All posts tagged: Adventure Travel

My First Snowboarding Experience

Confidently balancing on my board, gliding down the slope with all the grace of a gazelle, I slid for a few metres before finally landing on my chest. The last night’s snow absorbed the hit pretty much every time I crashed, while trying to polish my left and right turns while snowboarding, with a little to no luck. But I was firm on my goal! A few weeks ago the lovely folks at NorthlandAdventures, in Manali, invited me to try a few days of skiing or snowboarding with them, at their ski hotel, Sethan Heights, in Hamta Valley, Himachal. And as soon as they first mentioned it, my (first) reaction was ‘oh, bum … I can’t ski!’. Then I realised, this would mean gaining a new skill, and I spat a big yes… Though I was still unsure about it! For the next few weeks, the crashing, getting uncontrolled, and other hazards made me wince every time I thought about my decision. And I sure didn’t want to crash in front of others. But To hell with it… I’d …

Sethan Village In Himachal: A Place To Relax, Unwind And Just Be!

After a few nights in Charanag, a small town tucked away from the crowds connecting Kullu-Manali, in Himachal Pradesh, it was time to lose myself in oblivion, yet once again. And Sethan, as my next destination was called, sounded like a perfect option. Located approximately an hour’s drive from Manali, Sethan was definitely a place for slow travellers – at least during winters, when the snow still claimed the ground and any movement beyond this tiny Buddhist town, was pretty much impossible – unless you’re conquering glaciers. I sure wasn’t! In the month of March, and with mercury still falling beyond zero for most of the hours in a day, the valley here was draped in white. Little flakes of happiness were everywhere! From Sethan, one can see the towering Dhauladhar ranges surrounding the village, and the river Beas flowing right next to it – perhaps a few thousand feet down. The inhabitants here were originally migrated from Tibet, and represent a Buddhist community who share their roots being horse herders in in their past. …

Scuba Diving Myths: Debunked!

What’s keeping you out of the ocean? Is it the fear of drowning or getting stung by a lionfish? Some of you might also be thinking that diving is expensive. Before doing my first, I had my own doubts too. But my biggest fear was running out of air while I was still underwater. “Has any of the trainees has ever run out of air, in their cylinder, while diving with you,” I remember asking my instructor, Jason, moments before our first dive. Though we were cautiously trained about how to share air and avoiding other diving hazards, I was unsure of rescuing anyone (or even myself) if anything went wrong. And I think these doubts are only natural. The day I dived and posted a few pictures on my Facebook page, a lot of people asked me about my experience followed by their personal query – something that seemed to be putting them off from trying it. So now that I’ve done a few dives and have moreover qualified as an Over Water Diver, …

My First Scuba Diving Experience

Life Underwater – a serene, slow-motion world, almost tranquil and unreal. The sun started dissolving slowly, as I deflated my buoyancy control jacket. The blue, hazy sea in front of me, slowly darkened. I remember the first time I started sinking I was half scared. The idea of leaving the world I’d always known, and entering into something far mysterious and eerie – was undoubtedly scary; and the fact that every cry, every yell, will only going to be left unheard, was moreover alarmingly daunting. For the first 5 minutes I did not take my eyes off my instructor and the two fellow divers. They seemed like my only hope. But as I slowly sank down, listening to a louder ‘pop’ in my left ear, I began to take shape and coming into focus. Nearly 12 metres down in the depths of the Arabian Sea, the life I saw, existing and moving was totally magical. And I remember I stopped breathing. It was not through fear anymore, but from sheer awe and wonder. The world …

Panchachuli Base Camp Trek: From Itinerary to Costing

I’ve done quite a few treks in Uttarakhand. Gomukh-Tapovan, Dodhital, Valley of flowers, Stopanth Lake, Gaurikund Kedarnath – the list is long. And often the journeys were concluded solo. I like the idea of taking long solo strolls, under the magnifying beauty of Himalayan cliffs. There is some adventure in that. This time, I was off to Panchachuli Base Camp, located at the end of eastern Kumaon region, near Munsiyari, in Uttarakhand. Panchachuli, literally means ‘five pointed oven’. According to the locals, it was Panchachuli peaks where the Pandavas cooked their last meal on the five peaks of Panch Chuli before leaving for heaven. And that’s its religious significance. The trek to Panchachuli Base Camp turned out to be a pretty easy deal. Where most of the blogs, on internet, suggested that it takes a good 4-5 days of strenuous walk to complete the trek, I found that 2 days might just be enough. Darma Valley is being connected with a fine (as per the Himalayan standard) motorable road. Starting from Sobla, the road has already …

