Tag Archives: adventure travel

When getting down becomes the toughest part : Gangabal to Naranag

When it comes to last day of a trek, we often expect it to be a relaxed day, more so when it is all down hill. But don’t think so when you are on Kashmir Great Lakes trek. To my surprise, last day trek from Gangabal to Naranag actually turned out to be one of the toughest day of the trek.

Also read: Thajiwas is a perfect acclimatisation for Great Lakes Trek

Nandkhol Lake in the backdrop of Harmukh peak

Weather has been perfect accept for the first night rain. It has been bright and sunny. Well, it was known before hand that last day has to be steep descent. But excitement of finishing the trek did overcome the challenge. Moreover we didn’t expect it to be that tricky affair.

Time to pack up for the journey.

Also read: Kashmir Great Lakes- First day trek to Nichnai

Looking back at the tents, which were our shelter for the night.

This is one of the trickiest descent I had faced in all these years of trekking. I will still not call it ‘the’ trickiest as I have kept that tag for trek from Chandaniaghat to Sutol in Uttarakhand during the Nanda Devi Rajjat 2014. That still sends shivers down my spine. Will talk about it some time later.

Stream that comes from Gangabal lake and goes down to Sind river

Also read: Romancing the rains at Nichnai Pass

Route along the stream

Gangabal is at an altitude of almost 11,500 ft and Naranag is at 7,450 ft. Thus it is a descent of around 4,000 ft. But out of this a steep descent of 3,000 ft has to be done in just last 4 kms of the trek on muddy, boulder filled route in the midst of thick of pines. It takes a toll on toes and knees to hold the body weight and keep hold of the slippery path.

Saying goodbye to the last of the higher camps of the trek

Initially, trek doesn’t look so intimidating. Its a beautiful river crossing, with a very relaxed and gradual walk along the stream. Horses were packed with luggage and ready to move on path different from us, right through the valley.

Horses crossing the stream, but they were supposed to take a different route from us

After walking along the stream for a while, we leave it aside and move upto the ridge, on the other side of the Harmukh peak.

Stream goes down to the valley

Also read: Paradise regained- As beautiful as it can be

There were few boulders on the way, but they were easy to negotiate.

Climbing up the ridge through boulders

It was a beautiful view on the other side of the ridge. There were signs of reaching close to the civilisation, as we could see shepherds, flocks of sheep and some women from the nearby villages.

On to the ridge, you can see hundreds of sheep spread in the meadows.

Also read: A tale of seven lakes- Gadsar to Satsar

Its a beautiful view out there. Treeline at the far end, beautifully crafted green hills on one side, stream on another and majestic Harmukh peak on the back.

A panoramic view of the right side of the trek

The route from Gangabal to Naranag is one of the busiest on the whole trek. Despite trek being tough, there are many adventure lovers going to Gangabal from Naranag for short trips, camping or just fishing fun. Actually, on this trek, this particular stretch has been in use for ages due to its mythological importance as well as natural beauty.

Also read: Satsar to Gangabal- Photo Journey to the climax

At the far end of the hill, just where the tree line starts, you can see a Forest Hut. This place is also ideal for camping, if while coming from Naranag one has got no more courage or energy left to go upto the Gangabal lake.

Treeline and a forest hut

Even when we reach the tree line, we actually don’t just enter the forest straightaway. Still, for a fairly good distance we have to walk just along the fringe onto its right. Interestingly, we don’t loose much of altitude even till here.

Curious looks of the cow give enough indications of the village close by

We keep going up and down the trek, in and out of the pine forest for some distance. By this time, we will be encountering locals in a fairly good number. Some gujar villages are also there to be seen.

Entering into the pine forest.

Almost after covering six kilometres we get a restaurant and it gives a welcome break with some kahwa, tea, biscuits and maggi.

Also read: Kashmir we know less about – Naranag

Ever changing vista of the route

The real descent lies in last four kilometres, that means after covering two-third of the distance. Its a muddy, rocky, slippery, trail right amidst the thick of the pine. It has to be covered very carefully. At time you start feeling for the ones going up to the Gangabal through that route. These last four kilometres almost seem endless.

First view of the Naranag

Even when, we have first sight of the Naranag, it is no relief, as there is long distance still to cover. But you can always relax yourself by talking to the locals, enjoying the beauty, clicking the photographs and make the last day as enjoyable as possible. Its always good to take firm steps, even if you walk slowly. You can still reach the road head at Naranag by 3 pm.

Also have a look at the video of the highlights of the day’s trek on my YouTube channel by clicking on the thumbnail below-

Have you trekked from Gangabal to Naranag? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

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Himalayan Rides : Chandratal to Keylong

Having completed the Chandratal mission, I had to be back to Leh route. So, it had to be the same route back till Gramphoo. But in place like Himalayas, riding on a same route gives you different feeling every time. Chandratal indeed was an accomplishment, a sort of dream coming true. But still, Leh was my destiny.

Chaos at the top! Read: Milestones to Ladakh- Manali to Gramphoo

SO here we are, riding back to Gramphoo through same treacherous road alongside river Chandra. Whatever the road condition may be, this beauty around will never let you feel tired.

