Limitless deserts, thriving jungles, prosperous rivers and breathtaking views – with every step you take on the Markha Valley Trek you are introduced to nature, beauty, adventure and a heap of emotions felt never before.

With its trail taking you through the Hemis National Park where there’s a good chance you’ll spot a snow leopard to further heading to tiny Himalayan hamlets with huge parachute tents and a unique Buddhist culture to finally crossing high mountain passes that offer you views so enchanting that you almost never want to leave, the Markha Valley Trek has it all!

So if you’re planning your next trekking adventure, look no further! Here are 5 Unbeatable Reasons to do the Markha Valley Trek this summer.

Explore Diverse Landscapes
Unlike the numerous treks that take you through forests or arid deserts of the region, the Markha Valley trek introduces you to landscapes along flowing rivers, green pastures, scenic valleys, and flourishing national parks, and bone-dry desert expanses. On this trek, you will experience excitement – when you spot a snow leopard; hardship -when you cross stretches of the waist-deep Markha River; peace -when you take a stop at the confluence of Indus and Zinchen Rivers; thrill -when you conquer over 17,000 feet at Kongmaru La Pass.

Trek Ladakh Today
Trek Ladakh Today!

Discover Ancient Buddhist Villages
The Markha Valley Trek takes you through some diverse landscapes and while most of the hike is shadowed by wilderness, there will be days when you will stop by tiny mountain hamlets. Trek through scenic landscapes and pass along river banks; meet the region’s locals and come face-to- face with religious shrines at Lhatos and confront the Mani walls. Mani walls are stone structures that are formed by the compilation of intricately carved stone tablets mostly with the inscription of ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ loosely meaning ‘ Hail to the jewel
in the lotus’.

Hike through the villages of Umlung and Hangskar. Much like an eagle nest perched on the tallest tree, the Techa Monastery in Umlung is one of the highest located monasteries and is easily a 1000 years old. Although Umlung offers the comforts of a monastery and a handful of homestays, a visit to Hangskar (the last hamlet in the valley) with its ever welcoming locals and their hot butter tea is a reward in itself. Some of the other villages that you will pass by during the Markha Valley Trek are Spituk, Shingo, and Siku among others.

An Encounter with the Wild
One of the best parts of about the Markha Valley trek is that it takes you through the charming Hemis National Park. Best known for having the highest density of snow leopard in any protected area in the world,
the Hemis National Park with its large population of rare species of wildlife is arguably one of the best parts of this trek. Tibetan wolves, red foxes, Eurasian brown bears and Asiatic ibexes – they are all here. But that’s not all – the region also boasts of being the only habitat of the Shapu in India and is also home to the mountain weasel and the Himalayan mouse. The park is also a bird watcher’s paradise and visitors are often lucky to spot the Lammergeier vulture, the fork-tailed swift, Fire-fronted serin and Tibetan snowfinch in their natural habitat.

Camping in Ladakh
Camping in Ladakh

Live in Parachute Tents
The Markha Valley trek is also known as the ‘tea house trek’, takes you through diverse terrains and arid deserts but that’s not the only fun part of this excursion. While the villages on the trail have ample homestays that provide the comfort of a home away from home, this adventure also lets you have the experience of camping in parachute
tents. These parachute tents are massive tents where you camp the night with your entire group. Fun much? Oh, you have to experience it to know how much!

Be an Achiever
The trek begins from the green landscapes of the Hemis National Park but don’t let the lush environs fool you, this is just the beginning. The Markha Valley trek takes you through striking contrasts. Trek through the land masses with powerful rivers that are knee-deep if not more and pass through rocky canyons to reach the towering peaks of
Ganda La at 15748 feet, and Kongmaru La at 17060 feet. Reach the top and be welcomed by breathtaking views of Ladakh and the Zanskar ranges. It’s a superlative achievement that feels a million times better
than it reads.

