Essential Information | Summitfit

Essential Himalayan Travel Information

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Physical Demand

TREKKING AT HIGH ALTITUDES (over 3500m)

Because this trip includes trekking above what we would consider high altitude (3,500m) you will need to be in great physical health and have great fitness to attempt this expedition. We take trekking at these altitudes very seriously, and tailor our itineraries to include suitable acclimatisation and move at paces that ensure the trek is as safe as possible whilst increasing our chances of completing the expedition

Joining Point Instructions

Prior to your departure we will ask for your flight details. Once you've landed in Kathmandu airport we will be there to collect you ahead of your expedition. We will be using a large Summit Fit banner, so you'll know exactly where we are.

 

We will also forward on details of the hotel we will be staying in in Kathmandu, and details of the time we will be having our first briefing. That way, if you are already travelling in Kathmandu, or have arrived earlier, then you will know exactly where and when to go to meet your team.

 

Please note that porters will likely approach you when you arrive ready to carry your bags, for a fee. If you would rather not have help, please be ready to kindly but firmly let them know.

Problems & emergency contact info

In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency please contact our local office in Kathmandu, or for general enquiries, use the contact details on the Summit Fit website.

Whilst we will always aim to provide the best possible experience and service, things can go wrong, especially given the nature of the expeditions we embark upon, and the areas we visit. It is essential that you speak to your trip leader as quickly as possible should any issue occur. They will try to rectify the problem as soon as possible, reducing the impact on the rest of your trip.

Should the group leader be unable to rectify the problem to your satisfaction, please ask them to speak directly to their manager. 

We will also request feedback within 30 days of your trip ending, although once the expedition is complete, it is difficult for us to provide practical assistance.

Finishing point instructions

At the end of your trip, we will transfer you to Kathmandu airport for your return flight. If you are not leaving Nepal, then it is at this point we will bid you farewell and wish you look with your onward travels.

Itinerary changes

Our itineraries are updated to reflect both feedback from previous trekkers and on changes in the destination. Sometimes the itineraries can change from when the trip was first booked, we therefore suggest reviewing and printing a final copy of the itinerary prior to your departure. It is always possible that changes to the itinerary may be made once you are in the country, this may be due to weather, local conditions, public holidays or other factors. Your expedition leader will keep you updated on any necessary changes.

Feedback

After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback to help us understand what we are doing well, and what might need some tweaking. We will request your feedback shortly after your trip has ended.

Essential Information

1. This trip starts in Kathmandu on Day 1 at 2 pm. This allows time after the joining meeting to explore Kathmandu.

2. Due to the demands of travelling at high altitudes a Self Assessment Form is required to participate in this trip. You will be trekking on hilly terrain, usually on well-defined paths, walking anywhere between 2–12 hours per day, on average about 5 hours a day.

3. If you would like to have your own room, please contact us when booking, please note, this is only applicable to nights spent in Kathmandu.

4. In case of weather conditions leading to cancellations or delays in flights, this trip will operate on an alternate itinerary, whilst keeping the main goal as our primary focus.

5. You must bring an emergency fund of USD 500 in cash with you on this trip, which you may need to use in case of delayed or cancelled flights.

6. We advise allowing a few extra days in Kathmandu at the end of your trip should there be delays during the expedition (such as delayed internal flights).

7. The minimum age for this trip is 15 at time of travel.

8. There may be times your leader makes the decision to either delay or stop your ascent based on your medical conditions and AMS symptoms. We will do as much as possible to ensure you reach your goal and complete the expedition.

9. You may be asked to provide 2 passport size photographs for your trekking permit.

Dress codes are quite relaxed in tourist areas of Kathmandu and Pokhara, but much more conservative in other parts of the country. Remove shoes before entering certain temples and holy places and be aware that non-Hindus may not be permitted at some religious sites. Dress modestly, take care not to offend and ask your leader if you are unsure if something is appropriate.

Passports & visas

Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Be sure to check the latest information regarding visas prior to travelling, entry requirements can change at any time. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking

NEPAL:

All foreign nationals (except Indian passport holders) require a visa to enter Nepal. Visas are obtainable from embassies abroad, land borders (including borders with India & Tibet) and on arrival at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan Airport.

