The sheer natural beauty of the Himalayas attracts people from far and wide. Trekking and hiking amidst this majestic mountain range are the best way to experience the enigma of the Himalayas. The vast expanse of land that is covered by the Himalayas gives us an opportunity to access the beautiful vistas through different routes and locations. This, however, leads to a problem of choice. Fear not, the below tips will help you choose your perfect first Himalayan Trek:
Choose your experience:
The Himalayas are home not just to the tallest peaks on this planet, but also to vast ice glaciers, alpine lakes, flowering valleys, and mesmerizing meadows. Also, the Himalayas, being the abode of the Gods, is home to many spiritual treks viz. Kailash Mansarovar and Amarnath Yatra. Choose treks that allow you to experience a variety of places and adventures, and are aligned with your interests.
Choose the right Trek Operator:
Today, there is an explosion of Operators organizing treks in the Himalayas. The majority of the Operators have their offices in cities and have tie-ups with local organizations who actually handle the field treks. Before zeroing down on your trek operator, do check the reviews and testimonials of their clients not on their website but on Social Media. Additionally, keep a lookout on the below parameters:
- Compare Group Size: You don’t want to be stuck with a large group while witnessing the serenity of the Himalayas. Moreover, large group size usually leads to less attention to detail at an individual level. Preferably, stick to the smaller groups
- Guide to trekker ratio: Ask the organizers for the Guide to trekker ratio, and ensure that it matches with the testimonials on social media
- Expertise in Field: Ensure that the trek leader and guide have adequate qualifications and practical experience
You, could also arrange self-organized treks, however, that would involve taking care of Trek Guides, equipment, kitchen staff and rations, permits, transportation etc. Venture into self-organized treks only if you have the required knowledge and experience of the place.
Ensure that the Itinerary of your chosen Himalyan trek allows sufficient time for acclimatization at higher altitudes. Also, it is highly unlikely that you would make it again to the same trek in the near future, so the itinerary should be designed in a way that it allows ample time at various points of interest.
The Duration of the trek is important, as it has a direct impact on the cost of the trek. Most Himalayan treks last for 8 to 12 days. The majority of us, have only a limited time off. Let the number of vacation days dictate the choice of your trek.
Timing the trek:
Each trek in the Himalayas has its own preferred season. For example, trek to Kashmir Great Lakes and the Valley of Flowers is best experienced in the monsoon months of July & August, while the Sundakhpu trek in North-east is best enjoyed in Winter. Let the season be your guide to the choice of the trek. That helps to narrow the list significantly.
Budget and Cost Constraints:
The Budget for a Himalayan trek can act decisively in selecting your first trek. The budget includes not just the trek cost, but also the cost of travel, boarding, and lodging during your vacation. A trek in Ladakh or the North East becomes more expensive than those in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh due to the limited travel options at these places.
Himalayan Treks are graded as Easy, Medium or difficult based on the endurance required for the trek. Choose treks in line with your physical fitness. Even “Easy” treks require physical preparation. Basic physical fitness is mandatory for undergoing any Himalayan trek. So do not be too optimistic and if you decide on a trek with Medium or Difficult grade, then be ready to sweat and put in the hours before you venture for the trek.
Are there any other tips, that I have missed ? I would love to know about them in the comments