6 easy tips for your Nepal trek
We all know that the more we prepare for our Himalayan trek, the greater chance we have of successfully rising to the challenge. But how?
Before I list what got me to the top (and back) on my first Nepal trek, I need to let you know that I’m no gung-ho hiker. I love bush walking and keep relatively active, but I wouldn’t consider myself an adventure junkie by a long shot.
I made a pact with 3 girlfriends that we’d do the Annapurna Circuit together and then thought “what was I thinking!” So if this blog post tells you anything, it should be that almost anyone can consider trekking in Nepal and it’s not such a pain to make it happen.
These are 6 doable tips that worked for me and from this you can hopefully take away ideas on how to prepare for your own trekking adventure…
1. Take your first step
Okay, you’ve made the decision to trek Nepal, now what? It’s easy – get moving! A combination of aerobic training, leg strength exercises and loads of walking is the ideal way to build up your fitness, but don’t put it off until tomorrow, you need to start now.
2. Get yourself checked out
At this point you could be thinking you’re mad for deciding to trek in Nepal, but it’s not your mental health I’m worried about. It might seem overkill, but it’s important to have a health check when you start training. I suffer from asthma but I didn’t want that to get in the way of my trek, so my medical specialist helped me physically prepare and also let me know what to do if I ran into trouble while I was away. It’s worth reducing your chances of getting any nasty surprises when you’re high on a hill in the Himalayas.
3. Put on your hiking boots
With your fitness activities kicked off, now you’re ready to start wearing in those new hiking boots. Go to a good gear store and get them to fit you for the ideal boots, then wear them everywhere – I mean everywhere (it’s no time to be fashion conscious). Start with wearing your boots when you’re watching T.V., cooking dinner in the kitchen and then take them out on the road. Walk to work, down to the shops, around the market…everywhere. Trust me, you don’t want to suffer blisters on the trek just because you skimped on the boot preparation!
4. Stairway to Himalayas
When you trek in Nepal, there are going to be hills and steps to climb (no surprises there), so make sure your training isn’t all on flat ground. Find bush trails with steep sections and steps to climb, then do those steps over and over. If you haven’t got any rocky mountain paths near home, jump on a stair-master at the gym or turn your office stairwell into your training ground.
5. Pack light and right
Don’t leave your packing to the last-minute. In my experience, packing late leads to throwing in non-essential items in a panic.
It helps to keep the weight and bulk of your main pack to a minimum by bringing clothes made from lightweight material. One or two changes will be all you need (no one is going to notice, or care, if you’re wearing the same t-shirt). However, as the weather conditions in the Himalayas can be unpredictable, make sure you’ve got layers to cope with rain, cold nights or warm days.
Intrepid provides porters to assist with carrying your main pack (max 12kg), but you will need a medium size, comfortable day-pack to carry personal personal items, such as camera, water bottle, valuables, sunscreen, hat etc. So make sure you’ve got exactly what you need and don’t take unnecessary extras – see Intrepid’s Ultimate Packing List and trip notes for more info. Plus while you’re out walking, wear your backpack. Your shoulders will thank you later if they are already used to carrying weight.
6. Keep walking
In the weeks and days leading up to your trek, make sure you’re out walking and keeping up your fitness regime. Depending on the trek that you choose, you’ll be walking for around 7 hours per day. That’s a long time on your feet if you’re normally sitting behind a desk from 9am-5pm, but I can promise you it’s all worth it to enjoy one of your best holiday experiences ever.
In a country full of fantastic people, remarkable scenery and travellers with their sights set on climbing those awesome peaks, you feel like one of the gang when you take on a trek. You can wear your achievement with pride and a Nepal trek lifts the spirit unlike any other adventure!
* Photo in Nepal by Michel Frigon, for the Intrepid Photography Competition.