Machu Picchu, a name the whole world is familiar with today, was not known to mankind a century ago. Spirit of adventure, curiosity and the quest for the unknown led to its discovery in 1911, when a party of three chanced upon it while looking for the legendary lost city of Vilcabamba. The leader of this party was Hiram Bingham.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu

Bingham was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on 19th November, 1875 to a family of missionaries. However, he found his true calling in history and archaeology, especially Latin American History and that motivated him to pursue his doctorate in the same field and take many trips to South America. His 1911 expedition, as mentioned above, was to seek out the Incas’ last capital, Vilcabamba, which was believed to have been the last refuge of the defeated king Manco Inca II in 1536, when he had fled after being defeated by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro. There was a lot of speculation about the location of this city to be somewhere in the valleys of the Vilcabamba and Urubamba River.

Hiram Bingham
Hiram Bingham
Image Credits: wikipedia.org

On the morning of 23rd July, 1911, along with his companion Sergeant Carrasco, a Peruvian soldier, Bingham left Cuzco to explore the Urubamba valley. They spent the night camping near the river and while there, they were approached by a local farmer named Melchor Arteaga who informed them of the presence of some ancient ruins high up in the mountains. The next morning, 24th July, the 3 set out to explore and find out what these ruins were. They all advanced slowly, making their way across a wobbly bridge that traversed just above the rapids. Fighting the rain, they scrambled up the path, sometimes on all fours owing to its steepness. After about an hour or so, they were above the tree line and the view below took their breath away. Little did they know that something even more spectacular awaited them above.

As they moved further up, they found that the Native Americans farmed on an ancient terrace cleared of the jungle. They discovered more terraces and mazes of sorts, consisting of stone houses made of white granite blocks fitted together with clean, mortar-less joints, sitting 4000 feet above the Urubamba River. Accidentally, they had found an abandoned citadel/fortress that was to become the most celebrated ruin in South America and one of the most visited sites in the world.

William Blake, the great 18th century poet, said that great things happen when men and mountains meet. Almost two centuries later, the world saw that come to life!

World’s highest mountain range, Himalayas, is home to 14 peaks higher than 8,000 meters or eight-thousanders as these are commonly called, and till the first half of the 20th century, all of these were unscaled! While the geographical conditions were a major deterrent, political unrest in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Tibet also proved to be one big hurdle!

Aerial view of the Annapurna Image credits: Wikipedia.org
Aerial view of the Annapurna
Image credits: Wikipedia.org

But all that was about to change! In 1949, the Maharajah of Nepal gave his consent to a climbing party of nine from France to attempt an assault on one (or more than one) of these peaks. The party, led by experienced French Alpinist Maurice Herzog, arrived in Nepal in the spring of 1950 with plans to attempt either the Annapurna (8091 m) or the slightly higher Dhawalgiri (8167 m).

This was a time when not even the local inhabitants had any knowledge of reaching higher up in those mountains through the thick forests and tough terrain speckled with gorges and ridges. Having spent some time probing for routes and backtracking, in April of 1950, Herzog, his climbing partner Louis Lachenal and the rest of the team realized that they needed to make haste if they wished to climb any of those peaks, since the ideal weather conditions would only last till June. So they zeroed in on Annapurna by the north-western glacier, which seemed like the perfect approach at the time. The next difficult step was the setting up of a chain of 3 camps in higher altitudes. The last and highest camp was pitched at 7407 m. It was already June and the threat of monsoon fast approaching was looming over their heads.

Lachenal and Herzog Image credits: Wikipedia.org
Lachenal and Herzog
Image credits: Wikipedia.org 

I was born to be an explorer…There was never any decision to make. I couldn’t do anything else and be happy“, said the man whose life is said to be the inspiration behind the creation of Indiana Jones!

Fighting Chinese brigands, braving sandstorms and wild dogs, it was all in a day’s work for Roy Chapman when he decided to go explore the Gobi Desert further up North in to Mongolia to find the origins of humanity.

Roy Chapman Andrews
Image Credits: wikipedia.org

Roy Chapman Andrews was born in Wisconsin, America in 1884 and right from his childhood days his interests revolved around nature, outdoors, animals, history and he explored fields, water bodies and forests. He taught himself taxidermy and made money with this skill to pay for his college tuition. Such was his passion that after being told that there were no openings at the American Museum of Natural History, he started working there as a janitor in the taxidermy department. He continued to learn as he worked and earned a Master’s degree in mammalogy from Columbia University.

