A Q&A guide for anyone looking to trek in India right now. In view of the uncertain situation, we will be updating this page regularly in line with the news we receive in the coming days.
With the total number of infected people steadily increasing in India, we have had concerned members reach out to us regarding the safety of trekking in the Himalayas. Compiled below are answers to some frequently asked questions.
Update on 17-03-2020
All our upcoming treks falling on/between 28th of March and 25th of April this year have been called off.
We deeply regret and apologise for the inconvenience this move may have caused our trekkers.
But keeping in mind the recent developments, we genuinely believe this is the right step forward.
To know more why we arrived at this decision and the next set of steps trekkers who have had their batches cancelled can take, please read our article below.
Update on 16-03-2020 ( IMPORTANT! )
We are calling off all our treks falling on/between 28th of March and 25th of April this year.
Over the last week, ever since the World Health Organisation declared the Covid-19 to be a global pandemic, we have been deliberating over the next set of steps to take.
Despite the steady increase in the number of people infected by the Corona Virus in India, most of our trekkers have been turning up for the treks they had booked.
We knew calling off our treks at this point would be an inconvenience for many of them.
At the same time, we were also convinced that it would be alright to trek and travel within India since no restrictions had been imposed on domestic travel by the authorities.
So on the 9th of March, we made the decision to leave the choice to our members.
For those who chose to trek, we took all precautions possible from our end to ensure their safety.
For those who chose not to, we ensured our relaxed cancellation policies offered them a full voucher refund.
This was done because we did not want any of our members feeling compelled to travel/trek in order to avoid financial losses they might incur with us.
But, today, in line with the recent developments, we have decided to call off all our treks falling on/between the 28th of March and the 25th of April.
Update on 12-3-2020
As of 11-03-2020, the World Health Organisation has declared the Corona Virus outbreak a global pandemic following which countries world wide have begun taking stringent measures to contain the disease.
What does this mean for India?
As per the latest travel advisory issued by the government today (12-03-2020), all non-essential visas to India have been suspended till the 15th of April this year. Further, Indian citizens have been asked to avoid all non-essential travel abroad.
Is it safe to trek in India right now?
There have been no restrictions issued on domestic travel so far. While there is no reason to lose ourselves in hysteria and the fake news floating around, it is important we stay alert and aware.
Hand Washing is going to be your best friend in the coming days. Quoting the Indian Medical Association from a Press Release issued on 10.03.2020:
" INDIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION appeals to the nation to stop the panic reactions on corona epidemic. This epidemic by no means is a situation which has not been faced earlier.
SARS 1, Swine flu, Nipah etc were on the same scale and considerable experience tells us that awareness, self precautions, contact tracing and self isolation are the Public Health measures required.
Hand washing has emerged as the simple tool to fight the community spread. Easy and universal, the practice of thorough hand washing with soap and water is perhaps the only way to stop the corona epidemic. "
Global statistics show that of the total number of people infected with the virus, 91% fall under the mildly infected category and show recovery with treatment.
That said do keep in mind that not all of us are endowed with the same capacity to fight the disease. There are certain groups that are more severely affected by the Covid-19.
So incase you feel sick, please cancel your travel/trek plans and opt to stay at home.
We have been issuing full refunds for all cancellations that are being made 5 days prior to the departure date of the trek.
We have also opened up bookings for all our summer treks. Feel free to postpone your treks to these batches.
Update on 09-03-2020
Q1. Is it safe to trek in India now?
The total number of people infected with the Corona Virus in India, as of today, stands at 45. The count is likely to rise in the coming days.
Despite the disconcerting situation, we don’t see a reason to panic as long as the right precautions are taken.
A look at the statistics compiled at a global level shows that of the total number of people infected with the virus, 94% have recovered from it. Further, experts are talking about how it is possible to avoid the virus by maintaining good hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene.
So, with the right precautions taken, we feel it is safe to trek and travel in India right now. However, please do keep in mind the observations made by the WHO:
“People with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus”.
In case you have a history of any of the above mentioned medical conditions, it is advisable to avoid trekking right now.
Q2. What are some precautions you could take while traveling to the trekking destination?
It is safe to trek in the mountains right now. But what about travelling to the trekking destination? You are likely to come in contact with people who are infected while traveling.
With a little effort and cautiousness, it is possible to follow all safety protocols and avoid people who are sick while travelling by road.
But what do you do when you are securely strapped to your seat in a plane?
More factors are outside of your control while travelling by air.
Incase you are choosing to travel now, here are some precautions that you can take to stay safe while travelling by air. Read this article to know more about how Corona virus spreads on a plane and how you can keep yourself and others safe during your flight journey.
Q3. What are some steps you as a trekker could take to keep yourself and those around you safe?
There are a number of things you can do.
1. Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water.
Ensure that you scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds covering the backside and underside of nails before washing the soap off. In the event that you don’t have access to water or soap, use a hand sanitizer (with over 60% alcohol content) to clean your hands.
2. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and dispose it off immediately. In case, you are not carrying a tissue, use the inside of your elbow for cover.
3. Wearing a mask is not necessary unless you are taking care of an infected person. In case you choose to wear a mask anyway, please refer to the guide here on how to wear one correctly.
4. Be wary of your food choices and restaurants you eat at before and after the trek.
5. Once you are on a trek, carry your own utensils and water bottles. Please avoid sharing food or water with your fellow trek mates to maintain personal hygiene.
6. In case you feel unwell before a trek, please opt to stay at home and cancel the booking.
7. In case you are feeling unwell after reaching the base camp or during the trek, please ensure you inform the trek leader immediately so that he/she can provide you with the necessary assistance.
Q4. What are the precautions we have taken to keep our trekkers safe?
The following are some steps we have taken from our end to ensure your safety.
1. We will be screening the travel history of participants over the previous month to any zones affected by the Covid-19 scare.
2. Participants of foreign nationality from affected countries or who have a travel history to affected countries will be strictly screened as per government guidelines.
3. In case, participants display symptoms of cough, cold, shortness of breath or fever at the base camp, they will not be allowed to go on the trek.
4. We will also be looking more closely into the travel and stay arrangements made in guest houses and hotels during the trek to ensure hygiene.
Q5. Should you book your summer treks now? How likely is the outbreak to affect treks in the future?
It should be alright to book your summer treks now.
The government has already started taking the necessary steps to contain the outbreak. Given India’s commendable history with defeating Polio or the more recent Nipah Virus outbreak, it is likely the Corona Virus outbreak will be brought under control soon.
In the highly unlikely event where it impacts the treks in May and onwards, we have got you covered. We will refund a full value voucher for all cancellations done until 5 days before the start date of the trek.
Q6. I would like to postpone/cancel the trek I have booked in March nevertheless. What do I do?
We understand your concern and have got you covered. You can cancel your booking from your dashboard at least 5 days before departure. You will be issued a full refund in the form of a voucher. Using the voucher, you can book the same trek or a new trek in any of the future batches.
We hope the above answers help assuage some of the fears you may have about trekking this summer. In case, you have any other queries, feel free to drop in a comment below or get in touch with us at +91-8588878499.
We would be happy to help.