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Trek View on Nepal: Himalayan Studies Gap Year Semester with Where There Be Dragons


Namaste everyone!

Are you as excited as we are for our Nepal Himalaya Semester? As our start dates draw closer, you must have lots of questions. Please use the Yak Board for asking questions and getting acquainted with the team – read our instructor introductions, post your own and don’t forget to subscribe to make sure you don’t miss any updates!

Our tentative itinerary is up and most of you must have already started getting your pack together. Since our semester is so nomadic by nature, it is incredibly important that you pack wisely. Your one bag will hold all your belongings for the Spring and the smarter you pack, the easier your travels will be! The key to successful packing is simple: Bring what you need. Not any more and not any less.

You should peruse the Course Preparation Manual (CPM) which has a detailed packing list tailored specifically for your program. This was sent to you by mail and is also available digitally in your MyDragons account. This Yak is simply to emphasize some important parts of the CPM and clarify others.

Fitting your pack:

Though the CPM recommends a 60-80L pack, we find that 65-75 L is good – make sure you have a frame that fits your body size. A good test is to pack up your bag and walk a couple of blocks around your neighborhood. Now is there anything you can leave behind?

Bringing a duffel bag that will fit your backpack will make it easier to fly with, and will provide a place to store some of your extra stuff while we are traveling.

Resist the urge to fill your day pack with additional belongings! The day pack should simply hold *some* essentials from your big rucksack.

Layers! Layers! Layers!

Having many layers of different degrees of warmth will help you better adjust to the weather in Nepal. Temperatures can feel quite varied depending on the insulation of the houses we stay in, on the location of our varied travels and the availability of central heating. Having many layers will ensure that you comfortably adjust to the many changes.

Even if you are a cold weather person, please make sure you bring all the layers mentioned in your CPM (warm hats, gloves etc) as you will be a much happy traveler if you aren’t struggling to maintain your core body temperature (:

Please make sure that you have a 0 degree Farenheit sleeping bag – you will sleep much more comfortably then. Having a plastic bag to line your sleeping bag (and other clothes) is also necessary.

Staying Appropriate:

Nepal is a diverse country and you will see that reflected in the varied dressing styles you will see throughout your travels. You will soon realize that Nepal is a more conservative place than most of you might be used to. Though we see people dressed quite liberally in some parts of Nepal, we prefer to err on the side of dressing a little more conservatively. This will help you to immerse yourself in the local communities and ingratiate yourself with older people (like homestay parents and ISP mentors).

Any clothes you bring should be loose-fitting and conservative ( no tops that are very low cut or show your shoulders) in addition to being neat, clean and presentable (so no holes or stains).

Shorts are okay to bring but they should generally come down to below your knee. There are still times that shorts will be inappropriate so long pants that zip off or fold up into shorter pants are a smarter packing choice. Leggings are only acceptable if worn with long shirts or tunics (kurtas). Traditional Nepali tunics that fall to mid-thigh are not only beautiful but very comfortable to wear, you can have them made by tailors in Kathmandu if you’re interested. Know that we will be sitting cross legged on the floor or squatting many times, so make sure your clothes allow you to do that!

You can get other clothes and many daily needs items in Kathmandu, or donate things they end up not wanting or needing, so do not stress out about packing, but focus on essential items!

Carrying Money:

You can bring a larger wallet or purse or something to carry large cash in for when you get money out of the ATM, but you can also buy a small local purse in Nepal for the money that you will carry around for day-to-day purchases.

Trekking Gear:

This is covered in the packing list in the Preparation Manual but there are a few things we want to emphasize:

  1. A 0 degree sleeping bag. The Preparation Manual packing list suggests the range of a 0-20 degree bag, but we think you will be generally more comfortable on the trek (and in sometimes cold Nepali houses) if you have a warm sleeping bag. (This is also dependent on whether you tend to sleep warm or cold, or are comfortable sleeping while wearing lots of clothing).
  2. Polarized Sunglasses: These are important for the trek, especially since we’ll likely be trekking on snow.
  3. Comfortable Hiking Boots: Please break them in before you get to Nepal. Your feet will thank you. Put on your hiking boots and go hike a mountain, walk up and down your stairs, hike up a 20-story building and down again. A few times. This is not something you want to have to do on our trek because you’ll get blisters and, blisters suck.OPTI
  4. Two Nalgene or stainless steel water bottles. We will use filtered or boiled water on our trip so you can use these bottles to store water during our homestays and on theon the trek. Water purifiers are OPTIONAL. If you decide to bring THEM, lifestraw filters or steripens work great and fit in most nalgene bottles.
  5. A warm hat for cold and a sun hat.
  6. A good supply of sunscreen to last you for several months.  You can buy sunscreen in Kathmandu but if you have a particular brand you like you should bring it.
  7. Warm gloves. Something waterproof or water resistant is especially useful for taking down your tent on cold mornings during the trek.
  8. A strong headlamp (bring extra batteries if your headlamp takes an unusual kind). AA and AAA batteries are available. We cannot emphasize enough how useful this is. In addition to using it during our trek, it will come in handy for the nights when the power goes out.

Some General Suggestions:

Please BRING SOME NORMAL URBAN CLOTHING. You will want something you would feel comfortable wearing in the city. Keep in mind these should be culturally appropriate clothes. We will be many weeks in Kathmandu and Patan, in our urban homestays, and attending lessons and classes, so some “not camping” clothes are nice to have.

Some RUNNING SHOES, sneakers or COMFORTABLE CITY SHOES. Most students will bring a total of 3 pairs of shoes (the other two being boots and sandals).

One of the many things you will be exposed to as soon as you land in Kathmandu is the variety of noises and colours! Travelling with EARPLUGS will help you find some relief from a variety of new noises (think roosters and car noise) and also with an eye/face mask to block out light.

You will also (unfortunately) be exposed to a lot of dust on off-road travels and in the cities – make sure to bring filter masks and some eye drops to provide relief for your eyes if you want that.

We hope this answers a lot of your packing related queries! Please do post questions on the Yak Board about packing or other course related queries as others might be wondering about them too. And don’t forget to subscribe to the Yak board to keep getting new updates!

See you soon,