• Last Updated on Mar 28, 2023

Mountains in the Himalayas of Nepal have several well-known trekking destinations. It is a paradise for adventure seekers and those who love nature, but people might be missing its potential risk – contaminated drinking water. It is a crucial concern in the Himalayas of Nepal regarding the quality of drinking water, as most of the parts of the Himalayan region are remote areas.

Nepal's Himalayas has many high-altitude peaks like Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga, Manaslu, Annapurna, and others. With high altitudes, the ratio of water you find is meager as most of the parts are under freezing point. And getting clean drinking water in addition to that is very rare. While taking on a trek, hikers must acknowledge the fact of water necessary in the Himalayas of Nepal. First, they must understand why their body needs water at high altitudes and how much water should be consumed. Also, they must be cautious about the dangers of dehydration and altitude sickness.

Since high altitudes are prone to altitude sickness due to less oxygen and air, respiration is the first reason the body needs more water. The air has shallow oxygen content, so individuals must take deeper and faster breaths to get enough supplemental oxygen.

This process needs more energy and water to help your body convert oxygen into energy. Additionally, the air is drier at higher elevations, causing sweat to evaporate more quickly and making it more difficult to tell how much water your body is losing. Lastly, high altitude can make you pee more often, leading to quick water loss.

Experts say the human body needs 6 to 7 liters of water daily. And while trekking in the Himalayas, drinking half a liter to one liter of water every hour is very essential. This amount depends on age, weight, and elevation, but if trekking at higher altitudes, at least 6-7 liters should be consumed. It is also essential to recognize that overhydration can cause significant problems, so the color of your urine indicates you are hydrated.

Lack of water causes dehydration, and dehydration leads to altitude sickness, which is very hazardous in high altitudes. It is vital to stay aware of how much water one consumes to avoid the dangers of altitude sickness. Thankfully, water is not the subject of the issue in the Himalayas. In conclusion, sufficient water consumption while trekking in the Himalayas is crucial to avoid health risks caused by altitude. Therefore, understanding the importance of water at high altitudes and monitoring one's water consumption is critical.

Drinking water during the trek in the Himalayas of Nepal is essential. While many concern the preparation of their tour only on subjective matters, staying hydrated might remain under the arms and might be excluded. But it is essential to know the necessities of water for your body and how water should be consumed to avoid the dangers of dehydration and altitude sickness. Low oxygen content in the air, which is dry in high altitudes. And cold temperatures boost the urination process, which can cause dehydration, so drinking more water is crucial to retain energy from the oxygen. Therefore, drinking 6-7 liters of water daily and a half liter to one liter every hour is advised. This amount, however, depends on the individual's age, weight, and elevation. Besides that, you must be aware of the dangers of altitude sickness and dehydration in high altitudes. These issues can escalate quickly if you are not hydrated enough. With these factors in mind, hydration becomes integral to the trekking experience. You can remain hydrated by following the recommended steps and can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Overall, drinking water during trekking in the Himalayas of Nepal is very important. The depleted oxygen level, dry air, and increased urination indicate that your body requires more energy and water to hydrate properly. To ensure a safe and enjoyable trek, it is recommended that individuals drink 6-7 liters of water per day and a half liter to one liter of water every hour. You must be aware of dehydration and altitude sickness symptoms - excluding these factors might be dangerous and life-threatening. By responsibly drinking the recommended amount of water during treks, individuals can ensure an enjoyable experience in the majestic mountains of Nepal. 

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How to drink clean water While Trekking in the Himalayas

Clean drinking water is one of the most needed things when trekking in Nepal. And especially in higher altitudes, they come as one of the crucial aspects for your health. Above 5000 feet, staying adequately hydrated and consuming at least 3-4 liters of water daily is essential. In the past, many trekkers used to drink plastic water bottles, negatively impacting the environment. As this was banned as of January 2020, alternative methods for staying hydrated must be considered while trekking to Everest Base Camp or any other trekking. 

Boiling Water:- Boiling the water is an effective method of drinking water in the Himalayan region of Nepal. And this technique ensures the water's safety level and is good in terms of health. Water below 2000 meters altitude must be boiled for over a minute, while above 2000m requires more than three minutes of the boiling process. This method is used by teahouses, charging around USD 1 per cup, though the cups are small. Since the local water is generally considered safe but not potable, a filter straw or chemical tablets may be used to ensure that water is safe to drink. 

