Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re anything like us when we began researching Himalayan trekking, you’ve got a ton of questions. Hopefully, we can answer most of them right here. But if you have more, PLEASE send them to us by using the form at the bottom of the page.

General Hobnail FAQs

You guys seem like a new company. Why should I go with you??

Good question. First of all, you’re right, we’re a new company. But that’s just the American side — Mark and Holly. We have lots of experience in marketing and working with people around the world. Dawa, our guide who is handling the Nepal side, is very, very experienced in guiding treks in the Himalayas. He has a vast network of guides, porters, animal handlers, and is seasoned in every other facet of handling the logistics of a successful trek. Why else should you choose us? Because we’re an American company based in Tennessee, we offer an all-inclusive option, lots of goodies and information, better communications than many overseas companies, and because we’re probably just like you.

It seems like Hobnail is the only company I see that offers a travel package. Why is that?

You’re right, most other companies don’t offer this. The only reason we do is because our travel package requires a group flight departing from Nashville, nowhere else. (We hope to expand to other cities in the future.) We offer this plan for convenience and cost, but clearly, you’ve got to either live near Nashville or get yourself here to take advantage of it. Otherwise, we have the ability to book your flights departing from elsewhere or you can choose to handle that yourself.

How do you come up with your trek prices?

Our trekking costs are directly related to the expenses of guides, porters, yaks, lodging, meals, transportation, and other equipment. Mountaineering and trekking account for most of the local income of Nepal’s Everest region, so our costs reflect the “going rate” of the costs on the Nepal side. You can rest assured that our international airfare costs are the best available at the time we can book them. We avoid flights that have too many connections, are at inconvenient times, have especially long or overnight layovers, and have other negative trade-offs that make the price seem like a “good deal.” We want you to be as comfortable as possible on what will be a very long day in the air.

How does Hobnail compare price-wise with other trekking companies.

When you start looking around (and you should), you’ll see that we’re smack-dab in the middle, price-wise. Some are cheaper and some are much more expensive. We set out to be affordable in price but premium in service. You’ll also see that it’s difficult to compare us “apples to apples” because very few other companies offer an international travel package like us. In fact, we only know of ONE other and they are based in England. This makes Hobnail Trekking Company highly unusual and — we believe — highly attractive!

I don’t live near Nashville but I like the idea of getting to know my fellow trekkers. Am I just out of luck?

Well, it’s true that if you live in the Nashville area, you will be able to easily attend socials and group hikes with your fellow trekkers. (This was one of the main things we were excited about when we formed the company.) But even if you don’t live nearby, our regular trek emails — tailored specifically for YOUR group — will introduce you to your future best friends, too, and vice versa. We will do all we can to make you comfortable with the people with whom you’ll be trekking.

I know I need travel insurance, but I’m not sure what or who. What do you suggest?

OK, here’s where we get serious. Hobnail requires that all trekkers purchase trip/medical insurance that includes helicopter evacuation and covers you for trekking at high altitudes. Emergency medical (helicopter) evacuation coverage should be a minimum of $500,000. In addition, you should have coverage for repatriation of remains, trip cancellation (coverage at least as much as the total trek cost), medical, delayed/cancelled flights, and baggage coverage.

Should you have to cancel your trek because of illness, injury or death to you or an immediate family member, travel insurance may protect your deposits and payments for both air and trek costs. Hobnail Trekking recommends the EXPLORER policy through World Nomads. A link to this provider is below.

Whichever company you choose for insurance, you should ensure that the policy meets your individual needs. Hobnail Trekking will require that you provide a copy of the card (or whatever is provided in its place) approximately 75 days prior to departure. If you also have primary medical insurance through your (or a family member’s) employer, you will also be required to provide Hobnail a copy of that card 75 days prior to departure.

Hobnail requires that you purchase travel insurance no later than 75 days prior to departure. Insurance providers, however, may require purchase prior to that, so pay attention to those deadlines when selecting a provider. Hobnail recommends that you review the policy details on any insurance carefully and determine whether it is sufficient to meet your trip and medical needs during the trek. Some providers cover pre-existing conditions if the policy is purchased within a few days of making a deposit on your trek. Policies vary, so read them carefully before selecting one. All make sense?

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Can I bring my kid or teenager? How about my great-great-grandpa?

