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The Pack Yak

Namaste fellow Dragons,

We hope that just like the Instructor team, your excitement is also growing more and more every passing day for your arrival in Nepal! Your mind is probably abuzz with questions about packing for the course. In addition to the detailed packing list and instructions in your Course Preparation Manual (please take the time to reference this if you haven’t already–you got a hard copy in your welcome box, and it should also be available as a PDF on your MyDragons account) we instructors would like to give you a few pointers to make your packing process easier. Each of you will also get a phone call soon (if you haven’t already) from one of the instructors, as an important part of our pre-course process to get to know you better and also answer any questions that you may have about the course and packing. If you wish to have your questions answered earlier, our beloved Yak board is a great place to ask questions.

Overall, with packing LESS IS MORE! It is very important that you can fit all of your belongings into one backpack and that you can carry it on your own. Good travelers are very diligent in making sure that their journeys are packed with lots more experiences and less stuff. Having said that, please do bring enough to keep yourself clean and comfortable. Keep in mind you may also want extra room in your backpack so you can fill it with mementos for your friends and family back home.

Notes on Weather/Gear/Clothing

Our trip will span from Nepal’s coldest to hottest times of year, with February nighttime temperatures just above freezing and late April daytime temperatures that will make us sweat! We can anticipate lots of sun (sunscreen please!) and occasional rain, including during our time trekking in the mountains. Make sure you bring what you need to be comfortable in this range of conditions, including the following GEAR:

Backpack rain cover – Make sure this fits properly around your backpack.

Large plastic trash bag – To line the INSIDE of your pack and keep your belongings dry.

Sleeping bag liner – Either silk or synthetic. These are great as they keep your sleeping bag clean and are often used alone in hotter temperatures.

Rain gear – A good rain jacket or poncho, and rain pants. A packable umbrella is also useful, both for sun and rain.

It is best to bring CLOTHING that is light and quick-dry, light layers to help warm you up or cool you down as the weather changes, and nothing that you don’t want getting muddy! Jeans are not practical in this regard, but past students have recommended bringing one pair for urban time–we will be in Kathmandu for around 3 weeks, and you’ll want clothes that you feel comfortable in there. There will be opportunities to hand-wash your laundry, but you’ll be happiest with clothing that doesn’t easily show dirt. Your clothing should also be culturally-appropriate, so please do not bring low-cut shirts, or shirts that show your shoulders. Tight pants/leggings may only be worn underneath dresses or kurtis, long tunic-like shirts that are knee-length. We are going into a more conservative culture than many of you are used to, and in order to immerse ourselves and make good relationships with the community, we do our best to adhere to local standards of dress. We will address culturally appropriate dress and behavior in great depth throughout our program, but a very basic way to show our respect for the local culture is to dress modestly.

As for SHOES, you will need solid hiking boots that you will be comfortable hiking in for long distances. We also recommend a pair of sandals for daily use that your feet will be comfy in. Some past students have brought an additional lighter sneaker for urban time, but remember that shoes take up a lot of space in your pack! It is essential to break your shoes in ahead of time to avoid blisters, especially with the hiking boots!

Highlighting a few other personal items:
– A headlamp (plus one extra set of batteries) to help you navigate in the dark.
– Passport photos – You will need two for tourist passes in some locations, and it’s always helpful to have one or two extra on hand!
– 2 water bottles – ideally one can hold hot water or tea as we’ll be drinking that a lot! We want to be well stocked with 2 liters of drinkable water with us.
– A journal – one you will love writing in! Journaling is not only highly encouraged but we deliberately set aside time for journaling during the course.
– A good, old-fashioned, book – Not only will it not break or lose battery, but you can easily swap it with other members of the group!
– Travel games/Cards/Instruments – bring anything to add some fun!
– Photos of home/family/friends – past students have brought small albums to share with homestay families and new Nepali friends. Pictures are wonderful conversation starters.
– Sun hat or visor – Along with your sunglasses, this is essential protection from the intense sun of the Himalayas.

We know that was a lot of information we just shared, but it’s our hope that it will make packing a piece of cake. And again, please let us know if you have any questions.

Take care,

Alena, Tsheten, and Nick

Photo credit: Zac Van Baars