Nov 26, 2017

Himalayas, trekking and trekking Operators- Your opinion??

Singalila Pass Trek All Dara Sikkim India
Frosty All Dara campsite early morning- 1KM away from Sandakphu

Lately, I have started trekking in Himalayas regularly. When in USA I did all my treks DIY style. Driving to trailhead, carrying the pack, tent, sleeping bag, food, stove, fuel everything on my own! Well, that is a different world. Trekking with an operator is kind of new to me. Just like booking a package tour. Sounds like 'Sahib style', where everything is done by others and I have to just walk. Tents ready by the time we reach the campsite of the day, hot chai and snacks, hot water, hot tasty breakfast and dinner, yummy desserts, basic medical check up, kind and attentive staff to listen to all the fuss! Sounds great huh?

Most of the times everything mentioned does not come in the package. You pay for everything but sometimes, on the field you get surprises. Some surprises like bad weather, illness are not under anybody's control. But, how well an agency has done risk analysis and what is the contingency plan are important. At the same time overdoing the risk analysis is also annoying. Keeping the team spirit, splitting the team when required, being polite and controlling when required are also important qualities of Trek leaders. But, anything that goes off balance ends up in disgruntled participants. At high altitudes, everyday being torturously tiring and every night being murderously cold people tend to see comfort in hot food. If there is shortage of food then hell breaks in.

Quality of sleeping bags is another thing. At subzero temperatures, how does it feel when you get a sleeping bag with a broken zip? Awful huh? Or say, some flimsy thin sleeping bag which actually can be comfortable at 15 Deg and is not for 3 Deg? When you are trekking above 4,000m and you don't have a trained trek leader. If you get sick you are getting back with a skinny cook who does't even understand properly what you are saying!!

Singalila Pass Trek Kalizhar Sikkim India
Momo-hot soup lunch on the way to Kalizhar

I have been going with different operators for different treks. Sometimes get really good service and sometimes I hate to look back! Sometimes, I find not enough food, sometimes the trek leader's attitude is just can't be tolerated, sometimes the local guides lack interest and keep discouraging, sometimes the equipment is so sub-standard, sometimes the service is subcontracted and hence poor quality and so on ...

Well, then how to find out who is consistently giving good service? We cannot judge by one trekking experience right?. But, when you didn't have a good experience with one trek hardly you will go back unless you are given some kind of reimbursement for the bad service. So, it is difficult for one person to try out different operators many times. So, I am trying to collect some data, many of you can put your opinions together about different agencies in the comments.

Please share your good/bad experience with any trekking operator. Thank you very much for your participation. Very much appreciated.

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  1. Well, here is my opinion- Indiahikes 1 trek super good
    TTH 1 Trek ok
    Bikat 2 treks, one super good next one flop
    RockyFeet 1 trek super good

  2. And CrazyPeaks 2 treks one very good one very bad

  3. Nice topic Kusum! Before I put down my names, would like to also mention that a lot of the satisfaction part also comes from ones exposure levels. I see that you have a fair amount of experience doing long hikes. Many folks go with an outfit not so much because they really know what to expect but more so out of popular conviction that its a good one which many times is misguided wisdom.

    Eskimo adventures - Good
    Bikat - Average

    1. Thank you Hari for your feedback. That's a good point.

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