We’re happy to let you know that we have restarted our Himalayan treks! Trekkers have been waiting to step out and are glad that they finally have the chance to do so with the safety of Indiahikes. See what they have to say here.
This is because we have reopened Himalayan treks, along with a 31-step safety check, specially designed by Indiahikes for trekking safely during COVID times.
In this post, you’ll find all information about our safety protocols, along with an FAQ section, to answer questions you may have.
How are we going to ensure your safety on small group treks? Here is our 31-point safety check:
Safety is something that Indiahikes is a pioneer of. Most modern trekking systems in our country have been introduced to trekking by Indiahikes.
We are not only worried about the safety of trekkers, but the safety of our mountain folk as well. We are wary of taking the virus to the mountains, which can be a catastrophe. Health care systems in the mountains are negligible.
Keeping this in mind, we are taking several precautions to ensure safety. Here are our COVID-time safety steps:
| Initial safety checks during transport:
1. Transport to the base camp: We will create small transport bubbles on all our treks, by isolating trekkers in a bubble. We will organise transport from a common pick up point, which will be shared with you well in advance.
2. Vehicles for transport: We will have Tempo Travellers and Tata Sumo-like vehicles with a trusted transport service that we have been working with for nearly a decade.
3. Food on transit: For breakfast and lunch, trekkers will be taken to a trusted restaurant. Trekkers are advised to take their own cutlery for these meals (plate / box) including a cup for tea.
4. Safety during travel:The transport vehicle will be sanitized for your use and there will be a barricade between the driver and trekkers, similar to what we see in taxi services.
5. Sanitization facilities while travelling: Every vehicle will have a bottle of sanitizer in it. Trekkers are expected to sanitize their hands every time they get in and out of the vehicle.
6. Expectations during travel: The driver and trekkers are all expected to wear masks for as long as they are in the enclosed space of a vehicle. (Tip: If you’re coming by flight, don’t throw away the face shield that the airline gives you, reuse it in your vehicle.)
7. COVID test before travel (not mandatory but highly recommended): In most cities, doing a COVID test is easy, and free in government hospitals. It is something we highly recommend to ensure that no trekker takes an infection to the remote mountains where medical facilities are almost nil. It’s something we highly recommend doing. Here’s why.
| Second set of safety checks at the base camp:
8. Health check at base camps: Once trekkers reach the base camp, before they enter their rooms / tents, their oxygen saturation, temperature and general health will be checked immediately. Their status will be updated on our IH Trek Vitals App.
9. Immediate action upon noticing symptoms: If any team member shows any COVID-19 symptoms, then, he/she will be immediately isolated and sent back to the base city.
10. Freshly sanitized equipment for trekkers: Once trekkers get past the initial tests, they will be assigned their own freshly sanitized hygiene liners, which they use inside their sleeping bags. These will be used throughout the trek.
11. Personal equipment for every trekker: Trekkers will not exchange their sleeping bags / liners or tents throughout the trek. Each of these will be numbered so they identify their own gear.
12. Sanitized rooms at basecamps: All our rooms at the base camps and tents will be sanitized for your use.
13. No village visits for trekkers: To keep local residents isolated, trekkers will not be allowed to venture into any villages or interact with locals on the way. From the base camp, they will only go onto the trek and leave from the base camp.
14. Private, sanitized Indiahikes kitchens: Trekkers will not be allowed in the Indiahikes kitchen, where food is cooked for the entire slope team.
15. Physical distancing on the slopes: Trekkers will not come in close contact with any Indiahikes staff except their Trek Leader and guides, except in case of emergency. Physical distancing will be maintained as much as the trek allows.
16. Staying away from locals: In case of camping at the base camp, the camp will be located slightly outside the premises of the village.
17. Sanitized rental equipment: All trek rental gear will be sanitized before trekkers receive them.
18. No contact offloading of backpacks: In case of offloading, we’ll do a no-contact offloading system, where trekkers don’t come in contact with the mule men / porters. None of the mules will be walking along with the trekkers, they will leave later and reach the designated camp before trekkers.
| On-trek safety:
19. Daily health check up of IH team: All accompanying Indiahikes team members and staff will be checked for oxygen saturation and any symptoms of COVID-19 before joining trekkers on the trek.
20. Daily health check up of trekkers: Trekkers will be tested thrice a day for oxygen saturation (as per our norm) and the Indiahikes team members will also be checked thrice a day.
21. Trekkers will stay two in a tent: Trekkers will stay two in a tent. Our tents are all 3-man tents and comfortable enough to house three people. These are going to be shared only by two trekkers in winter.
22. Dry toilets: There will be bio toilets at all campsites (trekkers use their own toilet paper). These are no-contact toilets, where trekkers don’t sit on seats or come in contact with anything except the zip of the tent and shovel. There will be ample water and soap to sanitize hands after using the toilet.
