Our Founder’s Trek Predictions For The Decade of 2020

With the beginning of a new decade, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some thoughts with you.

As 2019 passes by, we enter a new era of trekking.

Let me reflect on what I have noticed in the past decade. And then I’ll throw in some predictions for the future.

1. Trekkers have changed. In the decade of 2000 – 2010s it was still die hard trekkers who trekked in India. Bengalis and Maharashtrians were at the forefront. Trekkers were older by age. Women were few. Trekking organisations were unheard of, except Youth Hostel who ran the same route year after year.

2. Trekking changed post 2010. Indiahikes came in. A new generation of trekkers took to trekking. They were from the new age, global industries. They were younger. 21-30 was the main age group. It still is.

3. New treks dominated the decade. It was an exhilarating decade of discovery of great new treks to do. For the first time Kashmir became a possibility for trekking. Uttarakhand blossomed with the majority of the new treks; Roopkund, Kedarkantha became blockbusters. Himachal Pradesh led with the creme of treks Rupin Pass, Buran Ghati, Hampta Pass. Sikkim and West Bengal chipped in. Sadly, Ladakh with its local cartelisation hardly saw any growth.

4. Women took to trekking. Women broke free from the shackles of doing anything adventurous. They took to experiencing the outdoors, living in the wild, travelling single and free. At Indiahikes 35% of trekkers are women.

5. Women also took to the outdoors as a career. What was only a preserve of the males was broken by women taking to the outdoors as a career. If men could rough and tumble, women could be as good. 25% of Indiahikes Trek Leaders are women, and growing.

6. Trekking became cheaper. Trek fees remained more or less static for most of the decade. Indiahikes fee hikes were minimal. Other organisations followed suit. This opened trekking. It became easier to do a trek. Trek fees finally became lower than travel and gear cost.

7. Safety became important. With little help from the government, it was left to organisations to bring in more safety to the sport. Indiahikes was at the forefront but other organisations realised the importance. Basic safety equipment became standard in most treks. Oxymeter, Microspikes, Radios, Oxygen cylinders became the norm.

8. Environment concern was no more lip service. The new age modern India cared for the country and planet. Green Trails movement of Indiahikes allowed trekkers to express their solidarity for a common concern. Trekkers picked litter, segregated waste and donated money with an unheard of generosity.

9. Trek equipment became cutting age. India caught up with the rest of the world and often surpassed it. India started to use world class trek equipment and flaunt it. Tents, sleeping bags, backpacks and shoes. No more looks of envy towards foreign trekkers. Airport conveyor belts showed as many backpacks as trolley cases.

10. Trek wear became fashionable. Thanks to stores like Decathlon, trek wear became fashionable. No more track pants or hunter boots on treks. Trekkers wanted to feel and look good on a trek. Colours were coordinated and trendy. Clothes became more fitted. Synthetics replaced cotton. Dry fit became the norm.

11. Altitude sickness was replaced by experience. Trekkers’ fetish for doing treks that went higher and higher was replaced by a more mature outlook towards trekking. Trekkers started experiencing treks of different kinds. Trekkers wanted to see treks in different seasons — autumn, spring, winter. Unbelievably, winter became more popular than summer as the peak trekking season. Meadows, lakes, forests and flower treks became popular. Our treks in Kashmir, Himachal and Uttarakhand in July, August and September which did not boast of any big mountains or passes became as popular as our high altitude treks.

12. Weekend treks became popular. Weekend trekking slowly started to gain traction, especially out of main metros. Now every weekend trekkers head to the hills to unwind and become part of the trekking circle. It is a growing tribe. At Indiahikes our weekend treks go full almost all weeks of the year.

What do I expect in the next decade? I’ll stretch myself with some predictions.

 

1. Explosion of people taking to the outdoors. Trekking will stop being a niche sport. Trekking is already becoming an alternative holiday. As most regular hill holidays are saturated beyond a point, trekking is the only option to see the real India. Growth in trekking is opening new trails for trekkers to trod on. I predict Spiti, Ladakh, Western Himachal, Central Uttarakhand, Kumaon to come into prominence.

2. Some trek zones will get saturated. On the flip side some trek zones will get too crowded. Trekking will no longer be fun with thousands of trekkers on the same trail. Roopkund got a breather with the Govt banning camping on the meadows. Stok Kangri is now out of bounds. Other trails could witness similar fate.

3. Other states will join trekking. States like Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, especially states with good forest cover will start attracting trekkers from other states. Beach trekking will grow. Our country will be explored like never before.

