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We are all photographers. We take pictures almost all the time. And we often wonder how to become better photographers.

Digital photography has made the art of photography a lot easier than before. It gives us the freedom of trial and error until we get the best result. Yet, you can get a lot more than you bargained for by just learning a few things.

So in this article, I’m going to share with you some tips to click better pictures.

A photograph with good composition and excellent story. Picture by Arjun Majumdar. Know your camera

The best camera is the one one you have with you right now. I am serious.

People see “photography” as the price of the camera and the number of lenses they have. But photography is not always about these. In fact, camera envy could be the one thing holding you back from taking better pictures.

A smartphone camera with a good photographer can produce better results than the costliest camera with an amateur. Learn the basics. Know how Shutter speed, Aperture and ISO affect your pictures.

I’ll break it down to the basics.

Shutter speed

To put it simply, shutter speed is the amount of time the camera shutter stays open. DSLRs have varying shutter speeds starting from 1/8000 of a second to 30 seconds (more than 30 seconds in BULB mode).

To Shoot moving subjects, you should use higher shutter speeds, depending on the speed of the subject.

Using low shutter speed also helps in getting more light to fall on the sensor.

See the above pictures for example. The first picture is taken with a 20 seconds shutter speed, which lets the camera sensor capture the flow of water for 20 seconds. The second picture on the other hand was shot on 1/390 seconds shutter speed. This is higher than the speed of water flowing and so you have a sharp image of the stream. Both images are good in their own ways, but the slower shutter speed image by Vignesh is adding a wow factor.

Note: For shutter speeds less than 1/30 seconds you must use a tripod or keep the camera steady somewhere.

Aperture

Aperture can be described as the opening in your lens. It defines the amount of light entering the sensor at a particular point of time. Most lenses have apertures varying from 4 (f/4) to 22 (f/22). There are also lenses that provide 1.2 – 1.8 widest apertures.

Aperture also adds depth to the picture. All the background blur as seen in dslr pictures is provided by wide apertures like 1.4, 1.8 and 2.8.

This Image gives a basic idea about how the “f number” is related to the aperture and depth in an image.

Coming to treks, photography here is mainly about landscapes. In order to make the image sharper, chose a higher aperture number like f/11 or f/16. Higher the f number, narrower the aperture and sharper the image.  

Consider these pictures from the Sandakphu Trek.

2 beautiful photographs. The aperture of the first image is 1.8 which gives a shallow depth of field. The second image, on the other hand, is taken with a narrow aperture, f22, making the image sharp.

Using a narrow aperture leads to limiting the amount of light entering the sensor. Hence you should use a slow shutter speed in order to balance the exposure.

It took me at least 1 year to understand the basics of my camera and I still feel there are more to learn. So keep experimenting with all the settings and  don’t try to understand everything by just reading the basics. Even if you are shooting in Auto mode, have an idea of the Shutter Speed, Aperture and ISO.

ISO

ISO is a measure of the camera’s ability to capture light. For low light situations, keep your ISO high to make your sensor more sensitive to light.

Finding the correct ISO can be tricky. Modern DSLR cameras have ISO ranging from 100 to 6400 (and 25600 in professional cameras). A low ISO like 100 is less sensitive to light, but captures more details. As you go up in the ISO range, your image loses details and you can see a gradual increase of noise (grains) through the range.

This is how ISO affects the amount of noise in a picture. These pictures were taken in a professional DSLR. So the noise produced is much lower than an entry level DSLR.

Cameras like Canon 700D, 1100D, Nikon D3200 etc that come under the entry level cameras start producing noise around ISO 800. Medium range cameras Canon 7D, 6D can give you good results even at ISO 1600. Professional Cameras such as Canon 5D mark4, Nikon D810 will give you decent pictures at ISO 3200-4000. Then there are cameras which give really good low light results like Sony A9, you can go to ISO 12800 and still manage to get sharp images.

Most photographers develop a High-ISO fear once they know more about ISO details. In low light, you will have to either increase your ISO or reduce your shutter speed. Lowering your shutter speed might lead to shaky pictures, if you don’t have steady hands or a tripod. So do not be afraid of the noise in your picture. Make your ISO high if you don’t have enough natural light. Some times noise can add drama to the photograph. It’s about the content and the composition. Select your ISO according to the content. The camera settings are just there to help you capture the moment.

A normal daylight image can be shot with ISO 100, whereas a night shot of stars needs ISO of around 1600 or higher.

These 2 images are perfect examples to show what ISO to use in different lighting conditions.

The first image is a night shot and hence a high ISO like 1600. We need the sensor to be more sensitive to light in such situations. Second picture is a daylight picture. Hence the photographer was able to go to a lower ISO like 100.  

Getting a perfectly exposed picture lies in the balanced use of these settings. Shutter Speed, Aperture and ISO together decide the exposure of an image in a given lighting condition. Understand these, experiment with each setting and your path to becoming a better photographer can be simplified.

Composition and Framing

Composition is the placement or arrangement of the subject and other visual elements in your picture. A slight change in the angle, height or depth can make lot of difference in the composition of the image. Try giving a little attention to the composition of the image while photographing. Understand how colours, texture, symmetry, patterns and leading lines affect your image.

The Rule of Thirds is the most popular composition rule. Consider breaking your image vertically and horizontally into thirds making 9 parts in total.

In this image for example, the photographer, Goutam Doshi has used rule of thirds perfectly.

Aligning the subject with any of these guidelines or the intersection points brings more interest in the subject than just randomly placing the subject in the centre. This can also be done while cropping, But you have to have the idea in your mind and leave only minor adjustments to Photoshop.

There are alternate rules to Rule of thirds like the golden Ratio rule, Golden Spiral Rule, Diagonal rule etc. But all these rules go along with each other most of the time.

Leading lines and S curves can be used carefully to bring interest towards the subject. These lines help in creating a perspective in the picture. They give the viewer an idea about the geography of the location. Leading lines to a subject have always proved to bring more interest to the subject.

In the given picture by Hemanth Gadape, See how the S curve is adding drama to the picture.

Also, starting the leading lines from any of the corners brings the viewers to the subject.

Leave empty spaces out of your picture. Include only what you think is relevant to your subject. Make a picture with a meaning.

The most common mistake in photography is the use of unwanted objects. These include irrelevant headspace, meaningless objects and unnecessary contrasting colours in the background.  These take the interest away from the subject and can destroy a photograph.

