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How to prepare for an international expedition

Published on: 06/02/2024

By Chris Wilkins 

Our Nepal Adventure

‘Congratulations you have been accepted on the Go Ape trip to Nepal!’ That’s the news nineteen delighted Go Ape co-owners received last year.

As a company Go Ape both walk the walk and talk the talk about creating adventures! This includes offering unique subsidised adventure trips for our co-owners, from paddleboarding in Northumberland to… you guessed it setting off on an intrepid exhibition to Nepal. The trip was truly unforgettable and took us from Kathmandu to the base camp of Annapurna, to the incredible Chitwan National Park.

Read on to find out all about the trip and pick up some tips for your own international expedition.

Our adventure itinerary

View of snow peaked Himalayas from the plane window


7th November 

Departed the UK and were on our way to Nepal.

Go Ape team member relaxing and having a drink


8th November

Arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal, and enjoyed a rest day.

Man on elephant in Nepal


9th November

Headed onwards to Pokhara.

Two Go Ape tribe members walking in the Himalayas


10th - 15th November

Travelled from Pokhara to Annapurna Base Camp - and back!

Group by the River pumping up boats in Nepal


17th - 18th November

White water rafting down the beautiful Seti River. We slept under the stars on a beach next to the river.

Backdrop of mountains and a starry sky in Nepal


18th - 19th November

We slept under the stars on a beach next to the river.

Rhino in the bushes on a safari expedition in Nepal


19th November

Spent the morning on Safari in Chitwan National Park and were treated to views of Rhinos in the wild. Followed by an afternoon relaxing by the pool.

Crocodile basking in the water spotted on a safari expedition


20th - 21st November

We departed Chitwan after an early morning Safari and headed back to Kathmandu.

Golden temple covered with multicovered flags in Kathmandu Nepal


22nd November

Departed Kathmandu and journey back to the UK.

My Adventure History

Our group was made up of a mixture of ages and experiences and I can certainly say that no two trips or adventurers were the same!

Whilst this was not my first venture away from the UK - I had a brief spell of backpacking in Australia with a friend and lived in Norway for a while - this was my largest physical adventure to date and was a new experience.

The camaraderie between our group was great and we helped each other up the mountains and down again as well as through the confusing security at the airports. Every day was a learning experience.

Preparing for the trip to Nepal

Prepping for this was different to any previous travels or adventures I had done before as we had such a large range of activities planned. 

Upon arriving in Kathmandu I stood in my shorts and t-shirt and felt quite silly having packed 2 thermal insulators, a raincoat, double thickness socks, thermal gloves and hat. However, these items were a lifesaver at 4,000m!

The key thing is to remember to take your local guide's advice and not over pack. There's a difference between what you want and what you will need on these trips. And when you are having to carry a lot of stuff you will be happy you packed light.

Our recommended kit list was three pages long for essentials so we really didn’t want too much more, as ultimately we had to carry it everywhere! 

Monkey perched on a tree eating fruit in Nepal

Kit list Recommendations for a big adventure

essentials our Group suggested, outside of the prescribed kit list

  • A knee brace! Even if you think you'll don’t need it, if you plan for lots of walking a knee brace can be very handy. Nearly everyone on our trip had one by the end of the trip.

  • Walking poles, also became a must-have item and almost became a form of currency amongst our group as we traded and shared them.

  • Sports tops! They are light, easy to layer and quick to wash or dry.

  • Laxatives, costives or sickness tablets. If you’re going to be eating lots of strange foods and doing lots of exercise, it's a great idea to bring some of these. You don’t want to be feeling ill in the middle of a jungle or up a mountain. 

  • Toilet roll, remember it’s not common everywhere.

  • Cash is king! Especially in more rural areas and markets so don’t rely on your credit card and make sure to have some paper money in your pocket.

  • Chlorine sterilisation drops, can be a lifesaver if you are in a foreign location and are not used to the water supply then these can make most water drinkable.

  • A pack of cards, the teahouses and hotels we visited in Nepal didn’t have much in the way of entertainment and a pack of cards went go a long way in making friends and entertaining ourselves on the cold evenings.

Go Ape Nepal group by the Annapurna base camp sign in Nepal

Top Tips

Pack light, pack right

Choose lightweight, durable gear suitable for trekking in various weather conditions.

Essentials include a sturdy pair of hiking boots, insulated clothing layers, a reliable backpack, a climate appropriate sleeping bag.

Battery packs

Having a small recharge pack for your phone is great. We didn’t use our phones much but knowing you could use it to take a photo or phone a loved one to let them know you were safe was reassuring.

Represent your tribe

We regret not bringing a flag, banner, or emblem for our backpacks. We frequently encountered people who asked where we were from, and it was gret to engage with and see the diverse array of nationalities at the teahouses or hotels along the way.

While it would have been pleasant to have a banner to display at the summit of our trek, we weren’t any worse off without it though.

Get a local sim card

There are usually traders in the airport after bag collection. If you pick up a sim card of a local company then you know you can get signal and phone for help if needed.

Preparing physically

To train or not to train?

Through working at GoApe and being active, I am in relatively good shape however this adventure did test me and I do regret not going a little harder on the training before hand.

But... what did I wish I'd done? 

Squats! Do more squats! Actually that is a lie, just do more leg day and cardio in general, you really don’t want to miss the top of that hill in a country you’ll never visit again because you missed leg day a month beforehand.

Obviously everyone has their own level of fitness and ability levels but being in the best cardio shape you can be will help on long or tough expeditions .

Whether it’s carrying your pack around a big city or having to walk the extra mile or so back to the hotel after a long day because the bus can’t get close, it will all be easier and more enjoyable if you are not having to worry about how much you are hurting. It’s easier said than done but even a little bit more training can help a lot. 

Person paddling along the river at sunset in long boat in Nepal

Preparing mentally

The Tough moments 

As we rose from Machapuchare Base Camp at 3800m to Annapurna Base Camp at 4200m I started to feel the effects of altitude sickness. It's a weird feeling of being both drunk and having your hangover at the same time, a sensation I do not recommend to anybody. 

As we settled down for the evening I made sure to try and find a peaceful spot in the shared areas or head outside and watch the stars. Looking around at the marvellous surroundings definitely grounded me and helped me to calm down.

Overcoming the challenging moments

Whether you're hiking with a group or on your own, when the trek gets hard it becomes more of a mental challenge. 20 questions is a fantastic game to play with a group whilst walking and we spent a lot of the time trying to guess which famous person each of us was.

Getting to know your group and walking next to a different person, or sharing a room with a different person, can make for a more interesting trip as you get to find out so many different stories from everyone.

Focusing on the scenery around also helps to remind you why you are trekking for 5 days or sleeping on a beach. 

Group of Go Ape tribe members next to a cascading waterfalls

Any other recommendations

  • Be prepared for anything and everything - and more importantly go with the flow!

  • Talk to fellow travellers and your guides as they will have knowledge of the best spots and routes.

  • Practice "Leave No Trace" principles by minimising your environmental impact.

  • Dispose of waste properly, avoid single-use plastics.

  • Be respectful of customs and traditions in the local area. Don't forget you are in their country, their home.

  • Last but definitely not least have fun!

After a whirlwind 2 weeks of hiking, rafting, dancing, sightseeing, shopping, paragliding, exploring, canoeing, safari-ing and travelling our time in Nepal came to an end.

It was a pleasure to be a part of this trip and it has truly opened my eyes to an area of the world I had never visited and would love to return to. I have met a great group of people and it has given me a taste of something that I'd love to do again. Onto the next adventure!

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Rising sun reflected on snowy peaks in the Himalayas in Nepal