In Leh
In Leh

It’s not every day that you come across a trek that offers an out-an-out Ladakhi experience. Raw and natural beauty, exciting adventure, the Buddhist culture, the local food, and the warm hospitality of the people
– everything’s covered.

This trip is everything that dream vacations to Ladakh are made of, and if it resonates with your idea of adventure, let there be no place else you head this summer.

What’s expansive, majestic and home to the highest peaks on the planet? Of course, the Great Himalayas! An enigma in itself, the Himalayan Range lures travelers with its arresting landscape of snow-laden mountains, glaciers and plunging river valleys, along with the ever-so-colossal Mount Everest sitting at a whopping elevation of 8,848 meters above sea level.

But there is more to the Great Himalayan range than just natural grandeur…

Stok Kangri in the Himalayas
Stok Kangri, Himalayas

India’s prime outdoor adventure refuge- Himalayas- house some of the most prominent winter-sports destinations like Gulmarg, Auli, Leh, Manali and Narkanda. While Kashmir offers some of the world’s highest, tough-to-tread but blissfully unexplored ski slopes, just right for extreme snow sport enthusiasts, the gentle slopes of Himachal Pradesh provide a perfect base for novices.

Whizzing past jagged and raw terrains, plunging from great heights will fill you with a sense of exhilaration and make you want to immerse yourself in the unparalleled beauty of the surroundings. All this at a fraction of the cost in contrast to famous European resorts! Well, does that make you want to go on a snow-sporting vacation right away? If you are still not convinced, here are our top reasons to go skiing and snowboarding in the Great Himalayas:

Tanglang-La
Escaping the well-trod path; explore Himalayas in the most action-packed way

You Don’t Get To Do This Every Day!

Winter sports in India are not that prevalent. You do not get to experience such activities every day. That makes the Himalayan resort towns even more special. But if you wish to experience uncharted and unique snow challenges, then the Himalayan Range is your eternal playground. Forget the jam-packed and well trimmed Alpine slopes, the Himalayas offer next-level skiing and snowboarding experiences, adding a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘going-off-piste’!

skiing in gulmarg
Discover Hidden Treasures of Gulmarg

Adventure tourism is on the rise with Kashmir’s Gulmarg leading the pack! Often touted as the Mecca for skiers, Gulmarg has one of the highest ski lifts in the world and it is certainly not just another alpine escapade. While the naturally smooth gradient of Kongdoori Peak makes it an ideal spot for novice skiers to get a hang of the activity, it is the Mountain Apharwat that steals the show! Strictly meant for advanced skiers, it offers an once-in-a-lifetime experience. Here, you will find the world’s highest gondola- The Gulmarg Gondola that takes fearless skiers to the world’s most uncharted slopes at a vertigo-inducing altitude of 13,400 feet- almost reaching the peak of Mount Apharwat.

Advanced skiers feeling a little frisky can really push their boundaries in these elevated terrains. How about exploring the hoary playground filled with firs and pines by taking on the mountains from dizzying heights where the Gondolas do not reach? Picture taking a helicopter ride to the most untouched and dramatic mountaintops of the world and get ready for a flabbergasting Heli-skiing experience amid the mystical wilderness of Gulmarg. Those who cannot imagine a skiing holiday without the comforts of gourmet dishes can look forward to an authentic experience with Kashmiri offerings like soothing mint teas, flavored curries, and some warm conversation.

Lose yourself in the picturesque Garhwal slopes of Uttaranchal..
The lesser-known cousin of Gulmarg, Garhwal woos adventure enthusiasts with its intoxicating natural splendor and is just as generous in terms of thrill!

Auli
Auli, a pristine stimulation

Auli– Enveloped by the mighty Himalayan range, Auli has some of the gentlest slopes covered in just the right amount of snow. The ski-worthy slopes range somewhere between 2000-3000 meters, making it an ideal playground for both amateur and skilled skiers. To enhance the thrill, an 800 meters long cable car runs between Auli and Joshimath offering magnificent views of the Dronagiri, Kamet and Nanda Devi peaks. On top of the mountain peaks, there is a government operated ski resort equipped with amenities and guide which also features a 500-m long ski-lift.

