Five trails from around the world that trekking addicts must have on their bucket list
For Oliver Kaye, the business head of Gap, India, a trekking holiday is exhausting, but it also gives him the opportunity to meet new people and test his strengths. Having travelled to different parts of the globe—exploring history and nature—he’s succeeded in pushing his physical boundaries, too. He gives us the lowdown on his favourite treks.
— As told to Priyadarshini Nandy
Inca trail in Machu Picchu, Peru
Duration: Five days
Machu Picchu is breathtaking. We would trek during the night; in the morning the whole place would be covered in clouds. As the sun rose, the clouds would disappear, and the ruins would come alive. Fortunately, they limit the number of climbers, so it doesn’t get too crowded.
Best time to go: May-October
Need to know: There are quite a few licensed guided tours available for Machu Picchu, offering different kinds of trails. We did the one by Enigma (enigmaperu.com), which offers a five-day trail. It is also possible to make your own trail by using public transport and accommodation. Do your research thoroughly before you take off.
The trip: The five-day Inca trail to Machu Picchu usually covers Cusco-Llactapata- Llulluchapampa-Phuyupatamarca Phuyupatamarca-Machupicchu-Cusco.
Price: Rs 43,000 per person onwards (for the four-day Inca trail, including permits). Cost of permit: Rs 5,120 plus tax approximately (per person).
Annapurna trail, Nepal
Duration: 10 days
When I came to India in 2007, I was very keen to explore the mountains. That is when the Annapurna trail was recommended to me. Plus, Nepal had been on my list for a very long time. There wasn’t any camping there; we stayed at the small teahouses on the route, and the people were really sociable. The trail has incredible scenery. The length of the route can vary from 160-230 km, and rises to an altitude of 17,768 ft on the Thorung La Pass, which touches the edge of the Tibetan plateau. The circuit is one of the best long distance treks in the world.
Best time to go: October to early December, and February to April.
Need to know: You need to get trekking permits, including the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) and TIMS Card (Tourism Information Management System), which are available with agents and via the official Nepal Tourism Board offices in Kathmandu and Pokhara. A hired guide should be able to arrange it for you. The website, longestwayhome.com, has detailed information.
The trip: Depending on how much you want to climb, it can take up to 21 days.
Price: The cost varies on the kind of trail you want to do. But it usually starts at about Rs 1,700 per person per day. The permits cost Rs 2,660 approximately.
Duration: Nine days
I trained for four months, as it involved a lot of hard climbing. I climbed up to 15,000 ft of about 19,000 ft. There’s proper camping involved, too. You wake up at 5 am and trek until 4 pm. The routes are beautiful, and worth the pain. This was also a fund-raising activity for me. The sense of achievement is incomparable.
Best time to go: Anytime except April and May, and November and December.
Need to know: The trip to Kilimanjaro begins at the base camp of Arusha, which you have to reach via bus from Nairobi. Remember that you will need a visa on arrival for Tanzania, which you can get at Namanga.
Price: The eight-day trek from Arusha and back can cost you about Rs 1,30,000. Indianhikes.in organises trekking trips to Kilimanjaro.
Tiger Leaping Gorge, China
Duration: Seven days
The Tiger Leaping Gorge, near Lijiang in Yunnan, is among the deepest gorges in the world and one of the most beautiful treks in China. Even though I trekked here more than a decade ago, I still remember it. It wasn’t as difficult as the other ones, but the sense of peace and sheer beauty make it a must-visit.
Best time to go: October, November, May
Need to know: You need a ticket to enter the trail (`700). The trail begins at the town of Qiaotou from where you can also purchase your ticket. You can reach Qiaotou from either Lijiang or Shangrila by bus. Go to wikitravel.org/en/Tiger_Leaping_Gorge for information on what to expect.
Price: While there are no packaged tours as such, you should ideally base yourself at a guesthouse at Quiatou. They start at Rs 350 per day per person approximately.
Everest base camp, Nepal
Duration: 14 days
A trip to the Himalayan base camp is my dream trek. And one has to train seriously for it. It is here that you truly understand the meaning of teamwork; you help one another to get through the distance. After all, it’s about climbing 18,492 feet!
Best time to go: March to mid May; September to mid November
Need to know: You need a permit to enter the Himalayan base camp, which costs about Rs 665 (if you are using an organised company) and Rs 1,329 (for individuals). Mount Everest is located inside the Sagarmatha National Park and trekkers need to get the required national park entry permit. More details on everestbasecamptrek.org
Price: A trip that includes permits, flights from Kathmandu to Lukla, accommodation, and meals starts at Rs 93,000. This doesn’t include travel insurance, visa fees, or trekking equipment.