Trekking holidays

Friday 28 March 2014 12.59 PM

There's something life-enhancing about trekking holidays, just you and your pack high up in the mountains, the simplicity of it all. The first time I went trekking - proper trekking - was back in 2002. Before that I'd done a fair amount of walking, but not the real deal involving many days and nights in the back of beyond.

There's something life-enhancing about trekking holidays, just you and your pack high up in the mountains, the simplicity of it all. The first time I went trekking - proper trekking - was back in 2002. Before that I'd done a fair amount of walking, but not the real deal involving many days and nights in the back of beyond. We did the Annapurna Base Camp trek, setting out from Pokhara and ascending high into the snowy Himalayas. For the past week I'd been eyeing the peaks from a distance in Kathmandu and Pokhara, and it was truly exhilarating to see them loom larger with each passing day.

That's a big part of the appeal of trekking holidays - the way in which you are part of the landscape, proceeding slowly on your own two feet, alive to the subtle (and not-so-subtle) effects of the changing altitude. Climbing from Pokhara at around 1,800 metres to the base camp at 4,300 metres took five days, and each day we could feel the air changing, getting colder and thinner, and see the landscape transform from sub-tropical greenery to bamboo forests, rhododendon forests, mountain pastures and rocky scree. We'd spend hours trudging through woodland, then round a corner and Machapucchare and Annapurna would suddenly appear, dazzling white and MUCH closer than the last time we'd seen them.

I've had a fascination with long journeys ever since, aged 15, I cycled 70 miles from London back home to Winchester on my five-speed racing bike. One day I'd love to do a really long trek - maybe the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route, or - even better - that route in reverse and then across Europe to the Black Sea à la Nicholas Crane in Clear Waters Rising (a good read, even if his rather contrived umbrella 'icon' gets a bit tedious after a while). I'm currently reading Walking the Hexagon by Terry Cudbird - another account of an epic trek, this time circumambulating France. I'd also like to read Rob Lilwall's Walking Home from Mongolia at some stage, too - 3,000 miles across China in six months. Hardcore.

Search site