FAQs and Guidelines for Treks during COVID Times

We conducted a survey few days ago, as we were planning to start trekking events in coming months. We wanted to know what concerns our participants may have if we organize an event considering the pandemic situation. Nearly 250 people participated in the Survey and we have compiled some data from that. Hopefully, this blog will clear the queries and together we shall start trekking with all the safety protocols. Also, participants can check the Survey Results in latter part of this blog.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What all precautions will be taken to check participants health status by Mumbai Trekkers before the event ?

- If you are coming from Containment Zone or have come in contact with a COVID positive person 14 days before the event then you should completely avoid coming for the trek, and if you come in contact with such person after registration but before the event then you should inform us, you can send someone on your behalf or cancel your booking. The responsibility lies with the participant to inform us well in advance.

 

- If any participant has COVID related symptoms like cold, cough, fever, weakness and other symptoms as per medical authorities, then they will be sent back. So if you already have or develop any such symptoms before reaching the meeting point, it will be your duty to inform the Trek leader about the same and should avoid coming for trek completely.

 

- At meeting point, all participants will have to get their Temperature and Blood Oxygen Level checked. If it doesn't fulfil the required criteria then that Participant shall be sent back from the meeting point itself.

 

- Aarogya Setu is mandatory and status in the app will be checked before the trek for all participants.

 

- If you test positive for COVID after completion of event in coming 14 days, make sure you inform us. So that we can inform other participants who came in your contact and they can take necessary precautions and isolate themselves from others to avoid the spread.

2. What precautions will be taken by Mumbai Trekkers for the Private Vehicles ?

- If we hire a private vehicle, we will make sure the vehicle is sanitized before use and it will be mandatory for all participants to wear mask during the entire journey.

3. What precautions should be taken by participants on the Trek ?

- As far as possible, participants should wear mask, but we understand that may be suffocating or uncomfortable while trekking. So you can alternatively use Face Shield and maintain as much social distancing as possible on trek. Mask or Face shield whatever you prefer, make sure that you take it back with you at home and not throw it after the trek at base village or anywhere else during travel.

 

- Participants should not share water bottles, food items with each other on trek.

 

- Participants should avoid crowded spots on trek and maintain social distancing.

 

- Participants should avoid contact with villagers or locals or keep minimum contact with all precautions (Like changing clothes or using washroom)

 

- Keep Sanitizer (Liquid Spray or Gel) with you all the time

 

- Avoid touching external surfaces and also avoid touching your face without sanitizing your hands anytime on trek.

4. What is the allowed age group of Participants in COVID times ?

- Currently we will only take participants from age group of 18-55 years. Any person with co-morbidity such as diabetes, hyper-tension, heart and respiratory problems will not be allowed on trek. You will have to fill an online form giving a self-declaration of all information about yourself. If someone below 18 wants to join they shall compulsory be accompanied by a guardian.

 

5. What if I cancel my booking at last moment due to health issues ?

Our cancellation policy remains the same in such cases, you can send someone on your behalf and no cancellation charges shall be levied, however if you do not send anyone on your behalf then there will be no refund. You can cancel your booking 2 days before the event and get 80 percent refund. Check our Payment Policy for more detail.

6. What if event is cancelled due to sudden restriction by authorities or other similar circumstances ?

We understand that the restrictions these days can be imposed almost anywhere and anytime, so in such case event may be cancelled or modified as per the given circumstances, in such case no refund shall be provided. However if restrictions are imposed 2 days before the event, 80 percent refund will be given.

 

7. Is COVID Negative Test Report mandatory to join any event ?

No, COVID Negative test is not mandatory to join the event. As responsible participants, it will be every individuals responsibility to follow the safety precautions to avoid COVID infection.

 

8. Can we directly come at base village or start point of the trek by our private vehicle ?

This depends on event to event but yes that will be allowed and also from safety perspective that would be ideal for you.

9. Is it allowed to visit all forts and treks ?

While writing this blog (20th September, 2020), many tourist spots are banned. However things are opening up now. To begin with we will plan treks only to selected few places where there are no restrictions and minimum interaction with locals. We usually check the restrictions imposed in that particular location and also contact locals to know about the current situation before organizing an event.