Dayara Bugyal– With multiple trails, gorgeous scenery and an awe-inspiring ambiance, this Himalayan hamlet has skiing slopes extended about 28 square kilometers in area that brings back skiers for more. The magnificent snow covered slopes are a dream to ski and the enchanting views of the Tal and Barnala lakes add further charm to the site.

Mundali– Another entrancing winter-sports destination in Uttarakhand, Mundali offers sublime views and the perfect snowy slopes for skiing adventures. The powdery snow-draped slopes work as a magnet for both amateur and expert skiers. Getting to the hill station is a thrill in itself. Expect to fight through a tough terrain, unmetalled roads and steep treks to reach this unspoiled paradise.

The Thrill of Mystical Slopes of Manali in Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh is a calling for the venturous souls

Manali has evolved from being a quaint holiday destination to a promising base for thrilling winter-sports like skiing, heli-skiing and snowboarding. Covered with miles of glaciers and surrounded by snow-clad peaks, skiing trails in Manali takes one through cedar-birch forests and jaw-dropping ridgelines that is sure to raise your adrenalin levels.

Apart from the above mentioned places, the other Himalayan towns that offer memorable and thrilling skiing experience include Pahalgam, Kufri, Narkanda, Solang Valley, Tawang, Yumthang Valley, among others.
Have you been to the Great Himalayas for skiing or snowboarding? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

You may have been to the Pink City several times before and seen all that the city has to offer. But going on a hot air balloon is enthralling in its uniqueness – feeling the crisp air on your face, taking in the immaculate view of monuments and forts, is an experience you will never forget.  As you glide over local villages on the outskirts of the city, the ride may take you very close to the undulating Aravalli, so close that you get a whiff of the rugged earth!

Hot Air Ballooning in Rajasthan India
Hot Air Ballooning in Rajasthan India

Hot air ballooning is now a growing trend in India, especially among the youth. However if you are travelling with children, hot air balloon rides are actually a great option to bond over, as ballooning is a calm experience unlike a helicopter ride or cliff jumping. Families are increasingly taking such trips that are easy on children and make parents happy as well. The trip is generally conducted in a group of four to eight people travelling in baskets that are divided into compartments and attached to the hot air balloon.

hot-air-ballooning-rides

Hot air balloon rides in Jaipur are held in the morning and evening hours when the wind is most stable. The morning flights start between 5:45 AM and 6:45 AM while evening flights are timed between 3:30 PM and 4:00 PM, except for summers when sweltering heat interrupts favourable winds for a smooth sailing.

Read on to know why a hot air balloon ride in Jaipur must feature in your to-do list.

The quiet and the beauty

As you see the earth fade away and the horizon becomes clear, immerse yourself in the quiet, far from the madding crowd on the ground. Soak yourself in the serenity and peace as the cool breeze brushes against your skin. You can certainly imagine the riveting view of a sunrise or a sunset while staying suspended high above the ground.

Hot Air Ballooning at Rajasthan

Mesmerising sights from above

Most of us enjoy the views while flying in an airplane. In that case, a balloon’s-eye view should definitely leave you awestruck. As you move smoothly over Samode Bagh and Palace, Amber Fort and Maota Lake, Shiv Vilas, Jal Mahal, Madhogarh Fort or Delhi Road, take a closer look at the monuments. Many of these are not accessible, while interesting features of others can be seen from above, which when viewed at ground level, tend to elude your peering eyes. Seize the opportunity to find out a missed minaret or simply feast your eyes by looking at the mundane from unusual angles.

hot-air-ballooning-rides-rajasthan-jaipur

Superior services and international standards followed

If you enjoy being treated like a royal family member in Rajasthan, opt for this ride. The organizers offer advance and real-time update about your trip. They also ensure you are received at your lodgings at the beginning of the trip and dropped after your ride. The equipment and gears are largely imported while pilots who will guide the balloon throughout the ride are well-versed with the prevalent practices. The operators go that extra mile to make you feel comfortable. If you are afraid of heights (the flight can take you as high as five thousand feet in the air), the safety briefing held before the flight will alleviate your fears.

