Thursday, January 3, 2019 : Trekking at Skandagiri, Makalidurga, Savandurga, SiddaraBetta etc is not free anymore.

1 comment

These days trekking is no more free at 7 popular Trekking destinations around Bangalore i.e Skandagiri, AvalaBetta, Makalidurga, Savandurga, Bidarakatte, Devarayanadurga and SiddaraBetta. It is charged by "" (Rs.250 per Trek per person).

It seems this is a mandate by the Forest dept. which is being implemented since the last 6-7 months. A private organization called "MyEcoTrip" is imposing this rule. Need to make an online payment for trekking by signing up at This can be done prior to the trek or through mobile on reaching the place as well since mobile network is available near the trek base of all these places. But you need to have your debit/credit card with you. Bulk booking is also available(minimum 30). I'd recommend booking in advance if you wish to go trekking at these 7 places.

Once the payment is done you get a message to your email confirming the same. No paper receipts or entry ticket is provided. The guides will accompany you if needed. This is done to regulate the crowd and prevent any untoward incidents it seems. There are forest guards and guides deployed at each of the trek base to ensure the safety of Trekkers.

Although these places do not need any guided tour, In case its your first time trekking, make sure you atleast take the guide's contact numbers in case they are not accompanying you on the trek. Will come in handy in case you venture out on the wrong path and get lost/stuck somewhere. The forest gaurd's contact no. can be obtained from the "" website as well.

Earlier they were charging Rs.450 per person just for the trekking because of which the crowd reduced drastically. Even now I feel, charging Rs. 250 per person per Trek is not fair. Most of the people are not aware of this Mandate and on reaching the place, they are in for a shock and without being able to book, they end up being sent back which is quite frustrating.

In the past, there have been a number of incidents where some people have either got injured or got stuck during trekking and the forest dept. had to conduct search and rescue operations. Also some incidents of accidents, theft, robbery, loss of life. Such incidents had prompted the ban on Trekking at night specially at Skandagiri. Probably, on the same lines, the Forest and Tourism dept may have decided to regulate the Trekking activities which is a good thing. There are arrow marks on the boulders now throughout the route at most of the trekking places and if you follow the same, there's no way you can get lost. If you still get lost, you can call up the guides for help. There are dedicated parking spots to park your vehicles (which is ofcourse charged) at the trek base.

Gone are the days when we used to venture out for a night out/ride and decide on trekking some hill randomly. We would park our bikes beneath some trees or infront of some house in the village and start trekking without any prior information or knowing the way. No Mobile Network. No google maps. There were no arrow marks anywhere either. Getting lost and finding our way back was all part of the trekking experience.

Spending the night atop a hill with those chilly winds, trying to light up a small campfire to warm up our freezing hands was great fun. Watching the sun rise between the clouds was such a treat. Seeing the fog/clouds cover below us gave us a feeling of being on top of the world. Just one word to define the expericence - "Heavenly". There was no crowd whatsover at these places specially during weekdays or during night. During weekends, if you were lucky, the villagers would trek up the hill and sell maggie and other stuff.

Although, we need to appreciate the efforts of the forest department to make the trekking experience better and safer, this needs a lot of improvement. At many of these places there is littering and you can still see empty bottles and plates thrown here and there at the top of a hill.

Instead of charging an entry free, would have been better to deploy the guides at the bottom and top of the hill to warn the trekkers from doing such inhuman acts and imposing a fine for littering and  behaving improperly.

If they are charging Rs.250 per person per trek, they might as well install some dustbins and provide toilet and proper parking facilities at the trek base. Atleast they should maintain a register and make entries of check-in and check-out to make sure people who came in for trekking also got out safe and secure. Note down our phone no.s and vehicle no.s and even ask for Id proof. If someone got stuck you can then easily track them with the help of guides. 

No such thing is being done at most of these places even though these places draw a lot of crowd specially during weekends. Right now you just feel cheated because you pay Rs.250 plus taxes per person and you get "NOTHING" for it. NO Food, NO Water, NO entry ticket, NO Dustbins, NO Toilets, NO information/booklet, NO other facilities. Nobody at the top of the hill or along the route, to ensure safe trekking or to stop people from littering. For Rs.250, I'd expect all this and more. Even a Trekking certificate from the Forest department certifying the successful completion of the Trek :D.

Even if you insist that you are a nature lover or trekking enthusiast, a localite who has been there for trekking a no. of times and you do not need any guide, you still need to sign up with "myecotrip" and make the payment, else you are just sent back by the forest guide. It seems MyEcoTrip, the Forest Dept. and the Guides, all get a commission out of the 250rs. so they are just cashing in on this. Just hope that this money is utilized in the right direction to develop or atleast protect these places as bio-reserves.

You even need to pay to park your bikes/cars without any security guard over there to take care of your vehicles. This is not charged by the forest dept. but rather by some villager who's there to make some money early in the morning. You won't even see them near the parking spot when you return after your trek. Rs.30 is charged per bike at Skandagiri which is ridiculous.

Since the Biking, Touring and Trekking culture in Bangalore is on a full swing, most of the people at these places are the urban crowd like techies, college grads and other trekking enthusiasts who are from well to do families who do not mind spending the money. So these places like SiddaraBetta, Skandagiri, Savandurga, Makalidurga, Devarayanadurga, AvalaBetta etc. which were nature's abode are soon turning commercial. Sad but True. "Nandi Hills" is a prime example. There are many more such hills around Bangalore and I wish they don't lose their natural charm anytime soon.

Trekking has turned expensive for sure with some guided treks in Bangalore charging in the range of Rs. 1200-1500 per person per Trek (including transport of course). Also the entry/parking fees at some of these places make us feel as if Trekking is a rich people's thing. Though we locals still finish the deal in less than 150rs per person for petrol and food by taking our bikes out to numerous other hills where trekking is still free ;)These days I'm on a Solo Trekking spree Riding my Bike whenever I feel like to nearby Forts/Hills around Bangalore that are less visited and totally free from the crowd.  Thank God there is no 250rs. entry fee imposed at "Nandi Hills" as well, else I would have lost money in thousands :) Nandi Hills comes under the Horticulture and Tourism departments. There has been a lot of development efforts in the last few years and there are some multi-crore projects planned for the future like a Theme Park. But I still miss the times when fancy hotels and coffee shops were unheard of in the city outskirts and there was no entry/parking fees for trekking.

I heard from one of the Forest guards that Skandagiri is doing good business and it could soon turn into another Nandi Hills. Trekking enthusiasts and organizations which offer guided trips are preferring other places for Treks like Madhugiri Fort, Kunti Betta, Kabbaladurga etc. to avoid the fee. Surprisingly the crowd at Madhugiri which was once considered a dry, difficult, scary, Boring Trek has now increased :)

Check this out:-

Read More

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.