Keep your subject inside the frame. Don’t cut off any parts. Go a little wider than the frame you have in mind, so that you have the freedom to do slight straightening and aligning without cutting off any parts.

You will have to straighten your pictures most of the time to align the horizon. Keeping the horizon straight is another major Composition Rule.

Frames inside your frame. Capturing frames in your picture is another way to go about having a good composition. Find natural frames and shapes from your surroundings.

The photographer Yatharth Vibhakar brilliantly captures 2 pictures in a single frame.

An image with a perfect composition need not always follow the composition rules. Being a good photographer means figuring out when to follow these rules and when to break these. It took me a long time to understand composition and that is when I started breaking some of these rules. Believe in your composition, but understand these basic rules and why they are important.

Create a story in your picture. Let the picture speak for itself.

Lighting

 During treks, lighting is entirely dependent on weather conditions. The challenge is to get the most out of existing lighting conditions.

Always try to catch the morning and evening light. Morning and evening sun can help in creating brilliant back-lit images.

Picture by Sudheer Hegde.

Even cloudy days provide dramatic results in photographs. Have absolute control over the light. For landscapes, you can’t change the position of your subject or the light source. So change your position. Shoot from different angles.

Try and use all lighting conditions. If a bright, sunny day is perfect for landscapes, cloudy days can be perfect for portraits. It provides a uniform lighting to your subject.

Understand How Soft light and Hard light affects your photographs. Soft light is the light source that provides no shadows or soft shadows. Hard light, on the other hand, results in hard shadows.

See how different type pf light affect pictures.

Apart from these basics, a good photograph needs the photographer to be in the moment. Take pictures of anything that impresses you. Take pictures for yourself, not for social media. There will be moments in your trek where you will be caught up in a beautiful scenery and forget to take pictures. Be in that moment. Take your time to start capturing. Whatever you are shooting, connect with the subject. Let the connection flow through the photograph. You have become a better photographer already.

Showing some of our best Trek photographs.

Keep Clicking!

What you should do now

1. If you liked this post and want to read more such posts, go to this page – You’ll find many such Expert Opinions here.

2. If you’re looking for treks to do: Then head over to our upcoming treks page. You’ll find all our Himalayan treks there.

3. If you want to work with us: Head over to our careers page. We have lots of positions open. We also have lots of applications coming in. So the sooner you apply, the better.

4. If you want to see the 13 best treks of India: Then get our guide here.

The post How To Be A Better Trek Photographer- Know the Basics of Photography appeared first on Indiahikes.

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On a normal day you will find her working in her garden or sitting in front of her house. A big smile will welcome you and a thousand words of discussion will follow. She takes you to her world of present and past stories. This powerful woman is Elisabeth.

Elisabeth tells Green Trails Fellow Laura her story.

She has been living in Kuling, a small village in Uttarakhand for 16 years. Everybody knows her. Here is how this came about.

What brought her to Kuling

Trekking and mountains have been her life. This journey has taken her from Germany, her home country, to all around the world to finally settle down in Kuling. Touching eighty, she is still filled with energy and passion for the mountains. She even climbed to Junargali at the age of seventy seven!

She spends her time looking after Kuling and its villagers, who have adopted her as one of their own.

Elisabeth with her little neighbour friend.

In one of her treks to Roopkund, she realised the problems that remote areas are facing, especially in issues related to health and sanitation. A touching situation got her very involved with a specific family from the village of Kuling. So involved, that she decided to abandon her homeland, Germany, and start a new life here. That was only the beginning.

Her Work and Influence

One has to be strong to decide to live alone in a village so remote in the Himalayas. It becomes all the more tough when you are a woman and a foreigner. For Elisabeth, this has always been a challenge but never a limitation.
Education, health and environment have been her main concerns in whatever actions she has taken related to Kuling and its people.

One of her main focus areas is children’s education.

She strongly believes good quality education will bring the children a better future. When she recognises that there is a child with exceptional talent, she gets funding from sponsors to ensure that the child has a bright future and receives a good education. Through her initiative, children from Kuling have had the opportunity to study in big cities such as Dehradun. This opens doors to more possibilities for these children. Currently, she takes care of seven children and supports their education.

After several disappointing experiences with local schools, Elisabeth started running a small library. Children from the village go to the library after school hours. The library has a plethora of books in different languages and categories. This exposes them to ideas that they would not otherwise get in school. Local women take care of this space and help the children select books. This not only helps children to develop their skills but also empowers local women.

The Example that Elisabeth Has Set

Green practices are found frequently in foreign countries. In Elisabeth’s home country Germany, policies are so well implemented that it is a habit for her to recycle, to keep the village clean or to grow her own vegetables instead of buying packaged products. With her daily behaviour, she has become an example for the community.
She makes compost out of her kitchen waste and uses this to nourish her garden where she grows tomatoes, carrots, potatoes and other vegetables. She also shares this produce with the locals. What is more, she segregates her waste and encourages others in the village to do the same.

Spreading awareness of water pollution and its consequences is another practice is another area of focus for her in Kulling. She boils water so that it is clean and safe to drink. In the village, there used to be clean water before plastic pollution entered the picture. Now when it rains, the garbage in the mountains collects in the water sources and the water gets contaminated. It becomes dangerous to drink. Elisabeth has been educating the community about the ill effects of drinking this water. She encourages them to collect water from safe sources.

Last but not least, she helps the Indiahikes Green Trails initiative whenever she has a chance to interact with trekkers. Kuling is the closes village to our Roopkund base camp. It is not uncommon for trekkers to stop by on their way back from the trek to have a chat with her. She shares her experience and knowledge, talking to them about how overcrowding and pollution are harming the mountain ecology. With them, she stresses the deep need for change in our attitude towards the mountains and why they need to be responsible trekkers.

Elisabeth shares her stories and environmental concerns with Indiahikes trekkers and Green Trails team. Her Worries About Environment

Some things make Elisabeth angry. After sixteen years of living in Kuling, she hasn’t been able to change the minds of some locals.

She is deeply concerned about the growing piles of plastic waste in the village or surrounding areas in spite of the awareness campaigns that Green Trails takes up.

She is full of ideas to improve the village with our help. Worried about the limited knowledge that villagers have about wasting management, she is now hopeful about the project that Green Trails is developing – targeting five households as a model to achieve zero waste. She wants this project to be successfully implemented in all houses of the village.

