Asia is fast becoming one of the greatest trekking destinations on earth. The towering peaks of Nepal provide treks such as the Everest Base Camp Trek and the Annapurna Circuit, whilst the magical landscapes of India and Bhutan provide treks such as the epic Snowman Trek and the Singalia Ridge Trek. Asia literally offers up thousands of unique treks that will blow the mind of even the most experienced hiker.
However, trekking in Asia comes with certain risks.
Locations are often remote and weather conditions can change fast. Therefore, keeping safe should be your top priority. To help you stay safe on your next adventure, we have put together our top tips on how to keep safe when trekking in Asia.
1. Never trek solo, preferably take a registered guide
Trekking solo is always a dangerous option. Who can help you when you twist an ankle? Who can help you when you suffer an illness? Taking a trek with a reputable guide company is far safer. Not only are you in a group, but your lead guide will almost always be far more experienced than you in an emergency and will have the necessary knowledge to handle such situations. Good guide companies will also know the best places to eat and the safest routes to trek.
2. Know before you go
No before you go means understanding the political and natural landscape of the area you are about to trek in. Has there been any terrorism in the area? Have there been any natural disasters? In 2015, Nepal was hit by an earthquake that devastated much of the country. Although the nation has now recovered, many of the trekking routes were closed for long periods of time. Always check the Foreign Commonwealth Office sites before departure.
3. Take the right gear
Taking the right gear is hugely important to your safety. Treks throughout Asia, particularly in the Himalayas, can get exceptionally cold. Temperatures at altitude drop severely and weather storms can approach exceptionally quickly. In 2014, 41 trekkers perished in the Annapurna region after a snowstorm hit suddenly. Therefore, having the right clothing and camping gear is vital. If trekking solo, it’s also important to take the right equipment with you such as ropes, compass and first aid supplies.
4. Watch out for altitude sickness
Altitude sickness is a real risk when trekking in the Himalayas and other mountainous regions in Asia. The phenomenon is very common, particularly if you are not used to trekking high. The key is to always take your time, never ascend fast. There is no cure to altitude sickness and if you experience any of the symptoms, you must descend immediately. Please note that fitness, weight, age and gender have no bearing on who may experience altitude sickness. For more information, please see our page here.
5. Plan your route
Knowing your route is vitally important, especially when trekking solo. In regions where trekking is popular, there are many intersecting paths and getting lost is a real risk. Always bring a compass and detailed map with you and mark out your route prior to departure so that locals can help you if needed. It’s also a good idea to mark on your map where you will have access to food and water as trekking houses are often quite far apart.
6. Make sure you have adequate travel insurance
Last but certainly not least, always purchase adequate travel insurance prior to your journey. You will most likely be trekking in remote areas where the cost of rescue and evacuation is high. Remember to purchase a policy for high altitude rescue if you plan on trekking in the mountains. You’ll also want cover for lost and stolen items, and for hospital stays if you get unlucky with the food!
Thank you and safe travels!