including Annapurna South, Annapurna 1, Annapurna 3, Homunculi and Machhapuchhare, is simply awe inspiring. Sunrise is particularly special as the rising sun slowly illuminates the snow-capped peaks. Walking through the Sanctuary, the views are spectacular, as you feel almost completely surrounded by nearby mountains. The silence is crushing and only occasionally broken by the distant roar of avalanches. If you're lucky, you may see some climbing expeditions preparing to head up the mountains.
Trekking time: Approx. 2-3 hours
Annapurna Base Camp trekking lodge
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Leaving the towering peaks behind, you retrace your steps past Hinku Cave and back down through the tree line and through the rhododendron and bamboo forests. You continue on past Himalaya Hotel to Bamboo Lodge (2,310m). You're losing a lot of altitude today so walking poles or a bamboo stick picked up earlier will really help your knees.
Trekking time: Approx. 6 hours
Bamboo trekking lodge
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Continuing back along the Modi Khola Valley, you leave the bamboo behind you as you descend through rhododendron jungle towards Chhomrong. From here it’s a short but steep walk down to Jhinnudanda (1,780m), where you will stay overnight. Just below the town are hot springs, where you may have time for a welcome soak, revitalising hard worked muscles and joints.
Trekking time: Approx. 5½ hours
Jhinnudanda trekking lodge
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
You could finish your trek today and walk straight out down the valley from Jhinudanda, picking up a shared jeep or local bus to Birethanti and on back to Pokhara. However, we prefer to add a couple more days and some more impressive views to this trek and to hike up from New Bridge (1340m) along the eastern side of the Modi Khola valley, passing through the village of Landruk (1,620m) before beginning a steady ascent through Tolka to Pothana (1890m).
Trekking time: Approx. 5 hours
Pothana trekking lodge
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Your trek finishes today as you leave the views from Pothana behind you and descend first to Deurali and Dhampus and then to Phedi, where you rejoin the main road and we drive you back to Pokhara. Set in a broad fertile valley, Pokhara is the gateway to most of Nepal's rafting and trekking destinations and has plenty to entertain you this afternoon and evening as you celebrate completing the trek.
Trekking time: Approx. 2 hours
You leave Pokhara behind today and make the drive to the Newari hilltop village of Bandipur (approx. 3 hours). The beautiful centre of Bandipur has been lovingly restored and much of the town is now a pedestrian only zone and surrounded by beautiful old buildings. After settling into your hotel you can spend the afternoon relaxing or exploring the town or take a hike to the nearby village of Ramkot. Ramkot is a village inhabited by the Magar community with good views, and gives you the opportunity to see another Nepalese community with their traditional round houses.
If you wish, you could skip Bandipur completely and return all the way to Kathmandu today, shortening the whole tour by a day.
There's more free time this morning to explore Bandipur before driving back to Kathmandu (approx. 4-5 hours, subject to the traffic on arrival in Kathmandu). You can start at a time of your choosing, depending on whether you'd like more time around Bandipur or in Kathmandu. One good option is to spend the morning walking down through the forests from Bandipur to Bimalnagar on the the main Kathmandu road at the bottom of the hill, stopping at the Siddha Gufa cave on the way. This cave is reputedly the largest in Nepal, at over 400m deep and 50m high, full of stalactites and stalagmites, as well as hundreds of bats. Compulsory guides are present if you'd like to enter (approx. NRs200). The cave is unlit, with torches available for hire. The stone steps down from Bandipur can be slippery.
Your tour ends after breakfast and, if required, we transfer you to the airport for your flight home.
Seasonal prices are given below based on 2 people travelling with one trekking guide and porter. We can also customise the itinerary to fit your personal requirements and the number in your party. Please contact us for more info.
The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we most often on this tour. From time to time we may exchange these for similar properties at the same level. In general, specific hotels cannot be guaranteed on our group tours, but you may select your preferred options if you are booking a tailor-made trip.
Our tours are designed to include all that you need to enjoy a really special time in the destination youre visiting. However, we do also offer some extra options to complement the tour and add some additional sightseeing or activities, or some extra time at either end of the tour.
All accommodation based options (e.g. Single supplements, extra nights, cruise upgrades) should be booked and paid for in advance so that we can make the appropriate arrangements. Other options may either be booked and paid for in advance or while you are on the tour, though we recommend booking in advance to ensure there are no issues with availability.
Many options are priced the same throughout the year, but some may incur single or high season supplements - full details are given on the tour reservation form or on request.
The detailed Tour Notes below have been written to give you some more detailed information about how the tour runs, what to expect, and how to prepare for your holiday. We recommend downloading an up to date copy of these shortly before you travel in case of any changes.
