Holidays are anything but lazy for adventure seekers. Meet a few who put themselves through an endurance test and came back with winsome smiles
Don’t ask me the dreaded question if I’ll do this again,” says architect Vedasri Siddamsetty. She has just returned from her trek to the Himalayas and cannot get the sights of snow-capped mountain peaks off her memory or the conversation. Vedasri and her brother were part of a 16-member group that took up a 12-day trek. “When I signed up, I thought it would be good to go with a large group to interact with people of different nationalities and more practically, there will be someone to help if you fall sick,” she laughs. While most of her team members stopped at the Everest base camp, she and three others trekked till Kala Pathar from where they caught a glimpse of Mt. Everest. Vedasri and her friends are an example of groups combining travel and adventure in summer.
Siddharth Shetty was pondering over two options — scuba diving in Goa and paragliding in Kamshet, Pune. He chose the latter. Photographer Arvind Chenji and his wife Shipra, along with their friends, returned recently from a bicycling trip covering Palampur, Dharamsala, Mcleodganj, Dalhousie, Khajjiar and Pathankot. Each one of them has returned with memory sticks full of photographs and memories that could last a lifetime. “The idea of travelling to this zone took shape last year when one of our friends in the Army was posted there. It’s a different thing that we didn’t meet our friend but cycled all around,” says Shipra. The group members dismantled their cycles and carried them in specially-ordered sports bags. “We had to pay Rs.1000 per head for the sports gear at the airport but it was worth it,” says Shipra. From Delhi, the group took a bus via Chandigarh to Palampur, cycled around the tea estates at Chandpur before heading to Dharamsala. The one-week trip saw the group biking along river banks, taking in the crisp air and tackling tough weather conditions. “It was biting chill when we cycled downhill to Patankot; we couldn’t even hear each other speak,” says Shipra. The trip has whetted the group’s appetite for more biking trips. “We are wondering where to travel next,” beams Shipra.
Siddharth’s four-day paragliding holiday was a mix of learning and fun. “The participants were divided into batches and assigned instructors. On the first day, we were asked to run down a slope with the glider on us. If you run too fast, you’d be in the air for a second or two. On day two, we were asked to do the same from a slightly higher slope and the third day, a steeper slope so that we’d be in air longer. We’d have morning and evening sessions of 3-4 hours each,” he says. Siddharth says the final day of paragliding was an experience of a lifetime. “I was in the air for five minutes. I wouldn’t have thought it wise to jump off a cliff and expect the equipment to do the rest. But that’s how it was,” he says.
Vedasri’s preparations for the trek in the Himalayas began three months ago. “The more fit you are, the better you can trek. We were asked to walk at least 5km each day, swim or do some form of cardio. Our group had people in the age group of 18 to 66. Among us was a ballerina trained in yoga and she aced the trek. We would trek from dawn and plan to reach the next destination by 2.30-3 p.m. to avoid the snow in the afternoon,” she recalls. Great food was a boon. Tibetian momos and noodles, apart from rice and dal, were the staples. The sore point of the trip? “Horrible washrooms,” she laughs.
Vedasri: It is cheaper to rent trekking equipment from Kathmandu.
Siddharth: Start paragliding with a beginners’ course and later track the flying hours if you want to take the training to the next level with recognised institutes.
Shipra: Plan in advance to get affordable flight tickets and accommodation. Chalk out a travel plan and be clear about the destinations, weather conditions and the time one would spend biking.