Trekking hike in the Himalayas always sounded like an epic adventure. So epic that it also felt very intimidating, even after meeting people who had done it themselves. The earthquake of April 2015 and the recent fuel & gas shortage (because of Indian blockade) adding more confusion to the challenge. “Is it really a good time to go there?” one would rightfully ask: after trekking 170km on the Annapurna circuit & spending 6 weeks in Nepal, I give a few answers below.
I wrote a full article about trekking the Annapurna Circuit.
Is it ok to go to Nepal in 2016?
In a nutshell: yes, it’s completely fine. There are still issues due to the earthquake (i.e. many re-building to be done) & the blockade (fuel shortage). However, as a tourist, you are not affected by it. You can still find all range of accommodation, transportation is running just fine & food is never missing. Gas price went up (times 5 on the black market) so some guesthouses might have to cook using wood instead of gas, and you might have to pay an extra $1 to take a hot shower (wow, big deal!).
Can you trek in Nepal in 2016?
Sure, you can still trek as usual. Actually, there are much less tourists/trekkers than usual so it is a great opportunity to experience trekking in Nepal in a very quiet environment. By doing so, you also support the local economy that is built around the hiking path. Some villages really felt empty of tourists as it was obvious that it could welcome much more of us. Finally, everything is cheaper as there are not enough tourists, this includes accommodation, food, trekking gear, Sherpas, souvenirs & so on.
How much cost trekking in Nepal?
I did the Annapurna Circuit & I would expect similar prices for other treks.
I spent around 20 USD per day: food, drinks & accommodation included. I did not have a sherpa guide, nor porter. Accommodation was always provided for free if we were having dinner & breakfast in the place.
Porters cost from $10 per day, try not to give the porter too much stuff to carry, they are regular human beings who happen to be very fit. But they will get the same back problem as you and I by carrying 20+ kg for weeks.
Can you still cross the India-Nepal border by land in 2016?
Yes, it is ok to cross border by land. Buses going to India are operating & I met many people who did it. None of them mentioned anything special.
What region of Nepal was the mostly affected by the earthquake?
The area around Kathmandu was the most severally affected. Pokhara was not affected at all as well as many other places. But even if the Kathmandu region was the most affected, the city itself still has a lot of intact buildings.
How is the re-building taking place in Nepal?
A lot of the destroyed places are still not re-built. I was very surprised to see so many calls for volunteers in guesthouses & restaurants. But it seems that although a lot of money has been given by people and organizations around the world, very little is reaching the people needing it. Considering the cost of labor, one would think that the (hundreds of?) millions given would make the things go further. I have not done enough research to understand the whole issue, but two reasons come back all the time: corruption and disorganization. Corruption seems deeply rooted in the country, Hinduism along with its cast system is probably not helping. Disorganization is everywhere in Nepal, one should remember that Nepal only recently became a democracy so major governing issues have to be expected.