This tour uses a variety of accommodation from comfortable boutique style hotels to basic trekking lodges.
Hotels in Kathmandu & Pokhara
We use a comfortable boutique style hotels in Kathmandu and Pokhara (approx. 3 star), set in the Thamel and Lakeside parts of each city which are most popular with tourists and have easy walking distance to plenty of cafes, shops, restaurants and trekking equipment shops.
Trekking with lodges
For this lodge-based trek, we will use a variety of Lodges and Teahouses. In recent years many new lodges have sprung up and many offer quite good facilities and amenities, especially on the main Annapurna Circuit route. However, in some areas including the Nar & Phu Valleys, the lodges can be run on a very simple basis where toilets and washing facilities are outside the building. We can’t promise that you will always have full amenities all the time, so you should understand this before embarking on this trek.
Staying in lodges gives you more comfort overnight than camping, and also allows you to meet up with and talk with other trekkers and guides at the end of the day. It also allows us to put more back into the local economies than if we were bringing everything with us.
Rooms in lodges are normally based on same sex sharing of twin rooms (though couples will be able to share). Some sheets & blankets are provided but a sleeping bag is still required. We provide the option to hire a sleeping bag in our trekking pack option, though you may still wish to bring your own inner sleeping bag liner or sleep sheet if you wish. Warm showers are available for a small fee at most lodges, though these may be bucket showers higher up.
One night is also spent in a simple, friendly hotel in Bandipur.
Hotels in Kathmandu, Pokhara & Bandipur
Breakfasts only are provided in these hotels. Kathmandu and Pokhara in particular have a wealth of restaurants serving excellent food from all over the world, so you will never be short of ideas or places to eat within a short walk of the hotel.
Trekking with lodges
Three meals per day are included on the trek, covering one main item from the lodge menu plus tea/coffee for breakfast and dinner, and a more basic lunch. This provides a hearty breakfast and dinner, but you may add to these if you wish (eg. for deserts or snacks), paying the lodges directly. You’ll find that the lodges along the route provide a surprisingly good selection of food and drink. In places the menu may be limited but the food is always nourishing and wholesome. To protect the limited resources available in remoter trekking areas (particularly with regard to fuel) we politely suggest that you either eat the same items as the guide / porters, or as the rest of your party, and not to order too many different items from the menu.
Water & Drinks
It is very important that you drink lots of water and remain well hydrated during this, and any trek. We also recommend you refrain from drinking much alcohol during the trek. This all helps your general wellbeing and to protect against the symptoms of altitude sickness. You can buy bottled water at most of the lodges along the route and tap water is also available but should be treated. However, we strongly recommend against buying bottled water as plastic waste is a perenniel problem in the Himalayas and other trekking areas. We therefore recommend that you carry your own water bottle (or two) and refill it each day at the lodges you pass or from springs or streams your guide suggests are OK to use. Any water collected this way should be treated either with a water filter or with purification tablets. Water bottles with built in filters are readily available these days and are excellent for trekking with. Purification filters and tablets are available to buy in trekking shops in Kathmandu and Pokhara if you don't want to bring them with you. You can also get cheap powdered flavourings to remove the taste of purification tablets.
This is a private tour, so your 'group' will just be whoever you are booking and travelling with, plus your guide and porter(s).
Fully trained English-speaking Nepalese trekking guides are provided on this tour and many of our travellers consider them a highlight of their tour. For parties of 1-6 travellers we provide one trekking guide plus porters, and for groups of 7 to 12, two guides are provided plus porters.
This is a supported trek, and we provide porters to carry your main bag. All you will need to carry is a small day-pack containing your water bottle/camera/snacks/clothes you may take on and off during the day. You can leave a bag with some of your luggage locked securely in the hotel in Kathmandu.
We support and follow international guidelines for the employment of any trekking porters we use, including those of Tourism Concern and the IPPG (International Porter Protection Group). Insurance is provided for all porters. Generally we use one porter per 2 trekkers though this will vary slightly on occasion depending on the make up of your party.
If there are two people travelling, then our normal arrangements are for one guide and one porter. You could bring two main pieces of luggage with you, leaving one behind in Kathmandu or Pokhara and sharing your kit in the other main bag for the porter to carry. Our strict maximum weight limit for porters in Nepal is 30kg. Please therefore plan to take a maximum of 15kg per person on the trek that you would like the porter to carry.
At Encounters Travel we only use local Nepali guides and reps. We feel this gives you the best experience of the country and the sites you are seeing.
We use private cars or minibuses for all the main transfers & journeys on this tour, including from Kathmandu to Besi Sahar, and Pokhara to Bandipur and back to Kathmandu.
