“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; the wildness is a necessity.”John Muir
Trekking in the Himalayas
Trekking, hiking or visiting the mountains can give you an insight into the pure and celestial atmosphere that nature has in store for us.
Trekking in Himalayas is an amalgamation of blissful experiences, joy and self-rejuvenation. The breath-taking views of the mountains tops, the tranquil valleys, the pleasing humming of birds and the enticing smell of the Rhododendrons attract the trekkers.
The sanctuaries with its elusive species, picturesque campsites under the star-lit skies, quaint village home stays, holy monasteries and temples; speak of the charm of mountain life.
Most of the places and the mountain peaks which used to be inaccessible earlier have now opened up new outlets to enable us to delve deep into the Himalayan mystery.
They zigzag their ways through the spectacular snow-clad mountains, the dense evergreen forests, the sleepy villages and settlements, the chortling streams and lush pasturelands. Beating the crowds of the city-life and embarking on a stellar journey in the mountains can be the best way to spend your holidays and leisure.
Hurry, a lifetime experience is waiting in the wing!
Himalaya trekking for beginners
Beginners can find trekking in the Himalayas a bit daunting. However, there are some excellent choices for first-timers. Hampta Pass trek, Kedarkantha trek, Valley of Flowers trek are some of the best Himalayan treks for beginners.
But Before we take a closer look at those, let’s run through some tips and advice.
The rookie trekkers who are embarking on their maiden journey should check on their endurance limits and physical strengths. Treks for beginners will be somewhat demanding and one should be physically fit and patient.
Once aware of this soul-satisfying experience, you will always want to break away from the concrete jungles at the drop of a hat. Beginners trekking the peaks will be enthralled looking at the jaw-dropping sights of the heaving hills and the heavenly ambiance all around.
Himalaya trekking for beginners is an “adrenaline-pumping” experience. You will always crave for the thrill in exploring the flora and fauna of the mountain scapes and the maze of the paths that wind about here.
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12 Tips for trekking in the Himalayas
- You should have a planned itinerary for your trek. It should not be an impromptu unplanned journey. Often, it is best for first-timers to book an organised tour from companies specialising in Himalayan treks, such as Moxtain. This leaves you to enjoy the exotic beauty while they take care of the planning and safety elements.
- You should always pay attention to the varying mountain weather and know how to cope up with it. You should try to plan your trips in the months when the weather remains favourable for the trek you are undertaking and start your journey accordingly.
- Acclimatize yourself with the gaining altitude by stopping at certain points during treks and resume your journey with proper rest.
- Drink plenty of water. The weather in the mountains often causes dehydration. Hydrate yourself from time to time otherwise, it will be quite impossible to sustain the trek for 6 to 8 hours daily.
- If you want to maintain your personal hygiene, you should sponge bath with a cotton towel as directly exposing your body to the water in the mountain weather can cause hypothermia. It’s also a good idea to change your clothes as soon as you reach the campsite so that you feel fresh and comfortable.
- Be sure to cut your fingernails and toenails to keep yourself clean as during the treks both for comfort, and you will accumulate a lot of dirt under your nails.
- Please never pollute the beautiful atmosphere and serene landscapes by littering packets of your snacks and dumping all your used materials in your campsite. You should not use any plastic bottle during your treks. Try to use refillable water bottles so that you can use and reuse. Keep in mind to take back all your belongings which you will need during your stays at the camps thereby keeping the beauty of the campsites intact.
- It is advised to be aware of the yaks in the mountains. If you are passing a train of mules, it is recommended that you stand and wait on the mountain sides to prevent yourself from getting pushed off.
- Solo treks are often risky as you may get lost and if something goes wrong, there will no one to fall back on. It is advised to venture into this adventurous sport in a group and with an experienced guide.
- First-time trekkers should be practical and realistic. Do not go to complete a 5-day trek in 3 or 4 days. You should give time to your body to absorb the sudden changes in weather and complete your journey slowly and steadily. Do not push your limits to such an extent from where there is no coming back. If it takes 1 or 2 days extra than the planned date, there is no harm in it.
- You are advised not to indulge in activities like smoking and drinking in high altitudes. Enjoy your trek and reward yourself with a memory always to be cherished.
- Train yourself for the treks you are undertaking. There is a great difference between enjoying and enduring a trek. Spend some time in hill walking as you have to cover long stretches each day during the trek. Exercise and burn your fats so that you can sustain 6 to 8 hours of trekking each day.