An explorer, adventurer and a naturalist, Roy sailed to the East Indies from 1909 – 1910 and collected snakes and lizards. In 1913, he sailed to the Arctic aboard the schooner Adventuress and filmed some of the best footage of seals ever seen!

Expedition Mongolia
Expedition Mongolia
Image Credits: wikipedia.org

Every action when looked at from different perspectives could mean different things! Same can be said for this historical adventure in which a 37 year old Navy Captain and his crew of 116 became the first people ever to complete the first successful submerged voyage around the North Pole.

Let’s start at the beginning! It was the period of Polar Exploration. Many countries and governments had sent their expert teams to the far off lands both North and South of the equator. While there were political agendas, scientific aspirations, and exploration possibilities, there were also the dreams of experiencing the ultimate adventure – being there where no man has set foot before!

On 4th October, 1957 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik – the first artificial Earth Satellite and as expected it brought in new military, scientific and political developments and aspirations. One part of those developments was the Operation Sunshine – a submarine transit of the North Pole, ordered by President Eisenhower in 1958.

Nautilus in the open waters Image credits: Wikipedia.org
Nautilus in the open waters
Image credits: Wikipedia.org

The mission started on 25th April, 1958, when USS Nautilus (SSN – 571), world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine, commanded by Commander William R. Anderson headed towards the West Coast starting from New London, Connecticut. After stopping at San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle it left Seattle port on 9th June, 1958. An attempt to enter the open waters was made on 19th June, 1958 but it had to be pulled back due to drift ice in the shallow waters. Special Gyrocompass built by Sperry Rand was installed just before the journey began.

  1. Older than you know! – Research shows that Antarctica has existed for over 200 million years! Back all those aeons ago, it was joined with Australia, Africa, South America, India and New Zealand, in the supercontinent Gondwana. Then around 40 million years ago, it made its final disengagement  from the Australian continent, settled into its present polar position, and began to cool dramatically.
    Watch this amazing video to know what life’s like on the coldest place on the planet!

    Cloud Filled Mountains of the Neuymayer Channel in Antarctica
    Cloud Filled Mountains of the Neuymayer Channel in Antarctica

  2. A bit of history – Antarctica was discovered in 1820 by a Russian team but it took almost 100 years before further serious expeditions were undertaken. In the 1890s, John George Bartholomew, a Scottish cartographer, became the first person to formally use “Antarctica” as a name for the continent. Translated literally, Antarctica means “opposite the bear” (from the Great Bear, or Ursa Major, above the North Pole) or “opposite to the Arctic”.
  3. Coldest place on the planet – Antarctica is the world’s highest, driest and coldest continent, with an annual mean temperature of -55°C. It was at Russia’s Vostok Station, in Antarctica, that earth’s lowest ever temperature ever, -89.2°C, was recorded, on 21st July, 1983.
  4. Ice Ice baby – 

    The ice sheet in Antarctica is 4,776 metres deep at its thickest point, with an average thickness of 2,160 metres. This is 90 percent of the world’s entire ice, and 70 percent of the world’s total freshwater. There is about eight times as much ice in Antarctica as there is in the Arctic. If all this ice were to melt (let’s hope for everyone’s sake that it doesn’t!), ocean levels across the world would rise by 200-210 feet.

    Ice Shelf
    Ice Shelf

A legendary polar explorer, and one of the chief figures of the time period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic ExplorationSir Ernest Shackleton led three British Expeditions to the Antarctic. So strong was his love for the region that after his death in 1920, his wife asked that he be buried in South Georgia, accompanied by the stormy seas.

Sir Ernest Shackleton
Sir Ernest Shackleton
Image Credits: en.wikipedia.org

Here is a look at this great man’s life:

1. Explorer Extraordinaire

Ernest Shackleton is the ultimate personification of a time at the beginning of the 20th century that is now regarded as the “Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration”. An Irishman by birth, Shackleton put behind him the disappointment of his first foray into the frozen wastes of Antarctica – poor health led him to return home from the 1901-04 Discovery Expedition (also known as the National Antarctic Expedition) – to become one of history’s most storied polar explorers. His epic, though ultimately futile, attempt at crossing the continent of Antarctica would become a feat of “Endurance” for the ages.

2. Pull of the Ocean

It was through books that Shackleton got his taste for adventure. But such was his restiveness as a teen that his school (Dulwich College London) let the boy leave to seek a life out at sea. With the (reluctant) encouragement of his doctor-father, Shackleton became an apprentice aboard the Hoghton Tower, a sailing boat, and spent the next four years living the life of a seaman, learning the tools of the seafaring trade. Shackleton travelled around the world, sailing with men from all walks of life. These experiences would prove invaluable as he turned his gaze towards Antarctica.

