As a female Trekking alone in Nepal is usually easy. I have been solo trekking in Nepal’s Everest region (Khumbu) for several weeks off the most beaten track. As a solo female trekker, I could enjoy a lot of warmth and kindness from the locals.
Legs like lead
We were on our way towards Lukla in the Everest Region. Mel and I passed the settlement of Nunthala. Shortly after, I felt my legs getting heavier and my breathing more strenuous. These could not be altitude problems yet! But I was getting a little nervous.
I took shorter steps and my legs felt like lead. Mel kept going and I took my own pace in peace. Sluggishly I worked my way up the hill. Finally, I recognized the first houses of the settlement Bupsa. I was totally exhausted and frozen through. And immediately lay down in my warm sleeping bag in the cold room of the teahouse. The same accommodation, where Mel had also settled down.
Mel persuaded me to have a Dhal Baat (typical Nepali meal). In the hope that energy would flow through my body again. But no… I just wanted to sleep. But the next night I spent sleepless, freezing and sweating in my sleeping bag.
The flu in the cold room
In the morning my whole body was burning and aching. Even without a thermometer, it was clear to me that I had succumbed to severe flu. Getting on the trail was out of the question. I had to stay in bed and Mel went on alone. As for me, she was usually as well female trekking alone.
The next two days and nights in the freezing cold room did not want to end. But the knowledge that I could now hike on alone was motivating, even though I liked Mel very much. Yet, I really wanted to go for some solo trekking in Nepal. One week with her passed before my feverish eyes.
How it all started – stuck in Kathmandu
I met Mel, a German young woman, in Kathmandu. We were two female trekking alone and stuck at the airport.
My sister and her husband flew back to Switzerland after our Mustang trek together. I wanted to fly on to Lukla in the Everest area for some trekking alone in Nepal. But due to bad weather, our planned flight Kathmandu-Lukla was cancelled. While planning trekking alone in Nepal it was impossible to get a later flight (without rebooking).
A downside of trekking alone in Nepal
Depressed, Mel and I had to give way to tour groups again and again. Solo trekking in Nepal had as well disadvantages. Groups enjoyed priority every time and everywhere. On the third day, we made it into one of the small planes! But clouds dashed immediately our hopes… the cloud cover settled over the airstrip in Lukla again. This flight was also cancelled.
Due to the short landing strip, Lukla is considered the most dangerous airport in the world. Our gratitude that the airline was not taking any risks was pretty small at that moment. Back in the waiting lounge, we decided to charter a jeep with a driver to take us to Salleri. Salleri is on the Jiri-Lukla trekking route and is about four days’ walk below Lukla.
The next morning, we two solo female trekker and three other male trekkers sat in a jeep and rattled towards Salleri. That is how Mel and I became hiking buddies for two days until we reached Bupsa. Despite the fact that I planned trekking alone in Nepal.
Whether Mel also enjoyed the regained freedom after Bupsa, I did not know. I did not see the girl again.
My legs are feeling lighter again
The third morning in Bupsa I felt better and decided to continue hiking. But the two days up to Lukla were still very exhausting. My body was not yet fit. Nevertheless, I enjoyed my regained freedom and the many encounters with the locals.
Planning my solo trekking
It was time to make more exact plans for my coming solo trekking in Khumbu. For the route Lukla-Namche Bazar, there were no variants. After that, everything was open. A few breaks with the map in hand and an idea formed in my head.
The Lukla shock
When I entered the official Everest Base Camp Trail shortly behind Lukla I was shocked. Crowds of tourists (where have all the locals go?) all moving along the trail towards Phakting. I was stunned… at the same time panic seized me. Should I now spend my next six weeks in such crowds? No, never…
Replanning my route
Of course, I knew that the Everest region was well visited. But the reality was terrifying. Sitting on a stone bench I watched stunned how many trekkers passed me by. I considered going back to Kathmandu to start solo trekking in another Himalayan region from there. But this would cost again several days of time in civilization. A fact, that I was not ready for and ruled out the variant again.
Therefore, I mixed again with the trekkers and moved towards Namche. Arrived in Namche Bazar I restarted with planning. With the goal of having to enter the main route as rarely as possible. Finally, I thought I had found a solution and was looking forward to the coming solo trekking in the region of the roof of the world.
My final solo trekking route
Saller i- Ringmu – Bupsa – Paiya- Namche – Khumjung – Phortse Thanga – Phortse – Pangboche – Ama Dablam BC – Tabuche BC – Pheriche Pass – Dingboche – Kongma La Pass – Lobuche – Kalapatthar – Lobuche – Dzong La – Cho La Pass – Gokyo – Gokyo Ri – Renjo La Pass – Marulung – Thame – Namche – Phakding – Paiya – Nunthala – Junbesi – Konja – Bhandar – Shivalaya – Jiri Bazar
The route was a combination of the Everest three passes trek, Jiri classic route and my own detours to avoid the crowds. It was much less travelled and allowed me to have unforgettable contact with many gracious locals. As female trekking alone in Nepal I enjoyed a lot of warmth and kindness from the locals.
Writing a detailed travelogue after four years (at the time of writing) is impossible for me. But with pleasure, I share a few thoughts and memories about what it feels like as solo female trekking alone in Nepal.
The high mountains and the three pass trek
Crossing the three big passes stays one of my best solo trekking experiences. The altitude, views and ruggedness of nature under the roof of the world is unforgettable. The last steps up to the passes – especially on my first, the Kongma La were exhausting and for a solo female trekker also mentally intense.
Trekking alone in Nepal through high mountains requires good personal skills. Knowing your own physical and mental limits can be essential for survival. You have to recognize, manage or solve signs of altitude sickness or other undesirable events alone.
