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There's plenty of it and often our clients say that food on trek is even better than meals in hotels. Certainly it is important to eat and drink as much as possible on trek, as you will be using a lot of calories each day.
Menus vary from one country to another, but a typical day's meals would be as follows:
Breakfast – cereals or porridge, eggs to order – usually scrambled eggs or fried eggs, toast or chapatis, honey or peanut butter, tea or coffee. Sometimes tinned bacon or sausage.
Lunch – in many regions the trek chef will provide a simple hot meal for lunch if there is water at the lunch stop for cooking. This could be, noodles/potatoes, curry, salad, rice and dhal, fried tinned meat and vegetables, chapatis or bread, tea or fresh Himalayan organic coffee/fruit juices. Sometimes when crossing high passes or drier regions a packed lunch will be provided which may consist of some of the following: bread and jam sandwiches, chapatis, chicken, boiled eggs, oranges or apples, chocolate, cartons of juice. Arriving in to camp – usually there will be tea and biscuits, sometimes cake if available.
Evening meal – pop corn , papadums and ocassional audorfs such as Danish blue cheese, olives, salami, salamite etc followed by soup and the main course.And sometimes a glass or 2 of Imported wine is offered. Responsible Adventures provide the varied menu in the Himalaya. Meals vary from typical 'trekking food' to Thai Green/red curry, yak/buff rendang curry, pasta carbonara, tuna pizza with a sprinkle of himalayan oregano to Yak/Buff steak with cream and mustard sauce. We are looking to adding more gourmet dishes to our food list according to it's availabilty. Condiments often include salt and pepper, tomato ketchup, chutney, brown sauce or hot chilli paste.
It is amazing what our trekking chefs can produce on occasions. With quite basic equipment they manage to produce very good cakes with icing, apple tarts, pizzas, fried chips, spaghetti, pasta and we have even known them to produce jelly. On the majority of treks most of the food is carried in from the road head, and depending on the area, this may be supplemented by the trek cook/sirdar purchasing additional vegetables in villages.
It should be understood that on long strenuous treks some of the food items would not last the whole distance, such as eggs, and fresh vegetables like cabbage or cauliflower. Our chefs are well versed in producing a variety of menus and will almost always be able to accommodate specific requests. The most common of course is chips, chips and more chips.
Meat occasionally is taken on trek ‘on the hoof', and occasionally chickens might be purchased on route. In most countries tinned meats/sardines are carried to supplement fresh meat. Although trekking companies provide ‘snacks' such as boiled sweets or chocolate bars we highly recommend that trekkers bring their own little supply of ‘goodies'. Responsible Adventures also provide a variety of ‘goodies' such as chocolate bars, nuts and raisins, fruit bars or perhaps a variety of ‘treats' such as cheesecake mixes, fruit cake.
Whilst we do not advocate consumption of huge quantities of alcohol on trek many people like to have the odd ‘wee dram' in the evening in the mess tent. We suggest the purchase of half bottles of duty free spirits in plastic bottles. Drinking does not aid acclimatisation! Only when you are acclimatised should you consider drinking alcohol. Very often local spirits such as Rakshi or Chang are available for purchase in local villages – they are acquired tastes! Invariably a source of these ‘interesting' liquids is discovered for the end of trek parties.
The trek chefs and assistants are trained to prepare the food hygienically and antiseptic water is provided for you to wash your hands before mealtimes. Special diets Vegetarians can be catered for quite easily. Other special diets can be accommodated with plenty of advance notice.
Will I get a stomach upset?
If you take sensible precautions you should maintain a healthy balance. Your trek chefs are trained to prepare the food hygienically and antiseptic water is provided for you to wash your hands before mealtimes. The main danger comes in eating and drinking in cities. Untreated water is the main cause for difficulties. In cities drink only water you know to be safe or treated, do not brush your teeth in the tap water and keep your mouth closed in the shower. Virtually all hotels provide a jug of drinking water which they claim to be boiled and filtered but our advice is to treat this with caution.
The initial International flight is often a cause of problems, in that it can cause mild constipation. Try and keep yourself regular! Other tips are to wipe your knife, fork and plate with a paper napkin or handkerchief, particularly if they look wet. Do not eat anything from street vendors unless it is fried up in front of you, certainly do not eat cold, sweetmeats or ice-cream, cream cakes and trifles as they are sometimes sources of strange bugs. Do not eat fruit unless you can peel it. Do not eat prawn dishes unless you are in a 5 star hotel.
During the day as you pass through remote country you may well meet locals, shake their hands and then unthinkingly eat sometime afterwards - this is not a good idea! Always try and wash your hands before eating. . Wash your hands after going to the toilet. On trek remember to bring your drinking bottle to the mess tent at night to be filled with boiled water. This can then be used as a hot water bottle and consumed as drinking water the following day. If you have to fill up with water the following day on trek then use iodine drops. It is very rare for anybody to suffer serious stomach trouble and this inevitably follows a lapse in prudent caution.
There is no reason why you should contract stomach trouble if you take sensible precautions, those people that do encounter ‘travellers tummy' will usually find that this is merely an inconvenience, a loose bowl movement, but with rarely a feeling of illness as well. We do not advocate the use of Imodium, which does not serve to cure an illness but merely provides another problem – that of constipation if too much Imodium is taken. Anyone going on trek should take the precaution however of carrying with them a course of antibiotic suitable for countering any major stomach trouble.