Trekking In India During Covid

A Guide To Trekking In India In 2021 During Covid

We’re all reaching our limits of patience and tolerance, and understandably so. It’s been over eight long months of being stuck at home, all thanks to a microscopic virus that’s gone rampant. Now that things are slowly beginning to open up, you may have entertained the idea of going for a socially distanced hike or trek. But is trekking during Covid safe? From the possible risk factors to the measures of safety you can take, we’ve covered the essentials in our guide on trekking during COVID.

Trekking In India During Covid

Which Trek To Choose

You have a few options when it comes to choosing a trek to go on. Your final choice depends on how much time you have on hand, how far you’re willing to travel, and how far you can travel while maintaining COVID regulations (avoiding crowds and public transport).

Trekking In India During Covid

Half-day/One-day treks: Ideal for people who have limited leisure time or are too hesitant to do more due to the coronavirus. These treks are typically located 1-3 hours away. 

Two-day treks: Ideal for individuals who would like to spend an entire weekend amidst nature. Two-day treks can be farther away, often requiring you to use public transport like a bus or train to get to base camp.

Multi-day treks: The preferred duration for seasoned trekkers, multi-day treks are typically organized in locations like Himachal Pradesh, Darjeeling, Uttarakhand, Kashmir and Sikkim.

Where To Go

When choosing where to go for your trek, take into consideration the factors above. Don’t simply get carried away by the photos of the amazing views that you’ll get to see. Pay attention to the level of difficulty of the trek. Keep in mind that our lifestyles have become fairly sedentary, and suddenly embarking on a physically-demanding trek will tire you out much faster than normal.

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Considering that isolation is a part of our new normal, deviate from the well-trodden treks and look into offbeat treks instead. Opting for a trek route that is off the beaten path means fewer tourists will be on the route with you, ensuring you stay as socially distanced as possible. It also means exploring places that fewer people have seen, and taking time to truly absorb the views you get all to yourself. However, keep in mind that offbeat trek locations may not have as many amenities as the more popular routes. 

Ensure you contact the organizers beforehand to make sure you’ll have everything you need, and to reaffirm that they are following safety regulations for COVID.

With Whom To Go

Most trek organizers require a group of people to plan a trek. However, in the light of the virus, most companies have reduced group sizes to a maximum of 6 to 8 people. This number can even be slightly lower in the case of half and one-day treks. If the company or organizers you pick mention a group size of over 10, we recommend staying away and opting for a smaller group instead.

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Your ideal situation is to go with people from your family or close friends’ circle, who have been isolating themselves and taking the virus seriously. As the saying goes, better the devil you know than the devil you don’t. Make sure the people in your group properly isolate themselves for 14 days before the trek to reduce the risk of infection.

Traveling with a group of strangers poses a higher risk; you won’t know much about their travel history or if they’ve been isolating properly. In either case, you must maintain your guard constantly since people can carry the virus even while being asymptomatic. 

Smaller treks closer to home may organize a custom trek for a group as small as 3-4 people. Look into this option if you have a group this size and want to play it as safe as possible.

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How To Go

With any trek or outdoor activity, your priority should be avoiding exposure to other people and crowds as much as possible. When it comes to smaller treks that are a few hours away from where you live, try to take your own personal vehicle or hire a car for you and your small group.

If it is unavoidable, public transport is still an acceptable option since you won’t be in the bus or train for too long. But make sure to keep your mask on and your hands to yourself, sanitizing your hands regularly and washing them thoroughly when you get the chance.

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Public transportation is mostly unavoidable for multi-day treks, since the trek location is usually a little outside city limits if not in a different state altogether. Organizers of two-day treks will often make arrangements for a bus for the entire group, or may ask you to meet at a railway station to board a train together. The same rules of safety apply; insist that you travel in a compartment that is less crowded, paying for the slightly more expensive ticket yourself if you have to.

Whether you opt for a half-day trek 2 hours away or a multi-day trek on the slopes of Himachal, we recommend doing some deep research to choose a responsible and safe company. Be thorough with your questions on the transport and safety measures they are taking, and know that your biggest green flag is when they answer openly and in detail, reassuring you of your safety. Remember to keep an eye on inter-state travel regulations if you will be crossing state borders, as these can change overnight. 

What To Carry When Trekking During COVID

Unlike regular times, self-sufficiency and preparedness will go a much longer way when trekking during COVID. As a result, you need to carry a few more things other than your usual requirements.

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COVID Precautions: Carry a few spare masks with you, and ensure these are comfortable and you can breathe easily through them. You should also have enough of sanitizer on you, and can also carry a disinfectant spray or wipes. Just ensure that you place all used masks and wipes in a bag to dispose of after the trek, and that you do not litter. We also recommend looking into paper soap; these come in the form of strips or thin sheets and are great to rinse your hands clean. 

Your Own Gear: The multi-day extensive treks usually rent gear like tents and sleeping bags for their treks. However, some of them may require you to carry your own gear instead. In the event that the gear is rented, there should be a numbering system in place to ensure you don’t mix your gear up with other people’s.

