ÖLast week our inboxes and social media were blocked with just ONE question – When will we continue our hikes?
I am addressing exactly this today – when do we plan to continue our hikes, how do we proceed and what do we expect from hikers?
│When will the trekking after COVID-19 continue?
September. This is the earliest time when we believe treks can resume.
I want you to follow me in this logic for some time. Resuming trekking depends on two factors, which unfortunately are not entirely in our hands.
- Air traffic must be as normal as possible so that the hikes can be resumed. It doesn't have to be exactly before March, but it's close enough. I will explain this in detail below.
- COVID 19 cases in our country must be reduced to less than 250 per day (for the whole country). Or at least 15 a day (or less) for each of the ten subways in our country.
Why air travel? Not many people know that, however 90% our hikers reach our hikes by air. Of course, everything that affects air traffic has a direct impact on trekking.
To restart Treks, we need regular flights at the same cost as before, without too many baggage and quarantine restrictions. But above all, people have to get on a plane unafraid to infect the virus.
We are not talking about emergency flights or business trips. We are talking about air travel where people can fly without restrictions. You go to a website, buy a ticket and board a plane.
The number of COVID-19 infections in a day is so important that the fear subsides.
That brings me to the number of COVID-19 cases in our country. Given the increase in COVID-19 cases in our country, we expect it to take at least until September for trekking to resume.
From March to today, COVID 19 cases are on the rise. We already reached the dark mark of 1.50,000 cases yesterday. It took us almost two and a half months to reach this number. We believe that it will take a similar amount of time to reduce it to the aforementioned number (250 a day for the whole country or 15 or less for the big metros). It could even take a little longer.
We see around 6,400 cases in our country every day. Trekking has to wait until the falls drop to just 250 a day or less. Graphics source: Wikipedia
Assuming that both of our conditions are met, trekking could resume in mid-September. But it won't be the same – which I explained a little later.
│Should you register for Treks from September?
The answer is a resounding yes. We opened batches for most of our hikes.
You can find dates between September and December. We have only opened the best hikes in these months. We have stopped some hikes to avoid hikers spreading over slopes.
If you signed up for treks in July / August, I would highly recommend you wait and see. We haven't stopped our hikes for these months. If there is a way to safely do these hikes, we will.
We have also shortened the cancellation period for our July / August hikes to 10 days before the start of the hike. Regardless of whether you cancel now or 10 days before the start of the trek, the cancellation policy remains unchanged.
Here are the hikes we opened in mid-September:
│How will the hikes differ from September? What are the precautions Indiahikes will take for hiking from September?
This is something everyone wants to hear about – what will treks be like in the future? Do we sleep one in a tent or two? Will we keep social distance on our way? How can we ensure security against COVID-19 on our hikes?
I will be honest with you. Trekking is a social sport. It's almost like watching a movie in a cinema where social distance is not a practical option. You cannot have one person in one row and another in the next. Either the cinemas start as they were or not.
Trekkers will drive to base camp together in shared vehicles, briefings will be held together, trekkers will eat together and share tents. The moment we try to isolate trekkers, not only will the joys of trekking go away, but the cost of trekking will increase exponentially.
It is also not possible to have every trekker tested for COVID-19 before departure or after arrival. A COVID-19 test is extremely cumbersome and expensive.
However, we can focus on changing the standard of hygiene in the trekking industry.
Here are some of the things you can expect (don't take them as final yet, they're our first thoughts).
› BYOG (Bring Your Own Gear) could become a reality. Hikers may be asked to bring their own bedding (for use in the base camp lodge) and cutlery (we do not share cutlery). You can even be asked to buy fresh liners from us (but nothing else).
› Gear rental can be interrupted for some time.
› Hikers will likely be assigned their own sanitary sleeping bags from day 1 until the last day of the hike so they don't sleep in other pockets.
› Our devices (sleeping bags, tents, dining tents, kitchen appliances) are subjected to thorough disinfection after each group has left the camp.
› Hikers have access to numerous sanitary facilities disinfect your own cutlery before and after each use.
› Hikers must bring medical certificates from doctors before they start the hike (this already exists anyway).
› Any trekker whose temperature is above normal / whose oxygen is low in the base camp may not participate in the trek.
Nevertheless, our decisions depend entirely on the situation, which is closer to September. Our COVID-19 security guidelines depend on the number of COVID-19 cases and the regulatory requirements for the travel industry at this time.
We'll have to wait and see to make more regulations, but here we are right now.
│What trekking will look like from September
“Even if trekking starts again in September, we expect it to be a trickle. The whole country is unlikely to start trekking at the same time. Bangalore can start first because there are fewer cases. Mumbai and Delhi may not start trekking until much later, ”says Arjun Majumdar, our founder and CEO.
Almost 75% of our trekkers come from the metropolises of our country. These were the worst affected by coronavirus. When we start trekking, the least affected cities will likely start trekking first.
Source: Indiahikes website analysis by Google
Here's something that trekkers don't want to hear.
While I am bombarded with questions about when we are likely to start our hikes, most of this interest is not translated into action. Here's why.
It will take some time for our country to get out of the corona virus crisis. Companies were hit hard. It is the deepest crisis we have seen in our lives. Companies will want to recover. To do this, all productive hands must be on the decks. They have to use their energy to rebuild their organization. For most companies, it is ridiculous to have 10 days off to hike from work.
Professional students who make up a significant part of our trekkers will now study regularly again. It may take some time before they are back at their institutes. Taking a break after class starts will be extremely difficult.
Source: Indiahikes website analysis by Google
“Since we know that, we only slit 104 batches at Indiahikes from September to December. This includes all of our hikes that are spread over these months. These groups are already open on our website, ”says Sandhya UC, our co-founder and COO.
Sandhya also shared a conversation she had with Yatra's co-founder, Sabina Chopra. You were the co-judge of the recent TIMES She UnLTD Entrepreneur Awards 2020, which took place on Tuesday.
Sabina Chopra predicted that the travel industry could travel around 35% of its normal user base in the second quarter and grow to 55% in the third quarter.
"If these are numbers that we assume for regular trips, we can easily lower these numbers for trekking by 10-15%," says Sandhya.
That is, even if the walks start in September, the whole pig will not be resumed. It will start slowly and build up towards the end of the year. By the end of the year, we expect the treks to return to 50% of our previous capacity.
From September you can safely plan hikes.
We notice a global trend returning to normal. Spain, Italy, Germany, France, the Scandinavian countries and even the USA are slowly turning the corner. The world is limping again, India will also follow suit. We started later than in other countries, so our infections will go away later.
I hope this email answered many of your annoying questions.
I hope to see you in the mountains soon.