Eight things you should never pack

In our trade “Travel light” is the buzzword. And it is what practically governs our discussion and rules our minds. Our quest is to make travelling as cumbersome less as possible to our guests by suggesting Basic, Necessary and Light checklist of things to bring when travelling to our neck of woods.

   Given to the human nature generally we tend to overload with article of things that is not necessary which more often than not can pose a serious threat to the overall enjoyment of the trip, when the journey become more arduous resulting in ramification that can be felt in visiting even most amazing  destination .

   With time, certain degree of changes is inevitable, to accommodate these changes in regards to check lists of things to bring has taken center stage in our course of routine lately. Whilst in pursuit of streamlining the checklist into Basic, Necessary and light we came across an articles posted on Lonely Planet that caught our imagination as well as our interest.

Here it goes

We’ve all seen these people and, inevitably, at some point we’ve actually been these people. The urge to over-pack is a phenomenon most people experience in their early travel years and eventually outgrow. But some never quite make the connection between over-packing and the resulting inconvenience and misery it creates for them – and sometimes fellow travelers.

Thus, I present my totally non-debatable, tough-love list of things that, unless you’re moving to Papua New Guinea for more than a year, you should never pack.

More than one suitcase

suitcaseIf there is one thing on this list that can be easily avoided, it’s bringing two suitcases. I’ve known seasoned travelers on short trips that routinely travel with two giant, rolling suitcases, big and heavy enough to be holding actual kitchen sinks. What are people putting in those things that they can’t live without for two weeks? Madness. The unforgivable part is when this packing indulgence affects others, like all the innocent shins bashed while dragging the double-wide bags through airports and train stations or the already exhausted fellow travelers that succumb to the social pressure to help the guilty parties heave those things off luggage carousels. Any bag (never mind two) that a perfectly healthy adult can’t lift on to a bus without assistance should be emptied and repacked.

Guitars

GuitarFull disclosure: the hostel guitar guys are my nemeses. You know the guys. They brought their guitars on their three-month backpacking trip because ‘I can’t live without my music, man.’ Then they station themselves in the centre of the hostel each evening and force their hobby on unwilling bystanders. Piano, tuba and bagpipe players are miraculously able to get through a trip without their instruments, not to mention every other person on the planet with a hobby, so why are guitar guys uniquely unable to travel without their instruments for a few weeks or months? Also, those damn things take up critical space on buses and trains. I don’t care if you’re the reincarnation of Jimi Hendrix, leave your guitar at home.

Full-sized pillows

pillowWould you bring a full-sized mirror or a full-sized frying pan? Of course not. I’m not totally unsympathetic to pillow people. Being a light sleeper, I know the singular frustration of sleeping – read, failing to sleep – on planes better than most. After years of scepticism and mild mocking, I admitted my folly and bought an inflatable neck pillow and it changed my life. Take advantage of modern innovation or use an airplane pillow.

Hairdryers/curling irons

hairdryerUnless you’re heading to Cannes to screen the film that you wrote, directed and starred in, travel and glamour do not belong together. If having perfect hair is that important, you probably aren’t cut out for travel. Moreover, if you’re staying in a hotel, there will almost certainly be a hairdryer hanging on the bathroom wall anyway. Same goes for shampoo, conditioner, soap and all the other grooming/styling goop. Your skin will not disintegrate in only a couple days if you leave the fancypants stuff at home and your sex appeal (probably) won’t be affected by the temporary absence of hair fixer.

Pets

petThe only reasons to bring a pet on an airplane is if you’re never returning home or if one genuinely needs a service dog. That’s it. Bringing a dog on a short trip, or travelling with a cat for any reason, is just plain cruel. They become anxious and scared. And you may be risking their lives. Even the mellowest, best trained service dogs have their travel limitations, as we learned in May when a dog on a delayed Los Angeles-Philadelphia flight decided he’d forestalled nature’s call long enough and unloaded so much poop into the aisle that the flight had to be diverted to Kansas City. Leave your pets in their happy places!

More than two pair of shoes

shoesI’ll let this stretch to three pair of shoes if you’re going to a wedding or accepting a lifetime achievement award or some such. Otherwise, limit it to casual shoes and dress shoes. Or dress shoes and sandals. Notice I didn’t say high heels.

Children

childplaneDon’t shoot the messenger, please. When I posted a call for suggestions on social media for items to include on this list, ‘children’ was the number one apparently serious reply. But if you must bring your spawn, please, for the love of Buddha, leave the noisy toys at home, namely video games without headsets. Even a short flight with that racket will drive fellow passengers bonkers.

Over-sized souvenirs

oversized souvinerJust because you’re heading home doesn’t excuse you from packing like an idiot. Nothing unnecessarily complicates travel like rainsticks, hammocks, rice paddy hats, didgeridoos, bamboo art or the giant walking stick you found while hiking in Costa Rica. Even if there was enough space in the overhead bins for such nonsense, those things will likely get damaged during take-off or landing anyway. Instead of bringing that stuff home, take a picture. It’ll last longer.

Leave these things at home, the lightning round:

  • A carry-on bag that you literally can’t carry. With the exception of people who are prohibitively old or sick, any bag you can’t easily lift above your head should be checked.
  • Coffee/coffee maker: cowboy up and drink the local coffee for a week. You’ll live.
  • Blender: this green smoothies fad is officially out of control.
  • Snorkelling gear: unless you have a prescription mask, rent gear at the destination.
  • Full-sized umbrella: who are you, Mary Poppins?
  • Audio speakers: so you can force your musical tastes on other people in the hostel/hotel? Don’t be a jerk. Also, those huge headphones are just begging to be mocked.
  • Fanny packs: have some self-respect. . Also, trust me when I tell you that you don’t want to say ‘fanny’ around anyone from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa.

    Courtesy Lonely Planet by Leif Pettersen.

September 24th, 2014

Haa & Juniper Ridge trek.

Wild Flowers that adorn the trail that abound.

Wild Flowers adorn the trail that abound.

Haa and Juniper Ridge trek.

In many words, we did a fair bit of writing about our new product Haa and Juniper Ridge Trek before. To some, it may appear as a marketing gimmick with the way we put the things about this trek in perspective. However, our first taker of the trek Scott Jeong, a young gentleman from Canada has an idea and feed backs that aligned with our faith and belief for this trek as well reiterated that we are in same page in term of add-on value of this trek.

Scott Jeong ( The first among equal for this Trek)

Scott Jeong ( The first among equal for this Trek)

To give life to this trek  was a collective efforts and largely by our Research and Development team, who were burning their midnight oil since last one year. This was well researched, surveyed, fairly well documented and significantly based on guests’ needs and liking over the period of time via inquiry on our email.

The one most common aspect in inquiry that we come across is guest’s suggestions for the trek that has very less crowd and litter free. In the same vein, this trek specifically meets the demands half way   and furthermore it’s captivating quaint tranquil charms hold on to guests’ imagination as well as its surrounding’s flora and fauna come in nature’s natural form. These were the reasons that we felt that this trek should be a runaway hits the moment we launched this product.

The first trek commenced from 11 Aug to 22 Aug, 2014. With every first trek, there is naturally an element of apprehension about the way the trek would pan out. As it was in August, and in western part of Bhutan, it is expected monsoon to be on decline or at its lowest. This year around we experience a complete departure from normal course of monsoon. There was a bit unusual weather pattern. The late monsoon kept us in tenterhook and it certainly didn’t help with our apprehension also and at one point we were feeling jittery and tentative like a cat on hot tin roof. Practically we were in parley with Guide over phone to take stock of situation if they encounter any glitches midst.

All the apprehension and jitteriness were laid to rest once we have conversion with Scot Jeong in Paro, the last leg of his tour. He was over the moon with the way the trek unfolded and the experiences he gathered was simply priceless, he said. I must add on that we very much appreciated his gesture to take in his stride in sporting manner the minor glitches that the weather threw in, and he could fairly understand that the culprit was the nature than us.

