MINGORA: The trekkers from across Swat valley gathered here on Saturday to discuss ways and means to promote tourism, especially ecotourism, in the mountainous region.
The Swat Annual Trekkers Meetup was organised by the SPS Trekking Club at the auditorium of the Swat Public School, where the representatives of SPS Trekking Club, Uddiyana Trekkers, Trekkers Club, SMC Adventure Club, Xalmi Adventurers, Adventure Hiking Club Swat, Crazy Adventure, Swat Hiking Society, Crazy Hiking Club, Timberline Adventure Club and Swat Valley Backpackers were in attendance.
The organisers said scores of nonprofit trekking clubs in Swat made expeditions to the unexplored sites in the country’s northern areas but unfortunately, they had no coordination.
“The Annual Trekkers Meetup is meant to form a network of trekkers in Swat valley and make a proper plan for the promotion of ecotourism, pollution free hiking and trekking, understanding about climate change and learning about pastures, glaciers, forests, animals and birds life,” said organiser Dr Abdul Hadi.
The trekkers said the country could improve its image by showing the world its dazzling natural beauty and promoting tourism.
“The natural beauty of our northern areas, including Swat, Dir, Shangla, Chitral, Gilgit-Baltistan and Hunza, is unmatched as these beautiful areas offer every taste to the tourists and adventure seekers. This is our responsibility to show all that to the world and attract tourists,” said Azharuddin of the Adventure Hiking Club.
The trekkers said the real beauty of Swat and other northern regions lied in the mountains from where people could see vast meadows, thick forests, huge glaciers, alpine lakes, tall waterfalls and high peaks.
“I claim that Swat valley is paradise for trekkers and adventure seekers as it has vast and lush green meadows adorned with colourful wild flowers, gushing streams and rivers, high-altitude glacial lakes and unexplored peaks,” said trekker Amjad Ali Sahab.
Ihsanullah, founder of the Swat Valley Backpackers, said his organisation hosted several international trekkers and travel writers, who visited Swat and other areas.
He said recently, British adventurer Will Hatton, Spanish explorer Joan Torres, Australian traveler Kristan Emerson, travel bloggers Sabistian and Alex, voyager Lisa Gobin from Trinidad and Tobbago, Australian tourist Marco D’allesandro, New Zealand’s Olly Manson and many other foreign trekkers visited Swat valley and found it to be different and unique from other tourist spots in the world.
The trekkers complained about human waste and garbage left behind by visitors at trekking sites.
“We must learn good manners to keep environment clean and pleasant and should not leave waste and garbage in the mountains as they cause pollution,” said trekker Tariq Aziz.
The trekkers asked the federal government, especially tourism authorities, to take steps for the promotion of mountain tourism in Swat and other northern regions of the country and ensure that foreign tourists aren’t troubled at security checkpoints.
The trekkers highlighted their previous expeditions and future plans.
The organisers later gave away awards and certificates to the trekkers.
Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2018