If you have trekked in Nepal, chances are pretty high that you have stayed in one of the local teahouses as almost every trekking in Nepal is teahouse trek. In teahouse trek, trekkers stay in teahouses that are strewn along the trail. Teahouses are small hotels found in villages in the Himalaya that offers both bedding and eating facilities for the trekkers. Often run by local families, tea houses are built of local materials and provide required comfort and safety for trekkers.
Teahouses have drastically changed the way of trekking in Nepal. In earlier times, almost all of the trekking used to be camping trekking in which trekkers used to spend nights in tented camps. But the story is different now. Due to easily available teahouses, trekking groups don’t need to carry camping and cooking equipment or plan extensive logistics. Teahouses have considerably lowered down the cost of trekking. They have also helped to reduce the impacts on environment as they are located in villages not in fragile terrain like camping trekking. They also boost the local economy as the teahouse owners and staffs are all local people. Teahouses also offer a wonderful opportunity to interact with locals and experience the local life and culture.
Nowadays, teahouses are ubiquitous in popular trekking areas such as Everest and Annapurna. In less frequented areas like Manaslu, Makalu, Kanchenjungha etc also, teahouses are growing in number. The facilities provided by such teahouses can vary as some can be basic whereas some can be luxurious. But normally all teahouses have basic facilities like western style toilets, hot showers, continental meals and internet connection. So, trekking while staying in local teahouses can be a lifetime experience you wouldn’t want to miss.
Basic facilities in teahouses:
Generally, tea house mostly consists of twin-basis accommodation. You can find a single room that have twin beds with some other furniture like a small table or a chair. The price of room differs according to the size, quality, cleanliness of tea houses and lodges. During the peak seasons, accommodation costs around $5 whereas price can go down up to $2 in off seasons. Some luxury tea houses in Everest Base Camp Trek can charge up to $50 only for accommodation.
Almost every teahouse has clean and basic rooms, but you have to pay a little extra if you want attached bathroom. Some even have single bed room. The beds are comfortable with foam mattresses, pillows and you are provided with a thick blanket. Remember, always bring your own sleeping bag so that you stay warm enough at night. And yes, don’t forget to bring a pair of earplugs for a good sleep if you are a light sleeper.
Foods and Beverages
Meals at teahouses are often cooked in their kitchens by owners. The foods are fresh and delicious. You can find a set of menu of momo, pizza, sandwiches, pasta, and other noodle dishes at almost every teahouse. Normally, trekkers choose the typical Nepali Dhal Bhat as it is fresh, healthy, filling and easily available everywhere you go. The higher you go on the trek the more you have to pay for the same food. The Dal Bhat at the starting of the trek can cost around $2. And the same Dal Bhat can cost up to $5 as you trek higher. For beverage you can find tea, coffee, hot chocolate, juice etc. which is quite similar in every trekking region. Staying hydrated is a must for every trekker. But trekkers don’t need to worry. Bottled water is easily available throughout the trail in teahouses. One bottle of mineral water can cost from $0.50 to $4 depending upon the altitude of the trek.
Wi-Fi and Electricity
Most of the teahouses in Nepal are run by solar power, therefore you can find internet and electricity facility. However, internet and network connections can be slow. Many teahouses have their charging outlets in the dining room but you have to pay a certain amount in order to charge your electronics and use the internet. An hour charge of an electronic devices cost from $2 to $5 whereas using of a Wi-Fi hourly cost up to $1 -$2. If it is cloudy during the day, then there is a chance of power shortage, so make sure you carry an extra battery pack or power bank for your gadgets.
Hot Showers and Laundry
Most of the tea houses provide hot showers from a solar hot water system to the trekkers. You can get a bucket of warm water if there is no solar power. Using this facility can charge you up from $2 to $5. For laundry, you can get your laundry done in main villages of your trek which can take from $1 to $5 depending upon your clothes. In smaller areas, you can bring your own laundry detergent and wash your clothes as soon as you arrive and make sure to put them by the fire at night.
Always try to reach the teahouse on time before 7 pm if you have not booked one.
Don’t forget to bring your sleeping bag and liner to get extra warmth at night.
On the higher altitude of the trek, the communal toilets can sometimes be outside the tea house. So, its better to bring a flashlight for midnight toilet breaks.
Since there are no waters in toilet at high altitudes, bring enough toilet (tissue) paper and hand sanitizers. You can get toilet paper in teahouses but it costs extra charge.
Always choose to stay and eat the meals at the same teahouse. Owners of the teahouse expect trekkers to eat all their meals where they choose to stay for the night.
Always research or ask other trekkers for a good teahouse which are reliable, safe and provides good services.
