Trekking is like a microcosm of travelling. We explore, hike, meet with new people, come across different cultures, hear new languages and see wild life and the charms of nature. And so responsible trekking should be seen as the younger cousin of responsible travelling.
Trekking in the majestic Himalayas is as much for the soul as it is for the senses. Every trekker must feel one with the trail that he is taking. As a result, he would come back with memories and a sense of pride. However, some of his own habits may hinder his pride, his sense of self. Those are often irresponsible gestures that leave deep impact on not only the environment but also on the minds of the trekkers.
Gypsy Shack strongly recommends responsible trekking because trekking is not just another travel activity, it is travelling itself. And what’s travelling, if it doesn’t bring out the good in you? To begin with, here are 7 Cardinal Rules to Responsible Trekking -
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Sometimes this may be the difference between life and death. Respect the information and the instructions given by your trek leader or itinerary guide or planner. If they are restrictions, they are most likely based on past abuse or sensitivity of a trail area. This little gesture of obedience will minimize the impact on nature by manifolds.
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There’s more than one reason to do so. The existing trails save you from detours or distractions that cost you time. If the trail is muddy or wet and if you try to create your own, it would only widen the trail, thus affecting the surroundings. If it’s a narrow trail, split into single files while hiking.
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Hiking up a forest area, in human terms, is trespassing in the backyard of faunas. Understand that you are the visitor here, not the animals. Treat them and their habitat with respect. Enjoy watching the antelopes jump or the leopards leap by. Never tease them, for their and your own sake.
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If you are on a group trek, you will be tempted to play pranks, crack jokes or have a hearty laughter and rightly so. However, silence is better when you are treading on human or animal habitation. All the more when you also come across other trekkers who may prefer serenity and silence over laughter and sound. Encourage and help mountain bikers instead of passing remarks. Remember, they may turn out to be your Good Samaritans later.
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Learn to bury human waste in catholes of at least 6-8” deep, that too at least 200 feet away from water sources, camp sites or trails. If they are available, use dustbins instead of dropping water bottles, tetra packs, paper napkins etc on the trail. If they are not, carry out the trash with you. Remember it is the home of not only animals and birds, but also fellow humans. Consumption of plastic is harmful for animals, birds and human babies. However, if you find any such trash along the way, pick it up and drop it in a bin. You will do that trail a huge favor.
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The culture around the Himalayan mountain range is diverse and conservative. Avoid wearing provocative clothes and colours that are extremely catchy. Seeing provocative colours around the Himalayan trails may sometimes be disturbing or unpleasant to other trekkers or the local people. Wear clothes that are comfortable and modest in colours.
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You will definitely be tempted to collect feathers, shells, flowers, stones etc during the Himalayan trails. Resist it and leave the things where you find them. Understand that these things contribute in making up that trail and when you come back, you would be delighted to find those things again. Come back with memories not stolen souvenirs.
You must feel a sense of euphoria and accomplishment when you come back from your trek. You must feel that you contributed into the preservation of natural trails. And this will happen only when you stick to the rules of responsible trekking.
Here are a few journeys to begin your responsible trekking -