| LATEST UPDATE (Sept 23rd, 2020):
The Uttarakhand government has announced that tourists and trekkers do not need a COVID negative certificate to enter the state any more. They don’t need any proof of hotel bookings either. Here is the government circular for your reference.
All you have to do is fill this form and continue as usual with your travel plan.
Today, I’m sharing with you a comprehensive guide to travel to Uttarakhand during these COVID times.
After I sent my newsletter last week, I realised that trekkers had been on their toes, waiting for Indiahikes to reopen trekking in a safe way. There’s been a sudden rush of registrations, emails and phone calls, with trekkers sounding out their worries to us.
In this post, I’m going to clarify everything you need to know about travelling to Uttarakhand during COVID times.
The Documents Required by the Uttarakhand State Government
There is just one extra step you have to take outside of the regular travel to Uttarakhand.
And that is to fill this form, which requires some basic travel information from you. The form is pretty straight forward and requires your address proof.
Your Flying Experience to Uttarakhand
If you’re flying to Dehradun, things are mildly different from pre-COVID times.
Here too, I want to share some tips with you, based on the experiences of three of my colleagues who have flown from Mumbai, Kolkata and Ranchi.
1. Reach the airport at least 2 hours in advance. This is important because of all the processes the airlines have to go through — sanitizing your bag, giving you Covid safety kits, etc.
2. Download the Aarogya Setu app on your phone. You’re required to show a “green signal” that you’re safe on the app when you’re at the airport.
3. The earlier you check in, the better, to get the right seats. Anyone sitting in the middle seat has to wear a PPE kit. If you’d like to avoid that, make sure you check in at the earliest. The check-in starts 48 hours before the time of flight with most airlines.
4. Take a screenshot of your boarding pass and use it wherever you need to show it. You don’t need to open it from your mail again and again.
5. Most airlines have increased the weight of the allowed check-in baggage. Check with your airline in advance so that you can pack accordingly.
6. Carry your own comfortable mask and sanitizer. Every passenger is given a kit with a mask, a face shield and some sanitizer, but the mask they give can be suffocating, it’s best if you have your own, a mask that you are used to wearing.
7. Take home-cooked food in your own cutlery and eat at the airport before boarding. Avoid eating in the flight, it’s best not to take off your mask and face shield while flying, since you’re in close proximity with many people.
8. Use the washrooms at the airport and avoid the in-flight washroom.
9. While boarding and de-boarding, do not rush. The airline will also encourage you to keep distance as you move out. Follow that.
If You’re Not Flying to Dehradun
There are three options you have:
Your best option would be to bring your own car or take a cab.
There’s enough parking space at the base camps. But this could turn out to be pretty expensive. (If you’re going to Brahmatal or Deoriatal, our team can help you with private cabs from Dehradun airport to Rishikesh. Just get in touch with your Trek Coordinator for this.)
Your next option is to take a train.
The Jan Shatabdi and Nanda Devi Express (renamed as Kota DDN Special) are both running. If you’re travelling by train, make sure you take your own food and blanket for the train journey. The pantries are not functional and they are not giving sheets to passengers. Avoid touching anything in the train.
Your third option would be to take a bus.
A few of my colleagues have taken overnight buses over the past few weeks and had a safe experience. The seat next to them was empty. They also travelled by non-AC buses for better air circulation. Of course, here too, always have your mask on and keep a sanitizer handy.
| Note: Whether you’re travelling by car, train or bus, the rules are the same. You need to fill up the form on the Dehradun Smart City website. Keep in mind that there are several check posts on all highways in and around Uttarakhand checking for this.
If you’re travelling by your own vehicle or a cab, account for the extra time that it’s going to take at these check posts. According to our latest reports, there is a lot of traffic on the highways as well. So keep around 2-3 extra hours for your travel.
Returning to Your State
Every state has its own set of regulations when people are re-entering. Make sure you read up on your own state’s regulations before entering, the same way that you’re checking the requirements of Uttarakhand.
Outside of small changes, travelling has almost returned to how it used to be pre-COVID times. Whether we like it or not, it has almost become like COVID is part of our lives.
While you are on the trek, we have our 31-point safety check in place. You’re in safe hands.
But while you’re travelling, a lot of the onus is on you to stay safe and keep others around you safe. I hope you always wear your mark, sanitize your hands and follow social distancing norms while travelling.
If you have any doubts, drop in a comment below. We’ll help you out.