OUR TREKKING TOURS
How about tour leader?
Our local guides speak Vietnamese, English, German and French, all hold a university degree in Tourism and national license as a guide, and especially have strong experience in guiding foreign travelers groups through the proposed areas. If you wish to send a Western tour leader along with any group, he or she can fully rely on the knowledge and experience of our local guides.
Remote treks are always accompanied by a local representative to deal with permits and authorities and manage the porter team. They speak the local dialects, know the cultural traditions and give tips on suggested behavior in fragile ecological areas and tribal communities. For some itineraries, the role of tour leader and representative is combined.
When to trek?
The north Vietnam experiences two distinct seasons; winter and summer. Winter is cool, dry and lasts from November to April. Temperatures range between 15 to 25°C during the day and 0 to 10°C during the night. With little rain, the winter season offers the most pleasant weather conditions for trekking in Vietnam.
How to carry the luggage?
During all trekking tours we make use of porters. To generate local income we employ local villagers for this task. Their friendliness and innocence will captivate the heart of every participant and gives an extra opportunity to get to know the locals better. Participants will have their own porter, carrying trekking equipment and luggage to a maximum of 15 kg per client. Travellers only have to carry their day packs.
Depending on the nature of the tour, journeys will be accompanied by an air-conditioned bus or jeep to cover the larger overland sections. To make transfers as comfortable as possible, travellers are always assured of two seats per person.
How is the accommodation?
Campsites and lodges are not common in Vietnam, instead we make use of home stays; staying the night in tribal villages along the way. Facilities are clean, but very basic. Travellers share a bamboo-slat floor, separated by curtains. Animals usually sleep under the house and restrooms and showers are often absent. Water sources are available outside. Mattresses, blankets and mosquito nets are taken care of.
Over the years TLV has established a number of projects to upgrade home stay accommodation into a bit more comfort. Basic facilities aside, spending the night in a tribal village and enjoying a meal with the locals brings travellers unforgettable cross-cultural experiences. In the past 10 years of organizing trekking by this way, we never received a complaint.
How about food?
During all treks meals will be arranged on the spot, in local restaurants and at home in traditional villages along the way. Our cooks are well trained to prepare and serve food hygienically and they cook a variety of local delicacies. Sometimes this may include the slaughter of a chicken, duck or pig. We bring western food and snacks from Hanoi for breakfast and picnics along the way, and coffee and tea are available in abundance.
We have a chief cook who is responsible for the trekking meal plan. Our cooks make a special effort to provide as much variety as possible. The porters give necessary assistance on the spot.
There are many shops and villages that have bottled water for sale. On remote trekking tours, we buy a sufficient supply of water for the next couple of days. We recommend bringing some water purifying tablets.
What to pack?
– A small backpack for daily use, to be carried by yourself during the trek (from 5 to 8 kilogram maximum)
– Waterproof backpack with padlock, to be carried by porter and by vehicle, from 15 to 18 kilogram maximum,
|Equipment||Shoes & technical – – equipment- Good trekking boots||Sleeping– From November to end of March: good sleeping bag from 0o – 5oC||Other|
|– Airy underclothes, quick drying
– Polar jacket or wind-breaker,
– Waterproof jacket from November to March
– Long pants for trekking
– Water bottle with straw.
– Waterproof footwear
– Socks, towel,
– Headlamp or flash-light
– Telescopic walking-stick
|– April and September, October: sleeping bag from +10oC
– From May to end of August: sleeping bag from +20oC
– Mattress are provided for home stay
|– Some sets of Clothes
– Swim suit,
– Toiletries kit and towel
– Wet paper
– Toilet paper
– Pocket knife
– Some plastic bag to protect your luggage
– Sewing kit
– Camera and film
– Medicine for personal use: anti-insect spray is indispensible.
– Small bag with padlock to contain personal paper, money, etc
The difficulty levels?
Our treks can be classified into three levels:
No previous experience is necessary. Anyone in good health and fit enough to perform an occasional hike can take an easy level trek.
At this point too, no special background is required. Hikers accustomed to trekking in hilly areas of the Tournament Park or Corsica successfully accomplish our treks “moderate”, provided they are in good health and to have a correct fit. These treks are moderate or easy hikes with an average duration or shorter but more difficult steps.
