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Trekking Tips

The Himalayan region of Ladakh is ideal for trekking, hiking and camping offering energetic outdoor people a different and exciting option for a Adventure holiday. Trekking is a completely different world of activities when compared with our normal life. Uncertainties have to be faced with courage and determination. To face all these unlikely problems, some important tips for a traveler on these adventurous yet demanding terrains are being described below:

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
Ladakh is a high altitude cold desert with a low level of atmospheric oxygen. It is, therefore, absolutely necessary that visitors reaching Leh from the plains of India by air, give themselves sufficient time for acclimatization before engaging in any physical activity. The rarefied atmosphere may cause high altitude ailments like Acute Mountain Sickness, necessitating instant evacuation of visitors who are unable to get acclimatized.

Anyone travelling to altitudes above 10,000 ft (2,700 meters) is liable to suffer from acute mountain sickness (AMS) unless properly acclimatized. The most common symptoms of acute mountain sickness are headache, disturbed sleep and loss of appetite, nausea, coughing, irregular breathing, breathlessness, lassitude and lack of concentration. If you are reaching Leh by air, it is important to take complete rest for the first 24 hours after arrival. Any kind of physical exertion is to be avoided. Smoking and drinking should also be avoided till you are fully acclimatized. The symptoms of acute mountain sickness generally develop during the first 36 hours, and not immediately upon arrival. Your body should get used to the lower oxygen level of Ladakh after 2 or 3 days if you have taken complete rest for the first 24 hours and as much rest as possible during the next 12 hours.

High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPO) and High Altitude Cerebral Oedema (HACO) are very serious forms of acute mountain sickness. These are life-threatening ailments and warrant immediate medical attention.

As a preventive measure, Tab Dismox 250 mg should be taken at the rate of one tablet twice a day for three days, at least two days before coming to Ladakh or any high altitude area.

Mountain walking
Mountain walking is an art in itself. A good trekker is economical in his actions. If you watch a Hillman or a shepherd walking after his sheep, you will observe that he does not waste energy in unnecessary flailing of arms or legs. His strides are sure and steady, and he does not appear to be in a hurry. Keep in mind the following points:

Develop a personal rhythm. Lift and keep your step in synchronization with breathing.
Walking on the level, place the foot flat, heel first, to obtain a better grip.
Walk in zigzags while ascending a very steep slope.
Avoid stepping on loose stones.
Avoid overtaking fellow travelers while walking on a narrow trail.
Ascending/ descending a scree slope or over loose stones, leave sufficient space between the next person so that any stone rolling down does not hit others below.
Do not run down a slope. Flex or bend knee a little while descending. Dig heels for better grip.
Wet grass, pine needles and wet roots can be very slippery. Be careful while walking on them.
Shortcuts on a foot trail should be avoided.
Put on warm clothing while taking rest.
Respect the sentiments and traditions of the local hill people.
Don’t damage crops by walking through standing harvest.

Halts and Rests
During a rest period, lie against a tree trunk or a big stone. Place your legs on your rucksack or on any other higher place. This will regulate your blood circulation.
Stop about 15 min. after the first start to readjust your rucksach or to tie a shoelace etc.
Do not make halts frequent or prolonged. Too many halts destroy walking rhythm. Frequent rests are not needed of you follow the right walking techniques. Stop should be made, wherever possible, at natural stopping points, like on the top of a ridge, of before a difficult ascent, or at a scenic viewpoint.

First aid kit
Here are the main things which can be useful: iodine tablets, tincture or crystals for water purification, analgesics, antidiarrhoeal, intestinal disinfectants, antibiotics, antiseptic, eye drops, bandages, cutaneous antiseptics, waterproof tape, adhesive pads, cotton swabs, skin applications (burn, sunburn, bites or stings), acetazolamide (Diamox) for acute mountain sickness.

You should bring any personal medicines that you need.
A complete medical checkup prior to start trekking
Toning up of the body and acclimatization should be strictly observed.
Patients of asthma and diabetes should restrict their climb up to 3000 meters above sea level.

Respect local traditions, customs, values and sentiments to help them protect local culture and maintain local pride.
Respect privacy when taking photographs
Respect holy places
Refrain from giving money to children as it encourages begging
Respect for the local etiquette earns you respect
Let the Himalayas change you - Do not change them
Protect the natural environment
Leave the campsite cleaner than you found it
Limit deforestation - make no open fires
Burn dry paper and packets in a safe place
Keep local water clean and avoid using pollutants
Plants should be left to flourish in their natural environment

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