Experiencing great things outside as a family is super important to us, and therefore we welcome your children who are at least 14 years old. If they’re younger than that but are really mature, you might be able to convince us to allow them, too. All minors must be accompanied by their parent/guardian on the trek. And likewise, if your great-great-grandpa’s doctor said he’s healthy and fit enough to participate and he can handle this level of daily activity, we welcome him! (and we want to know his secret). Be aware that some insurance companies either won’t insure folks over 70 or will insure them, but for a premium. And as far as your kids go, we can’t promise that all conversations your child overhears will be “kid-friendly.”

What happens if I pay my $500 deposit but something comes up and I can’t go on the trek?

Unfortunately, we cannot issue a refund of the $500 deposit because we’ll already have expenses wrapped up in you. But the good news is, you can transfer your deposit to another Hobnail trek that works for you within three years of your original booking date. We know you’re going to want to make this thing happen!

How soon before departure should I book my trek?

As soon as you settle on your trekking dates. If you choose a Nashville Package, you must book at least 180 days (six months) prior to departure. If you choose a Trek-Only package, you must book no later than 60 days in advance. Sooner is always better.

When are payments due?

A $500 deposit will hold your spot on the trek. If you’ve chosen the Nashville Package, you have a $2,000 payment due at 190 days before your trek begins. The balance of your payment is due at 70 days prior to your trek.

Can I change my reservation?

Any changes made to your reservation within 180 days of the trek will incur a $200 administrative fee plus any additional fees charged by airlines/teahouses to make those changes. No changes can be made within 60 days of your trek. Changes made more than 180 days prior to your trek will not incur a fee. Note: trek reservations are not transferable.

I just found out that I won’t be able to go on the trek I reserved, but my best friend can. Can I transfer my reservation to her?

Shoot!  The treks are not transferable. But you can use your deposit towards another trek at a future time, which means you still will be able to check this off of your bucket list!

Why can’t you tell me the exact days that I leave and return?

Ideally, we would get into Kathmandu in the morning or early afternoon so you’d have the rest of the day to relax before your trek begins the following morning. If we can find appropriate flights that meet these criteria, it’ll likely mean that they leave two days before you land in Kathmandu. If we can’t find these flights, we’ll book ones that leave the day before and have you arriving in the evening before your trek begins. So we can’t give you exact leave/return days until the flights are booked. You’ll need to be a little flexible in your schedule to account for this.

What if I’m traveling by myself? How does the rooming work?

Double occupancy is standard on all of our treks; we will match you with someone of the same gender – or if you’re going with a friend, you can specify him/her as your roommate. If you’d prefer your own room, you need to make that selection during the online reservation process. The single supplement is $300, and ensures you have your own room in Kathmandu as well as in teahouses.

What if I can’t go on any of the listed dates?

We just might be able to accommodate you anyway. When completing the registration process, choose “Custom Dates” and enter a date range that will work for you. We’ll check on it, do our best to arrange it, and then we’ll call you and let you know if it’ll work. If not, you can select another date that’ll work, or we will refund your $500 deposit. As in all of our excursions, we need at least two trekkers to arrange a trek. Treks with custom dates will incur an additional $400 fee per trekker.

My group would like to book a private trek. Can we do this?

Well, yes and no. Yes, in that your group can choose custom dates for an additional $400 per trekker. (See the question above.) No, in that there’s no way to guarantee a “private” trek in Nepal. You’ll almost definitely encounter other trekkers on the trail and some may fall in with your group. Even if your group is large enough to fill a tea house, other people may come in to eat or hang out. The only things that would make a trek “private” are the porters and guides that come along and the nightly briefing sessions. Make sense?

What if I want to design my own custom route and/or destination?

We admire your ambition! There are very few trek requests that we can’t accommodate with a little planning. Make your request and we’ll let you know if we can work it out. As always, custom dates and/or custom treks require an additional surcharge of $400 per trekker and a minimum of two trekkers.

What if Hobnail cancels my trek?

Hobnail may decide to cancel all or a portion of a trek due to force majeure or other circumstances beyond our control. If this occurs, full or partial refunds may be provided. If a trek is cancelled due to insufficient reservations to make it economically feasible, we will provide a full refund of the trek price. If Hobnail cancels a trek in progress due to the safety, health, or welfare of its trekkers or to force majeure, trekkers will receive a prorated refund and/or credit based on the number of days not completed on the trek. The cost incurred for changing airline accommodations due to this is not included in the trek cost and will be the responsibility of the trekker.

Could the trek prices change?

Trek prices should be what is posted. In VERY rare circumstances, unusual or significant increases in airfare could push the cost of the trek up a bit. If this happens, we’ll let you know what the increase will be and you’ll have the option of deciding not to do the trek at that time. Trust us in that we do NOT want to put this surcharge on you and will do everything we can to avoid it.