At the start of trek with Scott at middle flanked by Yonten (Guide) at right and Driver Tshering at left

At the start of trek with Scott at middle flanked by Yonten (Guide) at right and Driver Tshering at left

This is what he has to say an excerpt from his feed backs and insight “A pleasant surprise was when I found out that Wind Horse Travel had arranged a five-star hotel accommodation for me in Punakha- the stay was really nice and I very much appreciated the extra consideration that Ugen and Jambay have given for my special Bhutan trip. Also, I really enjoyed my stay at the Gayul Guest House, where I got to make friends with the host Lhapsel and his cute niece Karmaniya. Lhapsel even made momos for me after he found out that momos are one of my favorite foods. What a beautiful place it was, I really wish I can visit it again in future.

Then came the trekking experience, which was the highlight of my trip. I met the A-team trekking crew, which was made up of the best members that I could have ever wished for. Wangda the cook made food that was tastier than any of the hotels that I visited in Bhutan; the assistance cook Dorji took care of all uneasy jobs throughout the travel; and the horseman Wangdi was unforgettable for his charisma and skills in controlling the horses, and for his comforting presence throughout the trip. Then there was Yonten, who guided and supported me throughout the whole trekking experience, and this was also the time that I got to meet the other members of Wind Horse Travel, the two Pemas and Sonam.

Scott at Archaic wooden cantilever Bridge with imposing Paro Dzong at Backdrop

Scott at Archaic wooden cantilever Bridge with imposing Paro Dzong at Backdrop

Begun with climbing a small monastery located in the middle of the Haa valley mountains, my heart was pumping with each step I took forward. As difficult as the trail proved to be, my spirit was being cleansed with fresh air and immaculate scenery surrounding me. The first day of trekking was very challenging and by the end of it I even felt that I was experiencing some mild altitude sickness. However, it was all good after having some nice warm milk tea followed by delicious dinner at a military soldier’s lodge in the middle of mountains. The warm fire pit we had in the room was definitely a bonus.

Then came the second day, when the other Wind Horse Travel guides joined the group at the top of the Chelula path. The day turned challenging when the weather started to rain. We climbed through the jungle following Wangda the cook who led the way with machete in his hand. At times we had to jump from rocks, and at some point on this day I stopped caring about my socks and shoes getting soaked in the rain. It was a wild experience. However, with the bigger group came greater fun at the camp site, especially with some Ara that Sonam and Yonten had brought for me to the trip.

The third day of trekking was good and we were all lucky to see sunlight for the most part of the day. The hike was moderate compared to the two previous days, until we reached the camp site where a cow farmer had already occupied the space. We decided to continue on to do the 4th day’s hike, which turned the day into another challenging journey. After 9 hrs of total hiking, we arrived at the airplane signal transmitting site, where the two residents greeted us and provided shelter. We had our last supper together and enjoyed the rest of the night (except Yonten, who got a moth trapped in his ear during the night).

View of prayer flags with playful floating clouds at the distance through Scott lens.

View of prayer flags with playful floating clouds at the distance through Scott lens.

The fact that I was the first taker ever on the Haa Valley-Juniper trek was definitely very special for me. Although some of the paths were hard to spot due to heavy fogs, the trekking crew really ensured the safety and wellness of me. Yes, the trekking was physically challenging, especially for the first two days of the hike; and yes, the rain made the trail very muddy which created difficult challenges at times. However, the fact that I was able to really see the untouched nature was priceless, and the fact that there was no sign of pollution – like garbage on the trail – was also a huge bonus for me. I would say that any moderately fit person in between 15 and 45 years of age can handle the trail no problem, although the speed may have to vary depending on each person’s physical conditions. One suggestion I have is to confirm the usability of the camp site ahead of the time, to avoid any unexpectedness like the one I experienced. It was not a big deal for me, but the 9 hrs of hike did feel quite tiring especially near the end of it. I need to highlight again that the trekking crew that accompanied me was truly a gem, and I truly appreciate all the excellent and hard work that they did for me.

Last destination of the trip was Paro, and it definitely topped my expectations at an entirely different level. Hanging out with my new friends from trekking trip – Pema, Sonam in addition to Yonten and Tshering – was the main aspect that made the Paro experience extra special. I played Bhutanese darts and hung out with them in Pema’s restaurant and at his place, which are activities that I will always miss here in Canada. Oh and Yonten and I climbed the Tiger’s Nest in 64 minutes and 66 minutes, respectively, which is a new record set to be challenged by future Wind Horse Travel guides and guests”. 

The itinerary undertaken by Scott Jeong below. Though it was slightly customized in order to accommodate cultural sightseeing attractions. Moreover few day of cultural tour in prior provide ample time for acclimatization  as well.

Day 1. Arrive in Paro and drive to Thimphu.

Day 2  Thimphu – Punakha

Day 3  Punakha-Thimphu

Day 4. In Thimphu 

Day 5. Thimphu-Haa

Day 6  Trek to Gungkabu

Day 7.Trek to Pangkala

Day 8 Trek to Tsendula

Day 9 Tsendula  –  Dawakha – Paro

Day 10  In Paro (B/L/D)

Day 11 In Paro (Taktshang hike)

Day 12  Departure (B)

 

The Juniper Ridge that overlooks the majestic Haa Valley below (On Trek)

The Juniper Ridge that overlooks the majestic Haa Valley below (On Trek)

 

September 17th, 2014

Check List for Clothing & Equipment for Sikkim Trek

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Trekking in Sikkim

Trekking in Sikkim is very different from trekking in any other part of the Indian Himalayas. The mountains, the trails, the people and the culture is in such sharp contrast to the rest of the country that for any trekker the Goechala trail is a must-do.

The Goechala trek in Sikkim is also one of the most romantic trails the Indian Himalayas has to offer — the enchanting walk through the Tshoka Rhododendron forests, the vast Dzongri and Thansing meadows, the startling blue waters of Samiti lake, the looming presence of Kanchenjunga and Pandim, the icy trail to Goechala make lots about the trek very romantic.

Typical trekking day in Sikkim

On a typical trek in Sikkim, you are provided a bed tea/ Coffee (Nescafe). Then you are provided with a bowl of warm water to wash and brush. Breakfast is served in your dinning tent. After breakfast, crews take down the tents, clean the campsite, pack the bags/boxes and begin loading the animals, at which time you and your guide set-off on the trail. During the day, for most part of the time, you walk at your own pace and stop to take pictures or admire landscapes. All you carry is a personal backpack with only a water bottle, camera and jacket and accessories you need during the day. Around noon, hot lunch or packed picnic lunch with tea, coffee and juice is served.

Checklist for Clothing & Equipment/Gears for Trek in Sikkim

“Travel light” is the phrase which we often hear in our trade. This expression hold water as it’s the bare essence of travelling. However, there are many aspects to consider when we prepare for trekking. One singular most important consideration that dictates our welfare is how to be suitably equipped to combat with elements of nature that we may come across like inclement weather and rugged and unforgiving terrains whilst on trek.

Though our intent is to provide check list with appropriate information however we ask you to examine and exercise discretion in most resilience manner based on your own outdoor experience and preference.
As mentioned, the art lies in maintaining finer balance between taking not too much or too little, especially considering that you need to equip yourself for all extremes of climate

                                                                              Basic, Necessary & Light 

HEAD Gears (Trekking Hat)

Trekking hatOn a clear, sunny day, the sun burnt will be an issue, at altitude, the sun rays are particularly strong. Bring  a hat that shade your head, face and neck from the sun and also consider using Arab type scrap for further protection.You should bring a plentiful supply of sunscreen cream – a couple of large tubes of factor 6-10 (depending on your skin sensitivity).

