Trekking in Tibet is not a risky affair to those who are in good physical condition. Nevertheless, having a thorough medical checkup before you start trekking can save you from unexpected danger. Since at the remote places of Tibet, you cannot get medical treatment as in hospital and the rescue and evacuation take in days, it is important to prepare necessary basic drugs and accessories as your traveling paraphernalia before trekking.
In case of serious illness, injury or high altitude sickness, prompt evacuation to Lhasa or lower attitude city to have better treatment is necessary. Tooth fillings sometimes loosen in cold temperature and at high altitudes, so it recommended to have them checked.
Fitness to Trek in Tibet
You have to be at a level of fitness that will enable you to complete a day's walking up and down in the hill. A normal trekker can endure 5-8km in one day above 3000 meters. It is quite a taxing job to do while you are in mountain area of Tibet with an average altitude at 3800m-4200m. You need to do some physical exercise at your home at least one month before you enter Tibet. The best sport for preparing trekking is cycling, swimming, jogging.
The best preparation for trekking is cycling, swimming, jogging and long walks involving up and down a hill. A Good physical condition will help you to complete a 4-5 days trekking in high mountain area and maximally enjoy the trekking.
As we considered, the Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is the biggest medical problem while trekking in Tibet. Altitude sickness means the effect of altitude on those who ascend too rapidly to elevation above 3000 meters. The initial symptoms of AMS are as follows:
Please consider to stop ascending if any of the above symptoms appears, otherwise more serious problems may occur and even cause death sometimes within just a few hours. The only remedy for the Altitude Sickness is to walk to a lower altitude. As the experience of most trekker, ascending no more than 300-500m per day above 3000 meters and having plenty of rest during trekking are the best methods for prevention of AMS.
Before starting a trek, we have to carefully plan and prepare the things we need for trekking. We take a well equipped trek in Tibet for example, which includes yak or horse porters, trekking guide, cookware, canned gas, food, water, tents, mattress, sleeping bags, small bottles of Oxygen, the transport to and from trekking starting place, the flight and train tickets arrangement, the permission, insurance, the hotel booking in the base city, and so on. The trekking travel agency provides enough qualified equipment like tents, sleeping bags, mattress, and can help us arrange all the things we need for trekking.
To hire a porter with few yaks and horses is very important because the trek always last for 4-5 days, besides your traveling paraphernalia like clothing, camera, drug, and sleeping bag, 10-15kg supplies you have to carry for 4-5 days' consumption. Most of trekker can not complete the trek without the help of horses and yaks. Trekkers should be aware that the trek is in high mountain area and we could not take heavy backpack for so long.
The cost of an all inclusive trek ranges from about US$ 120-200 per person per day depending on the region of the trekking, the quality of service, number of days and number of persons in the package. The all inclusive trekking provided by a travel agency costs more dollars than backpacking but it guarantees comfort and security, especially for trekking at high altitude mountain area. The possibility of facing danger is much higher than trekking in a low altitude place, so using the full inclusive service is quite necessary. Actually the individual backpacking is quite limited in Tibet.
To travel with well trained and experienced guide is helpful in the remote wilderness and is enjoyable to talk to on the trail. It is strongly advised not to employ freelance guides or use a travel agency which has not enough experience of organizing trekking tour.
CLOTHING, EQUIPMENTS AND PERSONAL THINGS
1. Lightweight walking boots or hiking shoes, if you plan to buy a new pair, please wear them for some days at home to avoid blisters. Also bring spare laces and cotton shoe-pads. Women’s sanitary pad is a very good material to put into your shoes to take the sweat away.
2. A pair of normal walking shoes. You can wear them in the camp at night.
3. Warm jacket. Fiberfill or down should be adequate. If you trek is in April, May, late September or October, a down jacket is a must. Sometimes the temperature at night is Zero or even below Zero. November to next March is winter. It is too cold and not suitable for trekking.
4. A rain-proof jacket with hood or a poncho. Get one that is guaranteed waterproof. Don’t forget to prepare a rainproof bag for your backpack as well.
5. Woolen shirts and thick sweaters.
6. A pair of light weight trousers, the loose cotton pants are the best. Jeans are unsuitable to wear on treks. Windproof/waterproof trousers are necessary on all treks going above 10000 ft.
7. Wear warm trousers in the morning and at night.
8. Thermal underwear: these are excellent to sleep in at night. In the winter months thermal underwear are quite invaluable.
9. 2-3 cotton T-shirts, and it is better to have one long sleeved-shirt for avoiding sun burn.
10. 1-2 towels for removing the sweat on your back and head.
11. Wear a woolen hat in the morning and at night. During winter it is an essential item. A sun hat and ensure it has a wide brim to cover the face and neck.
12. A pair of gloves.
13. Several pairs of thin and thick woolen socks.
14. Cotton underwear.
1. Duffel bag to carry gear while trekking.
2. Day pack: this is a small rucksack to carry personal requirement for the day e.g., toilet items, camera film, towel, soap, etc.
3. Water bottle.
4. Sunglasses and snow glasses.
5. 2-4 large plastic bags to separate clean clothes from dirty ones. 6-10 smaller plastic bags to dispose garbage.
6. Wallet and/or money belt with compartment for coins.
7. Toiletries with large and smaller towels. Toilet paper can be bought in Lhasa and some villages in the mountains.
8. Small headlamp or torch with spare batteries and bulbs, a box of matches or lighter to light the fire while cooking or burn the garbage.
9. Snow gaiters is essential in April, May and October, December at the beginning and the end of the winter for the snow on the mountain somewhere is deep to your knee.
10. A sewing box with needle and thread can help you sew something.
11. Camera, enough batteries(the batteries run fast in low temperature.), a note book, a pen, a pocket knife, an inflatable sleeping mat, a trekking map, GPS, etc are optional if you want to take them.
Some Advice about Food and Water
Along some famous trekking routes, like Ganden to Samye trek, water can be found in camp place or on half way. Water comes from ice mountains is clean, but it is better to boil the water before you drink. Fresh food must be cooked as well. Do not eat or drink some unusual food and drinks like fresh yak milk before cooking them. If you follow these simple rules, you should not experience any severe stomach problems or diarrhea. By the way, the drug made in China is safe and qualified, but it is better to buy them in big drug shop in Lhasa.
We will prepare enough food for trekking, because it is too difficult to boil water at high elevation, the instant and easy cooked food will be the standard during your trekking. The tour guide will help you to cook instead of cooking for you. The meals in the wild are usually quite simple, such as bread, milk, dry beef, fruit, vegetable, canned beef or pork, as well as special cake made by corn. You can make a simple meal with the out-door cooker. A well prepared lunch or dinner can be obtained if you pay money to take a professional cook with you. A trekking cook who can make perfect western food is available. If it is over 5 persons in your group, you'd better to hire a cook for delicious meals after your long distance trekking.
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