Western Ghats is gorgeous. It is blessed with the loveliest of green colours that make the hills look alive. This expansive mountain range spreads across four states of India including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and a very small part of Gujarat. The best time to visit The Western Ghats is during the monsoons when everything in its proximity simply becomes so gorgeous that you cannot help but feel awestruck at the mesmerizing beauty of the hill. The lush green landscape is simply irresistible to not explore.
But with time, Western Ghats are slowly getting commercialized in the tourism sector of India. Today, travelling to Western Ghats mean that a responsible traveller will have to be more careful about their carbon footprint. A number of travel companies that have started operating in this region don’t really care about the ethical ways of travelling and hence their groups often create a mess wherever they go. Despite all the business that they get in this region, they don’t really add anything meaningful to the local community.
But there are ways to explore Western Ghats without harming its scenic beauty. With a few precautions in mind, you too can return home after leaving almost zero footprints.
Here are a few tips that will help you travel responsibly in Western Ghats.
Use Minimal Plastic to Keep the Environment Free From Foreign Elements
Many of the destinations in Western Ghats don’t allow plastic inside the trekking trails. This rule is strictly implemented in the trekking zones of Kudremukh and many others in Coorg. But there are tourist locations along with waterfalls and gardens where you can take plastic bottles and chips packets. When you are in Western Ghats please make sure that you are carrying as less plastic as possible. If you have any plastic material then make sure that you are bringing it back and disposing it in a dustbin. When you go trekking Western Ghats you will find a number or river streams from where you can refill water. And if you are not fond of natural water then you can always carry a portable water purifier that will remove anything suspicious from the water.
Always Choose Local Homestays Over Resorts
Resorts are owned by big businesses that contribute very less to the local communities. And while there are a couple of establishments in every region making small changes to the way they operate, it is a better idea to choose a local home stay over a pricy resort. This will give the local families an alternate source of income and they will get a chance to live a better life. It will also send the message in community that there are travellers who want to experience homestay living and hence they will also start similar businesses. By staying in a Homestay, you will support local community and help them flourish. In a time when climate change is destroying crops, small businesses need alternate source of income.
Eat Local and Promote the Native Food
When you are trekking in Western Ghats there is no other way to experience the life of the native than eating local food. The flavours of Western Ghat is unique and energizing. The herbs and spices used are perfect when it comes to preparing you for the exhausting treks.
The native food is grown easily and doesn’t cost much, that’s why it ideal for budget travellers. Local food benefits the community that grows them. When you go to Western Ghats and demand for the same food that you eat at home, it goes on to affect the economy of that place because buying a small amount of ingredient it is not beneficial for the local community.
Always Buy Directly From the Local Artisans
Western Ghats have a rich, natural landscape but the local population also grows and prepare a number of products that you can pack and take home. There are coffee and tea plantations, estate the grow spices and families that make delicious snacks. The honey of Western Ghat is very famous and has many health benefits. Coorg and Wayanad have their own embroideries and handicrafts created with love and precision. So for a shopper, these hills are just a delight.
But when you are shopping these products, you should confirm that you are purchasing everything from a local artisan and not from a third party making commission out of it. A little research sends more help to the creator. Also, it is not a nice trend to bargain from a small businessman because it doesn’t help anyone. In the end, they will start selling over priced products, expecting that every customer will bargain.
Book Your Trip From a Responsible Travel Company
The best way to experience the lush green beauty of Western Ghats is by booking a trip through a travel company for whichever purpose you want. You can book a trekking package for Coorg or you can connect with company for camping in the wilderness of Chikmagalur. You will also find many agencies offering paragliding experience in Vagamon. When travel is in your mind, the options are unlimited.
But when you are opting to buy a travel package for Western Ghats you should make sure that the company is ethical and helps the local community by hiring their guides and homestays. Travel companies that hire staff from outside will never provide the same level of local experience compared to an ethical travel company.
Follow the Rules and Always Corporate With the Forest Guards
When you are trekking in Chikmagalur or Coorg, you will always come across forest guards who will stop you before entering a protected zone. The purpose for them doing so is to make sure that you are not carrying any plastic inside. And if you are taking one, then they will charge a small fee which will be returned to you once you come back with the same number of plastic.
Forest guards are the lifeline of Western Ghats and to be a responsible traveller you should always comply with their guidelines. Breaking rules will not only destroy the Ghats but will also put their job in trouble.
Walk As Much As Possible
Yes, it make sense to go on a biking trip in these beautiful hills or take your car for a long drive but when you are exploring the local attractions then it is a nice idea to walk as much as possible. Walking not only helps you stay fit but shows you unique attractions that you will miss if you are travelling on a bike or a car. Western Ghats are very sensitive zone and pollution should be minimal so walking will also reduce your carbon footprint.
These steps will help you travel in Western Ghats in an ethical way while helping the local environment and the community.