Program: Nepal & India Adventure
Location: Nepal, India
Duration: 4 or 8 weeks
With Gapforce’s adventure travel program in Nepal and India, it’s time to think big. From giants of the animal kingdom like elephants and rhinos, to the Everest Base Camp Trek, to the vast and varied landscapes of India and the bustle of its metropoles, there is much to inspire amazement. But it’s also true that there’s a lot to get your head around when it comes to travelling in a new country. Whether you are a first time traveller or a seasoned explorer, you will have questions about what to expect from your adventure. In this article, a Gapforce expedition leader answers participants’ 7 most common questions.
7. I’m arriving by myself… do most people travel alone or with friends?
People commonly sign up as individuals, banding together for this group travel program. Since most people will be strangers before they arrive in country, everybody is likely to be in the same boat. It’s a great opportunity to meet like-minded travellers hailing from a variety of countries. With such a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, by the time your program reaches its conclusion your shared experience may have made you some friends for life.
Group sizes vary from trip to trip but on average you’ll travel with between 10-20 other individuals plus your expedition leader. Our participants are from all over the world – predominantly the UK, US, Canada and Germany – so you may find yourself making friends with people from different countries within your group, as well as all the people you’ll meet in your host country.
6. How much spending money will I need to bring?
Your program includes all accommodation, listed activities and three meals a day, so you can get away with the minimum in extra spends. However, you’ll have the opportunity to try a range of optional activities like zip-lining or surfing which will form an additional cost. Alcoholic drinks are not included in the price, either. The amount you spend comes down to personal preference, but as a rough guide you can budget 50-100 USD a week.
5. Will I be safe?
Your expedition will be managed by one of Gapforce’s dedicated leaders, who’ll handle things so you can concentrate on the adventure. Gapforce expedition leaders are comprehensively trained medical first-responders as well as masters of risk assessment, and your day-to-day safety is taken seriously. We work exclusively with trusted local operators and companies who smooth the logistics of the program, providing a secure, structured trip.
You are most vulnerable in a foreign country when you are alone. One of the advantages of organised group travel programs is that as well as having access to the support of the leader, you have safety in numbers for the whole of your trip.
In order to avoid unwanted attention and possible harassment, it is important to acknowledge the conservativism within these countries. Your behaviour will help ensure your safety, meaning in short simply to respect local customs. Dress appropriately, no revealing tops including men. Are your legs covered like the locals? This is especially relevant for girls when travelling around India. Do local people shake hands when they meet? Is there a common greeting or sign of respect that you can adopt? How are elders treated compared to young people? You’ll have the privilege to see sites of spiritual significance during your travels, including grave sites, temples and other places of worship. In these places it is particularly important to avoid being perceived as just another dumb tourist. Think about what you say and how loudly you say it, and whether it’s appropriate to touch something… it might be, but you should always ask permission first.
This information is not designed to worry you. Nepal is a welcoming country with exceptionally friendly people, and it is very rare for foreigners to encounter problems with locals. Although issues for foreign travellers, particularly women, have been known in some parts of India, these are isolated incidents and as a whole the country welcomes visitors. Go into the experience with an open mind, practice safe travel, and let Gapforce do the rest to help you make the most of your time in Nepal and India.
4. What’s included, and what’s not?
Your accommodation fees are included in the program price, as is all transport in Nepal and India and between the two countries. You will be provided with 3 meals a day, which may be cooked just for you (e.g. while on project); included with accommodation (e.g. on trek); group meals at restaurants; or given to as a food budget so that you can make your own choices. Drinking water will always be available, although for safety, all non-bottled water must be purified using chlorine tablets or similar before consumption. Items not included in the price of the program and considered optional extras include alcohol, snacks, spare toilet paper etc. Snacking can be an essential supplement to the diet on the EBC trek, especially for those with big appetites or those struggling with loss of appetite. You are advised to stock up on these in Kathmandu, where all products are significantly cheaper than in the mountains. The cost of everything goes up the higher you go: for example, a soda bought for 300 rupees at the start of trek can cost 700 rupees higher up.
3. Do I need specific travel insurance?
A comprehensive travel insurance policy is mandatory before departing on Gapforce expeditions. Full ‘backpacker’ coverage is recommended, but for the EBC trek specifically, make sure you are covered for helicopter rescue. Also, ensure your policy has no upper altitude limit (or a limit below 6,000 m).
Companies such as Endsleigh and World Nomads can provide suitable policies tailored to travel in the region.
2. What do I do with all my stuff on the Everest Base Camp trek?
Anything not needed for the EBC challenge can be left in Kathmandu in a secure lockup. On trek, you will carry a small day pack containing essentials. The rest of participants’ gear will be transported by a team of local porters. One porter will carry two people’s spare clothes and sleeping bag in a shared backpack. Nepalese porters have impressive strength, but be kind to them and yourself by packing as little as possible aside from what you need.
Our expeditions employ human porters rather than mules or yaks because of Gapforce’s commitment to animal welfare and supporting local people in host countries. Tips are a vital supplement to porters’ income and tipping is an established practice. 50 USD per porter is appropriate.
1. Altitude sickness – how can I prepare for it?
The condition commonly known as altitude sickness is caused by rapid exposure to low amounts of oxygen at high elevations. It has many symptoms ranging in severity, about which you will be briefed in detail by your expedition leader prior to the trek. The mildest stage of altitude sickness is known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), and commonly causes headaches, dizziness, nausea, lack of appetite and problems with sleeping.
This information is not designed to worry you, and it shouldn’t. The structured nature of the trek, with a steady pace and inclusion of acclimatisation days where you climb high and sleep low, will give your body the best chance to adapt to high altitude and avoid complications. Furthermore, the drug Acetazolamide (or Diamox), which effectively suppresses symptoms of AMS, is readily available in Nepal for a fraction of western prices.
Even with the best preparation, any given expedition has a high chance of someone feeling the detrimental effects of altitude on their body. It bears no relation to age, experience or even fitness level, and there are no guarantees. A good level of cardiovascular fitness will be your main asset. To make the most of your trek it’s important to train your heart, lungs and legs – namely the organs that will be doing all the work!