Turtle, Ecuador


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1 Review

  • Reviewed September 2019

    A Proper Adventure

    This was a remote trek in a tough mountain environment south west of Leh. After three days acclimatising in Leh, we spent around 10 days climbing high passes, crossing rivers in full flood and seeing few people outside our own little group. Every day was challenging. We experienced a range of weather from blizzard to heat wave, rain to frost and always a cold breeze at the top of every pass. And every day I would lie back in my tent after dinner and know I’d pushed myself and feel really good about it. We experienced unseasonable weather which forced changes to the itinerary, which our crew and leader were more than capable of dealing with. Heavy snow on the mountain prevented us from summiting Dzo Jongo but we reached the top of Konga Ri in brilliant sunshine and pristine white snow. Such was the nature of the trek that I was not left feeling disappointed at not getting the big mountain, as the whole experience was a proper adventure.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The most inspirational moment of the trek for me was the realisation that I had got to the top of Konga Ri. I’d had a few days of self doubt and I’d found the climb in deep snow tough. But when I got to the top of the mountain, dropped my pack and just took in the incredible panorama of Beautiful snow capped mountains, none of that mattered. I think the slice of cherry cake Tamchos, our guide, gave me at that point may have helped as well.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Valerie, our group leader, was more than a match for anything the mountains could throw at us. She was able to adjust the route and camp sites to deal with the delays caused by weather and still keep us on track. Her knowledge and experience came across in her confidence, which in turn gave us the confidence that we would complete the trek. Our group provided her with some challenges of her own, but they were all dealt with professionally and without fuss or drama. I certainly benefited from her advice and encouragement. And she has some great after dinner stories that made our experiences pale into insignificance!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The internal flight and trek weight limits mean you have to be ruthless with your packing. If I was going back this time next year I wouldn’t take a heavy down jacket (which I didn’t use) but instead I’d use a midweight one and several fleece and base layers. The river crossings are inevitable and cold and you need to wear some kind of protection for your feet as the riverbed can be sharp and uneven. I took cheap crocs but as there was walking between crossings and it wasn’t practical to keep changing back and forth, I would take a cheap pair of walking sandals next time (as did most of the rest of my group). I ended up walking in my light fabric boots, which was fine, but they took a full day of sunshine to dry out. If, like me, your previous treks have been the likes of Everest Base Camp and/or Kilimanjaro, know that this is physically and mentally much more challenging. I found it hard to accept that although we were climbing passes between 4800m and 5300m most mornings, we would descend again to camp much lower, losing the hard gained altitude. It’s the nature of the terrain and its good acclimatisation but it might sap mental stamina as well as energy. A good group dynamic helped me.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a fantastic adventure, full of hard challenges and amazing rewards. Leh and its surroundings offer an amazing cultural centre worth exploring. Once in the mountains, for every icy river crossing, there was a Lammergeier Vulture or Golden Eagle. For every muddy path there was a stunning landscape of rugged mountains and for every rainy day there was laughter in the mess tent. If you have doubts after reading my review, perhaps it’s not for you. But if it has fired you up, then sign up. I might see you in the next group!