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Trekking for Women: Inadequate leadership, sexual misconduct, consumption of liquor, lack of fitness

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Deoriatal Chandrashila batch 3rd march to 8th march 2023


This was my first trek and it turned out to be everything I didn’t expect could happen. I went with Indiahikes because my siblings had amazing experiences with Indiahikes and could say nothing but words of praise for Indiahikes. For me, It has been a serious disappointment and I feel its my duty to report everything that went wrong on this trek.


1.      Inadequate guidance by trek leader and trek guides - we were on our own for most of the time, the group was divided in many small groups and people were losing track of trails.

2.       Head count was not done regularly, not even by the end of trek and on 2nd day of our trek one member went missing for 1 hour which was only noticed when he managed to return all by himself.

3.       Sexist and offensive comments were made by the team members on multiple occasions but was ignored by the leading team, despite being there and hearing all of it.

4.       A group of people consumed liquor, and were offering it to others. They carried liquor in their offloaded luggage which is absolutely unacceptable. This is why I think offloading should not be allowed without proper medical reason.

5.       Many people did not have adequate fitness, despite that, they all were allowed to trek. The fitness proof was made a joke of, the trekkers confessed to not being fit and not running 5k. Nothing was done about it. This definitely compromised everybody’s safety on the trek.

6.       The general idea of trekking silently on the trails in the forest was neither followed nor enforced. People made a lot of noise while trekking through the forest, vlogging their way through it.


Of course, there were also many positives about the trek, I did enjoy and learn a lot too. I really want to appreciate the cooking team, the focus on the environment, and many other things. This post, however, is about the things that went wrong. I’ll save the praises for another post.

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I'm shocked to know about this and IndiaHikes should look into this ASAP. Any form of sexual misconduct is simply unacceptable and the trekkers involved should be blacklisted and sent on their way back immediately.

What surprises me the most is that the IndiaHikes leadership was ignorant of it. All other things mentioned are equally surprising. Overall, all of this is very concerning.

P.S. - I specifically agree to the offloading point. I've myself seen people misusing the offloading service by carrying totally unnecessary stuff. IndiaHikes should either find a way to tackle this, or stop offloading totally.

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Young females are trusting on indiahikes to join the group of strangers and go on a hike, it is very important that the trek leaders take women’s safety into consideration while on the trek. They need to take care that everything is going on smoothly with the group.
I’m amazed how carrying and consumption of liquor on the trek was unnoticed, I think we can all imagine what all could go wrong with liquor. And how can other trekkers feel safe in such an environment?

Me personally, I take the physical fitness very seriously and I’m sure a lot of us do. Now if there are people who are simply ignoring the fitness criteria, and indiahikes team is not taking that seriously as well, it ends up ruining the trek experience for the whole group which is very unfair.

Edited by aishwy
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I was part of the same group and had travelled all the way from UK just for this trek. I was shocked to see this kind of behaviour in this age. A large subgroup in that group had no intention of doing the trek, they were treating it as a lad's holiday or a stag do. They were racist towards an Australian in our group too ; were rowdy, misogynistic, sexist, consumed booze and were very crass overall. 

Unfortunately even the trek leader struggled to deal with them, to make matters worse none of them seemed to have met the fitness criteria but were still allowed on the trek presumably for the money it was bringing to Indiahikes. 

Indiahikes have to issue an apology to the people who suffered on the trek, compensate adequately and have to give reassurances that they will put in place measures to prevent this in the future. 

In the meantime it is fair to say that Indiahikes is not safe for women or any decent person who just wants to enjoy a trek. 

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Hello Navya, 

What you have mentioned is very alarming.  We have been speaking to everyone involved - the trek leader, guides, and your fellow trekkers.  

I want to share what we gathered from these conversations.  I will share our observations and then our interpretations.

1) Observations: On the first day, the day being short the trek group trekked together.  On the second day, the trekkers were in three groups each led by an Indiahikes team member with the gap between the first and the last member around 30 mins.  On the third day, the trekkers were again in three groups.  Again, the gap between the first and the last member did not exceed 30 mins.  On the summit day, the gap was a lot wider.  However, the trekkers stayed together in their groups.  During the Tungnath - Chandrashila stretch, two trekkers went ahead of the group in the middle to join the trekkers ahead.  Having reached the summit by then, the Guide came down from the summit to give them the support needed for them to reach the summit.  During this time, the trek leader and the guides were in constant touch with each other over walkie and ensured that trekkers did not trek on their own without our staff in the line of sight. 

Our interpretation: Given the pace of the group, this made natural sense rather than forcing the groups with different paces to stick together.  The Trek leader and the Guides ensured that they had a line of sight on the trekkers during the trail. 

