How to Travel responsibly in Himachal will be a genuine question in your mind if you have even a bit of regards with current situation of planet and Himachal as a state. With Climate change and global warming aggravating with each passing year responsible travel is the need of the hour.
Personally, having traveled to and spent so many months in the rustic villages of Himachal, I can say for sure that climate change and global warming has started having serious impact on ecologically sensitive Himalayas.
So in this blog I’ll be talking on how to travel responsibly in Himachal. I personally try to travel in the most responsible way I can and I want to inspire and educate my fellow travelers to follow the suit. So lets get started.
How To Travel Responsibly In Himachal – All You Need To Know
So in my personal opinion, caring about the environment is one of main aspect of responsible traveling. Decent behaviour, respecting the local culture and beliefs is another aspect of Responsible traveling in Himachal.
After having spent so many months in rustic villages of Himachal. I have adopted certain ways and means which adopt me to keep my carbon foot print low as well to live in harmony with and respect the local culture.
So here 11 ways by which you can travel in the most responsible manner to Dev Bhoomi (valley of gods), Himachal Pradesh. By the way here is my interesting stance on the offbeat places in Himachal. Do let me know your thoughts on it.
|1. Do not Dirty the Place You Are Visiting in Himachal|
|2. Avoid buying and eating food items with Plastic Packaging in Himachal|
|3. Carry your own Water bottles and avoid buying plastic mineral water bottles in Himachal|
|4. Please leave any place in Himachal as clean as it was before|
|5. Use Public Transport to commute in Himachal|
|6. Do not throw garbage in rivers or rivulets|
|7. Stay in Homestays instead of Hotels, hostels, guesthouses|
|8. Do not play loud music|
|9. Do NOT Bathe in the Water Source of Villages|
|10. Respect The local culture and beliefs of the people|
|11. Do not have futile arguments will locals|
|12. Do not get too intoxicated and create ruckus|
1. Do Not Dirty The Place You Are Visiting In Himachal
This is pretty self explanatory yet people sometimes end up throwing garbage at such ecologically sensitive and pristine places. Be it trails, rivulets, camping spots, some people just are so ignorant that they throw plastic wrappers, bottles etc at will.
So if you are visiting such places and have garbage to throw I would request you to throw it in dustbins if there are any or just keep them with you until you have found a dustbin.
By the here is a detailed blog about 31 promising reasons you should visit Himachal. Do check it out and let me know your thoughts on it.
2. Avoid Buying and Eating Food Items With Plastic Packaging
So one best ways to travel responsibly in Himachal is altogether just avoid plastic packaged food items like Maggie, biscuits, chocolates etc. Even if you dispose them properly, most places in Himachal do not have a proper garbage disposal system.
Most of the times, even if you throw your garbage in a dustbin, the chances are that it will eventually end up in small rivulets. A lot of locals lack awareness about this and sometimes they do not have choice at all due to lack of garbage disposal facilities in Himachal
And this problem can only be solved when locals and administration find a solution. So the best solution is to just avoid these food items with plastic packaging and anyways none of these are healthy so its a win win situation.
I personally avoid buying plastic packaged food items unless I have no other option. I usually prefer eating at local food at homestays, local dhabas. So I really do not actually need to buying and eating those items. When I am outdoors on hikes, homestays are kind enough to provide me with packed home cooked food.
By the way here are 16 beautiful alternatives to Kasol. This will surely be helpful for those looking to escape the crowd and witness the true beauty of Himachal.
3. Carry your own Water Bottles and Avoid buying plastic mineral water bottles
Carrying your own bottles which you can refill when on your trip to Himachal is so much better than buying plastic water bottles. It is good for both the environment and your pocket.
At a lot of places, like trails, meadows, mountain tops you find a lot of used plastic water bottles. Of course, if people stopped buying water bottles and instead drank water from widely available water sources like rivulets, springs etc, then it would be great for the environment.
