In last two years, we have witnessed huge increase in trekking activity across the country, specially in the Himalayas! Thanks to the media, inclination of people to step out of their comfort zone and increasing number of trek operators.
Indiahikes, GIO adventure, Trek the Himalayas, Go Missing, Adventure Nation, Himalayatrekker are few of the popular trekking companies/ agencies, operating in India.
There’s a big debate among the trekking veterans on the fallout of trek tourism. People who have been trekking for years have suddenly been forced to share the limited resources at campsites, newbie trekkers creating noise in silent & pristine locations, trekking trails full of people, litter thrown around the trek routes & campsites and so on……
Trekking companies is a reality and is surely a way forward.There’s no harm if these companies are acting as a facilitator doing their job well. After all, they also provide jobs to the locals in these remote locations; where jobs are hard to come by. It’s great, if locals can earn livelihood without uprooting themselves out of their villages.
From a newbie’s perspective, isn’t it great if many aspects of trekking are taken care of? One doesn’t have to bother with rations, tents, supply, sleeping bag and guides to start with. Other trek dynamics are taken care of, as well.
Although one can hire porters, cooks etc at base camp but it’s not easy for a newbie trekker! How about chance to mingle with like minded trekkers, and setting stage for suture treks?
So where’s the problem?
- when some trekking agencies are operating purely to maximize profits without giving scant regard to other aspects like safety of trekkers, scant regard for ecology etc.
- It is unethical to pitch tents for entire trekking season in one place and deprive other trekkers place to pitch their tents.
- It is unethical to take large number of groups each day in ecologically fragile regions. Many agencies operate trek groups with size in excess of 20-25 people!!
- It is incorrect to use untrained or inexperienced guides leading large number of trekkers.
- None of these agencies have counseling sessions to understand the fitness level of trekkers before choosing the trek and their preferences. Trek operator or companies simply gun for the numbers and try to fill in vacant seats available in trekking batches. Many times the trekkers experience problems in treks which can be avoided had the agency understood all such aspects. Proper advise in choosing trek is a preliminary step!! Because agencies fail to do so, resulting in newbie trekkers abandoning the trek in between.
Even trekkers need to make good evaluation about agency they intend to trek with. Going purely by the price is incorrect. Referral by a friend is not 100% reliable!! One needs to ascertain the competency of the trek leaders whether they have undergone formal/certified training, if yes, then where?
A trek leader who has been to just few treks without certified training, might lead to disaster in unfavorable conditions! How well equipped is trekking company with respect to facilities and emergency situations?…. the trek route used? these are some analysis, one must undertake.
It’s high time that trekking agencies gear up…If these sensitive ecological zones are closed for trekking by the authorities due to all above issues, where will they turn to? Responsible trekking is the way forward!
What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestion!!