Physical fitness is very important for these treks and you may have to lead you home before the trek. Most treks in this level are comparable with long rides in the Alps or the Pyrenees, sometimes higher altitudes. The climate and isolation can also participate in difficulty. Prior trek experience is preferable but not vital if you have confidence in your fitness.
|Daily walking hours: 4 – 5
Altitude: 300m – 500m
Terrain: flat + hilly
Route: good conditions
Vehicle support: yes
|Daily walking hours: 6 – 7
Altitude: 500m – 800m
Terrain: hilly + some rocky
Route: pretty good
Vehicle support: no
|Daily walking hours: 6 – 8
Altitude: above 800m
Terrain: rocky, off-road
Route: difficult, no trail
Vehicle support: no
Manufacturer: Coleman, USA
Telescoping pole extends from 27 to 53 inches. Contoured handle grip features adjustable nylon strap and compass. Aluminum pole has steel tip with removable cover and basket for various terrains
Manufacturer: Travelo Vietnam, Vietnam
Waterproof and breathable gaiter. Used for jungle trek
Manufacturer: Kenwood, Malaysia
Kenwood, 16-channel VHF FM Transceiver. Used for jungle trek with group from 5 passengers up. Help to manage group
CAMPING & HOME STAY Back to Top
Manufacturer: Wildebeast – Manyoli III, Germany
4-season, water proof tent for 2 persons
Comfortable camping air mattress
Summer sleeping bag
Satin sleeping bag 60cm x 180cm. Used for home stay and camping in hot weathe
Winter sleeping bag
Manufacturer: Landus, France
Winter bag (5 degree) 60cm x 200cm. Used for home stay and camping in cold weather
Used when being out in jungle or rural area. Keeping mosquito away
To serve tea or coffee at the campsite or home stay
Easy to use, Strong and focus light. Used at camping site in the evening
Strong and focus light. Used at camping site and home stay in the evening
What to bring
Trekking boot, sun block, hat, anti-insect repellent, warm clothes, rain coat, toiletries, original passport.
Preparing for a Hike is often a battle against the pounds or kilos. And we do not mean this in a weight loss kind of way. What we mean is that on your hike you will be the beast of burden and everything you take with you will have to be carried by you. Every time you lift your foot to make a new step you will be lifting the full weight of your body plus your pack load. Multiply this by many thousands of steps and you will realize how a few pounds extra will make a big difference on a large hike.
There are a few terms used for Hiking Weight:
- From the Skin Out (FSO) Weight:
the weight of everything you carry outside of your skin so this includes your backpack but also your socks, boots, etc.
the weight of your Backpack not including the Provisions (food/drink) you are bringing.
So preparing for a trek always involves a great deal of contemplating on what you really need and how you can minimize your FSO weight. Often making this calculation boils down to choosing between comfort in walking (lighter loads) and comfort when not walking (better food, more and/or better equipment, books, entertainment, etc). Here are some tips:
- A well trained hiker might be able to carry up to one third of his own body weight as FSO weight. In general however one fourth will already be very cumbersome. From one fifth and down you should be able to hike comfortably.
- Start by contemplating on what you will absolutely need in terms of provisions and gear. Note down these functions.
- Try looking for ultra-light and multipurpose equipment that will fulfill the functions you listed down. The constant demand for lighter pack loads has sparked some very high tech solutions that are able to combine multiple hiking functions in light weight gear.
- Pack lightweight but high nutritional value Dehydrated Foods. On the flip side of the equation: minimizing your packweight will actually allow you to bring better food. Of course this choice is very personal but 4 straight days of dehydrated foods is no fun!
Your Walking Speed is very closely related to your Hiking Rhythm and to the Rest Breaks you take and the combination of all these factors will largely determine how far you can go and how tired you are at the end of the day. In this section we will provide you with some tips on Hiking Speed:
- Fast hiking is a beginner mistake often resulting in a much slower tempo at the end of the day and a general feeling of fatigue. In general, Slower Hiking is Better Hiking. Faster hiking with more breaks will probably end up carrying you to the same distance at the same time but feeling much more tired. Furthermore faster trekking increases the chance of sprains and other injuries.
- Go for Hiking Endurance and longer duration trekking instead of faster and shorter hiking.
