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Trekking in the Forest? Do it right!

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Well, this is a piece aimed at the novice trekkers who are more driven by the thrill than experience when it come to trekking.

Before you set out do a homework, a couple of them are absolutely essential...here is a quick checklist to consider as part of your trekking preparation.

See if you are on the right side of the law.
Many times the trek trails are inside protected territories, be it the National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries or other reserve forests. See if trekking into these area are allowed. If yes, it is most likely that you'll need some kind of permit from the authorities. It could be as simple as entering your details at a point of entry to apply for the permit at the head offices well in advance.

Many times these permits comes with a prescribed fees. And also other conditions like the trek to be done with forest guards/authorized guides accompanying you. Additionally there are many other requirements of the law which says what you can do and cannot do inside the forest.

Is camping allowed? Is overnight stay inside forest allowed? Is the permission for trek along a specific route? Understand what you can carry, and what you should not carry into forest...

Even if your trek is arranged by professional agencies or clubs, you are personally accountable to comply with the requirements of the law. So, do not take it for granted, check everything to ensure that you are not in violation of the law. The fact is, it is easier to understand this than you would think...

Understand what you are up to
This is the second most important thing after you've done with the legal aspects of trekking.

The thrills and aura created around it apart, trekking is a serious adventure activity with some level of risks hiding somewhere.

The risks could arise from the most unexpected of sources, minor or serious. There are any number reported cases of fatalities during trekking (the near misses obviously go unreported), be it a fall, attack by wild animals or drowned while crossing river. And still, there are cases of people went missing, never traced.

Are you scared of leaches, snakes, insects? If yes, assess your options again. Are there any exit routes? What if you or your team mate fall sick or in need of medical attention? By and large, the trek trails and quite far, both in terms of distance and time to travel, from larger towns with better medical facilities.

This is not to scare you off from an otherwise very rewarding experience. Trekking is no picknick, not even a safari... understand the inherent risks of the trail you are planing. Check with multiple sources. There are ample number of blogs , narrating personal experience of trekkers. Also see the official sources for cautions and warnings.Many times there are advisories issued specific to a region.

Consider the season. Monsoons - though romanticised - is a phenomenally difficult period to trek. Rivers difficult (risky) to cross, slippery rocks, reduced visibility, muddy trails, the thick out growth and the frequent downpour don't help either.

That said, peak summer has its perils, mostly from the heat that can exhaust you super quick and the reduced availability of water.

Consider safety. The Western Ghats trails are in general considered safe from a crime stand point.Though there are areas considered as Naxal affected. Off beat trails would posse extra risks of wild animal presence, especially rogue elephants.

Access your mental and physical caliber
Trekking is meant to test both, to its full limits. Do not venture just because your friends are going.

Do some research and understand the grade of the trek. Some are easy while, a few are difficult even by the experienced trekkers. Well, we're talking about the popular treks around the Western Ghats.

Trails in the wildness typically involve many kilometers of trek with a relatively heavy backpack.
Majority of the treks are all about accent and decent along treacherous paths. You will be surviving on limited ration. No worldly comforts around for miles and hours - some times even days - together. Visualize this. If this excites you, in all probability you are good to go in the mental endurance department.

Could you walk in a city park for 10km? If no is the answer, most likely you'll find it many fold difficult even on a shorter trek trail. Make no mistakes about it, trekking expects a good deal of fitness in you.

To begin with take the one that is easy to moderate.The difficult ones can wait till you notch up in the grades. Remember, a completed trek is more satisfying than an aborted one, midway.

In shot this piece on trekking in the Western Ghats is not to deter you from venturing into it. Rather to help focus your priorities upfront.

Happy Trekking!

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