(Source: Forest Dept - Wildlife Wing, Govt of Karnataka)
Trekking is a recreational, educational and conservation-oriented outdoor activity consisting of walking along designated marked trails. The rich bio-diversity of various classes flora and fauna of Karnataka forests could be seen and experienced during this activity. Trekking may be a day-trip, or involve night halts at designated camping sites.
Trekking trails are being established in the National Parks (NP) and Sanctuaries (WLS) of Karnataka. These trails are the footpaths and patrolling tracks used by the park personnel, and approved in the Management Plan. These facilities are expected to offer exciting experiences for nature enthusiasts.
Trekking guidelines/ instructions:
w The maximum number of trekkers allowed per route at a time is 6 to 10. Further, the officer in charge shall regulate the overall number of trekkers in the National Park/Sanctuary at any given time to within 20 to 50, depending on the eco-sensitivity, expanse of the NP/WLS, and the number of trekking routes available.
w Trekking groups should be accompanied by an approved Guide provided by the Forest Department. Guide service is compulsory. The Guides are local tribals, well-versed with the terrain and physically fit. The Guide's task is to provide navigation and general support, and not explaining about the flora, fauna and other things. However, he may impart such knowledge to the extent he is capable of. Instructions of the Guide are required to be followed during trekking.
w Apart from the Guide service, services of Group Leader-cum-Naturalist is also available. This service is optional, but the Guide has to be there. Naturalists are persons who are knowledgeable about the flora and fauna and are capable of educating trekkers scientifically so as to enhance their experience, understanding and interest in the various aspects of NP/WLS. Naturalists are accredited by the Chief Wildlife Warden on due scrutiny of their knowledge and caliber. They carry an accreditation card. The list of such Naturalists is available on this website. Further, M/s Jungle Lodges & Resorts, the Department's sister Company, also maintain on their roll a cadre of accredited Group Leaders-cum-Naturalists. Trekkers may avail their services also.
The Group Leader-cum-Naturalist plays a wider role. He may take the full responsibility of reservation, explaining to trekkers on various requirements before commencement of the programme and arrange to provide the facilities during the trek and other extra facilities by mutual consultation. For example, the Group Leader may arrange for water supply at a particular camp site. He may provide igloo tents or porter service or a cook. For these services, the Group Leader may propose a budget which includes the Forest Department tariffs and charges for other offerings, plus his own service charges. The Forest Department would not like to interfere with the fee structure offered by the Group Leader. It is open to the trekkers to receive competing offers from other Group Leaders. Once engaged and the programme begins, the instructions of the Group Leader are required to be implicitly obeyed. Failure to do so will constitute an offence. Apart from Group Leader, the trekker is required to obey the directions of all Park personnel as well.
w It is preferable that the members of a trekking group be of about the same level of physical fitness. If someone falls behind due to lack of physical fitness, etc, it is the responsibility of the entire group to ensure that the person is somehow brought to the camp.
w The trekking group should plan in advance and work out the pace of the trek from point to point. This will enable reaching the destination well before dark, as trekking is not allowed after sunset.
w It is expected that the trekkers behave civilly, show respect and cooperate with each other. The Group Leader / Guide may penalize or expel any misbehaving participant, or even terminate the whole programme at any stage, depending on the gravity of the incident. No compensation is payable to trekkers on such events.
w It is made clear that there is no vehicle facility to pick up the participants, should they decide to terminate their programme mid-way. There is no place for vehicles in trekking programme. Trekking options should be availed keeping this factor in mind.
w If a trekker is lost, he should stay at the same spot and keep blowing the whistle at regular interval. A search party will be organized to find him. Whistle is heard far in the forest and he will be located. He should never react in panic.
w Children below 15 years are not allowed in the programme. Nor are pets allowed.
w Walk strictly along demarcated route, illustrated in the map. Stations are marked at every 0.5 km in the form of cairns (a pyramidal formation of stones). Move on till destination is reached. Wherever branching routes are seen, look out for the signs or directions at the point and proceed on the correct path.
w Never throw en-route or at camp anything you have brought. Follow Leave No Trace' principle. Collect all waste in the garbage bag & bring it back. If you find any left behind by others, be good enough to collect that too.
w Using matchbox or smoking during trekking is prohibited. It may cause forest fire.
w Do not collect any souvenirs such as plants or animal parts from the forest.
w Remember, the trekking activity is a form of wilderness education and conservation. So help the Forest officials in putting out fire. Also report it to the nearest official.
w Assist, if called upon by the forest officials, in nabbing poachers, smugglers, etc. Also report any such activity immediately. Inform about grazing of cattle also.
w Report sighting of any injured wildlife to the authorities.
