Trekking routes in Karnataka forests to be open to all again

Trekking routes in Karnataka  forests to be open to all again

In a welcome move, the State Forest Department has decided to allow trekking on designated routes inside forest areas across Karnataka from November 1. The decision comes in the wake of increasing number of trekkers entering forest areas without prior permission.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Vinay Luthra, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), said: “We have identified around 10 to 12 trekking routes in Anshi, Dandeli, Kudremukh, Coorg, Jogimatti, Castle Rock and other places. All identified trek routes are well-documented and free of elephant conflict zones. Each route will have a different difficulty level.” 

The idea is to allow enthusiasts to trek on these designated paths and not wander or lose their way, which can even prove fatal, he said, adding, “We also do not want people to enter forest areas without prior permission.” 

The move is also aimed at cutting down the dependence on jeeps and promoting trekking in such places. “This will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and noise pollution, a fallout of vehicles plying inside national parks. People should experience wilderness on foot,” said Luthra, adding that the locals, who are well versed with the terrain, will be appointed as guides. 

The guides will undergo intensive training in September, after which they will be certified.  Trekkers and trekking organisations interested in availing the services of these guides, would have to contact the Forest Department.  

The treks will cover all types of rocky terrains and green rainforest areas. People will have the option of choosing a daylong or weekend trek, and would also get a chance to stay in forest camps.

Private trekking organisations feel this would make the excursions more organised and reliable. Arjun Majumdar, proprietor of India Hikes, said, “The advantage is that there will be regulation, which ensures that people do not lose their way and there are no casualties. However, many trekking routes are outside the forest areas. The department should not close them. Moreover, it should permit a fair number of people in groups of say 20-25, instead of just 5-10.”

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