My Experience Trekking in Nepal ...as a Single Female - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog

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My Experience Trekking in Nepal …as a Single Female

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The trick is to focus on the ground. When all you can see is the path underneath your boots, the depth blurs into a solid, rocky, one-dimensional plane, losing all sense of ascent. Still, you can’t fool yourself completely. At 5,000 meters, the breath is ripped from your lungs, leaving hollow, deflated spaces in your chest. I breath deeply, as deep as I can, and it feels like there’s not enough oxygen in all of Annapurna to fill my lungs.

My Experience Trekking in Nepal …as a Single Female

My 13-day trek on the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal was the most physically demanding thing I’ve ever subjected myself to. But it was also the most surreal. I started in Daraphani at 1,860 meters, went through Thorong La Pass at 5,416 meters, and ended in Jomsom at 2,720 meters. I had a backpack filled with thermal wear, a raincoat that made me look like Quasimodo, walking poles for my weak knees, water tablets, snacks, my Kindle, and my laptop (for which I received plenty of teasing).

The unforgiving ascent and the weight of my backpack were making me think twice about my physical strength and my mental fortitude…

On my first day in Daraphani, I awoke to the startling discovery that I had altitude sickness, or at least something that fiercely resembled it. At only 1,860 meters, everyone tried to convince me that this simply wasn’t possible. But the symptoms spoke for themselves… loudly. I was dizzy, my stomach was angry, my head hurt, and the simple task of putting one foot in front of the other was becoming a new personal challenge. I always did enjoy proving people wrong.

I set out for my first official day of trekking the next morning at 9am. The unforgiving ascent and the weight of my backpack were making me think twice about my physical strength and my mental fortitude. I thought of all the thousands of trekkers that had come before me; some soft from desk jobs, some older and frailer. I thought of Cheryl Strayed; her hefty backpack and gallons of water roughing it all the way through the Pacific Coast Trail. Ten minutes into the trek couldn’t be enough to overpower me with doubts. All the same, I started doing mental inventory of the contents of my backpack to decide what I could live without.

My Experience Trekking in Nepal …as a Single Female

At the next town, I ran into my first trekker, a Russian-Israeli woman also traveling alone. We quickly fell into step, and in the fashion of all travelers, started speaking without the bother of names. We would become trekking mates for most of the rest of the journey.

Inna was an experienced climber who often chose vacation spots based on the quality of the local rocks. She was stronger than I was, more prepared, and infinitely generous. She shared with me the contents of her “kitchen;” a bag filled with snacks including a porridge called tsampa that had both the consistency and flavor of cold mud, but was an epicurean blessing when I was starving and the next town was still two hours away.

My Experience Trekking in Nepal …as a Single Female

When we had a day of seven to nine hours of mostly uphill walking, she was encouraging. Our mantra was an Israeli phrase she had taught me, “We are in clouds!” The phrase has the connotation that we’re euphoric, but in our case, it was a literal translation.

The hike was exhausting in ways that were previously unknown to me and gave me pain in places that I just didn’t have the motivation to examine. I dreamed of the Lake at Pokhara, and good food. One time I thought I saw the outer corn husk of a tamale on the trail and it occurred to me that murder would be a viable option to get my hands on one.

The Silicon Valley girl that still resides somewhere deep inside my soul made a small scream and tried to call an Uber out of there.

As we ascended higher, the scenery changed. From lush forests and grassy pastures, the landscape slowly gave way to rocky passes, impossible cliff faces, and stunning views of snow-capped peaks. It was the kind of place that made you whisper. Sometimes I would get so absorbed in making it up the next slope without tripping over my own feet that all I could see was the dirt path in front of me. When I looked up, it was often with renewed wonder, as if I had suddenly been transported from the fantasy burrito I had been devouring to a landslide painted gold in the Himalayan light. All of a sudden, the tsampa didn’t taste so bad anymore.

My Experience Trekking in Nepal …as a Single Female

Inna and I began to play a sort of game. The mountains were so immense that it was impossible to know what was around the next bend. Whenever we could see the curve of the trail around the mountain, our mental kinetic energy shot around the bend to guess at the next sight and we would say “I wonder what we’ll see next!” Our imaginations never did quite live up to the impossibly grand cliff face shrouded in ephemeral cloud or the steep valley cut through by time, water, and glaciers. The views took away what little breath you had available and left you standing silent and numb to the weight of your backpack or the soreness in your legs. It was the best anesthesia.

