There is nothing like taking on a solo adventure, experiencing nature in its raw form, and living on your own terms. And there is no better place to take on a solo trek than Nepal.
With incredible hiking trails, rugged mountains, and friendly locals, it’s a great place to go hiking alone.
But how do you go about planning a solo trip? What about the risks of going to an unfamiliar country alone? How do you overcome the fear of traveling with no one but yourself to rely on?
In this ultimate guide, we’ll show you how to plan a solo trekking trip to Nepal, how to stay safe, and how to make the most of your visit.
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What You Should Know About Nepal
It’s safe to say Nepal is unique when it comes to trekking destinations. The popular trails traverse high altitudes, tough terrain, and incredible scenery. But then there are little populated areas dotted throughout with tea rooms and comfy accommodation for travelers that makes it truly special.
The Great Himalaya Range is the crown jewel of Nepal which is bordered by China’s Tibetan province to the north and India everywhere else.
Some of the peaks are over 25,000 feet including Mount Everest which sits at 29,029 feet (with Everest Base Camp being one of the most popular destinations).
As well as the mountains, Nepal is covered in jungle to the south as well as rolling plains and rivers that make it a truly breathtaking place.
Over 600,000 tourists visit Nepal every year so even when you’re solo trekking, you won’t be alone.
Pros and Cons of Solo Trekking in Nepal
When you’re deciding whether to go trekking in Nepal alone, there are some key advantages and disadvantages to consider…
Advantages of solo trekking
- Set your own schedule
A trip to Nepal is a big commitment with a lot of planning – getting someone to plan that with you can be tough. All of a sudden, you’re working around two different schedules, packing for two, and trying to make plans for more than one person.
When you go alone, you choose when, pack a bag, and take off. There’s a freedom to being on your own schedule and not having to answer to anyone but yourself.
- Learn a lot about yourself
You know how people say they go traveling to find themselves? There is some truth to it. Wandering through nature alone with your thoughts allows you some time to learn about yourself and figure out what you want from your life.
- Become more independent
When there’s no one else to turn to for answers, you become independent and resourceful fast. Going on a solo trek brings out a more confident side to yourself you might not have known was there.
You’re also much more likely to make friends and talk to people for company and might make lifelong friends you wouldn’t have otherwise.
- Go at your own pace
Everyone has vastly different skill levels when it comes to hiking. Some people prefer to hike trails quickly and barely stop, others like to take it slow and enjoy nature.
When you’re alone, you can take it at your own pace. There’s no group to keep up with or no one slowing you down, you can choose when and where to stop, and don’t have an obligation to anyone else.
- Boost your skills
When you go trekking with others, you tend to rely on each other’s strengths. That means someone ends up cooking, another is in charge of directions, maybe another is great at first aid, etc.
When you’re alone, your outdoor skills quickly improve because you’re forced to do everything yourself. You’ll come back a much better hiker than when you left and can be proud of your achievements.
- Face your fears
It’s a scary decision to go solo trekking in Nepal, and the fear of being alone in the wilderness stops a lot of people from taking on the adventure.
But there is no better feeling than facing your fear, taking on a solo trip, and coming back a much more confident and experienced trekker because of it.
Having said all that, there are some disadvantages that are important to take seriously when planning your trip.
- Personal safety
The major disadvantage of solo trekking alone is the increased safety risk. Not only are you more likely to get robbed but you might encounter dangerous wildlife that can be riskier without support.
- More chance of getting lost
There is also an added risk of getting lost. With no one to double-check routes or bounce ideas off, trails can get lost more easily. Plus, getting lost alone comes with its own risk, so it is important to be extra vigilant and careful with route planning on a solo trek.
- Injury risk
Injuries can happen alone or in a group, but when you’re out trekking alone, you don’t have support from someone if you cut yourself, twist your ankle, or can’t physically go on.
If you get sick or hurt yourself out in the wilderness, you’ll need to rely on yourself to get back safely, which is tough when you have bags to carry and no moral support.
How to Trek Solo in Nepal
Solo treks in Nepal can last from a week to a couple of months, depending on your route. But local guides do suggest taking on a shorter trek for your first time to get used to the conditions.
Trekking in Nepal does demand a level of physical fitness, and you do need to be able to walk comfortably on rough terrain for six or so hours a day.
If that’s you, you’ll love trekking in Nepal.
When it comes to doing it solo, it’s all in the preparation. The more planning and training you do in advance, the more prepared you’ll be to be out in the wilderness alone.
Start preparing at least two months in advance with some practice hikes on rough terrain and up and down inclines. This will prepare you physically and make sure you have the right gear.
Also get to grips with survival basics including:
- Basic first aid training
- Treating insect bites
- Navigating when lost
- Filtering water
Even when solo trekking in Nepal, having a guide or porter does comes with advantages and can make the experience much more enjoyable if you’re worried about going alone.
They’ll not only recommend the best trails and rest stops but they’ll help you communicate with locals and offer a level of safety when you’re out on your hikes.
A porter will also carry a 15kg bag for you which means you can take more gear without weighing yourself down.
If you’re female, you can opt for a female guide if you’re concerned for your safety with an unknown male.
Best Time to go to Nepal for Solo Trekkers
Nepal is packed with visitors throughout the year, but each season comes with unique features.
Most agree the best seasons for trekking in Nepal are the spring and autumn, with May and October being the most popular months.
