Adventure travel in India
Are you are like me and you burn to get off the beaten tourist track? To feel the adrenalin pumping through your veins while you scramble precariously up a rock face? If the answer is yes, then India could well be your dream destination.
Many people lack the confidence to undertake independent Adventure travel in India, but it is really not as difficult as you think to arrange. My website is all about intrepid travel and how to do things as independently as possible. I want to shed some light on how you can make your own adventures in this incredible country. You are almost spoiled for choice in India.
It is all too easy to employ the services of tour operators. However, they are costly. What’s more, you have to do whatever it says on your designated itinerary. It takes away your independence and the ability to do whatever it is you desire. If you take the time in planning your own trip, you are infinitely more likely to get just where you want to be.
In this post, I will be talking about the practicalities of making it all possible. I will be honest with you; this is an exciting post for me to be writing as making my own quirky journeys is what I am all about and is reflected in my website. So read on and see if any of what I have to say inspires you.
The problem with visiting this epic country is it is so varied it is hard to know where to dedicate your time. That is what this post is for. It brings a brief overview of the activities, and the varies destinations they take place in. I am writing this purely for inspirational purposes, and I hope you find my guide useful.
Adventure tourism in India.
As I have stated at least a dozen times, India is a vast country. There is an impressive array of landscapes that lend themselves to adventure. You could find yourself trekking in the loft heights of the Himalayas. Or hacking your way through dense jungles that could be straight from Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. India may be the second-most populous country on earth, but there are still vast tracks of wilderness just ripe for the intrepid traveller to sink their teeth into.
There is a huge drive from both the people and the Indian government to open these wild spaces up to tourists. As soon as you arrive in one of the big cities like Delhi or Jaipur, you will find oodles of companies who want to get you away from it all and into the wilderness. That could be under the ocean or up a cliff.
These companies are becoming ever more organised. If you a pressed for time, you will have to employ the services of an agent. If however, you have the time and a little knowhow you can skip the middle man and you can save a small fortune. That is why I am here, and I want to tell you how.
Certain states lend themselves to hardcore adventure more than others. For example, Kerala or Gujarat tend to be very organised. These states tend to have excellent infrastructures and require guides or a jeep pretty much everywhere you go. However, states like Uttarakhand or Himachal Pradesh have much less order, and it opens the doors to create your own tailored adventure.
You will find very little information in the guidebooks on such states as Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram. You will be essentially be making it up as you go. Mizoram has a whole two pages of content on the lonely planet, and it is not that there is any less to do there. It is just far off the tourist path.
Where you go really depends on both your needs facilities and geography. You can’t go skiing in the desert, and you can’t have it all. You will have to decide what it is you really want to get out of your trip, and only you can answer that. So grab a cup of coffee and sit down and really think about the answer to that question if you dont have one.
Types of adventure tourism.
For me, the adventure tourist comes in two flavours. Those who seek to get as far off the tourist radar as humanly possible without leaving the planet and those who want to engage in adrenaline-packed past times. This could range from a gentle rafting trip to jumping headfirst off a bridge.
This particular post focuses on the second type. I have plenty of posts to give you the low down on trekking and if that’s your jam check out my posts on that. Start with Intrepid travelling in India. You will find plenty of suggestions on routes you can easily plan yourself. No need for a guide and will take you into the wilds of India and even into some of the countries extraordinary national parks.
A unique kind of adventure that you can have in India is catching a camel in the desert. It is certainly a special kind of experience to sleep on the dunes. While I want to mention them here, I have in-depth posts on making this kind of experience for yourself. You can find details in the link above or check out my backpackers guide to Jaisalmer. You will find a breakdown of where to catch your camel and how to get a good price for your safari. This kind of tour is a once in a lifetime kind of deal and not to be missed.
India has the capacity to get your adrenaline going in a multitude of ways. So let us take a quick look at a little of what is on offer and where. This will give you a better idea of where you should begin to focus your attention. With India’s plethora of thrilling adventure sports to get involved in it can be hard to reach a firm decision.
Despite there being endless opportunities to climb, there are oddly only two really stand out destinations with reliable facilities. One is Hampi, and the other is Manali.
First, let us look at Hampi. Most of my readers will know most people dont go there for the rocks. As beautiful as the boulder-strewn landscapes are, it is the enormous historical ruins that drive tourists by the truckload to the tiny villages around the area.
The part many people are unaware off is that Hampi is a prime destination for wildlife lovers. Choosing to climb here has the added benefit of both getting a good dose of history and the chance to see some exceptional wildlife. There are only a handful of outfits here, and all seem very professionally run. Conveniently I have an in-depth post on what to do in Hampi so feel free to check it out when you get the time. I also cover climbing outfits in the area in much greater depth.
It is a different story in Manali as there are loads of rock climbing outfits that vary in quality, so do check out the reviews of other tourists before committing to anything. The landscape is incredible here as it is in the foothills of the Himalayas. There are endless chances to stretch those hamstrings and push your limits.
Diving and snorkelling.
