Expert tips for your first trek

These expert tips from a seasoned trekker can help you dodge the newbie mistakes and ensure your journey exceeds expectations.

Thorough preparation (or lack of it) can make or break a visit, so spend the opportunity to learn your budget, time that your trek and assemble the perfect itinerary.

Design an itinerary

Do your interests lie in centuries-old civilization or do remote mountain passes allure? For historical monasteries, Ladakh or Small Tibet would be the places to go. If you want to trek through luxuriant woods then consider exploring Everest Base Camp Trek. For spectacular mountain views, the little-trekked paths of this Garhwal are on par with the best in the Himalaya.

Most importantly, don’t be too ambitious with your own itinerary. Allow lots of contingency times for acclimatisation, inclement weather, porters that vanish without notice for half of a day, village celebrations, or carrying an excess evening to savour a stunning campsite. Knowing the Himalaya would take lifetimes to reach, so don’t expect to master the mountains on a single trip.

Establish your budget

If you are trekking independently, then work out the cost of choosing a guide, porters, food, lodging and transport – and then double it. That should look after all other unforeseen costs that always seem to creep into a strict budget. In case your arrangements are produced by a trekking service, plan to maintain money at hand for tips (likely to return to 10% of your total budget).

Time your trek

March before June are often considered peak trekking period, but make sure you remain weather-aware throughout your trip. The regions of Himachal, Uttaranchal Darjeeling and Sikkim are subject to heavy monsoon rains so avoid July and August when possible. The Indian Himalaya also experience a long and cold winter from mid November until March — during this age, it’s best to head to Nepal.

Security first

Trekking is a professional activity so read up on acclimatisation (it could save your life) and don’t presume you can rely heavily on your GPS when you are out there. Even the most detailed contour maps are usually unreliable in some remote areas, so your very best investment by far will be hiring an experienced local guide.

Check your gear

There is no one to impress in a remote mountain pass, therefore forget style and make sure that your equipment is hardy enough to withstand the changeable mountain weather. There is no reason to invest in most of the latest outdoor gear, given your trekking gear is in good form. Unlike Nepal, good gear still comes in a premium in India. If your structures are being made by an agent, double-check what’s contained. When in doubt you are best to bring your sleeping bag and sleeping mat as well as your favorite (lightweight) tent.

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