Drinking Water
in the Everest Region
What are the Options?

Drinking Water
Everest Region
What are the Options?

A simple enough question if you consider the environmental and cost issues alone.

About £50 is what you would pay if you drank 3 litres of water
per day on an EBC trek buying bottled water en route.
13 trekking days, 3 litres per day = 39 litres.

It goes without saying that safe drinking water is of paramount importance to your health, especially given the physical effort on treks in this region enhanced by the high altitude.

Here, we outline the options available as not one solution suits everyone and bear in mind that any discussion on this subject inevitably revolves around the following issues topics:

  • Cost
  • Convenience
  • The environment

1. Buy As You Go (plastic bottles). There is no shortage of 1 litre plastic bottles of drinking water in the Everest Region. It is by far the most popular method for sheer convenience I suspect but it does add enormously to the plastic rubbish mountain. Cost per 1 litre bottle in Kathmandu will be about 30 – 40p. In the hills they start at about 80p and work upwards as you get more remote. Cost much higher up can reach £2.50 – £3 per bottle.

2. Filtration Units such as the Katadyn Vario EU are excellent at doing what they’re meant to do. They filter just about anything and everything from bad tastes to microorganisms to make the water safe to drink. They appear costly upfront (they are about £80) but if shared, it will cut costs and you can either use it again and again or sell it on and recover some money. The water is passed from the water source (such as a bowl filled with water from a tap) through the unit and into your own drinking bottle. They are capable of filtering over 1000 litres without a filter change so it can cope with any trek in Nepal even for a small group of people. Other similar models are available.

There are also bottles that have integral filters inside them, so you just fill up your bottle, put the lid back on and drink. The Water to Go product is an example. 200 litres of water is their stated limit before a change of filter is required. Be wary that any filter put between your mouth and the water will invariably slow down the flow rate so you do need to suck hard! If you like to gulp down water, this won’t be for you! Cost about £25.

Katadyn filter
Water To Go Bottle

2. Filtration Units such as the Katadyn Vario EU are excellent at doing what they’re meant to do. They filter just about anything and everything from bad tastes to microorganisms to make the water safe to drink. They appear costly upfront (they are about £80) but if shared, it will cut costs and of course you can either use it again and again or sell it on and recover some money. The water is passed from the water source (such as a bowl filled with water from a tap) through the unit and into your own drinking bottle. They are capable of filtering over 1000 litres without a filter change so it can cope with any trek in Nepal even for a small group of people. Other similar models are available.

There are also bottles that have integral filters inside them, so you just fill up your bottle, put the lid back on and drink. The Water to Go product is an example. 200 litres of water is their stated limit before a change of filter is required. Be wary that any filter put between your mouth and the water will invariably slow down the flow rate so you do need to suck hard! If you like to gulp down water, this won’t be for you! Cost about £25.

Katadyn filter
Water To Go Bottle

3. There are numerous types of Purification Tablets on the market, all designed to make water safe to drink. Some give a bad taste and therefore a ‘neutralising’ tablet may also be required. Flavoured effervescent tablets are an option worth considering. Tablets are relatively cheap but well worth doing some homework on what tablet does what. My advice is to give this a trail on a training walk well before you go to see if you can stand the taste!

4. Boiled Water. The most effective way of purifying water is to boil it. At sea level that’s a ‘rolling’ boil (bubbling like mad) for 1 min, at 2000m altitude for 3 mins, and more the higher you go. Given the time that it takes to then cool the water this does need some planning of the timing to make sure that you have the water ready to go when you need it. You also need water bottles capable of taking hot water (if not boiling; Sigg bottles are a classic example). It is cheaper to buy 1 litre of boiled water than a plastic bottle.

Summary

The sheer convenience of the plastic bottle method is what simply keeps it going; demand. But there is certainly a continued shift towards the more eco friendly methods and rightly so. As what is stated above, it is a classic cost v. convenience v. environment issue.

See our selection of Nepal Treks

Just 1 bad day can ruin your EBC Trek – Read Why

2018-04-09T12:06:06+00:00

About the Author:

Terry Crosby is the founder and co-owner of Travel and Trek Limited. He started the Company in 2005 after an long military career, which ultimately gave him the skills to set up, run, manage and develop what is now a global adventure travel company. He has extensive experience in all of the countries the company travel to and is an ex Mountain Leader and Arctic Survival Instructor.