A hot air balloon being inflated!
A hot air balloon being inflated!

Get to know the locals and their culture

As you sail through the settlements on the outskirts of the city in the hot air balloon, experience the vibrant local culture that mostly remains off-limits to the regular tourists. The guides on-board, rich in their knowledge of the local area and its people, explain the nitty-gritty of their life, traditions and cultures. Keep aside three to four hours for a complete experience, of which the in-air time will be about one hour. Believe us when we say that you simply cannot miss this chance of enriching yourself!

Book your hot air balloon trip in Jaipur and create your very own experience to be cherished forever.

Is winter the right season for trekking in the Himalayas? Of course it is! The Himalayan slopes turn magical as it begins to snow.

As the temperatures plummet below zero degrees and the sun rays breathe life into icy terrains for increasingly shorter duration, trekking can be a daunting task. But the rewards of traversing through snow are immense – the shroud of white covering trees and meadows meeting the clear blue sky is a treat to the eyes. You will be surprised to see how the weather changes from sunny to overcast in the blink of an eye – it begins to snow in no time. Listen carefully if you are inside a tent when it is snowing – you might mistake snowfall for raindrops at times.

Snow treks are little more challenging than normal treks because it involves more equipment to allow smooth movement. Common accessories like waterproof gloves, woolen socks, and scarves are a must along with specialised gears such as micro spikes, trekking poles, ice pick and gaiters that you learn to use during the trek. These gears are especially designed to ease your walk through both light and deep snow as well as ice sheets of various densities.

Bhrigu Trek with SnowMost of the winter treks in India include camping for night halts. You will not forget the surreal experience of taking a nap inside your sleeping bag laid on the snow. Nor will you forget the efforts made to drag your legs out of fresh, loose snow or doing a ‘Penguin walk.’ A typical style of walking resembling that of Penguins, this requires sturdy moves without lifting your leg much from the ground. This prevents tripping and falling on hard ice.

The best part of winter treks in snow is that it acquaints you to a new you! And more often than not, a good one, that you can take pride in. All successful and memorable snow treks are result of good team work; you make friends in the face of adversities and as is said, a friend in need is a friend indeed!

Snow treks in Himalayas will continue to beckon the adventure enthusiast in you. With its magnificent scenic beauty and a host of sporting options such as sledging, skiing, skating, snowboarding, and ice climbing, the experience will be unparalleled.

Here are some of the best winter treks in India.

Brahma Tal Trek

Brahma Tal stands as an exception when most of the popular trails of snow trekking in India are closed. As you wade through waist-deep snow on the trail rising steadily to the lake, take some time out for the fantastic view of the surrounding mountains – Mt. Trishul and Mt. Nanda Ghunti being the most prominent of all. Look around you to see the blob of colours indicating your fellow trekkers amid the white carpet of snow covering the forests and the meadows. Here’s a photo story of the ever beautiful Brahma Tal! Know more about Brahma Tal Trek!

Brahma Tal Trek in Winters

Winter Kuari Pass Trek

This trek takes you close to the highest mountain peak in India, Nanda Devi. So close that you can actually see the entire south west flank of the mountain, perhaps one of the rarest full flank views of any mountain in the world. Kuari Pass snow trek is ideal for fit beginners as well as experienced trekkers and passes through forests of oak and rhododendrons, covered in snow. The campsites are equally spectacular; the Khullara campsite has Mt. Dronagiri in the background while the Padiyar campsite is flanked by snow-capped pine trees. Know more about Winter Kuari Pass Trek!