I’ve never done a trek like this so I have NO IDEA what to bring! Can you give me some guidance?

Great question! This is where Hobnail excels. When you book a trek, you start a process by which you’ll receive a LOT of information, when you need it. This includes a comprehensive packing list, a training plan, information about Nepal and all the towns and villages we’ll visit, cultural and travel tips, Nepalese vocabulary, and much more. We will give you your packing list in plenty of time, so don’t sweat it.

I know you share information about trekkers with the others in their group, but I don’t want my fellow trekkers to know my last name or what I do for a living.

Hmmmmm, now I’m REALLY curious. No worries, though. The information you provide with your registration will not be shared; you’ll receive a separate email with requested information to share with your fellow trekkers. We do this so that y’all can get to know each other on paper before you meet in real life. If there’s anything you don’t want us to share, you’ll leave that blank on the email we send you requesting information. Just share what you’re okay with. Cool?

Trekking in Nepal FAQs

What is the political climate like in Nepal? Should I be worried?

Nepal is one of the safest countries in which to travel. Although the larger cities have their predictable share of crime, the country in general is safe due mainly to its heavy adherence to religion — Buddhism and Hinduism — and its reliance on tourism. The culture is generally very welcoming and friendly. Yay Nepal!

I don’t really know anything about Nepal.

We didn’t know much either until we started researching it. But again, we’ve done the work for you and will provide you with the basics on Nepali culture. You’ll get this information and sooooo much more in regular newsletters that will emailed directly to you. We won’t overwhelm you, promise.

How much mountaineering and hiking experience is required?

No mountaineering experience is required. There won’t be any ropes or crampons or anything like that involved. You should, however, have some decent experience hiking and wearing a day pack.  Many people find using trekking poles invaluable, too. If you don’t have ANY hiking background but have a dream to experience the Himalayas, kudos to you! We will be sure that, by the time your trek departs, you will have the experience and knowledge you need to make that dream happen.

What do the "Activity Levels" mean?

Trekking in Nepal is usually graded according to several factors including: gain in altitude, terrain conditions, duration of daily activity, and recommended fitness level. These are general guidelines only, but will give you an idea of what to expect on the trek. It’s up to you to judge your own ability, as well as physical and mental stamina. The pace of the trek can vary depending on the fitness and age range of the trekkers. This is the system we use:

EASY: (ONE BOOT)

Easy treks may be undertaken by most age groups and fitness levels. These treks are marked by total altitude gains of no more than 3,000 meters (or about 10,000 feet) on mostly flat terrain. Daily activity duration is typically no more than 3 hours, and total trek likely won’t exceed 10 days. There is a very little chance of altitude sickness in an easy trek.

MODERATE: (TWO BOOTS)

Moderate treks are more active, and would require at least an average fitness level to accomplish. Daily activity duration would typically be between 3 and 6 hours, and the total length of the trek may be up to two weeks. Total elevation may reach 4,000 meters (or about 13,000 feet) on moderate, uneven terrain. The chances of experiencing altitude sickness are fairly low in a moderate trek.

STRENUOUS: (THREE BOOTS)

Strenuous treks demand some preparation or training to ensure a comfortable (but challenging) trek. Typical daily activity duration is about 6 to 8 hours, and may include elevations of 5,000 – 5,500 meters (approximately 16,500 – 18,000 feet). The terrain may have some steep ascents/descents, and the trails may be uneven or rocky. Mental stamina is important for strenuous treks. Altitude sickness of varying degrees isn’t unusual in strenuous treks; your guide or trek leader will ensure you take it slow to minimize these affects.

CHALLENGING: (FOUR BOOTS)

Challenging treks typically go “off the beaten path” to remote areas where landscapes are wild and untamed. These treks are physically quite challenging and definitely not for beginners. Daily activity duration will approach 12 hours – often on remote, mountainous, exposed terrain with very steep ascents/descent and uneven trails. Elevation of 5,500 meters (approximately 18,000 feet) isn’t unusual, and climbing and/or mountaineering skills may be required.

Is trekking in Nepal dangerous?

Relative to a lot of things, no, not at all. Altitude sickness is the main concern. The bottom line is, we will be trekking through one of the more remote places on the planet, so sure, there is some inherent risk involved, but let’s look at the numbers. In the case of EBC, around 30,000 people make the trek every year and there is an average of only one death annually. (In most cases, this is due to a pre-existing medical issue that is aggravated by the extreme altitude.) As long as you keep your leader/guide informed of how you’re feeling, he’ll be able to discern when you need an aspirin and when you need a helicopter evacuation.

