How trekking in Nepal is different from trekking in India

Housing eight of the highest mountains in the world, including the juggernaut that is Mt Everest, it is of no surprise that Nepal is a global destination for trekking and mountaineering. The moment you walk out of Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport, you know any trekking trail you take – a legendary mountaineer has been on the same trail at some point in time. You would probably be shadowing the footsteps of mountaineering heroes!

With our team gearing up Everest Base Camp via Gokyo Ri in October, Sandhya Uc and Trek Leader Gurdit explain how trekking in Nepal is a wildly different experience than trekking in India.

Trekking in Nepal- Indiahikes
Walking among the giants PC: Arun Nayak

Being among the big mountains!

The biggest attraction of trekking in Nepal is its big, precipitous mountains. Eight of the fourteen “8000-ders” are your trek companions. They literally surround you on all sides! On Everest-Gokyo Ri trail alone, you will see Everest, Makalu, Lhotse and Cho Oyu that rise like snow walls in the Gokyo region.  You will also see (and traverse!) Himalaya’s largest glaciers like Ngozumpa and see Khumbu glacier on the EBC-Gokyo Ri trail.

However, Nepal doesn’t have as much diversity in views as India does. “It doesn’t rain in Nepal as much as it does here. That changes the nature of terrain you trek in. Indian trails have an element of surprise to them. They keep you guessing about the next change in scenery,” Sandhya opines. “Even if you see the forests and bugyals, the forests here are infinitely more dense. The meadows are large and green – in fact, India is a lot more greener. Even the trees – I saw a lot of pines but the kind we see in India – maples, silver birch were missing.”

Trekking in Nepal Khumbu glacier Indiahikes
Khumbu glacier PC: Christopher Immanuel

“If you want to trek in Nepal all you need to do is pack your bags and set off on your trek. You don’t need to worry about logistics.”

The nature of Nepal’s terrain puts it on on the bucket list for mountaineers and trekkers alike. “The whole world treks in Nepal” was Sandhya’s first statement when she had returned from Gokyo Ri exploration. After the successful climb of Everest by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953, the 60’s and 70’s saw a huge influx of trekkers and climbers. The torrential downpour of trekkers in the region has only increased over time. So much so, according to government statistics, Khumbu district is the wealthiest in Nepal with 7 times the average national income and twice that of the capital, Kathmandu.

Moving from tea-house to tea-house

As trekking and mountaineering thrives here, there has been investment in infrastructure to support it. There are plenty of tea-houses on the trails and signages guiding you in the right direction. “You can halt at any tea-house, talk to trekkers from various parts of the world over a hot daal bhat, and have a good night’s sleep on a comfortable bed in your own room,” Gurdit says. The facilities at the tea-houses are also quite advanced- they have a telephone connection and WiFi connection. “To put that in context for you, imagine having a WiFi connection at Roopkund! Those are the altitudes these tea-houses are in.”

trekking in nepal-tea house-Indiahikes
Luxurious interiors of a tea house. PC – Christopher Immanuel

The luxury of trekking without a plan

“Trekking in Nepal is also hassle free,” says Sandhya. “You don’t have to worry about logistics. If you want to trek in Nepal all you need to do is pack your bags and set off on your trek. There is no pre-booking required. All permits and services can be obtained on-the-go. You don’t really need a guide or the services of an organisation to trek in Nepal.”

You can just go with a group of friends, or even alone. The Indiahikes team came across a number of single trekkers, including women. There is no end to trekking possibilities in Nepal. “If you are willing to rough it out, trekking in Nepal can be done on a shoestring budget,” Sandhya says. “Unlike India, you are part of the bigger ecosystem of trekking here.”

Trekking in Nepal - Airport
Lukla airport PC: Gurdit

Safety and Awareness in Nepal

“On the first day of the exploration, I remember 15 helicopters flew over me. I was praying, hoping that it wasn’t another mass evacuation operation,” recollects Sandhya. “Thankfully it wasn’t. They were emergency rescue helicopters, run by private operators to help trekkers in distress.”  

