The Dos and Don'ts of Trekking Etiquette in Nepal
Nepal, with its rugged Himalayan terrain, offers some of the most spectacular trekking experiences on the planet. As you embark on a life-changing experience in the Himalayas, here is an article that will inform you about the dos and don’ts of trekking etiquette in Nepal, often missed by the majority of trekkers. These etiquettes also contribute to preserving the beauty and tranquility of these natural gems for future generations.
The Dos of Trekking Etiquette
Respect Local Customs and Traditions
One of the most enriching aspects of trekking in Nepal is the opportunity to engage with local cultures. Be open to learning about and respecting the customs and traditions of the communities you encounter.
If you get an invitation to join the local events or celebrations, do not hesitate. You will love the experience for the whole life. The Nepalis generally greet others with “Namaste”. However, different ethnic groups have their own specific greetings as well.
In Buddhism, the right side is considered purer, so it is customary to circle Buddhist monuments such as stupas, chortens, and mani stones, keeping them at the right.
Stay on Designated Trails
The allure of uncharted paths may be strong, but stick to designated trekking trails. Straying off the path disturbs fragile ecosystems, damages vegetation, and contributes to erosion. Staying on the designated trails also ensures your safety, as dangerous wild animals tend to avoid regions with human activity. If you find yourself on a damaged route ask the locals or your guide for alternative paths.
Let the slowest trekker lead
If you are trekking in a group, let the slowest trekker lead. Walking at your own pace is crucial for trek success. Hurrying during the trek increases the chance of catching altitude sickness and the risk of losing body balance.
Yield to Local Traffic
The road infrastructure in remote trek regions is almost non-existent. So you will find pack animals such as donkeys, horses, yaks, or mules carrying supplies to these regions. The paths can be very narrow, so you must tread carefully. We advise you to stick to the path side opposite the slopes. Be patient. The animal tenders will also pay attention to your safety. Similarly, if you are descending, give way to those who are ascending.
Listening to Music
We understand that trekking is a fun activity, and it is common to enjoy trekking while listening to music. However, we suggest you use Air Pods/earphones instead of blasting music from speakers. For safety reasons, wear only one side of the headphones/earphones as you need to be aware of your surroundings. There are chances that other trekkers may call for help, warn you of dangers ahead, or you might be near wild animals.
Adjust your itinerary
Safety should be your first priority. If the trails are wet and slippery, it is better to wait and let them dry up and become safe again. While on the way, converse with fellow trekkers and ask for trail conditions. If it is too windy or too icy, do not trek.
Practice Responsible Camping
If you're camping along the trail, choose established campsites whenever possible. Avoid disturbing wildlife, and camp at least 200 feet away from lakes and streams to protect water quality. Arrange for your fuel as best as you can. Do not take anything from the trek regions as it disturbs the ecology. Do not make much noise.
The Don'ts of Trekking Etiquette
Don't Litter or Leave Trash Behind
Littering in the trek region is a sin. Do not leave any trash behind, as it will disturb the ecology, pollute the environment, and make trek regions unattractive. Try not to take anything that does not decompose to trek regions. Carry a water bottle instead of buying plastic-packed water.
If you cannot avoid bringing in undecomposable materials, take them back from the trek regions as you return. If you use fire, pay extra attention and douse the flames before leaving. If you smoke, please dispose of cigarette butts properly.
Don't Disturb Wildlife
The allure of wildlife encounters is undeniable, but remember to observe them from a distance and avoid disrupting animals' natural behaviors. Though you might feel the urge to feed wildlife, don't, as it can harm their health and habits. Maintain an appropriate distance for your safety. Do not use traps. Do not touch nests. Do not poison any animals.
Don't Haggle Over Prices
In local villages, it's common to purchase goods and services. The remote trek regions have limited opportunities to make a living, and the undeveloped road infrastructures mean carrying goods to trek regions gets expensive. So, do not haggle much. Support local economies by paying fair and reasonable rates for accommodations, meals, and souvenirs.
Don't Ignore Local Guidelines
Different trek regions have different local guidelines or regulations, whether they pertain to photography, access to sacred sites, or other aspects of your trek. These guidelines are often in place to protect cultural heritage and natural resources. So, do not ignore the local guidelines. If you do, you might face conflict with the locals that can ruin your whole experience. Please remember that you may not be allowed to click pictures of certain monuments due to some customs.
Don't Overconsume Limited Resources
In remote areas, resources like water and electricity can be scarce. So, use these resources conservatively, and be mindful of your impact on the local infrastructure. Taking excessively long showers or using excessive electricity can strain these resources, and your fellow trekkers might not get to enjoy these facilities.
Don’t complain about the facilities
Well, Nepal is a developing country with limited infrastructure in most remote trek regions. So, set your mentality to adjust to basic living conditions. Enjoy the trip and savor the moments away from the hustle and bustle of the cities and metropolitans. Make sure not to complain about the facilities. Be grateful for what you have!
Trekking in Nepal is a fun, life-changing experience, but you must follow trek etiquette. By adhering to these dos and avoiding the don'ts of trekking etiquette, you will ensure a harmonious and respectful trek experience while contributing to the preservation of Nepal's pristine landscapes and vibrant cultures. Trek with empathy and leave only the footprints behind.