I‘m a beast of an athlete and do a lot of cardio, so I won’t get altitude sickness, right?

It’s awesome that you’re a great athlete and that will serve you well on this trek, but AMS (acute altitude sickness) doesn’t care how much of a beast you are. AMS is only concerned with your genetics, so if you don’t want to get it, choose your parents wisely. This also means that a marginally fit person may have no problem at all with AMS. It is entirely unpredictable.

Can I get my visa upon arrival at the airport in Kathmandu?

YES, you can obtain a visa easily upon your arrival at Tribhuwan International Airport in Kathmandu. Tourist Visa with Multiple Entry for 30 days can be obtained by paying US $40 or equivalent foreign currency. We will also give you other options for obtaining a visa prior to departure.

What immunizations will I need?

No vaccinations are compulsory in Himalaya, but you should be up-to-date on routine vaccinations including MMR, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, varicella, polio, and your annual flu shot. We also recommend that you are vaccinated against hepatitis A and typhoid. Your doctor may also recommend hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis, malaria, and rabies. Check the CDC website for further details.

We also recommend:

  • A dental check-up prior to traveling.
  • That you know your blood group in case of emergency.

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions which might affect you on trek, you make these known to your trek leader and Hobnail Trekking at the time of your booking.

Do I need a doctor’s permission?

We don’t require any formal permission, but we STRONGLY encourage all of our trekkers to seek medical advice before undertaking a trek like this.  You can be healthy and fit but still be affected by altitude.  It just makes sense to talk to your doc about it.

What happens if I get really sick during a trek?

Thankfully, the insurance we require SHOULD cover helicopter evacuation if necessary. Your trek leader or guide will work with the insurance company if you are so sick that they believe you need immediate attention.

How long is the international flight?

That depends on the specific flight we book for each trip, but you’ll probably be in the air and in airports for 24-30 hours.

How many people will be on my trek?

The standard full-size group of a Nepal trek is 16. That’s the number that most tea houses can accommodate. If you have a larger group — say 24 — you can still travel together, but we will have to bunk you in two different tea houses. (You can socialize at whichever one you want, go back and forth, whatever.) There may be less than 16 depending upon demand for that particular trek.

Is the published itinerary rock solid, or could it change during the trek?

One of the benefits of Hobnail Trekking is that our Nepali partners are flexible enough that they can change the itinerary based on the desire of the group. They know the area like the back of their hand. Pretty cool, because you can have a trek literally like nobody else! Oh – and the itinerary could also change based on circumstances outside of our control (like acts of God – we have no control over what He chooses to do).

I understand we’re not camping, but staying in tea houses. I have no idea what a tea house is. Define, please.

Sure. A tea house is a small, rudimentary lodge that can normally accommodate around 16 people. Each tea house is a restaurant, too. Trekking culture dictates that you always eat your meals at your tea house, not one of the neighboring tea houses. (There will be several in each village.)

In most cases, especially the higher you go, the only heat is in the common, dining room, and that’s provided by a central stove that burns dried yak dung. (Wood is a valuable commodity and can’t be burned most of the year.) Guest rooms are usually not heated, so a cold-weather sleeping bag is mandatory equipment. Each guest room usually contains two single beds. If it is a “fancier” tea house, you may have your own bathroom. In others, you will be sharing a bathroom with others.

Tea house food is often very good, especially if you stick to local specialties and avoid heavy or fried foods.

You’ll find the proprietors to be warm and welcoming, and you will enjoy relaxing and socializing with your fellow trekkers in the evenings.

What’s the food like?

All depends on your particular taste, of course, but here’s an overview from World Nomads.com:

When you‘re heading to Nepal, don‘t forget to bring your appetite. Offering everything from traditional fare to popular international dishes, you‘ll never go hungry there. Typical Nepali food is called Dal Bhat, and is made up of rice and lentils. Side dishes usually include a variety of fresh vegetables such as potatoes and cauliflower. Traditional Nepali food is often spicy, but you can usually specify how mild or hot you want it when ordering. You can get a taste of this customary cuisine at just about any local restaurant, which are plentiful throughout the country.

When you’re on a trek, plan on being a vegetarian. Because of the arduous process of getting products from the lowlands up into the mountains, meats often ride on the back of yaks for much longer than they should, so the prevailing advice is, avoid it. Stick with light dishes, plenty of carbohydrates, and skip the fried stuff.

If I’m drinking at least 5 liters of water every day, won’t I be running back and forth to the john all night?

