Old to New — Happy, Happy!!

I love this time of year.  You look back and see a time that was great or not so, and either way it is done.  You look ahead and it is a hope, a dream, a whisper of mystery and excitement, something just waiting to happen. A whole New Year. I am so glad life is divided into these chapters, it makes them easy to open and close.

I hope all my family and friends have had a great year to look back upon and are looking forward to a wonderful new one.

This last year, for me, has been such unadulterated fun. I have met delightful people, old friends and new. I have travelled to some amazing parts of the world and seen so much that I always wanted to – and the best bit is the journey is not complete yet. Still so much to see and do. Much like this photograph of the Zambesi river, such an amazing tumble of adventure and serenity, pretty much like all the rivers and much like life itself. Ooops!  too much ‘heavy’ already!!

The last week of this year has been a housefull of family: children, sisters, neices and grandnephews. Utterly lovely!!!

I am looking forward to another wonderful year, and I certainly hope everyone I know is doing the same – here’s wishing us all the wonder that we want.

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A Short Ganga Expedition

For those with not enough time, but still a desire for adventure. An introduction to the charm of going self contained down a beautiful river,  the isolation of camping out on secluded beaches accessible only by water.

Day by Day Itinerary:

Day 01: Arrive at Dehra Dun : Jolly Grant Airport by 11.30, pick up and drive to Shivpuri, the Aaranya Jungle camp. Check into rooms, Lunch, and change into rafting gear, depart for an Initiation section raft run from Marine Drive to Shivpuri. Return to Aaranya for tea. You will be issued dry bags and will need to separate and pack your personal gear for the next two nights expedition trip. Make sure that you pack only rafting wear ( quick drying tights/shorts and t shirts/ warm track suits and jacket for the evenings.
Overnight at Aaranya Jungle Camp
Day 02: Drive to Devprayag and commence rafting.

After breakfast we drive an approximate 2 hours to Devprayag, to begin your raft expedition. A fun day on the water that floats you into camp at the beautiful beach at Byas Ghat. Pitch your tents and set up camp.
Dinner and overnight in expedition tents on twin share basis

Day 03 : Raft from Beas Ghat to Byasi

Today is a relaxed day on the water, gets you some good paddling practice and lots of body surfing water time. The Ganga flows through a small gorge which is only reachable by raft.
The action starts from Kaudiyala, where you start by hitting Daniel’s Dip and end the day on a high by going through the Wall.
We will camp soon after the Wall.
Dinner and overnight in expedition tents on twin share basis

Day 04 : Raft from Byasi to NIM Beach

Start rafting after breakfast and hit a series of rapids like the Cash Flow, Black Money, Three Blind Mice, Cross Fire and Return to Sender.
We arrive in time for an early lunch at the MHE Beach camp before getting back on the river for the final section of whitewater, and exciting 2 hour stretch hitting rapids like the Golf Course and the Roller Coaster with a break for cliff jumping.
Return to the Beach Camp in Shivpuri for a campfire, dinner and a final night in the great outdoors before heading back to the city.
Dinner and overnight at Aaranyya Jungle Lodge on twin share basis

Day 05(6th Dec) : Breakfast followed by departure. You will be dropped back at the Jolly Grant airport to connect with your return flight.

Cost:Rs.17500.00 per person + 2.575% service tax

COSTS INCLUDE: Accommodation on twin share as per the itinerary. All meals from arrival in camp till departure. All rafting activities including guides, life jackets, helmets, wetsuits if required. All road transport from pick up at Dehra Dun airport to drop at the Dehra Dun Airport.

COSTS EXCLUDE: Insurance. Medical (Other than Basic first Aid). Accommodation in Delhi. Alcoholic beverages. Personal or additional expenses caused by delays/alterations due to natural causes: weather, road, river conditions or sickness.
BOOKING : Full advance to confirm the trip.

CANCELLATION CHARGES
Within 6 weeks of trip date: 25% of full amount
Within 4 weeks of trip date: 50% of full amount
Within a week of trip date: Full amount

LADAKH, a drive across the high mountains


LEH MANALI DRIVE.
GRADE :DEMANDING                                                      

SEASON: JULY THROUGH SEPTEMBER

This spectacular road through the highest mountains in the world is open for only 3 months in the year – from mid July through September – crossing the Pir Panjal, the Greater Himalaya and the Zanskar ranges, it reaches a maximum elevation of 5304m. Calling this a road, maybe conferring more than it’s due, that it is a drivable route: a grand testament of human endeavor is the truth. The 476 km journey over four high passes and some of the most awe inspiring terrain in the world starts from Manali, along the green valley of the Beas river, up the steep switchbacks of the Rohtang Pass at 3978m. The Rohtang forms the divide between the verdant Kullu valley and the stark expanse of rock and glacier, in the rain shadow of the Pir Panjal range.