On the fourth day, when we reached Lower Pisang at 3,200 meters, we were greeted with the usual “Namaste” and the news that there was no electricity in the entire town for the foreseeable future.

The Silicon Valley girl that still resides somewhere deep inside my soul made a small scream and tried to call an Uber out of there. Somewhere she’s still wandering around in the dark recesses of my mind, holding her phone up to search for the best WiFi signal. But at that moment, trekker me took over. I swallowed and contented myself to a night of staring at mountains and reading The Snow Leopard.

My Experience Trekking in Nepal …as a Single Female

Lower Pisang

On the fifth day, going from Lower Pisang to Manang, Inna and I decided to split up for the day. She wanted to take a more scenic route that featured a harder climb and better views. Judging from my extraordinary struggle of the last few days, I decided to take the road most traveled. Along the way I shared a cup of what tasted like sugar with a bit of tea mixed into it with a Nepali-Tibetan man named Karma. Karma comes in all shapes and sizes, and this one wore an electric green Slipknot hat. I desperately wanted to subject him to the musical renderings of Psychosocial. However, with no wifi available, I thanked Karma for the sugar, and went on my merry way.

Karma comes in all shapes and sizes, and this one wore an electric green Slipknot hat.

At one point, I walked up a hill with a sharp wind. The wind whipped away the low-hanging clouds like a curtain and I saw the snow-capped peaks of mountains arranged before me as if I had stumbled upon a private peep show. The were grand and vulnerable and self-assured. The snow on their peaks was the source of the clear stream running beneath the old wooden bridge I stood upon. They were close enough to touch, but I knew without trying that they were mirages that would move further away the closer I got. I could never get close enough to something so impossible.

My Experience Trekking in Nepal …as a Single Female

I heard laughter and was startled to find that it was coming from me. I shrugged off my backpack and leapt around, leaving myself breathless and heaving from my small happy dance. I sat on a rock and stared and marveled and was reminded of a quote I had read in The Snow Leopard: “How wondrous, how mysterious! I carry fuel, I draw water.” The statement is self-sufficient and self-sustainable. It is all it needs and can lend itself to all situations. I carry fuel, I laugh at mountains.

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Ariana is a writer and world traveler. Her writing covers her three main passions: women’s empowerment, travel, and culture. The beauty of the world is not just in scenic mountain views or turquoise waters; it’s in doing the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning. For Ariana, that thing is stringing words together. Email her at ariana@thewaywardpost.com and follow her journey on Instagram @surrealife.

51 Comments

  1. Geraldina Lee

    Nepal is one of the best tourist spots in the world. But I still do not visit there. I keep myself promise to travel in this winter with my friends too.

    • tulsi

      I am from nepal as a tour and trekking guide in nepal. one can find me as a friend travel or tour with me. more information you can contact bhusaltulsi@gmail.com

  2. Francis Walton

    Thanks Hilary for sharing this article. It is one of the best articles from the Urbanette. It’s interesting to learn how safe Nepal is and its natural beauty. You provided us with a clear picture of it all. Thank you so much to bring it into the light.

  3. Cody Pierce

    Wow! I love Nepal.
    I am so lucky that I visited Pokhara. Pokhara is the most beautiful city in the world. You must go once …then once is not enough for you because of its natural beauty — the best, not just in Nepal, but also in the world.

  4. Julia MacLean

    Excellent article on trekking in Naple. So many travelers think it’s like a trip to Disney World-it isn’t. Thank you for the post. Very helpful for first time Trekkers

    • Dawa lama

      If you want to travel with me I will guide for you… My number 9823532024 I am Dawa lama mountain guide from langtang areas

  5. If you were planning your first Nepal trek/visit and your choice was between Everest Base Camp or the Annapurna Range which would it be? Your comment and experience will be appreciated.
    So please get back to me if you can.
    Thank you 🙂

  6. Sasha Rosswell

    That’s exactly what I want my trekking in Nepal to be like. What a stunning view!

    I’m also questioning Annapurna (foothills) vs. Ebc and although Annapurna sounds perfectly suited to me (love nature, varying scenery and trekking), I don’t want to feel like I’m taking the easy option. Would you still consider the Nepal Adventure to be a challenging trek?

  7. Teresa Tanner

    Can you tell us where exactly were the pictures taken?? It’s too beautiful, i would love to go there. Nepal has really a long list of beautiful places for hiking.

