Trip grading system
Our grading system applies specifically to our trips in the Himalayas, and so is relative for the holidays listed on this site. We consider trekking conditions including altitude, terrain, and daily walking time, as well as length of trip and accommodation in order to grade the trips.
To help you choose the right holiday we have tried to indicate where trips are at the upper end of the grade by showing this as a B+ trek for example. Where a trek is shown as B/C this means it is between these two grades.
Below is a guide to the grades which also gives a guide to daily walking time and altitude. In the Himalayas we usually measure a walk by the length of time it takes rather than mileage or kilometres, as the altitude, weather and terrain are more significant than the actual distance of a journey. Please be aware that the altitude and daily walking figures are provided as a guide only. Detailed walking profiles and daily statistics for each trek can be attained from the trip notes.
Grade A: Easy (“The Discoverers”)
These are touring holidays with short or half day walks to view a mountain vista, or a cuttural or nature walking tour. No previous experience is necessary at this level. You may be walking along cobbled streets, small village paths, or jungle walks in the national parks. Accommodation will mainly be in hotels and resorts.
Maximum altitude: not applicable
Daily walking time: up to 4 hours.
Grade B: Moderate (“The Adventurers”)
This is the first grade for dedicated treks. You will have longer days than the touring walks and reach a higher altitude. Remember this is the Himalayas, and so the trails will undulate and you should expect to have some ascents and descents. Some days may involve more difficult terrain and longer ascents. To enjoy this trek you should be in good health and be taking regular exercise. You will be walking on well maintained trails for the most part and the accommodation is usually mountain lodges.
Maximum altitude: approx. 3500-4000m
Daily walking time: 4-7 hours.
Grade C: Strenuous (“The Challengers”)
These treks require a good level of fitness and experience of mountain walking. These tend to be longer treks with more difficult days, some of which may involve walking at increased altitudes and more difficult terrain. These itineraries trek deeper into the Himalaya and therefore reach more remote locations. There may occasionally be a longer day when negotiating the more challenging sections such as a mountain pass or viewing peak. The terrain may be difficult at times with rocky or uneven paths to negotiate. Depending on your experience some training and preparation may be required. These trips tend to use mountain lodges, please check the detailed trip notes.
Maximum altitude: approx. 5500m
Daily walking time: 5-8 hours.
Grade D: Tough (“The Conquerors”)
These are the most difficult trips and require previous experience at altitude. The trek will involve prolonged periods at altitude in the mountains negotiating high passes, glacier crossings and repeated or high ascents. You will require a high level of fitness and stamina. Some trips graded with D+ will be expedition style camping treks which require technical climbing skills including use of crampon, ice axe, and rope skills.
Maximum altitude: approx. 6500m
Daily walking time: 6-9 hours.
Staffing & support
Our trips are fully staffed and supported. Whilst trekking, you will have the assistance of a group leader, Sherpa guides and porters. Our leaders are trained in mountain and wilderness safety and first aid, and are full time professionals working in the Himalaya. They are responsible for all members and staff throughout the trip. The quality of your leader can have a significant impact on your holiday, both in terms of success of your trek and enjoyment. We therefore have extremely high standards with leaders who have many years of experience, a broad knowledge of the culture and mountains and who are also keen and knowledgeable naturalists.
Our guides are there to support you and ensure that everyone can walk at their own pace and still have the safety of being near to a member of staff. The porters will carry your kit bags, so all you need to take is a day sack with essentials. The team are all specially selected and receive professional training from KEEP (Kathmandu Environmental Education Project) a sustainable tourism NGO. You can read more about our employment policy here.
General trek information
We know that you may have some questions about aspects of the trip relating to fitness and suitability. Below, there are some frequently asked questions. If your query is not answered here please click here to contact us and we will be happy to address any further queries you may have.
How far do you walk each day?
In the Himalayas we tend to measure a walk by the length of time it takes rather than distance covered. This is generally because the altitude, weather and terrain are more significant than the actual mileage of a journey. Due to this, the daily walking time varies between 5 to 9 hours. The longer days tend to be when crossing a pass, a glacier or at higher altitudes (between 4000-5000 metres). You will have shorter days when acclimatising at the beginning of your trek, and will be able to cover a greater distance on your descent due to the reducing altitude. The average daily walking time is logged in the Vital Statistics for your trek for each trip and the daily altitude gains are noted on the full itineraries available to download.
What pace do you walk?
People often worry that they will be the slowest member or that they must keep up with the pace. This should not be a concern. If you are comfortable that you can complete the trek this is the most important factor. We have assistant sherpas who will walk at your pace to ensure you have company and safety. The most important thing is that you do walk at your own pace and this is encouraged by your leader and his staff.
How fit do I need to be?
It goes without saying that fitness is paramount. The better prepared you are for your trek, the more enjoyment you will get. It is the stamina that is most important on these treks, rather than strength and speed. We would therefore recommend that you undertake aerobic exercise such as swimming, cycling or jogging to increase your fitness for a couple of months before your trek.
What about altitude?
As the altitude increases, the effects can be felt and trekking may become more strenuous. There is no way of predicting who may or may not be adversely affected. All of our trips are scheduled and designed to allow for normal acclimatisation and our staff are well trained to identify the symptoms and necessary treatment. You will be given an altitude briefing at the beginning of your trip. Once you exceed 3000metres the risk of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is more apparent, and you should adhere to the advice of your leader. Should there be any problems, there are two hospitals affiliated to the Himalayan Rescue Association where treatment can be given if required in the Sagarmatha National Park and a HRA post in Manang in the Annapurna National Park. We ask you to be honest and advise your leader of any symptoms you are suffering or difficulties you encounter immediately. The maximum altitude is noted in the Vital Statistics for each trip, and the daily altitudes are on the detailed itineraries.
Am I too old?
Some people wonder if only I had been able to do it when I was younger. Well you may be surprised to know that many trekkers are in the late 50’s and 60’s. Age alone is not the deciding factor, more over, fitness, common sense and adaptability, and the older members may often have these in greater abundance!