23. Mask-wearing cooks and helpers: All our kitchen staff members and Trek Leaders will wear masks while cooking and serving. Only the Trek Leader will serve meals to trekkers, wearing a mask.
24. Food will be served outdoors, unless the weather requires us to use a dining tent.
25. Bring your own cutlery:As is the norm on our treks, trekkers will be instructed to bring their own cutlery, and will be given enough sanitizing facilities for their cutlery.
26. Professional high altitude medical kit, including oxygen cylinders: The Indiahikes team will be equipped with oxygen cylinders and a full fledged high altitude medical kit that will be available to trekkers at all times.
27. Mask rule: Any time trekkers are gathered together (during briefings, reflections), trekkers will be expected to wear masks.
| Fourth set of safety checks after the trek ends:
28. Return transport to the base city: Trekkers will be dropped back to the base city in a sanitized vehicle.
29. Bringing your own vehicles: We wouldn’t recommend doing this in winter. Trekkers are allowed to hire or drive their own vehicles to the base camp. All base camps have ample parking space. Indiahikes is not responsible for your travel or your vehicle at the base camp.
30. Post-trek health check of IH Team: Once trekkers leave the base camp, the accompanying staff will be checked everyday for any symptoms. Their oxygen saturation and temperature will be checked thrice a day.
31. Post-trek sanitization of trek equipment: Once the trek ends, all the equipment used by trekkers will be sanitized thoroughly.
Trek Leader’s COVID-19 Kit
Every Trek Leader will have these safety gears in a COVID-19 Kit:
- Pulse Oximeter
- Infrared Thermometer Gun
- Face Shield
- Oxygen Cylinder
If a trekker is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms on the trek, here’s the protocol we will follow:
1. The trekker will be evacuated to the base camp, and further to a COVID testing centre in Dehradun.
2. Indiahikes team members who were with the trekkers will not be accompanying trekkers beyond the base camp. They will be quarantined at the base camp location in a dedicated room.
3. If the trekker tests positive, the staff members will be brought to the city and tested as well.
4. The evacuating driver will take all necessary precautions (social distancing and hygiene) while bringing the trekker to the city.
5. The Indiahikes ground team will remain in constant touch with the trekkers over phone, until trekkers go back home.
│ Note: Trekking is a sport where social distancing is difficult. You camp in tents, eat together, help each other on trails and trek closely together. While we use commonsense and general precautions to keep everyone safe (as mentioned above), please be aware of this reality as well.
That said, trekking is also probably the only safe activity where you are isolated from the rest of the world. There is no one else in the mountains except you and your team. It is the best contact-less sport in the world.
If any trekker is disregarding any of the above mentioned rules, he / she will be sent back to the base camp.
Your responsibility on the trek
Being pioneers of safety in Indian trekking, we’ve kept safety at the forefront of organising these treks.
However, in these COVID times, a lot of the onus is on you. This applies before your trek, during your trek and after your trek as well. Follow these protocols as much as possible to ensure your safety and that of those around you:
- For at least 15 days before your trek, avoid crowded spaces.
- Wear a mask every time you step out of your house and every time you’re in enclosed spaces with trekkers.
- Keep a sanitizer handy and sanitize your hands every few hours
- Avoid eating food from unknown sources.
- Wash your hands thoroughly every few hours when you have water and soap available.
- Alert your co-travellers and officials if you have a fever or headache. Visit a doctor to be sure. After all, prevention is better than cure.
- Maintain social distancing everywhere you go.
To ensure we reduce human contact as much as possible, we are adopting a bit of our Do-It-Yourself trekking style for small groups.
Every small group will have a Trek Leader, a cook and a helper. This 3-member team will ensure you’re safe, well-fed and comfortable on your trek.
While this 3-member team can handle everything on the trek, we expect you to help pitch tents, set up camp, take small leadership roles in navigating and serving food to your trek mates. It’s an exciting way of trekking, which trekkers have come to love since last October. In this trekking style, you are as much the organiser as we are!
Here are questions that trekkers are asking us:
❖ Which treks are open?
We have opened up dates for all our treks from October onwards until next June 2021. You’ll find all the treks are are available here – https://indiahikes.com/upcoming-treks/
❖ I’m a solo trekker. Can I join a trek?
Yes, you’re welcome to join our treks. They are not private treks and are open to anyone. Lots of solo trekkers are already signing up for treks. You can do so too.
❖ What is the team size?
We have reduced our team sizes to around 15-18. In winter, you can expect around 15-18 members per team.
❖ I have an Indiahikes voucher. Can I use it for my trek?
Yes, if you have a valid Indiahikes voucher in your name, you can use the voucher to register for the trek. You will find this option at the payment stage while you’re registering. If you have any trouble with this, write to [email protected]
We hope you take this as a chance to head outdoors, and take part in one of the most risk-free outdoor sports. Do take care of yourself and of others around you.
Keeping that in mind, welcome back. Let’s trek. 🙂
If you have any doubts or thoughts, drop in a comment. Our expert team members will get right back to you.