Q: What kind of footwear will I need for skiing and snowboarding?
A: Into Wild Himalaya provides our guests with all gear and equipment during our skiing and snowboarding programs including skis or snowboard, ski poles and boots.
Q: What is snowboarding and is it difficult to learn?
A: Snowboarding is a sport that involves descending a snow-covered slope on a snowboard attached to your feet using a special boot set into a flexible mounted binding. Snowboarding was developed in the US in the 1960s and 1970s and was inspired by skateboarding, surfing and skiing. Snowboarding, like any sport, takes practice. It can be a bit frustrating in the beginning to learn to balance and turn, but if you are adventurous and want to try something new, then snowboarding is the sport for you.
Q: What is snowshoeing?
A: Snowshoes, sometimes referred to as webs, are footwear for walking over snow. Snowshoes work by distributing the weight of the person over a larger area so that the person's foot does not sink completely into the snow, a quality called "flotation".
Today they are mainly used for recreation, primarily by hikers and runners who like to continue their hobby in wintertime, but in the past they were essential tools for fur traders, trappers and anyone whose life or living depended on the ability to get around in areas of deep and frequent snowfall.
Q: What all do I need to pack for the winter programs?
A: Winter programs require cold weather gear. We suggest that you wear layers as it’s typically cold in the morning, but usually warms up during the day. We would recommend an insulating base layer, ideally made of moisture wicking material. Your base layer would be followed by another warm layer or two as well as winter jacket. While we provide guests with essential ski clothing, we suggest that you bring along a warm hat, gloves or mittens and sunglasses. You should also wear wool socks as they dry quicker and absorb moisture.
India, the world's fastest growing free-market democracy, is located in South Asia. While the seventh largest country in geographical area, it is the world’s second-most populous country with 1.1 billion inhabitants. Stretching from the mountainous barrier of the Himalayas in the north, the Indian Ocean in the south, the Arabian Sea on the west and the Bay of Bengal on the east, India’s coastline is roughly 7,500 kilometers, more than 4,500 miles. The northern parts of India are mostly snow covered mountain ranges while the southern and eastern regions of the country consist mostly of hills and plains. The wildlife of India is almost as varied as the country itself. India's diversity of wildlife includes lions, tigers, leopards, panthers, elephants and rhinoceros.
Full country name: Republic of India
Area: 3,287,590 sq km (1,229,737 sq miles)
Population: 1,129,866,154 (July 2007 estimate)
Capital City: New Delhi
Languages: Hindi, English
Religion: 80% Hindu, 14% Muslim, 2.4% Christian, 2% Sikh, 0.7% Buddhist, 0.5% Jains, 0.4% other
Government: Federal Republic
Industries: Textiles, chemicals, food processing, steel, transportation equipment, cement, mining, petroleum, machinery, rice, wheat, oilseed, cotton, jute, tea, sugarcane, potatoes, cattle, water buffalo, sheep, goats, poultry, fish
Major trading partners: US, Hong Kong, UK, Japan, Germany, Belgium, Saudi Arabia
People and Religion
Although India occupies only 2.4% of the world's land area it supports over 15% of the world's population, only China has a larger population. Nearly 70% of the population resides in more than 550,000 villages with the remainder in more than 200 towns and cities. Hindus dominate the religious population with eighty percent, followed by Muslims at thirteen percent and millions of Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains. With more than 20 major languages spoken and many other minor languages and dialects, Hindi is the most commonly spoken with English also widely spoken.
Medical and Health Information
Adequate to excellent medical care is available in major population centers, but is quite limited or non-existent in rural areas. Travellers should take precautions especially as it relates to food and water. It is recommended that travellers avoid drinking tap water, but bottled water can also have drawbacks and may include pesticides or other contaminants. The best solution is to filter, purify or sterilize water with chlorine or other treatments such as Aquamira.
Into Wild Himalaya especially vigilant about personal hygiene. Wash your hands frequently and be sure to clean cuts with iodine or antiseptics to avoid infection. Those planning to trek in the mountain areas of northern India should pay particular attention to the risk of high altitude related illnesses and take any necessary precautions including proper acclimatization.
In the event a doctor or medical facility is unavailable, it is important to note that most medicines can be obtained and purchased over the counter without a prescription
India is a country with varying religions, traditions, culture, languages, beliefs, heritage and customs. Sensitivity and consideration to these factors including society, customs, and culture is recommended and appreciated by Indians. Having a flexible, relaxed and adaptive approach to travel should help you in gaining respect and help you in managing any situation that may arise.
India represents a conservative society with both men and women modestly dressed. Visitors should give consideration to this and dress moderately with respect to covering shoulders and knees. Women should dress conservatively at all times, whether swimming or visiting temples or tourist attractions. It is considered polite to remove your shoes prior to entering or visiting someone’s home.
Some temples do not allow foreign guests to enter, so it is advisable to inquire beforehand or ask permission before entering any temple. Removing your shoes is mandatory prior to entering temples. Visitors should be fully covered with long sleeves and trousers or long skirt. Temple deities should not be touched.
Generally speaking, open displays of affection are considered offensive in India and should be kept behind closed doors in the privacy of your own room. You may notice that it is customary for Indian men to hold hands and show affection toward each other. This friendly manner should not be mistaken for homosexuality.
Prior to eating meals, it is recommended that you wash your hands and always use your right hand when eating or for any exchanges or handshakes.
In some areas, locals seldom encounter tourists and are typically fascinated to the point of staring. This is mere curiosity and general inquisitiveness and should not be considered rude.
Personal questions should not be taken as offensive in any way as more often than not, people will inquire about marital status, traveling arrangements or income. Simply respond with whatever you are most comfortable with sharing.
Begging is fairly rampant in India, but giving money to beggars is discouraged as it will only further encourage the practice and you will continue to be harassed. If you want to give, it is better to give where you know it will be most effective and beneficial so you should instead seek worthy causes where you know your money will go to good use.
Tipping in India is fairly common, but not always necessary. Although tipping those that assist you sometimes helps to ensure that you receive good service. This would include your hotel or guest room staff, luggage carriers and restaurant employees, but again, it’s considered a personal decision. At Into Wild Himalaya, our groups also donate to a Kitty (reference FAQs), which is often used for group tipping and activities. You are welcome to tip above that if you deem the service and quality as deserving of more. If you don’t know whether to tip or not, you may ask one of your guides and they can advise you on when and how much you may want to tip.
Shopping and Bargaining
It is more often the case that you are expected to bargain, although sometimes you will find fixed pricing in some of the more established shops and outlets. As a rule of thumb, you may want to lowball the price to a quarter of the original price and work your way up from there. If you are willing to take somewhat of a gamble and are not obliged to purchase, you can always walk away as a tactic, in which case they may come down to your offering price. Keep in mind though that in most cases, this is the only way and means for these small sellers and vendors to make a decent living.
While items are not necessarily essential you may want to consider bringing the following items when traveling.
Multi-purpose utility device such as a Swiss Army Knife or Leatherman
A course of Flagyl antibiotics
Water sterilization tablets or purifier (Iodine tablets, Aquamira, etc.)
Imodium or anti-diarrhea treatment
Mild antiseptic and hand sanitizer such as Purell
Pain reliever such as aspirin or ibuprofen
Re-hydration tablets, gels or powders
Facial tissue or toilet paper
Sterilized moist wipes
Sink stopper/plug for light washing or laundering
Headlamp, torch or flashlight