February is one of the coldest months in Nepal even though it is the end of winter. The Arabian Sea or The Hindu Kush's Westerly disturbance region can bring in the rain in the low to middle hills and snowfall in the higher altitude areas. Interestingly it snows more in February than in December and January. Most people do not come to trek in Nepal during this month thinking it will be super cold and most of the country will be snow covered. It is better to do treks in the lower elevations such as the Ghorepani trek, Everest Treks to Namche or Tengboche or up to Pangboche or Short treks around Pokhara and Kathmandu. If possible try to avoid Annapurna Base camp trek, as part of the trail becomes avalanche prone. However, you can avoid the dangers if you start early in the morning while fresh snow is still frozen rather than when the sun begins to melt the snow/ice and gravity causes an avalanche. Avoid doing Annapurna Circuit, Tilicho Lake, Manaslu Circuit treks as the passes can be covered by snow and the trail can be icy. Having said this Europe and North America would be much colder than Nepal during February.
It always pays to invest in right equipment such as a suitable down jacket, sleeping bag, a couple of layers of fleece, right thermal underwear, thick hiking socks, gloves, trekking pants, warm hats, perhaps even walking crampons just to name a few essential gears to invest in. It is always better to have more than less.
It is good to dress up in layers that you can ‘peel' one at a time when you start to warm/heat up as you begin trekking.
Benefits of Trekking in Nepal Himalaya during February.
Most people think winters in Nepal are freezing, and some might even imagine most of the country is covered in snow. This couldn't be further from the truth. The clouds begin to form in the later part of the day, and it can start raining in the lower altitude and snowing in the higher elevations during late afternoon or evening. This is a good thing as it can clear the clouds and clear the clouds for excellent mountain views the next morning.
- The past two winters have been clear like it used to be some 20-25 years ago.
- There will still be a lot fewer trekkers on the trail and in the lodges if you go trekking during February to the popular trekking areas where there are lodges.
- You will be warm while hiking in the sunny weather – perhaps even sweat on the uphill climbs.
- You could be the only trekker in the lodge
- For the very same reason, the wifi works better in the hostels as fewer people log in.
- You can use the internet better for weather forecast and temperatures
- There will be fewer people queuing for hot showers.
- Despite being winter, don’t be surprised by the greenery or flowers in bloom in the lower altitudes.
- The owners of the lodges that are closed start returning from warmer places such as Kathmandu, Pokhara or Chitwan for the winter season.
Can I do a high altitude trek in Nepal during winter?
You can certainly do a high altitude trek in Nepal during winter. The better time to do a high altitude trek during winter is in December and January. We do receive some precipitation for a few days every month. We receive more massive snowfalls during February and March rather than in the middle of winter.
Dangers/Inconveniences of trekking in Nepal during winter.
- Most of the lodges start opening again.
- Not all food on the menu will be available.
- The toilet floors might freeze from water/urine spillage in the higher altitude treks. If possible try to find toilets that are inside the main building; better still ask if they have a room with an attached bathroom. Minimize spillage in the toilet to avoid icing.
- Toilets could be frozen/blocked due to the cold at higher altitudes.
- The paths through villages could be icy because the villagers have to let the public tap run all the time to prevent the pipe from breaking from freezing.
- The trail could be icy, and dirt can camouflage the ice.
- There could be very windy conditions in the higher elevations, be prepared.
- You are quite likely to face rain in the lower elevations and snow in the higher mountains during February.
- You might encounter rain/hail/snow storms due to the Western disturbances from the Arabian Sea or the Hindu Kush range. You have to be careful of flying debris such as signboards, zinc roofs, falling branches or even uprooting trees.
Update: February 2019 has been receiving a good amount of rain and snowfall up to the third week; in fact, the precipitation has been more than usual. Nepal experienced heavy snow and rainfall during the last four days of February 2019. Kathmandu valley and the surrounding hills experienced snowfall twice in a month. On the 26th February alone it received 90mm of rain - 5 times the average monthly rainfall.
Read about our recent treks during winter.
We did the Everest Base camp trek in December/January 2019/19
Before writing this blog, yours truly finished the Annapurna circuit trek with Tilicho Lake in January 2018
We even had a family do a trek in Late December/early January 2017/18
We recently did a trek to Gokyo Lakes and Everest Base camp trek in December 2017
We operated a trek to Langtang – Gosainkunda in December/January 2016-2017
We did a trek to Annapurna base camp in December/January 2014-2015
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