Trekking is another word for walking. However, the word trekking has become better known for the kind of walking, which takes you along trails winding up, down, over and around mountains.
Trekking is not mountaineering although some of the popular trails are used by mountaineering expeditions to get to their base camps. Most of the trails you walk on are still used predominantly by Nepali people for everyday travel and trade. It is not uncommon to be passed along the way by a Nepali porter carrying lengths of corrugated roofing iron slung.
The Himalaya, the "abode of snows", extends from Assam in eastern India west to Afghanistan. It is a chain of the highest and youngest mountains on earth and it encompasses a region of deep religious and cultural traditions and an amazing diversity of people. A trek in Nepal is a special and rewarding mountain holiday. Just as New York is not representative of the USA, so Kathmandu is not representative of Nepal. If you have the time and energy to trek, don't miss the opportunity to leave Kathmandu and see the spectacular beauty and the unique culture of Nepal. Fortunately for the visitor, there are still only a few roads extending deeply into the hills, so the only way to truly visit the remote regions of the kingdom is in the slowest and most intimate manner - walking. It requires more time and effort, but the rewards are also greater.
Instead of zipping down a freeway, racing to the next "point of interest," each step provides new and intriguing viewpoints. You will perceive your day as an entity rather than a few highlights strung together by a ribbon of concrete. For the romanticist, each step follows the footsteps of Hillary, Tenzing, Herzog and other Himalayan explorers. If you have neither the patience nor the physical stamina to visit the hills of Nepal on foot, a helicopter flight provides an expensive and unsatisfactory substitute.
If you want to have everything organized in advance, you can contact a Nepalese trekking company by mail or fax and ask them to arrange your trek. There are more than 300 trekking companies in Kathmandu that will organize treks for a fee and provide all Sherpas, porters and, if necessary, equipment. Unless you have a good idea of what you want, it will require a huge volume of correspondence to provide you with the information you require, to determine your specific needs, to define your precise route and itinerary and to negotiate a price that both parties understand. Mail takes up to three weeks each way to and from Australia, the Americas or Europe, so it's better to use fax or e-mail. Be specific in your communications and be sure that the trekking company understands exactly who will provide what equipment. It is most embarrassing to discover on the first night that someone forgot the sleeping bags.
It is a bit pretentious to call some of these village establishments a hotel, but the Nepalese use of English translates restaurant or eating-place as "hotel". Since the word hotel has been pre-empted, Nepalese use the word "lodge" for sleeping place or hotel. Thus, in the hills of Nepal a "hotel" has food, but may not provide a place to sleep, while a "lodge" always offers accommodation. Many innkeepers specify the services they provide by calling their establishments "Hotel & Lodge". To avoid all this semantic confusion, most people use hotel, lodge and teahouse interchangeably. In reality, you can usually find both accommodation and food at any trailside establishment. The most popular way to trek in Nepal for both Locals and Westerners is to travel from teahouse to teahouse. Hotel accommodation is most readily available in the Khumbu (Everest) region, the Langtang area and the entire Annapurna region. In these areas, you can operate with a bare minimum of equipment and rely on teahouses for food and shelter.
If you deviate from popular routes, be prepared to fend for yourself at times. If, however, you carry food, cooking pots and a tent to use even one night, you have already escalated beyond the teahouse approach into a more complex form of trekking with different problems.