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Gasping for breath…trekking in the Himalayas in Nepal

Gasping for breath…trekking in the Himalayas in Nepal

This is Seby's account of what it was like trekking in the Himalayas in Nepal during our Annapurna Trek to Thorong La Pass, which is at an altitude of 17,769 feet (5,416 meters)!

“Nepal is like a drug for trekkers! Trust me, boys, after your first Himalayan adventure, you’ll be racing to your laptop to book your next trip!”

That’s what our Japanese friend told us in the taxi we shared from Kathmandu airport. This was his 13th visit!

With the world's tallest mountain, Everest, and around 75% of its landscape adorned with dramatic mountains, Nepal offers a treasure trove of exploration that could span a lifetime, just as our Japanese friend discovered.

Gay couple travel book Nomadic Boys Out in the World

And if that wasn’t enough, Nepal is gay friendly! The LGBTQ laws of Nepal are some of the most progressive in Asia. For example, after Nepal decriminalized homosexuality in 2007, it proceeded to recognize LGBTQ rights as fundamental rights in its constitution. In 2011, it introduced the third gender option and made history by including a third gender on its federal census – a global first! Recently, in 2023 and again in 2024, the Nepalese Supreme Court has started to recognize gay marriage.

For us, Nepal was a dream, our ultimate trekking destination.

And sure enough, as our Japanese friend predicted, we're already planning our return trip. The allure of Nepal's majestic beauty and inclusive spirit calls us back time and again!

Heads up: We just wanted to let you know that this post contains affiliate links. That means if you book something through one of those links, we'll get a small commission, at no extra cost to you. It helps us keep our blog going – so thank you in advance for your support! ♥

Gay couple embracing in the Himalayas in Nepal.
Trekking in the Himalayas has always been a dream for us!

Gasping for breath: our Annapurna trek to Thorong La Pass

“Stefan! Wake up – I can’t breathe. I need help!”

It was 3:30 am. We had settled into ‘High Camp’, a guesthouse for trekkers nestled at a daunting 15,748 feet (4,800 meters) high.

Today marked our momentous ascent to Thorong La Pass in Nepal, the climax of our Annapurna trek which would take us to an altitude of 17,769 feet (5,416 meters) – the highest either of us has ever been on foot!

However, this was also the moment the altitude sickness struck me with a vengeance!

Struggling to draw a complete breath, I felt a relentless, throbbing headache that jolted me awake at 3:30 am. These were common symptoms, but they caught me off guard while I was asleep, fuelling panic.

Despite my distress, Stefan remained fast asleep snoring loudly, exhausted from the previous day’s long trek.

Frantically, I managed to find the Coca-Cola bottle our guide had advised us to drink when experiencing any symptoms of altitude sickness. Miraculously it worked and I was able to go back to sleep for a bit…

At around 4:30 am our guide woke us up, urging us to pack our things quickly so we could set off at 5 am.

The reason for the early start was to avoid the strong winds that pick up in the late morning at Thorong La Pass, which can become treacherous. We heard stories of people getting stuck there and freezing to death!

We set off at 5 am. We only had to trek up 4,800 feet (616 meters) from High Camp to reach Thorong La Pass (17,769ft/5,416m), but the altitude sickness made it seem like we were trying to run a marathon! At this high altitude, our bodies were running on overtime. I could feel my heart racing, my head was pounding, and I was constantly starving!

Gay couple resting at High Camp on Annapurna Trek in Nepal.
Stopping for a well-deserved breather at High Camp

We progressed slowly, pausing frequently to catch our breath, sipping Coca-Cola to alleviate the headaches, and relishing the snacks Stefan had stashed away in his backpack.

To add to the challenge, the biting cold was unrelenting. The woolly hats, gloves, and down jackets we hastily purchased in Kathmandu before our trek proved to be our saviors. Taking off my gloves to capture a photo felt as though my fingers would freeze off each time.

Thankfully, the excitement of reaching our 17,769 ft (5,416m) peak fuelled our adrenaline, allowing us to plow on.

By around 7:30 am, we reached the climax of the Annapurna Trek: Thorong La Pass.

It felt glorious!

And the views around us were breathtaking!

For starters, we were above the clouds. It was like I was in the heavens peering down on Planet Earth. All around me, I could see snow-capped mountain peaks poking out through the ethereal clouds. My heart was pumping fast, only this time from the rush of excitement I was feeling standing there high above the rest of the world with Stefan next to me who was also looking out in awe.