Warm CapWarm Hat

To combat with cold particular during early morning. A comfortable, warm hat such as  one made from Polar Fleece or wool that covers your ears is recommended

Sun Glasses

sunglasses for trekAt altitude, the sun’s rays are particularly strong, and sunglasses with 100% ultraviolet and infrared filtration are recommended, . These glasses are available with detachable leather or plastic side pieces, which give increased protection. Make sure they are dark enough to keep your eyes comfortable on the brightest day.

Headlamp

Head Lamp for trekBring a good headlamp for this trek.  It should be bright enough to use on the trail if we have a day that is longer than usual, an early start for a pass or climb,  or for reading in your tent.L.E.D. headlamps are sufficient. Make sure you bring at least 2 extra bulbs and extra batteries.

 

Hand Gears

warm glovesWarm Glove Liner with waterproof outer shell

At times it can get cold and windy. You should bring 2 pair of properly-fitted Wind Shields fleece glove liners and a pair of warm gloves with a waterproof outer shell to protect you from wind,

 

Feet Gears

Liner socksLiner Socks (2 Pairs)-

If you prefer to wear two pair of socks your inner liner socks Liner  ( – A thin wicking sock that repels moisture. Liner socks help to reduce the likelihood of blisters. The socks should be thin wool, nylon. NO COTTON.

Hiking Socks 1Hiking Socks ( 3 pairs) – You should bring a thick woolen sock to use as an extra layer over the liner sock or some may prefer to wear just the hiking sock, in such case ensure it’s thick mainly natural fibers and of loop stitch construction for maximum warmth and comfort.

Hiking BootHiking Boot -This is one of the most important considerations, as blisters and sore feet will spoil your trek. We recommend that you take a pair of light to mid weight trekking boots, well broken -in, provide good ankle support and suitable for walking over rough terrain and comfortable over long distances. Good quality fabric boots are recommended. 

GaitGaiterersGaiters are an important piece of equipment, which will help to keep your feet warm and dry in wet condition. The simple “alpine” style of gaiter which hooks onto the bootlaces and is held under the instep by a strap or lace is fine for most trekking applications.

Upper Body Gear

Mid – Weighmid weight top for trekt Top-

A mid to heavier weight thermal layer. Fitted, light-weight and quick drying. As we recommend to adopt the principle of “layering” this light to mid weight top can be used as base layer.

Warm Jacwarm fleece jacketket -

As it can get cold during morning and night specifically at camp. You should incorporate  a Polar guard or fleece jacket. This can be a very warm fleece or Polar guard jacket. Full zip is recommended.

Shell JacketsShell Jacket -

As its highly unlikely for the rain during the trek or over the period of time but unpredictability of weather in Himalayas are renowned. To be equipped for any rain whilst on trek the shell jacket is advised. Shell garments made from breathable fabrics (GoreTex or equivalent) are recommended.

Ddown jacketown Jacket -

This is certainly not optional for this trek. This is what will keep you warm at higher region and at night.

 

Leg Gear

light or mid weight trekking pantLight or mid-weight (2 pair) –

A light or mid weight thermal bottom base-layer that will get you through a wide range of temperatures.

warm pants for trekWarm pants –

A pair of comfortable fleece or similar material warm pants are great for colder places and  camping at night.

 

shell pantShell Pant- As its highly unlikely for the rain during the trek or over the period of time but unpredictability of weather in Himalayas are renowned. To be equipped for any rain whilst on trek and also from the cold wind the shell jacket is advised. Shell garments made from breathable fabrics (GoreTex or equivalent) are recommended.

 

Gears

Day pacday pack for trekks A 2500 cubic inch pack should be large enough to carry the following items on trek. a) shell jacket and pants. b) fleece jacket, pants, extra pair of socks etc) Two water bottles, with at least 2 quart total capacity. d) camera plus accessories, binoculars, etc. e) first aid kit. You should test-pack your day pack before leaving home.

duffle-bag for trekDuffel Bags (2 nos) -  You’ll need one large duffle bag to hold everything you do not put in your day pack, including your sleeping bag and mattress, while on trek. This bag should be durable, as it will be carried by porters and/or pack animals. A second smaller bag can be used to store items not used on trek at the group hotel.

Sleeping BagSleeping Bag – You will need a 4-season sleeping bag rated to at least zero degrees. A full-length side zip is essential to facilitate ventilation on warmer nights. A cotton or fleece liner adds to the warmth and comfort of a bag and prevents it from becoming excessively soiled.

sleepng mattressSleeping Mattress - A mattress is needed primarily to insulate you from the cold ground, and you should take a quality closed-cell foam mat .On all camping treks, we provide light trekking mattresses. However, if you care for extra comfort and have a sensitive back, bring a self-inflatable trek mat.

walkng polesTrekking Poles – Trekking poles can be good if you need extra support for your knees and/or ankles. Must be collapsible poles. Make sure that they are durable, lightweight + easily adjustable.

Accessories  & Miscellaneous :

  • Travel Wallet Pouch (waist or neck)
  • Locks  For Duffle Bags
  • Leather man / Swiss Army Knife 
  • Water Purification  Tablets (iodine or equivalent)
  • Underwear –  (men- polypro boxers or briefs / women- poly-pro sports bras, cotton or polypro briefs are fine) 3 rotating pairs. As with socks and shirts, you’ll be wearing one, one will be drying from washing and one will be clean and packed.
  • Sunscreen: SPF 30 (or higher) LOTS
  • Lip Balm with SPF 15 (or higher)
  • Insect  Repellent
  • Personal  First Aid Kits (Band-aids, Ibuprofen, Cough Drops, Moleskin, Pepto-bismol, Immodium, Diamox Personal Medications)
  • Toilteries – Toothbrush,Toothpaste, Bio-degradable Soap/Shampoo Quick Dry Towel, Moisturizer, Purel Hand Sanitizer,
  • Antiseptic Hand Towelette, Toilet Paper (a small emergency stash)]
  • Water Bottles – Two liter capacity
  • Snack food – (trail mix, protein bars, GU, candy, powdered drink mixes – don’t bring a whole suitcase, but bring a variety of things you know you can eat while in the mountains to supplement your diet.)
  • Power Adapter for electrical gadgets (round pin socket- 220v)
  • Reading Glasses or contact lenses
  • Photography equipment with extra films, extra memory cards and an extra battery
  • Clothing & Gears : as per the list detailed
  • Sleeping Bags Liner: Sleeping bag Inner liner made of fleece or cotton is highly recommended that can be easily washed and dried while in the trek. Most importantly it provides additional warmth, if the temperature should drop and keeps the sleeping bag clean.
  • Pillow: Small blow pillow is provided. However you may consider bringing your own comfortable small trek pillow.
  • Optional: Ipod, Ipad, ear plugs, books, journals, a deck of cards, binoculars, whistle for safety, phone (multi band phone, you can buy local sim-cards and get free incoming calls)

Weight allowance for trekking in Sikkim
Please try to keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum. Choose items of clothing that can be used in multiple situations. At the start of the trek, you will be carrying your day pack loaded with just the items you will need during the day of hiking.Your packed trek/duffle 
bag will be carried by pack animals (ponies or potter) and should weigh no more than 33 pounds.

Note on Personal Clothing

Clothing –  Your clothing needs to be adaptable to suit a wide range of conditions, including extremes of weather and varying levels of physical activity. We recommend to adopt the principle of “layering” which involves the use of several thin layers of thermally efficient clothing, which can be worn in a number of combinations, according to the prevailing circumstances. Where it is warm enough you can trek in either shorts or lightweight trekking trousers (natural fibers) (a long skirt is an option for the ladies) and a long sleeve cotton shirt or T-shirt. For colder conditions, you can add layers of thermal clothing. And that the clothes you bring wash well in cold water and dry quickly.