Filtered Water:- Filter straws are a convenient and relatively inexpensive way to ensure the water is safe to consume, filtering out 99% of waterborne bacteria, parasites, and microplastics. This filtration straw should be complemented with chlorine or iodine-based tablets for longer treks, as the filtration straws do not filter out smaller bacteria such as E. coli. These tablets should be taken along the trail and mixed in the water for 30 minutes to ensure the water is safely purified.

Tablets (Chlorine or Iodine):-Tablets of Chlorine or Iodine can be used to purify the water before drinking. This technique is one of the most widely approached techniques in the world. The process is simple. After you filter the water, drop one of the tablets and wait 30 minutes for it to kill off undesirable contaminants. Despite its convenience, there are opposing sides to this process. Mixing the chlorine and Iodine tablets leaves an unnatural taste in water and can be unbearable to the human tongue. Chemical purification has long-term concerns, so if your trek is only for a few weeks, there's no need to worry about any impacts.

UV Light/ Steripen:- Another option to treat water along the trail is UV light from a Steripen. This device is lightweight and easy to use, taking only 90 seconds per liter, and can remove any nasty protozoa, bacteria, or viruses by destroying their DNA. Make sure to bring extra or rechargeable batteries or a power bank if you're considering this option, as different types work better in cold temperatures. If you want to avoid using either of the above two methods, you can ask your guide at the tea houses, where you can find clean water and fill up your bottles. 

Those opposed to chemically treating their water can acquire it from a water station or spout, which is available in the most popular trekking areas within the Annapurna region. In some locations, eco-friendly solar-powered water boilers are installed, producing on-demand boiled and sterilized water. To make the most of your experience, consider bringing two water bottles, adding flavor packets to your water, and taking electrolyte-packed beverages to replenish the salt you lose while sweating.

Water is the top priority for any trekking journey in Nepal's higher altitudes. As plastic water bottles are no longer an option, hikers may stay hydrated by boiling the water, utilizing filter straws and tablets, using a UV Light and Steripen, or obtaining water from a water station. In addition, it is highly recommended to drink plenty of flavored teas and electrolyte-filled waters to stay hydrated and replace salts lost in sweat. Last but not least, trekkers must be aware of the negative impacts of diuretics, alcohol, narcotics, and caffeine products - they can lead to dehydration easily. With these tips in mind, trekking around Nepal can be an enjoyable, safe, environmentally conscious, and mindful experience. In addition, trekkers should be aware of the importance of hydration and regularly consume flavored water and electrolyte-filled beverages. It is possible to stay hydrated without plastic water bottles, and by following the steps mentioned above, trekkers can have a fulfilling and safe journey in Nepal.

Where Do You Get Water While Trekking in the Himalayas?

Water is essential for fueling your body and keeping you hydrated while trekking in remote and isolated mountain ranges. Without it, your trek could become a difficult, if not dangerous, ordeal. That's why it is crucial to acknowledge the multiple methods to get clean drinking water during the treks in the Himalayas. The two primary methods are buying it or treating it.

The most prevailing water sources during trekking in the Himalayas are natural sources. This includes rivers, ponds, lakes, and springs. Streams and rivers provide a constant and reliable water source and should always be considered when planning a trek. Springs are excellent for obtaining fresh water for cooking and drinking, but there are a few to be mindful of because some springs may contain unhealthy or harmful substances. Therefore, consider the water sources and assess if they are safe and suitable when on a trek.

In addition, snow and other frozen water sources can also be accessed while trekking in the Himalayas in Nepal. At the freezing points, you can melt snow and use it for various purposes. The snow, however, may contain some microbes or living organisms, so it is best to filter the water before using it. It is also better not to store snow for long as this will further the risk of contamination and can result in illnesses.

At teahouses, you can get bottled water very quickly. It might cost you anywhere from $1 to $3 per bottle. This is the simplest and easiest way to get water during the trek, and bottled water is still safe to drink. However, one enormous downside is the litter it leaves behind. Plastic bottles are tough to dispose of and discarded plastic bottles are a scourge in the Himalayan region. Thus, we advise our trekkers to treat the water they get.

The Steripen is an excellent device for treating water in the Himalayas. It works on UV light and quickly makes tap or natural water sources safe to drink. Although it doesn't filter out the small complex molecules like pharmaceuticals, it will render naturally occurring contaminants like viruses and bacteria harmless. This is more environmentally friendly and efficient as the trekker won't have to carry heavy bottled water on the way up.

To get water for treatment, one has several options. The best is from the teahouses, where you can just ask for a bottle of water to fill up. You can also get it from local wells in the villages or from a fast-running and relatively clear creek. While it is slightly more difficult than buying bottled water, the responsibility and commitment to yourself and the environment can help make your trekking experience that much better.

