I recently travelled to Bali, Indonesia where one of the highlights was trekking Bali’s highest volcano, Gunung Agung. Sadly, we weren’t quite prepared for just how much of a hike was involved. Perhaps I was too focused on the destination and less on the journey. In other words we just weren’t fit enough! With this in mind I set out to get some advice from the people in the know.
Hear from our resident Rickshaw trekkers who have clocked some serious peaks. Alex Burgess, a professional fitness trainer based here in Brighton, offers his tips for building up your trekking fitness. And Kora, the adventure clothing specialists, help us understand more about layering up for a trek – plus we’re offering our readers a 10% discount on Kora clothing (valid until Thursday 4th February 2016).
Words of wisdom for a volcano trek in Bali
The shrill sound of our alarm clock going off at 1am was how our volcano trek in Bali started. And so it was with sleepy eyes and foggy minds we dragged our weary butts out to meet our guide who drove us in the dead of night up to the foot of the volcano. It was so dark we were barely able to see 3 metres ahead let alone to the top of the towering 3000m volcano above – perhaps a good thing!
Left to my own devices I would have turned up with a pair of old flip flops and a flimsy jersey! Luckily my sister had the foresight to bring along some magical items, starting with this head torch.
The first half of the climb up Gunung Agung is not too bad, there’s a path to follow and the incline is fairly friendly but there are a lot of tree roots, vines and loose rocks to navigate around so a head torch is a real bonus – it also allows your hands to remain free.
The path does narrow and gets much steeper the higher you go, with some awkward angles so trekking poles can really help give leverage when there’s nothing else to grab on to.
And lastly a backpack with a water bladder system (pictured below) – this made it much less cumbersome to get to my water which meant I could simply trek and sup, sup and trek. Perfect.
Entertaining your guides in Nepal
An avid traveller and trekker, our MD Haydn‘s favourite thing in the world is trekking through Nepal – here he tells us why it’s ever so important to think beyond the trek – evening entertainment is minimal in the mountains after all.
“If you’re moderately fit, trekking in Nepal should present no problem. The mountains give you an amazing energy boost. Lunges would be a great way to prepare however.
There is a lot of climbing and descending up and down rocky steps in Nepal. Though there is very little walking on the flat, there is always a tea house at the top of pretty much every hill you have climbed where you can reward yourself with the view and a drink before heading off again into the next valley.”
“Once out in the Himalayas, although you may find yourself going to bed wonderfully early, you also have to make your own evening entertainment. Things like magic or card tricks are always especially well received by the locals and other trekkers – after all this is your big chance, in this environment you have everyone’s attention. Oh and also I always take some chili sauce, although Dal Bhat is delicious, sometimes a bit of extra spice helps.”
Remember to pace yourself for Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka
“It’s definitely worth having a good stretch both before and after the climb (the climb down was actually more painful for me) so stretching your limbs will ease any aches. Also, pace yourself! I was so excited to get to the top that my guide had to keep telling me to slow down to conserve my energy and he was right – the steps nearer the top are narrower and much steeper so they’re much harder work.”
“Next up bring layers & sweets. We set off in the early hours and although it’s hot work climbing through the night, when you’re waiting around for sunrise at the top of a mountain at 5 o’clock in the morning…it’s really nippy and windy! And sweets because…I love them and it’s good to have the occasional sugar boost to keep you going (just like running a marathon!).”
Be ready for the altitude of Machu Picchu in Peru
Our resident Peru specialist, Ross isn’t best known for his love of overly strenuous activity (I may get a barrage of abuse for saying that, sorry Ross!) but he didn’t let a little mountain defeat him. Oh no, Ross took to those peaks of Peru like a duck to water. Not only did he survive but he genuinely loved it and came back brimming with tales to tell and wisdom to share.
“The treks are a special way to get to Machu Picchu and very rewarding, the altitude can be hard to prepare for, but improving your fitness will definitely help! Try going on long walks and hitting the gym. A better fitness level will always help, though our experienced guides are there to help with all fitness levels.”
“A walking stick is a must, certainly for those less experienced hikers such as myself; you can pick one up locally very easily so you don’t have to bring one from home. And for those dark nights in a tent a torch can make all the difference if you don’t manage to sleep after a long day of trekking.”
Fitness Trainer Alex shows us how to get body ready
Alex has been in the fitness industry for over 9 years, he started in commercial gyms and now runs his own personal training and private gym in Brighton, Fitnesshub. His working philosophy is functional training, using the body as it’s own gym and incorporating everyday movements into a workout. Alex shows us his 5 top training tips for trekking to get your body ready.
Fitness is a must for Torres del Paine in Chile
Ceri is our Chile enthusiast and is also probably the fittest of the Rickshaw team with a number of marathons under her belt. Ceri had some serious adventures trekking the snow peaked caps of Torres del Paine and shares with us just why fitness is a must.
“Trekking in Torres del Paine is not for the faint hearted – it’s very steep and hard going so you really need to be used to walking 5 plus hours a day. Yes the stunning views make it all worthwhile but if you don’t have the strength or stamina it could easily ruin the whole experience!”
“Layers are all important when trekking as you get pretty hot climbing up but quickly get cold when you’re resting. Light gear is all the better for carrying when you aren’t wearing it so definitely worth thinking about.”
Prepare your feet for Mount Kinabalu in Borneo
Chloe is our Borneo specialist and has been many times, she counts climbing Mount Kinabalu as one of her most treasured experiences but wouldn’t be singing its praises if she hadn’t taken good care of her feet!
“Firstly, I’d recommend getting started with preparation at least one month before travelling. To prepare myself for my trip to Borneo, and in particular Mount Kinabalu, I went walking regularly, seeking out terrain with steep inclines to strengthen my leg muscles. Leg weights and stretches are also good if you go to the gym. But my golden tip is to practice walking in the shoes you’ll be climbing in to avoid blisters!”
“Oh and good socks! It’s also a good idea to bring a warm hat or headband to wear when you get to the top. With our trips all food and water will be supplied, but it’s always nice to have extra snacks to munch on along the way.”
Kora make high-performance yak wool technical clothing for outdoor adventurers. Yak is a natural super-wool that’s softer, warmer and more breathable than merino. And what’s more they source their wool themselves from nomadic herder families in the Himalayas. That’s why we love them!
Here’s what Kora say about what to wear…
“When choosing what layers to pack it’s worth remembering these three things…(1) for base layers don’t underestimate the importance of wool’s natural anti-microbial properties, (2) for mid-layers look for versatile pieces that are light, pack small and don’t lose their warmth when wet, and (3) for your outer-layer remember this is only really going to get used in emergencies (as in a heavy shower or a snowstorm) so make sure it’s light – no need for insulation in your outer layer – and keep it in your day pack.”
Thanks Kora! And in tribute to the mighty yak here’s a photo of one whose wool was used in their garments in 2015. The Kora team took this photo on the Tibetan plateau in August 2014.
It really doesn’t matter if your holiday is a one trek wonder or a dedicated trekking spree it really is worth arriving physically fit and with the right gear to help you reach for the skies.