  8. Leah Helms

    Recently we returned from a four-day trek with a friend in the Annapurna Himalayan range. Boasting spectacular scenery, rugged terrain and extremely welcoming locals, I’ve never visited another place on earth like Annapurna.

    IWe didn’t hire a guide. We made a DIY guide, we uploaded it to our ipods. I am glad we didn’t hire a guide, that would have been a complete waste of time and money imo.

    • Kim Hartford

      I disagree with your strong stand against hiring a guide. I hired a local as a guide for the Annapurna to Muktinath trek. While I agree that a person could follow the trail without much difficulty, I can’t imagine the experience without my friend. We had a great time and I found the experience far more enjoyable because I was with someone who could unlock the countryside/cul ture for me. When we stopped at guest houses, we ended up eating in the kitchen with the people who ran it, rather than sitting in the dining room. I think you run the risk of closing yourself off from a great deal of what makes trekking in Nepal unique if you view guides/porters as scam artists. Possibly they’re doing some of the few tasks that they can in an economy where there are few other options.

  9. Lynn Hayes

    What a great article. Thanks for all the down-to-earth advice and info. I’m planning a trip to Nepal in January and am really conflicted between getting a guide, and not. This helps.

  10. Jae Medina

    Hello all & Ariana! First of all amazing and very timely article! Secondly I’ll be coming to Nepal for the very first time this September and would like to do a trek but I can’t decide on which one exactly. I’m arriving in Kathmandu on September 16th, very early in the morning. Probably spending the day in the capital and flying to Pokhara first thing in the morning on the next day. From there I could either do the ABC or the Annapurna Panorama Trek. As I will have only around 6 full days (outbound flight already fixed) do you think the ABC is doable? I’ve read a bit about both and think that I’d like the Annapurna Base Camp better than the Panorama trek. I’m also planning to get a guide/porter, probably from an agency.

  11. Daisy Clarke

    Hi Ariana, i’m planning to do the three passes trek this fall. I wanted to know if the trek is safe enough for a girl to do it alone.
    Thanks ?

  12. Christina Norelli

    Thanks for all the beautiful inspiration. I am heading to Nepal on 1st Sept 2016 with my husband and 2 groovy kids (15yrs & 10yrs). We were intending on doing the Manaslu trek but unfortunately that is still looking impossible. My husband and I did the Annapurna Circuit 18 yrs ago. It was totally amazing but far too many tourists now.

  13. Carol Warren

    Hey there! Thanks for the beautiful article, and helpful tips.
    Can you suggest a hike / trek route for me?
    I am not a well experienced hiker, however I would like to be challenged.
    Maybe one NOT involving snow? Im planning mid year. Maybe avoid the cold?
    I want to see something TRULY amazing.
    Time frame wouldn’t be too much of a issue, I’d be happy to hike for two / three weeks.
    ANY advice would be truly appreciated.
    Thank you. 🙂

    • Susanna Milton

      I have trekked few times in Nepal and would like to give my best view of trekking which is in Manaslu Circuit. Starts at Arughat at 600m and to cross highest point of 5150m which is the pass from Manaslu Conservation area in the East to Annapurna Conservation area in the West direction.
      I recommend this trail because it is still not exploited and less trekkers and very scenic all the way if the weather is fine. Best time is early May and end October.
      Trekking is best for your body mind & soul. Do it when you are able to.

  14. Pasty Clin

    I found your article about trekking in Nepal is interesting & professionally written. There are different types of risks while doing solo trekking and you should aware about the risk factors before deciding to go for solo trekking in Nepal. Prefer to trek with guides in Nepal

  15. Naincy Winget

    was in Nepal for first time in September 2014. It blow my mind. I definitively want to go back for more mountain hiking/trekking. This first time I went alone (with smartphone-GPS with extra large non-standard battery) and absolutely loved trekking alone. It was great. Yes, some moments very a bit scary (like attack of leeches, but fortunately I did read about that before trip or moment when I fell some steps down on trail in rainy weather), but that not changed my mind traveling solo.

  16. Elia Scott

    This is not ordinary journey, work on so many levels your body and mind, i have always been interested in eastern religions and their perspective of life, and i am also great fan of trekking, i wish i could go take a Tour to Nepal if i had time..something like this maybe

  17. Ariana Rhyder

    Hi! Amazing post! I was wondering if the Helambu trek is doable in Septmeber… Has anyone been in the region lately? I would like to do a 5 days trek with my parents, so was looking for something easy to do from Kathmandu. Any other suggestion welcomed! Thanks ?