Safely obtaining drinking water should, thus, be a top priority for any trekker, and the best way to achieve it is to treat it. With the right tools and knowledge, you can get the necessary hydration while being environmentally conscious and safe.

Plastic Problems in the Himalayas While Trekking

The problem of plastic in the Himalayas is becoming increasingly concerning. With no effective waste management or recycling systems, the Himalayas are becoming a repository for the massive amounts of plastic waste generated by trekkers. This plastic waste is damaging to the ecosystems and wildlife and poses a significant threat to the beauty of the mountain range. Trekkers must be determined to avoid using plastic products, especially bottled water, and its unmanaged disposal, as it might harm the environment and wildlife in the area.

Firstly, bottled water is an expensive option. Even in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, one liter of water costs around 30 cents. And at higher altitudes, trekkers can expect the cost to rise to 2.5 USD per liter. In a 12-day Everest base camp trek, spending considerable money on the water is easy. As such, it is economically sound to opt for other solutions. 

What is more concerning, however, is the environmental damage that plastic water bottles can cause in the region. Trekkers must understand that waste management and recycling are usually not a priority in Third World countries. Any plastic bottles they buy must be expected to leave a permanent mark on the mountainous regions. Burning plastic is not a practical solution as this releases a vast array of hazardous compounds into the atmosphere while leaving the plastic behind is no better. If you see, the situation is more degraded in the remote areas. With trekkers putting an additional strain on the region, more than ever, it is necessary to take care not to leave anything behind except footprints.

Fortunately, trekkers can take advantage of sustainable alternatives to bottled water. Portable water filters such as LifeStraws and SteriPens are great options to purify river or stream water quickly and easily without adding to the pollution problem. These products are lightweight and budget-friendly. You don't have to worry about carrying issues, as they can be carried easily in your backpacks. Additionally, reusable water bottles provide a safe and easy way to refill water during the trek while being able to be used on multiple occasions and reducing our dependence on plastic.

To sum up, the need to avoid bottled water while trekking in the Himalayas is clear. It is costly and is one of the prominent reasons for plastic pollution. However, by making more sustainable choices, trekkers can ensure that they experience the majestic beauty of the Himalayas while protecting the environment. 

With the help of reusable water filters and bottles, you can eliminate expensive water bottles and potential environmental pollution. We have to make the right choices to do that - all we have to think about is that our fun and adventures should be operated without hampering the environment and wildlife.

Best Practices For Drinking Water In the Himalayas

When considering the best practices for drinking water in Nepal, a reusable bottle is one of the most important aspects to consider. Knowing which is best for trekking can be challenging with today’s selection of plastic, aluminum, and glass bottles. 

Plastic bottles are the most popular, widely available, and cheapest option. It is essential to check that the plastic bottle is marked as “BPA-free.” This ensures that the harmful chemical compound Bisphenol A has not been used during production. Without this, the levels of hormones in the body can get affected. It potentially contributes to the development of serious illnesses such as cancer.  In comparison, aluminum and stainless steel bottles are more expensive and heavier but far more durable than plastic. Additionally, glass bottles will be heavy and delicate for trekking in the Himalayas.  For this reason, we would recommend the Nalgene plastic bottle. This popular and high-quality bottle is heat resistant and doesn’t break or leak, even if it is dropped or used in extreme temperatures. 

Drinking water is a precious gem that needs to be stored correctly to maintain its value and purity, mainly while trekking. Like a gem, water must be protected from harm and damage. Therefore, manage water sources correctly, particularly in the Himalayan region, where many small communities rely on them. This means that we must safeguard these water sources from overuse and pollution. We should also regularly maintain and monitor them to ensure they provide a reliable clean and safe drinking water supply. Let's treat water like its valuable gem and store it correctly to preserve its worth and beauty.

Another best practice is to practice good hygiene when handling drinking water. This is especially important in Nepal's Himalayas. Because many small settlements and villages rely heavily upon the same water sources. Thus, ensuring that people practice good hygiene when handling water is essential. This includes washing hands before collecting water and avoiding drinking directly. 

Burning plastic is not a suitable thing to do in the Himalayas 

Burning plastic is a terrible option in the Himalayas for many reasons. It results in dangerous pollutants in the air and adversely affects the health of local people. It further destabilizes delicate ecosystems and perpetuates an improper waste disposal system. All these factors combine to create a figurative and literal toxic environment.