Trekking in Nepal is all about exploring the wilderness, clambering the hills, negotiating with the glaciers, and time and again being patient with the caravans of yaks, sighing at the soaring mountains, and sweating in the chills – sounds like a lot of actions, right? It is exactly true. But trekking in Nepal is not just about actions only, it’s also about rest, relaxation and resetting your button as elsewhere. While the whole day you be a super excited adventurer, the nights are all for hard-earned rest. So, accommodation while trekking in Nepal is a very concerning matter. Here, we have got some information on accommodation while trekking in Nepal. We hope you will find it helpful while planning your travel.
Tented Camps are outdoor tents. They are either double layered “A” shaped-Triangular Three or Five Poles Tent made with water proof fabrics. Inner layer will be cotton fabric to provide warmth whereas, the outer layer is water proof polyster fabric strong enough to sustain wind and water. You can also find expedition styled light weight dome tents which are easy to install and lighter in weight for the porters to carry. Normally each tent comes twin mattresses made of foam for sleeping where the day pack can be adjusted to work as the pillow to comfort your head. Sleeping Bags are also provided but on rental basis if requested. Most of the trekkers bring their own. It’s better to bring separate inner liner with the sleeping bag for extra warmth.
You can also get single tent accommodation but it may apply extra charge. There will be a separate dining tent with seats and table for you to have suppers and spend time chatting with fellow trekkers. Kitchen and toilet tents are also set near your sleeping tents. Tented camps are not as comfortable as the accommodation at teahouses, however it offers better exposure to nature. This type of accommodation is common in remote and off the beaten trails like Dhaulagiri and Dolpo region. In major trekking regions like Everest, Annapurna,Langtang etc, teahouses are used more than camps due to their widespread availability.
Teahouses are small mountain houses run by local families. They are modest and cheerful outlets providing basic accommodation facilities. The standard of Teahouses have improved a lot over time. Nowadays, Teahouses in regular trekking trails are well equipped with different facilities including hot shower, telephone, western toilets, small bar, and dining halls. Rooms are basic, and comes with two beds with cushions and blankets. If requested the owners can provide extra blanket but it can’t be ensured during peak time. So, it is better to bring your own sleeping bag.
Single rooms are also available in some teahouses but they are not easily available in peak time. Toilets are normally common. Rooms with attached bath are also available but in very limited number. Facilities like hot showers, electricity to charge mobiles and batteries, WIFI cost additional charges. Dorm rooms are also available and they cheaper than other rooms. This type of accommodation is the most popular one while trekking in Nepal and they are quite ideal for backpackers.
There are some local and chain hotels in popular trekking areas like Everest and Annapurna. They are expensive and provide deluxe facilities. They offer luxury rooms with services like en suite washrooms, comfortable beds with electric covers, hot water showers, exquisite furniture and free WiFi services. Hotel Everest View and Yeti Mountain Home in Everest region and Ker and Downey lodges in Annapurna region are the examples of such accommodation. If you seek for extra comfort in the middle of wilderness, they are the perfect choice.
A casual greeting in Nepalese goes “Khana khanu bhayo?” (Have you taken your meal?). This gives us an idea about the important role that food plays in Nepalese daily life. The staple fare in Nepal is dal, bhat and tarkari (rice, lentils and curry). Dal is a soup made with lentils, while bhat is boiled rice and tarkari is vegetable curry. This is accompanied by achar or pickles and sometimes masu or meat curry. Though dishes vary in range and type according to the region, dal-bhat gets the vote for the national dish as every Nepali kitchen prepares it. But the ethnic cuisines are worth trying, and well, if you want to dip into Nepalese culture one needs to be more adventurous with ones taste buds.
The following text gives you a brief description on ‘what’s cooking’ in different Nepalese kitchens.
Kathmandu:Kathmandu is the home of Newars, a community famous for their elaborate feasts (bhoj). Momocha ( steamed or fried dumplings), choyila (buff cubes fried with spices and greens), palula (spicy buff with ginger sauce) ,kachila (a paté of minced raw buff, mixed with ginger and mustard oil), chatamari (a sort of pancake or pizza made with rice flour),woh or bara(fried lentil-flour patties), kwati (a soup made with several varieties of sprouted beans), musya palu (a dry mix of roasted soya beans and ginger) , bhuti (boiled soya beans with spices and herbs), pancha kol (a curry made with five vegetables) , alu – tamaa ( potato with bamboo shoot), all find a place in the Newari platter. Usually mustard oil is used for cooking and for seasoning, spices such as fenugreek , cumin, sesame seeds, turmeric, garlic, ginger , bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon, pepper, chili, mustard seeds, etc. are used. Newars prepare some of the dishes only during festivals and certain time of the year. For instance, yomari a sticky rice cake stuffed with a mixture of jaggery and sesame seed is prepared during the Yomari Punhi, a full moon festival celebrated during December.
