Why you must ditch your mundane schedule and go trekking
Apart from being a very popular adventure activity, trekking is a great way to explore the outdoors no matter what your age
The monsoons are a great time to head out and explore nature’s bounty. The landscapes are a dozen shades of green, and the weather too is a welcome change from the oppressive summer heat. Here are some treks you absolutely must do in the monsoons, to see a different side to nature.
Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand
A corner of the Bhyundar Valley in the Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand comes alive for a few weeks during the rains for a few weeks in July and August, and blooms with hundreds of varieties of Himalayan flora. It is popularly called 'Valley of Flowers' and was designated as Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO in 1998. This is a popular trekking trail, especially in the monsoons. The nearby Gurudwara Hemkund Sahib, the highest Sikh temple in the world, is also a popular destination with trekkers and pilgrims alike.
One-day treks in Maharashtra
Built by Raja Bhoj of the Shilahara Dynasty nearly 800 years ago, Asherigad towers above the other forts in the Palghar region due to its sheer size and height. It takes approx 1.5 hrs to reach the col and then half an hour to reach the top. Remains of settlements, a ruined entrance, fortification symbols, an ancient Portuguese shield, water cisterns, lakes, a cave and a temple are the things to see on top, apart from views of the Adasul & Kohoj forts.
Duke's Nose, Khandala
As one drives up to Khandala, Duke's Nose is hard to miss. It is the prominent rock structure which looms to the right - the very top of this is our destination! Legend has it that it was named after the Duke of Wellington whose nose allegedly resembled the shape of the cliff. The trek starts at Kurvande village, after which the walk becomes slightly steeper stepping over craggy rocks to scale the top. This is a beautiful trek especially when accompanied by wind and rain
Trek to Kondana Caves, Karjat
The Kondana Caves are 2000-year-old Buddhist caves at the base of Borghat in the Ulhas river valley near Karjat. They retain the interior and octagonal pillars of the Chaitya facade, all of which indicate B. C. antiquity. During the monsoons, there are several waterfalls around, one right across the cave. The trek to the caves meanders through a dense forest and takes at the most 2 hours. A trek steeped in history!
Umberkhind Trek, Lonavala
This is a trek steeped in history. It is in these ravines or "khind" that Shivaji Maharaj defeated the Uzbek general Kartalab Khan by trapping, ambushing and attacking his armies from all sides in the dense forests. We retrace his steps by The trek starts from Umberkhind, where we cross meadows and streams and climb to reach the plateau below Duke's Nose. A trek that combines all kinds of terrain and makes the most of the rains! The total walking duration is 4 to 6 hours.
5 essential things one should take on a trek
On a trek, it is very important to carry certain things with you to ensure maximum comfort and safety in the outdoors. This way, you can make the most out of your time in the outdoors.
- Trekking shoes: A sturdy and durable pair of trekking shoes is a must to travel over uneven terrain. Make sure the shoes are well broken in before you actually use them on the trek, otherwise you run the risk of shoe bites.
- Water bottle (minimum 2 liters): It is important to stay hydrated on a trek, or else you run the risk of headaches, dehydration, and fatigue. Keep sipping on water throughout the trek.
- Medication: This is a very important thing. Carry personal medicines (with written instructions), assorted Antiseptic Plaster / Blister Kit/friction free Tapes. You never know what could go wrong in the outdoors.
- Sunglasses (100% UV protective and not of red or blue color): Sun protection is essential in the outdoors to avoid the harmful effects of UV rays.
- Rain protective gear: In case of rainy weather, carry rain protective gear like windcheaters and ponchos. Avoid long raincoats and umbrellas.
Safety tips to keep in mind while going for a trek
The outdoor is a wonderful and magical place! On a trek, you get to discover its many facets. However, it is not without its fair share of risks. Nature is very unpredictable - if you are not cautious, things can go wrong before you even realising it! Hence it is necessary to be as cautious as you can.
Here are some tips for safety during a trek
- Do your homework. It always helps to have a deeper understanding of your trekking route, the destination, and how the itinerary progresses. Read up! It’s always helpful, and necessary to know what exactly you’re getting into, and the physical challenges if any. Keep important contact numbers handy as well.
- Dress appropriately and wear comfortable shoes. It is best to wear full sleeved t-shirts and quick drying track pants so that you are comfortable and protected against the elements and insects. A good sturdy pair of trekking shoes is a must for the long walks. Avoid wearing sandals and floaters.
- Stay hydrated. This is very important - keep drinking water to avoid any headaches, dizziness and fatigue. A must when in the outdoors!
- Follow instructions of your trek leader. In the outdoors, it is very unpredictable and anything can go wrong. Your trek leaders have ample expertise in the outdoors. Listen to their instructions and you will be safe and sound.
- Don’t litter. This is one thing you should never do - spoil the sanctity of the outdoors and environment. Littering or altering the environment in any way is a big no-no.
Three things one learns from a trek
Apart from being a very popular adventure activity, trekking is a great way to explore the outdoors no matter what your age. Who doesn’t love spending some time in the midst of nature, soaking in some fresh air and being absolutely rejuvenated? Trekking apart from being a great stress-buster and rejuvenator, also gives some very important life lessons. It is aptly said that there is no greater teacher than the outdoors - trekking is a real-life example of this. Milind Bhide, Founder, Countryside Adventure Holidays tells you what exactly is there to benefit from a trek.
Awareness of, and appreciation for the world outside:
There exists a whole other world apart from our glowing smartphone and laptop screens, and a trek is the best way to discover it. Going on a trek instills in us a renewed sense of appreciation for the environment - for the verdant hills, for the fresh air, and the beauty of nature. It teaches us to enjoy the small things - a starry sky, sunrises, sunsets, and grass beneath our feet.
Trekking gives us an insight into virtually every aspect of the region - be it the history, geography or culture or simply being away from the cacophony of urban life. All of this collectively contributes to broadening our horizons and making us well-rounded human beings.
Team building skills and confidence:
On a trek, you have to follow a set of rules and regulations and abide by safety guidelines. One such rule is always keeping your eyes and ears open, and looking out for the person walking in front of you. This instills a sense of responsibility in each person to ensure the safety of the group as a whole.
Improved health and strength:
The health benefits of trekking are numerous. The walking involved is a good form of exercise that increases cardiovascular strength and endurance. Being in the outdoors improves your immunity and stamina.
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