Tips for trekking in the Himalayas on a shoestring budget
This blog is a part of our Trekking 101 series, powered by ULTIMATE TREKKER – the Outdoor Leadership Programme for pro trekkers.
Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too? Most trekkers end up spending big on treks which they could have completed on a way lower budget. 4Play reveals top tricks to cut down on expenses on your next trek to the Himalayas.
4Play aims to create awareness about the best practices, specific to the Indian outdoors. And enable you to step out with confidence. By making accessible an ocean of empirical knowledge gathered by the Indian Bear Grylls – Pranav Rawat himself.
Pranav Rawat is a seasoned mountaineer and an ice-climber, with a decade long experience as a summiteer. Pranav is also an UIAA certified Himalayan Mountain Guide and Wilderness First Responder, which makes him an unparalleled expert on climbing and trekking in the Indian Himalayas.
Lightweight backpacking is the way to go
“He who would travel happily must travel light”, said Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. And we couldn’t have agreed more. Trekking light has umpteen benefits as Pranav reveals. Using porter services and utilizing mules to ferry your luggage comprises close to 40% of your total trekking expenditure.
Carrying only what you need and not what you want, helps cut down on weight which translates into paying far less here. However this involves a high degree of knowhow of what to carry according to your trekking style, body type, the said trek in question and the altitude as well as terrain. Hence overall your savings will be substantial if you pack optimally.
Yes, crazy as it may sound learning the art of navigating while trekking in the Himalayas helps you save money. How? Simply by omitting the need for a costly guide.
A guide can charge upto 20% of your total trek expenditure and therefore Pranav suggests everyone to pick up the basic skills required for charting routes, search and rescue, and learning to use modern navigational equipment. This not only means that you are more adept at understanding mountain terrains and weather, but also helps you save some money.
Make your own food
Pranav advises anyone planning to trek the Himalayas on a shoestring budget to carry their own food. Now how will fresh food be packed for a multi day trek? The answer is pre cooked food.
Several options are now available in the market as dehydrated and pre cooked offerings however, you can even invest in a basic dehydrator and pack away for your adventures what you cook on your home stove. For those who can’t make such a commitment can atleast prepare their own energy bars at home. These will help you substantially cut costs (upto 20%) as it is common knowledge that the higher you go up, the costlier food becomes while trekking in the Himalayas.
Keeping in mind a high calorie to weight ratio you can pick food from across several groups and varieties. The catch here is that the food must be high in carbohydrates. You can choose from sandwiches, muffins, dried fruit, tortilla wraps, granola bars to cheese and meat (sticks, salamis or sausages).
Forget flights and cabs
Another way to reduce your trek expenditure is by opting to use public transport as far as possible – as trains and buses cost a fraction of the amount charged by taxis. Most trek starts aren’t very far from bus depots in the Indian Himalayas. For those that are, you could either hitchhike or use shared cabs to reach the base.
Plan, plan and then plan some more
Planning is key to every successful endeavor. And so this thumb rule applies in your trekking experience too to cut the cost. A well planned trek would invariably include several considerations for stay options, transports, gear and the like. Planning your trek during off seasons, checking out and booking stays in advance at cheaper guest houses, shared dorms and hostels are a great way to cut costs.
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That’s not all
- Trekking in groups as opposed to a solo trek can also help save costs while trekking in the Himalayas. Not only does this give you a great chance to interact with like minded nature lovers and mountain enthusiasts but you also share stays, porters and equipment, thereby saving money.
- Ask your friends to lend you trekking gear or get it on rent (although it isn’t very highly recommended) if you want to save a few extra thousands.
However Pranav recommends one does not compromise on a good guide. Here’s your guide to selecting a rock-solid guide for your next trek.
In case you have you some money saving tips as well, do share them in the comments section below.
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Author: Pranav Manocha
Pranav is a Nepal earthquake survivor with a flair for marketing. Beginning with a Quote T-Shirt business with a school friend after grade 12, he did his graduation in Literature from the University of Delhi. In his free time he loves reading Camus, trail riding and skinny dipping in rivulets around Manali.