Winter Kuari Pass Trek in Uttarakhand

Chadar Frozen River Trek

As the name chadar (meaning sheet) suggests, the trek takes you through the deep and icy gorges of Ladakh formed by the Zanskar River that freezes every winter. Revel in the sun rays, shining out of an azure sky, that reach the trail only around mid-day. Listen carefully to the sound the thick and thin layers make to watch out for thin ice layers and decide on where to step. The caves, where locals stay during their travel in winters, are an added attraction as much as the frozen waterfall and the elusive snow leopard conspicuous by their pug marks. Know more about Chadar Frozen River Trek!

Chadar Frozen River Trek in Winters
Walking on the frozen Zanskar River

Kedarkantha Trek

When most of the snow treks in India draw to a close, Kedarkantha flaunts snow until as late as April. From the Kedarkantha base camp, you get an unparalleled 360 degree view of the mountains. This trek also offers the prettiest of campsites, set on the edge of pine forests or amid snow-sheeted meadows as well as a refreshingly scenic drive passing through Mussoorie, Nowgaon, Purola, Mori and Naitwar. Know more about Kedarkantha Trek!

Kedarkanta Trek in Uttarakhand

Prashar Lake Trek

If you have only a weekend at your disposal, opt for this trek in Himachal Pradesh. The trail passes through forests, rivulets and local villages, and offers a wonderful view of Dhauladhar, Pir Panjal, and Kinnaur mountain ranges. It is one of those rare treks that bring to you a unique mix of natural beauty and Himachali culture. Know more about Prashar Lake Trek!

Prashar Lake Trek in Winter Snow

So, winter is here. Have you booked your trek yet?

The desert mountain valley of Spiti in Himachal Pradesh is as much an ideal destination for adventurers as it is for the solitude seekers. Nestled high up in the Himalayan Mountains, the scenic Spiti Valley presents wonderful opportunities for moderate to difficult trekking expeditions as well as Jeep safaris. However, those who wish to stay away from such adrenaline-pumping activities and spend their time peacefully exploring the region should opt for a homestay experience. This can be done at any of the six villages of Spiti, namely Demul, Langza, Dhankar, Kibber, Lhalung and Komik. On an average, each of this village has up to three homestays with each having one guest bedroom that can accommodate one or two people. These homestays are basically village homes, with one of their portions converted into comfortable guestrooms. These have been developed by the locals to generate an alternative and sustainable source of income for themselves.

If you know a bit of history, then you would be aware of the fact that India has been ruled by numerous dynasties. Many of these were not from the subcontinent, but from Central or West Asia. And back then, there were no proper roads, cars, aircraft or any other contemporary means to travel. Now, look at the geographical map of India for a while. You will realise that all those, coming from the north or northwest of the Indian subcontinent, had a natural barricade in their way in the form of the mountain system of the Himalayas, Karakoram and Hindu Kush. In the absence of modern transportation means, the question arises, how did they cross the mountains?

In the words of the famous Greek storyteller, Aesop, “Adventure is worthwhile”.
When it comes to holidaying, I guess most of us become a little too mainstream. We go where everybody else is going and do what has already been done by many before. The true adventure is when you take the road not taken; step into the unknown, without having an idea about what might come next.In the book of India, Arunachal Pradesh is a chapter which is skipped by most readers. The north-easternmost state in the country is still a virgin territory, waiting to be discovered by adventurers, who dare to do something new, something different.

Ask any 20-something about what they cherish the most and see them talk lovingly about weekends. Yes, weekends are truly the best! From extroverts who love to socialise with just about everyone to introverts who prefer to stay back in the familiar comfort of their home, weekends are fervently awaited by each of us. They are after all the only two days in a week when we can ignore work-related mails and focus on ourselves and our loved ones. It is that magical period of time which makes us feel that we were not born to just work, pay taxes and leave the world without having lived at all. Whatever our idea of a good time may include, a weekend is when we indulge ourselves in what we love.

