Before you go on your vacation, take note of some pointers that you should keep in mind so you can protect your health in Nepal. These reminders are important particularly if you intend to do some trekking in the mountains.
Traveler’s diarrhea is the most common ailment experienced by travelers not just in Nepal. It is usually caused by the bacteria Escherichia coli, which can be found in food or beverages that are prepared in an environment with poor sanitation. The best way to prevent traveler’s diarrhea is to eat only food that is properly cooked and to drink only bottled water or bottled beverages. Make sure the beverages are sealed. Drinking hot coffee or hot tea is fine as long as it is prepared using boiled water.
A large part of Nepal does not have modern sanitation treatments in place yet, that’s why you should take precaution against other gastrointestinal problems like giardiasis and amoebic dysentery. Drink only water that has been treated, filtered, or boiled, and do not use tap water when you brush your teeth. When you eat in a restaurant, do not put ice in your water because the water used in ice cubes are probably taken from the tap.
You should also avoid eating fresh salads with raw vegetables and peeled fruits to protect your health in Nepal. When you go trekking, don’t drink water straight from rivers and streams; treat it first with the necessary chemicals. And of course, wash your hands with soap and water before eating or before handling food. If this is not possible, you can use alcohol or a hand sanitizer.
If you are planning to go for a trek, make sure that you are physically prepared for it. People going on a trek in the Himalayas can suffer from two things: hypothermia and altitude sickness. Trekkers are susceptible to hypothermia in the colder months, especially during autumn and winter when temperatures at the base camp can go down to 14°F or –10°C. Temperature at higher altitudes is expected to be lower and can drop even more at nighttime. If you are not prepared for this kind of environment, trek in lower altitudes in order to avoid hypothermia. The temperature will be more tolerable and you can still enjoy the beauty of the mountains.
People experience altitude sickness or acute mountain sickness when they climb elevations of more than 2,400 meters above sea level where there is low oxygen. The symptoms of altitude sickness manifest in different ways. Sometimes they are similar to flu symptoms, other times they look like symptoms of a bad hangover. Your body will send out signals that something is wrong so don’t ignore them.
In Nepal, the snow lines are found at heights of 5,500 to 5,800 meters above sea level. This means the base camps are situated a little lower than these heights, and trekkers can be at risk of altitude sickness even at the base camp. To protect your health in Nepal, choose trails that go to lower elevations. Also, the place in which you sleep should not be 300 meters higher than your previous nighttime location. Follow the simple rule of acclimation by going to a higher altitude at daytime and returning to a lower altitude at night before heading off to more serious treks at higher elevations.
Beware of snakes when you go trekking. Poisonous snakes go out especially during warm weather. They are commonly found in elevations of 1,500 meters or less. To stay safe and to protect your health in Nepal, follow what your guides tell you and avoid places they tell you to avoid.