5 Best Himalayan treks for beginners
1. Hampta Pass Trek
Hampta Pass, perched at an elevation of 14,010 ft above sea level is one the best Himalayan treks for beginners. The Hampta Pass, situated in the Pir Panjal Range offers you 5 days euphoric trekking experience.
The trek trail takes you through the stupendous glacial valleys, wide-canopied pinewood and maple forests, lovely meadows, crystal-clear streams, tranquil lakes and colourful Rhododendrons.
This is actually a 4 days trek but the tourists add another day to the itinerary to visit the famous Chandrataal Lake which nestles in the lap of the lofty Pir Panjal Range.
Follow the norms, plan the journey and create your legacy in trekking.
It is an easy to moderate trek, thus making it suitable for beginners also. It starts off with a drive from Manali to Jobra, the basecamp of the trek. From Jobra, this trek is done on foot throughout. From the gateway of the Pass, the wide vistas of the Pir Panjal Range sneaks out, offering a blissful landscape for the trekkers.
The best time to undertake the Hampta Pass trek is during the months of May, June, August, September and October. During these months, trekkers flock to the awe-inspiring Hampta Pass.
2. Kedarkantha Trek
This majestic mammoth stands tall at an elevation of 12,500 ft above sea level in Uttarakhand. It is regarded as the most sought-after destination for the amateurs and the experienced trekkers alike.
Nestled within the Govind Ballah National Park and Govind Ballah Wildlife Sanctuary, it is deemed as the trekker’s paradise. It offers a panoramic view of the range-upon-range mountains, serene lakes originating from deep within the mountains, campsites and quaint villages.
The lifestyle and the simple culture of the locals is an eye-opener for the city-bred people.
Sunrise from the top of the Kedarkantha Peak is quite an experience. Its hues embellish the landscapes and the adjacent mountains. Even at night, watching Kedarkantha glimmer against the star-lit sky is an absolute treat to the eyes.
This trek commences from Sankri, which is about 210 km away from Dehradun. Driving from Dehradun to Sankri will take you through Mussoorie, Damta, Nain Bhag village, Purola and Harsaadi.
It will take about 10 hours to cover this distance via road. Throughout the journey, you will be able to view the pious rivers in close proximity, such as Yamuna, Kedarganga, Kamal Ganga and Supin. The major attraction of this trek is the campsite near Juda Ka Talab encompassed by pine and oak trees.
This trek is termed as an “all-season” trek but it attracts its visitors during the winters. The untainted snow-capped mountains during the winters are worth snap-shooting!
3. Bhrigu Lake trek
Bhrigu Lake, perched at an elevation of 14,000 ft, located in the Kullu district is a high altitude glacial, alpine lake. According to ancient mythology, Maharishi Bhrigu was known to meditate near this Lake. Hence, the name of this location is taken from this mythological event.
Brighu Lake is an easy grade trek and is one of the most recommended Himalayan treks for beginners.
This trek route passes through the lush virgin forests and meadows giving way to an alluring campsite of Rola Khuli. It offers you a wide-ranging view of the peaks of Hanuman Tibba and Seven Sisters.
This trek starts off from Manali and takes upto 4 days to reach the oval alpine Bhrigu Lake. It also offers a sneak peek view of other mountain ranges and peaks like the Pir Panjal Range and the Dhauladar Range.
The best time to embark on Bhrigu Lake Trek is during the summer and the autumn months. Through the different seasons, the lake changes its colours marking this as one of the most striking features which ushers in a lot of trekkers.
In the winter season, the trek routes are closed due to its harsh weather conditions. The Bhrigu Lake never freezes completely unlike others. The rainy months of July and August should also be avoided due to the perilous avalanches.
4. Brahmatal Lake Trek
The Brahmatal Lake comes at an altitude of 12,250 ft. This Lake is situated in the Chamoli district of Grahwal in Uttarakhand.
This trek is suitable for beginners trekking. The name of this Lake is again inspired from another myth. This Lake has received its name from Lord Brahma who was known to meditate here.
On the way to Brahmatal Lake, you will also find another pristine Lake surrounded by oak trees, Bekaltal. There is a queer lore among the locals that Lord Brahma hides near Bekaltal thus terming it as a God’s abode.
This trek starts off from Lohajung covering a distance of 210 km from Kathgodam, which will take about 10 hours to reach by road. Kathgodam is well connected from Delhi so it will not be a problem to book a bus or take a car.