Jeeps, which may be shared with other travellers, are used for the rough gravel roads from Besi Sahar to Kotor, and down from Marpha/Jomsom to Tatopani and Beni.
An upgrade to a domestic flight back from Jomsom to Pokhara is available on request either in advance or during the trek (subject to availability).
This tour include a 24-hour airport arrival and departure transfer service at Kathmandu airport and all other transfers. There will be a collection of people waiting on the far side of an airport service road immediately in front of you as you exit Kathmandu airport. Please look out for an Encounters Travel signboard to find our representative. You may well be pestered for tips by porters who try to carry your luggage. We suggest you either be firm and insist on carrying your own luggage, or if you want assistance, wait until you have met our representative and then let him arrange the porter for you. You will need to have some money ready for a small tip (eg. up to NRs 50 or a single US Dollar bill).
Your airport transfers are only included on the first and last day of the time you have booked with us. If you make your own arrangements for additional accommodation at either the beginning or the end of the tour then you will need to arrange your own airport transfers on these days.
We want to give you as much flexibility as possible when it comes to booking your holiday with us. So, to take account of people with varying travel plans, we don’t include your international flights in the main tour price. We are however very happy to suggest flights to go with the tour. Please contact us with your preferred dates and departure airport and we’ll give you a selection of airlines, times and fares to choose from.
Your airport arrival & departure transfers are included on the first and last days of the tour. Most of our Nepal tours start and finish at Kathmandu airport (KTM).
On tours that combine Nepal with Tibet, and/or Bhutan, the connecting flight(s) are generally not included in the price of your tour and will need to be purchased separately. Full details will be provided at the time of booking. If we arrange the flights then e-tickets will be sent to you in advance but will also be available in Kathmandu before you travel to the airport for the flight.
We do also sometimes advertise flight inclusive packages from selected airports. Where these are shown on our website, prices are correct at the time of quoting, but are subject to continued availability of the fare used. Prices will be reconfirmed at the time of booking, and we will also provide the flight times and airline details before tickets are issued.
Flight inclusive prices are based on the cheapest Economy ticket class available which is generally non-refundable and non-changeable unless the flight is cancelled for reasons such as Covid-19, in which case the airlines are more flexible. More flexible ticket options, as well as Premium Economy and Business Class tickets are available on request for an additional supplement. Any changes made to flight inclusive bookings will be subject to the airline rules on your ticket.
The trekking times given in the daily itinerary are approximate, and will vary depending on your fitness, and also importantly, on the speed you want to walk. We will normally set off early in the morning, and have plenty of breaks during the day, before finishing trekking in mid-afternoon. Some days will be longer than others, and your guide will let you know when there is a long day ahead.
Acclimatisation days are added into all our itineraries where required, and these cannot be missed out. You can however, slightly adjust the itinerary as you go along if you are struggling on a particular day, or you want to forge ahead - as long as this does not change the profile of the way you are gaining altitude from day to day. This must be done in consultation with your guide and be based on lodge availability. If travelling in a group of people, you should be prepared to walk at the speed of the slowest member.
We have graded this trek as: DIFFICULT:
“A serious trek, where we would expect you to have had previous trekking experience and to prepare in advance. You should be very confident of your trekking ability and be prepared to walk some long days perhaps on a steep climb (or descent). You may also have to walk difficult terrain or at high altitude for a number of days. This is definitely the kind of trek where you are more likely to experience extremes of altitude and/or weather.”
You will need to prepare in advance for this trek and we will provide you with a simple training guide. We will also ask you to complete a simple questionnaire about your fitness which will help us to advise you on how best to prepare.
Due to the nature of the trek we set a minimum age of 15 on this tour. If you have a family with younger children then please contact us and we will be able to offer options for alternative trekking routes.
Winter - December to February
It can get extremely cold higher up during the winter, and large dumps of snow can also cause delays and block the high passes. For this reason we avoid trekking during these months.
Spring - late February to May
This is a great time to trek, with the weather getting gradually warmer, and rhododendrons in flower.
Monsoon season - June to September
The monsoon rains start around mid-June and continue through July and August and into September. While it is possible to trek during these months, we avoid them on this route because the trails particularly at lower elevations can get muddy and slippery and hiking through prolonged periods of heavy rain isn't that enjoyable. There is also a higher risk of landslides blocking the trails and potentially causing injury.
Peak season - October-November
October and November are peak season for trekking in Nepal, with good weather and mainly clear skies, though you will often still get some afternoon showers if the monsoon is running a bit late. This is the busiest time on the mountain and flights into Nepal can also fill up and get expensive earlier.
