Your trip is booked and you've bragged to just about everyone you know about your plans to make the hike up to the Annapurna Base Camp. You're well-informed about where to get the best equipment and you're anxiously awaiting your journey.
However, you must remember that the most valuable equipment you possess is your body. If you train your body to handle the constant strain of high altitudes you'll enjoy your trek to the fullest. Study up on the ten surefire ways to get your body base camp ready:
- Walk it out: It's no surprise that the best training for hills is, well, hills. Try to walk every day, and set aside one weekend day for a long 5-hour hike or walk. That's how long you'll be trekking everyday once on your trip.
- Break in your boots: On those daily walks be sure to wear the boots you're going to wear on your trip. Walking in boots feels a lot different, and this will prevent nasty blisters that can often come with new boots.
- Remember who's got your back: When training, don't forget to wear your pack and be sure it's filled to the approximate weight you'll be carrying on the trek. The extra 30 pounds will make a difference in your endurance, especially when dealing with the thinner air that comes at higher altitudes.
- Exercise: Shoot for 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes: Run, walk, dance, skip, jump — anything that will get your heart pumping. Just commit to that 30 minutes of cardio 3-4 times a week. Do this and you'll be well prepared for the long and active days.
- Lift: Remember, cardio isn't the only kind of exercise you need! Strength training should be incorporated into your routine as well. While walking with your pack is great training, you should also lift weights twice a week. It will make ordinary tasks easier after a long day's trek, and that means you won't be as tired for the next day.
- Start waking up earlier: On the trip you'll be waking up around 6:00 am every day. If you're not used to it, you'll want to adapt as best you can because there aren't convenience stores with energy drinks on the trail.
- Get over your fear of heights: It is true that some people don't even know they have a fear of heights until they are directly exposed. Luckily, the trek to base camp is pretty straight forward and doesn't involve any vertical climbing. However, you will encounter a few long and sway-prone suspension bridges. When you get to one, keep your eyes fixated on the end of the bridge and take it one step at a time. Whatever you do, don't look down!
- Get your veggies: Mother said, always eat your broccoli. Well, now's your time to thank her. While you may be craving meat on the hike, it may not be the best idea. There's a no-kill policy in the national park so that yak steak is from before you left, and is most likely getting old. The safest best is to stick to the veggies, beans, and lentils.
- Know when to go: The best times to trek are from the beginning of March to mid-May, and the beginning of September to mid-November. No matter what, pack as if you're trekking in the winter because the weather is unpredictable and gets colder with higher altitude.
- Train your brain: Now that your body's in shape, let's prepare your mind! Toward the final days of your trek you are going to be pretty tired. When your body is exhausted the only thing you can rely on is your mental strength. If you find yourself barely hanging on, visualization can be very helpful, but you must practice this. Try these tips before you leave.
Ensuring you have the right travel insurance is critical before heading off on your Himalayan adventure*.
- Why you need travel insurance
- Benefits provided by travel insurance
- How to enroll
*Many Himalayan mountains will exceed elevation limits on Atlas policies. Please check with your travel insurance representative for details.