The country is blessed with a massive coastline and several archipelagos that the country claims sovereignty too. Coral sporadically pops up along the shores of the subcontinent. While like just about anywhere in the world the coral is in recline there is still some impressive stretches of coral and plenty of chances to blow bubbles next to some massive fish.
I will be perfectly honest with you that if you want to see some decent coral, you will need to get to one of the archipelagos. The Andamans still has some fine patches of coral and incredible biodiversity. Some of the outfits like Barefoot Scuba are world-renowned in the diving community. Businesses in Havelock Island, Long Island and around the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park are probably the best equipped to provide you with a decent service.
Lakshadweep is the island chain on the other side of the country. It is accessed from Kerala by air or boat. I have not visited here myself, but I hear the coral is in pretty good shape. The downside to visiting here is its an all-inclusive only kind of place. While these islands are surely idyllic, it will cost considerably more than in the Andaman Islands.
You will find plenty of outfits along the coast of the mainland but save yourself the disappointment and go further afield. As I am sure, we all know coral reefs are becoming a very endangered environment indeed. Good reefs are hard to find so if you want to dive dont be shy and put in the effort to get somewhere worthwhile. The Sad truth is the chance to see these incredible ecosystems will become an ever more fleeting opportunity as they continue to disappear from our planet.
Skiing in India.
I know many of you are thinking what on earth would the skiing industry be like in India. It is a fact there is a mind-bending number of massive stretches of powdery white snow to practise your slalom in and of cause there is. After all, the mighty Himalayan mountain range covers the vast portion of the north of the country. The truth is there are only a couple of places with an established skiing industry.
One of these places is Manali, and no, you are not imagining it. You can organise pretty much any extreme sport from this little town. From paragliding to zorbing and what in the world is that I hear you say? That is rolling down a mountainside in a big rubber ball and yes its a thing.
Although experienced skiers will be hard-pressed to get their thrills on these runs, the only slopes with any infrastructure are geared towards domestic tourists, and they tend to have a gentle gradience. Not to mention the fact they will get painfully busy in the peak season. If you want to feel the snow sliding under your feet, then it will do.
On the other side of the fence are the wild slopes of Gulmarg in Kashmir. In the winter months, you will find a generous coating of snow on the side of the mountains here. Despite them being actual routes, you will still need to be able to handle your own on these runs and stay abreast of any risks of avalanches.
Mountain Biking in the Himalayas.
Well here is a blindingly obvious choice of past times while you are here. You can hire mountain bikes all across the whole range. From Sikkim to Ladakh outfits will happily loan you bikes of varies degrees of quality for a nominal fee. Before you hire a bike from anywhere check to see if it is roadworthy.
Also, check for any damages already on the bike to save any discrepancies when you come to bring it back. Take pictures and point any flaws out to the staff. I am saying this as I have had my fair share of issues with bike hire shops myself. It can become draining on your soul when you know you are not even vaguely responsible for the damages in question. These situations really happen and are incredibly frustrating. Save yourself the extra grey hair and take precautions is my advice.
If you are a truly avid mountain biker, you could always purchase one. Remember that the roads out here can be very unforgiving and you will need a certain amount of experience in both riding and maintaining your bike for this to be a viable option. As long as your calves are happy with this deal, getting your own bike could open endless doors to exploration up for you.
This is an adventure activity that is relatively popular with domestic tourists, and it is not one that is particularly difficult to be able to find yourself enrolling in. You can find multiple companies offering packages into the clouds from Manali to Darjeeling. The views are invariably breath-taking, and you won’t need any experience at all to take a tandem ride.
One consideration I would advise you to make it before you go and jump off the side of a cliff is to have a quick glance at what other tourists are saying about the company you are about to put your precious life in the hands-off. It is easy enough to do, and you may be very thankful later. God bless the internet. Because it is relatively popular, it has made the prices quite competitive. So this is one extreme sport that does not need to break your bank balance.
Extreme tourism destinations in India.
This section is for those people who are just not happy if they are not risking their souls for enjoyment. It is for those of us who like it not merely a little dangerous but really dangerous. I have a short rundown on what I consider the three most adrenalin packed past times you could partake in if that is what turns your crank.
The Chadar Ice Trek.
I know I wasn’t going to talk about trekking in this post and its just this one I promise. The Chader ice trek is the very epitome of Adventure travel in India. It is a trek with a difference as you come here when the conditions are at their coldest and most extreme. It has to be like that as this little walk follows the frozen Zanskar river, so you will want the ice to be as thick as possible.
Temperatures will almost certainly be below twenty degrees centigrade every night and even though it is like that accidents are frequent due to thin ice. Not to mention the slips, trips and falls that come with playing around on the ice.
It is a walk that will definitely get you in tune with your core belief if there is a god or not and good luck getting insured for it. It originally served as a way to get local people in and out of the valley during the toughest of times. So why on earth would you subject yourself to such risks?