From Rohtang, the road descends to the Chandra River and follows it to Tandi where the Chandra meets the Bhaga River, little villages with groves of poplar, willow, and potato fields irrigated by glacial streams dot the landscape. The road continues past Keylong (district headquarters of Lahaul) and the last town till Leh, 360 kms beyond. Following the Bhaga River through Darcha and past the pastures of Zingzingbar, starts the ascent to the Baralacha Pass (4892m). “The Pass with the crossroads on its summit” – this grand pass straddles the meeting point of gigantic ranges, offering passage down four different routes, along the valleys of the Chandra and Bhaga rivers and into Ladakh and Spiti.
A rough stretch of road descends to the pastures of Sarchu 107 kms from Keylong. Now begin the wide-open spaces, dotted with the amazing textures and colours of craggy mountain faces, the gash of the Tsarap river, with it’s mud sculpted sides. The awesome world of nature’s timelessness dwarfing Man.

Once across the Tsarap river starts the grueling ascent to LachulangLa Pass (5059m), 54 kms from Sarchu. The amazing shapes and colours as you reach the top compensate the hard drive, descend along a little stream to Pang. Beyond Pang, the road crosses the Sumskyal, a deep gash marking the edge of the great Kyangshuthang plains – a massive plateau at an altitude of 4500m. Across the vast expanses of this plain are chances to see the Kyang (Tibetan wild ass), the Nabu (Blue Sheep), lots of marmot, as well as the Pashmina sheep of the Shepherds of Rupshu.
We take an interesting diversion at this point, short of the Tanglangla Pass – at 5325m, the highest point on the highway. 136 kms short of Leh a dirt road east leads to the Tso Kar Lake. We camp at this lake and see the breeding Brahmini ducks, Grebes and Black necked cranes. From Tso Kar we take a little used dirt road past hot springs and meadows where yak herders and goat herds have their summer pastures and taking a circuit north meet the highway in the Indus valley, and onto Leh and the comforts of hotels and hot baths.

(Along the regular route, once across the plain, at Dibring, the road starts climbing across the snowy reaches of the Tanglangla and descends into more inhabited Ladakh, meeting the Indus river at Upshi. Passing the Monastries of Hemis, Thikse and Shey, The road reaches the Bazaar of Leh.)

Leh is located in the Indus river valley at a crossroads of the old trading routes from Kashgar, Tibet, and Kashmir. Its importance as a trading town slowed down with the partition of British India, and ended with the closure of the border in 1962 during the Sino-Indian war. Since the 1999 war with Pakistan, and the consequent development of the Manali-Leh highway, it has become a bustling tourist town, the sights to visit are the Palace and the monasteries, and a wander through the bazaar is essential.

We can do two trips out of Leh: to the Nubra Valley and the Pangong tso lake.

For Nubra we cross the highest motorable pass at Khardungla (elevation 5359 m or 17,582 feet). Khardong La is historically important as it lies on the major caravan route from Leh to Kashgar in Chinese Central Asia. About 10,000 horses and camels used to take the route annually, and a small population of Bactrian camels can still be seen at Hundar, in the area north of the pass. It is an area that has only recently opened to the world. Still only about 45 kms of the valley are accessible. It is a tiny bit of paradise, orchards and wild flowers, the bactrian camels, wide meandering river. A discovery, leading to the highest battleground of the world – the Siachin glacier.

Pangong tso lake: situated at a height of about 4,350 m (14,270 ft). It is 134 km (83 mi) long and extends from India to Tibet. Pangong Tso can be reached in a five-hour drive from Leh, most of it on a rough and dramatic mountain road. The road traverses the Changla pass, where army sentries and a small teahouse greet visitors. The lake is spectacular, we spend the night in a camp on the banks, you get to see breeding Bar-headed geese and Brahmini ducks. If you are lucky enough to be there on a moonlit night and brave enough to weather the cold, there is magic there too, as there is all over these mountains.

Get in touch if you would like to do one of these drives, there are some fixed departures and i can tailor a trip too if you like.