The energy needed for trekking is not proportional with the speed you walk. The figures below are for walking on a smooth level surface:
An average day of hiking will consist of periods of hiking and periods of rest. The combination of good hiking rhythm, good Walking Speed and fixed Rest Intervals are things that separate Hiking Beginners from good Hikers. In our enthusiasm we often tend to start of too fast, get tired quickly, take an early rest and start off too fast again. In Hiking there is one concept that will improve you overall hiking performance, endurance and pleasure: Hiking Rhythm
In this section we will look into why Hiking Rhythm is so important and how you can learn and maintain a good Hiking Rhythm:
Benefits of a Good Hiking Rhythm
- Enable you to stick to a fixed schedule of breaks instead of having to break every time you run out of breath and start panting.
- Help you plan your hikes.
- Lessen the strain you put on your feet, legs, lungs and overall body.
- Changing gears the whole time is much more tiring then staying at a constant intensity level.
- Having a steady Hiking Rhythm will leave you less fatigued at the end of the day compared to if you vary your walking intensity.
- Having a steady Hiking Rhythm is generally more enjoyable as you never over exert yourself and generally keep the physical strain at enjoyable levels.
Developing your own Hiking Rhythm
Your perfect Hiking Rhythm is something very personal and something you will have to develop over the course of many, many hikes. Here are some guidelines:
- Try a Hiking Rhythm by trying a certain stride rhythm and speed and keeping to it. A good hiking rhythm is one that allows you to hike in the same intensity level for at least one hour without having to take a break.
- Adjust your selected rhythm to the terrain and weather conditions and the weight you are carrying.
- Make your Hiking Rhythm a full body affair where your breathing and the swing of your arms are all happen in harmony with the same rhythm.
- Count along or even use a Hiking Mantra to stick to your rhythm.
- Make sure not to interrupt your rhythm unless it is absolutely necessary. Minor obstacles do not have to be a reason to change your rhythm by stopping or slowing down.
- Uneven surfaces like uphill and downhill slopes of varying incline can make it difficult to maintain your rhythm. You could attempt to keep the same rhythm and adjust your stride. Often this will prove very difficult and you will have to change the tempo of your rhythm. This is not bad as long as you are able to keep at the new rhythm and adapt to it quickly while remaining at the same physical intensity level.
We already discussed Hiking Rhythm and Walking & Hiking Speed and they largely determine how many breaks your body will demand when you are out Hiking. Having a steady rhythm in your hiking and resting periods will help you get through a day of heavy hiking. In this section we will take a look some guidelines when it comes to resting:
- The purpose of resting is to slow down your heart rate and breathing and rest your hearts and lungs. Resting gives your body the time to get rid of the lactic acids built up in your muscles and to recover from the strains and possible pressure sores.
- Try to rest in regular intervals and make them part of your walking rhythm. Try to rest for 10 minutes after every one hour of hiking.
- Try to stick to short 10 minutes breaks and only use your lunch break and possibly your dinner break as extended rest periods. 10 minute is the most effective rest duration when it comes to body recovery.
- Set a stop watch if you fear that there is a chance of breaking the 10 minute limit. It is very easy to dose of even in 10 minutes.
- Make sure to take of your backpack and try to relax your body and mind as quickly as possible. Get out of the sun and generally try to rest in a cool and shady location. You can use your backpack as a back support for sitting down.
- In longer lunch and dinner breaks you will want to give your feet a rest by removing your shoes and putting on slippers, sandals or, if conditions allow it, walk bare foot. That will help prevent Blisters. Longer rest periods are also a great opportunity to dry possibly wet clothes and check your equipment.
Crossing rivers or lakes can be risky. Waters that seem still could have strong currents and shallow waters could suddenly turn out to be quite deep. Assessing the situation is step one. Knowing how to deal with possible water dangers is step two. In this section we will give some guidelines on crossing rivers and lakes and how to deal with Water Hazards.
If you can avoid river wading and especially swimming then do so! If there is a bridge 1 mile along the river then detour and take the bridge. Safety always comes first!
In general you should try to remain calm when anything happens to you and you end up in the water. Frantic swimming will exert you quickly. Try to remain calm and float as you assess your situation and try to come up with a solution.
Should you be swept away when crossing a river and the river is filled with obstacles like rocks and logs then the safest position is to float on your back with your legs in front of you to absorb any bumps while using your arms to push away obstacles and steer.