The immediate health risk of plastic burns is the release of dioxins. Dioxins are persistent organic pollutants formed when plastic combustion does not reach high enough temperatures. These carcinogenic compounds accumulate in human tissue and cause side effects to humans. These side effects include decreased immune response, disruption of hormones, and even cancer. The inhalation of dioxins from burning plastic directly harms the people of the Himalayas. It paints an even grimmer picture of plastic burns.

Beyond the immediate health risks of burning plastic, other environmental risks exist. Biodiversity and fragile ecosystems surround the Himalayas. So any disruption to the delicate balance of nature can cause catastrophic consequences. The by-products of burning plastic are highly hazardous. It affects vegetation and soil, pollutes water sources, and depletes animal health and populations. Besides, plastic takes many years to degrade as it is considered non-biodegradable. This means that while the smoke may dissipate, the material remains and will become detrimental over time.

Moreover, burning plastic further entrenches an improper waste disposal system in the Himalayas. The many thousands of plastic bottles that trekkers bring to the mountain are left behind as trekkers go. This results in an immense pile of plastic waste. Burning plastic may allow for an easier, faster, and cheaper disposal method. But it only serves to mask the problem and allow people to ignore proper waste disposal practices. 

Lastly, burning plastic contributes to the visual pollution problem in the Himalayas. The pile of plastic waste in the region is an environmental hazard and an aesthetic annoyance. People come to the serene Himalayas to take in the sights but are shocked to see mountains of plastic waste. The presence of plastic bottles, bags, and other paraphernalia detracts from the mountains’ natural beauty and poses additional harm to wildlife.

Burning plastic is a terrible option in the Himalayas for numerous environmental and social reasons. Not only does it put locals’ health in immediate danger, further destabilizing delicate natural ecosystems, but it also entrenches a system of improper waste disposal and creates visual pollution. With so many risks, any plastic burning attempt should be avoided at all costs and instead replaced by an appropriate waste disposal system that has at its heart the preservation of the Himalayas and environmental integrity. 

Safety way to use regular running water for drink

Exploring the great alfresco is a lovely way to chill and relish yourself and our natural environment. However, your lovely journey can also be dangerous if you don't plan correctly. To ensure the safety of yourself and the hikers and campers along with you. 

One of the most important things to prepare for is your water needs like:- 

  • Potable water may not always be available on every trekking route in Nepal. This especially applies in the remote and wilderness areas of the Himalayas while trekking. 
  • Potable water is used daily, like drinking and brushing your teeth. You can also use this water for washing your face and hand and preparing food while camping. 
  • Before leaving for a trip outdoors, checking the internet is a good idea. There you can see if there are potable drinking water sources along your trekking route. 
  • It is also essential to see if there have been any water quality alerts, such as harmful algal bacteria or chemical spills. 

While trekking in remote areas doesn't rely on looks alone since water from streams, rivers, or lakes may look clean. This is so because water contains bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can make you ill. 

This is why you must filter natural water to make it safer to drink while trekking in the Himalayas. 

For easy access to safe drinking water, ensure your water is safe. 

  1. For this, your first step will be to collect the water properly and ensure it's clean. Bring a clean container, wash your hands, or use hand sanitizer before touching the water. 
  2. Collect the cleanest and safest water from higher elevations or near the water's source, away from established campsites or animal grazing areas. 
  3. Moving water from streams and rivers is usually preferable to standing or still water, which can be a breeding ground for bacteria, parasites, and viruses. 
  4. Dip your bottle in and fill it up just below the surface. 
  5. After collecting water, it's crucial to filter it to remove protozoa and some bacteria. However, this alone won't make it safe for consumption. To remove viruses, bacteria, and other toxic organisms, boiling water is the most trustworthy and thorough way. If you're below 6,500 feet, boil it for at least one minute, and three minutes if above that elevation.

If boiling isn't possible, chemical disinfectants like iodine or chlorine dioxide can be used. But they require sufficient contact time to kill the organisms before drinking. Alternatively, a portable UV purifier is another option. Still, it only works for small quantities of clear water. It also requires pre-filtration to remove large particles and sediment before using UV light.

Remember to plan and ensure the safety of your drinking water before embarking on your trip to prevent illness. Stay hydrated, mainly in hot weather. Also, be patient during the water purification process. You may experience symptoms of illness after exposure to potentially contaminated water. If you encounter symptoms, then confer with your healthcare provider.

Dipak Pande

Dipak Pande

Dipak starts to step up from potter, guide, and trekking leader to the company owner. Sometimes he share his experience with others as well as wrote in local travel news. Most of time he spend his time on mountain and his company.