Since summitting the Everest captured global imagination, emergency services are viable to operators. “Not only that,” Gurdit pitches in. “There is a lot more awareness in Nepal when it comes to altitude sickness. When we were in the tea-house in Gokyo, which is around 14,000 ft, I got handouts for seminar about AMS, HAPE and HACE. We didn’t attend it because we had to head out for Ngozumpa glacier that day but it tells you about how aware and prepared they are for things that can go wrong on the mountains”

Helicopter rescue operations are, however, expensive. Here are prices from Phortse and Gokyo to give you an estimate of price range: $2800 and $3200 respectively.

Trekking in Nepal- helicopter-Indiahikes
Helicopter services PC: Gurdit

Clean Trails

Nepal sees hundreds of people from across the world trekking year around. The lower altitudes, especially, are crowded. Yet, even most heavily trodden trails in Nepal are cleaner than relatively unknown trails in India.

“The answer is in collaboration,” says Sandhya. “Nepal has a well-developed a system to manage the waste. After seeing Nepal, I realized that rapid progress can be made only if the locals, government and trekkers work together. We need to build more sustainable solutions and infrastructure to ensure the trails in India are free from litter.”

Trekking in Nepal is on every trekker’s bucket list- be it the Everest Base Camp or the gentler Annapurna Circuit or the off-beaten Manaslu Circuit. Nepal is an experience!  At Everest Base camp itself, you will get to interact with mountaineers – possibly future summiters of Everest!  Trekkers from our last batch of Everest Base camp-Gokyo Ri were welcomed in the Assamese expedition tents and came back with stories to regale others. “You’ll see a rich blend of international cultures in Nepal. I barely saw any Indians trekking in Nepal. Around 90 per cent of them were foreign nationals. In India, 90 per cent of trekkers are Indian, but right on the other side of the border, you’ll find the whole world trekking.”

In the video below Sandhya shares her experience of the Gokyo Ri – Everest Base Camp trek in Nepal

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14 thoughts on “How trekking in Nepal is different from trekking in India

  1. Very well written and informative…
    In contrast to Nepal, on the further side of the border, in Tibet, you are literally dependent on every-step on your guide/agency for logistics to permission, everything..

  2. Well written article. I totally agree “whole world treks in Nepal” 🙂

    Regarding your opinion “India is a lot more greener. Even the trees – I saw a lot of pines but the kind we see in India”, is this opinion based on Everest Trek from Lukla or is this your experience in couple of other treks too in Nepal?
    Apart from Everest I have done Annapoorna circuit and Manaslu Circuit Trek.
    They offer amazing greenery and diversity. Manaslu circuit is a must do trek in Himalayan range.

    In case of Everest we miss greenery since most of the people trek from Lukla which is already at very high altitude. I hear if we trek from Ziri to Everest base camp the greenery is amazing.

  3. Yes,Surely Nepal is the best destination for trek ever in the world.I really appreciate your points.Thanks for sharing such a beautiful articles.

  4. Nepal Trekking holidays is the best activity in the world, being the home to the 8 eight thousander mountains out of 14 in the world. So, most of the trekkers will go the Everest and other popular Himalayan base camps for awesome natural and cultural experience. Aswati, you really wrote the nice article.

  5. Trekking in Everest and Annapurna is so popular in Nepal. Beside this, you can go for trekking in the restricted region such as Upper Mustang and Upper Dolpo trekking which are the hidden gems in Nepal.

  6. I recently did the Annapurna base camp. Totally agree with your views on cleanliness and the awareness of AMS . You can see sign boards educating the trekkers of possible signs of AMS and how to prevent it. Trekking in Nepal offers diversity and relatively easy to go solo.

  7. She compared EBC to trekking in all of India. Got to compare Leh/Ladaka to Upper & Lower mustang and to parts of Upper Dolpo, Phoksundo Lake.

    Compare Nada Devi to Western nepal i.e Rara Lake and Khaptap national park area. Although places in Western Nepal are harder to reach.

    If you want change in scenery every 4hrs than do the Annapurna circuit (not ABC) or Mardi Himal.