4. Trekking will get fragmented. Trekkers will look more from a trek than just trekking. Treks that give importance to mind, body and spirit will have a separate audience. At Indiahikes, our experiential learning division, which focuses on learning from the outdoors, has witnessed the highest growth at the end of 2019.

5. Families will trek together. As the millennial generation become older they are getting married and have children. At Indiahikes trekkers who trekked with us 8-10 years earlier are now bringing their children on treks. Our family groups have had exponential growth in the last two years. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more families on treks than individual trekkers in the near future.

6. Indians will take to international treks. As India becomes more global, international treks will no longer be treks in Nepal. Indians will take to trekking across the world. In 2019, Indiahikes ran an experimental group of trekkers to Georgia, near Russia. It ran full.

7. More regulations from the Government will be in place. As trekking becomes mainstream, the government will bring in much welcome measures to facilitate trekking. At Indiahikes we already see a change in culture. The top bureaucrats of the country are open and welcoming to make trekking easier.

8. Technology will play a big part in trekking. With the ease of network availability, cheap data, technology will play a big part in the trek experience. Dedicated apps that help in discovery of treks, map reading, location finding will make trekking more fun and involving.

9. DIY trekking will no longer be restricted to die-hards. With easier accessibility and ease of information, technology and experience, trekkers taking to the mountains on their own, with a group of friends or alone will become mainstream. It will not be uncommon to see trekkers carrying a tent, sleeping bags roughing it out on their own. Do-it-yourself trekking is here to stay (DIY).

10. Very high altitude treks will see increasing footfalls. Treks that go above 16,000 feet will have more adventurers. This will be fuelled by a whole new generation that has been brought up trekking in the mid altitudes. With better gear, technology and information very high altitude treks will no longer be difficult to mount.

So those are my reflections and predictions.

If you have been part of the trekking circles for a while, I’d love to hear your observations too. To share your thoughts, drop in a comment.

Happy New Year 2020.

 

Arjun Majumdar

Arjun Majumdar

An entrepreneur by profession and a trekker by passion, Arjun started Indiahikes in 2008. With a vision to explore and document new trails, solve problems in the mountains and implement sustainable ways of trekking. Arjun leads Indiahikes, a community that has changed the face of trekking in India. He has written extensively for Discover India magazine and is a TedX speaker. He frequently talks at institutions about his entrepreneurial journey, but his favourite topic is always the impact of trekking on the mind, body and spirit. Read Arjun's other articles. Watch Arjun's TedX talk. Watch Arjun speak about our trekking trails. Learn from Arjun about what it's like to work at Indiahikes.

14 thoughts on “Our Founder’s Trek Predictions For The Decade of 2020

  1. I have seen the boost…. in treks , and yes they are getting crowded on the other hand its good to see huge amount of young one are seen , but I feel like we need more options and big of careful measures in world of trekking… like last time in winter I saw around 300 trekkers in sankri village and I also interacted with locals their, it was like turning business….and stuff like that.
    And yess Indiahikes is with constant touch with me ,they have amazing Trek ledders though I didn’t got the opportunity to trek with them , but I have talked with them in camp sites , in kedarkantha …

    1. Good insight!
      I have been trekking from past 11 years in and around blore ,western ghats And couple of high altitude treks ,but not with India hikes.
      Though had signed up with India hikes for Kashmir- Great Lakes trek in 2016 , the same was cancelled by India Hikes due to some terrorist killings in Srinagar . it’s a pity I missed the opportunity, nevertheless will do this year.
      Yes there are lot of young trekkers .
      Can you run some women treks for women like me who are in 40+ who are not as fit like youngsters.
      Most women like me have the zeal , passion but get skeptical about are own fitness.
      Such treks may motivate more women like me to drop their inhibitons .
      One suggestion would be to increase the number of days and may be you can charge more as well.
      This will give the trekkers like me an opportunity to trek and enjoy the journey as well.

  2. Thank you for participating me for sharing your thoughts. I am doing my exploration in education system more focus on neture education and tribal community. In that exploring many sustainable practices also.
    I am from Maharashtra, so did many treks in western ghat.
    I am liking your all sustainable ways of doing treks more and more nature friendly and also i will say context based…like local food preference, less demand based…. Etc.
    I travel across India due to my work.everywhere I find people in tourist or trekking spots with lot of waste/plastic in that area… I feel very bad about that …i read all writings from india hike..and feel good about like minded poeple who are thinking about all these isdues…
    Responsible trekker is the need of hour..
    I also want to ask about any plans to reach out underprivileged students for exploration.. If i want to take some of my tribal students for exploration then how can i manage all expenses or material required for hiking etc..
    I would also love to volunteer in your trek ..

