Am I the only one who wants to go out to some peaceful yet thrilling place and not return for a while? While thinking about making a plan to plan a vacation, I came across a lot of amazing and unexplored places to stay in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Himachal has always been my favorite place to escape from noise, stress, people, and of course the increasing pollution in Delhi. Mountains are my first love and whenever I feel a little low in life, mountains are like solace to my soul. The fresh crisp air, the warmth of the locals and the amazing food always allure me!

I would love to spend some time in an amazing camp in the lap of the Himalayas, curled up with my favorite book, my playlist, some hot tea and the mountains. Here is my pick of some of the best camping experiences in the Himalayas, for that perfect break that we all need! Spend some peaceful days deep in the unexplored Himalayan Valleys of these beautiful mountain states. Remember to gaze at the starry sky when there in the mountains!

Camping in the Himalayas is a treat to the senses!
Camping in the Himalayas is a treat to the senses!

If self-discovery is what you are looking for, then travelling on the endless roads on a motorbike is just the thing for you. A motorbike tour not just unleashes the adventurer in you, but is a journey of new experiences that can never be felt otherwise. Already feeling the adrenalin rush? Keep reading to know about some of the best motorbike routes in the Himalayas that will immediately beckon the rider in you. Here’s our lowdown on the must-do motorbike tours in the Himalayas.

  1. Motorbike Tour in Ladakh 

The concept of motorbike tours in India was made popular by the number of adventure enthusiasts, visiting Leh on their bikes. The challenging circuits, coupled with the beauty of the mountains, have attracted travellers from all across the world. The one thing that makes this trip the ultimate adrenalin-pumping experience is the unpredictability of the rocky terrain. Add to that the close brush-up with Tibetan culture, monasteries and nomadic tribes, and this motorbike tour turns magical.  There are many routes that you could take in this region, like the Manali to Ladakh, Srinagar to Manali, Chandigarh to Manali via Srinagar, Ladakh and back to Chandigarh, or you could simply fly to Leh and indulge in motorbike trips within Ladakh.

As adolescents, probably we all have imagined ourselves flying in the blue sky among the white clouds and watching all the glory of the world from up above; just like the birds. Isn’t it? We all desired so, maybe because we associated a sense of freedom with it, and probably we felt an adrenaline rush just by thinking about it.

Today, after so many years, if you are still unable to put that desire down, then just don’t, because now you can actually realise it. How? Well, today a number of aerial activities are being organised all over India by professionals, who guarantee to give you some of the most adventurous moments of your life, assuring safety and top quality. Read on to know more about these sports, and where and how they are offered. See India from the air with us.

Paragliding
Paragliding is an adventure sport, where one flies with the help of a fabric wing which is connected to what is called a canopy or paraglider. Weather, especially wind, plays an important role in this activity as depending on it the launch of a glider is possible. Therefore, most launches are made from a height, where it is not only easy to ascertain the wind flow patterns, but also gives the flier the opportunity to glide a certain distance before reaching the ground and if possible enter thermals (rising currents of air) to climb high, sometimes much higher than the take-off spot. This sport is offered at different places in the country, but there are some places where it can be enjoyed the most, and these are Kamshet, Maharashtra and Bir Billing, Himachal Pradesh. For amateurs or first timers, tandem paragliding is the best option as the flying of the glider is taken care of by the pilot while they enjoy the view from the passenger’s seat. Those interested in becoming paragliding pilots can do so by taking certified courses offered by reputed paragliding institutes.

It’s been almost 8 years since I started maintaining a travel diary and probably turned myself into a more observing traveller from a happy-go-lucky leisure tourist. Ah! 8 Years; seems like as if it was only yesterday that I had been to Goa.

Honestly, all these years of travelling has made me realise exactly what went through Aldous Huxley’s mind when he wrote the lines – “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” In my case, it was more about leaving behind all my prejudices and learning about different cultures and people, which somehow my geography teacher in school never stressed upon, unfortunately. And thus, I consider myself lucky enough to have been able to visit quite a few states of the country, especially the 7 sister states of North-east India, with utmost curiosity.

My first tour to North-east India was to the land of proud Ahoms – Assam, and it was pure bliss; from relishing local delicacies and enjoying natural vistas to my interactions with some of the most wonderful people I have ever met. Here is my pick of the best travel experiences in northeast India.

Assam – Kaziranga Elephant Safari – A Ride to Remember
Being a nature lover, I chose to first visit Kaziranga National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This protected region, which lies in the Nagaon and Golaghat districts of Assam, was set up in 1908. It is not only home to a high density of great one-horned rhinoceroses and tigers, but also several species of birds. Drained by four rivers, including the mighty Brahmaputra, this National Park offers fantastic safari opportunities, across its 430 sq km area.

“You are a curious and a restless soul, and that is the problem and the solution to everything!”

