Trekking is an exhilarating adventure activity providing trekkers opportunities to travel to many awe-inspiring regions around the world. Eating and sleeping in Himalayan trail determines the success of your trek and your health and fitness. The better you sleep and the better you eat, the fitter you’ll stay.
Teahouse trekking might sound familiar only to those who have trekked in the Himalayas before. And for those who haven’t, this is probably the most popular style of trekking that involves going from one teahouse to the next. Teahouses are essentially small hotels found in local villages that offers both a place to sleep as well as home cooked meals to eat. Or you can call it a cross between a home stay and a basic hotel or guesthouse. On routes comprising adequate teahouses, you need not worry about carrying your food or bringing a tent. Quality varies enormously as different tea houses in different regions have different characteristics. Some of the teahouses are very basic while few are exceptionally nice with western style flush toilets, hot water shower, a selection of beverages including beer and a wide range of menu items. Eating and sleeping in Himalayan trail is crucial part of your journey.
Trekking in the Everest and Annapurna regions, you come across teahouses which resemble small hotels, but with a much more home-stay feeling. Most of them have cold showers available and a few even have hot showers, but for an extra cost. Electricity is usually available in the main dining area, which is, at few places charged on an hourly basis. Most rooms consist of two small cots having mattress, pillows and bed sheets.
Unlike many other countries, camping is not necessarily the custom in the Himalayas as trekking routes in Nepal is thronged with teahouse accommodation. But camping is still a common option for more off-the-beaten-path treks. Even home stays are not quite popular, but you could come across a few of them in some regions in Annapurna trail where local villagers have modified rooms in their houses into a trekkers’ bedroom.
High quality hotels are available on a very select trekking routes which costs a bit higher but has lower discomfort zones. They aren’t hotels in the urban sense of the word, and still resemble lodges, but every detail is just comfortable enough. These include electric blankets, hot water showers, towels, wall arts and wait-staff in the dining halls. This is how eating and sleeping in Himalayan trail continues throughout your trip.
Now, let’s talk about appeasing your stomach to fulfil your hunger cravings. Carbohydrate seems to provide faster energy while protein replenishes and keeps muscles healthy. Granola bars are power packed with energy contents as it consists of nuts, rolled oats, puffed rice and honey. A stable Nepali diet, Dal Bhaat i.e rice and lentils along with some veggies can prove crucial during a long and strenuous trek as it is rich in protein and carbohydrate. Though it may seem unusual to first timers, but it will keep you strong and full during the trek. Dried meat, fruits and chocolates can be a quick snack and may come handy when you feel you are losing appetite due to the increasing altitudes. Oatmeal is definitely the best meal you can have during a trek as it helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, while its fiber content helps digestion. Drinks such as glucose, salt & water solutions provide essential nutrients to the body while on the move. Food to be strictly avoided during trekking higher altitudes include canned food products or drinks, meat items, junk food, and sugar products like cookies and candy bars. Eat sufficient and eat right! You have to be careful while eating and sleeping in Himalayan trail walking. Once you do not have proper food and adequate rest, you are more likely to suffer from altitude sickkness.
Eating and sleeping in Himalayan trail is strictly on schedule as you will not get place for those activities all along the way. Breakfast offered by your teahouse usually consists of toast, eggs, potatoes and tea or coffee. In some places, the toast is substituted with freshly made chapatis or oatmeals boiled in water, hash browns, omelettes, pancakes or muesli and local cheese. Tsampa porridge is yet another contender for an energy-filled breakfast. The selection of meals on offer for lunch is extensive. If you are really hungry, then Dal Bhaat could possibly be the best option for lunch. Besides, other choices include Momos (dumplings), steak, soups, macaroni dishes and pizzas. Dinners are usually eaten in the teahouse or lodge where you stay overnight.
Synonymous with the Himalayas and high altitudes, hard dried yak cheese also known as the Himalayan candy could keep your mouth busy gritting to combat the high elevations. While paneer, a typical cottage cheese is a perfect meat substitute that can be consumed with added curry and spices. Additionally, instant noodles (Wai Wai), Noodle soup (Thukpa), flat bread (Paratha) and dry potato curry (Aloo Dum) are some other quick bites to replenish your tummy in case of urgency!
Eating habits during trekking is a big concern wherein many trekkers complain about acidity, low appetite, bloated stomach or bowel problems. Eating right while trekking is equally important as sleeping right is. Eating at regular intervals and sleeping adequately will retain your energy levels throughout your trekking journey. Don’t overeat as well as don’t under-sleep!!