    Let me know…
    Wishing you and your team a very natural, green new year…
    Thank you.

  3. I would suggest three things to take trekking to new level :
    . Explore desert in Rajasthan or Kutch in Gujrat
    . Introduce more trek Of 3-4 Days below 10000 feet to cater to cross section of age groups , two days trek don’t really give satisfaction and above 10000 may not be suitable for all
    . Introduce more International treks

  4. Yes I agree trekking in India has got a boost in the last few years. People have started to venture into the mountains for a change. Holidays are stagnated with destinations and hotels and stays. The best part of a trek which I believe is, that one also gives attention to one’s fitness. Apart from that, the importance of Green Trails, is also a major way to take care of one’s surrounding. The bare necessities which we actually need compared to all that we possess, is quite glaring while on a trek. My recent trek to Dayara Bugyal has made me proud of myself. I thank India Hikes for extending this opportunity to me and also for sharing my thoughts about it here. There are friends who were eager to know all about my trek and they are the ones who would take a trek too with India Hikes in the days to come. My best wishes to the team. Life is just not about living, but it’s about exploring too …!!!!

  5. Very nice and correct observations made by Arjun. More and more people specially women and children are joining trekking. I have seen seniors post 60 and children below 10 are also going for treks like goechha la pass.
    I myself a 58 years old man. I go for 2 treks in a year with my 2 friends of same age. After completing one trek, we book another trek. This way we spent the happily.
    I am also making maximum efforts to convert non treveller to tourist, tourist to trekker, trekker to camp leader.

  6. Explosion of trekkers & trails getting overcrowded is already happening. Roopkund, Kanamo, Stok Kangri are already banned either by Govt or by locals.

    I hope Indiahikes comes up with more treks above 16000ft in the coming years. Slopes which will challenge body,mind& spirit.

    Wishing you & IH team a happy new year!!!

  7. Hi Arjun,
    Happy new Year,
    Nice to see your email first time. Anyway the points you have mentioned these are extremely well observed by you and your team IH.
    And the one pointi want to add that gives my satisfaction you guys are giving employment for those people who are well deserved candidates for same field and they are getting good perks, earlier it was very cheap price to them. And you guys always give priority for safety that is very strong point in trekking field.
    In trekking field this decade play a vast Role,
    I wish you guys add more trek, in coming years

    You focused on every team member either its porter or a trek leader.

    Thanks & Regards
    Sushil

  8. My first trek were way back in 1989 to Sur pass with YHA, then only one to organize treks. For last 3 decades it made me to addict to Himalaya. As you rightly said there is transition in all aspects . I wish the younger generation must take this with passion and love towards nature rather mere a sport.
    Experience the power of Himalaya.

  9. As far as the base camps of these trekking places are considered, India Hikes being pioneer should influence the base camps to reduce plastic bottle usage even for normal tourists, which can spread the word and awareness about the pollution happening as most of the trekkers do not care where they throw the wastes. May be an influence at the government level to setup facilities to fill-up drinking water for free, which will discourage the use of plastic bottles and encourage people to carry their own steel bottles or which ever reusable stuff.

  10. I agree with Mr Arjun Majumdar on all his observations. I would like to add one more. Earlier when we trek, only sporadic BSNL signal used to be available. People just used to say “I am safe” and switch off to save battery power. No power banks, no bluetooth speakers. So except natural sounds, no other noise could be heard and I used to treasure the silence. Now with the advent of massive power banks and speakers, the first casualty is silence. People play music in camps, during treks in the forest and during lunch breaks. I go to a trek not only to enjoy Nature but also to escape city noise. So this comes as an irritant. Many times I request people to use ear phones. Some oblige. Some think I am infringing on their right to listen to music.
    Sadly, this trend will only increase in the future.
    Thanks and regards

  11. Hi Arjun
    HYN to India Hikes Family
    Great way to start with Trek Predictions and Analysis of How Trekking has changed in Indian map
    One more Observation from my end
    Adventure sports/Treks are making people more Eco Friendly aware of Scarce Resource available and how to conserve and better human beings and save them. Thanks to efforts like Green Trail Initiative from IH, or Expeditions carried on by Mountaineers like Satyarup Siddhanta who carriers Expeditions with a message of Friendship & peace across Countries

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