Growing up being a defense officer’s daughter certainly has its takeaways. I was five when I sailed in a defense ship for the first time, eight when I learned how to swim and thirteen when I scuba dived for the first time in my life, this was in the Andaman. My father served in the Indian Coast Guard for 28 years and hence I spent the first 18 years of my life very close to the sea. Not to mention the need for adrenaline rush began at a nascent stage in my life. Before Goa became Goa, I spent 3 years of my final schooling in Vasco. I had seen so much of Goa in that time that going back there for another mundane vacation was not on my list. Clearly I had seen so much of sea that a beach vacation did not excite me anymore.

I began most of my travel sojourns only after I completed bachelors from Delhi University. I started a desk banking job, made new friends and luckily those that loved to travel, and there it was, the beginning. Lying to parents just to travel had begun! I started exploring the mountains, when I was 22, with the first trip to Dharamshala. I had been to the mountains as a kid, to Shimla and Manali, but with folks (does anyone count those trips?). I traveled nonstop for the next two years and every time to the mountains, the more I’d travel there, the more I’d want!

En-route Har Ki Doon Trek.
En-route Har Ki Doon Trek.

My first ever Enfield trip was in 2009 through the Grand Hindustan Tibet Road – Spiti Valley. Back then no one knew what or where this valley was. It was the most gruesome experience of my life until then; I was 22 and had no idea of what I was getting into. It was an adventure I took when I was nowhere close to ready and had several falls and injuries during the ride, but I survived and that was all that mattered. I realized that I was stronger than I thought, though I was still too young to understand what that meant.

I had tasted blood and so in 2010 I decided to take the Manali – Leh – Srinagar road trip with friends. This time I was better prepared. I consider myself lucky to have explored these places while they were still untouched. The beauty of the mountains started to infuse in my blood streams in a way that I never imagined it would. I didn’t care anymore about the company I was in, I started falling in love with the mountains and that’s all I could see and feel around me, the mighty Himalayas!

I moved to Switzerland for my post-graduation and by then the fear of solo travel had gone far away. Even though Switzerland is beautiful, nothing beats the beauty of the mighty Himalayas. I traveled to Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, France and Germany. It was an unforgettable experience no doubt. I started loving the feeling of being a lone gypsy, just heading out to a destination, staying in cheap accommodations and reading maps to find places. Being in Europe for two years I got the chance to fulfill some of my childhood dreams, one was going to Disneyland in Paris and the other was to visit Anne Frank’s Memorial in Amsterdam. It was now that I, secretly in my mind, had started thinking of opening my own travel venture, and started building it up in my head. I was 23!

At total peace with myself
At total peace with myself

I returned to India and started working in the hospitality sector. If only I knew back then that one can travel, blog, make money and do it all over again! A mainstream job could never hold me and I was pretty much confused in my head as to what am I supposed to be doing with my life! I had quit banking, I wanted to be a chef, but that wasn’t happening too. I found myself doing sales for some odd reason. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. I started switching jobs one after another turning my resume into a shocking piece on how unsteady a person can be. I was 25 and still not old enough to know that there was nothing wrong in feeling that way; I was just trying to find my place and my true calling, which society never understood. Guess they never do! This further drew me in, and more solo travel to the Himalayas happened, as that’s where I felt the most at peace!

From 2012 until today, while I was hopping jobs one after another, I made numerous trips to the mountains. Starting from spending time alone at the Norbulinka institute (Dharamshala), to living like a hippie in Kasol, to traveling to interiors of Lahaul, I experienced it all. The Buddhist Culture always had strange ways of drawing me towards itself. I was never a religious person (still am not), but I always found myself praying in a monastery, and I don’t know why and how.

Monasteries have a way of filling my heart like nothing else!
Monasteries have a way of filling my heart like nothing else!

In the year 2012 came the grand turning point of my life with my first ever trek to Malana. I probably can never describe in words what that feeling was. I was at a point in my life where I was convinced that I was good for nothing and didn’t deserve a thing. I was a very strong athlete and a swimmer as a kid, but soon I hit the teens and developed Bronchial Asthma which killed my stamina to an extent where I could not walk up the stairs without going breathless, let alone climbing mountains. I also came to know that I have a deformed backbone, which I didn’t know until I turned 25. With all that playing at the back of my head I decided to climb up and I made it! Along with that I made another career switch, the telecom sector.

Whenever I traveled or wherever I traveled in all these years, one thing that truly disturbed me was the pollution – the way the places were being degraded by irresponsible tourist activity and lack of knowledge of the locals. I wanted to do something about it but wasn’t sure of how and where to begin.

I had done enough backpacking and I wanted to see bigger and higher mountains, so there was just one solution to that problem – trekking. It was 2013 when I started trekking and in this span I did close to 10-12 Himalayan treks. Starting from the basic ones like the Kheerganga, Triund, Beas Kund and then the moderate ones like the Har ki Doon and Hampta Pass and a few more! When you climb; get tired; literally want to cry; get up when you cannot; keep walking; push yourself beyond your physical limits; push the mind; you don’t just win beautiful sights but you overcome your demons too. A vacation for me meant trekking and I can literally keep trekking for the rest of my life.

