Whenever someone mentions the Himalayas in any conversation, you’re simultaneously reminded of both adventure and serenity. There’s something majestic and mysterious about these mountains that has always fascinated the mankind.
A Himalayan trek is something like a coming-of-age trip for many 20-somethings, many of whom have little or no experience with mountaineering, leave alone the mighty Himalayas. Are you planning a trek in the Himalayas and wondering where to start your amazing journey? Then look no further.
Choosing the trek:
Though no trek can possibly be called ‘easy’, it is very important for a beginner to choose the first trek appropriately. Many people who do not consider this point often return disappointed, sometimes even without completing the trek.
Walking in the mountains is not the same as walking in the plains. Not everyone’s body reacts the same way to the altitude.
Here are a few treks that are perfect for beginners:
1. Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand:
Included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Valley of Flowers National Park is an alpine valley in the Garhwal Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand. Home to stunning scenic beauty, the valley gives you a feeling of trekking in paradise.
What caught our eye: Imagine trekking through a natural Miracle Garden. Do we need to say anything else?
Best time: July – September
Nearest airport: Dehradun, Uttarakhand
2. Hampta Pass, Himachal Pradesh:
Nestled away in the pristine snow clad region of the Himalayas in Manali, Hampta pass is voted as the ‘easiest and most attractive trails in India for beginners’. The picturesque path throws in many hues of scenic beauty varying from snow, open meadows, frosty valleys, pine forests and more.
What caught our eye: Witness the cold, barren and beautiful Spiti Valley!
Best time: May – October
Nearest airport: Bhuntar (Kullu-Manali), Himachal Pradesh
3. Kuari Pass, Uttarakhand:
Kuari meaning ‘a doorway’ in the local language is a mountain pass located in the Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand. True to its name, the trek opens up breathtaking views of the Himalayan grandeur. Accessible throughout the year, the spring & winter treks are famous for their splendor.
What caught our eye: Did you know, Lord Curzon, one of India’s most famous Viceroys, trekked this trail in 1905.
Best time: April – June, September– January
Nearest airport: Dehradun, Uttarakhand
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Prepare Yourself – Really, Prepare Yourself
A book, a movie or simply for the sweet sake of wandering, whatever may have inspired you to plan your first trek – go for it! It’s never too late to start anything that has been on your mind for long. Because trekking in the mountains is way different from a leisurely stroll, you need some amount of groundwork.
Inadequate preparation and half-baked knowledge can turn a great experience into an unpleasant one. Here are a few pointers that will help you plan:
1. Get started, get fit: Once you have made up your mind for trekking, start training your body as well. Get a medical checkup done to rule out any major health issues. Hit the gym or add breathing exercises, brisk walk or a jog to your routine.
2. Pack light, pack right: You do not want to be forever exhausted by carrying a heavy load. Invest in good quality winter wear. To keep it light, pack a good waterproof rain jacket that will come handy on windy days and also save you from the odd rain showers.
Layering is the trick for really cold days and nights. Throw in a down jacket; the nights, even on a summer trek, are cold. Pack the fleece/waterproof hand gloves, woolen cap, balaclava, etc., depending on the trek.
3. Trekking accessories: It makes sense to rent out your gear if you’re just starting out. Buy the right kind of shoes and don’t forget to break-in the shoes well before the actual trek.
4. What to eat on the trek: Though you may choose an easy trek to begin with, your body is still going to use up a lot of energy while trekking. Pack some chocolates, energy bars or dried fruits (remember to keep light) that you can munch on to refuel the body.
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A word of caution about walking on ice:
Walking on snow/ice is fun but challenging at the same time. You’ll develop the skill to tap the pole and gauge by the sound eventually but until then follow the guide and observe well.
If you are not sure, do not step. Do not go to the edge of snow ever – you could be stepping a cornice. Most importantly, do not walk alone.
Need extra help planning the perfect trek? Check these out :
You’re about to step out of your comfort zone and follow your heart.
Explore the wilderness and the mountains to your heart’s content. Feel the wind in your hair, get some tan, watch the sun rise and set over the mountains. Be in the moment and leave all the worries behind. Make memories for a lifetime.
Have a great first trek!
Have you trekked in the Himalayas? What was your first experience like? Tell us in the comments below.
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