Sitting in a café in some exotic location, sipping on the house brew, mulling over some obscure thought, is passé. Travel for a purpose. Test your limit. Build new social groups. Challenge yourself. And if you are looking for more than a few good pictures for social media, then read further. You need to set your GPS for uncharted mountain peaks, unexplored jungles and untouched beaches. We suggest these five adventure holidays that will change the way you look at the world.
By Aatir Ansari
Discover ancient civilisation: Jordan
Jordan is, perhaps, one of the most underrated destinations in the world, in spite of its stunning landscapes, ancient civilisation remains, spectacular architecture and a friendly local population. It suffers primarily because of where it is located on the world map. But, anyone who has travelled there will have positive things to say about this peaceful country. With its variety of landscape, wealth of historical sites and welcoming climate (except hot summer months), Jordan is a great place for a multi-activity holiday.
A week-long adventure would begin with a visit to the well-preserved Roman ruins at Jerash, just north of the capital city of Amman, before traversing the Jordan Valley, before you can take a dip in the Dead Sea. Next up is a full day of canyoning in Wadi Mukheries, dropping through a sandstone gorge through small waterfalls and hidden caves, with a final 20-metre abseil.
It can be followed up by a day of cycling on the country roads. Explore farming villages on the way before you stop for lunch at a local’s house in Mukawir. A hike will take you to the rose-red city of Petra. It’s almost like entering through the city’s back door, on to Wadi Rum, where a camel ride awaits. Scramble up to the Burdah Bridge, a natural rock arch high above the desert sands.
Best time to visit: September to April
Carry sunscreen lotions! Lots of it!
How to get there: A number of international airlines including Emirates, Etihad and Jet Airways have flights to Amman, Jordan. There are no direct flights from Delhi to Amman.
Climb the Roof of Africa: Mount Kilimanjaro
At 5,895 metre, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest point on the African continent. This trek is the ultimate experience for adventure enthusiasts who want to spend time together walking above the clouds taking in some stunning sunsets and landscape. Not to forget trekking through a dense mountain forest, moors and an alpine desert, a challenge worth taking on, well suited for a couple. The local guides and staff are warm, friendly and helpful.
It is essential that you do your research about which company to trek with on the mountain. It’s best to avoid this region during the wet months (March, April and November). After a gruelling trek, you could either head to the luxury lodges in the National Parks such as Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Tarangine to spot wildlife or fly out to soak in some sun on the island of Zanzibar, well known for its nightlife.
Best time to visit: December to March, June to October
Choose at least a 10-day itinerary to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. It will give you enough time to acclimatise. Always use a company that offers private group tours.
How to get there: Fly to Kilimanjaro International Airport, which serves the town of Arusha and Moshi. Connecting flights can be found through Addis Ababa, Nairobi and Doha. The National Parks are three hours from Arusha and operators can pick you up from the airport.
Responsible Travel: Cleaning drive in Leh and Stok Kangri & Golep Kangri climb
Even though it is situated at a height of 3,500 metre, Ladakh is one of the most popular destinations in India. With its breathtaking Himalayan beauty, high passes and picturesque monasteries, it is on the list of every traveller. The region attracts almost two lakh tourists on average, which appears to be increasing at a rate of 30 per cent every year. Ladakh has the highest concentration of 6,000 metre peaks in the world, with treks of all levels of difficulty available to travellers getting away from the noise of big cities.
However, most tourists usually stick to the Leh-Nubra Valley- Pangong circuit (popularised by the film 3 Idiots) even though the region has so much to offer.
But, larger influx of tourists also means the trails are adversely affected, becoming a victim of consumerism. With no proper garbage disposal system in place, the region is more littered with every season. Team Up for Change is a platform to highlight these issues and is also a call to action. You can join the Twin Peaks group as they clean up an area in Leh and then trek to the Stok Kangri basecamp, picking up garbage along the way, on trails and at camp sites. Feel the adrenaline rush as you conclude your journey with an attempt at summiting the Golep Kangri (5,900 metre) or Stok Kangri (6,150 metre), the highest walking peak in India. Making that climb while giving back to the region is a rewarding feeling, might I add.
Best time to visit: August-September
Do two months of cardiovascular exercises with lots of cardio and core exercises before you plan this trip. Playing squash, badminton, football and swimming also helps.
How to get there: Direct flights from Delhi and Bombay are available to Leh.
Glamping in the Himalayas: Lamayuru to Chilling Trek
Mention trekking to a family member or a friend who has not ventured outdoors much and you can instantly see the concern in their eyes. What will you eat? Where will you stay? Will you be ok? However, most people think that it is a budget travel industry where basic amenities even, forget luxuries, are hard to come by, especially in remote spots.
But, do not worry. There are a lot of options. Choose a moderate trek if you have not done one of these before, and moreover so you can have basic luxuries while on your trek. Your guides will assist you as you hike through the moonland of Ladakh, with its monasteries and quaint villages along its ancient trade routes. The trek will include a personal chef and kitchen team, a lounge tent with magazines and games, a mess tent and a portable toilet. Client tents are tall enough for you to stand in and give you sufficient room and comfort when camping above 4,000 metres. Be warned as you still have to walk at least 4-5 hours a day, so a good level of fitness will naturally help. And after the adventurous days on the mountains, you can spend a little time at one of the five-star hotels in Leh to wash the fatigue away.
Best time to visit: July to September
Work on your fitness before the holiday. It will help you enjoy the trek.
How to get there: Leh is well connected with flights from Delhi and Mumbai.
Scale new heights: Everest Base Camp Trek, Nepal
On the 14-day Everest Base Camp Trek, you will get to experience astounding mountain views, a glimpse at the lives of famous mountaineers and Sherpas, enter Sagarmatha National Park, a world heritage site and tour high altitude Buddhist monasteries. Trekking to Everest Base Camp on the Nepal side also provides us with an opportunity to embark on a fraction of the historic journey that Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay took in 1953.
Guided by the Sherpas, you will trek to the base camp of the world’s tallest mountain, Everest! This adventurous trek package also includes climbing Kala Pathhar (5,643 metre) to admire the panoramic views of Everest and other Himalayan giants. Nothing beats the thrill and sense of accomplishment that grips hikers on seeing the power and grace of the mighty mountain up close. The 14-day Everest Base Camp Trek itinerary is designed for trekkers who are in good health with an average level of physical fitness. The large distance covered between daily itineraries, the steady gain of altitude and separate rest days ensures that we are properly acclimatised to fully enjoy our trek to the Everest base camp.
Best time to visit: March to May, October to December
Being one of the most walked trail on the planet, it gets crowded during the months of March-April-October. Trek in crispy cold winter days of December or take the route through Gokyo region.
How to get there: There are a number of flights to Kathmandu from all major cities.
Passionate about mountains and outdoors, nothing beats the rugged terrain and the clear air for Aatir Ansari. An alumnus of Welham Boys’ School, Dehradun and a former sports industry professional, he has climbed Mt. Stok Kangri, twice, hiked 100km in the Wadis of Jordan, summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, explored the rainforests and peaks of Meghalaya and Nagaland. He is the founder of Ultimate Frontier Outlands, a boutique adventure travel company.