  18. Ketty Ben

    Hello thanks for writer of article I am very agree with you and I really support to your view of for single female trekking to Nepal and character of Nepal is adventure and trekking and solo trekking because there a so many high land in Nepal and between the flat of south and high mountains of north between those part Nepal has a many good destination and very beautiful view with 5 thousand mountains

  19. Lena Dzeko

    I am very interested in doing the base camp at Kanchanjanga /Everest ..which s good one for a beginner? I am a Marathoner and am in good shape .Also I will be low on days that I can spend 15-17 days max! Can you recommend?

  20. Jenny Permel

    Thank you for really nice Article Ariana, Nepal is really nice and top destination for adventure trekking for solo travel. So please again share this type article and visit regularly.

  21. Loraine Aguilar

    ? In love with these photos!! Nepal indeed stands as tall as Mt.Everest in terms of its natural beauty. When it comes to trekking, it’s a paradise. I experienced the most exotic, unique and great moments in mountaineering and trekking to hills and mountain in Nepal 🙂

  22. I did the Annapuna circuit in 2002, so I’m pretty devastated to hear how ‘progress’ (a road) has scuppered that one. Good that the article has covered the alternatives so well.

    Shocking prices charged for these trekking packages. Just how much do you think food, lodging and labour (porters) cost in one poorest countries in the world? Back in 2002 I spent a full month in Nepal, total cost 150 gbp. If its anything like it was back then most treks use the established paths that link the villages, so really, there is no need for guides, and if you’re going to trek, do it right. Carry your own back pack. There’s cheap lodges available in most of the villages along the track, and all most places will offer cooked food. It’s far better to do the thing independently than throw good money away on rip off trekking packages.

  23. My partner and I trekked, around the remaining part of the Annapurna circuit where the road had not reached up until this year until Chame, in March and, even though i wish I had done it before the roads were built-on both sides of the Thorung La pass-It was still a fantastic trek of 8 or 9 days, especialy if you do the high route, through Upper Pisang, to Manang, which the Nepal Rough Guide descibes as one of the most spectacular hikes in the whole of Nepal. We hired a porter/guide from Pokhara through an agency, so he was insured and we gave him a large tip at the end. We visited him and his family when back in Pokhara and realised without doing the work he does he would not be working. He also obviously loved being in the mountains, almost as much as we did!

  24. Sarah Ubitel

    What an amazing journey. I felt like I was right there along with you. You write so well. I’m trying to work up the courage for something like that, so I might have to start with sections of the AMT first : )

  25. Amazing article, Ariana. The writing and the photos really made this article a 10/10.

    From my own advice I would suggest to take the extra time and start at Jiri, walking in to Lukla. It’s beautiful, quiet and great acclimatisation for altitude. You can also wander about Namche feeling really superior to the tourists who’ve flown in to Lukla from Kathmandu. And go in December, VERY freezing but a price worth paying to avoid the crowds. Forget about needing a guide or joining a group, no need. The routes are easy to follow and and all the groups we encountered seemed to have an element of group dynamic disharmony. You can easily pick up a porter in Jiri as we did. Lovely guy, didn’t speak a word of English but gave us a cuddle every night as he wished us ‘good sleeping’ (ok, so he had 2 words) and was generally just good to be around. 🙂

  26. Great piece. Loved the visiuals you shared too. My daughter just returned from a Rotary trip. Beautiful people, awesome scenery and tourism is a way to help restore the the financial loss from the earthquake and border blockade with India.

  27. Brenda Nelson

    Awesome article, Ariana! Thanks for all the information. I am thinking of going to Nepal in the near future, so this article was more helpful than you could ever know! 🙂

  28. Cassi Braun

    Thanks for the positive notes and encouragement for those who love trekking and want to visit Nepal. This article is a real gem. ??

  29. Beautiful.. I would like to visit Nepal. Would be my first trip but i don’t have anyone to go with, and I’m notas brave as you… Any suggestions or advice on this trip?

  30. I found your post very interesting and exhilarating. I want to go trekking to Nepal this year or next year with a friend but we want to explore the less-developed areas. We would like to carry our own equipment like tent, food and others) so we are not restricted to trails with lodges/teahouses on the way.

    Is this a popular form of trekking in Nepal? Are there any permits/registration formalities for this kind of trekking? Would you recommend any particular treks or areas of Nepal?

  31. Awesome post! Reading it feels like I am already there, especially looking at those photos. Only wish I’d seen this post before I made my bucket list for this year.