If a team mate fall into the water, try using rope or sticks to try and get him/her back to shore. Keep the rope flexible and do not tie it to a tree or other obstacle. A strong current might drag the victim under with no slack to submerge again.
Stream & River Wading
- Smaller rivers often have boulders. Try finding a place where you would be able to cross the river by using these boulders as stepping stones. Extend your hiking poles so you can plant them in the water for balance. If you do not have hiking poles with you find a large stick. Go from boulder to boulder planting the ball of your feet on the summit of each boulder. Wet rocks, especially those overgrown with mosses, can be very slippery so go slow and plan your moves.
- Always walk along the river bank and find a good place to cross. Do not try to find the place where the river is narrowest. Often the wider parts of the river have slower currents and shallower waters. Look for boulders that either provide a path or at least slow down the current and provide easy surfaces of deposited gravel behind them. Choose a route that offers safe passage on the way to the other site and a route that is back-trackable should things get rougher.
- If you have to wade through the river then assess the river bottom surface. Only go in with bare feet if you are sure that there is no chance of cuts or serious scrapes. If you go bare feet then put your sock in your boots and put them in your backpack and use your backpack’s splash cover. If your backpack is full then tie the laces together and hang them on your backpack. If you brought a pair of sandals then now would be the great opportunity to use them.
- You can assess the current of a flowing river by throwing a stick or other floating object in the water. You will be surprised how seemingly calm rivers can still have a strong current. In stronger currents plan a route that angles down and across the current of the river.
- Undo the waist belt of your backpack! Should you fall your backpack could drag you down and seriously constraint your movement. With your waist belt undone you will be able to easily slip out of your backpack should you get dragged away.
About the foot
7 out of 10 hikers wear poorly fitted boots and don’t even know it. That adds up to a lot of unnecessary blisters and sore feet for some, even sore knees and ankles. The solution is simple. Learn proper footwear fitting and you’ll kiss sore feet goodbye.
About foot wear
Lots of trekkers practice four rules when choosing boots: 1) Pick out a quality boot. 2) Get a good fit. 3) Get a good fit. 4) Get a good fit.
A quick primer on choosing the right hiking sock:
You probably don’t even consider it “gear,” right? Well, think again. Would you put a set of wooden caveman wheels on your brand new Land Rover? Or, shingle the roof of your new house with cardboard? Then why jeopardize the performance of your fancy new boots with a pair of junky socks?
Good socks keep your feet happier and healthier. They provide cushioning, wick sweat, keep your little piggies warm and dry, fine-tune your boot fit, and reduce friction inside your boot (less blisters!).
5 questions you just gotta to ask a boot salesperson
Ask experienced trekkers what they consider the most critical piece of gear, and nine out of ten will say “boots” without hesitation. Happy feet are the first step towards a happy trip. That’s why the experts insist you invest a bit of time in the store to make sure you pick the best boot for your foot and get the boot properly fitted for each foot.
What’s a conscientious consumer to do? Here are five specific questions to ask your boot fitter.
1. Will you measure my feet (please)?
The first step is always to get an accurate measurement using a brannock device. “If a fitter doesn’t start by measuring and inspecting a customer’s foot that may be a sign that he is not well trained in boot fitting.”
2. Can you customize the fit?
A well trained boot fitter should be able to modify boots to perfectly fit anybody’s funky foot. He should say “Every size nine feet is shaped differently. If you have a bunion, we can make a pocket to accommodate it so there’s no additional chafing. If you have a narrow heel or a low volume foot, we can add different types of padding to secure the foot inside the boot.” The key is to stay in the proper size for your foot length, not bump up or down to the next size to solve a volume issue.
3. What type of socks should I be wearing?
“Never underestimate the importance of socks. If your feet are perpetually cold and clammy, merino wool socks are probably best for you. If they’re always on the hot side, a synthetic blend will quickly wick sweat away from the foot and keep them cooler and drier. Plus, varying the thickness of socks can also fine-tune the fit of a boot.
4. Do I need custom footbeds or insoles?
Almost anyone can benefit from footbeds even someone with a very average, problem-free foot will see a boost in comfort with a quality footbed. Custom molded footbeds always offer the best match for your foot, but even a less expensive off-the-shelf model will help. For instance, if your arch is high, a footbed can prevent it from elongating or collapsing with each step. Anything that cuts down on movement inside the boot means fewer blisters and a higher comfort level.
