One thing that must be said for traveling/trekking in Nepal is that no matter what kind of upheavals and struggles are going on (the bane of developing countries), there have been practically no known cases of travelers/trekkers being harassed, and in fact, even at the height of the 10-year Maoist insurgency (1996-2006), trekking went on as usual. Those adventurous souls out on the trails during that period surely must have had an extra spring in their steps, not knowing what awaited them over the next hill!
Anyway, all this is not to say that you should leave everything to chance; there’s actually very little chance of that happening if you are being looked after by a competent agency, of which there are plenty in Kathmandu. Now, before proceeding further, here’s some food for thought: you’ve surely heard a lot about certain times of the year being the best times to trek/travel in Nepal, but let me hasten to say that anytime is a good time for trekking/traveling in Nepal. This is because the country has a wide range of climatic diversity, from the sweltering heat of the Terai (plains) in the south to the arctic conditions in the high Himalayas to the north, with pleasant temperate weather in the hills and valleys in between. So, depending upon when you arrive, you can choose where to go according to the season.
Just to recapitulate on the seasons here, there are four: spring (March-May: warm and dusty with rain showers), summer (June-August: dominated by the monsoon), autumn (late September-November: cool with clear skies), and winter (December-February: cold at night and foggy in the early mornings, but afternoons are mostly clear; occasional snow in the mountains). As for the monsoon, it begins in June and continues up to September. Autumn is the peak tourist season, and during this time, the trekking trails, particularly the more popular ones, become quite crowded. So, it’s worth a thought to plan a trip during the off season months so that you get to enjoy the much-talked about solitude of the Himalayan trails, and revel in the natural beauty for miles and miles with not many souls around to disturb your reverie.
Give a thought, too, to a sojourn of the country during the monsoon. For a fact, Pokhara, the most beautiful of all Nepali cities, gets the most rainfall during this time. But, it’s a curious fact you won’t find any place in the city that’s waterlogged even during the heaviest downpour! That’s because the city is located on a mass of gravel, a result of flash floods due to an earthquake in the Annapurna region long ago, and water immediately gets soaked into the ground. There’s a river, the Seti, which flows deep beneath the city, and probably all that rainwater flows into it. Fascinating stuff, all this, so why don’t you plan a trip to this lovely city during the rainy season? Doubtless, all that cleansing rain is surely going to make the surroundings all the more verdant and the environment more invigorating. There’s plenty of trekking routes starting from here, including one to Dhampus, some 23 km from away, which was once the only gateway for treks to Annapurna Base Camp, Machhapuchchhre Base Camp, Annapurna Sanctuary, Jomsom, Mustang, Ghandruk, Ghorepani, and Poon Hill. Famous names, all.
You might also know that the pride and joy of Pokhara, beside its awesome Machhapuchchhre Himal (Fishtail Mountain), is Fewa Tal, a huge lake that reflects the deep green color of the surrounding lush greenery. Boating is what you do here, and it’s real fun, but what would the experience be like doing it when it’s raining? Could be pretty interesting, is what we say; you’ll need a large-sized umbrella and a raincoat, of course. All this talk about Pokhara and its many charms is to emphasize that it’s a city that could be worth visiting even during the rainy season. A couple of excellent hotels in Pokhara have special monsoon packages every year, so you could go for that. You’ll get a good deal, undoubtedly, since it’s officially the off-season. Well, make it your season, and aside from saving precious bucks, you’ll be gathering a bagful of tall tales to take back home.
The jungles of Chitwan, home of the renowned one-horned rhino, now, that’s another place that will have added charm during the monsoons. That’s of course if you are not the kind to be fazed by minor stuff like leeches and so forth. Anyway, wear knee length boots, and you should be all right for the most part, and it will be, as they say, a walk in the park, the Chitwan National Park. Only, in this case, you’ll be walking through a park that’s been designated a UNESCO world heritage site because of the fantastic biodiversity of its flora and fauna. Aside from the endangered one-horned rhino, this famous wildlife reserve also has quite a few royal Bengal tigers, and the snout-nosed gharial, along with many other animals. Elephant rides are the order of the day here, and around the park are some resorts that are simply out of this world, including some world famous names.
Well, so much for tips for trekking/traveling to Nepal for the moment. There really aren’t many tips as such, because like said before, aside from the usual precautions and preparations, which your trek/travel agency will anyway arrange for you, it’s actually how far off the beaten track you wish to go that really matters, and in such a case, all we can say is, expect the unexpected!