What should you know before you select an Ibex trip?
Q: Why should I travel with Ibex? Why not trek on my own?
A: Your safety and health depend on experience and training. Developing countries are notorious for their safety hazards and may be breeding grounds for infectious diseases. Ibex staff is well-trained in matters of hygiene and food preparation. An attractive flat spot to camp below a towering 7000 meter peak may look inviting, but only a trained local person or experienced leader may know that this is a common avalanche site. People have died making choices about things that they didn't understand. Ibex does not supply porters by themselves. Commonly, porters don't understand the necessity for proper hygiene, don't recognize events that could put you in jeopardy, or may not be able to communicate to you about weather hazards or safety. Political situations change rapidly and the lone traveler may be at risk. Kidnapping is becoming a tool for international terrorists. Road travel is a leading cause of death in under-developed countries. You need a good contact to provide you with safe drivers and vehicles. Ibex advises you NOT to travel alone in the Third World. For your health and safety, Ibex provides the entire team of experts.
Q: Why should I go with a group? Can I set up a trip for my own group?
A: Trekking with a group is a great situation to meet interesting friends, but the biggest benefit is that you can share a full staff of trained professionals including a leader, naturalist, cooks and camp coordinators that are unavailable to the individual trekker. If the dates of an Ibex trip are inappropriate for you or you want to travel with your own group, group travel at a time of your choosing can be arranged in many places. The larger your group, up to a point, the better it is.
Q: Why should I have a leader?
A: Professional leadership is vital. An experienced, professional leader provides a margin of safety and a vast array of information. A professional leader has on-the-spot advice and knows the local people, customs, bureaucracy and how to deal with each. Experienced leaders have good friends in political places and they can ease your hassles. Ibex' leaders were among the first professional trek guides in the world and have decades of experience. Their collective experience is hundreds of years. They are the best, the most knowledgeable and the most experienced guides in the adventure travel business. Most Ibex treks have dual leadership. Good local guides understand regional customs and conditions best. North American or European leaders understand the needs and wishes of trip participants the best.
Q: Do you create, design and operate all your trips?
A: Absolutely. Ibex is an exception to the common industry practice of marketing trips created and designed by local outfitters. Ibex trips are created solely on the basis of our own personal experience. Ibex designs each trip so that it will "flow" like a symphony. In remote locations logistics are often difficult and Ibex wants to know the variables that might influence your journey. Ibex outfitters operate each trip to Ibex own higher specifications, not those typical in a re-packaged trip in an unregulated industry.
Q: What is the difference between a trek, a backpack trip or a journey with day-hikes?
A: A trek is a journey on foot during which the traveler makes a daily transition from place to place. Personal gear is carried by means of conveyance other than the traveler's own back. The most common beasts-of-burden are horses, camels, elephants, llamas, or human porters. The word trek has South Afrikaner origins meaning an "organized migration during which the household goods were carried by others." Today trekking has a broader meaning of "assisted travel" for those traveling on foot through areas of interest. One carries only that which is needed during the course of the day such as wind-jacket, water bottle and camera. On a traditional trek one stays in tents that are carried by the staff. It is becoming more commonplace to stay in local teahouses, fixed tent camps, or local inns.
Backpacking is similar except that the traveler carries all his own personal gear plus a proportionate share of the community gear such as kitchen supplies or sleeping tent. Ibex does not currently offer any backpack trips.
On a trip with day-hikes one stays in inns or lodges and is driven from location to location as well as to the trailhead. Ibex offers a limited number of these trips. On any given day one may choose to hike, or not to hike, to some pre-determined destination. One may do only part of the hike. Mileage and time may be as short as desired. One carries only a small number of essentials needed during the day such as water bottle, hat, rain gear and camera .
Q: What do mean by a "full service trek?"
A: Ibex treks are full service treks meaning that an experienced professional leader guides the journey. There are competent local personnel who are familiar with the route, knowledgeable about the local lore and who keep tabs on the whereabouts of the group. Full service treks have a trained cook (and staff) that provide all your meals including tea service at your tent in the morning, afternoon tea, hot breakfast, hot dinner, and sometimes hot lunch as well. Wash water is commonly provided. Full service treks are provided with a dining tent, cook tent, toilet tent, personal tents for double occupancy (that will be put up for you) and tents for the staff. On some treks there may be minor exceptions.
Q: What exactly is an"exploratory trip?"
An exploratory is a journey into the vast unknown. One cannot know about that which has not yet been explored. Ibex is prepared for what is known, but, on a true exploratory, there will always be unknowns, both pleasant surprises and unanticipated events for which we must improvise. These trips may require minor climbing skills and may be arduous. An exploratory is the ultimate adventure, but it is not for everyone. You should inquire with us personally before you sign up for an exploratory. By definition, once done, an "exploratory" can never be done again. Every year Ibex offers a number of exploratory trips.
Q: How difficult are Ibex trips? How do I know what is suitable for me?
A: Difficulty is a purely subjective matter. One person might call a trek easy yet another person might call the same trek demanding. We do not want to frighten qualified candidates by calling a trip severe, and, by the same token, we do not want to encourage inadequately prepared persons to join a trip beyond their ability. Therefore, Ibex does not "grade" its trips for degree of difficulty. The number of days spent trekking, the hours expected on the trail per day, the amount of up and down, the average and maximum altitudes achieved, the anticipated temperatures, and other conditions are better measures by which to assess difficulty. Ibex can provide more information on request and it is within the trip bulletin.