What comes to your mind, when I say “adventure in the Himalayas”? I am quite sure your answer would include things like trekking, skiing, hiking, mountaineering, river rafting and paragliding. But there is more to excite you in the Himalayas than these; and that is the scintillating road trips, which are undertaken by thousands of people, year after year. There is a certain charm about riding through the Himalayan regions that beckons adventure seekers from across the globe. The challenges that one faces during these road trips are innumerable, but everything gets compensated by the satisfaction of successfully completing it.

Don’t know about you, but 2016 was amazing for me. I started the year with a bang, and that’s how it ended. Doesn’t it feel great when everything falls into place and all your dreams are realised just as you wanted them?! I hope it does not sound like I am bragging, but I get excited just thinking about it. Some moments that I had been longing for ever since I can remember, happened in the past few months. Here is an account of things that I checked off my bucket list this year:

What goes in your mind, when you read about someone else’s adventurous trekking expedition, especially in the Himalayas? Do you hear an inner calling? Does your heart and mind tell you that someday, you too should do this? Then, what is stopping you? Every year, thousands of amateur trekkers go on their first expedition into the Himalayas. All that one requires is a basic physical fitness level, necessary trekking equipment, a bit of mental strength and loads of zeal. We have listed down a few trekking trails in the Himalayas that are perfect for beginners like you. Read on to know about them so that you can start planning your impending desire to trek in the Himalayas.

Bestowed with dense forests and charming tea gardens, the town attracts thousands of tourists round the year, not just from parts of India but abroad as well. A place that promises a perfect escape from the hustle bustle of the city, the town of Bir offers numerous outdoor activities and thrilling sports; thus making it equally popular among tranquillity seekers, adventurous souls and nature lovers.

Life is a journey. In this long voyage, you meet people, make acquaintances and then continue on your way. But, some people are such that their memory remains with us forever. The same can be said about places. You visit tens and hundreds of places in your life, if not thousands, but the memory of only a few of those stays. Bhabha Pass in the Spiti Valley is one such place, a trip to which one just wouldn’t forget.

One has different shades of blue and snowy peaks to allure you and the other takes you close to the world’s highest peak. Still wondering which teahouse trek to go for first? Everest base camp is a dream for anyone who gets into the flavour of trekking, Everest being the world’s highest scalable mountain peak. Annapurna main of the mighty Annapurna range is the 10th highest peak in the world. Not many know that the toughest peak to scale is also The Annapurna main and not K2.

  • Where is Muktinath?

Muktinath overland tour is a thrilling journey that brings one closer to nature as well as God! Muktinath Temple is located in the Annapurna Region in the Mustang District of Nepal and is considered to be of spiritual and religious significance to Hindus as well as Buddhists. This Lord Vishnu Temple is situated at about 12000 feet, and to get here one has to undertake an overland journey by jeep, a 4 KM trek and an ATR ride! It is quite an adventure and ultimately leads one to a spiritual tryst with the Lord!

Muktinath Temple in the snow
Muktinath Temple in the snow

In addition to visiting the temple, this trip also gives one the opportunity to discover and explore the cities of Kathmandu and Pokhara, soaking in the many marvels of these places.

The beauty of the Himalayas lies not only in its majestic snow-clad peaks, but also in its indigenous people and wildlife…also in its rugged terrains, and breathtaking rivers and lakes. And to witness these facets of this region, nothing can better than a trekking expedition! So, if you are planning a trip to this part of the world, then be ready to indulge in some adrenaline-pumping trekking action.   