I personally have completely stopped buying plastic water bottles. I instead carry my own water bottle and refill it from the place where I am staying. While on hikes, I just refill from villages enroute or from the clean sources of water.
If you are skeptical about the water being contaminated, then carry a filter water bottle. But that is highly unlikely because water in the mountains at springs, rivulets most of the times directly comes from the glacier and is the purest. And way better than the so called “mineral water bottles”.
4. Please Leave Any place in Himachal As Clean As it was before
Be it camping, taking a stroll in the forest, hiking, visiting meadows, rivulets, villages, viewpoints, always make it a point to leave the place as clean as it was before.
Quite often, a lot of of people after having alcohol, food items, leave the garbage over there. Sometimes such garbage is even found in meadows, camping spots, hard to reach places.
And I’ve personally seen so many popular places as well as remote ones filled with broken beer bottles, plastic wrappers etc. Which is quite sad to witness to be really honest. And this is the current situation of popular places like Kasol which is why I find it quite overrated to be honest.
At popular tourists spots the culprits are mostly tourists, but at remote and lesser known places even the locals after having a revelry just forget or ignore to clean the mess. I’ve personally seen a dumping place of sorts in remote villages where tourist seldom venture.
So my humble request to you is to clean up your garbage and leave the place as clean as it was before and let others also enjoy the beautiful pristine landscapes of Himachal.
5. Use Public Transport To Commute In Himachal
Commuting by public transport in Himachal is one of the best ways to travel responsibly Himachal. In Todays world where temperatures are rising exponentially due to global warming, keeping a low carbon footprint is the need of the hour.
And what better way to travel responsibly then using public transport. Using private vehicles results in a greater carbon footprint than using public transport.
Again I personally, use public transport as much as possible, and only resort to hiring cabs as the last option. Plus, even the lesser known places and remote villages are now connected by local buses. Of course, the bus timings are not always as per our convenience.
But it is the least we can do on our part to alleviate the problem of global warming and climate change which continues to aggravate at an alarming rate. We need to come together and bring awareness about such things.
Robust public transport in Himachal is one of the 13 reasons why Himachal attracts a lot of solo travelers from across the globe.
6. Do Not Throw Garbage in Rivers, Rivulets, Nalah’s
So again this all comes down to a little common sense and basic civil practices. Surprisingly people truly lack it. Pretty rivulets, rivers have been ruined by humans. They think the rivers, rivulets, Nalah’s are dumping sites and dump plastic and other garbage at will.
Tourists are to be blamed when it comes to popular places like Kasol, Manali. I’ve seen garbage, broken bottles thrown in River Parvati near Kasol. To be honest It does feel quite sad witnessing how such incredible places have been ruined by Humans.
When it comes rural setting in Himachal, I’ve seen rustic villages throwing their garbage in rivulets. No tourist usually ventures to such villages, but still they are littered with garbage. Of course, a lot of them do lack proper garbage disposal system.
But throwing them in rivulets or burning them is no solution either. Local authorities and villagers all have to come together to find a solution to this problem. And when we NGO’s like healing Himalayas, there is still hope.
So please refrain from throwing any kind of garbage into the pristine rivulets. Moreover it might act as a source of water for thousands of people. By the way here is an epic blog on 47 unexplored places in Kullu. I am sure you will love it.
7.Stay in Homestays instead of Hotels, Guesthouses, Hostels
So this is kind of how you can practice responsible and sustainable travel together. Staying in homestays means you stay with a local family, eat what they eat and of course stay at their homes.
In this way you tend to contribute to the local economy along with keeping a check on your plastic wastes and carbon footprint as well. If you are getting good home cooked food all the time why would go on out to eat in cafes and buy plastic packaged food items.
Plus in case of large hotels, guesthouses, famous hostel chains its all about business and operating in responsible way takes a backseat for sure.