Getting a visa at the airport or land borders can sometimes take time due to long queues. You may also be asked to show proof of exit from the country, ie your return flight tickets. You may also need to provide two passport photos and the following fees in US dollars (subject to change, cash only). Other currencies are also accepted although rates may differ. The following costs were correct at time of writing:

- Multi entry visa valid for 15 days - US$30

- Multi entry visa valid for 30 days - US$50

- Multi entry visa valid for 90 days - US$125

Your visa application form may require you to state the dates on which you enter and exit that country. We reccomend you list your date of entry a few days before, and date of exit a few days after your intended dates in case you encounter any delays or problems en route. To help calculate the exact dates of these crossings we have found the website www.timeanddate.com to be very useful.

Medical information

It is important that anyone attending a Himalayan expedition is in good physical health to participate fully. Please be sure to check the full itinerary and trip notes and assess your ability to complete the trek prior to booking. Please note that, if our lead guide feels that it is not possible for a traveller to complete the expedition without undue risk to themselves or other travellers then Summit Fit reserves the right to exclude the traveller from all, or part of the trip, without refund.

Be sure to contact your doctor regarding up-to-date medical travel information and for any necessary vaccinations you may need before departing. We also recommend carrying a personal first aid kid whilst on the expedition as certain personal medical items may be difficult to obtain along the way.

AIR POLLUTION:

Air quality in Nepal can be poor, especially in winter. Some towns, including Kathmandu, experience very high levels of seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution. If you have concerns about this, or respiratory issues, please seek medical attention prior to your trip.

ALTITUDE SICKNESS:

When travelling higher than 2,500m we are at risk of Acute Altitude Sickness, or AMS. This can be life threatening to those who are affected by it, and it can affect anyone, including those who are in good fitness. Those who drink alcohol or exercise before they have adjusted to the altitude, or those with pre-existing breathing problems, can be particularly at risk. If you have concerns, visit your doctor

When travelling to higher altitudes, you can expect to feel, but not worry about;

- Periods of sleeplessness

- Occasional loss of appetite

- Vivid, wild dreams at around 2500-3800m in altitude

- Unexpected momentary shortness of breath, day and night

- Periodic breathing that wakes you occasionally

- Blocked nose

- Dry cough

- Mild headache

If you feel other symptoms, such as nausea, dizziness then please let your group leader know so that your condition can be monitored. It may be necessary to return to a lower altitude for a period of time. In some rare cases, your group leader may deem it necessary to stop trekking due of it is unsafe to do so. Your group leader will arrange for you to return to a lower altitude.

A First Aid kit is carried with the group and all our leaders are First Aid trained. Please ensure that your travel insurance policy does cover you up to the maximum altitude on this trip, and includes helicopter evacuation. Please take proof of this with you on the trip, as you will need to show it to the leader.

MOSQUITO-BORNE ILLNESSES:

In some areas of Nepal,malaria can be a risk, including the south of Nepal in areas such as Chitwan national park. Dengu fever and Japanese Encephalitis can also occur. It is important to protect against insect bites by using insect repellent and adequate clothing.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND TREATMENT:

It is important to have medical insurance as medical facilities in Nepal are very limited, especially outside of Kathmandu. Clinics that provide treatment at an international-standard are often expensive, requiring payment upfront. Ensure your insurance covers evacuation by helicopter for remote expeditions.

Food & drink

FOOD IN NEPAL:

We do include meals while trekking, this does not limit what you can choose from the teahouse menu. We know from experience that the altitude and physical exercise can meal trekker's appetites differ quite widely. The menus in the teahouses are varied, ranging from traditional Nepalese dhal bhat to pizza and apple pie. Vegetarians are well catered for in Nepal. 

In Kathmandu and Pokhara there are plenty of restaurants and cafes for all tastes and budgets.

ALCOHOL & CAFFEINE:

It is best to save the trekking celebrations until after your expedition. Alcohol can have an adverse effect at altitude and hasten the onset of AMS. Both alcohol and caffein increase dehydration, another factor that can contribute to altitude sickness.

Accommodation

Each trip includes a night in Kathmandu at the start and one at the end. The accommodation throughout will be teahouses or camping depending on the trip. Any alterations will be mentioned in the 'included' section of the trip description on the website.

Teahouses are simple but comfy, and traditional. They're a great way to feel part of the local culture. Toilets and washing facilities tend to be basic and shared and food is usually quite plain, but filling and perfect for taking on large expeditions. In most cases, travellers will have a small shared twin room with a mattress, but during busy times and in locations with limited teahouses it beds may be in a dormitory.