The notes above are a rough guide and the weather does vary throughout each season and from year to year. The monsoon rains can start earlier and also drag on into October, and cloud cover can be variable too. However, taking a balance of the numbers of people on the trails and the weather & visibility, our preferred months to trek this route are October-November, March and April.
The tour reaches an altitude of over 5000m on several occasions and we therefore plan the daily walking schedule to ensure that you acclimatise gradually and to take account of the effects that spending time at high altitude can have on you. The speed that we gain altitude is therefore restricted and you may not push on ahead even if you think it has been an easy, short day, if you are feeling fine at the time or if you want to shorten the overall trek.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) can develop at any altitude over 2000 meters. The early symptoms are headache, extreme fatigue, and loss of appetite. Some people become breathless at rest. AMS is the result of fluid accumulating in parts of the body where it does not belong: in the brain, in the lungs, or both. When mild symptoms develop, it is a signal that you must stay at that altitude or descend until symptoms have gone away. Never ascend with any symptoms of AMS!
Most people reaching altitudes above 3000m and certainly above 3500m will experience some breathlessness, mild headaches, and poor sleep patterns. Other common symptoms include lack of appetite, increased urination (though you should be drinking a lot so should expect this anyway), strange dreams, tightness in the chest and fatigue. However, few people get very severe symptoms or go on to develop acute altitude sickness (AMS) which requires medical treatment.
If you are male and/or unfit/unhealthy and/or older (60s, 70s, 80s) then you are more likely to be affected than if you are female and/or fit & healthy and/or younger. However, there is no hard and fast rule and there are plenty of exceptions to these generalisations.
To try and minimise the effects of altitude, we recommend that you:
People with serious heart disease should not visit high altitudes, and people with light heart troubles should check with their doctor and follow their advice, as should people with high or low blood pressure.
More severe symptoms that may require medical treatment or an early descent to a lower altitude include severe and persistent headaches, nausea & vomiting, disorientation and loss of co-ordination, irrational behaviour. If you do experience any of these, make sure you tell each other and your guide straight away.
Trekking and Altitude Sickness
If you are trekking with us then you should keep your guide informed at all times of any symptoms you may be developing, especially headaches and breathlessness while at rest. You may need to spend a night or two at the same altitude before continuing your trek. All our trekking tours have acclimatisation days or specially designed schedules to help with this. Usually within one or two days you will feel well and can continue your trek. On private tours, your guide will adjust your itinerary to try and ensure the normal route can be achieved, though this may not always be possible. On group tours, the group may delay their ascent if the itinerary allows, or a porter or second guide may remain with you until the group descends and rejoins you.
If you are resting at the same altitude and your symptoms are becoming worse, then it is necessary to descend. Worsening symptoms of AMS including increasing tiredness, severe headache, vomiting, and loss of coordination. These are signs of High Altitude Cerebral Edema (or HACE). HACE can lead to unconsciousness and death within 12 hours if progressive symptoms are ignored. Increasing shortness of breath, cough, and tiredness are signs of High Altitude Pulmonary Edema or HAPE. HAPE can also be rapidly fatal if ignored.
A person suffering from AMS may not have clear thinking and may have to be forced to descend. You accept that our guides have the final decision on whether you should descend and that ignoring their advice constitutes your choice to leave the tour. Even if someone is willing to descent they should never be allowed to descend alone and one of our porters or a second guide will accompany you. Keep descending until the person shows some sign of improvement, usually after 300-500 meters of descent. Even if the diagnosis is not clear, but might be AMS, you should descend. You can always re-ascend when you feel better.
It is best to start descending while the person who is ill can still walk. In Nepal, if the person can no longer walk, a yak or horse might be obtained. Porters can often be found to carry a sick person down. Do not wait for a helicopter. If you choose to administer oxygen or medications do not delay the descent to watch for improvement.
In summary, if you are not doing well at altitude, most likely you have some mild symptoms of AMS. Rest at the same altitude until you feel well. If you are getting worse at the same altitude, descend to at least the last point at which you felt well. If you are not sure of the diagnosis, err on the side of being too cautious. Remember severe altitude sickness is entirely preventable if you follow these guidelines.
Costs for changing itineraries:
If you are not able to complete your trek or tour for any reason and choose to return back down early, then you may be liable to pay for extra accommodation and transport costs (see our booking conditions for full details). We try to be as flexible and helpful as possible in these cases, and will aim to arrange some lower altitude trekking or other tours during the time you would have spent at higher altitude. You must ensure that you have travel insurance that will cover you for any extra costs incurred due to symptoms or treatment or altitude sickness, and that your policy will cover you for helicopter evacuation to the altitudes reached on your tour.
