9-15 October 2015 #779

Now, a trekking app

Throw out your hardcopy guidebook and navigate with your phone on your next trek
Ayesha Shakya

Long before TripAdvisor became the go-to website for anyone planning a holiday, there was Lonely Planet, the famous guidebook that helped countless travellers from all walks of life satiate their wanderlust.

But not anymore. With developers churning out travel apps by the dozen, the concept of depending on a guidebook to plan one’s travels is slowly becoming redundant.

And riding this technology wave is HoneyGuide apps. Conceptualised by Ashish Shrestha and Abhishek Pande, and developed by Wolfmatrix, the app is targeted at trekkers who want to travel within three different regions in Nepal: the Everest region, the Annapurna Base Camp, and Ghorepani- Poon Hill.

“Guidebooks tend to dictate a person’s experience. You end up having the same experience the author had when he wrote the book and nothing more,” says Shrestha. “Guidebooks have become prescriptive in nature and it is time to change that experience.”

Understanding the need for well-researched content in the Himalaya, the duo came up with the idea to translate the sea of information in guidebooks into three separate apps, one for each region, which contain detailed information on travel itinerary, safety procedures and even the location and reviews of lodges.

The HoneyGuide app team did its own extensive research to bring users up to date with not just routes to travel on, but sites along the way and unique features of each destination. An important feature of the app is the place cards, which includes context-sensitive information that is available depending on its timeliness.

To ensure the safety of trekkers, the app also features a deviation alert system that warns trekkers when they are off a certain path, a climb alert when they have trekked too high in a day and an avalanche alert if they are walking into an avalanche-prone area. Many of these features were incorporated keeping last year’s Annapurna Blizzard in mind.

While all these functionalities are handy, the most impressive feature of this app is that the treasure trove of information can be accessed without internet or wifi.

“We are taking guidebooks to a new generation of customers. This app is for tech natives, the millennials who look to technology for life-long experiences,” says Pande.

Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree forum is massively popular amongst travellers looking to venture into unknown territory, and so are TripAdvisor ratings for hotels and destinations, user- generated information that is mostly biased. Hence, the app allows users to submit only a maximum of three reviews.

One of the peeves of the app is that there are three different apps for the three different trekking routes. Although the amount of information is commendable, having to download a different app just for the sole purpose of the trekking route is cumbersome. Having it all together under one umbrella would have made the user experience better.

The app is currently available free on Google Play Store, with its App Store release planned for next month. The app can be downloaded free for the coming two months.

Now that Dasain is around the corner, this is the best time to download the app and plan your next trek. 

Read more:

Googling Everest, Ayesha Shakya