The Island of South Georgia in the Southern Ocean
The Island of South Georgia in the Southern Ocean

3. “The Great Southern Journey”

Shackleton’s second journey to the South Pole was as part of the four-member Nimrod Expedition, which he led. During this trip, Shackleton and his fellow explorers reached as far south as anyone had ever done at that point in time – a latitude of 88° 23’ S, the equivalent of 97 geographical miles (that’s 112 statute miles, or 180km) from the South Pole. The party also reached the summit of Mount Erebus (3794 m/12,448ft), the first men to do so. Shackleton proved to be a fine, as well as an empathetic, leader of men. For his Nimrod exploits, he was knighted by King Edward VII.

Lewis Clarke, a fearless 16-year-old from Bristol, England, made history by becoming the youngest ever person to trek from the Antarctica coast to the South Pole. Read more here.

Lewis Clarke ImageCredits: nydailynews.com
Lewis Clarke
ImageCredits: nydailynews.com

The teen adventurer set out on December 2, 2013 – only a couple of weeks after celebrating his 16th birthday – and reached the South Pole on January 18, 2014. Clarke took the Hercules Inlet route, a distance of some 1100 km (about 700 miles), skiing for eight hours and covering roughly 29km (18 miles) every day. Clarke, who had to tow a sled of supplies over the duration of the trek, was accompanied by polar explorer Carl Alvey.

There were challenges aplenty: Clarke had to combat temperatures as low as -50C and wind speeds of up to 120mph, as well as a broken ski and blisters – but if this hardy young man was flustered over the 48-day hike, he didn’t admit it. “I knew it would be hard, but it’s harder than I ever thought it would be.

“I think sometimes about how few people have done this. Only 300 in 100 years. And I’m doing it. That’s pretty cool.” Clarke reached the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station on the evening of January 18 (a Saturday), beating the mark of Canada’s Sarah Landry (who was 18), set a decade ago, in 2004.

The young achiever! Image Credits: factincept.com
The young achiever!
Image Credits: factincept.com

Adventure Nation organized a rock climbing workshop on 18th January, 2014, at Camp Wild, Dhauj near Gurgaon. The initial promotion through social media channel itself got a great response and in no time it was houseful!

It was a day event starting at 8 AM and concluding at 3 PM.

The schedule included pick up from HUDA City Centre Metro station, Gurgaon, snacks after reaching the destination, introduction to Rock climbing by our Guru Wing Commander Amit Chowdhury, followed by a demonstration by the Guru and the instructors. Post that all the attendees attempted and successfully climbed the rocks, the workshop ended with a lunch and then a drop back to the Metro station in Gurgaon.

Here are some moments from the day. Even young children were seen enjoying the activity:

Rock climbing Guru briefs about the task ahead!
Rock climbing Guru briefs about the task ahead!
Yes you can!
The first step!
The triumphant smile!

Click Here for a great Scuba diving holiday at Netrani.

Located in the Arabian Sea, Netrani (locally known as Netragudo) is a small coral island in India, off the coast of Karnataka. It is approximately 19 km from the temple town of Murudeshwara. It is also known as the Pigeon Island and besides pigeons; the other dwellers are the wild goats. The bird’s eye view gives it the appearance of a heart!

Netrani Island Image Credits: commons.wikimedia.org
Netrani Island
Image Credits: commons.wikimedia.org

Being a coral island Netrani is ideal for snorkeling and other diving activities. With visibility between 15 – 30 meters and depths ranging from 6 – 40 meters, it offers some great sites for scuba diving suitable for all levels of experience. It is easily approachable from Mumbai, Pune, Goa and Bangalore.

Other than the fish life common to Goa and the Arabian Sea, Netrani is also popular for regular sightings of Butterfly fish, Whale Sharks, Turtles, Napoleon Wrasse, Great Barracuda, Stingrays, White and Black Tip Sharks and Stonefish.

The enchanting underwater life!
The enchanting underwater life!

Usually visitors are asked not to climb on the island because of the sharp rocks and steep cliffs and diving/snorkeling is done from a boat anchored close to the island.

With sequestered beaches, old cultures and exotic cuisines mixed with sapphire waters of the mysterious underworld, Netrani has all the elements of a perfect holiday.

The best time to visit is December and January.