This trek gifts you an exotic aesthetic view of the Roopkund trek trail too. The peaks visible from Brahmatal are Maiktoli, Trishul, Hathi-Parvat Peaks, Nanda Devi, Nanda Khat, Ghora Parvat and many more.
The best time to embark on this trek is during the winter months from December to March, unlike other treks. In winter, the trekking trail wears a jacket of soft, fresh snow and the pine and oaks trees get drenched during the snowfall.
The sunlight falling on these trees and trails create a breath-taking view and an ambiance worth experiencing. Keep yourself hydrated, energize yourself with snacks from time to time and set about on a worthwhile trek.
5. Valley of the Flowers trek
The Valley of Flowers trek is one of the most famous and rewarding monsoon treks in Uttarakhand and one of the best Himalayan treks for beginners. In 1982, this valley was designated as a National Park which has a wide range of vibrant flowers and some endangered species.
The Valley of Flowers is also marked as an UNESCO World Heritage site. According to the myths, this place used to be inhabited by the fairies and Gods. It was also believed that whoever came to visit this Valley was forever captured by the fairies. These extraterrestrial treks are rich in lore and mythologies which make them all the more alluring.
The Valley of Flowers trek is a mesmerizing expedition, blissful in nature. This valley is a rich mixture of mountain ranges, meadows, colourful flowers, rustling streams, pilgrimage sites and a high altitude lake. This place attracts passionate photographers and botanists. It is one of the best monsoon treks with an easy trek grade.
This trek commences from the Govind Ghat in Uttarakhand. The wide stretches of the colourful blossoms and different wildflower species hook the trekker’s attention.
This makes it one of the most worthwhile trekking expeditions. The Valley of Flowers, perched at an elevation of 14,100 ft is tucked between the Zanskar Ranges and Great Himalayas. It opens on 1st June and the visitors are allowed till 31st October.
Every month in the Valley of Flowers witnesses a new range of shades illuminating the valley. As the weather gradually gets warmer, the snow melts giving way to wonderful glaciers and waterfalls, making it a very bewitching trek.
What to pack for Himalaya trekking
Finally, let’s take a look at some items that you will need to consider taking with you to ensure a fun and safe hiking experience in the Himalayas.
- Trekking poles should be carried as they are very helpful. It holds the body weight and pressure as you trek uphill. It provides you with an extra grip also.
- Trekking pants, specially made for hilly terrain are very comfortable and are recommended. You can take these along in any kind of trek; easy, moderate or difficult.
- Trekking boots are an absolute must. It is advisable to carry your boots or take it in rent so that you can undertake the trek without much difficulty. Also … be sure to wear them in first. Don’t buy some brand new trekking boots and assume they’ll be perfect right away. You may get lucky, or you may not. Which leads us on to …
- First-aid kit is an absolute necessity on such treks. It should contain medicines for cough and cold, altitude sickness, ointments for scratches, bandages, cotton and special blister plasters.
- Do not wear cotton clothes during the treks as it takes a long time to dry up. Wear Merino wool or synthetic clothes as they are very comfortable in the mountains and are more breathable.
- To prevent yourself from getting blisters you should carry proper hiking socks and trekking boots. You are required to carry your woolens in plenty as the weather in the mountains is quite fickle.
- While trekking, you should carry only those materials which are an absolute necessity. Try to keep your bag pack as light as possible so that it doesn’t become an obstacle in your upward trek.
How fit do you need to be to hike in the Himalayas?
It’s hard to put a figure on it exactly as some people can be both overweight and fit and likewise, athletic-looking but not really. A rough guide can be BMI.
The ideal BMI (Body Mass Index) during the Himalayan treks should be 18.5 to 24.9 for all the trekkers. But if your BMI is below 18.5 then it falls under the underweight range and if your BMI is between 25.0 and 29.9 then it comes under the overweight range.
If you fall under the underweight range then you are advised to take up high protein diets. You can also have mass gainers so that you can meet a normal BMI. If you are in the overweight range then it is recommended for you that you exercise and jog daily and check on your diet so that you can meet the ideal BMI.
Trekkers with ideal BMI are apt for treks. Overweight and underweight ranged trekkers can find it very difficult due to loss of energy, altitude sickness, fatigue and other complications too. So, check on your BMI, consult a doctor if it’s abnormal and then only venture on these adventurous sports.
Also, trekkers with breathing troubles and bone diseases are advised not to visit the treks as its consequences can be hazardous. Beginners trekking the Himalayas should check on their health and hygiene and undertake the treks with prior consultation from doctors.[starbox]