In August 2019, Ekta booked her first-ever trek to the Valley of Flowers, with her sister. At the last minute, her sister had to cancel, and Ekta considered changing her plans too. But then she bounced back with the idea to take her 9-year old son Ayush with her. Both had never done a trek before, and Ekta has always done luxury travel, but we just loved how cool she was about it. Here’s what she said about the Valley of Flowers trek, adjusting to #treklife and doing her first mother-son trek.
The Great Next (TGN): Tell us a little about yourself. What kind of travel do you usually do?
Ekta Shah (ES): Hello there, my name is Ekta and I am a stylist/designer, resident to Bombay (Yes, that is still what I like to call my city! ) and mother to 2 awesome kids aged 9 and 6. My travel itinerary is usually a luxurious one with family. Married into luxury, travelling to super cities of the world, I learnt that as much as I love discovering new places and reading up on its history, I wanted to open up an avenue to new means of travel to experience raw nature and views from mountains.
TGN: You went on your own for the Valley of Flowers trek, with your 9-year old son. How did you decide to do this?
ES: I took a sabbatical for some time early this year to move into a new home and that’s when I decided to give it a go. In fact, this was supposed to be a family trek with my sister when we decided on the trek and bookings were in order. We also planned our fitness regime to match our trekking abilities for a few months. Unfortunately (although it worked out fine for my son Ayush and me) she took ill and had to cancel just 2 days ahead of the trek.
I was prepared to travel solo but my husband suggested that if my son was able to do the trek, we would have a great time bonding since he is quite athletic and also inclined towards treks. We read up about other parent blogs and how they went about it. Also the team at The Great Next helped with a lot of queries and so it was a start to an epic trek.
TGN: Is this your son’s first trek? Did he like it? Has he done any adventure travel before?
ES: Yes, this was the first big trek we ventured into. Although we have done small treks and camping in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra, the Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib was completely insane (in a good way)! He trekked enthusiastically with our expert guide who filled him in with a lots of information and they became inseparable at our time at the base camp at Ghanghria. He made friends easily with fellow trekkers who were at the camp and I am quite sure he enjoyed the limelight of being the youngest there. He came to be known as the boy with the neon bag. He loved chatting with others who have been for various treks in Uttarakhand and is very keen to go to the Everest Base Camp one day! Check out more treks for kids.
TGN: What was your Valley of Flowers experience like?
ES: Fortunately for us the weather was completely on our side, although we got stuck in the middle of a cloudburst at our time in the journey. The Valley of Flowers experience was overwhelming. We both enjoyed the views climbing and we discovered a lot of flowers we had seen the previous evening at the documentary organised by the Uttarakhand Tourism Board at the Ghangaria market. We enjoyed a sunny day in the valley and rested there before heading back to the base camp, of course with a few hundred pictures of the valley!!
TGN: What kind of adventure gear did you use? Do you have a favourite brand?
ES: Since I was new to this trek gear world, I opted for recommended trek brands such as Columbia for trek shoes with high ankle support which really helped on the descent. Also brands in Decathlon like Quechua for travel gear worked well for us. I love Nike for its dri-fit clothes. We also looked up at a few blogs which helped me pack our backpacks and ensured we do not carry unnecessary weight.
TGN: What kind of adventure gear or clothing did you require for your son?
ES: Because his trek was planned just 2 days ahead of the journey, I picked up waterproof trek shoes from Decathlon, with a couple of rain-proof track pants. I packed thermals and woollen socks to sleep in. One good outerwear was enough, with one layer inside since we tend to get warm while trekking even though it’s cold. He carried his own day bag which included a rain cover, a bottle of glucose to keep him hydrated and a few health bars and a head torch.
TGN: We love seeing women heading out on solo adventures, or moms taking their children with them on adventures. What advice do you have for mothers who want to travel with their children?
ES: Children in general are very agile and adaptable to situations and weathers more than adults. They do not anticipate being tired or have any fear so to all the moms who want to take their little monsters out into the wild, they will surprise you with their abundant energy and zest to take up a challenge. Treks such as this one will teach them first hand on how to listen to their body, endure physical challenges and what it takes to appreciate our beautiful planet which we take very lightly. As long as you have their meds and a few basics in place, they can go wherever you can go.
TGN: Do you have an adventure travel bucket list? What do you plan to do next?
ES: My travel bucket list: Anywhere I can go. I want to see the Northern Lights from Finland, trek to Machu Picchu in Peru, sleep under the stars in Namibrand, Namibia, and do more treks in Himachal and Uttarakhand (I’m already eyeing the Har ki Doon trek). But my immediate next adventure travel is definitely a ski trip to Auli, Uttarakhand in early 2020, including my younger daughter.
You can follow Ekta on Instagram here.
If you want to know more about the Valley of Flowers trek, check out our blogs What’s the best season to go on the Valley of Flowers trek and Everything you need to know about the Valley of Flowers trek
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