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How to prepare for trekking in Nepal | Insight Guides Blog

How to prepare for trekking in Nepal

Everest on Namche acclimatisation walk
Everest on Namche acclimatisation walk. Photo: Nepal trip provider.

Chances are you only plan to go trekking in the Everest region once in your life. We bet you’ll fall in love with Nepal and will find yourself returning, to explore another part of this beautiful, diverse country. There’s no shortage of information - some helpful, some down-right dangerous - about how to prepare for and undertake a trek in the Everest region. Here’s what you need to know to make the very most out of a trek amongst the highest mountains in the world.

1. Improve your overall fitness

There’s only one way to travel in the land of the Sherpa and that’s on foot. The locals are naturally very fit, strong people. The speed that porters can hike at makes you wonder if their large, heavy loads are nothing but fresh air! You too are relying on your level of fitness and overall health to enjoy trekking in the Everest region.

There’s no two ways about it, if your fitness levels aren’t up to the trekking then it’s not going to be a pleasant holiday. Many people who book a trek to see Everest do so well in advance and view it as a further incentive to work on their current fitness levels. Preparation and planning is fundamental. But remember, an Everest trek is not a race and it’s not a sprint either. Stamina is key, as is the ability to maintain a steady pace for several hours at a time, each and every day.

Increase your fitness and stamina levels slowly. Don’t try and overdo it at first. Plan ahead and aim to reach your peak fitness levels to coincide with when you are about to depart for your trip.

Need help planning your trekking trip to Nepal? Our local experts will help you to create the ultimate trekking adventure. Check out our Annapurna Adventure or Exclusive Everest trips.

Trekking to Pangboche. Photo: Nepal trip provider

Trekking to Pangboche. Photo: Nepal trip provider

2. Take a mini-trekking trip

By far the best way of achieving this is by simulating what you’ll be undertaking on your trek. In other words, go out walking in the hills and the mountains. It’s an outdoors holiday, so you need to be equally comfortable being outdoors too. Make your Everest trek a good excuse to take weekend walking breaks.

Not everyone will have access to mountains the size of the Himalayas. No problem. There are hills and mountains high enough to be the equivalent of a typical day on trek. You can’t climb the Himalayas in a day. Again, don’t overcook it. Don’t set out to climb Ben Nevis on your first outing. Start with something more manageable at first, then increase your walking efforts steadily. An average day on an Everest trek (although it varies) involves around 5-7 hours walking and around 700m-900m ascent. Sure, there’ll be some descent too, but on a trek in the Everest region you’re usually heading higher each day, until it’s time to turn around and descend. Aim to reach a point where you’re comfortable with walking to that level in mountainous terrain. More importantly, is that you can then do precisely the same the next day too. If you can, then you’re about ready. If you can’t, well, you know you’ve got to keep working on it.

3. Keep a clear head

As well as being physically prepared, being mentally prepared is almost as important. We often underestimate our own abilities and it may amaze you what you can do walking-wise when you have no alternative and, as we said at the beginning, there’s no alternative in the Everest region. Looking forward psychologically to a good, long, challenging walk is entirely different to dreading it. If you’re not actually enjoying it, then why do it? Doing anything that you’re not actually enjoying makes it seem ten times harder. 

4. Don't just walk

Of course, not everyone can hike in the mountains and hills on a daily basis and although we cannot emphasise just how important it is to ‘get out there’ and enjoy this activity as much as you can, there are other ways to improve your fitness levels that will also pay dividends when you do venture into the hills.

If you’ve got a local gym, join it. Tell the instructor about your Everest trek and they will advise you on a personal fitness programme. It’s important that both you and the instructor understand that you’re not going to be walking on flat, level ground. The muscles you’ll be using for those all important ascents (and descents) need to be worked on too. If you’ve got a bicycle, use it more.

Read more: The Annapurna Circuit, Everest Base Camp and Beyond

Biking benath Dhaulagiri. Photo: Nepal trip provider

Biking benath Dhaulagiri. Photo: Nepal trip provider

Cycling is a great (and fun) way of building up the muscle groups and improving aerobic stamina too. Go jogging. It really works. If you can plan your jogs to involve some hill sprints then all the better. As well as being a fun sport to play, squash is very good at improving fitness levels and stamina. Add more exercise into your usual daily routine. If you can then cycle/walk to work. Take a walk during your lunch break (and not to the pub!). Go for walks in the evening when you're back at home. Fresh air is good for you anyway and you can always record your favourite TV programmes and watch them later. Think like a metronome. In other words, imagine a steady beat in your mind, not too fast though, and use that as your optimum walking pace to maintain.

5. Take a deep breath

Focus on your breathing too. Breathing is something we just seem to take for granted, but short, shallow breaths just don’t get that all-important, energy-giving oxygen into our muscles. In fact, it often ends up leaving you feeling breathless. When exercising deep, steady breathing is a good idea. You can actually train your body to do this without even thinking about it. Just breathe in and out deeply in time with your walking. Do it often enough and your body will take over.

6. Fuel your body 

Last, but by no means least, consider your diet. Your local GP surgery can give you advice on what to include in your diet and what to avoid. Use this in conjunction with whatever exercise programme you’ve decided to adopt and stick with it, because Everest is waiting for you.

7. Don't stop there

And finally, after you’ve returned from your well-prepared-for Everest trek, you should hopefully find yourself fitter and healthier than ever. Don’t stop. Keep it up. There are more mountains waiting. 

Now read the book: Insight Guides: Nepal

Everest Summit. Photo: Nepal trip provider

Everest Summit. Photo: Nepal trip provider

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