Some teahouses won't have access to electricity and rely on solar power, which can be a little unreliable and often means charging personal devices isn't an option. In some remote areas teahouses won't have running water, which means that a toilet may simply be a hole in the ground. Hot showers are usually a chargeable luxury, especially as the location becomes more remote, and this may simply be a bucket of hot water. As well, charging devices and using WiFi can incur an additional charge.

TEAHOUSE COSTS

The following approximate costs were correct at time of writing, though these can vary slightly from teahouse to teahouse, especially when in more remote areas:

Shower - 300NPR

WiFi - 500NPR (for the duration of your stay)

Electricity - 250NPR (for the duration of your stay)

Soft Drink - 350NPR

Mango Juice - 300NPR

Porridge - 400NPR

Daal Bhaat - 400 - 700NPR

Transportation

Private vehicle, Plane

LUKLA FLIGHTS

Lukla flight are included in expeditions in the Everest region. These will depart early, usually on day 2 of the trip unless otherwise stated. Unpredictable weather in the mountains can sometimes cause delays to flights. In this instance an alternate itinerary will be formed that aims to complete the original objective. It is worth considering booking a later return international flight, should a return flight from Lukla be delayed due to weather. Ensure you have adequate travel insurance and contact numbers for your airlines before departure.

LUGGAGE LIMITS:

Domestic flights in Nepal have strict weight limits - 10kg of check-in luggage and 5kg of carry-on hand luggage per person is included with your flight ticket. Excess baggage (up to 5kg per person only) will be charged at your own expense.

TRAVEL BETWEEN KATHMANDU & POKHARA:

On itineraries that include road travel between these destinations, past travellers have often decided to fly this route independently to avoid the long overland journey (200km, approx 6+ hours). The flight takes around 35mins. Should you decide to fly, this will be at your own expense with no refunds for road travel available.

ROAD TRAVEL:

Roadworks and infrastructure projects can cause significant delays on major roads within cities and highways between destinations. Road travel can also be disrupted due to demonstrations and bandhs (strikes) without warning. Major roadworks are currently ongoing in and around Kathmandu and the roads to Chitwan National Park. Delays, heavy traffic, poor road conditions and dust are a reality of road travel in Nepal.

MONSOON:

The monsoon season is from June to September and weather conditions can disrupt travel during this time due to flooding and landslides. Disruption of air travel and airport closures are also possible. Be prepared that the itinerary may need to change at short notice.

Money

NEPAL:

The official currency of Nepal is the Nepali rupee (NPR). Its symbol is often displayed as Rs. USD are also widely accepted in Nepal. ATMs can only be found in Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Bhaktapur. 

Before departing on a trek, make sure you have enough Nepalese currency to purchase meals and drinks, in the smaller denominations where possible, as there are no ATMs and larger notes (such as 1000R) can be difficult to change.

SPENDING MONEY

When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

CONTINGENCY FUNDS

We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved. The recommended amount is listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting.

NEPAL:

Tipping is the recognised way of saying thank you for good service. Normally the porters and any other trek staff are given their tips at the end of the trek and this is best done as a group. Your Nepali tour leader will advise the group on an appropriate level of tipping. Most groups will hand out the tips with a bit of ceremony (or sometimes a party) on the last evening, to mark the end of the holiday. 

As a guide, we recommend that each group member contributes around £60 (in rupees) to these tips. At the end of their trek many people also like to donate various items of equipment to the porters and trek staff who work so hard to make the trip a success. Boots, gloves, hats, scarves and even socks are always warmly received by the porters and makes a big difference. Your tour leader can help to distribute the items fairly. Please note that you will have the opportunity to tip your tour leader separately during dinner on the final evening of the holiday.

Packing

What you will need to pack for your trip will vary according to the expedition or adventure you are going on. Please refer to the downloadable kit-lists on each expedition website page. As a rule of thumb, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances as you may need to do this prior to meeting your team of porters. 

It is worth noting that the weight limit per traveller on each trip is 10kg each. Porters carry two bags each as well as a their own belongings, meaning a porter can carry up to 25kg. 

You won't need lots of changes of clothes, but it is worth packing items that can be layered to cater for the cold weather. As well, you will need waterproof layers for rain or snow. Try to use sealable dry bags in your packing to keep the kit inside dry should it rain - this includes items in your main luggage. Dry bags can also make organising your kit easier.

Your trek leader will assist you in packing your kitbag and can advise what to bring and what can be left behind in Kathmandu.