  32. I feel you have a nice time… I’m honestly afraid to try it myself, I feel it’s dangerous ???

  33. What a brilliant article!! Really encouraging for single travellers. It is always a good time to go to Nepal and even more after the earthquake. Nepalese people are one of the kindest people I met during my travels and what a country! It thought me a lot in terms of how the concept of “living” could have such different perspectives and what concepts are more important over the others. Beautiful country, beautiful people.

  34. Leyds Lacsamana

    Your article brought back the excitement! I was in Nepal for first time in September 2013. It blew my mind. I want to go back for more mountain hiking/trekking. I went there alone (with smartphone-gps with extra large non-standard battery). It was great a great experience. Connection with nature and with myself. Yes, some moments were scary (like attack of leeches, but fortunately I did read about that before trip or moment when I fell some steps down on trail in rainy weather), but I don’t regret traveling alone. Next time, I’ll try trekking with friends.

  35. I really enjoyed this article, especially since I am leaving for Kathmandu in less than two months! I actually was supposed to take this trip in May of last year, just a few weeks after the earthquake hit. I’m glad to hear recovery efforts are going well.

  36. Nepal has always sounded magical. Hearing that the local people there are still so optimistic in the face of their hardship is so refreshing. I’m glad you gained some perspective by being there and interacting with them. I hope I get to be lucky enough to do it one day as well.

  37. Nepal is always a place that has fascinated me and thanks to you Ariana, I want to go even more now. You might like the book The Lie by C L Taylor as this is set in a fictional mountain and retreat but still captures the remote setting. Made me thankful the retreat was fictional but the setting is still a place I’d like to go!

  38. It was amazingly written from the top to bottom. Thank you for sharing your experience in such a well written piece. Maybe I’ll get to go soon too, hopefully. Fingers crossed. ?

  39. Thank you for the very informative yet heart warming article. I have been wanting to go to Nepal for a long time. This has truly made me want to pack my bags. Later this year or early next year I will definitely make this wish come true. THANK YOU!

  40. Pleasantly refreshing article! Thanks for sharing your experience. I really adore this one!

    My first and only visit was to Nepal was in 2014 – I plan to go back again in 2017 with big plans in my mind.

    This article brought back so many pleasant memories.

    Thank you!

  41. Everyone consider Nepal as a holiday destination NOW….the country is desperate for tourist money and tourist numbers have very considerably dropped. Having just got back, yes some of the temples in Kathmandu and its surrounding towns are being rebuilt….but I was surprised at how little evidence of the earth quake was apparent. It was my third visit .. the first two were pre earthquake and I certainly didn’t feel that on my third post earth quake visit Nepal was any less beautiful….infact more beautiful … as considering what the Nepalese have been through their smiles are still beaming and they are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet…

  42. This is a beautifully written article from top to bottom. Nepal was indeed portrayed as the country in ruin by the media around the world. However, when I went there to see it for myself last year, life was normal and most people are unfazed by the incident. Yes there were casualties, yes the earthquake victims are still recovering from it but the country itself is far from how it has been portray worldwide.
    This is the time when Nepalese need all the possible help, and we can do by visiting Nepal, it’s a beautiful country and it’s very safe to visit.
    NAMASTE!!!!

  43. Truly inspiring! After bad break up not sure if I want to go to Peru or Nepal… I need to find my inner peace again. What do you recommend from your travel experiences? Nepal sounds just the place to go.

  44. Thanks for sharing your experience! I think trekking in Nepal is something everybody should experience at one stage in life. Honestly, I’ve been hearing a few horror stories (particularly trekking in Himalayas) but I won’t let these put me off. Hopefully, I would have enjoyable trekking experience soon 🙂

  45. Amazing! ❤️ This article gives me strength and comfort as I am about to travel to Nepal on a four week teen service trip. I am committed to wanting to make a difference and believe that Nepal needs both tourism and aid. I am proud to be a part of the National Geographic team on the ground helping to the country put its self back together.

  46. As someone who has been to Nepal before, I really enjoyed this article. You are well on point, and the photos you shared arebeautiful! Nepal is one of the most beautiful countriest in the world for trekking, climbing holidays and tours. With the world’s highest mountain peak, Everest, trekking is a popular activity there. And your article covers it quite well. ?

  47. Amazing piece! A Big thank you for the information. I am traveling to Nepal with my siblings for the fist time and greatly looking forward to it. ?

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