Elizabeth is conscious how vulnerable women are in remote areas, but also their importance in spreading good practices. She tries to empower them by supporting her work in their fields and in their houses.
Recently, she has been sharing her knowledge and experience to help train local women to become Assistant Trek Leaders at Indiahikes.

Elisabeth with Indiahikes’ first local Assistant Trek Leader, Kavita.

She believes having the opportunity to be a Trek Leader gives local women confidence to step out of their comfort zone. She hopes it will present them with a new area of occupability along with a way to spread knowledge among the community.

How One Person Makes a Difference

Always critically engaged with all the issues happening around, Elisabeth has become a strong member of the local community.

Having overcome the attitudes with which people react to an outsider, a female foreigner trying to make a difference in the lives of people living in the small village of Kuling, she has inspired us here at Green Trails. She has shown us that a person who persists long enough with their agenda can make a difference.
She has shown us that hard work and a deep passion for the concerns that move you can make an impact in people’s lives. However, the process is never simple or free of obstacles. It’s the strength and resilience with which she has tackled them that has made her our local hero.

Photo credits: Payal Singh

Scroll down and send in your wishes for Elisabeth in the comments section. We will make sure it reaches her.

Have a green idea in your mind that could help the environment out? Comment below or write to our Green Trails Head – Lakshmi at lakshmi@indiahikes.com.

What you should do now

1. If you want to serve as a Green Trails Intern: Read this article by our Green Trails Head – Lakshmi.

2. If you want to work with us: Head over to our careers page. We have lots of positions open. We also have lots of applications coming in. So the sooner you apply, the better.

3. If you ended up here by chance and were actually looking for treks to do: Then head over to our upcoming treks page. You’ll find all our Himalayan treks there.

4. If you want to see the 13 best treks of India: Then get our guide here.

The post How a Solo Female Traveller From Germany Found Home and Peace in Kuling: The Story of Local Hero Elisabeth appeared first on Indiahikes.

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W e asked our trekkers on social media to vote for their favourite lake on the Kashmir Great Lakes trek. This is a bit of a hard task. It’s called the Great Lakes trek for a reason! Each lake has its own special charm.

The waters of the lakes change colour every moment. They are colourless where the water is shallow, greenish-blue when it is cloudy, and a brilliant azure when the sun is out.

But vote they did. Of the 6 main lakes on the KGL trek, here are trekkers’ favourites, in reverse order:

6. Satsar One of the seven Satsar lakes

Satsar is a collection of 7 lakes scattered around an isolated valley. These lakes face strong competition from the other lakes on the trek, but they are still some of the most beautiful you’ll see in the Indian Himalayas.

The Satsar lakes have a mysterious, almost theatrical air. Their colours are not the usual bright blue. There is mist floating above the water, and you can clearly see red stones at the bottom of the lakes.

There are a waterfall and a small glacial pool on the hill above the Satsar campsite. This water then goes underground to feed the Satsar lakes.

5. Nandkol Nandkol lake with Mt. Harmukh in the background. Picture by: Jeremy Wee

Nandkol is the smaller twin of the Gangabal lake. It feeds the Wangath Nallah, which joins the Sindh river.

This lake is generally a calm blue, and is quite famous for trout fishing. It is only a day’s hike from Naranag, so many people visit over the weekend.

Nandkol is nestled against the intimidating Mt. Harmukh. Harmukh stands tall at 16,870 ft. The story goes that the existence of K2 was discovered from atop this mountain. A team from the Great Trigonometric Survey led by Thomas Montgomerie sketched this peak for the first time when they summited Harmukh. In most other places, K2 is hidden behind other mountains or glaciers.

4. Kishansar Kishansar lake as seen from the trail to Gadsar Pass.

Kishansar is the second lake you will see on this trek. It is around 500 ft higher in altitude than Vishansar, its twin lake. Little rivulets run from Kishansar to Vishansar.

It is framed by large mountains on the left and a meadow to the right. Directly ahead is the ridge that leads to Gadsar Pass. In July, you’re likely to see Kishansar partially frozen.

Spend a while at the glades of this lake, watching the colours change as the sun and clouds work their magic.

3. Gadsar Gadsar Lake surrounded by meadows with wildflowers. Picture by: Ashwin Srinivasa

Gadsar might be the most untouched lake of the lot. A good number of trekkers make the weekend trip from Sonamarg to Vishansar and Kishansar. Even more trek from Naranag to Nandkol and Gangabal. But this pristine lake is a little harder to reach.

The Gadsar lake is your reward after climbing to the highest point of the KGL trek – Gadsar Pass at 13,800 ft. It is in an expansive valley with no one but the occasional shepherd in sight.

‘Gadsar’ means ‘lake of fishes.’ It has plenty of trout and other fish. From certain angles, this lake looks heart-shaped.

Gadsar is nestled against an enormous glacier that feeds the lake. This lake often has ice floes on its surface. It is surrounded by an enormous meadow full of wildflowers. The deep blue-green of its waters complements the colours of the valley perfectly.

We don’t have a lake placed second, because we have two lakes jointly tied for first place:

1. Vishansar Morning light at Vishansar. Picture by: Sangram Biswas

Vishansar was neck to neck with the other winner of this trekkers’ poll. It’s not surprising. Vishansar is the first of the great lakes on this trek, so it leaves a lasting impression.

After crossing the Nichnai Pass, a day’s trekking will lead you to Vishansar. It is at the end of the valley, just past a small hillock down which a stream flows.

This enchanting lake presses against the sides of a mountain and seems to ripple out from its corners. Its waters are the deepest blue imaginable. They lighten when the sun is out, and turn green when there are clouds overhead.

You can see perfect reflections of the peaks above the lake in its surface.

1. Gangabal Gangabal lake surrounded by rocks. Picture by: Arjun Bhalla

Gangabal is the largest of the great lakes. A walk around the lake will easily take an hour. It is fed by glaciers. In turn, it feeds the Nandkol lake just on the other side of the mound to its left.

Gangabal is somehow one of the lightest blues. The water glints in the sunlight, and ripples as the wind blows. You can sit on one of the large rocks scattered around the lake and watch the water change colours.

This lake actually used to be the site of the Harmukutaganga pilgrimage undertaken by Kashmiri Pandits. The bones of their dead were immersed in the lake during that annual pilgrimage.