Trip Expectations

Sikkim, long sequestered in the lap of the Himalayas, sandwiched between Nepal Bhutan and Tibet lies a small stretch of rugged land just 40 miles by 70 miles, the erstwhile Kingdom of Sikkim – now a state of India. Sikkim provides a wide potential in tourism that has yet largely remained unexploited. The perennially snow-capped mountains, lush green tropical and temperate forests, gurgling streams and the rich flora and fauna – a true Shangri-La or “Nye-mae-el” which simply means ‘heaven’.

Hotels: Accommodations in Sikkim and Darjeeling are fairly updated, if not, they tend to be upkeep of old heritage ones. Accommodation standards do not detract from the beauty of the country and, if taken in the right spirit, will not detract from what is essentially a privileged stay in these fascinating areas. Furthermore, around the time of the festivals and events, there is much pressure on room availability and even confirmed bookings are subject to cancellation and changes because local authorities will demand rooms from the hotel for their guests. And one might find themselves in ‘second grade’ accommodation or in some cases, private houses.

For the camping on trek, we have trekking gear which are up to date and well furnished, consequently made it as comfortable as possible for you deserve to have  sound rest after the hard day trek

Food: Darjeeling and Gangtok have some choice for eating out. It is best to stick to diets that are cooked well, instead of eating, raw or semi-cooked food to avoid any stomach problems. In Darjeeling and Sikkim, one typically tends to eat in the hotel where they stay, especially if your package includes meals.

Food on Trek. During the trek our cook will serve you well with local food and also our cook and staffs are well trained in European, Chinese and Continental style of food, so we know well what to serve you during the trek. We will also ask you for your like and special need and will try all our best to arrange it if it within our reach.

The major thing to watch is water. Be sure to drink bottled water at all times. Even if the water is good where you are, you are not accustomed to the local microbes. Remember to stay well hydrated. It is very important in high altitude situations to drink at least 4 quarts of liquid a day, excluding tea. Always carry a bottle of purified water with you while touring or driving.

Important Notes on Itinerary

Although we will do our very best to adhere to the itinerary and its schedule, this itinerary should be considered an approximate indication of the schedule and scope of activities, and trip routing. It is likely that there will be changes in terms of anything from the exact hotel used to the villages we may stop in for the night.

There are a few key points to remember while traveling through  Sikkim and Darjeeling

Even though we do our very best, it is important to acknowledge that some things are simply out of our control: weather, people and their concepts and culture.  Hills people by nature are very laid back and take opportunities as they come and very rarely take the “bull by the horns”. In Sikkim and Darjeeling, you simply have to hang loose, be open-minded, and allow the culture and experience to enhance your life.

The best way to look at a trip is with an open mind. This is not to say that you should not expect good service. However, it does mean that you should be flexible and let things happen.

John Steinbeck says it well: “We do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”

I hope this helps you keep in perspective the reason you visit the Himalayas is not really for the comfort and sophistication, but for its culture, nature and its people.

Tipping

Tipping is not included on your trip. Tipping is optional, and at times expected in travel trade. Obviously there is no limit to how much you can tip and some guests who enjoy and appreciate the services of Guides, driver and other crew will and have tipped much more than our average tipping guideline of about $10-15 per day.

Checklist Guide 

These are last minute checklists of some important things that you must bring along on this trip.For your trip, you must have:

  • Valid passport (valid for six months after your date of entry into Asia) Optional: One other picture ID, such as driver’s license is useful (in case of emergency and for use as a substitute of passport or in case of loss of your passport) Photocopy of passport page to carry in wallet). Also bring along with you few extra copies of a passport size photos (color or black& white). This may be required to provide at the check-points, when filling up forms.
  • Visa: You must have Indian Visa prior to arrival or departure from your country. Visa on Arrival (India) is proposed from October, 2014 as per government notification. Sikkim permit are arranged at the border of Sikkim State without fees. They may ask you submit 2PP size photos each. IMPORTANT UPDATE: When you arrive in India for the first time, you should ask the immigration officer to give you a waiver to re-inter India twice or thrice as the case may be; India visa recently changed the rules that one may not re-enter India again within 60days of the first visit
  • Bring extra passport size photos , as per the recent Govt notification, its mandatory to submit the PP size photos at each hotel along with Passport detail through out the tours at different hotels.
  • Air tickets (Make copies of flight tickets and carry with you) you should bring the copy of your E-tickets and also bring copies of all other E-tickets along with you.
  • Money (some cash and some in Traveler’s checks) Credit cards are accepted in high-end restaurants, shops and hotels in most major town in Sikkim and Darjeeling but not in smaller establishments. Some of the shops may even charge fees to use credit cards.
  • Travel & Medical Insurance (recommended). Bring the copy of your policy if you have purchased it.

Baggage allowance on flights

In India is usually 15 Kilos to check-in and one carry-on about 5 kilograms. Some airlines or airports apply these rules strictly and so they may charge you extra for excess weight of luggage. For details please visit the link  http://faq.windhorsetours.com/questions/question/what-is-the-baggage-limit-for-domestic-flights

Travel Resources /References

Following are very useful websites when planning or preparing for your trip.

US State Department Travel Advisories www.travel.state.gov

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade www.smartraveller.gov.au

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA U.S.A http://www.cdc.gov/travel

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (British government official travel advice and warnings for all countries)http://www.fco.gov.uk

Official travel advice of New Zealand government http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

Canadian government’s official travel advice http://www.voyage.gc.ca

Trip Comments

When you return from your trip, please share with us your experience. Any photos, suggestions will be appreciated. Although we try our best, Tourism is a trade, which cannot be perfect and there will always remain a room for improvement. Your comments (both criticism and compliments) are invaluable to us and we look forward to hearing from you, upon your return.

 

September 16th, 2014

Checklist for Clothing & Equipment/Gears for Sandakhphu Trek (Darjeeling)

 

 

Wind-1

Trekking in Darjeeling

Darjeeling internationally acclaimed as one of the best hill resorts is also a veritable paradise for trekkers and adventure seekers. Trekking in Darjeeling is an experience which no lover of nature should miss. It takes one to places where nature is yet in her primeval majesty. It brings one face to face with the sublime grandeur of the Himalayas.

The region abounds in rhododendrons, magnolias, primulas, orchids and ferns of numerous varieties. About six hundred different species of birds inhabit the emerald green forests on the slopes of the mountains.

Typical trekking day in Darjeeling

On a typical trek in Darjeeling, you are provided a bed tea/ Coffee (Nescafe). Then you are provided with a bowl of warm water to wash and brush. Breakfast is served in your dinning tent. After breakfast, crews take down the tents, clean the campsite, pack the bags/boxes and begin loading the animals, at which time you and your guide set-off on the trail. During the day, for most part of the time, you walk at your own pace and stop to take pictures or admire landscapes. All you carry is a personal backpack with only a water bottle, camera and jacket and accessories you need during the day. Around noon, hot lunch or packed picnic lunch with tea, coffee and juice is served.

Checklist for Clothing & Equipment/Gears for Sandapkhphu Trek (Darjeeling) 

“Travel light” is the phrase which we often hear in our trade. This expression hold water as it’s the bare essence of travelling. However, there are many aspects to consider when we prepare for trekking. One singular most important consideration that dictates our welfare is how to be suitably equipped to combat with elements of nature that we may come across like inclement weather and rugged and unforgiving terrains whilst on trek.

Though our intent is to provide check list with appropriate information however we ask you to examine and exercise discretion in most resilience manner based on your own outdoor experience and preference. 
As mentioned, the art lies in maintaining finer balance between taking not too much or too little, especially considering that you need to equip yourself for all extremes of climate

                                                                              Basic, Necessary & Light 

HEAD Gears (Trekking Hat)

Trekking hatOn a clear, sunny day, the sun burnt will be an issue, at altitude, the sun rays are particularly strong. Bring  a hat that shade your head, face and neck from the sun and also consider using Arab type scrap for further protection.You should bring a plentiful supply of sunscreen cream – a couple of large tubes of factor 6-10 (depending on your skin sensitivity).