My Journey Into Darma Valley

It was 1 in the afternoon, as I grabbed myself somewhere in the middle of Darma valley, riding under the rocky cliffs that mark the road till Nangling. The terrain looked quite walkable but the comfort of a motorcar was far more appealing, even if you’re to sitting on the roof. The peaks of Panchachuli glacier were still, at least, two days away from me. But I could already feel its presence. The sun was unusually bright. This was definitely higher up. At about 13,000 feet above sea level, the jeep wound up quite a bit. After a couple hours of ride, we hit a rickety local shop for some food. I was ready to order another vegetarian meal – for I was in Uttarakhand, and well aware of its vegetarian culture – when all of a sudden, my eyes caught hold of a sheep who was already butchered. A man was busy taking off her coat. Few people surrounding him on the scene. The lady serving at the shop asked if I fancy some mutton and rice. …

Sandakphu Trek — All You Need To Know

Singalila Ridge Trek (or Sandakphu trek, as is often called) is one of the best treks around Sikkim and West Bengal. You literally walk through a beautiful land, covered with green grass and wild rhododendrons, for a few days, as sometimes – flying clouds interrupt your walk, and sometimes – periodic lakes. As you reach Sandakphu you enter into a zone whose entry signs reads “Pollution free zone”. And I wonder, how many of those are still left in this world. Sandakphu trek offers fantastic views of the Himalaya. The valley beautifies itself, with clear panoramic views of snow-capped mountains, as you journey towards Sandakphu. You start the trek from the town of Mane Bhanjhang, and as you walk towards Sandakphu, you enter/exit into India, and likewise into Nepal, at least a few dozen times. How? Because the Sandakphu trek is more or less a borderline between India and Nepal. And the towns that come on the way, including Tumling and Sandakphu are owned by both countries. Sandakphu, as a town, is popular because it …

 7 Ideal Locations To Camp And Not Pay A Penny, On The Road To Spiti Valley

Bike expedition in Spiti Valley, itself, is adventurous. And the idea of camping through it, rather than opting for the safety and comfort of a guest house, is an adventure of a next level. Unlike other parts of Himalayas, here you can’t think of camping out in the wild, away from any civilization. Gusty winds and an unfriendly terrain makes it just too hard. When I initially left for the solo bike expedition to Spiti Valley, I had no intention to sleep all the way through it – in my own tent; though I brought it with me to spend a night or two in Chandratal, which falls almost on the way. I ended-up camping for the first night (in a town called Arphu), because I was struck with the idea of sleeping somewhere quieter than the likes of Shimla and Rampur. I needed a place which was not bustling with tourists or, in fact, had no tourists at all. Arphu fit the description, but since it had no guest houses, camping seemed the only possible way. But …

Solo Bike Expedition To Spiti Valley – An Ideal Itinerary

There’re some journeys that leave an imprint on your soul. And my solo bike expedition to Spiti Valley was one among them! Many years ago, my father happened to stay in Lahaul-&-Spiti. He told me stories about Spiti’s raw and uninviting nature. It was from him, I knew how disconnected Spiti Valley was, from the real world. Time has changed though. Regular morning buses, which run daily, in different parts, now connect Spiti to its neighbours. Private cars and taxis also, at times, are quite visible. “Surely the Gods must live here, this is no place for men.” Rudyard Kipling But if compared to Laddakh, Spiti valley is still very harsh and desolate. It takes a certain amount of madness to drive on these uninviting, mesmerizing landscapes. And to do it solo – you need to be more than just mad. When I decided to drive solo, through this unfamiliar terrain of East Himachal – home to one of the ‘world’s deadliest roads’ – my sole intention was to see its natural vistas and being careful of …

Tips For Solo Road Trip To Spiti Valley – All You Need To Know

‘We spend our lives trying to become something. To prove ourselves worthy, and important. Until we stand still, one day, facing the mighty nature. It is moments like these when we truly realize, how petty, how insignificant – human condition actually is’ I found myself struggling with these boundless thoughts, quite often, during my solo bike expedition to Spiti Valley – a trip which made me believe, in just 9 days, that everything falls into place when you really want it to. Once you embrace the true spirit of the journey, it reveals itself to you. It was a beautiful experience now that I think back. A road trip to the world’s one of the most isolated roads in Spiti Valley is a tough experience. You need to drive for long hours, look after your ride, calculate kilometres, and take many survival decisions. And doing it solo, is somewhere at the next level. Perhaps that’s what compelled me to try it out, at first place. Now that I’ve I managed to complete the journey in 9 …