So there you have our (by no means definitive) trekker’s rating of the lakes on the Kashmir Great Lakes trek! Of course, they are all of incomparable beauty. You’ll also find many more lakes on this trek, most of them unnamed. Each adds to the thrill of the experience.

Whichever lakes you like the best, make sure to spend enough time at the glades. You’ll find something new to appreciate each minute.

Which lakes on the Kashmir Great Lakes trek do you like best? Tell us in the comments below.

What you should do now

1. If you want to read more about and register for the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek: Go to this page.

2. If you want to work with us: Head over to our careers page. We have lots of positions open. So the sooner you apply, the better.

3. If you ended up here by chance and were actually looking for treks to do: Then head over to our upcoming treks page. You’ll find all our Himalayan treks there.

4. If you want to see the 13 best treks of India: Then get our free guide book here

The post Trekker’s Favourite Lakes On The Kashmir Great Lakes Trek appeared first on Indiahikes.

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IndiaHikes by Aditya Shankar - 20h ago

W e’re running a new Instagram Contest. The theme is #IHMonsoonTrek.

Show us your best monsoon trek pictures. Upload your best shot on Instagram and tag us. It could be from any trek in India – in the Himalayas, Western Ghats, Eastern Ghats, Vindhyas, Satpura, Aravallis, Purvanchal, anywhere!

If you already have a monsoon photo from one of your treks, post/re-post them and stand a chance to win a special edition “Trekker For Life” coffee mug. Plus a unique opportunity to be featured on our Instagram profile.

If you don’t have a monsoon trek photo go ahead and start clicking. Now is the best time to get your cameras clicking.

Follow the steps below to participate

1. Follow @indiahikes on Instagram.

2. Repost the announcement post as your story. 

3. Post photos related to the theme between Wednesday, July 18 and 11:59 am IST on Sunday, July 31*. Entries posted before July 18 will not be considered.

4. Tag and add @indiahikes and #IHMonsoonTrek in your caption (we may miss seeing it in the comments).

5. Add a small description about the photo by sharing the location, the beauty, how the trek was or anything about the picture.

*NOTE: You are not eligible if you simply ‘tag’ an older photo/video. All entries must be posted/re-posted from a public account inside the challenge period. Private accounts must keep their profiles as public for the duration of the competition to participate.

All entries will be judged on creativity, quality of image, and composition. The judge’s decision will be the final word.

We will announce the winner and mentions on August 5th by featuring their entries on our Instagram profile @indiahikes.

What you should do now

1. To participate in the Instagram contest, head over to our Instagram account: Here is the link

2. If you want to see a complete list of treks that we run: Head over to our upcoming treks page. You’ll find help in choosing a Himalayan trek in a specific season.

3. If you want to work with us: Head over to our careers page. We have lots of positions open. We also have lots of applications coming in. So the sooner you apply, the better.

4. If you want to get a free guide to the 13 best treks of India: Then get our free ebook here.

The post #IHMonsoonTrek Instagram Contest appeared first on Indiahikes.

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Every year, Indiahikes organises the Himalayan Mountain Challenge for final year students of Indian Institude of Management (IIM), Indore. We have been running it for the past eight years. This year, IIM Bangalore and Lucknow too have made it a Credit Course for their students.

We are looking for volunteers to help us run the Himalayan Mountain Challenge.

What exactly happens at the Himalayan Mountain Challenge?

Final year students of IIM Bangalore, IIM Lucknow and IIM Indore will gather in the Himalayas to challenge their classmates in a strategy game. The game involves not only trekking but also strategy, planning, endurance and guts.

This is a highly acclaimed programme that IIM Indore has included in its curriculum for the past 8 years. IIM Bangalore and Lucknow have more recently made it a credit course for their students.

How can you help?

We are looking for volunteers to help run the mountain challenge. Volunteers not only get to engage with the brightest minds in the country but also get to trek in few of the prettiest locations in India – Kedarkantha, Bedni Bugyal and Dayara Bugyal in Uttarakhand.

The meadows of Dayara with Mt Bandarpoonch forming the backdrop. Picture by Anil Vesvikar

So if you’d like to be part of an enthralling adventure programme for management students, then here is your chance.

Below, we have answered a few questions that you might have about volunteering for the programme – 1. When are the programmes and what is the duration?

There are three separate dates for IIM Bangalore, Indore and Lucknow.

• IIM Lucknow – Sept 3rd to Sept 9th.
• IIM Indore – Oct 26th to Nov 2nd.
• IIM Bangalore – Nov 29th to Dec 6th.

2. What is the eligibility criteria to apply?

You should be between 25 and 45 years of age.
You should have prior high altitude trekking experience with Indiahikes.
You should be physically fit to do a high altitude trek

Prior experience in managerial roles will help. Preference will be given to Indiahikes trekkers who have not been a volunteer for this programme in the past.

We are very particular about whom we choose as volunteers and will not relax the criteria we have mentioned.

We will be shortlisting a total of 36 volunteers for all three programmes put together.

3. What is the starting point of this programme?

The starting point will be Dehradun or Haridwar, depending on which slope you are selected for. If you are selected, more details about the time and exact location will be shared with you. 

4. Which slope will I be going to?

This will be decided only 3-4 days prior to the trek. Once you’re selected, we’ll ask you for your preference, but we will be making the final decision.

5. Will you book my tickets for me?

You will have to book your tickets on your own.

6. How much of the cost is borne by Indiahikes?

Indiahikes will take care of all volunteering expenses from base camp to base camp. Volunteers have to reach and return from the base camp at their own expense. Indiahikes will arrange pick up for the base camp from Dehradun and from the base camp to Rishikesh, where the program ends.

7. Will I get to trek during the IIM Programme?

Yes, you will get to trek along with the IIM students during the programme.

8. Will this be like usual Indiahikes treks?

Yes, this will be like a usual Indiahikes trek. However, as part of the organising team, you will have responsibilities to be fulfilled to make the programme effective.

9. What role do I have to play during the IIM Programme?

You will be assigned a team of 8-10 students. Your role will include the following –

  • Being the single point of contact for your students for any questions or concerns that they have. You will be the face of Indiahikes for them. In short, you will be a mini-trek leader for them.
  • Ensuring that the students understand the rules of the strategy game that they’ll be participating in during the programme
  • Conducting activities related to the strategy game for your students at the campsite and on the trekking trail
  • Helping students reflect on their learnings after each activity with a good debriefing and reflection session
  • Maintaining a scoresheet of your team’s points
  • Settling any scoring related disagreement that your students might have
  • Briefing them on discipline and safety protocols during the programme
  • Ensuring that they adhere to discipline and safety protocols during the programme
  • Guiding and motivating them during the trek
  • Reporting any health concerns that you or your students might have to the Trek leader immediately
10. What should I NOT do during the IIM Programme?

