Offbeat Holiday Ideas and Adventure Tours

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					                   Offbeat Holiday Ideas: Adventure Tours

If you’re bored with the usual, then it’s time to vacation a little differently.

From trekking and skiing, to animal safaris and more, a number of adventure holiday
options are now available to the holiday-taker. If you’re physically fit and ready to chuck
up 5 star comforts, that’s half the battle won. More importantly, it’s the right attitude
that counts. Patience, discipline, respect for nature and expecting the unexpected will
go a long way towards making your adventure holiday a truly different experience.

Wildlife Adventures
There’s something about taking off to a forest that’s infinitely appealing, particularly to
urban warriors. How often have you felt the call of the wild, when watching those
amazing documentaries on Animal Planet?

India’s wildlife sanctuaries are spread countrywide – from the tiger sanctuaries of
Corbett, Ranthambore, Bandhavgarh and Pench in north and central India to Kaziranga
in the east and B.R. Hills, Mudumalai, Dandeli and Kabini in the south, you are spoilt for

The more frequented reserves like Corbett have a plethora of tourist resorts replete
with the works – swimming pools, cultural evenings, buffet meals et al. Genuine wildlife
enthusiasts will opt for the core area of the sanctuary where facilities are basic, but the
jungle experience is authentic. That could range from waiting patiently for hours in a
jeep for rare animal sightings to the exhilaration of being surrounded by the sounds of
the jungle late at night. Typically,wildlife sanctuaries have government-run lodges
where you can also hire trained guides to take you around.

If yours is a family trip, do sensitise children to the do’s and don’ts of a safari like staying
calm, not straying, littering or speaking loudly (many adults too need this advice!). For
long trips involving deep forays into the forest, it is not recommended to take small
children at all.

Regardless of the weather, it’s a good idea to wear protective layers of clothing to
protect your skin from contact with wild plants and insect bites that may provoke
allergies. Leave your fashionable threads at home and opt for solid, neutral shades that
blend with jungle colours and don’t scare off wildlife. Travel light, taking only essentials
like dark glasses, hats, walking shoes, prescription medicines, first-aid kit and insect
repellent creams. If you’re a photography buff, remember that long jungle walks can be
tiring; too much equipment not only makes noise but can become a burden.

Skiing and Snowboarding
From across the world, ski buffs are now slowly discovering Gulmarg (Kashmir) and Auli
(Uttarakhand) for some “powder riding”.

While experienced skiers will rave about Gulmarg, this is not the place to begin finding
your ski legs. Apart from possible natural disasters like avalanches, there are plenty of
irritants like power cuts, transportation delays and water shortage. Kashmir is relatively
safe now, but remains highly militarised and sporadic militant incursions are always a
possibility. If you’re even an intermediate-level skier though, it’s worth the trip, since
the ski-runs are of superb quality and Gulmarg is far less crowded than ski spots in more
developed destinations outside India. Just don’t expect things to be too organised!

Equally beautiful and relatively less daunting is Auli in the Garhwal Himalayas. The oak
and pine forested slopes turn Christmas card pretty in winter. On the far horizon, the
majestic peaks of Nanda Devi, Mana Parvat and Kamet gleam white in the winter sun.

Late November to end March is a good time to visit – and yes, Auli welcomes newbie
skiers too. Other sports you can try out are snowboarding and sledge rides.

The Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam conducts 1-week and 2-week ski courses. Put in some
cardiovascular training before your trip so you won’t be panting for breath in thin
mountain air as you clamber around the ski areas. If you’re unfit, trudging around in
heavy snowshoes can be disheartening.

Trekking in India is an increasingly popular holiday option for the desk and laptop
bound. Besides being a proven stress-buster, trekking is arguably the best way to gain
first-hand knowledge of rural cultures. Depending on your level of fitness and
experience, pick a route that’s neither too easy nor too challenging. Uttaranchal’s
Garhwal and Kumaon regions top the popularity chart for trekking – well known
trekking trails take you to the Valley of Flowers, the Pindari Glacier and Devi Kund.
Sikkim is still a well kept secret – this tiny state abounds with spectacularly beautiful
trekking routes. An encounter with gentle, Sikkimese culture and a view of mighty
Kanchenjunga are more than worth the price of your trip.

The less harsh mountainscapes and tropical forests of south India are ideal for beginners
and occasional trekkers. Take your pick from Coonoor and Kotagiri in Tamil Nadu or
Idukki, Munnar and Wayanad in Kerala. Get away from muggy days and city slush with a
monsoon trek in the Sahyadris. The greenery is so vivid it hurts your eyes, while tinkly
streams and waterfalls rushing over hillsides may have you breaking into an impromptu
item song.

In preparation for your trip, it wouldn’t hurt to bone up on some basic first aid
techniques. Learn to recognise symptoms of dehydration and heatstroke. Can you tell a
nimbus cloud from a cumulus? That would help you from getting stuck on a slushy
hillside without a raincoat.

When buying basic equipment, get a backpack with several pockets and well padded
shoulder straps. Buy good quality hiking shoes; a size that’s slightly larger than your
regular city shoes will take care of swelling and be roomy enough for thicker socks.
Apart from the mandatory woollens, water bottle, map and blanket, a Swiss Army knife
is a trekker’s friend in need.

So, the next time you have some time off, break away from the routine, challenge self-
imposed limits and change the way you look at life. Go, reinvent yourself!

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