OutThere Adventurers

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How do we travel?

The one good thing about travelling on a road trip like the one we conduct is the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. Some people travelling in smaller groups, some in larger ones. On some trip, particularly where there are more than a dozen participants, we will travel in a small bus. In other cases we will be on four wheelers, five to each vehicle. Of course, on motorcycle journeys, each participant will be on a motorbike. Pillions are not advised on most routes.

Can I bring my own vehicle?

We guess that should be all right. And if you are kind enough to accommodate a couple of people alongside you, that will be lovely. Travelling on your own vehicle will not affect the trip cost however. Fuel for your vehicle will also not be reimbursed.

Where do we stay?

Stay is usually a combination of camping and hotels. Check the itinerary for each trip to see which days you will camp and on which days you will be in a hotel. We either pitch our own camp or camp out at the sites put up by locals, depending on where we find ourselves. The hotel stays are what the local station offers – basic but very comfortable. Chances are that on these few nights when you will get hot water, flush toilets, sink, etc.

What about the kind of food we can expect?

Decent, wholesome, hygienic and filling, that is what can be expected. The variety may not always be up to the mark, particularly when we are outside of the cities. And we try and savour the local cuisine, as much as possible. And the best way to savour them is the local roadside eateries in most towns.

I have special needs for food due to medical reasons. Can a special fare be prepared?

We are sorry, it will be impossible to cater to special needs.
What about water?
Water is the source of many diseases. It is advised to always consume bottled mineral water. In case it is not available for some reason, have a bottle of water purification tablets handy. There are always a few spare bottles in our first aid kit, just in case you forgot to stock up.

Will we get some spare time to go around for shopping and stuff?

Of course there will be.

Is travelling to high altitude safe?

Not if you are not careful. Even then, altitude illness is never too far away. Do read the detailed document on high altitude and get informed about the perils.

Do I need medical clearance to go on this trip?

Yes. Medical facilities are not readily available and you should know whether you are fit to travel to high altitude. Advise your physician about the details of the trip and ask him to certify whether it is advisable for you to make the trip.

What about medical emergencies?

In many places the closest medical facility maybe miles away. However, we always carry a basic first aid kit and compressed oxygen (when in high altitude). The best remedy for altitude illness is to climb down to a lower altitude and that will be done as soon as is possible. Please note that our trips do not cover medical evacuation or tackling any medical emergencies beyond basic first aid and the fastest transfer to a medical facility..

Is consumption of alcohol permitted?

Consumption of alcohol, apart from being injurious to health and dulling the senses and reflexes, also speeds up the onset of altitude illness. It is highly advisable to refrain from the consumption of alcohol, any psychotropic substances or any mind altering drugs during any trip to high altitudes..

Can I cut short my trip and fly back independently?

Do we need to get our own gear?

Personal gear, medicines, etc have to be brought by you. As will be a sleeping bag. Go through the checklist at the end of this document. As long as you stick to that list you should be all right.

Do we need to prepare for these trips? If yes, how?

As long as you are reasonably fit and not suffering from any chronic ailment you should be able to make these trips. However please remember that altitude is a funny place to be. Supremely fit mountaineers get hit by it. Also, if you have travelled to high altitude many times before and have never suffered from altitude illness, does not guarantee that you are immune to it. Conversely, someone who has suffered before may not suffer the effects of altitude ever again. Be cautious, take the necessary precautions and most importantly, always listen to your trip leader. Denial of the symptoms is one major reason why altitude illness can become dangerous.

Is the trip covered by insurance for the participants?

No. But we advise that you check your insurance status. It is a good idea to add Mediclaim as well as Personal Accident Insurance in case you are not already covered by it. Any person bringing their own vehicle will also have to handle their own vehicle insurance.

What about communications facilities?

Communications facilities are pretty good almost everywhere. There are phone booths from where you can make national and international phone calls. Internet cafes are also springing up almost everywhere. Most places are also in the cell phone network, though not all. We have also found many of our guests thanks their luck at not being "connected".

What do I need to bring with me?