Since you will be the single point of contact for your team of students, you should not –

  • Be preoccupied with telephone calls or other distractions once the students arrive till the end of the trek
  • Wander off on your own during the trek
  • Break any of the discipline or safety protocols
  • Be late or casual about punctuality
  • Prescribe medication to students or yourself without consulting the Trek Leader
11. Will I have to lead the trek during the programme?

All slopes will have Indiahikes Trek Leaders and guides, who will guide students and volunteers. However, you will be responsible for keeping track of the students assigned to you and motivating them through the trek each day. You will have to ensure that you’re never too far away from your team.

12. How many students will be participating in the programme?

There will be roughly 40-50 students in a single group. These students will be split into around 5 teams of 8-10 each. As a volunteer you will be handling this team of 8-10.

13. Is there any pre-work to be done before the programme?

There are two things that you would need to do before you arrive for the programme –

  1. Work on your fitness – You have to be very fit as a volunteer. You will not only be trekking in high altitudes, but will also have responsibilities at the campsite before and after the trek. Doing all of this is possible only if you are physically fit.
  2. Go through the pre-read that we will share with you before you come. This will give you an idea of the activities that you will be conducting for students during the programme.
14. Can couples apply together for the programme?

Yes you can. But you will be going on two different slopes if both of you are selected.

15. What is the application process?

1. To apply, fill the form that is attached below.
2. If you are shortlisted, we will respond to you and set up a video interview with you.
3. If you’re further shortlisted after the interview, we will keep you posted over email.

Note: If we do not respond to you after you fill the form, it means you have not been shortlisted. 

To apply, fill this form. If you are shortlisted, you will hear from us within 48 hours.

If you know of somebody who might suit us as a volunteer, share this post with them. If you have questions, just drop in a comment.

The post Volunteers Required For A Management Game With IIM In The Himalayas appeared first on Indiahikes.

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Our Green Trails team from Sandakphu sends us lot of positive vibes this week. Every week is about managing your waste, upcycling it and safely disposing the non-recyclable. But this week has seen some tremendous energy on the upcycling front.

Read on to find out why we are happy.

We have been rigorous and regular with our waste management and upcycling workshops. Last two weeks alone saw the Green Trails team at Sandakphu take a lead on organising 12 workshops!
Here is a sneak peak at some of the highlights.

Our main work focus on community development in the villages in and around Jaubhari, our base camp for Sandakphu. Our team has been conducting workshops for Self Help Groups and schools.
These workshops focus on upcycling. Our Green Trails Fellows make participants understand why it is important to segregate. What’s more, one directly sees the benefits of using waste as raw materials to make useful items.

Green Trails Fellow Himanshu has been working largely in Sepi village. Last week, he and Intern Ritesh an eventful two days at Rimbick Higher Secondary School. Check out what wonders a lot of people, with a little effort and a dash of goodwill can do!

The teacher at the Rimbick school, Arun Pradhan had helped the Green Trails team organise the event. He divided the students into groups, provided sacks to collect waste and gloves to collect it. He was happy about how the competition turned out.

The active participation of the school and locals has created an action-oriented atmosphere – people want to do more. Himanshu plans to enable that through more village meetings and workshop sessions. He noted that locals welcomed new ideas. They liked working together, even it was just a few folks gathering. Here, we have Local Hero Anjala and her cousin Jeevan helping our team make bottle bricks and eco-pillows.

Such spontaneous sessions also give the Green Trails team to get to know the locals more personally. We are now thinking of more upcycling ideas.

For starters, the team worked on a process improvement of our eco-pillow project. We made a prototype for a different eco-pillow design.

Our travel size eco-pillows are great as souvenirs for trekkers. We hope that these cushion like pillows will come in handy at Anjala’s homestay shop and within the local communities.

With that, we are signing off for now. Watch out for our updates regarding our recent collaborations with the Forest Office and local NGOs.

Until the next update, stay tuned on our instagram page.

Have a green idea in your mind that could help the environment out? Comment below or write to our Green Trails Lead – Lakshmi at Lakshmi@indiahikes.com.

What you should do now

1. If you want to serve as a Green Trails Intern: Read this article by our Green Trails Head – Lakshmi.

2. If you want to work with us: Head over to our careers page. We have lots of positions open. We also have lots of applications coming in. So the sooner you apply, the better.

3. If you ended up here by chance and were actually looking for treks to do: Then head over to our upcoming treks page. You’ll find all our Himalayan treks there.

4. If you want to see the 13 best treks of India: Then get our guide.

The post 4 Schools, 12 workshops and 1,370 kgs of waste collected: Updates from Sandakphu appeared first on Indiahikes.

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B hrigu Lake is one of those treks you wonder why you haven’t heard about sooner.

For the first-time Himalayan trekker, this gem of a monsoon trek may not immediately jump to mind. Kedarkantha and Deoriatal-Chandrashila seem to be cemented as the two most popular options for first-timers. But don’t discount Bhrigu Lake so quickly.

Beautiful wild flowers bloom all around the Bhrigu Lake. Picture By: Subhashis Pal

I’ll put down why it’s the perfect choice for your first Himalayan trek:

1. A short journey to the basecamp

If you’re worried that you’ll be tired before your trek even begins, then Bhrigu Lake is the trek for you.

On most Himalayan treks, you have to deal with long drives on winding roads to reach the basecamp.

Picture it: You’ve had over a day of travel by train, bus or flight. And then you drive another 8 or so hours to your basecamp! For most experienced trekkers, this is a fine (if not enjoyable) journey.

But first-timers are often glad to learn that you can get to Gulaba, the basecamp for Bhrigu Lake, in just an hour’s drive from Manali.

Once you arrive, you immediately start your trek. After another hour and a half’s walk, you’ll get to your first campsite!

2. Short treks are best for first-timers

The Bhrigu Lake trek may climb to 14,000 ft, but it’s only a 4-day trek.

You’ll still learn about your capacity to deal with the cold. You’ll learn what it’s like to stay in tents, wash your utensils in the mountains, and answer nature’s call in a cat hole. And you’ll be back before you know it.

