If you love getting out and about in wild places, what could be better than a trip to the Himalayas? With amazing scenery, challenging terrain and a fascinating history, it’s a thrilling place to go, but trekking there is seriously hard work, and if you’re going to make a success of it, you will need to go prepared. So where do you start?
Select your destinations
The first thing to think about is your precise destination. Everest is the big name, of course, and you don’t need to be a skilled climber to enjoy its lower slopes, but it’s fame tends to mean that it’s crowded, so if you really want that sense of being out in the wilds, you should consider going elsewhere. Bhutan is the choice for eco-travellers, while Nepal and India are good if you’re on a budget. If you’re thinking of going to Pakistan, check the latest embassy advice first, as some areas are used by militants. Remember that you’ll need visas for all these places.
Depending on where you’re going, you will face different types of natural hazard, and it’s important to be aware of these. Avalanche hazards are mostly seasonal, so if you’re smart, you can avoid them. Both heavy snow and thaws can create difficulties, however, especially if you’re going to be walking along cliff edges or near rivers. The whole region is affected by earthquakes, so you should familiarise yourself with emergency procedures in case you get unlucky. If you’re going to be walking at high altitude, you should be ready to identify and treat altitude sickness.
Choose your gear
When you’re heading for regions where your life may depend on how well you can walk, it’s vital to look after your feet, so finding the right footwear should be top priority. Fortunately, there are now many companies using technology to improve what’s available, so for instance, you can get compression socks to improve blood flow and boots designed to grip, provide perfect ankle support and keep you insulated all at once. You’ll also need lightweight but warm layered clothing, insulated gloves with a good grip, and a well designed backpack that sits in exactly the right place.
Prepare your body
With all this in mind, it’s amazing how many people still get themselves into trouble by heading for the Himalayas without effectively preparing themselves. Under any circumstances, attempting a long walk like this is tough, and it’s all the more so when you’re going to be heaving your body over difficult terrain. To put it simply, this means that you need to warm up! In preparation, you should be walking at least five kilometres three or more times a week before you go, ideally with a weekly walk of ten. Only this kind of exercise can get you in shape for what you are about to face.
If all this sounds like a lot of effort, just wait until you get there! It’s tough, but it’s stunning, and it’s absolutely worth it.