Dress code for trekking
w Cotton shirts of dull colour like forest-green or mud-brown.
w Comfortable cotton trousers /pants /salwar khameez of earthy colour.
Dhoti, Saree, etc, not allowed.
w Trekking shoes of good quality.
w Hat / cap to ward off sunlight. Sweaters in winter. Wind cheater / rain coat during rains.
Items to be carried by trekker
Trekking requires a set of basic items. Some essential and optional items are given below:
w Trek route-map
w Water bottles with 2 to 3 liters drinking water / day.
w Garbage bags for taking back all wastes generated
w Thin towel and inner wear
w Toiletries soap, toothpaste/ brush, shaving kit, comb, toilet paper, etc.
w Medicines (as needed)
w Torch & candle. Not match or lighter
w Binoculars & camera
w Easy-to-cook / ready-to-eat food items like '2-minute noodle', 'Knorr soup', 'MTR ready
mix', etc and glucose packet
w Utensils, plates, etc, for the group (enquire for availability at camp-site)
w Scribbling pad and pen
w Sleeping bag/ blanket & Sleeping mat (6' x 2')
w Mosquito repellent
w Tobacco, salt, etc, to ward off leeches, which could be expected in evergreen forests during
monsoon; not in dry forest.
Items to be carried by Group Leader / Guide
w First aid kit
w Nails and jute yarn to make stretcher
w Book on identification of fauna & flora
w A medium size knife in sheath & a Swiss Army knife
w Alum (200 gm) for clarifying turbid water
w Kerosene (200 ml) for lighting fire
w Match, lighter & candle
w Tweezers for pulling out thorns
w Can opener
w An extra pair of shoes
w Maps, brochure, GPS & compass
Good trekking practices
w The trekking group should move together in a single-line formation, with no one going too far ahead or behind.
w Be independent. Carry one's own pack. Pack not to exceed 15 kg.
w Littering, shouting, spitting, singing or using transistors and music systems during the trek are prohibited.
w Carrying or consuming narcotic drugs is a serious offence.
w Night halting arrangements are available in the Anti-poaching Camps (APC) or some of the Rest Houses in the jungle. These are simple and basic facilities. Do not expect any luxury.
w Water is a critical item. Its availability differs from camp to camp, and should not be taken for granted. Trekkers either have to depend on the water they bring themselves, or make arrangement with the Group Leader for additional requirement at the camp for cooking, bathing, etc.
w APCs may keep stock of some basic items like aluminium cooking utensils, rustic cots made of bamboo, firewood, and may be a few other things. Enquire out about these in advance.
w Trekkers have to prepare their own food at the camp and also lunch en-route. Learn to make fire and cook food at the camp. Assistance of the Guide may be solicited to make things easy.
w Consumption of alcohol is not allowed.
w Nature's call: A crowbar will be available to make cat-holes required to attend to Nature's call. One or two Cat-holes (8 inch diameter, 2 feet deep pits) are required to be dug near the camps for each group. After using it, throw in the toilet paper if any, cover the cat-hole by pushing in some soil into the pit. Attending it elsewhere is prohibited.
w A couple of hurricane lamps may be available at APC to use at night, but take care to hit the bed early, so you can wake up early for the morning trek.
w The trekkers should not venture beyond the APC boundaries after dark. Campfire is permissible only inside the camp boundary, that too, if approved by the Group Leader or the Guide.
Once the team reaches the exit point, the trekking programme is deemed to be over. Beyond this point it is the trekkers' responsibility to proceed further. Try to gather information before-hand as regards further transportation facilities, etc, from exit point to home.
neerajlinux (at) yahoo.co.in