On the Bhrigu lake trek, you have only two full days of trekking, and 3 nights at a campsite.

Think of it this way. A limited dose ensures that a) you’re not biting off more than you can chew, and b) you’re much better prepared when you go on a longer trek next time.

3. Climbing to high altitude

It’s not often on such a short trek that you get to climb from 10,000 ft to a lake at 14,000 ft. So it’s not an easy climb.

But it’s incredibly rewarding to trek in the landscapes that such high altitudes offer. You’ll see the snow-capped peaks of famous mountains like Hanuman Tibba and Ladakhi in the background as you walk on high altitude meadows.

The impressive mountain views of Hanuman Tibba on the Bhrigu Lake trek. Picture By: Sonia Sharma

And of course, you’ll see the beautiful alpine Bhrigu Lake.

4. The two-fold benefits of high altitude meadows

You shouldn’t take the meadows on the Bhrigu Lake trek for granted. Usually, trekkers must wait days after beginning their trek to be able to see vast meadows at high altitudes. But you’ll see the meadows at Bhrigu Lake just 10 minutes into the start of your trek. There are meadows for days.

Meadows at the Rola Kholi campsite on the Bhrigu Lake trek. Picture By: Raghav Bhagat

And on a more practical note, the grassy meadows make the trek very easy on your knees. Even during the steep descents, the grass reduces the impact on your knees, making this an easy trek.

5. Trekking in the monsoon

Many trekkers have a fear of trekking in the rainy season. “What if I get wet?” Well, spoiler alert: you probably will.

But you’ll see the meadows at their lushest green in the months of July to September. You’ll spot wildflowers everywhere. The Bhrigu Lake will be a captivating blue cauldron across a ridge in the mountains.

And yes, it might rain on one day out of four. But your first trek will teach you to embrace all kinds of weather in the Himalayas.

Trekking in the meadows of Bhrigu Lake trek in the monsoons is a very satisfying experience. Picture By: Hari

So there you have it – 5 reasons why you should choose Bhrigu Lake as your first Himalayan trek!

If you have done this trek, tell us why you think it should or shouldn’t be a first-timer’s go-to choice in the comments section below.

What you should do now

1. If you want to read about or register for the Bhrigu Lake trek: Go here.

2. If you want to work with us: Head over to our careers page. We have lots of positions open. So the sooner you apply, the better.

3. If you ended up here by chance and were actually looking for treks to do: Then head over to our upcoming treks page. You’ll find all our Himalayan treks there.

4. If you want to see the 13 best treks of India: Then get our free guide book here.

The post Why Bhrigu Lake Is The Perfect First-Timer’s Trek appeared first on Indiahikes.

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Understanding the anatomy of the backpack is important. It helps you choose a backpack based on your needs. Often, I see trekkers buying backpacks without judging them on key parameters. It’s only during/after the trek that they realise what could have been better about the backpack.

In this article, I’m putting down the key parts of a backpack that most good trekking backpacks have. I’ve also indicated what each of their uses is. So look out for these parts if you’re buying a backpack.

The basic different parts of a backpack. Upper Compartment Top Pocket

This is where you keep things that you need to access quickly. Sunscreens, sunglasses, pocket guides, books, maps. This usually comes with a zip facing the back. Packing the top pocket is crucial. It gives shape to the backpack and helps it to balance.

Inner Top Pocket 

This is on the inside of the top compartment. Keep your batteries, headlamps, camera parts, power banks, and documents here.

The different straps and belts on the backpack. Middle Compartment Backpack Handle

This needs to be sturdy and strong. Most airline handlers grab backpacks by this handle and throw your backpack around. If your backpack does not have this, then they will grab what comes next, which is usually the strings near the upper compartment. Your backpack could do with insurance if that’s the case.

Load Adjuster Straps 

These straps are often ignored at their peril. These little busters help shift the load of the backpack to the right parts of your body. Tighten or loosen them to make the backpack sit snugly on your body. Without these, don’t buy a backpack. They are that important.

Contoured Shoulder Straps 

These are contoured in a boomerang shape. They hold firm and have padding. They never bend over your fingers. Pay close attention to this. Without the shape and the padding, don’t go near the backpack. These take the entire load of the backpack.

Shoulder Strap Adjuster

These keep the shoulder straps in place. They decide how the backpack sits. Too loose, the backpack slides towards your bottom. Too tight and the shoulder straps bite through your shoulders.

Tip: always readjust the shoulder strap adjusters after the first day’s trek. It takes a day for them to settle to the height and volume of the backpack.

Compression Strap

One of the least used straps by trekkers, yet very useful. They keep things together inside the backpack. These are the straps that keep backpacks in shape, which, when you trek, is very critical. An out of shape backpack is a hazard to trekking. This keeps the backpack balance in place.

Sternum Strap

Again, a load sharing strap that is rarely used by trekkers. Sternum straps ease the pressure on your shoulders. Without the sternum straps, a backpack can feel like a ton. With one, it magically spreads out. Use them.

Side Pockets

Terrific utility space to keep quickly needed stuff. Great for gloves, sunglasses, umbrellas, balaclavas, scarfs, medicine kits. Don’t overload or bulge the side pockets. It can affect the balance of the backpack.

Hip Belt

These help in reducing the load from your shoulders by almost 80%. It is the greatest suspension device in your backpack. Hip belts not only transfer the weight of the backpack to your hip, the burden of carrying the load moves to your legs as well. Hip belts are strictly not meant to hang down on your legs.

Hip Pouches

Modern backpacks have now added hip pouches to keep quickly accessible stuff. Useful to keep pen knives, matchboxes, pens, candies, chargers.

Stabiliser Strap

This connects the hip belts to the main body of the backpack. It helps to adjust the load of the backpack to the hips.  

Ventilation System

Any backpack worth its salt will need to come with a mesh-like ventilation system. It prevents your back from sweating, with air circulating around.

Lumbar Pad

This is the greatest asset for your spine. It keeps your spine straight, gives it cushion and prevents injury. The lumbar design makes a big difference. Avoid anything that is too spongy — those tend to push against your spine. Lumbar pads are another vital part of backpack design.

Side view of the backpack with all its different labelled parts. Lower Compartment

Traditionally this is where sleeping bags were kept. With organised trekking, use this space to keep your rain jackets, floaters, soiled clothes, liners.