Warm Hat

Warm CapTo combat with cold particular during early morning. A comfortable, warm hat such as  one made from Polar Fleece or wool that covers your ears is recommended 

Sun Glasses
sunglasses for trekAt altitude, the sun’s rays are particularly strong, and sunglasses with 100% ultraviolet and infrared filtration are recommended, . These glasses are available with detachable leather or plastic side pieces, which give increased protection. Make sure they are dark enough to keep your eyes comfortable on the brightest day.

Headlamp

Head Lamp for trekBring a good headlamp for this trek.  It should be bright enough to use on the trail if we have a day that is longer than usual, an early start for a pass or climb,  or for reading in your tent.L.E.D. headlamps are sufficient. Make sure you bring at least 2 extra bulbs and extra batteries. 

 

Hand Gears

warm glovesWarm Glove Liner with waterproof outer shell

At times it can get cold and windy. You should bring 2 pair of properly-fitted Wind Shields fleece glove liners and a pair of warm gloves with a waterproof outer shell to protect you from wind,

 

Feet Gears

Liner SLiner socksocks (2 Pairs)-

If you prefer to wear two pair of socks your inner liner socks Liner  ( – A thin wicking sock that repels moisture. Liner socks help to reduce the likelihood of blisters. The socks should be thin wool, nylon. NO COTTON. 

Hiking Socks 1Hiking Socks ( 3 pairs) – You should bring a thick woolen sock to use as an extra layer over the liner sock or some may prefer to wear just the hiking sock, in such case ensure it’s thick mainly natural fibers and of loop stitch construction for maximum warmth and comfort.  

Hiking BootHiking Boot -This is one of the most important considerations, as blisters and sore feet will spoil your trek. We recommend that you take a pair of light to mid weight trekking boots, well broken -in, provide good ankle support and suitable for walking over rough terrain and comfortable over long distances. Good quality fabric boots are recommended. 

GaiterGaiters: Gaiters are an important piece of equipment, which will help to keep your feet warm and dry in wet condition. The simple “alpine” style of gaiter which hooks onto the bootlaces and is held under the instep by a strap or lace is fine for most trekking applications. 

Upper Body Gear

mid weight top for trekMid – Weight Top-

A mid to heavier weight thermal layer. Fitted, light-weight and quick drying. As we recommend to adopt the principle of “layering” this light to mid weight top can be used as base layer.

warm fleece jacketWarm Jacket -

As it can get cold during morning and night specifically at camp. You should incorporate  a Polar guard or fleece jacket. This can be a very warm fleece or Polar guard jacket. Full zip is recommended.

Shell JacketsShell Jacket -

As its highly unlikely for the rain during the trek or over the period of time but unpredictability of weather in Himalayas are renowned. To be equipped for any rain whilst on trek the shell jacket is advised. Shell garments made from breathable fabrics (GoreTex or equivalent) are recommended.

Leg Gear

Shorts for TrekShorts -When the weather permits, it is okay to trek in shorts. A versatile item are the long pants that convert into shorts. These are lightweight, durable and usually made from a quick drying material. NO COTTON.

 

light or mid weight trekking pantLight or mid-weight (2 pair) 

A light or mid weight thermal bottom base-layer that will get you through a wide range of temperatures.

warm pants for trekWarm pants –

A pair of comfortable fleece or similar material warm pants are great for colder places and  camping at night.

 

shell pantShell Pant- As its highly unlikely for the rain during the trek or over the period of time but unpredictability of weather in Himalayas are renowned. To be equipped for any rain whilst on trek and also from the cold wind the shell jacket is advised. Shell garments made from breathable fabrics (GoreTex or equivalent) are recommended.

 

Gears

day pack for trekDay packs A 2500 cubic inch pack should be large enough to carry the following items on trek. a) shell jacket and pants. b) fleece jacket, pants, extra pair of socks etc) Two water bottles, with at least 2 quart total capacity. d) camera plus accessories, binoculars, etc. e) first aid kit. You should test-pack your day pack before leaving home.

duffle-bag for trekDuffel Bags (2 nos) –  You’ll need one large duffle bag to hold everything you do not put in your day pack, including your sleeping bag and mattress, while on trek. This bag should be durable, as it will be carried by porters and/or pack animals. A second smaller bag can be used to store items not used on trek at the group hotel.

Sleeping BagSleeping Bag – You will need a 4-season sleeping bag rated to at least zero degrees. A full-length side zip is essential to facilitate ventilation on warmer nights. A cotton or fleece liner adds to the warmth and comfort of a bag and prevents it from becoming excessively soiled.

sleepng mattressSleeping Mattress – A mattress is needed primarily to insulate you from the cold ground, and you should take a quality closed-cell foam mat .On all camping treks, we provide light trekking mattresses. However, if you care for extra comfort and have a sensitive back, bring a self-inflatable trek mat.

walkng polesTrekking Poles – Trekking poles can be good if you need extra support for your knees and/or ankles. Must be collapsible poles. Make sure that they are durable, lightweight + easily adjustable.

Accessories  & Miscellaneous :

  • Travel Wallet Pouch (waist or neck) 
  • Locks  For Duffle Bags
  • Leather man / Swiss Army Knife 
  • Water Purification  Tablets (iodine or equivalent) 
  • Underwear –  (men- polypro boxers or briefs / women- poly-pro sports bras, cotton or polypro briefs are fine) 3 rotating pairs. As with socks and shirts, you’ll be wearing one, one will be drying from washing and one will be clean and packed. 
  • Sunscreen: SPF 30 (or higher) LOTS 
  • Lip Balm with SPF 15 (or higher) 
  • Insect  Repellent
  • Personal  First Aid Kits (Band-aids, Ibuprofen, Cough Drops, Moleskin, Pepto-bismol, Immodium, Diamox Personal Medications) 
  • ToilteriesToothbrush,Toothpaste, Bio-degradable Soap/Shampoo Quick Dry Towel, Moisturizer, Purel Hand Sanitizer, 
  • Antiseptic Hand Towelette, Toilet Paper (a small emergency stash)] 
  • Water Bottles Two liter capacity 
  • Snack food(trail mix, protein bars, GU, candy, powdered drink mixes – don’t bring a whole suitcase, but bring a variety of things you know you can eat while in the mountains to supplement your diet.)
  • Power Adapter for electrical gadgets (round pin socket- 220v)
  • Reading Glasses or contact lenses
  • Photography equipment with extra films, extra memory cards and an extra battery
  • Clothing & Gears : as per the list detailed
  • Sleeping Bags Liner: Sleeping bag Inner liner made of fleece or cotton is highly recommended that can be easily washed and dried while in the trek. Most importantly it provides additional warmth, if the temperature should drop and keeps the sleeping bag clean.
  • Pillow: Small blow pillow is provided. However you may consider bringing your own comfortable small trek pillow.
  • Optional: Ipod, Ipad, ear plugs, books, journals, a deck of cards, binoculars, whistle for safety, phone (multi band phone, you can buy local sim-cards and get free incoming calls)

Weight allowance for trekking in Darjeeling.
Please try to keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum. Choose items of clothing that can be used in multiple situations. At the start of the trek, you will be carrying your day pack loaded with just the items you will need during the day of hiking. Your packed trek/duffle 
bag will be carried by pack animals (ponies or potter) and should weigh no more than 33 pounds.

