To be launched this month, the trek will cover routes across the Sahayadris, mountain ranges, from Kolhapur to Bhimashankar. The idea is to involve local and rural communities in the tourism project so that they will benefit from the revenues. Local communities are being especially encouraged to provide accommodation to trekkers, and this is expected to reduce poverty as well as increasing facilities for tourists.
The administration said that the trekking programme would depend a lot on the locals, who would work to keep the zone litter free. Special interest groups will also be created with the help of locals so that trekking routes are kept free of litter, while the groups would also be involved in preventing poaching and forest fires.
Principal secretary (Forest), Praveen Pardeshi, said that the first phase of the trek is to begin next week, and short treks have been planned from Chandoli to Prachitgad. Trekkers would then camp in one of the home stay villages. The trek to Prachitgad will start on the morning of December 8 from Karad, Debhewadi.
Pardeshi said the trek route has been organised and planned by Mohan Karnad, chief wildlife warden of the Sahayadri Tiger Reserve. The state government, as well as the Wildlife Conservation trust (WCT), will lend their support to the initiative. The authorities are also planning to extend the trek route if the initial response to the programme is good.
The administration said that it has plans to create a trekking programme that can last up to 10 days. Each day, trekkers will camp in a village located along the route.