If you have trekked or backpacked before, you are the best judge of what is suitable for you. For your own safety and comfort, you should look at your own qualifications, compare them with the demands of the trip, and make the most honest personal evaluation possible. As a general rule, Ibex trips are more difficult than similar trips offered by other companies due to the nature of Ibex' off-the-beaten-track routes. Our routes often are within recently opened areas with poorly developed trails. Ibex caters to those looking for greater adventure. If you cannot evaluate the degree of difficulty, or if you are new to trekking, I'd be pleased to direct you to the best trip possible for you.
Q: Which trips do you recommend for experienced trekkers & hikers? For first-timers?
A: . Most experienced trekkers avoid the popular destinations, those regions penetrated by roads, and those popular destinations overrun by hordes of tourists. Ibex treks take you to those few remaining untouched spots. While development brings what are considered to be the benefits of civilization, it also leads to a loss of ancient customs and depletes the traditional charm. A uniformity and conformity to Western styles ensues and forever changes the place. If you're new to the trekking world, there are certain places that have greater ease of access, less hassle and still have lots of beauty and wonderful inhabitants. Ibex can advise you regarding which of our treks would be most appropriate.
Q: What exactly do you mean by "Ibex routes are unique?" What's so important about being unique? Can't I read a guidebook and duplicate your route?
A: Ibex routes are based on the knowledge and extensive experience of our leaders and staff. Ibex trips are not knock-offs of trips already in the market. Unique is defined as "being without like or equal, very rare or uncommon." That describes the typical Ibex trek. Typically, Ibex does not trek routes found in the guidebooks. The trails described in guidebooks are generally the routes traveled by Westerners when the region first opened to the outside. They are not necessarily unique, nor necessarily the most beautiful or the most dramatic. As guidebooks are used more frequently, commercialism follows (teahouses, trinket shops, inns). If there was something unique about the area, that unique pristine character is lost. No guidebook covers all the trails in a given area. In any given area there is a multiplicity of trails (e.g., Nepal has many paths winding in every direction), but only a few of the major routes fill any given guidebook. Areas newly opened aren't even mentioned in the books. Guidebooks tend to focus on better known areas and omit the lesser known. For example, Annapurna appears in every trek book on Nepal, but western Nepal is usually omitted. Several places where Ibex has been operating trips for a few years don't appear in any popular guides. Some areas don't even have trails! Ibex traverses trail-less areas every year. It's also very difficult to operate a trip on your own in an area where there aren't available logistics. Ibex' colleagues are native to their area of expertise, have extensive knowledge of that area, and know its subtleties and variations.
Q: Where should I travel?
A: That depends on what you personally are seeking. Ask yourself what you want out of a trek. Are you looking for great photographic opportunities? Novelty? Do you prefer solitude and true wilderness? How about a great cultural experience? Do you just want to get away? Do you want a modicum of comfort? Are you willing to rough it? Do you want something that really rocks your mind? The best way to find out what fits your desires is through thorough research. Give us a call and we'll do our best to give you suggestions on what is best for you.
Q: Does Ibex endorse low impact tourism? Is Ibex sensitive to the local cultures?
A: Eco-tourism has been a buzzword in the adventure travel industry for several years. Theoretically an ideal combination of adventure and responsibility, the full implications of true eco-tourism are rarely appreciated. Ecological sensitivity is more than just picking up candy wrappers in camp or using kerosene stoves in wood-scarce areas. It encompasses a spectrum of considerations best taught through consistent and recurrent training programs for staff members. Such programs present specific methods for trash disposal, toilet closures, campsite preparation without tent trenches and countless other details. It means being aware that leaking kerosene tins can do harm to a porter's back or that a herd of horses can devour a local person's grain crop in an evening.
Ibex has had, in conjunction with many of its outfitters, specific training programs in place for many years. Our leaders are deeply aware of the impact we have on the physical environment and are constantly taking steps to mitigate the effects of our presence. Ibex' staff members are locals who have much to teach us about their own cultures and our leaders are often considered experts on the local cultures. Ibex is aware that whatever we do, there will always be some sort of impact on both the local culture and the local environment. Ibex' goal is to make our impact as small and as fleeting as possible.
Q: I've heard of Ibex before but I have never seen your advertisements. Is Ibex an authority on trekking and does Ibex have experience?
A: Yes, Ibex is an authority on trekking and is backed by decades of experience. Experience is critical to the success of a trip. Ibex has been creating, marketing and administering adventure trips to remote locations of exceptional beauty or with unique cultures for more than a decade. The collective experience of Ibex' guides totals hundreds of years. Ibex foreign colleagues were the very first locals in the entire world to outfit treks. They remain the best in their country. Ibex Expeditions is highly respected among the experts of the trekking world.
Ibex founder, Bruce Klepinger, is considered the world's most experienced trek leader by authorities in the field. He has been guiding professionally for more than three decades and his contact with the mountains has been life long. Ibex has gained the respect of our clients by producing quality trips year after year. Ibex has placed only a few ads in select publications and has not advertised in the general media. Expansion has been mainly on the basis of word of mouth recommendations. Ibex believes it is most appropriate to direct your finances directly to the efficient management of your trek. We do not want to spend it on inefficient advertising
Q: What is an ibex?
A: The namesake of Ibex Expeditions is the ibex, one of the most curious, most social and agile members of the goat family, an apt description of that to which we aspire. The ibex is a famous animal in the Himalayas, Central Asia, the Alps and northern Africa. It's natural to think of using this creature as a name and logo.
The name Ibex Expeditions and the Ibex logo are registered trademarks in the USA and those countries that are signatories to the international trademark agreement laws. You may have heard of other companies with similar names in the developing world, but these are not the same as Ibex Expeditions Inc (USA). None of those companies have the same standards or imagination.