Notes on Personal Clothing 

Clothing –  Your clothing needs to be adaptable to suit a wide range of conditions, including extremes of weather and varying levels of physical activity. We recommend to adopt the principle of “layering” which involves the use of several thin layers of thermally efficient clothing, which can be worn in a number of combinations, according to the prevailing circumstances. Where it is warm enough you can trek in either shorts or lightweight trekking trousers (natural fibers) (a long skirt is an option for the ladies) and a long sleeve cotton shirt or T-shirt. For colder conditions, you can add layers of thermal clothing. And that the clothes you bring wash well in cold water and dry quickly.

Trip Expectations

Darjeeling nestled among the rolling mountains in North East India, one of the beautiful district of West Bengal and one of the most famous hill station in the world, crowning with Mt Kanchenjunga over the azure sky, Darjeeling known as “Queen of the Hills”, covers an area of 3149 square km.at the altitude of Darjeeling town, a perfect gateway for those seeking to be in harmony with nature and the people. This is the land of flavored Darjeeling Tea revered by connoisseurs across the globe

Hotels: Accommodations in Sikkim and Darjeeling are fairly updated, if not, they tend to be upkeep of old heritage ones. Accommodation standards do not detract from the beauty of the country and, if taken in the right spirit, will not detract from what is essentially a privileged stay in these fascinating areas. Furthermore, around the time of the festivals and events, there is much pressure on room availability and even confirmed bookings are subject to cancellation and changes because local authorities will demand rooms from the hotel for their guests. And one might find themselves in ‘second grade’ accommodation or in some cases, private houses.

For the camping on trek, we have trekking gear which are up to date and well furnished, consequently made it as comfortable as possible for you deserve to have  sound rest after the hard day trek

Food: Darjeeling and Gangtok have some choice for eating out. It is best to stick to diets that are cooked well, instead of eating, raw or semi-cooked food to avoid any stomach problems. In Darjeeling and Sikkim, one typically tends to eat in the hotel where they stay, especially if your package includes meals.

Food on Trek. During the trek our cook will serve you well with local food and also our cook and staffs are well trained in European, Chinese and Continental style of food, so we know well what to serve you during the trek. We will also ask you for your like and special need and will try all our best to arrange it if it within our reach.

The major thing to watch is water. Be sure to drink bottled water at all times. Even if the water is good where you are, you are not accustomed to the local microbes. Remember to stay well hydrated. It is very important in high altitude situations to drink at least 4 quarts of liquid a day, excluding tea. Always carry a bottle of purified water with you while touring or driving.

Important Notes on Itinerary

Although we will do our very best to adhere to the itinerary and its schedule, this itinerary should be considered an approximate indication of the schedule and scope of activities, and trip routing. It is likely that there will be changes in terms of anything from the exact hotel used to the villages we may stop in for the night.  

There are a few key points to remember while traveling through Darjeeling & Sikkim

Even though we do our very best, it is important to acknowledge that some things are simply out of our control: weather, people and their concepts and culture.  Hills people by nature are very laid back and take opportunities as they come and very rarely take the “bull by the horns”. In Sikkim and Darjeeling, you simply have to hang loose, be open-minded, and allow the culture and experience to enhance your life.

The best way to look at a trip is with an open mind. This is not to say that you should not expect good service. However, it does mean that you should be flexible and let things happen. 

John Steinbeck says it well: “We do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”

I hope this helps you keep in perspective the reason you visit the Himalayas is not really for the comfort and sophistication, but for its culture, nature and its people.

Tipping

Tipping is not included on your trip. Tipping is optional, and at times expected in travel trade. Obviously there is no limit to how much you can tip and some guests who enjoy and appreciate the services of Guides, driver and other crew will and have tipped much more than our average tipping guideline of about $10-15 per day.

Checklist Guide 

These are last minute checklists of some important things that you must bring along on this trip.For your trip, you must have:

  • Valid passport (valid for six months after your date of entry into Asia) Optional: One other picture ID, such as driver’s license is useful (in case of emergency and for use as a substitute of passport or in case of loss of your passport) Photocopy of passport page to carry in wallet). Also bring along with you few extra copies of a passport size photos (color or black& white). This may be required to provide at the check-points, when filling up forms.
  • Visa: You must have Indian Visa prior to arrival or departure from your country. Visa on Arrival (India) is proposed from October, 2014 as per government notification. Sikkim permit are arranged at the border of Sikkim State without fees. They may ask you submit 2PP size photos each. IMPORTANT UPDATE: When you arrive in India for the first time, you should ask the immigration officer to give you a waiver to re-inter India twice or thrice as the case may be; India visa recently changed the rules that one may not re-enter India again within 60days of the first visit
  • Bring extra passport size photos , as per the recent Govt notification, its mandatory to submit the PP size photos at each hotel along with Passport detail through out the tours at different hotels.
  • Air tickets (Make copies of flight tickets and carry with you) you should bring the copy of your E-tickets and also bring copies of all other E-tickets along with you.
  • Money (some cash and some in Traveler’s checks) Credit cards are accepted in high-end restaurants, shops and hotels in most major town in Sikkim and Darjeeling but not in smaller establishments. Some of the shops may even charge fees to use credit cards.
  • Travel & Medical Insurance (recommended). Bring the copy of your policy if you have purchased it.

Baggage allowance on flights

In India is usually 15 Kilos to check-in and one carry-on about 5 kilograms. Some airlines or airports apply these rules strictly and so they may charge you extra for excess weight of luggage. For details please visit the link  http://faq.windhorsetours.com/questions/question/what-is-the-baggage-limit-for-domestic-flights

Travel Resources /References

Following are very useful websites when planning or preparing for your trip.

US State Department Travel Advisories www.travel.state.gov

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade www.smartraveller.gov.au

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA U.S.A http://www.cdc.gov/travel

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (British government official travel advice and warnings for all countries)http://www.fco.gov.uk

Official travel advice of New Zealand government http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

Canadian government’s official travel advice http://www.voyage.gc.ca

Trip Comments

When you return from your trip, please share with us your experience. Any photos, suggestions will be appreciated. Although we try our best, Tourism is a trade, which cannot be perfect and there will always remain a room for improvement. Your comments (both criticism and compliments) are invaluable to us and we look forward to hearing from you, upon your return.

September 15th, 2014

Check list for Clothing & Equipment/Gears for Snowman Trek (Bhutan)

Wind-1Snowman Trek (Bhutan)

Snowman Trek is among the top draw trek in the world. Undoubtedly, its rugged and unforgiving terrain, hostile climate and weather-beaten trail that traverse through Lunana, one of most remote region in the world, is a challenge in every sense. Generally, only seasoned trekker vied for this trek which dictate you to be the best in physical shape and also squeeze the best out of you. Trek as such, is the test of endurance, tenacity to persevere against the elements and also three weeks in complete wilderness, in the remotest region of the world can be a real challenge psychologically. One of guests, who is the seasoned trekker himself said “We are aware that the trek is extremely challenging but we believe that we have good chances to complete it. We summited several mountains, to name but a few Mont Blanc, Ama Dablam, Aconcagua, Denali, Elbrus, Island Peak and accomplished several treks in Nepal namely Everest Base Camp, Annapurna circuit, Langtang, but Snowman Trek was always our dream”. 

Typical trekking day in Bhutan

On a typical trek in Bhutan, you are provided a bed tea/ Coffee (Nescafe). Then you are provided with a bowl of warm water to wash and brush. Breakfast is served in your dinning tent. After breakfast, crews take down the tents, clean the campsite, pack the bags/boxes and begin loading the animals, at which time you and your guide set-off on the trail. During the day, for most part of the time, you walk at your own pace and stop to take pictures or admire landscapes. All you carry is a personal backpack with only a water bottle, camera and jacket and accessories you need during the day. Around noon, hot lunch or packed picnic lunch with tea, coffee and juice is served.

