SUBJECT : Three months after seven ecotrails were thrown open near Bengaluru, the forest department is all set to cut down trekking charges by more than half

Bengaluru, November 12, 2017: Three months after seven ecotrails were thrown open near Bengaluru, the forest department is all set to cut down trekking charges by more than half. The tariff is likely to be reduced from Rs 450 to Rs 200 (plus taxes) per person per trek.

The cost of the day treks includes forest entry and nature guide fees among other things. The seven destinations are in Ramanagara, Tumakuru, Chikkaballapur and Bengaluru Rural districts, and include forests, rocky hills, old forts and temples.

Principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) Punati Sridhar told STOI he has written to the PCCF (head of forest force) and is awaiting a reply. "On interacting with some trekkers at these ecotrails, I found that not everyone can afford the existing charges. Based on public suggestions, we have proposed to decrease the fees," he added.

Operated by the Karnataka Eco Tourism Board, these guided treks can be booked online (www.myecotrip.com). Users can either pay online or make offline payment at the starting point.

928 visitors and counting

Sridhar said the response to the ecotrails has picked up of late. "Skandagiri in Chikkaballapur and Makalidurga in Doddaballapur, Bengaluru Rural, are the most sought-after spots. As many as 928 people have taken these treks as of first week of November; 183 have registered this month alone. In addition to the 29 nature guides we have, 30 more are being trained to cater to the increasing number of visitors," he added.

A senior official said people from across age groups are signing up for the treks — the oldest visitor so far has been a 70-year-old and the youngest an eight-year-old (accompanied by a caretaker). The department is offering a 50% concession to schoolkids and other children.

TIMES VIEW

Ecotrails provide a quick getaway to nature enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies yearning to explore the wilderness or take a break from the mundane. Their proximity to Bengaluru is an added bonus for those with limited time on their hands. The proposal to slash trekking charges will not only make ecotrails more affordable but also popularize the seven destinations, helping them stand out on Karnataka's tourism map. More visitors will translate into more revenue for the government. With cost concerns having been addressed, trekkers must remember to act responsibly in order to preserve the sanctity of the eco-sensitive zones.


Source: Times of India