“Surely, of all the wonders of the world, the horizon is the greatest.” ― Freya Stark

This line pretty much sums up the kind of person Freya Stark was. She believed in travelling unimaginable distances, seeing endless possibilities, even when most could see none. For those of you, who don’t know who this wonderful woman was, she was a British-Italian traveller and explorer, renowned for her writings about the Middle East. Her parents are known to have been quite liberal, resulting in her knowing numerous languages as a child, even though she never went to school.

Aah, Nepal! A trekking paradise! A country, which is home to the world’s highest mountain, needs no introduction to hikers. The country, however, is not only about high peaks, but mountain passes and lakes as well. As a general notion, Ladakh is associated with high mountain passes, but Nepal does not lag behind. It is also home to some incredible mountain passes as well as lakes. What I hope to achieve with this blog is to not only tell you about Nepal’s mountains, but also open up more hiking opportunities for you. Below are some of the most significant high passes and lakes of Nepal that one should know about.

The land of the brave Ahoms, Assam is nothing short of a paradise for travellers. Rolling hills, milky waterfalls, delectable cuisine, informative archaeological sites, interesting tribal people and old shrines, there is so much to see, do and try here. If you are looking to explore the local culture, then visit one of its cities, or better yet, one of its remote villages. For a peaceful getaway amidst nature, trip to one of its scenic hill stations. But, if you are a wildlife enthusiast, then you are in for a real treat. The biological diversity of this place not only makes it one of the best wildlife safari destinations in Northeast India, but also puts it on the global biodiversity map. It is home to numerous endemic plant and animal species, along with several endangered ones. To say the least, on a wildlife adventure here, one gets to unveil the untouched side of Assam; a side that has absolutely nothing to do with humans.

It is highly unlikely that you don’t like Hindi movies. And if you have seen those typical love stories of the 90s, wherein Switzerland was a rage as an outdoor location, you must have also seen lush pastures, with the backdrop of mountains. The blog has nothing to do with Switzerland. I’m just giving you a premise to what I am about to tell you ahead. Back to the blog,there may have been times that the Swiss countryside shown on TV seemed so pretty that it made you want to go there. If you ask me, it doesn’t make sense to take an international trip just to see an alpine countryside, but if you really want to see such places, there are ways.

You must be aware of the fact that our country is one of the richest when it comes to biodiversity. But, sadly the insatiable appetite of humans to hunt for fun has greatly reduced the number of animals here. Thankfully, some people realised the importance of conserving them, and it spawned the need to establish wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. Now, some of these are especially renowned for their conservation efforts while others for their natural scenery, earning them a place in the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage Site list. The latest entry in the natural category of the list is GHNP or Great Himalayan National Park. It is known both for its natural vistas and its efforts in protecting the regional wildlife.

Often, the famous places across the globe are known for certain things. But, most of the times, there is more to such places than meets the eye. A classic example of this would be Ladakh. Yes, I know that pictures of Ladakh, the lake shown in movie 3 Idiots and Khardung La, would have popped up in your mind. This is precisely where the problem lies. In our search for diamonds, we disregard the rubies, emeralds and sapphires. What I mean by this metaphor is that many go to Ladakh for the three places, known most to them, but miss out on exploring those places that are not so famous. And, it is in these small and slightly remote places that the true charm of Ladakh lies. Explore more about Treks in Ladakh. With this blog, I hope to tell you about the unexplored places in the region that you must make a point to visit. Let’s discover the alluring offbeat places in Ladakh.

What comes to your mind when I say the word, ‘August’? Let me tell you what comes to my mind. As soon as I hear this word, I think of heavy rain showers, cool breeze and greenery. The idea of trekking in August, usually when the monsoon is at its peak, came to my mind when my friend commented in one of our conversations, “You don’t go for trekking during the monsoon!” My spontaneous reply to him was “Why not?”, and then he was silent.

