Trekking Safeguards during a COVID Era
Since March 2020, the spread of the COVID-19 virus across the entire globe had paralyzed the adventure travel industry, effectively bring all trekking to a complete standstill. Now, as we shrug off the lethargy of the last few months and look towards the future, we are faced with the harsh reality that we must now not only live in a world with the Corona Virus but learn to function in it as well.
We at Adventure-Pulse have always placed the safety and wellbeing of our clients first, striving to ensure that our clients have the very best experience. With Unlock 3.0 in full force and with our treks back in operation, we have set up various trekking safeguards during a COVID Era. These precautions & measures are aimed at keeping you and our staff safe on the trek by adhering to the latest protocols announced by the ICMR and the State Government travel regulations. Our Kashmir Great Lakes Trek in September 2020 was our first trek since the Lockdown and was led by our Director Sauraj Jhingan who ensured that the necessary precautions are being followed.
As any trek involves a lot of moving parts, ensuring the safety of the group requires the entire group’s participation and enthusiasm. We have distributed the various measures and precautions into three categories which are: –
Even before you start your trek, we have placed certain measures to ensure the safety of the staff and your fellow trekkers:
- Each participant must get a COVID-19 negative certificate from an ICMR certified clinic 72 hours before travel.
- Participants are encouraged to pack their bags themselves to ensure as an added level of precaution.
- During travel, especially through airports, we recommend you wear adequate protection and avoid unnecessary contact with inanimate objects such as doors, tables, escalator railings, etc.
- Once you land, depending on the local legislation, you might have to fill up a form at the airport and show your COVID negative certificate. In states such as Jammu and Kashmir, a RAPID antigen test is also conducted on arrival.
- Once you leave the airport, we would request you to continue to wear your masks and shields while in the cab.
- On our part, the transport that will receive you at the airport will be sanitated and cleansed thoroughly. The driver will also be wearing a mask.
- Each car will have a sanitizer and we expect the team to sanitize their hands while stepping in and out of the vehicle.
- On arrival, you would also be required to fill out a short disclaimer, which asks whether you have symptoms of COVID-19.
- Before your trek, all the campsite equipment such as tents, sleeping bags, and sleeping mats will be cleaned thoroughly.
- All rented gear will also be cleaned thoroughly.
Trekking Protocols Enroute
As the mountains are isolated from masses and the rate of transition in the outdoors is further reduced, you are not required to wear a face mask (Except in certain scenarios), especially while trekking. As high-altitude treks require proper acclimatization, wearing a face mask may interfere with the process. The wide spaces easily allow you to maintain social distancing protocols.
- You are requested to maintain a social distance of around 1 meter while trekking, wherever possible.
- We will practice frequent handwashing and/or sanitizing while on the trek.
- Wear masks when trekking through villages and/or crowded areas.
- We will regularly check your Temperature & Blood Oxygen Saturation.
- All personal bags that will be loaded onto a mule/pony will be placed in a plastic bag before being loaded, this is to minimize touchpoints on the bag itself.
As most treks in India require the setting up of camps, we have put in place some campsite guidelines to incorporate an added level of hygiene and precaution. We also provide trekkers the option of a single tent at a modest price.
- After the first night camping, we would request each participant to mark their sleeping bag so that they can be used by you for the entirety of the trek.
- After the tents are pitched each day, we will sanitize your tent with the help of a disinfectant spray.
- Whenever possible, we will set up the dining table and stools in the sun.
- All fruits handed out will be washed thoroughly.
- All the washrooms will have disinfectant sprays handy to sanitize the area.
Staff Safety Protocols
Most of our local support staff have been in their homes since the start of the lockdown and have had minimal interaction in cities where the virus has a greater presence. Their protection is as imperative to Adventure Pulse as they are at high risk from these social interactions with trekkers from cities. Putting measures in place to monitor the staff, benefits them as well as the villages they return to after the trek.
- All our staff will take regular self-assessments such as temperature checks before the arrival of the team and Spo2 readings.
- All the trek leaders who have flown in for the trek will have a valid COVID-19 negative certificate which would be taken 72 hours before travel.
- Frequent handwashing will be practised by the support staff, especially before handling food.
- The drivers for all transfers will be wearing masks and wherever possible, place a barrier with the driver and the rest of the passengers.
- Adventure-Pulse will try our best to use the same support staff for treks that are back-to-back to avoid bringing in more people from different areas.
To conclude, COVID is here to stay and treks with added precautions are the new norm. By keeping in mind the science behind the transmission of the virus, we can make smarter decisions and reduce the spread of infection. Though the risk of getting infected cannot be eliminated, by being mindful of our actions, we can take several precautions to mitigate this risk and therefore reduce our impact on the local community as well as the environment.