Which is why I personally refrain from staying in hotels, hostels and instead choose rustic homestays who want to bring about a change and are more about inclined towards sustainable practices and eco tourism.
By the traveling to offbeat places is not always as glamorous as it is portrayed. Here is detailed blog on challenges that I regularly face when traveling to offbeat places in Himachal.
8. Do NOT play Loud Music
Playing music when on trips is fine, but playing loud music in villages, forests, meadows is not cool. I mean If you ask me personally why do you want to play music when there is such a mellifluous sound nature when in Himachal.
But I have personally seen people blasting music in popular as well as lesser known places and just killing the perfect vibe with nature.
Plus folk beliefs are quite strong when it comes to Himachal. And there several places like forests, meadows, water sources etc are places where the deities actually reside. Most of them do not like too much noise and crowd.
So by blasting loud music you might be upsetting the beliefs of the locals and their traditions. Plus you may be also disturb the flora fauna in Himachal if you are playing loud music. So be responsible and do not blast loud music.
9. Do NOT Bathe in the Water Sources in Himachal
Upper Himachal is full of pristine waterfalls, beautiful pools, small rivulets etc. And a lot of times, these act as water sources for most of the villages. A lot of villages also believe that such places are where the deities reside.
So before jumping into any such waterfall or pool in Himachal, please ensure that its neither a water source for a lot of villages or an place of worship for the locals.
By the way here is a beautiful blog on Sainj valley itinerary. One of the true gems of Kullu where I had a pleasure to stay for a whole month.
10. Respect The local Culture And Beliefs Of The people in Himachal
Responsible travel does not only mean caring about the environment. Traveling responsibly also means that you respect the local culture and beliefs of the people.
The culture of Himachal is very unique. There are certain practices or beliefs which you might not agree with. But that does give you a right mock to and disrespect them as an outsider.
You might not agree with all of it. But its a part of their culture and traditions and you have no right as a tourist or a travelers to disrespect it or make fun of it. Most of travelers do understand it.
For instance, last year when the Atal tunnel opened and Lahaul came into limelight, some anti-social elements stole their agricultural produce, eve teased Lahauli women, threw garbage at will. This was truly a disrespect to locals and their sacred land.
By the way here is detailed blog on 7 celestial monasteries you must visit on Lahaul trip which truly show cases the rich culture of Lahaul.
11. Do Not Get Into Futile Arguments With The Locals of Himachal
Locals of Himachal are one of the most amiable people in the country. But again as I said it is of utmost importance that we respect the locals of Himachal.
The rural Himachal has a lot of rules, tradition and beliefs that you might not like. There are several places in Upper Himachal where you are not supposed to go like temples, etc
So my humble request is to respect the locals of the valley and never get it into futile arguments with them while a trip to Himachal.
12. Do NOT Get too Intoxicated and Create Ruckus in Himachal
A lot of people I’ve personally seen just go to party in the mountains or Himachal. That is personally fine with me. But getting too intoxicated, losing your senses and behaving in unruly is certainly not acceptable.
Lately such cases have been on rise in Himachal. A lot of the ignorant tourists just come to Himachal to get intoxicated and create ruckus and hassle for every one else. And a lot of them also have had to be incarcerated as a result.
So make sure to avoid getting too intoxicated in Himachal and be responsible without creating hassle for the other people around you.
I’ll give an example, In 2020 there were several instances of intoxicated tourists creating ruckus in areas around Manali. The most infamous is pertaining to people stopping in Atal Tunnel and dancing to loud music.
By the way here is a blog on 31 epic places to visit near Spiti. Do let me know your thoughts on it.
To conclude, I hope that have gained something out of this blog and know how to travel responsibly to Himachal. Not dirtying places, avoiding plastic packages items, traveling by public transports are some of the ways to travel responsibly in Himachal.
In case, you have any queries on how to travel responsibly to Himachal, feel free to reach out in the comments below and I’ll be happy to help you guys.