The question sure may have got him thinking, but I was thinking a lot about it too. Why do people not go for trekking in August, which is only beautiful and soothing? That day, as soon as I reached home, I started researching on “trekking in the monsoon.” My search made me realise something.

Home to some of the highest peaks in the world, Nepal is arguably the best mountaineering destination on earth. For a long time, people from across the world have been coming here to experience adventure and give themselves a challenge. The popularity of trekking in the country has opened so many new trails for thrill seekers. Mountain passes, glacial lakes, valleys and peaks themselves, what don’t such tours take you to? Now, obviously, Mount Everest is the most sought-after peak by experienced mountaineers because it is the world’s highest. Annapurna is another distinguished peak among mountaineers.

Now, here is the catch. It is not just the peak you can trek to. If you don’t consider yourself that experienced or fit or adventurous, then you can also hike just to its base camp or opt for the popular Annapurna Circuit Trek. If you ask me which one is better, Annapurna Base Camp Trek (ABC) or Annapurna Circuit Trek (ACT), then even I am confused because both of them has their own different experience. It is almost like asking someone, which ice cream flavour is better, chocolate or vanilla, or which Thrash Metal band is better, Metallica or Slayer. For everyone’s sake, including my own, let us do a comparative study of the two trekking routes.

To make it easier on myself, I have decided to make the comparison on the basis of the difference in route, altitude, challenge factor and a few unrelated aspects as well. Keep reading to see how it goes.

The scenery of sky-piercing mountains, with a radiant sun shining in the backdrop, only soothes one’s soul. The view makes you forget every little stress of your hectic life and brings you immense peace. For such an experience, you do not have to travel too far. A flight or drive towards north, and you are here. I am talking about, of course, the eternally serene and surreally beautiful Spiti Valley. If you don’t trust me, and why should you, you haven’t even met me, will you take a respected novelist and poet’s word? Rudyard Kipling, the English writer, said the following words about the majestic place: “…a world within a world” and a place where the gods live.” Of course, this was a long time ago, about hundred years, but the place hasn’t changed since. It is still drenched in that same elegance as during that time. It is almost like none of the advancements in the rest of the world, or any person, place or thing have been able to touch and influence its tranquillity.

Everyone in their right minds would want their life to be peaceful, rather than full of turmoil. Some take to meditation, some shut themselves from the world, some perform yoga, some look to religion and some resort to travelling like a nomad. If you are indeed thinking of heading out in search of inner peace, alone or with a group, then you do not have to go too far. There are places within our “great country”, where you can be immersed in utter serenity, with nothing troubling you. You guessed it, such places are far from the city. Isolated from modern civilisation, these places are mostly in the mountains.

My personal choice for finding peace has been to head to the Spiti Valley and the adjoining Lahaul region, in Himachal Pradesh. Its significance for serenity seekers is twofold: there is nothing here except for untouched nature all around, and Buddhism pervades through it. When you combine these two aspects, you know you will never have to go anyplace else to find peace and may be even yourself. Peace, you can find at a plethora of Buddhist monasteries, called “gompa” in the local language, that are mostly perched atop mountains, making for a spectacular view. If you have seen Lord of the Rings, then these would look to you like the White Castle of Minas Tirith. Keep reading to learn about the gompas in the region. These alluring monasteries of Spiti Valley will surely leave you astonished!

When you hear the word Ladakh, what comes to your mind? The mountains? The monasteries? The lakes? If you are an enthusiastic driver, then definitely its winding roads and mountain passes will flash before your eyes. Your bikes must call to you to take them on a long drive, and no other place will satisfy them and you other than Ladakh. You are in extreme luck as you can now plan and go on a Leh Ladakh bike tour easily. You know how and why? Because a lot of adventure clubs and tour agencies have started organising such incredible trips.