Yes and no. Your body will absorb a lot of that water to keep you strong and healthy. You’ll be surprised at how little you’ll actually pee with that much water consumption, but not peeing is not a good thing. Dehydration is one of the main causes for experiencing the symptoms of AMS, or altitude sickness. In fact, dehydration is often misdiagnosed as AMS. If you’re having to pee fairly often and your pee is nice and clear, that’s a good thing and will probably keep you healthier and happier, aside from having to make a run in the middle of the night. Remember, nobody said that high altitude trekking doesn’t come without its challenges and annoyances. But it’s TOTALLY worth it!

What’s the weather like? Will I be freezing my buns off the whole time?

Probably not! During most spring and fall trekking seasons, the daytime temperatures are usually very comfortable throughout most of these treks, like daytime highs in the 50s and 60s. During the 3-5 days when we’re at the highest altitude of the trek, the temps may drop into the 20s and 30s during the day and close to zero at night. Himalayan weather is unpredictable, so we may see some snow, we may not. If you plan accordingly and layer wisely, you shouldn’t have a problem.

What are the bathrooms like?

Well…some good and some not so much. Let’s put it this way: If you are concerned about nice bathrooms, an EBC trek might not be for you. In some of the tea houses, you may even get your own Western-style bathroom. In others, it’s more of a hole in the ground and we may all be using the same hole. Remember, you will be in one of the more remote locations ON THE PLANET, so some of the luxuries and conveniences we’re used to just aren’t available. During the trekking itself, there will be a fair amount of running off behind a tree to take care of business. But you guys are hikers, right? You’re used to that!

I have a friend in Nepal and can stay with him one on the nights are were in Kathmandu, so I won’t need the hotel room or breakfast there. Can I get a refund for those components of my trek?

You have a friend in Nepal?! That’s cool! But no, you cannot get a refund for the unused components of your trip. The trip is priced as a whole, not the summation of many parts. Besides, there would be way too much math involved in figuring that out.

Am I allowed to climb higher than the group or go "off the beaten path" and do something on my own?

Clearly we don’t recommend that, but you are an adult and we can’t stop you. Your guide will, however, require that you sign a waiver if you choose to do something on your own. Remember, our guides are native to the region and have guided trekkers many times. They know what works and what doesn’t and they know how to keep you safe and happy. The best idea is to do EXACTLY what they say. Otherwise, you will incur the risk yourself.

How much money should I bring?

It depends on how much shopping you want to do. You can probably get by with around $200 (USD) if you’re being extra thrifty, but we would recommend at least $300-500 so that you can pick up some souvenirs. For longer treks like the Annapurna Circuit, you may need a little more.

I‘m a student and don’t have time to go during the school year. What about me?

We understand, and for that exact reason, we are developing a week-long trek that will be based near Kathmandu and will also involve some community service work at a Nepali senior’s home. It will be AWESOME! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter so we can let you know when this trek is available!

Everest Base Camp FAQs

How far will we actually be walking?

Somewhere around 75 miles round trip.

How long will we spend at Base Camp itself?

Depending on the weather, probably between 30 minutes and an hour. Long enough to take epic photos and enjoy the best Snickers bar ever. We might even get to see some climbers, but from a distance. Climbers spend weeks and months at Base Camp preparing for their summit attempt and they don’t want to mix with trekkers who might be contagious with a cold or something else. Nothing personal.

What will be the average daily elevation change?

The largest altitude gain in one day will be Day 3 when we climb an impressive 840m from Phakding to Namche Bazaar. Other days range from around 200m to 600m gains before we start heading back down on Day 10.

How far will we hike each day?

No more than 9 miles and no less than 3.

Annapurna Base Camp FAQs

How long will we spend at Base Camp itself?

Answer coming soon.

How far will we hike each day?

No more than 9 miles and no less than 3.

What is the average daily elevation change?

Answer coming soon.

What‘s the total distance we’ll be walking, start to finish?

Answer coming soon.

Gokyo Lakes FAQs

What will be the total distance, start to finish?

Answer coming soon.

What will be the average daily elevation change?

Answer coming soon.

How far will we hike each day?

No more than 9 miles and no less than 3.

The water I see in pictures is beautiful! Can I swim in it?

Unless you happen to be packing a thermal wetsuit, we don’t recommend it.

Isn’t this close to EBC? Can we go there, too?

Gokyo isn’t “close” to EBC, but we can arrange for you to do both on the same trek. It would be a custom trek because it adds a few days, but it’s a beautiful trip and well worth it. Let us know if you want to make this happen and we’ll work out the details for you!