Cutlery And Plates: If your trek involves even a small snack break or meal, then carrying your own cutlery and plates is a must. Store these in an airtight zip-lock bag, sanitizing them thoroughly before and after you use them.

Medical Kit: Carrying a small medical kit with bandages, cotton, tablets and disinfectant is a common practice when trekking. Add a few additional things to your kit like painkillers, pills for fever and cold, and a thermometer to monitor your body temperature regularly. Also ensure you have your own toiletries and never have to borrow them from other trekkers. 

Documents: Some trek companies make it mandatory for trekkers to submit a COVID-negative test, especially the multi-day treks. In either case, it is a good idea to get a test done and carry the documentation with you just to be safe. Fill and carry a self-health declaration form for the smaller treks, whether it is required or not.

Tips On Trekking During Covid

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  • Once again we reiterate - be thorough with your research. Trekking companies will understand the caution with which people will approach trekking, and this should be reflected not just in their COVID-safe regulations but also in the way they respond to your questions.
  • Prevention is always better than cure. Isolate yourself in the weeks leading up to the trek, avoiding going outside and eating anything other than home-cooked food. Inform the trek organizers as soon as you feel feverish or unwell and visit a doctor just to be sure.
  • A green flag when booking your multi-day trek is when your organizers inform you that you will take a route that doesn’t pass through a village, or that you will not have any interaction with the village locals. This shows responsibility on their part. Make sure you read up on multi-day treks during COVID to familiarize yourself with protocol to be followed.
  • Your trek should allow for as much social distancing as possible, especially when climbing up an inclination that requires you to remove your mask to breathe properly.

  • Constantly sanitize your hands, and sanitize your equipment at least once a day.
  • No matter what, do not litter. If you don’t have a place to dispose of it, carry all the garbage back with you, putting all used tissues and disinfectant wipes in a separate bag from the rest.

Conclusion

Your vigilance shouldn’t end as soon as your trek does. Once you’re back home, take the rest you need to recuperate. Closely monitor your health, and if you begin to develop a fever or cold symptoms, inform your trek organizers and visit a doctor immediately. We understand the apprehension you may be faced with, and honestly, no activity is completely safe during COVID. But if you take the right precautions, eat healthy to build your immunity and keep sanitizing, you should be able to enjoy your days trekking through nature without a problem.

FAQs

Is It Safe To Go Trekking During Covid?

Stepping out during the Covid pandemic comes with its risks, but trekking is one of the comparatively safer activities to do. Trekking can help ensure social distancing, and being in nature away from crowds keeps you safe from the virus. However, you must remain cautious and follow all Covid safety protocols stringently.

Can I Go Trekking If I’ve Recovered From Covid?

This depends on a range of things, mainly on how badly you were affected by the virus. The virus can leave lasting damage on your lungs and body so make sure you speak to a doctor regarding the extent of physical activity you can undertake, and how soon after recovery you can undertake it.

How To Stay Safe When Trekking During Covid?

First off, choose a responsible trek organizer when going trekking during Covid, and make sure the group of people you’re going with isn’t too large. Make sure you carry spare masks and plenty of sanitizer, and maintain social distancing as much as possible. Additionally, try to avoid public transportation and use your private vehicles for your commute if possible.

Which Is The Best Trekking Company In India?

There are several excellent trekking companies in India to choose from, each with their own treks of varying difficulty in different regions across the country. Some of the top trekking companies are Snow Leopard Adventures, Trek The Himalayas, Trek Munk and India Hikes.

How Much Does It Cost For Trekking In India? 

This depends entirely on the trekking operator you go with, and the trek package you choose. Treks that are nearby and within your region can be as low as INR 2,000, while the longer, more challenging treks that take place in the Himalayas can range between INR 12,000 and INR 20,000.

Which Place Is Best For Trekking?

Most of India’s most stunning trekking sites are located in the folds of the Himalayas, where the terrain is challenging but the views are promising. Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are two states where most of these treks are located. But just as satisfying treks can be found closer to home around you, so do your research well and pick a trek you’ll be comfortable with.

How Many Treks Are There In India?

Actually counting the number of trekking routes in India is a practically impossible task, since there are simply too many. Each of the states themselves have a few trekking routes, each with their own difficulty level. The longer, more difficult treks are in the north of the country, but again, counting how many exist isn’t possible.

Which Is The Toughest Trek In India?

India has a bunch of treks that are known for their trying, challenging terrains and climatic conditions. Arguably the toughest is Auden’s Col, a trying trek across a pass with treacherous cliffs and sudden drops, and boulders the size of cars to navigate. Some others are the Chadar Trek, Kalindi Kha trek, Goecha La trek and Pin Bhabha Pass.

How Long Is The Kedarkantha Trek?

The Kedarkantha trek takes about 5 to 6 days to complete. It is a trek with a difficulty level of easy to moderate.

Is Trekking Difficult?

Trekking is a hobby enjoyed by many, and gets tougher the more you decide to advance. There are several easy trek routes that even people who’ve never been on a trek before can easily attempt. However, a trek like Auden’s Col is attempted by seasoned trekkers who look at completing it for the sake of the challenge.

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