Tourism remains one of the largest employers, accounting for 9% of global GDP. Adventure tourism is a niche tourism activity involving exploration or travel to remote areas, where the traveller should expect the unexpected.
Places to trek in India
Trekking in the Indian Himalayas offer incredible variety with short walks in low altitude alpine meadows to 20 day hikes over some of the highest passes in the world. The varied topography adds to its beauty. The high altitude plateau of Ladakh, the alpine meadows of Himachal, Kashmir and Sikkim, the rugged and rocky terrain of Garhwal - all add up to provide a unimaginable variety for the trekker to choose from. Goecha La, Sandakphu-Phalut, Kanchenjunga Base Camp and Singalila Pass are some of the most attractive trekking options in Sikkim.
The hilly terrain in South India also invites the adventure seekers to explore the wild side of trekking. The Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu, the rugged terrain of Coorg in Karnataka, the rainforests of Periyar in Kerala, the Ananthagiri Hills in Andhra Pradesh and the grasslands of Munnar in Kerala provide a thrilling experience.
Seasonal treks in India
The summer season is usually hot and humid in India. The elevated areas of different regions are comparatively pleasant and thus provide an ideal setting for trekkers. Har Ki Dun Valley, located in the Western Garhwal Himalayas encloses opaque woods of deodar, pine and other such coniferous trees. Kuari Pass trek or the Lord Curzon trail involves the sight of striking peaks like Hathi-Ghodi Parvat, Nanda Devi, Dronagiri, Kamet and Chaukhamba.
Winters in India are cool and snowfall occurs in some trekking areas that block the routes. However, The Chadar Trek in Ladakh involving an expedition over the frozen Zanskar River is one of the most challenging winter treks of approximately 70-100 kms. It includes incredible sights of majestic snow-capped Himalayan peaks like Rishi Pahar and Neelkanth. Chopta Chandrashila Trek is probably one of the most striking winter trekking routes that have continuously grabbed the imagination of adventure aficionados around the world. This trek offers a remarkable and picturesque view of the snow-covered Great Himalayan Range like the Nanda Devi, Chaukhamba, Trishul and Kedar peaks. The Snow Leopard Trek encompasses high passes at 4,600 metres of elevation in the outer Himalayas. It proffers a chance to visit the Hemis National Park which is opulent in flora and fauna. The trek can be done in winters. The trekkers can witness dry woodlands full of birch, fir and juniper and during winters, one can spot a snow leopard as well.
Known widely as the ‘Trekker’s Wonderland’, Sandakphu is the highest point in West Bengal, about 11,500 ft. above sea level. It can be trekked during the winters from October to January, as well as during the summers from April to May.
Springs in India are filled with the fragrance of blossoms.
It is a great season to plan an adventure tour. The Dodital Trek is situated at an elevation of around 3300 meters above sea level and lies in Northern Uttarkashi. This trek is perfect for adventure enthusiasts with moderate trekking skills.
The Dzongri La Trek in Sikkim offer captivating views of the Himalayas. It is a seven-day trek and is undoubtedly a trekker’s dream. The route of this trek passes through lush and verdant forests of rhododendron, oak, magnolia, chestnut, maple and pine.
During monsoons, the Markha Valley is ideal, positioned amidst Ladakh and Zanskar ranges and roffers adventure enthusiasts an astounding outline of Buddhist influence in this region. While trekking in the Markha Valley, a trekker can relish the sites of antique monasteries, high altitude passes, remote villages and paddocks like Nimaling and summits like Nun-Kun.
There are mainly two segments for adventure tourism, namely, inbound and domestic. Flow of foreign tourists coming to India for adventure activities (inbound) was till recently the bread and butter of the industry. About 85% of all adventure tourism in India came from this source. Over the past decade, this segment has seen drastic setbacks due to natural and political events. Even though the limited inbound market pays much more, but the Indian domestic market is stable and do not get affected by local disturbances. On enquiring regarding the number of tourists they receive in a year on average, Saptarshi Roy, Founder, Himalaya Trekkers, told BE, “On an average, we are expecting to have 800-900 people during the months of April and May which are the peak months for trekking.” He added, “Foreigner tourists have reduced to a great extent and there are mainly Indian travellers in the trekking group. However, foreigners are easier to communicate with since they respond to our mails faster.”
Economic success of trekking
Today, most camps in the Indian Himalayas offer clean and comfortable accommodation in prices ranging from Rs. 500 to Rs. 1000 per person per night. Activity camps and resorts offering activities like river rafting, game viewing and fishing as a part of a package could charge anywhere between Rs. 1000 to Rs. 1500, per night. Saptarshi Roy also commented on the yearly income generated from these trekking camps and said, “We don’t travel in foreign money. The online portals charge through INR. The revenue estimate is around 1.2 crore and the profit may be around 10% and not more than that.”