This is when the weather is best, conditions are clear, and the entire area is vibrant with wildlife and other trekkers.
The downside of peak season is everything is more expensive. Food, travel, and accommodation are all at a premium during peak season and everything is booked up quickly.
To avoid the crowds, you can go during the colder months, but the weather is much more changeable and the views aren’t nearly as spectacular.
It’s best to avoid the summer months since this is monsoon season in Nepal so the rain is heavy and many of the trails are off-limits.
What to pack for Trekking Solo in Nepal
You’ll need some crucial essentials to keep you safe on your trek:
- Lightweight hiking boots that are broken in
- Microspikes or crampons for the rough terrain
- Shorts or trekking pants
- Lightweight, quick-drying t-shirts
- Long-sleeved shirt
- Rain jacket or down jacket depending on the time of year
- Thick hiking socks
- Light backpack with waist and chest straps
- Lightweight sleeping bag
- Enough Rupees to cover your entire trek (there are no ATMs once you start)
- One liter bottle of drinking water (you’ll be able to refill along the way in tea houses)
- Sunscreen and sunglasses
- Hat and gloves depending on the weather
- A first aid kit
There are also some bonus extras that will keep your trip comfortable but aren’t necessities:
- Trekking poles to make the hike easier
- Hand sanitizer
- Toilet paper (but you can get this along the way)
- Flashlight or headlight (there is electricity but it’s patchy at best)
- Dust mask (some sections of the trails get very dusty)
- Sleeping bag liner
Where to Trek Solo in Nepal
Some of the most popular solo treks in Nepal are:
- Everest Base Camp trek
- Annapurna Base Camp Trek
- Langtang Valley trek
- Poon Hill trek
These are well-travelled by solo trekkers so you’ll have plenty of people to meet along the way.
If you’re trekking during the summer monsoon season, the Jomsom-Muktinath trek and the Annapurna Circuit Trek are better choices since these are in the trans-Himalayan region which is a rain-shadow area.
Whichever trek you decide to go on, make sure you are intimately familiar with the route, where the tea houses are along the way, the weather conditions, and the culture of the locals.
The more familiar you are with the route, the safer you’ll be and the more you can enjoy your trip.
Precautions to Take While Solo Trekking in Nepal
Although solo trekking does come with some inherent safety risks, Nepal is a very safe place to go exploring alone. It’s usually packed with hikers and the locals are incredibly friendly and helpful.
But even so, it’s also best to take some precautions for your own safety, especially when you’re hiking solo.
- Take a guide: if it’s your first solo trek, a guide will show you the ropes and make sure you are safe on the trail.
- Take GPS: internet and cell service are patchy in remote areas so make sure you have a compass or GPS device to avoid getting lost.
- Stick to the trails: there are no signs on the trails and they do become hard to follow in places so do your best to stick to the paths.
- Pack for emergencies: always have extra supplies just in case you do get lost or injured and need to wait for help.
- Have regular check-ins: there should always be someone who knows the route you’re taking and knows when you should be checking in to confirm you’re safe.
Permits for Solo Trekking in Nepal
To go trekking in Nepal, you need a Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS) card. For solo trekkers, you’ll need a green version, whereas group trekkers get blue.
A solo trekking permit costs more than a group permit, so make sure you get the right one.
You’ll also need a conservation area permit if you want to do any challenging treks through any of the conservation areas.
All the permits you need are available in Kathmandu.
Costs/Expenses While Solo Trekking in Nepal
It’s very affordable to go trekking in Nepal and everything you’ll need to buy along the way is very cheap from accommodation to food and services.
Be warned that the very cheap accommodation usually comes with rats or cockroaches so you might want to spring for a more expensive place to sleep if you’re not camping.
If you want a porter to help carry your belongings, they charge around $10 a day, whereas a guide will cost around $25.
Guides are more since they’ll tell you about the area, show you the best routes, and communicate with the Nepalese people on your behalf.
You should always tip porters, guides, and anyone offering accommodation since tourists are their lifeline and they are usually incredibly helpful.
Tips for Solo Trekking in Nepal
Here are some of our final tips to help you plan your solo trip to Nepal. Remember, the better prepared you are, the smoother your trip will go:
- Altitude sickness is a real risk no matter how fit or experienced you are, so make sure you know the symptoms and what to do if you get it.
- Don’t carry on trekking once it’s dark, it can become dangerous. Plan a trek you can easily complete in a day and stop at night to camp.
- Have decent travel insurance that fully covers trekking as well as emergency evacuation and rescue – it’s always better to have it and not need it.
- Carry enough cash with you to cover your entire trip – the last thing you want to do is run out of cash and be unable to get food or water.
- Drinking plenty of water throughout the day reduces your risk of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) so take enough water to drink all day and refill often.
- Pack as if you’re expecting to get delayed or injured to make sure you have enough supplies (the same as when you’re traveling in Death Valley).
Take on Your Next Hiking Trip
Solo trekking in Nepal is an adventure of a lifetime that you’ll be telling people stories about for years.
The scenery and breathtaking views are like no other, the trails are tough, and the locals are welcoming. This is definitely a trip any backpacker should seriously consider.
But if you’ve already ticked this one off your to-do list, are you ready to plan your next one? Check out our guide on Channel Island backpacking for another unique trip only 30,000 people take every year.