2) Observations: The trekker Ravi went to poop informing Guide Anup and another trekker Swapnil about 15 mins before reaching the campsite.  The Guide had taken the trekker to an isolated spot and then asked the trekker to meet the group ahead at a certain point.  The trekker took some time to come back to this spot.  By this time, the team had reached the campsite.  Before they could assemble for the headcount and cool down, the trekker called one of the other trekkers.  This was a network zone and he was using the GPX file to navigate back and even shared his live location with his friend.  Upon this, the guide went and got the trekker immediately to the campsite.  The trek leader and a few other trekkers asserted that headcount was taken twice a day - once in the morning and once they reached the campsite. 

Our interpretation:  The timeline suggests that all of this happened within a span of 20 mins.  The trekkers were given the GPX file and taught navigation on our treks for such off-hand scenarios.

3) Observations: The trek leader noticed one comment made by one of the trekkers on the second day of the trek. She immediately intervened and asked the trekker that the comment that was made was not OK.  However, outside this incident, the trek leader or the guides were not aware of any other instances where any sexist or offensive comments were made.  This has been verified by two other trekkers who were also part of the group. 

Our interpretation: We believe that whatever conversation happened between her and the other trekkers required context to be interpreted which no one outside the circle was privy to.  The trek leader was unaware of the entire circumstances and neither did the trekker share any of her concerns with the trek leader directly until the very last day.  
We are sure that if we have known the circumstances, we would have taken serious steps towards the same.

4) Observations:  No one saw these trekkers drinking alcohol. The trek leader or the guides did not come to this information until the last day.  

Our interpretation:  We trust our trekkers to follow our policies on trekking.  However, we are aware that there are exceptions.  When these lapses do occur, we are strict with our consequences.  If we had been informed earlier, this situation would have been attended to.

5) Yes, we do not check for fitness proof since Oct 2022. We only check for fitness proof of trekkers who are high-risk on the trek or for trekkers going on treks that are above moderate level difficulty.  This change in protocol was implemented after we assessed our data on the effectiveness of our fitness protocol.  Our data shows that our protocol was not improving the odds of trekkers coming prepared for the trek.  It also shifted the responsibility of the fitness preparation on us rather than on the trekkers. 

This does not mean that we are lax with our protocol on the trek.  If a trekker is slower for more than 30 mins than the average trekker, the trekker will be sent down.  This is being followed strictly on our treks.  No one on this trek met this criterion for the first three days of the trek.

6) This is something we constantly enforce on our trails and Teena mentioned that it was constantly enforced on the trail.

These are our observations and our interpretations from the varied people who were part of this trek.  If we are missing out on anything crucial, please let us know.

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I am done with IndiaHikes.

Rather than issuing an apology and compensating for my wasted experience, you have made efforts to cover the story and downplayed it. Your replies are not to my satisfaction. 

1) I disagree. The thing that trekkers were in three groups is completely untrue. As a matter of fact, there was nobody with me, Pranjal and Cam on the summit day. Pranjal was unwell on the trail, had vomited, and all three of us felt really unsafe on the slippery trail. Every single day, when there was nobody with us we tried to catch up with Anup (our trek guide) who did not slow down or help us in any way. The other trek guide - Amit - was the only one guiding us. I don’t hesitate to say that Amit was brilliant, but one trek guide can only do so much to handle a group of 20+ trekkers. There were a lot of periods of time when there was no guide in the ‘line of sight.’ Your observations and interpretations are downplaying the inconvenience and dangers we faced. I understand that things can not go perfectly at times, but it seemed that the IndiaHikes staff were not professional and careful enough.

2) Attaching evidence that the trekker was lost:  https://ibb.co/MRsrwqW
Isn’t this evidence enough? The trekker himself said that “I am lost on the trail.” Are you suggesting that the trekker was able to reach to camp site means that everything was alright? It is hilarious that instead of even acknowledging that the trekker was lost, you are describing a 20 minute timeline which was not even the point. The point is that the trekker lost the trail in the first place.

3) Again, completely false. Teena was right there when a fellow trekker made several sexist and offensive comments on the summit day too. Krunal, one of the trekker made sexist remarks in front of everyone, I was crying at that point and Teena later even acknowledged to me that she was aware of the comments, but why she didn’t take any action is unacceptable. Several other comments were also made when she was not there. How can you say that you verified against this with 2 trekkers, when the majority of trekkers in this batch had an ignorant attitude making a joke out of the trek? Pranjal in the above comment verifies my claims and you completely ignored that.

4) You say that your staff was unaware that trekkers brought liquor, and that you would take action if we had informed you earlier. This is a serious lapse. If Indiahikes cannot take the responsibility of being aware of who is bringing liquor with them, you should stop calling yourselves the “safest organisation”. 

5) I don't understand why were asked for a fitness proof in the first place then.