All your entry fees and permits are included in the price of the tour to cover entry into the trekking conservation areas, and sites on any optional day tours added to the tour.
This trek passes through a restricted trekking area (Nar & Phu Valleys) for which advance permits are required. We will need to receive a scanned copy of your passport at least 2 weeks prior to arrival in order to ensure that permits are ready for you to start the trek.
The time in India and Sri Lanka is GMT plus 5 1/2 hours.
The time in Nepal is GMT plus 5 3/4 hours.
The time in Bhutan is GMT plus 6 hours.
The time in Tibet is GMT plus 8 hours.
Daylight saving adjustments are not applied.
You should ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including emergency evacuation and repatriation.
Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to the country you are visiting and where you are travelling from. We recommend you contact your GP/medical practitioner or a travel clinic for current information on vaccinations needed for your destination. You should ensure that you are up to date with vaccines and boosters recommended for your normal life at home, including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions. In addition, additional courses or boosters normally recommended for the countries in this region are:
Nepal: Additional vaccinations: Diptheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Bhutan: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Malaria: Vaccinations are not available against Malaria, which is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes that can be very serious and sometimes fatal. You should avoid mosquito bites by covering up bare skin with clothing such as long sleeves and long trousers and applying insect repellents to exposed skin. When necessary, sleep under a mosquito net. Mosquitoes are most active during and after sunset. You should consult with your GP/medical practitioner/travel clinic about the most appropriate malaria prophylactic medication to take for the regions you are visiting. In general the lowland regions Bhutan are considered malarial zones, while higher altitudes including central Bhutan including Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and Bumthang are not. Nepal is considered mainly low risk with prophylactics not normally required.
Yellow Fever: This disease is spread by infected mosquitoes that bite during the day. A Yellow Fever Certificate of vacinnation may be required as a condition of entry depending on which country you are arriving from, or that you have travelled or transitted through recently (including connecting flights with stopovers of over 12 hours). You can view this US CDC information about where the virus is present and follow the links to further information detailing which countries need you to have a Yellow Fever vaccination as part of their entry requirements. Please ensure you have this certificate with you and to hand if necessary. Please inform us of any pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or asthma and any prescription medicine you may be taking. We also need to know about any food allergies or physical disabilities that you may have.
Luggage: Whatever you're doing in Nepal, Tibet or Bhutan, you'll find that large rigid wheeled suitcases are cumbersome - you may be able to wheel them inside the airport and your hotel, but due to the condition of roads and pavements that's often about it. As many of our tours involve a degree of adventurous activity, we strongly advise you to bring a more practical bag for these i.e. a rucksack or holdall. These are easier for both your porters, and yourself to carry around. Suitcases are OK for our cultural tours in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan though, but please aim to bring small or medium sized ones rather than very large. If you are trekking or rafting, or doing a lot of travel throughout the country, then as little as possible is the basic message. A rucksack or holdall (50-70 liter approx.) for your main luggage, and a daypack for you to use during the day should be plenty. While rafting we only take essential kit on board the rafts, and your main luggage will travel by bus to the take-out point. While trekking your porters (Nepal) or ponies (Bhutan) will carry your main luggage, leaving you with just a daypack with things you'll need during the day. You can also leave some luggage locked safely in the pre-trek hotel if you wish. We recommend that couples plan to leave one main bag behind, and pool their remaining luggage in their other bag for the porter to carry.
Luggage limits: Most international airlines allow 20-23kg per person of hold luggage. Domestic flights often have smaller allowances around 15kg. As airline rules vary we recommend that you take no more than 20kg of luggage if your tour just includes international flights, and no more than 15kg if there are any domestic flights included in your itinerary. Please ask us for details if you are unsure. Any excess baggage fees will be your responsibility to cover. Most airlines allow between 5kg and 10kg for hand luggage so we suggest that you take no more than 5kg unless you have confirmed that your airline(s) will allow more than this.
If you are trekking with us, we ask that you keep the weight of your main bag that the porter will carry to a maximum of 12.5kg. This then allows the porter to carry up to 2 bags, and a maximum of 25kg (the International Porter Protection group's advised limit for Nepal is 30kg, which then leaves a little more weight for their own kit). This weight allowance includes your sleeping bag if you are hiring it from us and not carrying it with you to Nepal
If you are doing an Everest trek and flying from Kathmandu to Lukla, then flight luggage limits are 10kg for your main bag and 5kg for hand luggage - total 15kg. You can re-arrange that after you arrive in Lukla. Please keep to these limits as while you can pay for extra weight, it may be held back until the next flight which may then be delayed or cancelled.
