Take off on adventurous treks, meet like-minded people, and learn a thing or two about eco-conservation

The mountains have become more affordable. If you've been putting off your trip to the Himalayas because you didn't know what to do or because it costs much more than a holiday to a tourist-friendly South Asian country, may be you should meet Dayalakshmi and her gang from Fawes Nature Club.

Daya, Ganesh Ramachandran and Viswanathan take people in small groups to the great outdoors, way off the road, trekking through the pristine environments around the country. “The idea is also to make them sensitive to the natural environment, educate them on responsible outdoor behaviour, environment concerns... We promote ‘Leave No Trace' wherever we go,” says Daya.

The clubs directors are trained mountaineers, experienced in planning expeditions and conducting trekking camps, wildlife sanctuary visits and adventure activities. Daya did her basic and advanced mountaineering course from the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi, and trained in skiing from the Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering, Gulmarg.

Viswanathan too did his mountaineering and rescue course from the Nehru Institute, and then trained in Advanced Mountaineering at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling. They got together in 2007 to promote their philosophy of ‘Exploring the Elements'. In fact, FAWES stands for Fire, Air, Water, Earth and Space.

To make sure that adventure does not hurt your pockets too much, the gang promotes train travel. “Our idea is to keep the group small so we can pay more attention to the needs of the group. They all have fun, but there's always a sense of purpose when we go on our treks. You need to be in the right mood to enjoy the silence and listen to Nature. There's so much you'll find, if you pay attention. And, we are there to show you things you will otherwise miss,” says Daya.

It's their love for Nature and environment that's driven them to turn a business enterprise into a mission to educate and sensitise adventure lovers, to encourage conservation of natural resources, and environment protection. Periodically, the gang takes groups of Nature lovers to high-altitude trekking camps, jungle treks, expeditions to the Himalayas, rock climbing, hiking, camping, bouldering, trail runs, river rafting, skiing, canoeing, parasailing and skydiving, visits to sanctuaries and national parks in India and abroad, and also conducts workshops in photography and observational astronomy.

The many expeditions

Over the last three years, the Nature club has undertaken trekking and mountaineering expeditions to Uttarakhand, Sikkim, West Bengal and Himalayas, biking expeditions retracing the ancient silk route along the Lahaul, Spiti and Kinnaur valleys, wildlife sanctuary visits around South India, and rock climbing and trekking camps in the Western and Eastern Ghats, observation and astronomy camps in high-altitude areas of South India, cycling and day trips around South India.

For details, call 93831-14321 or mail fawes2006@yahoo.com

UPCOMING TREKS

Yercaud Camp (August 26 to 29) — Rs. 3,500

Gaumuk-Tapovan (September 3 to 16) — From Rs. 16,300 a person

Panwali-Bhugyal (September 14 to 26) — From Rs. 14,500 a person

Sandakphu- Phalut (October 1 to 14) — From Rs. 13,400 a person

Goecha La (October 1 to 18) — From Rs. 17,400 a person

*All round trips from Chennai

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