Camping in the Himalayas- that is usually the biggest dream for most of us nature lovers. Famous for its stunning vistas and some beautifully vast landscapes – Himalayas has something for everyone. Whether you’re a first timer, or an experienced trekker – you will find your new nature home in the Himalayas. From the lower Shivaliks to the tough Ladakhi and Spiti valleys as well as the lush greens of the Uttarakhand hills and even further north east – there’s one thing common with the hills. And, that, of course, is us – the travelers wanting to experience and explore! With so many camping locales splattered around the hills, you can make the most of your journey by calling nature your home. Take your trusty tent, or rent out the entire equipment and head on out to the Himalayas to enjoy the region in the earnest.
To make the most of your camping adventures through the hills – here’s a handy list of all the tips and tricks.
Best time to Visit
In order to enjoy your camping adventures fully, I suggest you plan your travels in the summer months of June – September. But, of course, this totally depends on the experience you are seeking. If you are more of a thrill-seeker and want to enjoy the lushness of the monsoons – then your plans may change a bit to indulge in your requirements. Of course, goes without saying – it is imperative to not bite more than you can chew – for a bad experience in the winter chilly months for a novice trekker might put them off from trekking altogether. Let’s be responsible and reasonable with our limitations.
Tips and Tricks
Okay, so there’s a million things you might want to do to make the trip go as smooth as possible. However, the charm of camping lies in never having full control over anything. And, realizing that there is a bigger force at work than anything you might control is 90% of the fun. So, rejoice, plan as much as you can, and, yet, take everything in stride and enjoy the moment.
Before the Trip Begins
Before you head out the door, here is an easy one – you must check your gear and your appliances before you beginning the journey. So for example, it is intelligent to check your stove, if you are planning on carrying one. If it’s a new stove, try it out at home. It will help you plan in terms of how much fuel it consumes and what all you need to carry to ensure your journey is smooth and your stomach is fed! Also, do remember that the higher you go, the longer it takes for water to come to a boil and therefore, the greater will be the fuel consumption.
Pack your backpack intelligently so that the weight is balanced vertically with heavier items on top. Pack heavy things towards the inner side of the backpack, closer to your body, so that the weight does not pull it outwards.
Keep sandals and other important items in easy to reach outer pockets. Ensure you have enough clean clothes and clothes that dry quickly.
If you are a novice camper, trying your hand at The Great Outdoors, and do not yet possess camping equipment – fret not! You have suddenly made your life quite simple. When you’re choosing your destination – just ensure you sign up with an agency that provides you with all the gear. At many locations splattered across the Himalayas, there are some basic campsites available along with some fairly “lavish” ones as well. Just ensure that you pay attention to a few things – including water availability and location – otherwise the nights can be tough to get through.
Alternatively, if you have your own camping gear; do proper research on where all you can set up your tents. Of course, this will come in handy and help you avoid any kind of trouble.
Bring a Proper Sleeping Bag
Now, that we have spoken about tents – let’s spend some time discussing your sleeping bag. The temperatures in most hilly areas and valleys – no matter what time of the year you visit – will be cold. Nights are especially freezing, especially if you’re sleeping in the open. In terms of your gear, the single most important thing becomes your sleeping bag. Ensure that the sleeping bag is able to handle at the very least -10 degrees Celsius. Otherwise, you won’t be able to stay warm and your experience can be potentially ruined. Add to the cold the inability to get proper oxygen for your lungs. Trust me, you don’t want to be cold, period.
There is a lot of awareness you’ll need during your camping itself. Self-awareness, awareness of your surroundings and the weather in general is imperative.
Pitching of a tent and Weather considerations
It is always intelligent to pick campsites that are at least covered from one end. If you pitch your tent in a huge field, you will have no idea how hard the wind can blow. Also, it is intelligent to not pitch your tent at the edge of a cliff etc. Basically, when in doubt you should rely on your common sense and judgement.
It is, therefore, intelligent that when you’re pitching a tent, try and find a well-drained area, not likely to get waterlogged in case of a sudden downpour. Weather changes quickly in the hills and you want to ensure you’re as protected from extremities as possible. You can even dig a two- to three-inch drain around the tent with one end leading off a foot or two, preferably on a decline, if you can sense the weather turning bad.
If you do find yourself in a thunderstorm/hailstorm/snowstorm – simply find shelter. It can be anything such as an overhang of the mountain, a small cave, a large rock or tree. The basic premise is to stay dry and more importantly in the hills – to stay warm!
Weather wise, it is wise to carry a sheet of plastic in areas likely to be wet. Just make sure it is big enough to cover your backpack as well!
Taking care of yourself while camping
The best way to enjoy yourself is by being in tune to your inner dialogue.
One of the key things to take care of is your personal hygiene. Even if the weather is quite cold – it is wise to still cleanse off after your days’ activities. Do what I do, you may take a mug of warm water, a hand towel and some soap, and zip yourself in to the tent. You can easily sponge yourself thoroughly, taking off any dirt from the day’s hard work! Remember to show your hair some love and brush out dust from your hair. Immediately afterwards, just change into your night clothes and get all cozy for the night! Trust me, the entire day’s tiredness will leave you and you will feel so refreshed. Best Feels Ever!
Mentally, you’ll need to be prepared for the toll camping can take on your body. It is a lot of hard work and you will be doing a lot all throughout the day. When you do earn the rest – trust me, it is just stunningly beautiful! There is something extra special about the pain in your legs from climbing hills all day. But, you will reach breaking points, many a times. You might feel like you’ve bitten more than you can chew. And trust me – this is completely normal! Just push through the feeling. Take a day of rest, if needed. Carry lesser weight, for the day. Take more breaks throughout – it is okay to listen to your body!
Do keep plenty of water for your requirements for the duration. Water from nearby streams can’t be your only option – they might be frozen at times! Warming up water takes time and effort and if you’re thirty during the night – it will be a Herculeses’ effort. As an added tip, you can keep your bottles within the camp under sheets; so that the water remains moderately warm to drink.
Miscellaneous Camping Reminders
- Do ensure you keep a few buffer days when you’re venturing out into the wild. Trust me when I tell you this (have I said it before already?) things will not go according to your exact specific planning. Thus, you must prepare and keep enough window to not be stressed when you might need extra time to get back to your base.
- Let someone know your exact itinerary and make phone calls to loved ones right before you lose your phone connectivity. Yes, it is an adventure for you and you will have the best time of your life. But, that doesn’t mean that you should stress out your family members/loved ones by vanishing off the grid. Keep them posted on when you’ll call them next and also share coordinates with them prior.
- Don’t be afraid to explore nearby regions to your campsite. Take trails and enjoy the Great Outdoors – there is so much to see and understand when you’re following the rhythm of nature. Just keep the pace that might not be your usual style. Also, remember the routes to come back to your “home” that night. When you’re out exploring, ensure you carry drinking water and some snacks – depending on the duration of your venture.
Camping in the Himalayas is an adventure most of us dream of! If you plan properly and yet have enough flexibility – you will have the time of your life. You have to experience it on your own to understand the magic. However, some precautions and preparedness is necessary in one of the harshest climates and terrains.