Well, there are two reasons as far as I can tell. One, it is incredibly beautiful, and it is certainly something not many people would ever see other than on television. The second reason is a lot more personal. Are you tough enough to pit your endurance and your wits against the elements like that?
If you do opt for this little gem, make sure you are going through a good company, and you preferably have a local person with you who can read the ice properly. You wouldn’t want to put your trust in the hands of someone who has no experience on this walk trust me. The BBC does an incredible documentary series called human planet that covers one man taking his kids to school using this method. If you want a good insight into what it is like then check it out.
The only way to access the starting point of this trek will be to fly in and out of Leh as the passes will be frozen solid on every approach. You can organise everything from there. You will need food, guides, porters and water for the whole trip. It is expensive, but if you insist this is for you, then you will have to suck it up. Life does not get much more adventurous than this.
River rafting Tuting to Pasighat.
River rafting is something that you can do all over the country. However, it tends to be along gentle rivers, and it is unlikely to be for long. A day trip trying your hand at this exhilarating pastime will not cost you very much, and the risks are relatively minimal.
This trip, on the other hand, is an epic one hundred and eighty kilometres through some very untamed waters. Not only will it take you days to reach your final destination if something was to go wrong its a pretty safe bet that no one will be coming to help. You will spend the vast portion of your time cold and wet, so make sure you have a serious passion for river rafting before you consider this.
So why would anyone want to give this a whirl? Well, the river follows a truly remote course and the state it is in is crazy beautiful. Arunachal Pradesh is both culturally rich and biologically diverse. The whole area is only just opening up to the outside world.
I have not done this boat ride myself, but I am considering it. Mostly because I love the northeast of India so much, and it is the only practical way to see the state from this perspective. It is not the adrenalin that gets me. It is the challenge that comes with it. It would be seriously unique although quite costly as very few companies offer a service like that. The good news there is you won’t need to shop around very much at all as there are hardly any your operators for that one.
Suppose you feel like a less challenging river trip then consider other destinations such as Rishikesh in Uttarakhand or The Nubra valley in Ladakh. The rafting outfits here are much more sophisticated and would also take you through some stunning scenery.
If you would like to turn it down a little more, you can try your hand at kayaking on one of India’s many lakes or rivers. It could be on the sleepy canals of Kerala’s tropical backwaters. Or on a stunning lake in the foothills of the Himalayas. It is easy to while away the hours while taking in the raw natural beauty of India.
Mountaineering in India.
Mountains are not something India is short on, and some are simply enormous. There are certain peaks you can climb with the right permits and guides. There are quite a few hot spots to arrange all of this such as Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim. In truth, there are few places in the world where it is easier to get on your crampons than India. It is Extreme though, as there would be no rescue at these altitudes. Helicopters can’t fly that high, and I believe that statement alone puts it all into perspective.
However, I can confirm that reaching the summit of a mountain is one of the most awe-inspiring achievements you can possibly have in your life. The sense of accomplishment, coupled with the stunning views, negates all of the pain it took for you to get there.
There are a whole lot of good companies around the bigger climbing hubs that are reliable. Again, double-check online for anything you are not sure of. Let me know of your adventures if you have chosen to do this or in the process of making it happen. I want my website to be as interactive as humanly possible, and I am genuinely interested.
Adventure tours in India.
Suppose you decide that independent travel is not for you or you dont have the time choose a company that will give you the best value for your needs. Operators are two a penny, but good ones are hard to find. I would say it is imperative to use a trusted company, and I know that is bad as it takes away business from the smaller players. What’s more, these smaller companies might be better and provide a more personalized service, but is it worth the risk of wasting your hard-earned cash?
I have taken a couple of tours with Intrepid travel in my earlier years on the road, and I found them to be rather good, to be honest. In case you where wondering no, I have no affiliation to the company what so ever and no, I did not name my website after them. I just thought that the word intrepid sums up the messages I try to convey as I love to appeal to the more adventures travellers among us.
They have a user-friendly website, and they definitely work. Even if you don’t take my suggestions, I would still shop around for the best deals as it can be a matter of thousands of pound for the same trip. Expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better it means expensive! I can’t overstate it enough that it is prudent to ask the public what they thought before you go ahead and spend thousands of pounds on a dud company.
In summary of my post Adventure travel in India.
I think it is plain to see India can provide even the hardiest of thrill-seekers the chance to fill their boots. I tried to cover as many options as possible without sounding like I am just going on and on.
The list is far from exhaustive as I have only just covered the most popular past times. I didn’t even cover more remote pastimes such as Spelunking, and that is a whole lot of fun to say fast, isn’t it? I do hope you have all found my post to be of value and as inclusive as humanly possible. Perhaps I have been able to provide a little inspiration as to what your perfect trip to incredible India will look like.
Here marks the end of my post, and as you all know, that means I will probably leave by saying if you have any questions then don’t hesitate to leave your comments in the box provided. Or will I? Yes, I will as I have the burning urge to help others plan the dream trip to this whimsical country. So until the next time my fellow intrepid travellers, happy trails.
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