How To Trek Responsibly In The Himalayas

Our tips on treading lightly in the ecologically fragile Himalayas
Leave nothing but your footprints
Leave nothing but your footprints

Imagine, if in the course of a trek in a pristine part of the country, you dropped two toffee wrappers and your partner left a bit of toilet paper on the trail, your guide set up a campfire each night and your kids collected a small fossil or rock each. Now, suppose that this trail attracts a hundred small groups every year that behave exactly the same manner as your group. And you return to trek on this very trail after 10 years, would you find the environs as pristine Before you grumble to your friends about the devastation, remember two of the 2,000 toffee wrappers littered on the track were yours. No matter how small the offence seems, it all adds up. So, do remember to leave nothing but your footprints. Here are some important things to keep in mind when going on a trek.

Travel Small

Travel in groups of four. Larger groups make a larger mess. If in a large group, walk in a single file on the track rather than abreast to avoid trampling on flowers and ferns.

Cut Out Noise

The great Indian holiday often means blaring music and lots of screaming and shouting. Remember, you left the city to experience something different. Listen to the wind and the rustling of leaves instead. Others on the trail will thank you.

Respect Wildlife

View birds and animals from a distance. Animals find quick movements and loud noises stressful. If you scare them, they will tend to avoid that area, spoiling it for animal lovers.

Tread Lightly

Leave areas as you found them. Camp, wherever possible, at campsites used by others instead of trying to clear the ground for a new campsite.

Save Trees

Make no open campfires and discourage others from doing so. Where water is heated by scarce firewood, use as little of it as possible. Choose kerosene or other fuel-efficient stoves. And do not pluck flowers or take cuttings, seeds and roots of plants.

Avoid Canned Food

Don&rsquot leave tins behind. Leave campsites clean and remember to take back all non-biodegradable litter to the road head/ towns for proper disposal. Bury only bio-degradable food waste.

Human Waste Disposal

Insist that the trekking agent carry a toilet tent if you are in a large group. A dry pit toilet of at least eight inches should be dug, filled with soil and covered with rocks once you are ready to leave the campsite. If there are only a couple of you, then find a place at least 200ft away from rivers and other water sources. Use water rather than toilet paper to clean up. You can urinate anywhere as it has little impact on soil or vegetation.

Washing Up

Do not use detergents/ soaps at water sources. Carry water away from the source to wash up. Better still, use mud from the river to clean pots and pans. Fallen leaves may be used as a scrub.

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