Treks in Bhutan follow the same weight limits for your ponies.
You may leave other luggage securely locked in your hotel during the trek. If you are travelling as a couple then we suggest you leave one main bag in Kathmandu and share the other main bag that the porter will then carry.
Clothing & Climate: Nepal and Bhutan have a climate that ranges widely depending on when you visit, and where you are visiting.
- Autumn - late Sep-Nov: The weather is good and very warm, with lots of sunshine, getting quite hot during the day in lowland regions. It will still be cold at night at higher altitudes if you are trekking. Shorts & T-shirts are fine while you are walking, but you should still bring warmer clothes for the evenings. There is a good chance of rain in September and early October, so bring a waterproof.
- Winter - Dec-Feb: It will be pleasant in lowland regions with very little rain, but will be cooler at night. Long trousers and shirts are advised during the day, and you will need warm clothes in the evenings. If you are trekking, then it will be cold during the day, and extremely cold at night, particularly at higher altitudes. Several warm layers are recommended so you can regulate your comfort as you walk, including a waterproof, even if only to protect from cold winds. We include thick down jackets in our optional trekking packs for comfort in the evenings at higher altitudes.
- Spring - Mar-May: The weather is very pleasant during the spring, and again shorts & t-shirts are fine while you are walking. There is a higher chance of rain as the season progresses, so a thin waterproof is recommended in case. It gets very hot and humid in the lowlands from May onwards.
- Monsoon - Jun-mid Sep: It will be hot and sticky during these months, with lots of rain, so come prepared accordingly if you are visiting during these months - gaiters are highly recommended if you are trekking to keep out leeches.
A huge variety of cheap trekking gear is available in Kathmandu (fleeces, waterproofs etc.) and buying some here can save you carrying it with you, and support the local economy. However, you should definitely bring your own walking boots.
Modesty rates highly in Nepal and Bhutan especially for women, so please ensure all clothes are loose fitting and not too revealing. You'll find the Bhutanese dress fairly smartly or in national dress, so you will stand out even more if you look scruffy.
On the raft: Shorts, Tevas (sandals) or trainers, baseball style cap to keep the sun off your face, sunglasses with a strap to keep them on your head, swimwear, sarong for women, sun-cream, lip balm, water bottle, several t-shirts.
Note: All footwear on a raft should be rubber soled, and of the type that will not come off easily.
Off the raft: Long trousers, warm sleeping bag (provided, but you may want to bring a sheet sleeping bag as well), petzel type head torch, warm jacket/fleece, dry shoes, boots, warm socks, towel, warm long sleeved shirt, toiletries.
Cameras: You can take cameras on the raft, and we endeavour to keep that sort of kit dry in waterproof bags. But there is always an element of risk of getting the camera wet.
What you shouldn't take on the raft: All the rest of your kit and you're your valuables. We will make arrangements for their transport to your take-out point.
Suggested Clothing and equipment: Strong hiking boots or walking shoes that you have broken in; Good sized rucksack or holdall; 3 to 4-season sleeping bag (only if you want to use your own rather than the one provided in our optional trekking pack); silk or cotton sleeping bag liner; lightweight waterproof and windproof jacket; (waterproof gaiters, waterproof over trousers - these are only necessary on some treks in some seasons - contact us for further info if required); 3 or 4 t-shirts; small day pack; several pairs of light socks; 2 pairs of heavier woollen socks; underwear including thermals; warm hat and gloves; swimwear; pair of lightweight trousers; pair of shorts; 1 fleece or warm jumper and 1 sweatshirt. Also, sunglasses, torch and batteries, toiletries (include a lighter to burn toilet paper), bring biodegradable shampoo & soap, towel, blister kit, money belt and any personal medication you might require. Remember, Lots of layers are the key to staying warm and comfortable. Also, keeping your feet comfortable and healthy makes a huge difference to how you enjoy your trek. So, bring waterproof boots/walking shoes and plenty of pairs of socks so you can change them regularly.
Day Packs and Main luggage: You will want a sturdy and comfortable daypack to carry your day-to-day items with you while you are walking (clothes you may change in and out of regularly, drinks, snacks, camera). You will also need a sturdy holdall or backpack for your main luggage. Your porters or ponies will carry this for you, so suitcases are not appropriate. They may leave earlier than you, and may not walk with you throughout the entire day, so bear in mind that you won't have access to this luggage all the time - you need to ensure you are carrying everything you require during the days walk in your daypack. You can leave luggage behind in storage at your hotel so you don't need to take everything with you on the trek.
