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Mistakes to Avoid as First Time Trekker

Planning your first trek? Learn the top mistakes new trekkers make and how to avoid them for a smoother journey.

Mistakes to Avoid as First Time Trekker

For adventure enthusiasts looking to explore a new world of adventures, trekking is the best option as it provides breathtaking views, a challenging yet fulfilling experience, as well as a scenic opportunity to disconnect from daily life.

The magic of trekking in Nepal is an exciting and memorable experience. However, for first timers it is often tinged with apprehension. Things can quickly go downhill and turn your adventure into a dreaded horror if you make specific mistakes.

For first time trekkers, it is easy to go on a path paved with potential pitfalls. Recognizing and understanding these mistakes can be the major differentiator between an adventure and a disappointing and dreaded experience. The major question is how to recognize and avoid these mistakes?

Worry not trekkers, we at Ace the Himalaya have got you covered. For a more detailed knowledge about trekking, in this blog we discuss the mistakes to avoid as first time trekker for a safe and enjoyable experience.

Lack of Proper Research

While spontaneity is a blessing for people seeking adrenaline rush, the same cannot be said when it comes to trekking. Proper and thorough research is crucial to have a safe trek.

And although many people research actively before going on a trek, they get lost down the rabbit hole during the process as there is no specificity regarding what to research about.

The term ‘trekking’ is a huge domain on its own and the internet has a sea of information related to it which might or might not be relevant to you. Therefore, it is important to know what to find out and what to skip.

First and foremost, it is important to select a trail which is most suitable for you. You can’t just pick a trail because it is famous, and everyone is going there.

Climbing up the Chola Pass
Climbing up the Chola Pass

Instead, you have to pick a trail that matches your fitness level and prior experience, which in your case is none.

Don’t choose treks that are too challenging as it is just your first time. After you have picked your trail, learn about other factors of the trek like terrain variations, weather patterns, and altitude variations on the trek.

Research the best time to trek the specific route. Also find out basic details about the permits required for the trek, local customs, accommodation and food options available, and availability of other services like Wi-Fi, shower, and laundry so that you can prepare accordingly.

Inadequate Physical Preparation

When you embark on the trek in the Himalayas, no matter what level of trek you are picking, certain things are guaranteed to be encountered by you.

And these are not the scenic views which might at times be unavailable due to low visibility. These are the challenging terrains and high altitudes.

Tackling the formidable landscape of the Everest region with determination.
Tackling the formidable landscape of the Everest region with determination.

Keep in mind that trekking is not just a walk in the park. While the level of physical challenge depends on the difficulty level of the trek, it is always challenging for a first-time trekker given the elevation gain and new terrains. So come prepared.

Refer to trek specific preparation routines by reading blogs like preparation for Everest Base Camp trek and more. However, the basic rule is to start a fitness regime well in advance and stick to it for at least three months before embarking on the trek.

Include cardio and activities like swimming, cycling, running, getting up and down the stairs to strengthen your heart and lungs and focus on your calves, legs, and core muscles for easy long walks.

While on trek, don’t ignore acclimatization as it can become a huge savior against the treacherous effects of high altitude and helps prevent altitude sickness.

Packing Pitfalls

A well-structured packing list is the bible that you must refer to before embarking on a trek as this is where most of the first timers make the most mistakes which can cost them their comfort throughout the trek.

The first piece of advice is to invest in good quality gear as treks are usually a challenging experience and the more support you get the better it is. And never overpack as less is more while on a trek.

Pack just the essentials and indulge in smart packing practices like convertible clothing. For the unpredictable weather conditions, carry layers of clothing including a moisture wicking base layer, insulating layer, and a waterproof and fleece outer layer.

Capturing Annapurna from Pisang Village
Capturing Annapurna from Pisang Village

As your main mode of transportation throughout the trek is your feet, invest in good trekking shoes and break them in well before the trek. Ill fitted shoes can lead to sores and blisters and turn the trek into a nightmare.

Other things to pack would be a well-stocked first aid kit, headlamp, sunscreen, personal hygiene items and more. Refer to a packing list and double check before the departure as you don’t want to be ‘that’ trekker who forgets a crucial item.

Embrace minimalism and ditch the ‘what-ifs’ which often lead to overpacking. But don’t under pack either. Your aim should be to keep your backpack weight 20-25% of your bodyweight.

Disregarding Weather Conditions

Even if you have researched the best time for trekking in Nepal, make sure to be prepared for anything. Don’t underestimate the elements as the weather in the Himalayas is highly unpredictable.

Pack gear for everything ranging from extreme sunlight and heat to sudden rainfall and snowstorms. Always check weather forecast and use reliable weather forecast systems specific to the trekking region.

Rough weather during Trek
Rough weather during Trek

If there is even a slight warning of bad weather and any hazard like snowstorm, avalanche, high wind and heavy rainfall, take it seriously. Include enough additional days in your itinerary to accommodate these delays easily.

The best time where you will come across moderate temperatures, high visibility, and less chances of weather hazards are the peak trekking seasons in Nepal– Spring and Autumn which is applicable to almost all the trekking routes.

