For nature lovers, a journey to the Himalayas is the ultimate adventure. Spanning a whopping 4000 kilometres from Kyrgyzstan to Myanmar, the Himalayas are home to unique wildlife including yak and snow leopard along with some of the world’s most challenging trails.
Although there are many remote stretches of this impressive mountain range where you won’t see a soul, the Himalayas are also home to over 40 million diverse residents. As a result, planning your trek to the Himalayas can seem like quite a daunting task. Here are a few things to consider as you get started.
Best Times to Visit
One of the most important factors to consider is the weather during your intended period of travel, as it can put a big damper on your trekking plans. The ideal time to visit will depend on the region of the Himalayas you’ll be visiting. For those visiting eastern regions of India and Nepal, the most popular times to visit are in April and October to avoid the summer monsoon season.
While in the past only a hardy mountaineering expert would dare embark on a trek through the Himalayas, the doors have opened to less experienced travellers. You can stay in luxury lodges and admire the views, or take an organised tour staying in basic but comfortable cabins along the way. Many specialist travel agents offer guided tours, with transport and accommodation all arranged on your behalf.
Despite the new crop of eco-hotels and luxury lodges, there is still no shortage of wild terrain to explore if you’re up for a big adventure. One area that’s best for more experienced hikers is the Karakoram mountain range in Pakistan. With few villages and harsh terrain, you’ll feel like you’re in uncharted territory. In Nepal, the trek around Manaslu is a good option for those who want to take advantage of the stunning views and remote location. Similarly, the Great Himalayan Trail is an extremely challenging trek that is divided into ten sections. Each section takes up to three weeks to complete, so it’s best for those with a bit of time and money on their hands.
Sights beyond the Trails
There are organised tours allowing you to stay with local families, from houseboats to mountain huts. Exploring the Tibetan plateau allows you to learn more about the resilient local people, who are happy to share their culture. Or you can explore Buddhist monasteries and view traditional dress and dancing in largely untouched Bhutan, where life has changed very little in the past few centuries.
Regional Travel Tips
Some regions will charge a minimum daily rate for your visit, including Bhutan and the small kingdom of Mustang in Nepal. Be prepared to work this into your daily budget. If you plan on bringing a phone, you may wish to stock up on free SIM cards before you leave to avoid roaming charges.
Many travellers on longer journeys have concerns about communicating with contacts at home. You can also use a SIM car to have a local number, making it possible for friends and family to make a cheap call to Pakistan or Nepal should they need to reach you.
However, service will be very spotty in more remote areas. The main health concern for most backpackers is altitude sickness. Take it easy at first and give yourself time to acclimate to the climate and altitude before doing any serious trekking, and you should be rewarded with a clean bill of health and spectacular views.
Image Credit: Himalayan via ShutterStock