This checklist puts together a basic list of the things you need to be aware of - baggage, hygiene, clothing, first aid, medical, etc. Go through it, it has been collated after being miles and miles on the road and have found them to be extremely useful. Some of the items are important enough to be able to save your life at times. Do not ignore them.

•  Carry your stuff in a rucksack or a duffel bag. Suitcases are not a good idea.
•  A small pouch bag for immediate essentials.

The guiding principle is to carry what you wear. Usually people carry more clothes than they will ever need. Clothes should be enough so that on the coldest day, your rucksack is empty. Some things that need to be part of your clothing follow.
•  A windproof, preferably waterproof jacket.
•  4 T-shirts, preferably full sleeved ones
•  Track suit bottoms. Along with good thermals, they work wonders even during mild cold.
•  Cargos. They tend to be warm, more windproof and have convenient pockets. Jeans are not recommended since they are heavy, not flexible enough, are cold when wet, take a long time to dry.
•  Thermal underwear is a must.
•  Warm socks.
•  Sturdy and well worn boots. And make sure they have an ankle support. And remember to pick up boots that are almost two sizes too big. This will accommodate two pairs of socks for cold weather. Moreover, if you have to walk, the feet will swell and with shoes that are a perfect fit, you will develop painful blisters.
•  Warm, thermal lined gloves are a must. Spend money to buy a good pair.
•  Down or polyfill jacket and trousers. Avoid leather.
•  A good sleeping bag.
•  A thick balaclava (‘monkey’ cap) is a good idea.
•  Sun glasses with high UV protection, not just coloured glasses!. Ultraviolet light and radiation is very high in higher altitudes. In extreme cases you might end up with snow blindness or retinopathy.
•  Wide brimmed hat or cap.

•  Toothpaste and brush. Carry spares.
•  Shaving kit (if you really want to shave).
•  Shampoo (no hot water though at most places).
•  Toilet paper rolls (a definite necessity).
•  Hairbrush/Comb (if you really want to).
•  Towel. A hand towel is also a good idea and should be kept close at hand at all times.
•  Soap paper (not cakes).
•  Petroleum jelly (vaseline) and lots and lots and lots of it. Dab your lips, cheeks, nose and all exposed skin at every opportunity or soon the skin will dry and turn pink and then black and will eventually start peeling off making the whole thing extremely painful and uncomfortable, not to mention that you will have to cancel that wedding if you were planning to get married right after your trip - you will look a sight!
•  Scissors. You never know when you will need them. Maybe not for hygiene, but for a myriad other unforeseen and unimaginable circumstances. Always carry one in your pocket. In fact, carry a Swiss Army Knife. It has a pair of scissors and a host of other tools you might end up needing.
•  Apart from grooming your nails, you might get ingrown toe nails that can get very painful, particularly when you have to walk after being on the road for many tiring days. Carry a nail clipper at all times.

Personal first aid kit
Many drugs are listed here. One word of caution, though. Please, please, please check with your physician about the conditions you will encounter and the drugs you have been advised by your friends. Take his advise and only then pack your medicine bag. The body is a unique piece of machinery and only a doctor will be able to tell you what is required for you.
•  Pain killing tablets - Brufen for aches and pains though Combiflam is better since it also tackles fever which usually accompanies pain in a tired body.
•  Water purifying tablets. Never leave home without them. Locals might be drinking water and offering you the same. But they are used to it and you are not. Use the tablets, they might save you from contracting hill diarrhoea.
•  Paracetamol (also aids in high altitude acclimatisation). Crocin is good. But if you plan to pop one for acclimatisation, there is a better option.
•  Diamox tablets are prescription medicine for high altitude acclimatisation. Due to the lack of oxygen, blood tends to progressively thicken, leading to lesser and lesser oxygen reaching the lungs. Diamox prevents the thickening of the blood. One tablet in the morning after breakfast should usually be good and you will not require it once you have spent a few days in high altitude. But if you feel that a second tablet might make you feel better, take another before going to bed. It takes about an hour for you to start feeling better, so give it time, don’t panic.
•  Anti nausea tablets are useful to have around. Symptoms of nausea are part of acclimatisation and a tablet can ease the queasy feeling substantially. Also, it will help if the food has not agreed with you and you develop mountain sickness on the winding roads.
•  No amount of medicinal plaster (Band Aid) will be enough. A nick here, a blister there and out comes a strip. Pack the waterproof variety, in various shapes and sizes.
•  Blister pads and burn creams might come in use when you singe yourself accidentally or otherwise.
•  Crepe bandage is useful for sprained ankles and twisted knees, which are quite common when you are on non existent roads.
•  Antiseptic spray. Needless to explain why.
•  Pain spray/balm/ointment.
•  Anti diarrhoea tablets. You don’t want to be constantly searching for the nearest tree or bush.
•  A tired body does not always feel hungry. Vitamin supplements are a boon in such situations or when food is still some distance away.
•  Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) and salt tablets are good for instant relief in case of dehydration.
•  Any prescription medication you are on.

