Nepal has 4 seasons: spring, from March to May, is warm and quite dusty with few rain showers. Summer, from June to August, is the monsoon season, and it normally rains a lot during these months. Autumn, from September to November, is cooler with clear skies; this is the most popular trekking season. In winter, from December to February, it is cold at night and it can be foggy in the early morning. The afternoons are usually clear and pleasant at lower altitudes, though in the mountains it is quite cold.
October and November are the most popular trekking months in Nepal. During this time, chances are high for clear skies and great mountain views. The nights are usually cold in the mountains, but the bright sun makes for pleasant day temperatures (above 20s° C, falling to 5° C at night between 1,000 m and 3,500 m). At higher altitudes temperatures range from about 15 ° C- 20° C during day time to -10° C at night. Mornings are usually clear with clouds building up during the afternoon, disappearing at night to reveal spectacular starry skies.
December, January and February are good for trekking as long as you stay below 3,000 m. Above 3,000 meters it gets very cold, and trails are often covered with snow. It is usually about 10 degrees colder than in autumn. High passes (above 4,000 m) are generally closed from Mid-November to Mid-March.
March and April is a good time for trekking too. The sky is a bit dustier but you normally get good views in the mountains. With Rhododendron, Nepal’s national flower, being in full bloom, walking through the forests is particularly nice.
May is also rather good for trekking, although it can get quite hot in lower altitudes and there is a higher chance of rain.
During the monsoon from June to August, trekking is not very popular due to the heavy and frequent rain showers. However, the vegetation becomes very green and lush, which makes for beautiful sceneries. In Upper Mustang, Humla and Dolpa, summer is an excellent time for trekking! These areas lie in the rain shadow of the main Himalayan range and are therefore not affected by the monsoon. Getting there might be a challenge though due to unpredictable weather conditions in the Lowlands, which generally affect flight schedules.
To trek in Nepal you will need to obtain one or more permits, depending on the area that you plan to visit. Some permits are required in advance and some can be bought on the spot.
There are different types of permits and/or fees:
- Special Trekking Permit for restricted/controlled areas
- Trekkers’ Information Management System/TIMS Card
- Conservation Area entrance fee
- National Park entrance fee
- Trekking peak climbing and mountaineering permit
- Filming and documentary shooting permit
Special Trekking Permit for restricted/controlled areas
Special Trekking Permits are needed for most trekking areas besides Annapurna, Everest and Langtang & Helambu. Trekking Permits are raised by the Department of Immigration and have to be obtained in advance of the trek. They can only be obtained through an authorized trekking or travel agency. Besides, in areas where trekking permits are needed, it is not allowed to go trekking without a guide. The trekking permits are issued for groups of 2 persons and more. Special trekking permit fees vary for different destinations.
An overview of areas where you need a trekking permit you can find on the website of the Ministry Home Affairs, Department of Immigration of Nepal: www.immi.gov.np/appendix (scroll down to Appendix 12).
Trekkers’ Information Management System/TIMS Card
In the trekking areas where a trekking permit is not needed, you need to obtain a TIMS card. These TIMS cards have been introduced to provide a proper record of trekkers in order to increase their safety and security; in case of natural calamities and other accidents the information gathered by TIMS helps to carry out search and rescue operations for trekkers.
There are 2 types of TIMS cards, green cards for independent trekkers (US$ 20) and blue cards for trekkers in an organized group (US$ 10). The TIMS card has to be obtained in advance of the trek. Independent trekkers can obtain their TIMS card at the offices of Nepal Tourism Board in Kathmandu and Pokhara, TAAN Secretariat at Maligaon in Kathmandu and TAAN Pokhara Secretariat in Pokhara. You need to bring a copy of your passport and 2 passport size photographs and fill in a TIMS application form.
You can find more information at www.timsnepal.com.
Conservation Area entrance fee
Many popular trekking destinations are part of a Conservation Area. For the areas being managed by the National Trust of Nature Conservation you need to obtain an entrance permit in advance of the trek at the office of the National Trust, which is inside the NTB office in Kathmandu and Pokhara. You need to bring a copy of your passport and 1 passport size photograph. The entrance fee is NRs 2000. The areas are:
- Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA)
- Manaslu Conservation Area (MCA)
- Gaurishankar Conservation Area (GCA)
For Gaurishankar Conservation Area you can also buy the entrance permit at the destination (this may change in future).
One Conservation Area is not under the management of NTNC, the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area (KCA), which is being managed by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC). You can obtain the entrance permit at the DNPWC or at the KCA office at Lelep, Taplejung.
National Park entrance fee
Many treks enter into National Parks, for which you have pay a National Park entrance fee. Nepal has the following national parks: Sagarmatha NP , Langtang NP, Makalu Barun NP, Rara NP, Shey-Phoksundo NP, Chitwan NP, Khaptad NP, Bardiya NP and Shivapuri NP. Usually, the entrance fee for the National parks is NRs. 3000 for foreigners. However there are different entrance fees National parks in the Terai Region.
Besides the National Parks, there are a couple of wildlife reserves: Shukla Phanta wildlife reserve, Koshi Tappu Wildlife reserve, Parsi Wildlife Reserve for which the entrance fee is NRs 1000 per day. Finally Nepal has one Hunting Reserve, Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve, for which the entrance fee for foreigners is NRs 3000.
Trekking Peak Climbing and Mountaineering permit
All mountaineering permits need to be arranged through a travel or trekking agency; it is not allowed to apply individually for peak climbing. You will need to fill in a bio-data form and pass this to your agency. You can do this online and add your signature and photograph to the form when you are in Kathmandu. The Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) is authorized to issue a trekking peak climbing permit for 33 peaks up to 6500 m (except Mera Peak); climbing permits for other peaks are obtained from Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA).
Filming & Documentary shooting permit
A special permit is needed for filming and documentary shooting at trekking destinations inside national parks and conservation areas. You need to apply for this permit through a trekking agency. The permit is obtained from the Ministry of Information and Communication (MoIC) and the fee depends on the use of camera and technology. For more information, please visit the website of the Ministry of Information and Communications.