How fit should I be to go on a trek?
You do not have to be an athlete to be able to trek.
If you are in reasonable shape, enjoy walking, can walk uphill and downhill, you will likely do fine. If you have been hiking in the past and do bicycling or participate in walking exercises, you may find trekking easier. Nepal’s trails go through many different terrains and sizes (flat, on the slope, uphill and downhill, wide and narrow trails). We highly recommend that you participate in routine hikes, bicycling, elliptical exercises, tread mills or running to prepare yourself for any trekking in the Himalaya. The better shape you are in the more you will enjoy your hiking in the Himalaya.
Selecting a Trip for You
Trekking in the Himalaya is fun, but it is adventurous, strenuous and physically challenging. If you sign up for a trek that you cannot handle physically, you will have very hard time completing it. Therefore, you should carefully select a trek that you are capable of completing. We offer trekking in the Himalayas in three different grades (Easy, Moderate and Strenuous). Trekking and adventurous outdoor activities require your attention to hazards no matter where it is, whether in the Himalayas or in the rainforests.
We want you to enjoy your tour, so please help us select a trip suited for you. Tell us about your outdoor experience and the type of tour you are interested in so we can help you to select the best trip for you in Asia. Please feel free to ask for any question or help.
How many hours will we trek each day?
Normally, you will trek 5-7 hours each day from one campsite to another. However, some trails require longer hikes 6-8 hours or more.
This is because you are hiking through uneven terrains and the campsites we have chosen are usually on flat ground close to the streams and scenic spots. As a result, some days will be easier with shorter hikes, while other days will be longer with more difficult hikes.
Physical and Mental Fitness:
Physical Fitness: The healthier you are, the more easily you will adjust to and enjoy your trip. We are not looking for athletes to compete; in fact, the ages of our clients ranged from age 7 to 85 plus, but the degree of difficulty does vary widely, and it is most important that you select an appropriate level for yourself. Obviously, the degree of fitness required for each trip varies according to the activity involved. On most rafting trips, for example, you need not be as fit as you would need to be for a trek.
We recommend that, for at least three months prior to departure, you do something strenuous every day, preferably related to the nature of your intended expedition, such as walking, hiking and cycling. The above exercise is recommended if you are planning to go on our adventure treks in the Himalayas. On the other hand, our tours in Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia do not require any of the above exercises unless your trip involves trekking through rugged terrains. Fitness is a total concept of good health, and must be planned and maintained. Trekking in the Himalayas includes exploring nature and culture while benefiting from great exercise!
IF GOING ON SIGHTSEEING TOURS, PLEASE IGNORE THE FITNESS REQUIREMENTS INCLUDING THE TREKKING AND RAFTING EQUIPMENT:
The above fitness guide is designed for adventure trekkers to Nepal, India, Tibet and Bhutan particularly those going on long duration treks in the Himalayas. These fitness exercises are not required if you are going on sightseeing tours that does not involve trekking or traveling to Thailand or Southeast Asia, where strenuous trekking is not required. However, the better shape you are in the more you will enjoy your trip.
Mental Fitness: When you are on our tours in Asia, particularly the eco-tour activities in the remote areas, you are traveling in underdeveloped part of the world, where the local people have a totally different outlook on life, but remember that this is the main reason for going on a foreign tour. Do not always expect things to happen on time as they do at home. In developing countries, transportation, communication and other facilities are often strained and delays can occur frequently. Just relax, take things at ease, and keep an open mind. Such attitudes would enable you to reap rewards in excess of ones' expectations. You will enjoy your trip even more if you learn about the country you are visiting before your departure.
How About High Altitude Sickness?
Trekking in Nepal need not be considered high risk, as we plan the trek to gradually ascend and adjust to altitude with necessary rest while you nourish yourself with water and good food. However, there is very little medical care along the trail is available, so make sure you are physically fit and healthy before departing. In case of serious illness or injury, evacuation to Kathmandu is the best remedy. Helicopter rescue service is extremely expensive. The Nepalese government, your embassy or the trekking agency is not responsible for the bill. Therefore, you are requested to obtain insurance for a rescue operation and for any medical evacuation.
It is your responsibility to take care of yourself along the trail by ensuring that the water you drink is boiled. Diarrhea and headaches can be the curse for trekkers. So, bring appropriate medication and use them with caution. Sun burn can also be a problem at altitude, a barrier cream will protect your skin and good sun glasses are also necessary. Blisters are another problem for the trekker and adequate supplies of band aids are advisable.