Ice Axe Loops

Generally not used much by trekkers. Seasoned trekkers use them to hang ice axes or tools like carabiners. Definitely not meant to hang floaters or water bottles. Nothing must dangle from your backpack.

Accessories Pouch

For keeping water bottles or sundry accessories. Especially useful if you don’t like using hydration packs and need to dig into your water bottle. A backpack without an accessories pouch is almost useless. Also useful to keep litter, wrappers.

Rain Cover

Any decent backpack must come with its own rain cover. They are attached to the inside of the pouch so that they don’t get lost. Slides easily over the entire backpack.

Hydration Pouch

This is usually inside the middle of the backpack at the back. This is where you keep your hydration pack. There is usually a slit on the top for the nozzle to pass through. There’s usually also another pouch in front of the hydration pouch to keep maps or any important documents like a passport.

Getting a good backpack is important to take off the load from your back and shoulders. An improper backpack can quickly ruin your experience of a trek. Get it right and you will enjoy your trek to the maximum.

What you should do now

1. If you want to rent/buy a good backpack for your upcoming trek: Go to this page – We have an Adventure Worx for Indiahikes backpack up for rent/sale.

2. If you’re looking for treks to do: Then head over to our upcoming treks page. You’ll find all our Himalayan treks there.

3. If you want to work with us: Head over to our careers page. We have lots of positions open. We also have lots of applications coming in. So the sooner you apply, the better.

4. If you want to see the 13 best treks of India: Then get our guide here.

The post Understand These 18 Parts Of A Backpack Before Buying One appeared first on Indiahikes.

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This isn’t a story of a hero who collects tons of waste from the trail nor is the story of the hero who turns waste into gold. This is a simple story of a wise old lady who knows how to convert the plastic waste that she generates into something interesting and useful.

What makes Pavithra a local hero

Pavithra Thapa Manger is from Maneybhanjan, a small town close to the starting point of our Sandakphu trek. She is 65 years old and lives with her husband Balbahadur Thapa. They have been married for close to 47 years. They live in a small house near the Maneybhanjan school. She has three children, two of them working for the school and one is a homemaker.

For over thirty years, Pavithra and her husband have been running a small tea shop near the Maneybhanjan school. They sell Wai-Wai and other sweet bites. They are the favourite “Bada and Badi” for the kids from the school. Most of the kids spend their lunch break and sports period near this small shop. They have friendly conversations with this elderly couple and munch on their spicy “Aloo Mimi”.

Before our accidental visit to the school, little did we know about her. Pavithra has been upcycling plastic waste for almost 7 years now. So, you can imagine our surprise when we discovered what a wizard she is at turning the plastic that she generates from Wai-Wai noodle packets into beautiful mats. When we witnessed her weaving the mat using soft plastic waste, it reminded us of the weaver bird making its nest; swift, clean and natural.

The best part? She uses close to 200 plastic packets and covers to make circular mats which are 7 inches big. That is a lot of plastic being upcycled. It takes her less than a week to weave these multipurpose mats which she mostly uses at home. Sometimes she even sells it for Rs 100.

How Pavithra makes the mats Pavithra picks up waste from near her shop. Green Trails fellow Anas with Pavithra near the school.

The first step is cleaning the plastic wrappers with water. Pavithra then wipes them out with a cloth and later chops the plastic into long strips, each about 2 centimeters thick. After this step, she starts braiding the plastic with her magical hands and the outcome of this process is the lovely mats.

Pavithra teaches Green Trails fellow Smriti how to braid the soft plastic waste. Plastic mats made from plastic wrappers from Wai Wai noodles, biscuit packets and chocolates.

Pavithra also taught us how to make these mats, even then we took few days to understand the process of making them. She is disappointed that not too many kids want to learn this, though they see them making the mats often. She says that seeing kids of this generation litter plastic waste hear and there, breaks her heart.

What makes Pavithra keep going

When we asked Pavithra what motivates her to make these beautiful mats, she says that she can’t stand plastic being thrown around. Her husband added that plastic being thrown in open causes soil erosion and it can easily lead to land slides. They both believe that it is always necessary to do as much as we can in order to protect the environment. I see such a strong Green Trails spirit in Pavithra. She is someone who strives to create a lasting impact through her actions.
Pavithra has a message for everyone. She says that you don’t need to do big things but whatever you are doing, do it with uttermost dedication and become master of it. You can’t build an empire, if you don’t start it with a single brick.

Scroll down and send in your wishes for Pavithra in the comments section. We will make sure it reaches her.

Did you come across a local hero in the mountains? Write their story and send it to me at neha@indiahikes.com.

Have a green idea in your mind that could help the environment out? Comment below or write to our Green Trails Head – Lakshmi at lakshmi@indiahikes.com.

What you should do now

1. If you want to serve as a Green Trails Intern: Read this article by our Green Trails Head – Lakshmi.

2. If you want to work with us: Head over to our careers page. We have lots of positions open. We also have lots of applications coming in. So the sooner you apply, the better.

3. If you ended up here by chance and were actually looking for treks to do: Then head over to our upcoming treks page. You’ll find all our Himalayan treks there.

4. If you want to see the 13 best treks of India: Then get our guide here.

The post Local Hero Pavithra: How This 65-Year Old Finds Creative Ways To Upcycle Waste appeared first on Indiahikes.

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Late in May 2018, I went on the Kedartal trek. Needless to say, I loved every minute on the trek. The rugged landscape around Kedar Kharak is as clear to me today as it was on the trek. So are the graceful silhouette of Mt Thalaysagar and the roar of the Kedar Ganga river along the trail. But what made my trek so memorable was the fantastic team that I went with.

Working at Indiahikes, and being in HR for many years I know what it takes to put a team together. A good team of  trekkers don’t just show up at the base camp expecting to be escorted from one campsite to the next. They are completely hands on, helping with food and equipment, guiding each other on the trail, and being responsible towards each other’s safety. They are as much the ‘organisers’ as trekkers.

My team at Kedartal reminded me of this. They were fit, independent and became a team in no time. Half way through the trek, they seemed as much a part of Indiahikes as the staff! They were the ideal team to trek with.

The team had fit trekkers

The terrain on the Kedartal trek is very challenging. The trail from Gangotri to Bhoj Kharak on the first day ascends relentlessly at a steep incline. To add to that, there are sections with loose stones and slippery mud. The notorious spider wall makes an appearance in this section too. Despite this, even the last person to reach the Bhoj Kharak campsite took just 4½ hours.

