How many people will there be in my group?

Our philosophy results in smaller groups (6-12 participants) to maximise everyone’s enjoyment and safety. Maximum and minimum group size is specified for each adventure. Private groups may choose to have a larger (or smaller) group and we’ll work with you to design just the adventure you’re after.

What type of people come along?

Our trips tend to attract a wide range of people, both women and men, from about 20 to 60 or more years old, with an extremely wide range of travel and climbing experience. Participants tend to be seeking a good quality, safe, well supported, good value and enjoyable adventure rather than the lowest cost. We have a good proportion of return clients, referrals from return clients and people who have found us by word of mouth, and it is not uncommon for people to invite their spouse, friends or adult children on their next adventure, particularly for trekking trips. The nationalities of our clients are also varied, but we do have a high proportion of Australians (that’s how word of mouth works, I guess!) as well as people form the UK, New Zealand, USA and more. Most participants make the effort to prepare for their adventure which helps make life enjoyable for everyone.

Am I too old? Is my child too young?

Reasonable physical and mental ability are required on many SMJ adventures, and we’re very happy to talk to you about any specific concerns you may have. We’ll bring our experience over many years and assistance from our medical advisor to bear in these discussions, and may also talk to your medical advisor, with your permission. We do ask participants to get their doctor’s approval and require our participants to provide some medical history so our leaders can be appropriately prepared while they are in the field. Young children may find the rigours of trekking requires more resilience than they are used to. In short – it very much depends on the person. You will find guidance on preparing for your trek on each adventure’s web page, our info packs and trip dossiers.

Who is the leader?

SMJ adventures are led by experienced, capable, first-aid qualified and personable leaders. On Himalayan adventures your leader will have specialist experience in expeditions and altitude and for climbs may be a mountain guide trained under the UIAGM system. Our less remote treks are sometimes run by our trek- and climbing-qualified Nepalese staff.

What about the local staff?

Our local staff have a vital role (in fact many roles!) to play in making your adventure a wonderful experience. We carefully select good people and help them to build their skills and competencies through formal and informal training and immersion in our adventures. We’re sure you’ll enjoy the experience of sharing a walk with the locals, and having the opportunity to learn from them about their world and perspectives. The high level of service we like to provide means that camping treks and climbs usually have quite a number of staff, including kitchen staff, porters and local sherpas or guides. SMJ supports the good work of the IPPG (International Porter Protection Group) and places a high level of importance on the health, safety and well-being of our local staff and provide accommodation and food for our local staff.

Will we be camping?

Another aspect that varies with the specific adventure, but many of our treks and all of our climbs journey from comfortable hotel to pretty comfortable camping and back again (which always makes that hotel feel good!). We find that individual tents work well, as do double-thickness sleeping mats and trip-specific sleeping bags. In the Khumbu and Annapurna regions we use the incredible infrastructure and stay in ‘teahouses’. These are often fairly spartan twin rooms with a walls, window and a simple bed. Our trekkers (including on the trekking phase of our climbing adventures) dine in a shelter or tent at a tables and chairs which makes life more comfortable! In many places we can often arrange a small amount of electricity for charging cameras etc, but this is not always possible.

What’s the food like?

Food arrangements are specific to each adventure, but we provide three meals a day while on the track. In cities we provide breakfast and, depending on the trip and the nature of the activities may also cater for lunch and dinner for the group. In the Himalayas our kitchen staff have been training for years and work magic over gas or kero stoves in their kitchen tent.

While trekking our cooks prepare a varied menu of wholesome, tasty and plentiful food using fresh ingredients where possible.

  • A trekking breakfast in the Himalayas usually includes cooked foods (e.g. egg, tomatoes), cereal or porridge, toast & spreads and fruit. 
  • Lunch is often soup and a packed lunch, or a cooked lunch.
  • Dinners are generally soup, a main meal ( one of many Asian or European style dishes) veges, and a dessert (fruit to custard to baked apple pie!)
  • Drinking water: will be provided at camps (collected with care, filtered, treated with chemicals and/or boiled), and at lunch time where possible. It is wise to carry a small amount of purifying chemicals (e.g. Iodine or chlorine) with you, in case you happen to need water at an odd time. In the developing world care should be taken to avoid untreated water and potentially contaminated foods like uncooked salads and some fruit. Bottled water is available in cities, but of course you can treat tap water in your own bottle too.

Toilet facilities en route

Always carry your own loo paper
Good toilet facilities are usually available in hotels & restaurants
While trekking an expedition toilet tent/shack and pit will often be prepared away from tracks, camps and water resources.

Do I need to have trekking experience?

Some outdoor experience will make your trek less confronting and thus probably more enjoyable. Look for more info in the pages about your trip of interest.

Will I have to carry a lot of weight?