Over the last few years, the popularity of bike trips to Ladakh has literally skyrocketed. And seeing the trend, more and more clubs and travel agencies are coming up with self-drive or group drive itineraries to the one and only “Land of High Passes”. There have been many reasons for the rise in the popularity of such bike excursions, and while reading about them below, you may get an even stronger inspiration to do them at least once.

Best off-beat Himalayan Treks

The Scottish-American writer, John Muir once said, “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”

And man, was he right! What could be a better way for people like us to get close to nature than getting lost in the forests! Truthfully, there’s not much of true nature left around us. Humans have gone everywhere; they have taken over nature and established their empire. Today, sky-piercing towers make the skyline, and bustling, over-crowded metropolises, dominate the landscape. Sometimes, it even gets hard to find a lush public park in cities.

To come across the true bounties of nature, I suggest you go on a trek. And, to find nature, you do not even have to go far to any international destination. The Himalayas in the North and Northeast, and the Western Ghats in the South are perfect for trekkers. From easy hikes that are almost like a walk in the park to some demanding ones that require you to utilise every muscle in your body, all kinds of trekking excursions are possible here.

Roopkund, Har Ki Doon, Goecha La, Beas Kund and Nag Tibba are some of the most taken trekking trails in India. However, if you are one of those, who like to, as our favourite Star Trek character, Captain Kirk, says, “Boldly go where no man has gone before”, then the following are some treks you can consider for your next excursion. I suggest that you try at least a few of these in 2016 itself! Life is too short to be delaying such amazing experiences for the future.

We are crazy about records! And I’d even go to the extent of saying that a thing is special only if it’s got a record to distinguish itself from the millions of other things in the same category. Sachin Tendulkar has got fans all over the world, but why? If somebody asks us why we love him, we all would probably start listing all the accolades he’s won. That’s what makes him special! That’s what sets him apart from the hundreds of thousands of cricketers all over the world. It’s something to flaunt.

Well, I am not here to talk about cricket; I am here to talk about travelling. So, I would be talking about the highest places in India which you can visit. Recently, one of my friends went on a trekking expedition in Kerala, and I remember as soon as he returned, how he started bragging about conquering the highest mountain peak in South India – Anamudi, and how he plans to climb Mount Everest next!

Well, to be honest with you, I don’t think my fitness would allow me to climb that behemoth. I have done some trekking, but mountaineering is something I haven’t been lucky enough to try extensively. So, I went online and checked out places I could visit to brag about. I may not be able to visit the highest mountain, but I am definitely going to be visiting some other highest places in India. Here are some places on my bucket list that I am sharing with you.

India is infamous throughout the world for its sweltering summer heat, which I, for one, am sick and tired of. The real winters come in late December, and before you know it, it is summers already. Just as March ends, the temperature starts rising to the point, where you feel the ground burning, even if you are wearing shoes. Yeah, we can switch on the AC to get some respite and hike up our electricity bill, but I want something more. Call me demanding if you will, but I feel that a technologically fabricated environment can never match the feeling of being in the relatively cool places on Earth.

What you can do in such a case is head to the mountains of the North…the mighty Himalayas. Within the chain, there are places, mostly above the altitude of 6000 feet that are cool even during the strongest and most pathetic of summers. But, mind you, even there the temperature can touch 30 degree Celsius. The alternative obviously is going even higher, say 10-15000 feet? Whatever havoc the summers are laying in the rest of the country, such places always remain cool. For ages, I have wanted to visit the Valley of Flowers, located in the state of Uttarakhand! So, I went to the internet, wanting to know everything I could before I plan to go. Below, I share with you the treasure of knowledge that I found about this “heavenly” place.

Nepal ranks among the most peaceful nations in the world, be it in terms of the culture, people, landscape or the social setup. Home to the great Mount Everest and nestled in the magnificent Himalayan Mountain Range, Nepal’s economy thrives on tourism and it sees an influx of thousands of tourists from across the globe. Having the highest peak in the world certainly helps boost tourism in the country, but Nepal contains several other sights and gems, which are worth visiting for adventure aficionados. From time to time, there are things one needs to do that are not in synchronisation with convention, thereby making it all the more exciting and intriguing. A trek to the Annapurna Range could aptly be characterised as one such activity, which a lot of people do not undertake out of fear, but should definitely try.