[Newari Dish – popular cuisine in Kathmandu – consisting of Bara, Chewra, Choiyla, & Achar]
Jomsom & Mustang: Along the trekking trails of Jomsom and Mustang one may come across Thakkali tea- houses and lodges with neat and tidy kitchens that serves tasty Thakkali fare. It is believed no one can beat the Thakkalis when it comes to serving the best dal-bhat and tarkari. Like true connoisseurs, the Thakkalis pay close attention to the presentation and visual appeal while serving food. Thakkali cooks give a distinct flavour to their preparation by using unique Himalayan spices like Timur (a sort of pepper with a fiery taste , commonly used in marinades and achars) and Jimbu (Himalayan herb, used fresh or dry),
In the Hills: Among the highland Bhotias the staple is tsampa or ground roasted barley flour. It requires no cooking and is taken with tea and yak cheese. In Khumbu, the Sherpa homeland, they reap a good potato havest. Boiled potatoes are peeled and eaten with salt and pounded chilies and garlic. Rigi kur is a delicious crispy potato pancake served with a lump of yak butter.Thukpa, or noodle and vegetable and meat broth is also quite popular.
Saelroti: Saelroti, a spongy rice doughnut prepared from well-mixed fermented rice batter, is a food item that is uniquely Nepali in character. Important festivals like Dassein and Tihar are incomplete without the preparation of saelroti.
We all know that Everest Base Camp Trek is an adventure that includes a fair amount of walking every day. You need to walk continuously for 6-8 hours. So, most of us are concerned about ideas and information related to walking or day time activity. But what about the nights? After a whole day of rambling through the rocky terrain and relishing the sparkling peaks, what you need the most is a bed where you can lay your head. After all an intrepid adventurer seeking some raw Himalayan adventure also needs a peaceful sleep at the end of the day. So, accommodation in Everest Base Camp Trek is a crucial matter. And the region’s remoteness adds its importance more as accommodation can be a tricky affair in high altitudes. So, it’s a very sensible thing for every trekker to know about the accommodation facilities that are available during the Trek. So, here is all you need to know about accommodation in Everest Base Camp trek.
Hotel Everest Inn Lukla
Where to Stay?
During Everest Base Camp Trek, you will find numerous teahouses, lodges and hotels that provide accommodation facilities to make your well-earned sleep comfortable. You can also go for tented camps but it’s almost outdated as there are many accommodation providers along the trail, and camping trekking is environmentally not very friendly. So, most of the trekkers choose teahouses or lodges.
Teahouses are small outlets run by local people. They provide basic facilities like room with small beds and blankets; hot shower and dining services. The facilities are basically modest.
There are also some lodges with more luxurious amenities in major stopovers like Lukla, Phakding and Namche. They provide better services like comfortable beds with electric blankets, attached washroom, hot water showers and free WiFi services.
Hotels like Everest View Resort (one of the highest hotels in the world) and Yeti Mountain Home lodges (Lukla, Phakding, Monjo, Namche, Thame and Kongde – the highest hotel) provide deluxe facilities. They have spacious rooms with en suite bathrooms, heated rooms, thermos and electric blankets etc.
Hotel Everest View (3880m)/Photo Courtesy: Hotel Everest View
A Tea House in Monjo
Basically, rooms in teahouses are small with twin beds. The bed has a mattress, bed sheet, pillow and blanket. Night are extra chilly, so always make sure to bring a sleeping bag as there is a very less chance of getting extra blanket especially during peak season. Rooms can have simple furniture like table and chairs, in some cases nothing at all. Dorm rooms are also available. In some teahouses, you can also have single rooms and en-suite rooms but in limited number. However luxury lodges and hotels, as expected of, have more spacious room, en suite bathrooms, electric blankets, heated rooms, luxury furniture etc.
Twin Room in a Tea House
Toilet and Shower
You can find western style toilets throughout the route but most of the time they are very basic. You have to arrange toilet paper by yourself and you are not supposed to flush it down the pan. You have to trash it in a bin placed next to it. As water gets frozen, toilet paper tends to block the drain. So, follow it with all honesty. Hot Shower facility is available but using it incurs an extra cost from $5 – $10 per shower. Shower room is generally a small common room with a hot water tap. In most cases, water is heated by solar power. You have to arrange toiletries and towel on your own. In deluxe room, you can also get attached shower facility. In luxury lodges and hotels, you will have 24 hour running hot shower facility.