Whilst in the game parks:
You should bring long trousers and long-sleeved shirts for jungle walks and travel within the park. Please ensure these are of drab colours to avoid drawing attention. Sunglasses and sun-hats are advisable for hot and bright days. Mosquito repellent is highly recommended. Binoculars are extremely useful at any of Nepal's National Parks, and are not generally available for hire locally. Don't forget fast film for those jungle shots and moving animals/birds. A good cleaning kit is essential as these items are unavailable once at the park. It is also better to take quality film, either from home or Kathmandu into the parks, and to ensure you have a spare fully charged battery and memory card.
All tours: We recommend that you bring a sun hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, a basic first aid kit, toiletries, money belt, small torch, camera & charger.
While an accepted part of the culture and customs in Nepal, tipping is always optional, and any amounts paid should reflect excellent service. Tipping in Tibet and Bhutan is less prevalent though it is still normal practice to tip your guide and driver at the end of the tour.
We support and follow international guidelines for the employment of any trekking porters we use, including those of the IPPG (International Porter Protection Group). We therefore pay all our porters a higher than average wage, but an additional tip is still normal practice at the end of your trek.
It is normal and accepted for people to tip differently, and you should not feel under any pressure to tip any particular amount. We are often asked for advice on common amounts however, and suggest that you consider around US$ 5-10 per person per day for guides, US$ 3-7 p/p/day for assistant guides or tour leaders, and US$ 2-5 p/p/day for porters and drivers.
Haggling or bargaining is also prevalent throughout Nepal and Tibet, particularly in Kathmandu, and is still done in markets in Bhutan though to a lesser extent in other shops. More often than not the start price is at least double the actual price the vendor will be happy to accept. Do not take offence, but be prepared to bargain if you want to, consider your budget (and what you'd be happy to pay for things at home), pay fairly and enjoy this as part of the experience. Note: if you do offer a price, then you are expected to purchase – do not start bargaining unless you really want to buy.
While you are out in rural/hill areas, we recommend that you should stick to published price lists and pay fair prices for local food, accommodation and services, as this aids local economies (bear in mind that when you are trekking, nearly everything you eat or buy will have been carried there by porters or donkeys).
Passports should be valid for at least six months after your departure from the country. Please do not bring an almost full or almost expired passport. Visa arrangements are the responsibility of the traveller, and requirements are subject to change by the local authorities.
Many nationals can obtain their Nepalese visa in Kathmandu airport upon arrival (including UK, EU, US, CA, AU, NZ, SA citizens). The costs for a single entry visa are currently:
- up to 15 days - US$ 25
- 16 to 30 days - US$ 40
- 31 to 90 days - US$ 100
An additional $20 fee is charged to convert these into a multiple entry visa which will be needed for any tours returning to Nepal after visiting Bhutan or Tibet.
The visa is obtained in the immigration area at the point where your passport is stamped. Forms to fill in are available in this immigration hall and may also be given out on your flight (if so, do fill them in before you land as it will reduce your queuing time). You will also need to fill in an arrivals card. Once your paperwork is completed, head to the immigration desk and hand over your forms, 2 passport photos, your visa fee and passport. The visa fees are set in US Dollars, but you can also pay in other currencies, but don't rely on getting given change.
Passport Photos: You will need two passport photos for your Nepal visa if you are obtaining it on arrival. If you are doing any trekking, rafting or visiting a National Park (i.e. on many of of our tours), you should bring extras, as some of the permits we may need to get require these. Please bring at least 4 passport photos with you - they will always come in useful later if you don't need them all.
In Nepal, India and Sri Lanka, sockets are mainly two round pronged and 230 volts (Type C,D,M). In Bhutan a range of different sockets can be found, including two and three round pronged and three flat pronged (Type D,F,G).
Universal adaptors are available in most airport shops if you don't have one already. Standard UK-European adapters will work fine, though sometimes they may feel a little loose in the sockets. All hotel rooms have electrical sockets where you can re-charge cameras, phones etc. Hair dryers are sometimes available on request from the hotel reception if not in your room already but cannot be guaranteed.
If you have US appliances (110 volts) you will need a voltage converter as well as a plug adapter.
Please note that all Nepalese airlines operating domestic routes in the country are currently on the European Commission's list of airlines banned in the EU. This includes those running Everest viewing flights and flights to Lukla for the start of the Everest Base Camp trek.
Along with these Everest flights we may offer some other domestic flights on some of our tours, either as part of the itinerary or as an upgrade in place of a land transfer. Where this is the case we are careful to select airlines that have a good current reputation in Nepal.