5. Do I need waterproof boots?
Of course, if you’re a desert hiker, there’s no need to spend the extra money on a waterproof liner. But if you hike where there’s lots of rain, or you often find yourself sloshing across streams, a waterproof liner (like Gore-Tex) is a wise investment. Day-hikers who can go home at the end of the day to a pair of dry socks and slippers don’t need to worry about liners. But on longer trips it becomes more important to keep your feet dry. Also don’t neglect the leather just because you have a boot with a waterproof liner. It still needs to be treated periodically to keep it from drying out and cracking. Remember that you are the one wearing the boots. Boot fitters can guide you in the right direction and make sure that the fit is correct, but if you think a boot is too stiff, for instance, for your comfort level, listen to your gut.
Solving fit problem
Must know secrets on tweaking boot fit.
Your feet tell no lies. If you feel your heel slipping or a pinky toe rubbing or other minor fit problems, then consider using simple techniques to modify your new boots.
Boot fitters can rub, soften, or stretch out troublesome spots with a rubbing bar or a pneumatic stretcher. Most leather and synthetic footwear can be stretched from the inside out. The usual suspects are funky toe joints, bothersome bunions, bone protrusions, and extra-wide toes.
Folks who need excess volume gulped up in their boots can consult a plethora of foot spacers found on the market. 5-irons, a flat spacer inserted under the insole, help adjust volume under the foot. Heel shims and other localized spacers target specific gaps. Tongue depressors placed between the laces and tongue fill in extra volume from the top. The biggest secret in all volume adjustment is to make sure the heel stays in the boot’s heel pocket. Also, make sure your toes don’t get pushed into the roof of the toe box.
A Long Life for Your Boots
Always clean your boots after use. Take them to a utility sink and scrub them with an old veggie brush. They usually come home wet, so water’s fine. Remove the footbeds. Dry the boots at normal room temperature, with no heat. Put a waterproofing treatment or a leather conditioner on them if they look dry. With modern, cemented-sole boots, don’t over waterproof them, and don’t use any heat because it can cause the sole edges to delaminate.
Boots are pretty maintenance-free and durable but when you get a boot saturated and muddy, the mud draws a lot of moisture out of the leather as it dries. So after cleaning and drying, use a silicone-based leather treatment to recondition the leather. Silicones are absorbed better than wax treatments and don’t tend to clog pores or inhibit leather breath-ability as much. Things like mink oil will soften leather too much. When boot leathers are tanned, often stiffeners are put into the leather, and you don’t want to lose all the support.
Never put your boots next to a fire or stove. Two things can happen. Put them too close, and you singe or melt or burn the materials. Second, wet leathers will shrink as they dry, and the boot’s fit will change. Finally, don’t wear your boots when working with pesticides, herbicides, and any other chemicals, since they can cause a sole to peel.
Minimize foot movement inside your boots by using a better lacing technique. The less your feet slide forward and back, the better.
Common Lacing Techniques
The standard lacing technique works well for many people but not everybody. Correct lacing is taut, but not too tight, from the toe up to the top of the boot or shoe. There should be no loose lacing and the lacing should contact the boot evenly and firmly.
Below are a few tried-and-true techniques. Use this as a starting point and experiment with your own.
Loop: If laces are slipping on a hook, lace “down” a hook instead of “up” creating a loop.
D-ring lock: By bringing the lace around through the eyelet from the top, pressure is applied on the lace.
Overhand knot: The most common means of locking off tension below the knot.
Surgeon’s knot: this is a very secure means of locking off any chosen tension below the knot.
Marathon loop: Improves heel lock for low-cut shoes.
Other lacing techniques
To eliminate lower skin irritation, finish the lacing by bringing the laces over the top of the hooks before tying the bow knot.
To improve performance with lower-volume or narrow feet, utilize on one or more of the “locking” techniques to hold the foot securely in place without causing excessive pressure or irritation.
To reduce pressure over the instep, simply skip crossing the laces over the sensitive area sometimes associated with having a high instep. It’s a good idea to use with a locking procedure before and after. As shown here.
Boot Heel Lock
To distribute pressure create a loop between two hooks and pass the lace from above and through, then continue upward.