WHILE FOR many, monsoons mean a trip to misty mountains or waterfalls, there are others who wait for this season for the added thrill it brings to trekking and camping expeditions.
With nature at its best this time of the year, hikers say trekking becomes all the more enjoyable. Mumbai’s proximity with famous trekking valleys further encourages tourists to march the distance, they claim.
“Kalsubai (Nashik), Ulhas Valley (Khandala), Naneghat Ghat (Malshej) and Tikona (Lonavala) are the most popular in this region. Monsoons especially see a greater demand, as people enjoy the lush greenery and waterfalls at the locations,” says Kaman Mota, member of Mountain Marks, a volunteer group that arranges trek tours.
Mota says at least 100-150 people come each week to trek with them. “Trekking offers you a different experience. It allows you to move out from the hustle and bustle of the city,” he says.
When asked if tourists have safety concerns, Mota says, “At least 20 to 30 trainers accompanies each group to help trekkers scale mountains. If you are passionate about trekking, staying out and other such inconveniences do not matter so much. We also take care to provide basic requirements, and ask hikers to come prepared for night-outs.”
Others claim trekking over the weekend rejuvenates them. “I make sure that I go trekking once in two weeks. It not only keeps me fit, but also prepares me for the coming hectic work-week,” says Pushpak Shah, an avid hiker.
However, trekking in monsoons also has its downsides, old-timers claim. “Trekking at night during rains becomes a problem. The mountains are slippery and unsafe, and the season also invites pesky pests. We thus ask travelers to come prepared with preventive measures,” Mota says.
Trekking for the past 23 years, Mota claims he has seen things change in Mumbai. “Not only has popularity for trekking surged among travelers, authorities have also made better arrangements for fencing and making trek routes clearer. Increase in tourists, however, also means more littering and dirtying of these scenic spots, which must stop,” Mota says.