Climate & weather

ALTERNATIVE ITINERARY DUE TO FLIGHT CANCELLATIONS:

Weather conditions in the Himalayas can change rapidly, which frequently results in the need for changes to be made to our intended itineraries. Flights throughout Nepal, particularly in high mountain areas, can be delayed or cancelled due to poor weather conditions. Flights between Kathmandu and Lukla are particularly prone to these delays which has the potential to vary the itinerary of all departures in the Everest region.

Should weather significantly impact the flight departure we will look to charter a helicopter to transport the team to Lukla. This would be at a cost to the traveller, so please ensure you are carrying $500usd to cover these costs if necessary.

SEASONAL INFORMATION:

Nepal's climate varies greatly depending on the season:

JUN - SEP: the monsoon rains (mostly at night) bring landslides in regional areas. Cloud cover often obscures mountain views with rain, mud and leeches deterring most trekkers at this time of year. Treks running in September can be hot and very humid at lower altitudes. 

MAR - APR: Spring brings warm weather and spectacular rhododendron blooms. A popular time to visit and one of the peak times to trek.

OCT - NOV: Clear skies and warm days make autumn the peak season.

DEC - FEB: Winter brings cold temperatures and snow to the mountains. Good trekking, but remember to rug up.

Safety

Prior to travel, we reccomend taking a look at the government travel advice page - https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/nepal. Many countries and governments provide similar advice and we reccomend checking your respective advice if not travelling from the UK.

We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. It is also worth using a lock recommended for securing your luggage.

Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Summit Fit itinerary, and Summit Fit makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

STRIKES:

Demonstrations and protests are common in Nepal, with strikes regularly occurring that may result in curfews or roadblocks being enforced at short notice. At these times, businesses may close and vehicles may not be allowed on the roads. You should avoid any demonstrations or political gatherings and follow local advice, including that of your leader in the event of any disruptions.

PETTY THEFT & CRIME:

Pickpocketing and other petty theft is common, especially in places where tourists or foreigners frequent. Take care when walking around at night. Avoid walking on your own and don’t carry large sums of cash. Keep valuables in a hotel safe if possible. Bars and restaurants now close at midnight as part of a government crackdown on illegal activities. Foreigners remaining in bars and clubs after hours have been detained by the police. Police have increased their presence in Thamel and Durbar Marg, popular tourist districts in Kathmandu, in an effort to reduce crime in these areas. You should seek out police if you have been robbed or affected by any crime.

ALTITUDE:

Altitude sickness is a risk, including on the Annapurna, Langtang and Everest Base Camp treks. Please make sure you familiarise yourself with signs and symptoms before you depart and monitor your own health during your trek.

INSURANCE:

Make sure your insurance covers you for your intended activities, including travel and trekking above 3000m if this is included on your itinerary, mountain rescue services and helicopter evacuation costs.

FESTIVALS:

Travelling in Nepal during Holi Festival (1-2 March 2018, 20-21 March 2019, 9-10 March 2020), can at times be dangerous due to revellers consuming intoxicating substances. The day is often associated with physical violence and danger. Your leader will advise you and your group on what places to avoid on this day and it may even be necessary for us to alter your itinerary for the day to avoid putting you or your group leader in high risk situation.

Travelling during the Hindu festival Diwali (7 November 2018, 27 October 2019, 14 November 2020) can also be dangerous. During this time there are many displays of fireworks in the streets. It can be very noisy for several days and there is also a lot of pollution caused by the fireworks. As there are no restrictions on buying fireworks there are often injuries caused by people exploding them inappropriately. During this festival your leader may be required to alter your itinerary to avoid any dangerous areas to avoid putting the group at risk.

INTERNAL FLIGHTS:

There have been a number of air accidents in Nepal. We only use airlines that have passed strict safety audits for included internal flights in Nepal, including Buddha Air, Yeti Air & Tara Air.

Group Travel

For each holiday there is a minimum number of participants required to enable it to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to run'. You can check the trip status for each departure in ‘Dates and Prices’ table. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not cancel a trip once it has achieved this guaranteed to run status and so you are free to proceed with your international flight booking and other travel arrangements.

Travel insurance

It is an essential condition of joining a holiday with Summit Fit that you have a valid travel insurance policy to cover the cost of medical treatment and to protect the value of your holiday in the event of cancellation.  When taking out insurance please ensure the policy you choose covers you for the activities and altitude included in your itinerary.