How to Plan a Safe Holiday in Hills an exclusive Insight by Experts
January 17, 2018
Rapid deforestation, increased use of vehicles and other machinery leading to pollution, and many human activities continue to threaten the survival of birds. Several are extinct, many others are either endangered or endemic like the Great Indian Bustard. Research reveals that globally about 1,200 species of birds are facing extinction while some 200 have already become extinct from the face of Earth.
And the human race is on the verge of a great threat since fast dwindling birds are exposing us to a multitude of problems. Yes, you read it right – birds are a great support to our existence since they are silent yet very strong contributors to our ecosystem. And it is high time we realize their importance and take strong steps towards “Bird Conservation.”
Now you will ask me what is the importance of birds? Well, let me introduce the vast role birds play in our healthy existence. And I will do this with the help of certain experts.
Being a wildlife company and promoting the cause of conservation, we have developed a liaison with all the eco-lodges that cater to the comforts of the guests without compromising the ethos of the surrounding. A representative is present at Sardar Vallabhai Patel Airport to escort the guests to their hotel arranged in Bhavnagar. Velavadar National Park is the first stopover on this trip. Situated in the extreme west of India, the park supports a unique grassland ecosystem harboring herds of antelope and the critically endangered Lesser Floricans. The place has also earned the reputation of being the largest roosting site of the harriers and it has also been home to the Indian Wolves & Striped Hyena who are bestowed with the title of the ace grassland predator after the unfortunate extinction of Asiatic cheetah.
2- CARRY LOCALLY FUNCTIONAL MOBILE NETWORK SIM-CARD
Before you book a place to stay, ask the manager, which mobile network is functional in that region and keep an extra mobile sim-card ready for that service provider. Circulate this number among your family members. You must not be far from their reach when they need you or vice-versa. The same number must be with the manager and staff of your lodging place as well, so that they can trace you, in-case of any emergency at your end.
3- MOUNTAINS HAVE AN UNPREDICTABLE WEATHER
A family friend was recently caught up in the bad weather on the Chandigarh-Shimla highway, which had caved in at many places due to incessant rains. Reason? He did not bother to read news and thus pay heed to constant alerts being sounded by the media, to avoid a holiday in the hills during mountains. Though hills are very unpredictable, still it is always better to go by the weather forecast, if you wish to stay safe!
“Also, even in summers, the temperatures dip too much below what a normal body can tolerate. And this is not only harmful to the vital organs but also to your bones, in the long run. So you must carry ample woolens even if you are holidaying in the hills in peak summer,” alerts Dr. Sean John, Senior Orthopedic Surgeon from New Jersey.
And a rainbow/ bright umbrella like the one I am carrying here will not only keep you safe from unpredictable rains but also add beauty to your photographs!
4- MUST-PACK THESE IF HIKING/TREKKING
Avinash Chaubey, a tech-expert and avid biker from India says, “If you are planning to go on trekking, you must have dry food items and enough water/glucose with you. You must plan the trek either early morning or post-lunch. And that too with a local guide in tow. Hills are unsaid natural reserves of wild animals and local guides are the best ones to know the safest trek. And always remember, the sun is very piercing in the hills due to clean environs. So not just carrying an anti-suntan lotion is enough.” Avinash loves to traverse the length-and-breadth of the Himalayas on his bike, so-much-so that come a long weekend and he is out!
5- OWN SAFETY KIT IS A MUST-CARRY ITEM
Senior lecturer and solo-traveler-and-biker from Bengaluru, Dashmi Mohan adds, “Hills means a treacherous terrain, especially for those who do not belong to the region. So your own first-aid kit in your handbag is a must carry always. Whether you travel with family or in a group or solo like me, this is a must-carry item in your bag. And this applies to not just hills, but every travel expedition you take since ambulance will take time to reach anywhere and everywhere.”
And I second Dashmi since I keep tripping at slippery treks on the hills. And it is always my safety-kit that has come to my immediate relief.
6- BEFOREHAND IDs AND PERMITS
A prior-to-tour knowledge of the IDs and permits you need to explore a reserved area, is always a safer option, especially if you are on way through a private driver or cab.
For instance, you need special permits beforehand to visit the Rohtang Pass near Manali in India. We suggest: Hire a driver, avoid driving in the hills if you aren’t aware of the track.
“Also other places may require special permissions for visit, photography or filming. For instance, to click pictures of Chail Palace near Shimla or to visit Pangong Lake in Ladakh you will need a beforehand permit. And having all these in place beforehand makes your tour peaceful if you are traveling with family. It also saves time,” asserts Sylvia Presario from Italy who had to wait three days during peak season, just for the permit to Rohtang Pass. And later got stuck in bad weather. Sigh.
7- IF HIKING OR TREKKING…
“You must always deeply research about the length, duration and recommended physical conditioning for the trek/hike you want to do. Also, prepare for the same in your own city by doing regular running and exercising well for tough terrains. Even if you have to take the help of an instructor, do it. Hills as well have been saying are unpredictable. So better go prepared than come back drained out and fall sick due to stress/strains,” asserts Nilesh Ukey, famous Time-lapse Photographer from India. And an avid trekker who recently successfully completed the very treacherous Frozen River Zanskar Trek in Ladakh also called the Chadar Trek, Ladakh.
8- PREFER TO HIRE A LOCAL CAB DRIVER
It is always safer to hire a local driver since he is aware of the route, the region, the treks, better than the one you have brought from your city. The added advantage is that the locals mostly
double up a guide as well.
9. GUIDE TRAVEL COMPANIONS ABOUT BASIC RULES
Whether traveling with family or friends, brief them about the safety tips to be followed in that particular region - the do’s and don’ts; the rules to follow in hills; in short, be their safety guide.
"A big problem can be averted if the entire team stays alert. A lot of accidents happen due to either lack of awareness or due to careless attitude," asserts Schweizer Alpen, an elderly tour guide at the Swiss Alps. Alpen during his three-decade-old career has seen many tourists fall to death or get trapped in some other danger in the region, due to lack of alertness/awareness about the region.
10. TRAVEL INSURANCE IS A GOOD IDEA
"Getting your travel insurance done well in advance, is not a bad idea. I am not trying to scare you. But if you are one of those people who is accident-prone or keeps tripping in the hills, then this is the most important one for you," says Aaron Paul from France who runs special tours to Mont Blanc - the highest mountain in the Alps and the highest in Europe west of Russia's Caucasus peaks.
These days even the Indian Railway does your travel insurance at a very minimal cost, so why can't you do the same for your family?
CONCLUSION: Last but not the least, keep at-least five people informed about your trip and update your family about your whereabouts from time to time. And this must be done as and when you cross a different landmark, especially when you are trekking. This will help them track you down with the help of local authorities, by tracing your last location, in-case you fall into any trouble. After all, your safety is always in your own hands. And even God helps those who help themselves!
So, with the holiday season just around the corner, where are you traveling next? Don't forget to share these safety tips among friends and family, you never know which life you might end up saving!