Checklist for Clothing & Equipment/Gears for Snowman Trek (Bhutan) 

“Travel light” is the phrase which we often hear in our trade. This expression hold water as it’s the bare essence of travelling. However, there are many aspects to consider when we prepare for trekking. One singular most important consideration that dictates our welfare is how to be suitably equipped to combat with elements of nature that we may come across like inclement weather and rugged and unforgiving terrains whilst on trek.

Though our intent is to provide check list with appropriate information however we ask you to examine and exercise discretion in most resilience manner based on your own outdoor experience and preference.
As mentioned, the art lies in maintaining finer balance between taking not too much or too little, especially considering that you need to equip yourself for all extremes of climate

                                                                              Basic, Necessary & Light 

HEAD Gears  (Trekking Hat)

Trekking hatOn a clear, sunny day, the sun burnt will be an issue, at altitude, the sun rays are particularly strong. Bring  a hat that shade your head, face and neck from the sun and also consider using Arab type scrap for further protection.You should bring a plentiful supply of sunscreen cream – a couple of large tubes of factor 6-10 (depending on your skin sensitivity).

Warm Hat

Warm CapOn this particular trek, you will cross many passes over 5000 m, which can be very cold. A comfortable, warm hat such as  one made from Polar Fleece or wool that covers your ears. Make sure that it fits well and, if applicable to your trip, can fit under a climbing helmet.

Sun Glasses
sunglasses for trekAt altitude, the sun’s rays are particularly strong, and sunglasses with 100% ultraviolet and infrared filtration are recommended. These glasses are available with detachable leather or plastic side pieces, which give increased protection, especially from reflected glare, and you should give serious consideration  to such ”glacier glasses” for Snowman trek with possibilities of walking or climbing on snow.Make sure they are dark enough to keep your eyes comfortable on the brightest day

Headlamp

Head Lamp for trekBring a good headlamp for this trek.  It should be bright enough to use on the trail if we have a day that is longer than usual, an early start for a pass or climb,  or for reading in your tent.L.E.D. headlamps are sufficient. Make sure you bring at least 2 extra bulbs and extra batteries. 

Hand Gears

warm glovesWarm Glove Liner with waterproof outer shell-

At higher passes it can get cold and windy. You should bring 2 pair of properly-fitted Wind Shields fleece glove liners and a pair of warm gloves with a waterproof outer shell to protect you from wind,

Feet Gears

Liner socksLiner Socks (2 Pairs)-

If you prefer to wear two pair of socks your inner liner socks Liner  ( – A thin wicking sock that repels moisture. Liner socks help to reduce the likelihood of blisters. The socks should be thin wool, nylon. NO COTTON. 

Hiking Socks 1Hiking Socks ( 3 pairs) – 

You should bring a thick woolen sock to use as an extra layer over the liner sock or some may prefer to wear just the hiking sock, in such case ensure it’s thick mainly natural fibers and of loop stitch construction for maximum warmth and comfort.  Thor-Lo is an example of a sock manufacturer, which markets a wide range of technically advanced trekking/walking socks.

Hiking Boot

Hiking Boot 

This is one of the most important considerations, as blisters and sore feet will spoil your trek. We recommend that you take a pair of light to mid weight trekking boots, well broken -in, provide good ankle support and suitable for walking over rough terrain and comfortable over long distances. Good quality fabric boots are recommended. 

GaiterGaiters: Gaiters are an important piece of equipment, which will help to keep your feet warm and dry in wet and snowy conditions. The simple “alpine” style of gaiter which hooks onto the bootlaces and is held under the instep by a strap or lace is fine for most trekking applications. These “alpine” gaiters are widely available.

Upper Body Gear

Mid – mid weight top for trekWeight Top-

A mid to heavier weight thermal layer. Fitted, light-weight and quick drying. As we recommend to adopt the principle of layering , this light to mid weight top can be used as base layer.

warm fleece jacketWarm Jacket -

As it can get cold at higher passes and during morning and night specifically at camp. You should incorporate  a Polar guard or fleece jacket. This can be a very warm fleece or Polar guard jacket. Full zip is recommended.

Shell JacketsShell Jacket -

As for Snowman trek specifically, it requires protection from the chill of the wind more often than protection from rain, especially at higher passes over 5000 m. Shell garments made from breathable fabrics (GoreTex or equivalent) are recommended.

Ddown jacketown Jacket

This is certainly not optional for Snowman trek. This is what will keep you warm at higher passes and at night.

 

Leg Gears

Light orlight or mid weight trekking pant mid-weight (2 pair)

A light or mid weight thermal bottom base-layer that will get you through a wide range of temperatures.

warm pants for trekWarm pants

A pair of comfortable fleece or similar material warm pants are great for higher passes and  camping at night.

 

shell pantShell Pant-

As for Snowman trek specifically, it requires protection from the chill of the wind more often than protection from rain, especially at higher passes over 5000 m. Shell garments made from breathable fabrics (GoreTex or equivalent) are recommended.

 

Gears

day pack for trekDay packs -A 2500 cubic inch pack should be large enough to carry the following items on trek. a) shell jacket and pants. b) fleece jacket, pants, extra pair of socks, gym shoes. c) Two water bottles, with at least 2 quart total capacity. d) camera plus accessories, binoculars, etc. e) first aid kit. You should test-pack your daypack before leaving home.

duffle-bag for trekDuffel Bags (2 nos) – You’ll need one large duffle bag to hold everything you do not put in your day pack, including your sleeping bag and mattress, while on trek. This bag should be durable, as it will be carried by porters and/or pack animals. A second smaller bag can be used to store items not used on trek at the group hotel.

Sleeping BagSleeping Bag – You will need a 4-season sleeping bag rated to at least zero degrees. A full-length side zip is essential to facilitate ventilation on warmer nights. A cotton or fleece liner adds to the warmth and comfort of a bag and prevents it from becoming excessively soiled.

sleepng mattressSleeping Mattress – A mattress is needed primarily to insulate you from the cold ground, and you should take a quality closed-cell foam mat .On all camping treks, we provide light trekking mattresses. However, if you care for extra comfort and have a sensitive back, bring a self-inflatable trek mat.

walkng polesTrekking PolesTrekking poles can be good if you need extra support for your knees and/or ankles. Must be collapsible poles. Make sure that they are durable, lightweight + easily adjustable.

Accessories  & Miscellaneous :

  • Travel Wallet Pouch (waist or neck)
  • Locks  For Duffle Bags
  • Leather man / Swiss Army Knife 
  • Water Purification  Tablets (iodine or equivalent)
  • Underwear –  (men- polypro boxers or briefs / women- poly-pro sports bras, cotton or polypro briefs are fine) 3 rotating pairs. As with socks and shirts, you’ll be wearing one, one will be drying from washing and one will be clean and packed.
  • Sunscreen: SPF 30 (or higher) LOTS 
  • Lip Balm with SPF 15 (or higher) 
  • Insect  Repellent
  • Personal  First Aid Kits (Band-aids, Ibuprofen, Cough Drops, Moleskin, Pepto-bismol, Immodium, Diamox Personal Medications) 
  • Toilteries – Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Bio-degradable Soap/Shampoo Quick Dry Towel, Moisturizer, Purel Hand Sanitizer, 
  • Antiseptic Hand Towlettes, Toilet Paper (a small emergency stash)] 
  • Water Bottles – Two liter capacity 
  • Snack food – (trail mix, protein bars, GU, candy, powdered drink mixes – don’t bring a whole suitcase, but bring a variety of things you know you can eat while in the mountains to supplement your diet.)
  • Power Adapter for electrical gadgets (round pin socket- 220v)
  • Reading Glasses or contact lenses
  • Photography equipment with extra films, extra memory cards and an extra battery
  • Clothing & Gears : as per the list detailed
  • Sleeping Bags Liner: Sleeping bag Inner liner made of fleece or cotton is highly recommended that can be easily washed and dried while in the trek. Most importantly it provides additional warmth, if the temperature should drop and keeps the sleeping bag clean.
  • Pillow: Small blow pillow is provided. However you may consider bringing your own comfortable small trek pillow.
  • Optional: Ipod, Ipad, ear plugs, books, journals, a deck of cards, binoculars, whistle for safety, phone (multiband phone, you can buy local sim-cards and get free incoming calls)

Weight allowance for trekking in Bhutan
Please try to keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum. Choose items of clothing that can be used in multiple situations. At the start of the trek, you will be carrying your day pack loaded with just the items you will need during the day of hiking. Your packed trek/duffle
bag will be carried by pack animals (ponies or yak) and should weigh no more than 33 pounds.