I couldn’t help the tears that came streaming down my face. They were tears of joy mixed with so much emotion. It had been a challenging morning with little sleep and one of the most intense experiences of my life. At one point I doubted if I would make it!

Yet, it was worth every second.

But I craved more. I wanted to, er, rush back to my laptop to book our next Himalayan adventure…

Yup. Our Japanese friend wasn’t wrong!

Gay couple enjoying the view of the Himalayas during the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal.
Our view from the top of the world!

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Gay couple travel book Nomadic Boys Out in the World

Top experiences in Nepal for LGBTQ travelers

Nepal has the best trekking we've ever done. Everest Base Camp and the Annapurna Trek are the two most popular. Beyond trekking, we've also included some other highlights we loved from our gay trip to Nepal:

Everest Base Camp

A bucket list item for travelers to Nepal. It is located at 5,364m (17,598ft) altitude. Along the way you visit monasteries, Buddhist stupas, colorful prayer flags, traverse along metal bridges strung across deep canyons, and, of course, gain bragging rights for having accomplished one of the most famous treks in the world!

Annapurna Circuit to Thorong La Pass

The Mother of all Himalayan hikes in our opinion! The entire trek is around 145 miles (230km) and is usually done in 10 days. You’ll start from the lush green valleys of Nepal, gaining altitude every day and gradually ascending to the pinnacle, Thorong La Pass. At 17,769 ft (5,416m) it is one of the highest passes in the world. During your trek, you stay overnight at local Himalayan ‘teahouses’ run by locals, which is a cultural experience in its own right.

Gay couple enjoying breakfast and morning coffee with the Himalayas background in Nepal.
The Himalayas: not a bad spot for your morning coffee eh?

The gay scene in Kathmandu

Thamel is the tourist heart of Kathmandu with the best restaurants, hotels, and bars. PINK Tiffany is the main LGBTQ hangout. There are a handful of other gay friendly places that on occasion host an LGBTQ night like Fire Club, Tom N Jerry, and Purple Haze Rock Bar. Read more about gay life in Nepal in our interview with Tilak from Kathmandu as well as our comprehensive Kathmandu gay travel guide.


This UNESCO-listed city is one of the prettiest places in Nepal, famed for its rich cultural heritage, architecture, craft, and artworks. It’s on the east corner of Kathmandu Valley making it an ideal day trip from the capital. Walking around Bhaktapur felt like we’d been teleported back to ancient Nepal!


Nepal’s second city is a treat. Whereas Kathmandu is a sprawling unorganised mess, Pokhara feels clean and chilled. We spent the day here after our Annapurna Trek where we rented a boat and sailed along the Phewa Lake. One site we loved was the Pokhara Shanti Stupa – a peace pagoda on the Anadu Hill.

The pretty riverside view of Pokhara in Nepal.
The pretty lakeside town of Pokhara

Nepal Pride Parade

Nepal Pride takes place annually on the second Saturday of June in Kathmandu. Other ad hoc LGBTQ events take place throughout the year organized by the NGO, Blue Diamond Society.

Chitwan National Park

An incredible spot in Nepal to see wildlife including Bengal tigers, Indian leopards, sloth bears, otters, foxes, honey badgers, rhinos, and elephants. Established in 1973, it was Nepal’s first National Park then subsequently became an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Nepalese food

Dal bhat is the national dish, comprising various curries (usually lentil-based) with rice. During our Annapurna Trek, we would eat it twice a day. Our guide would joke and say, ‘dal bhat power 24 hours’. We weren’t complaining as there is no uniform recipe for dal bhat so each one tastes different. Other Nepalese culinary highlights we love include moma dumplings, sel roti sweet pastries, dhido flour-based pudding, gundruk fermented vegetables, and kheer Nepalese rice pudding. Read more in our article about the best traditional foods of Nepal.

Stefan Seby eating traditional Nepalese dal bhat with their friend Talib in Kathmandu.
Dal bhat power, 24 hour!

Chandragiri Hills

We love it for the view of the Himalayas. It’s an hour southwest of Kathmandu, ideal for a day trip. On a clear day, you can see both the Annapurna mountain and Mount Everest. It’s not too strenuous and there is a cable car to whisk you to the top where we recommend exploring the Bhaleshwor Mahadev temple.