This national park’s website describes Kruger as the “real Africa”. While those who are associated with Africa’s other wildlife sanctuaries might disagree, there’s no doubt that Kruger – one of eight game sanctuaries in the country – embodies perfectly the South African wildlife experience. But here, it’s more than just about the wildlife; a visit to Kruger is a visit back to a time when man first roamed the bush.

A Lion cub at the Kruger National Park
A Lion cub at the Kruger National Park

As iconic a game reserve as any in this magnificent continent, Kruger National Park is also one of Africa’s largest. With a total area of nearly two million hectares, Kruger extends 360km (224m) from north to south, while from east to west it averages a distance of 65km (40m) – at its widest, it measures 90km (56m). These facts testify to the size of the national park, but also more than hint at the variety of wildlife that one can expect to encounter here. Overall, Kruger makes for a magical and unforgettable experience.

At 147 species, Kruger has the maximum number of large animals than anywhere else on the continent. So if you’re looking to immerse yourself completely in a wildlife experience, there are few better game reserves than Kruger National Park in which to do so. There’s a mind-boggling diversity of animals (and birds) here – this place is paradise for the lover of wildlife. And the presence of knowledgeable guides will make your safari an even more memorable one. One can also spot wildlife by availing of guided walks, an altogether more exhilarating experience. (After a game drive or walking safari, treat yourself to some grilled meats at a bush braai, a barbecue that’s uniquely South African!)

Kruger National Park Landscape
Kruger National Park Landscape

Summers here are usually very hot, with temperatures touching 40C, and humid. The rainy season extends from spring to autumn (September to May), with rainfall particularly heavy during summers. The best time to visit Kruger is during the southern hemisphere winter, from late May to mid-September, when temperatures are comparably cooler (nights can be cold). During these months, there is less chance of contracting malaria – and the drier conditions lead to a decrease in green cover, which means big game can be seen near watering holes every morning and evening. For birding, however, the ideal time to be in Kruger is during the rainy season, when you’ll find masses of migratory birds making the most of the verdant surrounds.

Find out more about Kruger National Park.

Located in the Zanskar Valley, the Chadar Frozen River trek offers a unique trekking experience and makes the wish list of every trekking enthusiast. This trek is definitely not for a novice, and even for seasoned trekkers, who have experience of many Himalayan treks; this trek is nothing like they have seen before. The hardly habitable environment of the ‘Chadar’ has all the makings of an extremely challenging trek – one which dares a trekker to test his/her attitude and tolerance while providing some of the best visuals imaginable. On Chadar trek, the only constant is the freezing cold, with temperatures dropping to 30 degrees below zero at times. Dressing sensibly is of vital importance. It is difficult to accurately predict the environments at the Zanskar frozen river trek; but here is a general outline of what to expect on this winter trek:

Chadar Frozen River Trek
Chadar Frozen River Trek

1. Best time to go –
Chadar literally means sheet and in this case a sheet of Frozen River. January to February is the time when the upper layer of the river gets hard and trekkers can walk gently on it.

The term “Big Five” has become synonymous with African wildlife. It refers to the African Lion, Leopard, Rhinoceros, Elephant and Cape Buffalo. Out of these the Lion and the Elephant are classified as Endangered. The Leopard and the white Rhinoceros are categorized as Near Threatened. The black Rhinoceros is Critically Endangered; hence it cannot be hunted at all. The conservation status of the Cape Buffalo is Least Concern, thus making it the most popular to hunt.

Africa's Big Five (Clockwise from left - African Lion, Leopard, Cape Buffalo, Elephant and Rhino)
Africa’s Big Five (Clockwise from left – African Lion, Leopard, Cape Buffalo, Elephant and Rhino)

A lot of people could wonder as to why only these 5, why not the Cheetah or the Hippopotamus? The bitter truth is that this term was originally coined by big game hunters (while hunting on foot) and referred to the level of difficultly in bagging these large animals, primarily owing to their ferocity and defense mechanisms when cornered and also the amount of danger involved in direct contacts with these animals.

Afterwards the term was acquired by Safari tour operators for marketing purposes. The Rand banknotes released in South Africa in 1990 and later feature big-five animals on each denomination.

Big-Five Rand Banknotes Image Credits: bdlive.co.za/markets
Big Five Rand Banknotes
Image Credits: bdlive.co.za/markets

Uganda, South Africa, Tanzania, Botswana, Malawi, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Kenya and Democratic Republic of the Congo are the countries where all the members of the big five can be found.