Notes on Personal Clothing and Gears 

Clothing -  Your clothing needs to be adaptable to suit a wide range of conditions, including extremes of weather and varying levels of physical activity. We recommend to adopt the principle of “layering” which involves the use of several thin layers of thermally efficient clothing, which can be worn in a number of combinations, according to the prevailing circumstances. Where it is warm enough you can trek in either shorts or lightweight trekking trousers (natural fibers) (a long skirt is an option for the ladies) and a long sleeve cotton shirt or T-shirt. For colder conditions, you can add layers of thermal clothing. And that the clothes you bring wash well in cold water and dry quickly.

Trip Expectations

Bhutan existed in self-imposed isolation up until the 1950’s when China took over Tibet and the King realized he would need alliances to fend off any future threats.  The first tourist group came in 1974, but tourism remained minimal. TV and the internet were introduced in Bhutan in 1999, followed by cell phones in 2003. Modernization is relatively slow here, but that is precisely Bhutan’s charm.  It remains unblemished by Western ways.  Buddhism here means people ‘go with the flow’ and strive for serenity.  Enjoy the simpler, slower pace of life.

Hotels: Primarily 3 stars, clean, comfortable, all with Western bathroom amenities and touches of Bhutanese textiles and wall-paintings. Most of the Tourist standard Hotels particularly in Thimphu and Paro provide Wi-Fi internet connection. Nothing fancy, but you come for the magical kingdom, not for a 5 star hotel. Just as there is currently only one international airport, the number of tourist hotels is modest.   Furthermore, around the time of the Tsechus (Festival), there is much pressure on room availability and travel companies have to adjust rooms for large group often in more than one hotels and guest houses. Sometimes, one may land up attending festival in one town and staying in different town. While on the trek, we provide a tent, mattress, small blow pillow, hot water bag, and all Kitchen and dining equipment and a small toilet tent (pit dug out)

For the camping on trekWe have recently upgraded our trekking gear, which are up to date and state of art, consequently made it as comfortable as possible for you deserve to have sound rest after the hard day trek

Food - Bhutanese food always contains a goodly variety of fresh vegetables and fruits, rice/potatoes with some meat.  It is substantive, simple fare.  A set of meals or Buffet meals are served in all or most of the places, including on the trek and it can get pretty monotonous.
On the treks the food is simple with fewer dishes. Especially on a long trek like this, as supplies are brought from Thimphu and not available for purchase along the way, the fresh vegetable and meat will be limited. Many of our guests, like to bring along some dried fruits, nuts, energy bars and packaged food items.

Food on Trek. During the trek our cook will serve you well with local food and also our cook and staffs are well trained in European, Chinese and Continental style of food, so we know well what to serve you during the trek. We will also ask you for your like and special need and will try all our best to arrange it if it within our reach.

The major thing to watch is water. Be sure to drink bottled water at all times. Even if the water is good where you are, you are not accustomed to the local microbes. Remember to stay well hydrated. It is very important in high altitude situations to drink at least 4 quarts of liquid a day, excluding tea. 

Important Notes on Itinerary

Although we will do our very best to adhere to the itinerary and its schedule, this itinerary should be considered an approximate indication of the schedule and scope of activities, and trip routing. It is likely that there will be changes in terms of anything from the exact hotel used to the villages we may stop in for the night.  

There are a few key points to remember while traveling through Bhutan.

Even though we do our very best, it is important to acknowledge that some things are simply out of our control: weather, people and their concepts and culture.  Bhutanese by nature are very laid back and take opportunities as they come and very rarely take the “bull by the horns”. In Bhutan, you simply have to hang loose, be open-minded, and allow the culture and experience to enhance your life.

The best way to look at a trip is with an open mind. This is not to say that you should not expect good service. However, it does mean that you should be flexible and let things happen. 

John Steinbeck says it well: “We do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”

I hope this helps you keep in perspective the reason you visit the Himalayas is not really for the comfort and sophistication, but for its culture, nature and its people.

Tipping

Tipping is not included on your trip. Tipping is optional, and at times expected in travel trade. Obviously there is no limit to how much you can tip and some guests who enjoy and appreciate the services of Guides, driver and other crew will and have tipped much more than our average tipping guideline of about $10-15 per day.

Checklist Guide

  • Valid passport (valid for six months after your date of entry into Asia. Bring the one that was used for Bhutan visa) Optional: One other picture ID, such as driver’s license is useful (in case of emergency and for use as a substitute of passport or in case of loss of your passport) Photocopy of your passport page to carry in your wallet.
  • Visa:  Bhutan Visa clearance letter will be emailed to you or attached at the end. Please print and bring a copy with you to show at the airport. Please check the visa requirements of other countries you may be travelling prior or after Bhutan. Some countries such as India and China do not provide Visa upon arrival.
  • Air tickets: You must print and bring a copy of your Bhutan Air ticket for check-in at the airport.
  • Money (Cash and some in Traveler’s checks) Credit cards are only accepted by some Souvenir Shops for larger purchases only. There are ATMS in Bhutan, but as it relatively new and hence it is not very reliable.
  • Travel Insurance (recommended). Bring a copy of the certificate, if you have purchased.

Baggage allowance on Flights

On Druk Air is 20 Kilograms & Bhutan Airline is 30 Kg. Two pieces max per passenger to check-in and one hand-carry (cabin bag) that fits into overhead luggage compartment. Usually Laptops and cameras may be allowed to carry on in addition to cabin baggage.  Business class passengers are permitted additional 10 Kilograms to check-in. Excess baggage is charged on a basis of kilograms and so the rates vary by sector and times

Link & Resources that can help to prepare well for the trip.

1. Please visit link for General Pre-departure Guide for Bhutan:  http://www.windhorsetours.com/wa/images/tourcost/2013SepThu_Predeparture-Bhutan13.pdf

2. Useful tips and overview on how to prepare and train for the trek/Hike, please visit the link below;http://windhorsetours.com/blog/?p=1127

3.Questions about temperature & weather & Clothing and other FAQ; http://faq.windhorsetours.com/questions/categories/bhutan

4.. For detail structure on weather, climate, temperature and altitude of Bhutan http://windhorsetours.com/blog/?p=913

5.Link for different species of Flora found in Bhutan http://www.biodiversity.bt/species/list

6. Please watch Wind Horse Tours You Tube https://www.youtube.com/user/ugenwindhorse

7.FAQ for Bhutan http://faq.windhorsetours.com/questions/categories/bhutan

Travel Resources /References

Following are very useful websites when planning or preparing for your trip.

US State Department Travel Advisories www.travel.state.gov

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade www.smartraveller.gov.au

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA U.S.A http://www.cdc.gov/travel

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (British government official travel advice and warnings for all countries) http://www.fco.gov.uk

Official travel advice of New Zealand government http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

Canadian government’s official travel advice http://www.voyage.gc.ca

Trip Comments

When you return from your trip, please share with us your experience. Any photos, suggestions will be appreciated. Although we try our best, Tourism is a trade, which cannot be perfect and there will always remain a room for improvement. Your comments (both criticism and compliments) are invaluable to us and we look forward to hearing from you, upon your return.

September 13th, 2014

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