Mountains, Monasteries and Me :)
Mountains, Monasteries and Me 🙂

It was climbing mountains that helped me find my true calling in life, which is to save the planet. Soon after telecom I moved to environment conservation. My true teacher was travel and there is no other better teacher than experience itself. That’s when I decided what I wished to do with my life – help people travel responsibly, and in this process protect the planet and create harmony.

2016, being the year when I enter my 30s, I am flagging off my Ecotourism venture. I wish to share my experiences, not just in words, but through the experience of travel itself. The world is a beautiful place, and every soul and place has a story to share. I wish to create a world within this world where people are taught on how to respect the gift that we have, the Earth itself, and in this process find themselves, and that’s how I shall continue to find myself. I also wish to inspire others to travel solo in the Himalayas.

“Only if you have been in the deepest valley, can you ever know how magnificent it is to be around the highest mountain.” – Richard M. Nixon

These picture perfect spots in the Himalayas can turn anyone into a photographer! My first encounter with the Himalayas was so alluring that after that nothing could stop me for exploring them further. The beauty that my eyes have witnessed cannot be described here in words, but these shots from the Himalayas are enough to make you want to travel to these places! When you get there, savour those moments, take in the exquisiteness of the place for as long as you can, because these moments are rare and you might not get the chance to visit them again in your life!

The Himalayas are known for their historical, religious, and geographical significance. To me they are the path to adventure, to peace and grandeur. Explore some of the splendid vistas in the Himalayas here with us!

The word ‘Endangered’ being associated with the Royal Bengal tiger – one of the most ferocious and majestic tiger species in the world – is truly disheartening! Found primarily in India with smaller populations in China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar, this wildlife species today faces the threat of extinction owing to large-scale deforestation and poaching. However, in recent decades, several efforts have been made by governments and NGOs to protect their population, which has gone down to less than 2,500.

 

These magnificent creatures, weighing up to 400 to 600 pounds, have a strong sense of smell and great vision. Generally, they are spotted in mangroves, tropical and subtropical rainforests, high altitudes and grasslands. If you wish to see this species of tiger in its natural habitat, then you should make plans to visit some of the dense National Parks and Wildlife Reserves in India, Bangladesh and Nepal. Spot the majestic Bengal Tiger in the wilderness and have an exhilarating experience.

At Adventure Nation, safety is taken very seriously. As a Guru at Adventure Nation, my role is to carry out safety audits of Adventure Activities that are offered to our tribe and make sure that safety standards in adventure activities are maintained and met with.

Adventure activities are thrilling, exciting and extremely popular in our country. Participating in any adventure activity is always a satisfying and memorable experience. Adventures however come with inherent risks. A survey of adventure travellers shows that they were seeking fear and thrills (‘risk perception’) from commercial activities, rather than actual risk and uncertainty. Adventure seekers look forward to experiencing various levels of risk, excitement and tranquillity, and to be physically and emotionally tested. Therefore it is vital that commercial adventure activities have very robust safety measures and practices so that the adventure seeker experiences a measured and calculated risk, that has very known and certain outcomes.

World over, everyone in the chain, from manufacturers of equipment; operators of adventure activities; certifying and authenticating bodies to participants, all consider safety to be of paramount importance. There are robust mechanisms to manage risks associated with adventure sports. So whether it’s the rope that is being used for abseiling or climbing, the tanks that hold the fuel used for hot air ballooning, the paragliding pilot or the rock climbing instructor, the procedure for a bungee jump, everyone (or thing) is tested, certified and well documented.

Far away from the hustle of mankind, there exists a separate world where birds chirp their way to happiness. Birdwatching, a hobby that is increasingly becoming popular, is all about finding a quiet corner in the midst of nature and silently observing the birds go about their everyday business. Everything about birdwatching, from the chirping sounds to singing tunes, takes the mind closer to the soul, instantly filling you with happiness unbound.
So, what is the best part about being a bird watcher in India? You don’t have to look far, or burn a hole in your pocket. A weekend away from home is enough to learn all about birds and a few lessons about unity and diversity. India, a home to incredibly rich fauna, offers a lot of birding locations in all parts of the nation. Want to find out some birding locations near your home? Keep reading!!

Pancheshwar, Uttarakhand
Around 40 km from Lohaghat, in the Champawat district of Uttarakhand, Pancheshwar is serene and sacred at the same time. This surreal town is bordered by the mesmerising hills of Nepal, and also marks as the confluence point of River Kali and River Saryu, a dip in the waters of which is considered auspicious. Add to all this the beautiful birdwatching trails, and Pancheshwar is just the place to be over the weekend. If lucky, you may see almost 180 species of birds, some of them considered rare.