One of my friends is a complete adventure freak, and consistently goes on bike tours and other thrilling ventures. A few weeks ago, he went trekking in Uttarakhand, and I was just waiting for him to come back so I’d have amazing stories to hear and pictures to see. Did I mention that he is a brilliant photographer? So, as soon as he got back and settled into his regular life, I went to meet him and ask about his experience, since I am quite intrigued by the magnificence of the state. To my utter surprise, he had only a few good things to say about the trip and was constantly complaining about how his whole trip was ruined by a shoe-bite.

A shoe-bite is one of those ugly sores you get on your feet when you wear ill-fitting or sometimes brand new shoes. Have you ever had one of those? These are brutal. My friend complained that as he was trying his trekking shoes for the first time, he was left with paining ankles for most part of the jaunt. He had a basic first aid kit, but that was unable to heal the wound in time. This kept him from enjoying the trip to the fullest and resulted in wastage of money as well as time. But, it didn’t necessarily have to be that way. He could have simply avoided it had he bought those shoes well in advance, and spent a few weeks walking in them.,  One mistake spoilt his adventure.

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This got me thinking that if something as small as a shoe-bite, which is totally unexpected, can ruin a trip, there could be so many other mishaps that could result in you not being able to enjoy the hike. So, a few days ago, I reached out to my traveller friends and asked them if they have been in similar circumstances. Surprisingly, they had many ‘interesting’ stories to tell of how their carelessness or ignorance ruined their holiday. Based on their experiences, I have compiled a list of a few things that every trekker or mountaineer should keep in his/her luggage to keep away from those ’shoe-bites’. I’ll also be suggesting a few tricks and hacks that can come immensely handy in times of need.  

  • Diamox: As you must have already guessed or may know, it is a medicine. If you go to altitudes of over 8000 or 9000 feet, you may feel dizziness, fatigue, consistent headache, nausea, shortness of breath or loss of appetite. These are the symptoms of acute mountain sickness or AMS. If the condition gets a little severe, there could be tightness in your chest, heavy cough, paleness of complexion and even decreased consciousness. Dosages of Diamox can help prevent or reduce these symptoms. Obviously, you shouldn’t just buy these medicines from a pharmacy and take one whenever you think you need it. Visit your physician before you leave for trekking.
  • Magnesium Flint Stones: Camping is undoubtedly an amazing experience. Lying under the clear sky in the middle of a lush forest or meadow; what could be a better overnight stay than that? But, what if you are camping at high altitudes in the Himalayas and all your matchsticks get wet or burned out, or your lighter is out of gas and you have to spend a night in the camp without fire? In case you are going camping, do not make the mistake of relying on matchsticks or lighters. Carry a magnesium flint stone, which will start a fire for you in a few seconds, whatever the weather may be.
  • Plastic Straws: This may sound funny, but these small, hollow plastic things are much more useful than just for sipping cola out of a container. You can use plastic straws to carry anything from salt and spices to toiletries like shampoo or liquid soap. What you do, is block one side of it by folding and sealing it with tape. Then, you fill it with the thing you want to carry and seal the open side of the straw the same way you did the first, and voila!
  • Coconut Oil: Most of us only saw coconut oil, when our moms used it to condition hair, but there’re numerous other benefits of it than you can count on your fingers. While it can be used for cooking, it also acts as moisturiser, protecting your skin from cold winds at high altitudes. You may not believe it, but you can also add a little of it to your cup of coffee to get an energy boost. If only my friend had a little bit of camphor and coconut oil, he could have used it to cure his shoe-bite.  
  • Zip Lock Bags: These plastic bags can solve major problems if you ask me. Anything and everything can be stored in these, be it eatables or gadgets. These bags will also keep your passport, money and other documents from harm. You can even use them to store your wet clothes while trekking. Just don’t keep them wet for too long as they might start to stink, and you don’t want that. You can empty packets of potato chips in one of zip lock bags and save them to enjoy later, and do carry those chips; they are a good source of sodium, which you will need for hiking.
  • A Book about Regional Flora: Have you ever heard the saying, “every rose has its thorn”? Well, the next flower you smell or touch on your trek might have a little more than just a thorn; it could be poisonous. Also, the delicious-looking fruits and berries might also do more harm than good. Therefore, it is better to know about these little things, which you can do by buying a book on the regional flora. In case you aren’t an avid reader, you can just pick up the book before going to bed. Even if you don’t learn anything, it might just help you go to sleep.  
  • LifeStraw: Although if you plan well and everything goes right, you won’t face such circumstances, finding clean water for drinking can become an issue on a trek, especially when you are far from a village or town. One can drink water from a lake, pond or river, but who’s to say there isn’t harmful bacteria or parasites in it? LifeStraw is an internationally recognised product that can be a lifesaver in times of emergency. One of these straws can purify up to 1000 litres of water, so you don’t need to buy a new one every time you go trekking.
  • Swiss Army Knife: A Swiss army knife is an important thing to carry on your trek. I do not just recommend it to hikers, but to every traveller. This pocketable tool can be your screwdriver, wire stripper, wire cutter, can opener, bottle opener, wood saw, scissors, corkscrew, or a knife, obviously; this list goes on. There are numerous models that you can choose from, based on what all you want to do with it. If not for the functionality, just own one ‘cause it’s cool.
  • Duct Tape: Duct tape is just like the coconut oil of synthetic products; there are infinite uses of it. Almost every broken thing can be fixed with duct tape, except for relationships maybe, and while wandering thousands of feet above the ground, you never know what might happen at the next step. It can prove to be quite handy to carry duct tape. You can just roll a few feet of it on your trekking pole, so it doesn’t even take any space in your luggage.
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After talking about what to pack, let’s take two minutes to talk about how to pack, which is equally important. I recently learnt a trick from one of my friends that rolling clothes instead of folding them saves a lot of space. What you do is fold the trousers vertically once and then roll them from bottom to top. You can also Google how to army-fold them. The tricks are really amazing.