On almost all days of the trek, the gap between the first and the last trekker wasn’t more than half an hour. This was because the team was fit.

Having a fit team of trekkers had many advantages — we often took breaks together and had our packed lunch together. As we trekked, we could have conversations with one another — we weren’t always huffing and puffing for breath. We had enough time to rest at campsites. And because we were well rested, we also had the energy to play, share stories and have fun together.

A fit team on the Gaumukh Tapovan trek. Picture by Bence Farkas Trekkers in the team looked out for one another

Every time I stopped on the trail to catch my breath, the nearest trekker asked if I was alright. I never felt alone on the trek.

Others experienced this as well. The youngest trekker in our team, an 8 year old girl who was often trekking some distance from her father, always had someone around to look over her.

At the campsites, people were quick to alert the Trek Leader with any health problem their tent mates were facing. They were also aware of what was happening with other trekkers. For example, when one of us had to stay back at Kedar Kharak because of AMS symptoms, on the acclimatisation walk, everyone cheered him up once we got back.

Crossing the tricky spider wall on the way back from Bhoj Kharak, on the Kedartal trek. Picture by Sudheer Hegde

During a tricky river crossing, a trekker rolled up his pants, took off his shoes and joined the technical guides and Trek Leader in the icy cold water to assist every team member to cross.

Sharing of cutlery and washing responsibilities, which usually happens by the last day of a trek, started on the very first day for us!

Trekkers were generous with others

I realized that good trekkers don’t hold back; they share.

Biscuits, chocolates and home made laddoos were passed around freely while trekking. If a trekker forgot to bring a mug or lunch box at tea time, they usually didn’t have to go back to their tent to get it. There was always a forthcoming box that he or she could dig into for snacks.

If somebody wanted to talk, there was always someone to listen to them. If somebody wanted to read quietly, they had their space. And if someone wanted to play, a group would fall into place.

The Trek Leader, technical guides and wonderful kitchen team that kept us safe and healthy on the trek. Picture by Sudheer Hegde

This generosity did not stop with the trekkers. I can think of several instances where trekkers offered water or food to resting porters. They were generous in their appreciation of the kitchen staff and quick to offer a helping hand to anyone who needed it.

The team was immersed in the trek

This was a team that had done its research about the trek well before arriving at the base camp.

At least half the team had seen the weather forecast for the week ahead. Almost everyone had read about the spider wall and other tricky sections on the trail. Quite a few knew the significance of the region we were in – Gangotri as a char dham spot, names of other well known treks there, past expeditions to mountains such as Meru and Thalaysagar etc.

This not only ensured that we were all mentally prepared, it also added a certain intensity to our trek.

Knowing that our trail coincided with that taken by expeditions to Mt Jogin made us more energetic.

Knowing that we were treading in the path of mountaineers made us hold our surroundings in awe.

But this is only part of the story. Even at campsites, trekkers were involved in everything that was happening. When we reached Bhoj Kharak, our Trek Leader announced that we would have to pitch our own tents. In no time, trekkers who knew how to do this, collected tents and poles and others just automatically drifted towards them to ‘pitch’ in. The campsite was up and running in twenty minutes, with no follow ups from the Trek Leader.

Our team, setting up the campsite at Bhoj Kharak. Trekkers were active at campsites

Except for a few who needed to rest, the entire team was almost always outside their tent. They were either outside soaking in the sun to stay warm or huddling together, playing a game.

The dining tent sessions in the evenings were lively as ever as we shared stories of everything from mountaineering history to Himalayan flora and fauna to the colourful swamijis at Tapovan.

In fact, on our last day at Kedar Kharak, I entered the dining tent at lunch time only to leave after dinner! Engrossed in conversations, little did I realize how time had passed.

We even followed up on some of the new things we learnt as we visited the ashram of a well known swamiji on our return to Gangotri and spent hours browsing through his book about the Himalayas.

Students of IIM Indore participate in the Himalayan Mountain Challenge to work on team building and people skills. Picture by Swathi Chatrapathy Trekkers respected the environment they were in

The trail from Gangotri to Bhoj Kharak goes through dense forests of pine and silver birch (bhoj) trees. In fact, the campsite gets its name from these trees. You find thin strips of bhoj bark all along the trail. These make for good souvenirs since our ancestors are known to have written on this before paper arrived. Nobody in the team had to be told not to strip this off the trees. We just picked what was lying on the ground.

This instinctive sensitivity to nature showed up in other things as well. Not once did we hear the jarring sounds of loud music on this trek. Those who chose to listen to music at campsites or on the trails did so on their headphones.

Because there was no unnatural noise, herds of bharal or blue sheep camp to graze on the slope opposite our campsite at Kedar Kharak. They stayed there for hours despite many of us trying to get close to them to click photographs or just to observe them. They were undisturbed, despite our proximity.

Since entry on the Kedartal trek is restricted, you don’t find too many trekkers here. Nor do you find dhabas or garbage on the trails. Yet, we had quite a few eco-bags filled with trash by the time we reached campsites. It was heart-warming to see such diligence on such a challenging terrain!

Why a great team matters on a High Altitude Trek

On a trek, where you’re with a team for days on end with no distractions, your team really matters. I’ll go as far as to say that your team can either make or break your trek experience.

I’ve seen experiences go horribly wrong because of the team — trekkers racing ahead with no concern for their teammates, blatantly unfit trekkers, demands for campfires… But what I experienced at Kedartal was a refreshing contrast to this.

I also realized that I could get only as much from a trek as I gave to it. This included giving my time to getting fit for the trek, getting out of my comfort zone to speak to people I had never met before, caring for people I might never meet again. Being in the midst of a great team, none of this was hard to do. It helped me put my personal concerns aside and become truly immersed in the trek.

I hope that, as a trekker, you get to experience this some time too. Because I can safely say that this team elevated my experience to a whole new level.

What you should do now

1. If you liked this post and want to read more such posts, go to this page – You’ll find many such Expert Opinions here.

2. If you’re looking for treks to do: Then head over to our upcoming treks page. You’ll find all our Himalayan treks there.

3. If you want to work with us: Head over to our careers page. We have lots of positions open. We also have lots of applications coming in. So the sooner you apply, the better.

4. If you want to see the 13 best treks of India: Then get our guide here.

The post What Makes An Ideal High Altitude Trek Team appeared first on Indiahikes.

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