Hotels, lodges and some teahouses (up to Namche) provide laundry facility with extra charge depending on the number and type of clothes (not exceeding $1/2 per piece). Beyond Namche, you can ask for hot water and wash yourself. This also incurs extra cost (approximately $2/3 per bucket) as in high altitude fuel is really scarce. You also need to keep in mind that days are usually not very warm and sunlight hour is short. So, while washing make sure the day is really warm and the next day is acclimatization/rest day. Beyond Dingboche (second last stopover before reaching Base Camp), normally people don’t think of washing clothes because of the freezing temperature.
Every tea house, lodge and hotel has a big dining room with a big heater in the middle of the room. The heaters are fuelled with firewood (in lower elevation) and yak dung. Such rooms are communal rooms where you eat, relax and socialize. Some dining rooms also have a television set and a bookshelf with a small collection of books. Generally people tend to spend most of their evenings in dining room as such rooms are warm and lively with full of people. Dining menu of teahouses has limited options of continental and local foods. They have breakfast and lunch/dinner menu with simple choices of beverage.
A Tea House Dining Room in Everest Region
Interior of a tea house in Pheriche
As with the other services, the price of accommodation in Everest Base Trek also depends on the altitude. As you go higher, the price also tends to be higher though the services tend to be more basic. The accommodation price is somewhere between $2 to $5 in teahouses. In teahouses, you are expected to eat where you stay. Otherwise, you may have to pay twice or thrice the price of the regular room price if you are not eating. As you won’t find fancy restaurants or many dining choices in most of the places, it’s sensible to eat where you stay. Though teahouses have budget price, the price in some luxury lodges and hotels can go as high as $200+ depending on the facilities. You can also find mid-range rooms from $20-$40. In places like Lukla, Phakding, Monjo, Namche, Syangboche, Kongde and Thame, you have the options of mid-range and high range accommodation facility.
Wifi service is available in lower altitudes. You have to pay extra charge for this service about $5 (per stay) up to Namche though you can’t be really sure about signal strength. Beyond Namche, teahouses normally don’t have WiFi facility. A better option is to use Everest Link network which works throughout the region. It has better connectivity and faster speed. You can buy the data package at approximately $2 (10GB) and $3 (30 GB) valid for 30 days. You can also use Ncell and NTC network but they don’t work properly in some places as you go higher.
Everest region has the facility of electricity powered by hydro-electricity in lower elevation and solar energy in higher elevation. So, teahouses, lodges and hotels have electricity facility. But due to remoteness and altitude, people have to use it economically. In teahouses there won’t be charging plugs in rooms. Charging facility is available in dining room (common room) with extra charge ranging from $5 to $10 (depending on the devices like mobile phones, camera battery, power bank etc.) But, most of the time such facility is fully packed. So, it is sensible to bring a fully charged power bank. Rooms, washrooms, shower and corridors are well lit. So, you won’t have much problem during night time. However, it’s better to have a head lamp or torch handy. In some teahouses, you can also get electric blanket and electric heater for a charge of about $20 per night.
Food is an extremely important part of any travelling and when it comes to high altitude adventure like Everest Base Camp Trek, its importance becomes even more prominent. Your level of performance and degree of fun during trek is highly dependent on what and how you eat. So, it’s very crucial to know about the food varieties, their availability and “do’s & don’ts” of eating during Everest Base Camp Trek. Despite being far-off region, Everest Region is more comfortable compared to other trekking regions of Nepal when it comes to food specifics. You don’t have to stress much about food but still it’s not an easy affair like the luxury you enjoy back home. Better prepared than be surprised (or shocked?)! So, here are few things you need to know about food during your Everest Base Camp Trek.
Lunch at Thukla during Everest Base Camp Trek
Where do you eat?
A Teahouse Dining Hall at Pheriche in Everest Region
It’s very rare to find fancy outlets for food and drink during the trek. However, in some busier hubs like Lukla, Phakding, Namche, you can find nice restaurants, cozy pubs and cafes with wider range of choices. Otherwise, in most of the places, you eat at the tea houses that are strewn along the trail. They provide modest food and lodging facilities (with exception of some luxury lodges that provide upscale services). Every tea house has a big dining room, most of them with a big heater in the middle to keep you warm during evenings. Normally, such rooms are more than an eating area as it also serves as a place for gathering, socializing with fellow trekkers or passing time reading books and doing other leisurely stuffs. You are normally expected by the tea house owners (a kind of de facto thing) to have breakfast and dinner at the place where you sleep. In some cases, if you don’t dine at your lodge, you may also have to pay twice thrice or maybe ten times the normal price of the room for your stay. So, it’s better to eat where you spend the night …this way you will also save yourself from the hassle of haunting an eating place at the hour when all you need is a peaceful rest. Lunch is a more flexible affair. You have lunch somewhere in the mid-way, in one of the teahouses you come across.