If you would like to book a place on this tour, please complete the online reservation form on our website (via the Dates & Prices tab on the tour page). You may make a deposit or full payment online, or just hold a reservation if you prefer (full payments are due 8 weeks before departure). We will then contact you with more details about how to complete your booking. Payments may be made by debit or credit card (subject to a card processing fee), or by making a bank transfer, or posting us a cheque/bank draft. Full details will be provided in your booking confirmation email. Please contact us if you would like any more information or have any questions before making a booking.
We are a UK registered company and are committed to providing our customers with financial protection to provide peace of mind and to allow you to book with confidence.
We have therefore partnered with Trust My Travel Ltd., which provides financial protection services to over 2000 partners around the world. Funds paid to us by our customers are protected via an Insurance policy held by Trust My Travel. Each traveller and the description of services sold is declared against Trust My Travel’s insurance policy directly against our financial failure. In the event of our insolvency, you will be refunded for any unfulfilled products and/or repatriation to the UK (where applicable). Please see our website or booking conditions for more information.
It is impossible not to have an impact on the local environment, cultures and eco-systems when you travel. However, it is very possible to try and ensure that these impacts are as limited, or positive as possible. We are committed to ensuring that we try to leave our host countries in a better state than we found them and encourage and assist our travellers to help us with this.
The following are a few simple tips that require very little effort on your part but which will help ensure that any effect you have on the locations you visit is positive rather than negative.
All porters are employed and equipped following guidelines set by the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG).
Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and needs to cover personal accident & liability, medical expenses and repatriation, travel delay & abandonment. We also strongly recommend that you take out cover against cancellation and lost/stolen baggage. Personal medical insurance does not normally provide sufficient cover and is generally not suitable for travel on our tours. You will not be able to join your tour if you have not provided us with details of your insurance or if you arrive without cover in place (no refunds will be due in this event). More information...
You may arrange your own insurance, or you can take advantage of a comprehensive policy that we can arrange for you through Endsleigh Insurance which has been designed to be suitable for our tours. The policy is available to travellers of all nationalities and you do not need to live in the UK to take out the policy. For full details of cover provided, prices and to apply for one of our policies, please complete travel insurance application form.
Note: Any country that borders the Mediterranean is considered as 'Europe' for the purposes of travel insurance (including Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Morocco). If you are doing a tour that visits one country in 'Europe' and one that is 'Worldwide' (for example, an Egypt and Jordan tour), then you need a 'Worldwide' policy. When completing the form you should enter your travel dates including any extra days involved in overnight flights or connecting travel between your home and the tour. Our policies are not able to cover any extra time or activities other than your tour and options booked with us and your travel to & from home.
Note - to comply with insurance sales regulations, our travel insurance policies are only available to customers booking directly with us. If you have booked through a travel agent you will need to arrange your own insurance.
If your tour includes car hire, ior if you plan to arrange a hot air balloon flight locally or do some scuba diving during your tour, you should check the small print in your policy to make sure these are covered (these are covered in our policy). Please also check the maximum altitude that you will be reaching and that full cover including emergency evacuation is provided up to this altitude.
If you are taking expensive camera gear or other electronic equipment with you then please check the coverage and the fine print of your policy to ensure that you have sufficient cover.
IMPORTANT: We must have your travel insurance details (policy number and type of insurance) before you depart or you may not be allowed to join the tour. If you haven't told us already, please let us know the details when you can. You should take a paper copy of your insurance policy with you as you may be asked to show this at the start of the tour.
Before purchasing any travel insurance, please check the coverage provided for situations related to Covid-19, and for the rules about government travel advice. Your normal policy may not be suitable. Details about our own policies cover levels are given on our website.
You can stay in touch with us online by following us on Facebook and Twitter. We post updates on relevant travel news in our destination countries, special offers and discounts and other interesting travel related news and information.
www.twitter.com/encounterstravl (yes, without the 'e')
It is important when considering and preparing to travel anywhere in the world that you have a good understanding of the country you are visiting, its laws and customs, and the possible risks and situations that may occur. This includes specific risks related to your itinerary (eg. does it involve water & can you swim, are you fit enough for the activities included), as well as more general risks such as terrorism and natural disasters.
General details and links to more information about health risks, visa requirements, money, and travel insurance are given in these tour notes. We recommend that you re-read all these before your departure as well as the small print of your travel insurance policy so you know exactly what is covered and what is not.
You should take copies of your important travel documents with you and ideally also store them online securely as a backup. Make sure that you have given us your emergency contact details and told that person where and when you are travelling. Ensure you take enough money with you and that you have access to emergency funds.
Finally, you should read through and stay updated with the current official government travel advice for your destination. We are registered partners with the UK Foreign Office's 'Travel Aware' campaign which provides further useful and invaluable information.