Why we are paying Rs 7,000 for a Himalayan trek report
(And Rs 2,500 for a local trek report)
Indiahikes is an interesting start up. We bring out hiking information about various trekking trails in India to an online world. Hiking information is so rare in our country that one of the biggest challenges we face is to unearth trekkers who have actually hiked on trails that are not very common.
It is no surprise that we are offering a big incentive to anyone to just simply trek and share the information with the world.
A little background here would help you understand why we are paying Rs 7,000 for a Himalayan trek report (and Rs 2,500 for a local trek report).
Indians like trekking on routes that are frequented – trails that have been known for years. They rarely put together a small team of 3-4 friends and explore a trail not so well known. This is a bit sad. Across the Himalayas and the Western/Eastern Ghats are excellent trails that are almost buried and unknown.
This has a flip side. The frequented trails are getting over crowded. Not only is this ecologically harmful, it creates an imbalance in the economics of the region. On the frequented trail the guides, porters and everyone connected become unscrupulous and trekkers end up paying a lot more. On the lesser frequented trails deserving guides get no money and stay as poor as ever. What’s even more worrying is that there is a virtual monopoly by one or two guides on the lesser known trails making them charge exorbitant rates for their services.
Take for example the Kugti Pass trail that we unearthed last year. It is a spectacular trail that has everything going for it – forests, meadows, snow, thrilling adventure and rises to 16,500 feet (www.indiahikes.in/kugti-pass). The trail is virtually unknown with only a handful of trekkers going on it every year. If you go to our website (www.indiahikes.in), you’ll find most of our groups are filled with trekkers for our more frequented blockbuster trails like the Roopkund. This is a very sorry state of affairs for trails like the Kugti Pass.
Trekkers need to fan out to other trails – for themselves and for the society. If trekkers do not fan out to other trails the ecological and the economical imbalance remains. The heavily trodden trails get more polluted and on the less frequented trail there is no economic activity to develop it. What's worse, trekkers do not get to discover the other beautiful trails of our country. This is sad considering some of the most beautiful trails in our country are also the less frequented ones.
The good news is certain statistics that I have shows a new trend.
The number of trekkers to Roopkund has increased three folds since 2008, touching almost 600 trekkers every year. But Rupin Pass, a virtually unknown trail now gets over 200 trekkers every year. Hampta Pass, another not so frequented trail, gets over 100 a year. This is a healthy trend. It means trekkers in our country are starting to spread over to other trails. (These are approximate figures of Indiahikes trekkers. It does not include trekkers who may be trekking on these trails on their own.)
However, in a global scale these numbers are miniscule. For example, trekkers to the Everest Base Camp in Nepal number over 100 on any day during the trekking season. The Annapurna circuit draws an equal number. In Peru on the Machu Picchu trail the government puts a cap on the number of trekkers allowed in a day. Back home, with the religious fervor riding high on its back, the Gaumukh-Tapovan trek attracts trekkers and pilgrims to it like a magnet. To prevent an ecological disaster the government has restricted the trail to 150 trekkers per day.
On the other hand, Ladakh with its international publicity earns all the foreign exchange. That's good news but foregin trekkers have inflated costs. Now no trek in Ladakh costs less than Rs 15,000. On the Goechala trail in Sikkim, with the influx of foreign trekkers, the local cooks don’t know how to dish out healthy Dal, Chawal, Roti and Sabzi. They are more familiar with pastas and pancakes -- hardly the ideal food on treks. Down south in Ooty town, unscrupulous guides charge Rs 2000 - 3000 from trekkers to guide them on a trail that can be trekked without a guide. The situation is grim.
It is urgent that we produce more worthwhile trails that trekkers can trek on. But the task is not easy. Last year we sent out exploratory teams to the Minkiani, Gaj and the Jalsu pass – all well known trails in Himachal Pradesh. Yet our team came back with not so impressive accounts of stony trails and average views. It takes many such explorations to dig out a grand trek like the Rupin Pass.
That is why we are offering Rs 7,000 to anyone who comes back with a Himalayan trek report (and Rs 2,500 for a local trek report). It can be of any trek – past or present. Just that it needs to be a trek that has not been documented by us. Using the trek report we want to build comprehensive trekking information about trails in our country. We hope a few out of these trails turn out to be gems that are worthwhile to spend time and energy to trek on.
A trek report is nothing complicated. It is a personal account of the trek along with factual details. We have made it easier by making a format for it. All anyone has to do is download the format from our website, fill in the trek details and email it to us.
For all trek reports, the trekker would also be acknowledged on our website with their photo, profile and interview.
If you would like to write a trek report on any trail that you have been on or would like to be on, send us an email at :
Some of you may like to participate in our explorations. Our exploratory treks are fun, involving and take you to new trails every time. This year’s forthcoming exploratory treks are shown here: http://indiahikes.in/the-greatest-alpine-lakes-exploration/