What is available?
A lunch platter of bread, fries, fried chicken, boiled vegetables, fried mushroom, cheese balls and momo
As expected of any remote areas with very limited option of transportation, food menu in Everest region won’t come with extremely wide varieties of options. So, you need to compromise a bit with your palate. However, tea houses have a decent range of continental and local foods. Most of the teahouses have similar menus. In breakfast, you can find items of bread, eggs, porridge, cereals like muesli and corn flakes, pan cake, hash browns, fries, chapatis etc. Lunch and dinner menu is same, in which you find items of some vegetables (limited option), spaghetti, pizza, noodles, sandwich, soup, momo etc. Fruit is rare and you don’t find any seafood in the menu. Nepali staple diet “Daal Bhaat”, which is a platter of boiled rice, curry, lentil soup and pickles is available everywhere. You can also find simple choices of hot beverages that include different types of tea, coffee, hot chocolate, hot lemon honey etc. In some places, you can also find simple dessert menu that include apple pie, chocolate roll, custard and pudding.
Daal Bhaat, a staple diet of Nepali, is a platter of rice, curry, lentil soup, pickle etc. However, it can have certain modification as in the picture- it has an omelette and no pickle.
What is the price range?
As almost every food item is generally transported from Kathmandu via planes (or from lower valleys) and carried up higher by porters, yaks and zokyos, the prices tend to be much higher than in Kathmandu. With the increase in altitude, the price also increases. In average, you will spend about $8 for a meal including hot beverage. So, for 3 meals a day, it will total about $24. You can also get snacks like chips, energy bars and chocolates. Your expense on snacks depends on how frequent nibbler you are!
Drink Menu at World’s Highest Bakery Cafe at Lobuche (Prices in Nepali Rupees)
Drink Menu at one of the teahouses in Deboche (Prices in Nepali Rupees)
Keeping yourself hydrated is quite important during the trek. Bottled water is available throughout the trail, with price ranging from $1 to $4 per bottle (1 liter). If you are travelling through a travel agency, they will arrange filtered water for you. However, in Gorak Shep (the last stopover of Everest Base Camp Trek), you have to buy bottled water as tap water is not available due to water scarcity. It’s recommended that you carry chlorine pills or sterilizing device just in case you run out of filtered water or bottled water in the middle of your way.
Food Tips during Everest Base Camp Trek:
It’s better to eat soupy foods like noodles, soups, stew etc. as they are quite good in high altitude.
Normally, the standard meal number is three (breakfast, lunch and dinner) with snacking as per your wish. So, don’t over stuff yourself while eating as it might be difficult to walk with heavy stomach. You may also feel lethargic and experience stomach cramps in heavy stomach.
Instant coffee is easily available throughout the trail. However, it is recommended to reduce your caffeine intake. You can substitute coffee with hot drinks like tea, honey lemon, hot orange, hot mango etc.
Alcohol consumption can cause serious health issues at higher altitudes. So, you should refrain from taking alcoholic drinks. Nonetheless, you can always party at the end of your trek in Lukla. So, curve your craving till then!
Due to altitude, you are less likely to feel thirsty. However, it is necessary to drink plenty of water. You should ensure 3-4 liters of liquid intake per day including water, soup and tea.
As you need a lot of energy while trekking, you should take food that are rich in carbohydrates like porridge, rice, pasta etc. But you also need to take protein giving foods like eggs, lentils etc. and vitamin giving foods like available vegetables and fruits to make your diet balanced. You can also take food supplement if it is an essential part of your diet.
Though meat has rich nutritional value, consuming meat is not recommended during the trek. Slaughtering is not allowed in the region due to religious principles. So, all the meat is transported from Kathmandu or lower altitude to Lukla and then carried by zokyos or porters to its destination without proper refrigeration. During this process, the meat loses its freshness and becomes unhygienic.
To ensure freshness of foods, eat at busy teahouses as they are more likely to have food with shorter storage life.
Avoid junk food and oily food as much as possible as it becomes difficult to digest such foods.
Carry dry fruits, nuts, energy bars and chocolates. They will constantly refill you with energy during much needed time.
Personal hygiene is quite important. Make sure you wash your hands or use sanitizers as frequently as possible. Washing your hands may not be possible all the time, so keep a hand sanitizer always handy!