The SMJ philosophy is about supporting you to succeed, so we use porters (or yaks, horses etc) to transport our group equipment as well as your own bag of trekking gear, so you will be able to trek with a day pack. Those on climbing adventures should check the trip info pack.

What should I bring?

There is a comprehensive gear list for each adventure, but in short: good footwear, layers of breathable clothing for day and night, day pack, trekking poles (they seem to help relieve stress on knees and ankles), and tools to enjoy your adventure.

What if I get sick or have an accident?

Despite the best precautions, people do sometimes fall ill, sprain something or develop symptoms of AMS. Our expedition leaders will manage your care keeping in mind what’s best for you and the rest of the group. Our precautions include first aid qualifications and kits, emergency communications, evacuation plans, your travel insurance cover and our pre-preparation and medical advisors.

What about altitude sickness?

AMS Acute Mountain Sickness (or altitude sickness) is the body reacting to the stress of high altitude. It is a concern for trekkers in the Himalayas and elsewhere above about, approximately, say (is that enough vagueness!) 3,000m. Exposure to high altitude can lead to a number of ‘normal’ physiological reactions as well as mild to extremely serious illness and even death. SMJ takes the risk of AMS seriously and work hard to avoid and minimise it. We ask our adventurers to do the same and we educate, coach and monitor our trekkers and climbers in how to take care of themselves and each other and what to look out for. Our treks are designed with relatively slow acclimatisation schedules, rest days and alternative options. And we have medications and a number of management strategies in place should they be required. Don’t be unduly concerned, but please talk to us if you have questions.

I don’t have much time, can’t we do it quicker?

Our adventures are designed around what we feel is the optimum itinerary, which incorporates adequate time for the suitably fit participant to do the trek comfortably; a little flexibility for weather, illness, unforeseen delays; time to enjoy the experience, your trek colleagues and staff; learn about your surroundings if you wish; and, for altitude adventures, a fairly slow acclimatisation regime to minimise the risk of altitude sickness and maximise your chance of reaching your goals. All while also trying to minimise your time away from home. We would generally not recommend shorter itineraries (such as those used by less scrupulous operators) unless you were genuinely prepared to turn back if you (or your travel companion) becomes affected by AMS. If you really don’t have the time available, we can perhaps suggest an alternative itinerary that will work for you.

My friend would like to visit, but isn’t really interested in the trekking…

Your friend, spouse, family, colleagues may like to join you in our base city at the beginning or end of your trek. We can easily arrange extra accommodation, and places on our day tours, but we may also be able to arrange a series of day trips, a short relaxing trip into the country-side or an island, scenic flights above the Himalayas, wildlife safaris and so on. Ask us for ideas, or suggest your own.

Immunisations

See a general practitioner or travel medicine doctor, but travellers to most developing world countries will consider vaccination for Hepatitis A&B (as well as for the ‘usual’ Tetanus, Polio, Hib etc). There is more info in the dossier for each adventure.

Tips

Especially in the Himalayas the local people really appreciate being rewarded directly by the clients for doing a good job. This encourages them to work hard and perform their duties to a high level of quality in parallel with our system of rewards for good service from our staff. Appropriate tips for this trip are suggested in trip notes and tips are sometimes best administered by the Sirdir and Cook with assistance from the Expedition Leader.

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HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL THERE BE IN MY GROUP?

Our philosophy results in smaller groups (6-12 participants) to maximise everyone’s enjoyment and safety. Maximum and minimum group size is specified for each adventure. Private groups may choose to have a larger (or smaller) group and we’ll work with you to design just the adventure you’re after.

WHAT TYPE OF PEOPLE COME ALONG?

Our trips tend to attract a wide range of people, both women and men, from about 20 to 60 or more years old, with an extremely wide range of travel and climbing experience. Participants tend to be seeking a good quality, safe, well supported, good value and enjoyable adventure rather than the lowest cost. We have a good proportion of return clients, referrals from return clients and people who have found us by word of mouth, and it is not uncommon for people to invite their spouse, friends or adult children on their next adventure, particularly for trekking trips. The nationalities of our clients are also varied, but we do have a high proportion of Australians (that’s how word of mouth works, I guess!) as well as people form the UK, New Zealand, USA and more. Most participants make the effort to prepare for their adventure which helps make life enjoyable for everyone.

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AM I TOO OLD? IS MY CHILD TOO YOUNG?

Reasonable physical and mental ability are required on many SMJ adventures, and we’re very happy to talk to you about any specific concerns you may have. We’ll bring our experience over many years and assistance from our medical advisor to bear in these discussions, and may also talk to your medical advisor, with your permission. We do ask participants to get their doctor’s approval and require our participants to provide some medical history so our leaders can be appropriately prepared while they are in the field. Young children may find the rigours of trekking requires more resilience than they are used to. In short – it very much depends on the person. You will find guidance on preparing for your trek on each adventure’s web page, our info packs and trip dossiers.