Why I do love trekking alone in Nepal
That’s why I experience tours in nature more intensively as female trekking alone than in a group. Through the awareness of not being allowed to make a “mistake”, I live more consciously while solo trekking. The concentration is 100% on me and nature. And the intense relationship with myself is very fulfilling for me.
I don’t know the common need to share my experiences with someone else. This allows me this priceless freedom of solo trekking. Communicating via social media is almost impossible in large parts of Nepal. If you don’t want to spend hours finding out the password of a possibly working WIFI, it’s best to leave it alone.
The Khumbu area – a difficult paradise for solo trekking
Trekking alone in Nepal, in particular in the higher Everest Region is easy and difficult at the same time. This enormous hospitality of the locals made me feel very safe as a solo trekker. Maybe even more so because I am female trekking alone.
Helpfulness and warmth of the Sherpas (the name for the indigenous people of the region – as opposed to the general use of the term for porters in the Himalayas) are infinite. As a solo female trekker, I was often gifted with special attention. But exclusively off the beaten track.
Along the main route to Everest Basecamp, there is not much time and space for a solo trekker. Because of my route choice I had to spend the night in Dingboche and Lobuche. Finding a bed in these two places was a big challenge.
Most of the Tea Houses work exclusively with trekking agencies who take contingents on the beds. So the Tea House owners were only willing to sell me a possibly remaining bed late in the evening. Also, otherwise, a solo trekker is not financially interesting. This is clearly noticeable along the main tourist stream. Trekking alone in Nepal might include these challenges all over more busy parts of the country.
Below Lukla, one meets few tourists and finds accordingly again everywhere a free bed.
Jiry Classic Trail
The Jiry classic route was taken by the early day explorers like Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay when the Lukla airport wasn’t in existence.
The route led me from Lukla to Jiry Bazar, from the cold high mountain climate down to warm, humid regions with lots of vegetation. The myriad shades of green were soothing and a feast for the eyes.
Jiry Bazar is a small place with only a few tea houses. An idyllic place with a lot of history. I spent three nights there until I managed to organize transport to Kathmandu. Together with seven locals, I got into a jeep early in the morning… to drive through hell for the next 12 hours.
Returning back to civilisation – the 12 worst hours of my life
The old jeep hurtled at full throttle over the winding and potholed dirt roads. Crammed in with four Sherpa women, I sat in the back seat with my eyes closed. No, I was not afraid but terrible nausea had me already after a few minutes fully under control.
Fortunately, I was able to get the seat at the window and thus only stick out my head to vomit. I did not always manage to do this in time. At some point, however, my stomach was empty and nothing more could be expected except retching.
With great promises, the concerned passengers next to me stuffed everything possible and impossible into my mouth. But even the herbs and roots did not help.
The roped up goat
Only in passing did I notice how the driver stopped, got out, tied a live goat to the roof with a rope and another woman climbed into the back seat. The screaming goat kept falling off the roof, right in front of my window. Again and again, the driver stopped to tie the protesting goat back to the roof.
During one of these shortstops, someone suddenly opened my side door and I fell right onto the gravel road. There I lay thankfully for a while, hoping to regain some semblance of balance. With no memory of doing so, I found myself back in the back seat and the ride continued.
The goat screamed less and also fell off the roof more seldom. I thought she was probably getting used to the ride. When I stuck my head out of the window again I got something wet from above on the back of my neck. Only after repeated occurrences, I realized that the goat was also throwing up.
Lunch stop – for free
After ages of driving, we reached flatter terrain and a paved road! Right after that, we stopped for lunch. Somewhere, in the middle of nowhere a family served us Dahl Baat. Free of charge…
My companions from the back seat enjoyed the hospitality to the fullest and filled their stomachs. I could not eat anything, lay on the floor and was happy that the world around me turned a little less fast after almost an hour break.
The setback after hope
Back in the jeep, I was full of hope. Paved road, less rough and less curvy… can only get better! Right, further I felt bad, however, I was in the here and now. At least until my neighbours started to throw up… yes, probably a bit much free Dhal Baat.
Since the window seat was still mine, we got of course the disaster of the nausea of the ladies over our clothes. Well, played after a few weeks without a shower and the own surrendered also no more role.
After some more hours, the goat on the roof suddenly went quiet… I wondered if it was still alive at all. The stomachs of my fellow ladies were empty and I felt a little better too.
But when we were approaching Kathmandu, the traffic and the buildings were getting denser. My condition again worsened greatly due to the many stops and goes. When asked where I wanted to get off, I had no answer… just let me get off as soon as possible, somewhere near the centre, no matter. So suddenly I was helped out of the car and I stood together with the goat and its owner directly in front of a large supermarket.
When the two said goodbye to me I sat down on the ground and waited motionlessly. After a good hour, my spirits slowly returned, my head turned less quickly and my stomach was calmer. I felt so dirty like never ever before.
The dream about a shower
Directly I went in search of a bed and a shower. I found a cosy accommodation in the middle of Kathmandu, checked in, went to my room and stood with all the clothes under the shower. What a relief! Never in my life (before or since) was my need for a shower so great!
Now it was also my time to fly back to Europe. An unforgettably beautiful time trekking alone in Nepal will bring me back in due course!
And my solo trekking adventures continue
But my next adventure as a female trekking alone will bring me back to a long trail. In beginning of may i start my solo trekking on the Continental Divide Trail – 5000 km from Mexico to Canada. More infos how you can follow me out there will follow!
For more outdoor stories as a solo female trekker check out my hiking blog! Or are you curious why i love being alone? Here you find more to read about it…