Altitude sickness: Often known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is particularly an important medical consideration while trekking in Nepal. Altitude sickness means the effect of altitude on those who ascend too rapidly to elevation above 3000M (9,840FT). The initial symptoms of AMS are as following: Nausea, vomiting; Loss of appetite; Insomnia / Sleeplessness; persistent headache; dizziness, lightheadedness, confusion; disorientation, drunken gait; weakness, fatigue, lassitude, heavy legs; Slight swelling of hands and face; breathlessness and breathing irregularity; and reduced urine output. These symptoms must be taken very seriously. In case of appearance of any of the above symptoms any further ascent must be adjusted, otherwise more serious problems can occur that could cause death within a few hours. The only cure for the altitude sickness is to descend to lower elevations immediately, as there is no other cure. Acclimatization by ascending by no more than 300 to 500 meters (984 to 1640ft) per day above 3000 meters and getting the proper amount of rest are the best methods for prevention of AMS.
The Himalayan Rescue Association provides detailed information on AMS. The central Immigration office and all trekking agencies in Kathmandu distribute this pamphlet free of cost. Since these documents also give information on the list of suggested medical supplies for trekkers, it is an important item for your health.
Group Trip Medical Kit:
Treks involving group travel and a tour leader, the tour leader usually brings a medical kit with basic medical supplies for the group. However, each trip member is advised to bring medical supplies to meet his or her needs for the entire trip.
Private Trip Medical Kit:
If you are on a private trip, traveling alone or traveling with your family and friends, bring your own medical kit with sufficient supplies to last for the entire trip. Quality medical supplies are difficult to find in Nepal. However, local brands of similar effect are available at local pharmacies in limited places.
We carry a small medical kit with basic supplies for extended duration treks involving high altitude and passes. However, we find that the best remedy is that the trip participants bring their own medical supplies.
Vaccinations and Health:
Certificates of vaccination against Cholera and Yellow fever are not required to visit South, Southeast and Northeast Asia unless you are coming from an area of identified concern. However, Malaria is not a problem in most of the above regions, so it is important for you to know the current requirements for your travel destinations. If you are planning to visit southern lowlands of Chitwan Jungle National Park in Nepal, and the remote jungles of Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, then you should take precautions, and use mosquito or insect repellents. Wear long sleeved shirts and pants, and use mosquito nets at night. The highlands often do not have mosquitoes so there is a reduced concern. We recommend to always carry insect repellant, as conditions vary, with the location, humidity, climate, and daily variations of conditions. The most intense insect populations are when traveling during, before, and after the monsoon weather.
Vaccination against Meningitis and Hepatitis 'A' and 'B' may be necessary to take, and always recommended. You should consult with your doctor what vaccinations and medications to travel with in your medical kit. It is important, that all vaccinations that your doctor recommends are taken in your home country prior to your trip departure. Also, consult your physician for flu shots, as you may be travelling in a season where your exposure risk is increased.
Safety during the Trek
We highly care for your security while you are trekking with us as your safety is the utmost importance to us.
Our trekking crew (guides, cooks and porters) are carefully selected for your trip.
We employ guides who are licensed by Nepal Government Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation. Sherpa Travel guides are reliable and honest. Your trekking crew will provide security and will remain attentive throughout the trip. At nights at the campsites, your guide will assign staff members (usually assistant guides) to take turns to guard the campsite throughout the night for an added safety measure.
It is also your responsibility to take care of yourself and your belongings while traveling. Never leave your baggage unattended at the hotel lobby, airport, and crowded campsites.
While in Katmandu, keep your passport, money and credit cards in secure place such as money pouch where pick pockets do not have easy access.
While on the trek, carry money and credits card in your money pouch which should be with you at all times. Never leave your money and credit cards in the luggage.
During the trek, your luggage is usually carried by a porter and is safe. In the evening, when you arrive at the campsite or lodge, claim your luggage and put inside the tent or lodge room. Most trekking destinations are safe. However, your guide will advise you in some locations where you may need to be extra careful (particularly in overcrowded places). Be very vigilant on your valuables such as passport, money, credit cards, cameras, and binoculars. These should be carried by you at all times and put in a secure place at night. Popular tourism destinations where many people travel through have greater chances of things getting lost. So being extra careful helps.
The above questions and answers are also relevant for Nepal, Bhutan, India and Tibet, as all trips. Sherpa Travel also has web pages with regionally specific information along with the tour information. If you have additional questions, please feel free to inquire, and we will be pleased to answer all your questions and help you the best we can to make your trip pleasant and comfortable.