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Pack not just what would need on the excursion, but also what you could need. Proper packing is one of the best mantras for a successful trek. Carrying the above-mentioned things, you can remain prepared for any unexpected circumstance that may arise.

May all your sojourns be as blissful and adventurous as you want them to be.

Ask any Indian if they like tea, and almost 90 per cent would answer in the affirmative. Every street corner you walk to, you will find a tea stall, and almost every time, they are literally crowded with connoisseurs and casual drinkers. Every morning, we wake up and have a cup or glass of tea. People from hilly areas, especially love their tea. Ask me, being from the hills, I can attest to the fact that for us, tea is one of the most prized things. Anyway, hill people or not, everybody loves tea here. There are so many local renditions of the drink in India: Karak Chai, Masala Chai and so forth. Unlike in England, where the 4:00 pm afternoon tea is like a whole culinary ritual with specially made finger food, tea time here is an occasion to take a break from whatever people are doing, and sit down together to chat and share some light moments.

Trekking really is a great activity for a nature lover and adventure freak. Seeing nature at its best, breathing the cool, clean air, climbing mountains, such bliss. But, like everything in the world, it has a downside, in the form of health risks. Every now and then, we keep reading about avalanches and rock falls high up in the mountains trapping hikers. Did you know that on the strategically important Siachen battlefield, more soldiers have died due to adverse weather conditions than from bullets?! Just last year, a massive earthquake hit the Everest Region, killing at least 19 people! While none of this could have been avoided, there is one weather-related condition which can be, and mind you, it can be a killer too: AMS.

“Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.” – Buddha

Religion and spirituality bring people together. Though no two individuals are alike, their religious and spiritual beliefs can be. Lord Buddha gave to the world what only a few have been able to; he gave a path to eternal peace and satisfaction, the state called nirvana. The religion which began with a man under a pipal tree in Bodhgaya has spread to all corners of the world. Today, more than 350 million people follow the path that Gautama Buddha suggested, and live their lives as per his teachings.