As confessed by French mountaineer, Maurice Herzog, “Annapurna, to which we had gone emptyhanded, was a treasure on which we should live the rest of our days. With this realization we turn the page: a new life begins. There are other Annapurnas in the lives of men.”

If you ever happened to bump into me at my house, you would probably find me watching TLC, NDTV Good Times or any other travel-related channel or programme on the TV. The reason being, I just love to travel. I utilise the smallest little break I get from work, and head out. I was lucky enough to go to a school, which organised trips and outings regularly, and I took many of these opportunities to go places I had never been to. And believe me; it was worth it every time. I haven’t been to any international destination yet, but who needs such places when your own country has so much. Mountains, forests, sea, lakes, rivers, desert…what can you not find here?

And I don’t really need to dwell on the fact that the diversity of people you see here is mind boggling. New places, new scenes, new people and new experiences make me want to go out again, the moment I return from a trip. So, “Don’t wait for the grass to grow”, plan a trip and “Just do it.” When you come back, be sure to share your stories and of course, pictures! Now, enjoying your tour is obviously the most important thing, but so is to stay fit while travelling. Many people, who travel a lot, either fall sick often or gain weight, due to change in climate and place, and different eating habits and patterns.

Remember the famous quote by Saint Augustine, “The world is a book, and those, who don’t travel, read only a page”? Man, was he right?

For most of us, what we have seen around us is our world. And that includes all the things we have seen on TV, read about in magazines or newspapers, or heard from others. Though, most of them try to give us as true a picture as possible, something always seems missing. It is the experience that these informative pieces fail to deliver. And, why would they not? We cannot feel through words (it is possible only in romantic poems or movies). For example, if someone were to tell you, “I could feel the wind on my face”, would you be able to feel it? No. Right?

For a first-hand experience, you have to get off your seat, and TRAVEL. Stop whining; stop complaining that planning a tour is painstaking or that you are too lazy to do it. Got a laptop, mobile or desktop with a working internet connecting? USE IT. Do a bit of research, read a few blogs and plan a trip… Just try not making the following travelling mistakes that most people do, and you will be just fine. Or we may say just follow the 10 Commandments of Travelling, and that’s all.
 

Have you been spending loads in the gym to get your body in shape, but feel bored by the stereotypical routine and exercises? There is another way you can do it, and it would be a lot better than the gym – Trekking! Yeah, that’s right! Hiking/Trekking is an excellent way to keep yourself up and running. It gives you the chance to exercise in natural conditions, unlike those simulated ones in the gym like on a boring treadmill. Ascending cliffs with the oxygen level decreasing as you go higher will tone up your body like nothing else.

Be glad you are in India as the hilly terrain in the northern part gives you endless opportunities for hiking. There are trails aplenty that you could take through the mountains. Consider the blast of cultures that will take you over as you journey past scenic hamlets, and you have got yourselves a fiesta. The famous children’s author, JRR Tolkien said in the Lord of the Rings, “All those who wander are not lost”, and he was right. Wandering endlessly does not always take you far from everything, but closer to yourself.

There are treks that vary in difficulty and altitude, and you can go in an increasing order to get your body used to it and prepared for the next challenge. In order to prepare for these treks, all you got to do is to start with brisk walks, jogging, climbing stairs and some breathing exercises. This should get you ready for the easy treks, and a few easy treks would set you in motion for the tougher ones. A couple of these every year would guarantee overall fitness. Bunk gym and go trekking for a healthy life. Here is a description of some treks and the sort of workout they will give you, arranged in the increasing order of difficulty.

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.