6) I do agree and recall that Teena made an effort to enforce this, but to complete failure. Her efforts were in vain and no action was taken for it.

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I think all your observations are factually incorrect. 

Right from day 1 some trekkers were so unfit that even after offloading they were far behind. Anoop himself was frustrated and wondering how and why they came for the trek. 


There were many instances when there were more than 3 groups and there were no trek guides or trek leaders in sight. 

Teens never intervened on any comments she unfortunately struggled to deal with that group. At Chopta once the comments were repeated I spoke to Teena, urged her to intervene and said that I would complain to Indiahikes about this, only after that did she start to be more supportive to Navya but even then never spoke directly to that group. 

That group decided on their own that they didn't want to complete the trek and took a vehicle from Chopta, Teena had lost control of the trek by that point. All and any complaints were considered only after that group had left. 

It's shameful that even today it is acceptable in India for a lady to suffer abuse and the institutions are only interested in covering up rather than taking action. 

I fear for all ladies who choose to use indiahikes, it's just the luck of the draw on what kind of trek mates they will get and how their experience would be, clearly indiahikes doesn't care. 

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I was also a part of same group.

I found lake of responsibility in Anup and Teena.

On the second day when Ravi was missing - the whole scenario is like this."Ravi and Anup was walking together approximately 20-25 steps ahead of me. Trail was so zigzag that sometime I could not see them. At one point there was two trails and I saw Ravi was going into different directions which does not seem obvious to me. So I asked him where are you going?. He replied he wants to go washroom. Anup was also present at the spot and he directed him for washroom. Considering this as very normal condition, I asked Anup which trail I should follow and he directed me and I continued to walk."

The point I want to make clear is Ravi did not informed me. I just observed him going for washroom in different directions.

After 10-15 mins of trek we took rest at break point and Ravi was not available at this break point.  ( This we could realise when we were searching for Ravi after reaching the camp site).  To reach campsite we are still left  with trek of 30 mins.

After reaching the campsite, Teena blamed me saying that I should have noticed that Ravi did not reach break point. She made a fun of me b/w whole group. I literally felt that  she " put her mistakes on me" instead of accepting it.

Two points I would like to emphasize here.

1) Anup should  have not left Ravi. Teena and Anup should have take head count at break point.

2) Teena and Anup should realise and accept their mistake instead of "putting their mistake on others".

On the next day, I noticed that Anup kept his walkie in the bag at break point and Teena/Amit was trying to contact him and could not connect him on time.

I also found lake of leadership and being non supporting when in need.

On the second day, in the late evening, Navya was bit scared as she was not sharing tent with anyone. She approached group of people and mentioned she does not want stay alone in the tent. We approach Teena and requested her to share her tent with Navya. Teena denied it at very first instance saying that India Hikes does not allow trek leader to share their tent.

This was not supportive at all. 

Now what option solo girl traveller left with!!

Not expected at all from India Hikes!!



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This is absolutely ridiculous from IndiaHikes.

So many fellow trekkers from the same group are complaining about safety issues and the lack of leadership from the leading team. IndiaHikes has shrugged all these issues and are instead putting the blame on trekkers.

IndiaHikes owes a public apology and a FULL REFUND to all the affected trekkers, for clearly compromising the safety of trekkers and then putting up a cover story filled with lies and made up observations rather than even acknowledging their mistakes.

If IndiaHikes fails to take action soon enough, we'll report the entire case to higher authorities.

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Navya, at the outset, let me say that Indiahikes takes every single comment and feedback very seriously. We constantly refine our processes to catch even the slightest loophole. 

Right from the time the trek leader became aware of what you went through we have had several conversations with you. We have 35% of our trek leaders as women including the one leading your team. Any issue raised by women is taken very seriously. 

The idea behind all our conversations with you was to offer support and address the issues at hand. 

We deeply empathize with what you went through at the hands of several trekkers in your group and we hope no one feels unsafe - ever. 

Having said this we are beginning to feel that the intention behind your posts is malicious. 

We have records of all our conversations with you and can see the shift happening and can see new issues and sweeping allegations and assertions cropping up. 

1. We are very curious why no one reported to the trek leader on the trek that some people were carrying alcohol. Why did you and the others hide this from us and later raise it as a concern? Do you expect Indiahikes to search people's bags every time? Don't you think many may find this offensive? We have a strict protocol for smoking and drinking. Those found breaking this rule are sent down and blacklisted. If you and the others were aware and said nothing you were party to the offense. 