Overestimating Your Capabilities

While underestimating yourself is usually a bad thing, when it comes to trekking as a first timer, overestimating your capabilities can often backfire and put you in uncomfortable situations. Therefore, while you would want to push the limits, don’t push them beyond your tolerance.

Always set realistic everyday goals and remember that it isn’t a race, and the Himalayas aren’t running anywhere. Start with shorter and easier distance to cover each day which you can reset later on based on how you feel.

Hiking up the Kala Patthar
Hiking up the Kala Patthar

Stick to a minimal elevation gain each day. If you become overconfident and cover a huge elevation gap in a single day just because you can, it can cause problems later after an hour or two and you will start displaying symptoms of altitude sickness.

So, take frequent breaks and catch your breath and climb steadily. Also include sufficient acclimatization days to prevent altitude sickness. Be hydrated and take proper rest and get enough sleep to avoid getting over-exhausted.

Neglecting Nutrition and Hydration

During trekking, you are introduced to a lot of new flavors and local delicacies which might take you by surprise. Due to the same reason, many people tend to skip proper meals and eat improper diet including just basic snacks.

Dal Bhat during ebc trek
Dal Bhat during EBC trek

This is the worst thing you can do to your body while on the trek as you are depriving it of the very nutrition that will fuel your energy throughout the trek. This can lead to fatigue and decreased performance which will make you drag your feet instead of enjoying the trek.

Therefore, it is important that you have a proper balanced diet with a good amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fat for good physical health throughout. Also carry high-energy snacks for midday munching on the trail like nuts and energy bars.

Staying hydrated during EBC trek
Staying hydrated during EBC trek

Also, stay well hydrated as dehydration on the trek can cause severe issues including heat exhaustion, altitude sickness, and gastrointestinal issues during treks. So, drink at least 3-4 liters of clean water every day.

Skipping Professional Guidance

One of the more common fiascos that a first timer makes while embarking on a trek is trying to do it all on their own and skipping professional guidance just for the sake of a heightened adventure or for cost saving.

However, this can lead to serious consequences as you will be going into a new part of the world and entering a completely unknown world of trekking which comes with its own set of challenges and dangers.

Therefore, it is best to partner with a reputed local trekking agency like Ace the Himalaya who can help you throughout the journey. The other best option would be to either trek in groups or at least hire a professional guide.

When it comes to Nepal, solo trekking has been banned as of 2024 for the sake of the safety of trekkers. So, you have no option but to trek with a local guide or tour operator. But it does you a lot of good and trust me, this is not where you would want to do the cost cutting.

Professional guides have complete insider knowledge about the region, and they can enhance your experience by ten folds as they know the local customs and festivals. Also, they know the safe places and routes in case of any emergencies.

You won’t have to deal with navigation errors, emergency contacts, and even the hassle of getting your permits as the guides and tour operators will do it for you. You will always have extended support in case of emergencies. Also, you will share memorable camaraderie with them.

Ignoring Safety Precautions

While you must set out with a good vibe and hopes of a safe and enjoyable trekking experience, that certainly doesn’t mean that you won’t take the advisable safety precautions as not having a safety plan can sometimes cost you your life.

Carry all the safety equipment including a well stocked first aid kit with basic medicines, medicines if you have any long term disease, a multi tool, a whistle, and a personal locator beam if you can. Learn about basic first aid procedures.

The most basic thing to carry is a local SIM card and opt for satellite phones if you can as it allows you to get range even in the most remote areas.

Always inform someone about your trekking plans and share your itinerary with a friend or a family member.

If the locals are warning you against a potential hazard, listen to them as they are the inhabitants of the region and they know the best. Don’t stray off the main trekking trail as it increases the chances of you getting lost.

Get travel insurance covering high altitude treks and emergency helicopter evacuations for emergency situations. Make sure it covers medical conditions too as your peace of mind is priceless.

Disrespecting Local Culture and Nature

Always remember that you are going on a trek where you will be enjoying the beauty of nature while also not ruining it for future trekkers. Adhere to the dos and don’ts of trekking etiquette and respect fellow trekkers.

Embrace leave no trace principle and don’t litter around in the trail as the ecosystem here is very delicate. Carry out everything that you take in and carry out some extra trash too if you can.

Only take biodegradable items on the trail including your clothing, cosmetics, and toiletries too. Minimize waste as well as the campfire impact and stay on designated trails. Observe the wildlife from a distance and do not disturb them.

a Himalayan tahr spotted during EBC Trek
a Himalayan tahr spotted during EBC Trek

You are entering the home of the local flora and fauna, so make sure to not cause any disturbance to them. Avoid flash photography and don’t make loud noises throughout the trail. Enjoy the tranquility.

Also, respect the local customs and traditions while trekking. Learn basic Nepali phrases and also about the local rituals and participate if you can. If not, interacting with the people while at the teahouses and showing respect to their culture is good enough.

A stupa in in Thame village
A stupa in in Thame village

Ask for permissions before clicking pictures and dress modestly if you are visiting any spiritual site in the Himalayas. Maintain silence and don’t interrupt the local proceedings. Enjoy festivals like Mani Rimdu if your timing coincides.

Trekking in Nepal Creative Trip Designer Trekking in Nepal Creative Trip Designer
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