How Much Do Treks Cost?
Really, how much do treks cost? We’re going to tell you every little detail because the adventure travel industry is not the most open when it comes to sharing how that final price of your dream holiday is calculated.
We simply don’t have the space to compare and contrast Nepal, India and Bhutan – so we are going to explain how things work to do a 140-day GHT trek in Nepal and you’ll learn all you need to know to then ask the right questions in India and Bhutan. So, there is a lot of information to go through plus we’re going to look at costs for Solo and Couple Trekkers – and if you want to do all the running around yourself!
We’ve already looked at flight and travel insurance, because you could be travelling from anywhere, we’re going to use some averages for these costs just as indicators:
- International Flight cost to Kathmandu, Nepal we’ll say is US$800 per person
- International Travel Insurance for 5 months, we’ll say US$500 per person
Trekking Permits – Protected Area Entry Fees and Restricted Area Permits
Next, in how much do treks cost, we need to consider transport and permit costs. These are non-negotiable so we’ll look at what you’re paying for in detail. Firstly, domestic airfares in the Himalaya aren’t very competitive when compared to international prices. In fact, Nepal is one of the most expensive places to fly domestically in the world. There is ‘talk’ of making locals and foreigners pay the same price for a ticket, but that might take years to happen – at the moment foreigners pay about double the local price.
There are two general types of permits that you need for different places in Nepal’s mountains:
- Protected area entry fees – national parks, conservation areas, hunting reserves, etc; and,
- Restricted area permits – areas determined to be ‘sensitive’, normally close to areas not covered by protected area status, but both is possible!
The information for the following costs comes from the Government of Nepal, Department of Immigration and Nepal Tourism Board. The current fees for Nepal are outlined below along with some examples to show costs associated with various routes:
How Much Do Treks Cost in the Field?
OK, so you’ve bought a flight, travel insurance and decided your route so you can calculate your permits and fees, and you can book your domestic flights! You should also include an amount for taxis, accommodation and meals in Kathmandu and/or Pokhara, but that’s entirely up to your taste and we’re not going to include it here.
Your planning has now got you to the start of the trail! But now you have a serious and very important question to answer – how will you arrange and pay for goods and services along the trail? This is the most important part of calculating how much do treks cost!
There are three options, and it is possible to take different approaches in different regions – for example, in Kanchenjunga you decide to trek with a guide but keep things minimal, then for the High Passes to Makalu you take a full camping and climbing team, but in Langtang and Annapurna you go solo and do everything yourself... so,
- Will you do the running around and negotiating yourself?
- Or do you prefer to try and find a local trekking company who will do the work for you?
- Of perhaps you prefer to contact your nearest travel agent and book a trek through them?
Each of these options has clear advantages and disadvantages – the more you do yourself and the more local you go, the less guarantees you have in terms of quality, safety, security and convenience.
Over the years we’ve found that folks fall into the following generalised trekking categories:
- Solo Independent Trekkers like to organise their own plans, which includes permits, tickets, negotiating with locals if they want a guide, choosing where to stay and what to eat.
- Budget Focused Individuals or Small Independent Groups (2-4 people) who find a local trekking agency in Kathmandu or Pokhara and then negotiate a price for guides, camping crew and services.
- Convenience Focused Individuals or Small Groups (2-4 people) who are happy to combine with others and want the convenience and simplicity of booking through an international adventure tourism business.
Each of these scenarios is covered in the costing below – it’s a little complicated to look at, but you will quickly see how much your trek costs!
So, How Much Do Treks Cost?
Let’s go through the above table from left to right, there are four key sections:
- The first columns on the left describe the service of goods that you are paying for, like guide wages, food or tips.
- The second group of columns are the costs calculated for a 145-day trek along the Great Himalaya Trail for a Single Trekker or a Couple of Trekkers. At the bottom of these columns are what you might pay for A – organising things yourself; B – if you book through a local company in Nepal; and, C if you book through an international adventure company.
- The third set of columns are the costs if you book things yourself BUT you organise things as you go in the mountains and negotiate directly with communities. As you will see, this puts money directly into remote communities where it is appreciate most!
- The fourth set of columns are the costs if you are determined to trek as a Solo Independent Trekker who purchases food and fuel from communities and occasionally the services of a guide.
You should be able to see quite easily that:
- If you book things yourself and minimise using a local trekking company, your total costs for a 145-day GHT for 2 people costs about US$44,390.
- If you book a trek through a local trekking company, your total costs for a 145-day GHT for 2 people costs about US$49,384.
- If you book a trek through an international adventure company, your total cost for a 145-day GHT for 2 people costs about US$58,041.
- If you book through communities, your total cost for a 145-day GHT for 2 people costs about US$46,453, of which about 90% is spent directly in local communities!
- If you are a Solo Independent Trekker, your total cost for a 145-day GHT is about US$16,702, of which about 90% is spent directly in local communities!
Wow! These costs vary MASSIVELY! And the benefits that you share with communities and the profits that you create for businesses are important… tricky decision right??
Here’s a simple criteria to use to help make your decision about how best to organise your GHT -the cost per day varies from US$115 to US$200 per day – which is equivalent to a cheap European vacation per day cost! So your choice of how to book your trek should depend on:
- Your desire for booking security (in case of cancellations and natural disasters), and/or
- If you want to spend time with people you have yet to meet, and/or
- How much you want to get your valuable hard-earned money in to the pockets of people who really need it – the remote communities in the mountains!
Please take the time to go through these numbers and get a ‘feel’ for how they work and the sensitivities involved. If you would like an excel spreadsheet version, please Contact Us, we’re happy to share!
How Much Do Treks Cost in India and Bhutan?
Bhutan is famous for being super expensive, but perhaps not surprisingly, treks cost much the same in Nepal, India and Bhutan – why?
The major components of a trek are wages, followed by food, fuel and in-field charges. These amounts are much the same across the Himalaya and the only major difference is permits and fees. Let’s clarify the comparison for you:
- Trekking in Nepal costs from about US$100 to US$200 per day per person.
- Trekking in India costs from about US$80 to US$180 per day per person – slightly less then Nepal as the permits are cheaper in most areas.
- Trekking in Bhutan costs US$225 to US$250 per person per day – slightly more than Nepal because the government also charge an environmental tax.
To be honest, it would be wonderful if Nepal and India also charged an environmental tax and used it to clear up rubbish along the trails and in villages!!
If you have any questions about these or any of the costs, please feel free to reach out and Contact Us!
Congratulations for getting through How Much Do Treks Cost!
Now it’s time for what could be a tricky decision, choosing a Trekking Company aka Outfitter, but follow our tips and suggestions and you’ll have no trouble finding the right folks to work with!
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