Monkeys at Swayambhunath Temple

A temple complex in Kathmandu, which features a stupa, a Tibetan monastery, and a variety of shrines and temples. Our highlight of Swayambhunath was the photogenic cheeky monkeys roaming the sites.

Pretty monkey posing for us at the Swayambhunath Temple in Nepal.
The monkeys at Swayambhunath Temple always steal the show!

Best gay tours to Nepal

Traveling with your squirrel friends is always far more rewarding. At the moment there is just one company offering gay trips to Nepal:

Nepal & Bhutan Exploration with Brand g Vacations

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty and culture of two beautiful Himalayan Kingdoms in one magical LGBT+ tour of Nepal and Bhutan. Enter the serene and spiritual lands of Nepal and Bhutan, and experience the countries’ rich histories and unique cultural heritages. From the brightly colored fluttering prayer flags of Nepal to the elaborate traditional dress of the Bhutanese, these fascinating countries will delight your inner explorer.

For more info check out the Brand g Vacations website and if you quote NOMADICBG when booking they'll offer you an exclusive 5% discount.

Trekking to Thorong La Pass with our Nepalese guide Kiran.
Trekking in Nepal is always more fun with your squirrel friends!

Practical safety tips for gay travelers to Nepal

Nepal is safe. We had no problems here. Even though poverty is noticeable in parts of the country, the people are so sweet and welcoming that we never felt threatened anywhere. Here are our practical safety tips for gay travelers to Nepal following our trip. We also recommend reading the Lonely Planet's guide on the best time to visit Nepal.

  • Nepal is gay friendly: we felt welcome traveling as a gay couple in Nepal. We never had problems getting a double bed. The people were welcoming and friendly, curious to know more about us. This is why we rate Nepal as one of the most gay friendly countries in Asia.
  • Nepalese society is conservative: for LGBTQ locals, things are different. Nepal is a conservative nation. Some of the gay local guys we met were either in the closet or leading a double life married to a woman to appease their families.
  • Organize your trek in Kathmandu: Thamel in Kathmandu is an awesome base, well worth spending a few days in. For independent travelers, we recommend organizing your trek here so that you can meet your guide before committing to anything. You will be spending 2 weeks together in close quarters, so you ideally want someone you’ll vibe with.
  • Altitude sickness: is a big deal, especially when you’re trekking upwards of 2,000 metres. We started to feel it strongly from around 14,750 feet (4,500 meters). Symptoms include headaches and exhaustion after taking mere short steps! Take it slow and give your body enough time to acclimatize by starting at a lower altitude and ascending each day by around 1,5000 to 3,000 feet (around 500-1,000 meters).
Gay couple embracing in the Himalayas during Annapurna Trek in Nepal.
We felt totally fine with public displays of affection during our gay trip to Nepal

LGBTQ facts about Nepal we think you should know

We love researching this for every destination we visit, and for Nepal we found the following. Please message us if you think there are more we can add to this list:

  • Meghna Lama: a transgender Nepalese fashion model who set up the PINK Tiffany gay parties in Kathmandu.
  • Sunil Babu Pant: the first openly gay legislator in not only Nepal but in Asia! He also formed the Blue Diamond Society in 2001.
  • Bhumika Shrestha: a Nepalese actor and third-gender activist working with Blue Diamond.
  • Snow Flowers: sure to check out the 2011 film, Snow Flowers (Hiuka Phoolharu) about two women in love but unable to come out and be together – it’s nicknamed ‘Brokeback Everest’ and we are living for it!
  • Men hold hands in public: it's not a gay thing at all! Or is it…? Simply an act of friendship amongst men in South Asia. We noticed men generally are very docile with each other here…
Men holding hands walking in the streets in Kathmandu in Nepal.
Nepalese men holding hands and walking in the streets – very cute!

For more inspiration:

Seby stopping for breath during the Annapurna Trek in Nepal.
Gasping for breath! Seby's account of the Annapurna Trek in Nepal.
Sebastien Chaneac

Hey everyone, I'm Seby, the co-founder, editor, and know-it-all IT guru behind the Nomadic Boys gay travel least that's how Stefan describes me! I'm also a total travel nerd and food enthusiast. Over the past 10 years, I've travelled to over 80 countries with my partner in crime and the love of my life, Stefan. I've written for a wide range of publications ranging from Pink News, Matador, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian and many more. Want to know more about me? Check my full bio here.