2. You and the other trekkers had all kinds of conversations while trekking and in your tents. If you found them offensive why didn't you bring it to the notice of your trek leader. We understand that sometimes people are too accepting of others' comments and perhaps too shocked to respond immediately or take action, but how are we responsible for the comments your fellow trekkers made? If it was offensive and you couldn't respond, what stopped you from bringing it to your trek leader? That too a woman trek leader!  In fact, at the end of the trek, in your conversations with your trek leader and the slope in charge, you repeatedly mentioned that the comments made you feel awkward but nothing more (this is on record and we have heard it multiple times to understand if we missed anything).  If your fellow trekkers sensed such offense, how is it that they were all quiet? 

3. I agree that based on the various accounts, the trekker did miss his way and did not join back the trail after his pee stop.  However, the statement that his safety was put at risk is an arguable statement.  

In the end, I want to ask this: we spent the entire evening at the end of your trek, trying to understand the different challenges you faced on the trek.  Two of our managers were with you trying to provide you the support you needed.  You could have shared your concerns with them then and there.  

What is even more confusing is that you had even given a postcard with a handwritten note to your trek leader the last morning.  Why would you do that if you had serious problems with the trek leader and her leadership on the trek?

We have taken your feedback back at the Sari base camp in good faith. We have acted on them immediately.

Some of your points about noisy trekkers and racist comments have also been given due consideration.

Even now we are listening to whatever you are saying. What we can change we will.

At the same time, we feel disappointed that you are constantly trying to downplay our efforts or our sincerity toward our profession.

We feel many of your comments are afterthoughts and not what you told us back at the base camp. It makes us lose credibility in your statements.

Having said that we are committed to our high safety standards. We will continue on that journey.

WhatsApp Image 2023-03-13 at 10.55.30 PM.jpeg

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Seeing the offensive tone of your response I have realized it was stupid of me in the first place to complain anything as according to you trekkers are responsible for whatever happens

On return, at the base camp I did feel supported and that was the reason I chose to raise my concerns but since then all of your responses have invalidated my issues and the only aim of your response seems to revolt against mine rather than leaving even a tinniest possibility that maybe what I am saying is what I really experienced
I am malicious and so is anyone who chooses to complain against the organization 
You are clearly firm on ignoring the responses by Swapnil, Pranjal or anyone which suggests similar things as mine
You are not responsible for our safety yet proudly are the safest organization 
I'm glad I got to know the kind of people who work behind this organization before anything worse could happen to me and my friends
At the same time I fear for everyone who chooses Indiahikes.

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Bravo Lakshmi, I hope you are paid handsomely by Indiahikes because you have not only ignored all messages from me and Swapnil and my email but nobody from IndiaHikes has contacted me once even though I was the one who raised the original complaint with Teena and dropped an email for the same purpose. 

Let's address this note that you speak of,  I was sick on the summit day and didn't have dinner so didn't really say Goodbyes to Teena or Anoop or Amit even though we did have a debrief. The next day when we were leaving at 3 am I suggested that instead of waking Teena up we leave her a good bye note of sorts that we can slip underneath her door. Even though I was unhappy with how Teena handled things it wasn't all her fault but a systematic failure in the processes being followed by IndiaHikes (or the lack thereof).  Out of courtesy and etiquettes we thought we would write a small note and leave without waking her up. Navya was kind enough to write it and even draw, by that time Teena woke up so she gave it to her directly. It wasn't from her personally but as such from the entire group. 

I actually empathised with Teena because she struggled to control the entire trek partly her fault and partly because she was put in an impossible position by IndiaHikes in being asked to control a rowdy, rude, crass group of 11 men who were boozy as well. She would ask them to be on time, they would refuse, and apart from it she basically tried to ignore their antics which was part of the problem as it meant that others and specifically Navya suffered. 

Regarding your statements that nobody's safety was jeopardised, that's a lie and a white one at that. We lost a trekker completely for close to 30 mins, me, Cam and Navya were doing the most treacherous summit hike all on our own. Anoop just shouted at us from the top that we should put our crampons on but none of us knew how to as we had not been told, another thing that was missed owing to the general chaos at the camp site.  Repeatedly on various days our group was divided in to various small sub groups and it was just a slice of luck that no serious incident happened. 

Your comments Lakshmi show a distinct lack of empathy towards a trekker, a single lady doing her first trek too. Put yourself in her shoes and then you can imagine what it feels like to be at the receiving end of comments belittling you as a women by a rowdy group of men who are misbehaving with all and sundry at the camp.  

This is one of the worst pieces of PR I have ever witnessed by a company and this thread if it's not deleted will do a world of good to people who are thinking of using IndiaHikes for trekking. 

Just to provide you one last piece of evidence on the shambles this trek has been from beginning to end, Shefali asked me to send the screenshots for my fitness approval when I had enquired about the same in an email. You have on the other hand mentioned that IndiaHikes have stopped asking for it since October last year. Clearly IndiaHikes is a very well run organisation where the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing.

IndiaHikes has failed us on all accounts, what a shambles you are!!


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