10. Why trek is such times, this is a non-essential activity ?

Yes. This is a non-essential activity and virus spread has not gone down. Travelling anywhere currently possess a risk of getting infected with the virus. In such times we are undertaking utmost possible precautions and safety measures to minimize the risk and provide solution to outdoor lovers. We hope those who are willing to come are aware of the risk involved. In such times all we can do is to take precautions and safety measures. Hence, we are organizing events with small and private batches.

Survey Results

1. When will you feel comfortable to start Travelling or Trekking again ?
More than 50 percent people feel it is the right time to start trekking from October. Many of them also said that adequate safety measures should be taken.

2. What will be the ideal batch size you will be comfortable to Trek or Travel with ?

More than 90 percent people feel batch size should be less than 20 people and that completely makes sense in such times. Social distancing can be maintained more effectively in smaller groups.

3. Will you prefer an easy trek for start or a moderate or difficult trek will be fine with you ?

Almost 80 percent people feel that Easy-Moderate Level treks should be organized. As most people these days are staying home and hence they may not have the fitness they had before, so yes they should start with an Easy treks.

4. Will you prefer trekking with a Private batch (just you and your friends) or Small Batch Size of unknown people is fine with you ?

More than 70 percent people feel it is fine to trek with unknown people if batch size is small, however a good 30 percent people feel they would only prefer trekking with the people they know. We would try to keep both types of event with small batches. Also if you want us to organize a trek for you and your friends only, then you can contact us at least 7 days in advance and check the availability.

5. Once local trains start running without any restrictions, will you be okay if Treks are organised from Karjat/Kasara/Panvel etc or you will still prefer to Travel from a Private Vehicle from Mumbai itself with an added cost ?

This was quite a surprise even for us. Currently travelling is a big task. Reaching base village or trek place is difficult because of multiple reasons like Cost is high if you hire a private vehicle, public transport are quite a risk because vehicle may not be sanitized and social distancing can go for a toss. But it seems some people who have been using Public Transport regularly during pandemic, feel that if one takes enough precautions then it is fine to travel even in public transport. 55 percent people feel treks should only be done if there is a private vehicle from Mumbai, other 45 percent are fine with public transport. As of now it is unclear when local trains will start operating. But once it starts, we would keep both types of events so that people can join whichever suits them.

6. Once restrictions are lifted completely, some popular treks will see an exceptional rise in crowd, will you prefer trekking to those popular places or will prefer some lesser known/off beat places to avoid crowd ?

In past, we always got inquiries for selected few popular treks like Kalsubai, Andharban, Harishchandragad, Devkund, Visapur etc however now people are willing to explore or visit the less crowded and off beat treks and we are glad more than 90 percent people are willing to do off beat treks to avoid crowd. We will be glad to keep such events in coming months.

7. For start, we might be forced to avoid contacts with locals or keep bare minimum contact and in that case will you be okay carrying your own food or you will expect food to be arranged by organizers ?

Good 76 percent people feel that they would bring their own food, but we understand the other 24 percent people as well. We would also prefer not ordering food at locals place as it might put them at risk but whenever possible we will try to arrange packed food for our participants where safety is taken care for both, Participants and Locals.

8. With additional precautions, small batch size and many other factors may lead to increase in cost of treks, will you be okay paying that premium amount ?

Nearly 75 percent people feel they would be fine paying the extra amount in such times. Other 25 percent people are not fine with the hike in cost. To address them, we would like to say that there are additional cost for us like investing in Oximeter, Thermal Guns for Temperature checking, Sanitizers, Spare mask, Gloves etc and most important is the travelling cost has gone up. Also we might not incur any expenses for Food if we ask participants to bring their own, in such cases we will make sure the cost doesn't go up. If you have trekked with us in the past, you probably know we have always been one of the most cost effective group in the market. We are clearly not intending to exploit the situation to make more money.

Purpose of posting this survey is not to justify why we are starting treks, but to know what all concerns you all have so we can address them whenever we start treks. Going on trek in such times is absolutely your personal decision, we are not debating about the right time to start trekking. All these guidelines and rules won't matter if we do not follow them. There are some practical difficulties but it is up to us individually and collectively to be responsible trekkers and more importantly responsible citizens. We hope to return to mountains soon.

© 2020 Mumbai Trekkers LLP

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