What is the nature of this excursion?
A: This excursion is a spiritual pilgrimage, a purpose-driven journey to discover the hidden essence of these living shrines of the Himalayan Tradition. Our focus will be on experiencing the vibrant sacred space of the Himalayas as a catalyst for our practice.
Q: How difficult are the treks?
A: Overall the treks are rated as moderate. A few sections will provide a challenge for less experienced trekkers.
Q: How many days are we trekking?
A: There will be trekking a minimum of seven days, with two more days of optional trekking.
Q: How long are most of the treks?
A: The treks range in length from 3km-12km (with options to hike beyond 12km in two locations.In general, the hikes have been strategically planned to allow less experienced trekkers plenty of time to reach the destinations.
Q: What are the hiking trails like?
A: Most of the hiking trails are a variation of packed rock in dirt. The trails offer stable footing, but some places offer flatter rocks for your feet to land than others. Plan to bring shoes with good foot and ankle support.
Q: How many nights are we camping?
A: We will be in alpine tents for 3 nights.
Q: What will the weather be like? Should we expect rain?
A: The temperatures will change slightly as our destination changes and in the Himalayas, the weather can be unpredictable, so it’s always best to be prepared for a variety of situations. During the day, if the sun is out, it may be in the low 70’s and warm, but in a minute, clouds can come and wind picks up, and it might shift to the low 40’s. The evenings will vary between upper 30’s and low 50’s, depending on where we are staying. Its best to pack layers. Traditionally, the rainy season ends between late August and early September, but with global warming, weather patterns have become less predictable, and daily showers are a distinct possibility, so good rain gear and waterproof boots are highly recommended.
Q: What is the highest altitude on the trek?
A: Most of the trekking will be between 10,000-12,000 feet. For those who choose the optional mule ride to Hemkund the altitude will be approximately 14,000ft.
Q: Should I worry about altitude illness?
A: It’s likely that you will feel the effects of the altitude at some level as you acclimate, but unlikely you will experience any significant illness. We have plans to gradually acclimatize, and if you experience any significant discomfort then you can always return to basecamp.
Q: How can I prepare for this pilgrimage?
A: Physical fitness and overall good health are important elements for a spiritual excursion like this. If you haven’t already, we suggest that you begin a regular practice for conditioning your body. Aerobic exercise is especially helpful to prepare for trekking and high altitudes. One method is fast walking, building up to a steady pace on inclines, hilly terrain, or stairs, and increasing distance* We highly recommend walking regularly with your day pack (filled) and trekking poles and pushing yourself on some longer hikes whenever possible. Also, the yogic breathing techniques (pranayama) of kapalabhati, bhastrika, and nadi shodhanam (alternate nostril breathing) are also good preparation, as is the practice of agni sara to energize the solar plexus and help sustain vitality. These practices are best done regularly, starting with a few repetitions and progressing gradually according to your capacity. If you don’t know these techniques, we recommend that you take a pranayama or hatha yoga class with a qualified instructor. Himalayaninstitute.org’s wisdom library and Yoga International.com both provide instructional articles and videos on some of these techniques, including contraindications, as do the books Path of Fire and Light, Vol. 1, by Swami Rama, and Science of Breath, by Swami Rama, Rudolph Ballentine, MD, and Alan Hymes, MD. These can be ordered through Himalayan Institute Press at 800-822-4547, press 4, or online.