Trekking in the Himalayas can be a great, even life-changing experience. Good planning of your trekking trip increases your chances of a successful trekking trip. Go through this little check list to make sure you remember some of the essentials in your planning.
1. Trekking alone or together with others
As a general idea, trekking alone in the Himalayas is not advisable. The main drawback is that in case of an accident or a sudden bout of altitude sickness, you can be stranded for days far away from civilization. You usually can’t just pick up a phone and call for help. But it is possible to trek alone. The best thing about trekking alone is that you will be in complete control of when and where you stop for a break, camp or settle in for the night. On the popular trekking routes you can usually talk with other trekkers and locals. To avoid trekking alone, ask for trekking partners on some of the online trekking forums. You can also hire a guide to go with you.
2. Trekking with a guide
Especially if it is your first trek, a guide can be a good idea. You just need to make sure that it is a good guide who understands and respects your wishes. If possible, a face-to-face meeting with a guide prior to trekking is always advisable. In many parts of the Himalayas, a local guide can be hired without having to pay a fortune.
3. Camping trek vs. tea-house trek
If you bring your own camping gear on a trek, or if you are booking a camping trek through a trekking agency, you will have extra possibility of exploring the more remote mountain areas. It is a great way to get away from the beaten track and avoid the crowd of other trekkers. But it requires a lot more gear. In places like the Nepal Himalayas, it is easy to go on a tea-house trek where you will be staying in family-run lodges along the route. Typically, these village lodges / tea-houses are found up to 4000 meters / 13,500 feet altitude and are open all year round.
4. Best time to trek in the Himalayas
Trekking in the Himalayas can actually be done all year round. But the best time to trek is usually considered September-October-November for the southern side of the Himalayas, and July-August-September for the northern side of the Himalayas, also known as the trans-Himalayas. Trekking in the winter season, December-January-February is also a good option, as there won’t be so many other trekkers and the weather is mostly clear. But you need to be prepared for high mountain passes that are closed for days or weeks due to heavy snow fall. So if you are on a tight schedule, you may have to abort your trek during this season. March-April-May-July (pre-monsoon) is generally considered the second-best time for trekking in the Himalayas. The weather is usually good, although it can be a bit hazy.
5. Trekking style
If you are trekking with friends or other people, make sure you all agree on your common ‘trekking style’. Are you going quickly or slowly? Are you following the trails or will you be doing off-trail expedition style trekking? Are you doing lightweight trekking or carrying a lot of ‘extras’?