These days are characterised by security measures pretty much all around the world and India is no exception. Particularly given the very sensitive nature of our borders. Apart from the military tension in some areas, others are also conduits for insurgents, smugglers and also allegedly routes for a flourishing, though illegal, narcotics trade. It is always good to carry identification papers.
•  Valid driving licence.
•  Passport.
•  Voter Identity Card.
•  Business cards.
•  Blank personal letterheads so that you can write applications in case you are required to do so.
•  Passport size photographs, preferably attested by a gazetted officer of the Indian Government.

•  Camera, lots of film, flashlight and spare batteries. Batteries tend to run out pretty fast in cold weather and it is no fun to be out of batteries particularly when you are at a fascinating location, want to record it on film, but can’t because you have run out of batteries. Or film for that matter. Carry lots of film. Also, protect your camera from the elements. Sand is no good for the lenses. Wrap the camera up in chamois leather or put it in its case. Carry chamois leather and use a blower brush to clean your camera regularly.
•  A video camera is a very good option if you really want to document your journey in moving pictures. Carry lots of tapes.
•  Binoculars are very useful to check out distant sights and to take a closer look at flying birds, distant wildlife and sights way into the horizon.
•  High energy snacks. Food may be some distance away and it always good to be prepared in case you need to skip a meal. Carry lots of chocolates and Threptin biscuits. Dry fruits are good too - cashew nuts, peanuts, raisins, dates, etc - small in volume but huge in energy.
•  From cutting things to peeling fruit, a knife is always useful.
•  Sewing kit. You never know when you might need it. Carry some spare needles, thread, buttons, thimbles, etc.
•  A small mirror. This will help you look at yourself to remind yourself from time to time of the person staring back at you. More importantly, the mirror can be very effectively used as a signalling device in case you are lost/stranded and cannot move around to get help. Get a signalling mirror with which you can accurately direct the glare to the targeted area.
•  A note book and pen is very useful to document your journey. Places visited, names and addresses of friends you make along the way, distances of various places from important locations, etc.
•  Torch (head mounted is best) with lots of batteries.
•  Water bottle (at least two liters). One way to prevent or at least delay the onset of high altitude illness is to drink lots and lots of water, almost to the point of nausea. Remember to add the water purifying tablets, though.
•  Re-sealable plastic bags are useful for items that have become wet. Carry at least half dozen, in assorted sizes.
•  A whistle can attract attention of people in case you have gotten into some kind of difficulty, either in the dark or if passers-by cannot see you or if you are too weak to shout to attract attention. Attach a string and hang the whistle around your neck so that it is always with you. Go for a whistle which has a good shrill pitch, sacrifice aesthetics if you have to.
•  A weatherproof lighter, preferably an electronic one since at higher altitudes there is not enough oxygen even for the lighter to fire. And, always carry matchboxes as spares. In one of the earliest expeditions to Mt Everest in the 1920s, an expedition had to turn back from within striking distance of the summit since they had run out of matchboxes without which they could not light a fire to melt ice for water, got terribly dehydrated and turned back! A kingdom can be lost because of a horse shoe.
•  Spare boot laces are something you never remember to pack since your existing laces are just fine. You would probably never need a spare pair of laces, but be rest assured that they are going to snap on that one trip when you are not carrying a spare pair. It does not take any space, just pack a couple of spares. There may be other things you might wish to tie.