Friday, January 14, 2011

Treks n Trails

Adventure seekers are a constantly increasing tribe, be it a trek across the mountains, a climb of steep rocky cliffs and adrenaline rush in white waters it is never enough to explore and conquer for those with love adventure. India is the only place in the world with Snow-Mountains, Rocky hills, Forests, Beaches, Rivers and Desert making it more exciting for an adventure seeker globally. Given this amazing geographic spread India can offer adventure activities all 365-days through the year.

Every week-end one many just like to backpack and go on a trek or do something adventures. Humans lived predominantly outdoors and in close contact with nature, and involved in myriad adventurous exploits, thus, it will not be incorrect to say that we are adventures by instinct and a penchant for adventure may be hard-wired into the human psyche and culture.

Adventure is a great stress buster, studies have made evident that participation in adventure activities has a positive effect; adventure motivates, boosts self-confidence and enhances self-awareness.

Breaking Myths

Adventure is not necessarily an expensive hobby, with the growing popularity of adventure travel in India, the options of adventure gear is getting wider. Many of the global brands and very well established Indian brands offer a great range of adventure gear. A start-up adventure travel kit with basic trekking/camping gear would cost anywhere between Rs 7300 to Rs 12000, that would include:

- Back pack (25-40 liters) with rain cover
- Sleeping Bag (at least 5 degree temperature resistant)
- Sleeping Mat
- Poncho (rain cover)
- 1-2 liter Water Bottle
- LED Head Torch
- Trekking Shoes
- Leech proof gaiters/socks

It’s not all fun but also responsibility, outdoor and adventure comes a huge responsibility of environment and self. Trekking and hiking zones pass through rich forest cover, being aware of the environment and to enjoy nature without disruption can only mean preserving these sensitive forest covers for long. Some very primary outdoor ethics one should always practice during any outdoor trip are:

- Follow “Leave No Trace” policy, never throw or leave anything en-route or at camp area
- Collect all waste in the garbage bag and bring it back
- Show respect to nature and fellow trekkers and cooperate with each other
- Do not shout, spit around, sing or use transistors or music systems
- Do not collect any souvenirs such as plants or animal parts
- Make cat-holes/pit to attend to nature call and cover it back with soil/snow
- Reach the destination well before dark
- Do not carry or consume narcotic drugs, cigarettes or alcohol

Travel light but never forget the essentials, every adventurer loves to live-on the edge, but leaving it to luck is something that should never be done in adventure, so never forget to carry few essentials like:

- Basic First aid kit and Personal medicines
- Sun Screen lotion
- Mosquito/Insect repellent
- Dry snacks like - Dry fruits, Chocolates
- Glucose and Electral packets
- Medium size knife/Army knife
- Extra pairs of batteries
- ID cards and Emergency contact details

Being adventurous does not mean living dangerously, Adventure activity comes with its own risks; the assessment of possible risks before taking up the activity enables to de-risk them to a large extent. Adventure related Risks can be classified as Nature Risk, Navigation Risk, Equipment Risk, Medical Risk and Operational Risk. While planning any adventure activity, getting information on all accounts of risks and being prepared for it at least to a large extent is very vital. It is also important to gather information about the adventure travel operator or services provider, here are few points to ask:

- Certification from adventure training institutes recognized by Ministry of Tourism, GoI
- Experience in Outdoor and Adventure activities
- Customer/Participant reference
- Individual insurance cover if any
- Quality/Brand/Certification of Adventure equipments used
- Risk Assessment Capability
- Safety and Rescue Plan
- Affiliation and Association

Most importantly, at an individual level ensuring that there is no compromise on the quality of equipments or quality of the personnel who are handling it is indeed the first step to towards a safer Adventure Holiday. A famous mountaineer once said, “Summit is optional, Basecamp is mandatory”, one should always put the safety of self and the group ahead of all glories.

- Kavitha Reddy

Also published in CityPlus 14th Jan 2011

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