To read more about Africa’s Wildlife check out these destinations:
Kruger National Park – South AfricaMaasai Mara National Park – KenyaOkavango Delta – Botswana, Serengeti National Park – Tanzania

For trips log on to www.adventurenation.com

 

Click Here for a great paragliding trip in India. 

“When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” — Leonardo da Vinci

The dream of flying in the sky just like a bird is as old as human kind. You can make your dream come true with paragliding. This sport is considered to be risky, but the reality is that the safety of practitioners is quite high, especially compared to other adventure disciplines. Of course, you cannot paraglide unless you have undergone extensive training. There are numerous paragliding schools that you can select from. It is only natural for you to look for courses in your local area, but there are a number of other essential factors that you have to consider carefully as well.

Paragliding!
Paragliding!

“Adventures don’t come calling like unexpected cousins. You have to go looking for them.” — Unknown

You need not look too far as we at Adventure Nation not only offer adventure travel activities and opportunities but also strive to guide you in choosing the best locations every month. Here is our list of the best that the month of December has to offer:

  1. Kamshet – Paragliding

Kamshet (original name “Karmakshetra”, which means “the land of your karma”) is a small township located off the old Mumbai-Pune highway (NH-4).

Paragliding in Kamshet Image Credits: Image Credits:
Paragliding in Kamshet
Image Credits: thelongwayback.canalblog.com

Skiing in India takes place mostly in the Himalayas. Owing to their great height, Himalayas make for a great Skiing destination as they offer long descents. There are 3 popular destinations for Skiing in India – Gulmarg in Jammu and Kashmir, Auli in Uttrakhand and Solang in Himachal Pradesh. Here is some information about these places and the infrastructure they offer for a great Skiing experience –

Book you Skiing package here

  1. Gulmarg 

Situated on a high plateau, pastoral Gulmarg, which literally means ‘Meadow of Flowers’, is home to a hill station that has few parallels in India. It boasts a picture-perfect Alpine landscape, with gardens, lakes, snow-covered mountains and (when not snowed in) lush-green vistas as far as the eye can see. Gulmarg also has one of the highest cable cars in Asia – a ride here can take your breath away, literally!

Gulmarg Image Credits: kashmirskiing.com
Skiing in beautiful Gulmarg
Image Credits: kashmirskiing.com

Gulmarg is India’s top skiing destination (8955 ft), and consistently ranked as among the world’s best. It also hosts the country’s annual Winter Games. It is surrounded by dense forests of tall conifers and snow capped mountains of the Himalayas. Today Gulmarg is acknowledged not only for its scenic surroundings, but also as the world’s highest golf course and a premier ski resort in the country.  

Located out in the Atlantic, the isolated Azores is 1564 km directly west of Lisbon, Portugal, and 3900 km off the North American coast. This chain of nine islands, all volcanic in origin, was colonized by the Portuguese in the mid-15th century. The islands’ location, almost bang in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, has proved of great strategic value. Today, they are a key mid-ocean refueling and pit stop for commercial airlines, international shipping, cruise ships and private yachts.

Extremely popular for deep-sea fishing, wine production, many varieties of tropical fruit and local cheeses, the Azores is increasingly becoming a favorite tourist destination. Even the nonchalant traveler will be smitten by the emerald-green and sapphire-blue lakes, volcanic craters and cones, verdant grasslands, 15th-century churches and majestic manor houses.

Azores Lagoa Sete Cidades
Azores Lagoa Sete Cidades

Skiing is one activity that requires a lot of lower body strength and preparation. So before you set out to Ski, there are a few important things you should keep in mind that will help you enjoy your time on the slopes.

Here are some tips, straight from our Gurus, for a great Skiing experience:

Tip 1
Tip 2
Tip 3
  1. Jim Corbett National Park

The first National Park to be established in mainland Asia (1936), CorbettNational Park has captured the imagination of many with the diverse wildlife and the natural uniqueness of the area. It is situated in the town of Ramanagar in the Nainital district of Uttrakhand. Covering an area of 521 sq km, it offers a remarkable variety of landscapes formed by the streams, rivers and many ridges crisscrossing the terrain.

CorbettNational Park is home to a varied species of plants, birds and land animals. Among the birds Crested Serpent Eagle, Red Jungle Fowl, Blossom-headed Parakeet are commonly seen. Kalagarh dam located in the south west of the wildlife sanctuary is considered to be the best place for birding.

Tiger spotting at Jim Corbett
Jeep Safari at Jim Corbett National Park
Image Credits: tempotravellerindelhi.in