1.Take a sleeper train to get your to 1st meeting point
Book your own travel to Joshimath and if you’re coming from Delhi, take a sleeper train not an overnight bus…trust me! Some Adventure companies offer to book all your pre-trek travel for you but be careful with this. Although at first it seems ideal to take the stress out of navigating the Indian bus and rail system, I would recommend booking this yourself as they often put you in the cheapest/most basic transport.
Benefits of a sleeper train:
- You get a bed – laying horizontal really does make all the difference in getting a good night’s sleep
- It’s safe – if you’re travelling as a couple, book a 1stclass ticket as you can opt for a private compartment for just the two of you. Plus the doors lock from the inside. Other 1stclass compartments are 4 beds so 2 bunks. On our train from Dehadran back to Delhi we shared with a lovely older couple.
- You can opt for air con
- If you go first class, a pillow and blanket is provided wrapped in paper so you know it’s fresh.
- Access to toilets – compared to travelling by overnight bus, if you’re bursting for the loo then it’s tough luck. You go when the driver decides to make a stop.
- If you’re female and travelling solo and end up in a compartment with men, don’t be afraid to speak to the Train Conductor or other passengers if they would mind swapping with you to a compartment you are more comfortable with.
Wherever your trek starts, it’s likely you’ll spend a night before and after the trek in one of the Himalayan villages. We stayed in Joshimath which has become a hub for trekkers. Due to their remote location, there is no luxury accommodation. Types of accommodation vary from hotels to B&Bs to home stays. Don’t be surprised that not every hotel or B&B offers heating and hot water so do your research. When it reaches -7 degrees at night, you soon realise basic needs are all you require!
We stayed at Hotel Dronagiri which is basic but warm, clean and a good location. The hotel manager was very helpful and welcoming. A super deluxe room will cost you around £40 per night.
It might not be the most pleasant wearing the same clothes for two or three days but when you’re carrying that weight on your back from 3 – 7 days, you’ll be thankful you didn’t overpack.
Here are a list of items trekking companies recommend but I think you can live without:
- Flip flops – these are handy to slip on when you want to nip to the toilet in the middle of the night but not entirely necessary.
- A lunch box –Your adventure company will most likely provide you lunch so to avoid any leakage, all you need is some extra large sandwich bags to add another layer.
- Buy a spork – fork crossed with spoon. Need I say more!
4.Invest in good boots and wear them in before you go
You’re on your feet all day and being comfortable will make a massive difference to how much you enjoy the experience. I saw so many trekkers in agony and constantly stopping because they had ripped their feet raw with blisters
5.Buy blister plasters
If Tip 4 above fails. And to hand out to others who aren’t so fortunate.
As I mentioned, most travel companies provide a packed lunch but for the amount of walking you’re doing I didn’t find this enough. Think nuts, dried fruit, protein bars, chocolate bars that’ll provide you with the boost of energy you need.
7.Layer, layer, layer
It’s better to have thin layers that you can whip on and off than bulky jumpers and coats. Invest in quality base layers made from merino wool.
8.Prepare yourself physically
Hit the gym or go for some long hikes at home.
Back in the UK, I prepared by using the Stairmaster at the gym and we headed to the Seven Sisters Country Park a couple of times too. It’s handy to wear in your boots.
9. Pack a hot water bottle & sunglasses
Temperatures at night can plummet to below Zero so if you’re partial to feel the cold, you’ll feel it here in your tent. A good night’s sleep is key to keeping your energy levels up.
Whether it’s sunny or snowing, it’ll be bright so protect your eyes.
10. Lastly, don’t forget to look up and drink in your surroundings
Trekking is challenging, especially if you haven’t done Tip 8. A lot of people get so caught up focussing on putting one foot in front of the other and getting through it that it’s easy to forget why you’re here. Stop, look around, pinch yourself. It’s a beautiful and enchanting landscape.