Driving towards Spiti! Read: Himalayan Rides-Gramphoo to Chatru

And what a feeling of satisfaction this is when you see a public transport, a Himachal Roadways Bus on such a terrible road at this altitude.

Treacherous roads! Read: Himalayan Rides-Chatru to Batal

And then you always have many travellers to your company… but no, we are the travellers, they are the inhabitants of this tough terrain…

 Reaching Gramphoo almost feels like returning to civilisation.You suddenly encounter traffic going towards the Manali or Keylong side.

Good samaritans! Read: Himalayan Rides-Batal of Chacha Chacha Dhaba

Himachal roadways bus at Gramphoo going from Keylong to Manali via Rohtang pass.

Gramphoo to Keylong is a straight forward route. But owing to widening or repair of roads, it has gone tough at many places, sort of dangerous at times.

Some relief from the tough roads

There are numerous landslide zones on the whole route and, at many places either roads are being widening or repaired to prevent landslides. This is a vicious circle, as widening causes further adverse impact on hills and the ecosystem. Well, for riders and drivers, they are immediate challenge as well.

Over the moon! Read: Himalayan Rides-Batal to Chandratal

Clouds were chasing me as soon as I had left Batal. They finally caught me up by the time I reached Khoksar. But since my final destination for the day, Keylong was not far away, hence instead of driving in rains, I decided to take a tea and maggi break.


Roads are largely good after Khoksar till Keylong, except for some rough patches.

Moon Lake! Read: Mesmerising & Captivating Chandratal Lake

Chandra River

Its a steady climb till Keylong which is at an altitude of just about 10K feet. A perfect acclimatisation for real ride after Keylong.

Give me some sunshine!

Before Keylong there are two another beautiful stopovers- one at Sissu which is now soon to get a water park close to Chandra River on the roadside.

And then there is Tandi, which is actually confluence of Chandra and Bhaga rivers which convert into Chandrabhaga or Chenab river and flow towards Kashmir. Tandi is 7 kilometres before Keylong and is also the last filling station before Leh. That’s the place where all vehicles will fill their tanks to reach Leh securely.

But overall an enjoyable ride, nevertheless. So lets go on this virtual ride to Keylong enroute Leh. You can watch the video of this ride from Chandratal to Keylong on my YouTube channel by clicking on the link below-

Quick details:

  • Chandratal to Gramphoo: 65 kms, Time taken 4 hours 40 minutes.
  • Gramphoo to Khoksar: 5 Kms
  • Khoksar ro Keylong: 47 kms, Time taken just about 2 hours.
  • Total distance covered: 117 kms.

We will now move to more challenging and more beautiful ride ahead. Keep tuned in!!

Please feel free to share the post, but not so free to copy and paste!!



A thrill named Hexa

A new dawn!
A new dawn!

It is certainly going to create a sensation. It has got the looks and it has also got the attitude. It is going to interest a lot many thrill seekers. Tata Motors can expect to have rolled down a winner in Hexa. Well, still time for a detailed experience (some might call it a review), but till then here is a video to have a feel of this fantastic machine on wheels.

Sure to get some limelight
Sure to get some limelight

Watch the video carefully and listen to what expert from TATA says about this beast. It is feature loaded with many firsts in the segment. Watch how it uses the traction control to steer out the vehicle from pits as deep as 20 inches; how its sturdy body balances itself on a surface tilt of 23 degrees (unbelievable); and also how it manoeuvres itself to clear a surface as challenging as melting ice. It also comes with a unique ‘hill descend control’ feature to top those creepy steep hilly slopes. It has got many firsts in moods and modes- lot more to come and till then enjoy this video.

Disclaimer: The publication of this post just incidentally coincides with exit of Cyrus Mistry as chairman of TATA Sons. Nothing intentional.

Tiger population in India rises from 1,400 to 2,226 in 7 years

20-01-2015_Tigers68530 per cent rise in Tiger population since 2010

Tiger population in the country is estimated to be around 2,226, a rise of over 30 per cent since the last count in 2010, according to the latest census report. The total number of tigers were estimated to be around 1,706 in 2010. Tiger population had dipped to an alarming 1,411 in 2006 but has improved since then. Termed as a “success story”, this phenomenon notes that while the tiger population is falling in the world, it is rising in India.

20-01-2015_Tigers685-2Unique photos of 80 percent of tigers

Most of the tigers in the world are presently in India. 70 per cent of the world’s tigers are now in India. India has the world’s best managed tiger reserves. India also has unique photographs of 80 per cent of tigers for which around 9,735 cameras were being used. Nowhere in the world, so many cameras have been used for such an exercise. The report said that the total estimated population of tigers was somewhere around 1,945-2491 (2,226) as per 2014 report while as per the 2010 report, it was between 1,520-1909.

20-01-2015_Tigers685-3Double sampling methodology used for estimation

The third round of country level tiger assessment using the refined methodology of doubling sampling using camera traps has recorded an increase in tiger population. In 2006, the mid value of such a (once in four years) snap shot assessment using the same methodology was 1,411, in 2010 it was 1706 and now in 2014, it stands at 2,226. This is an increase of almost 30.5 per cent since the last estimate. Officials said that a total of 3,78,118 sq km of forest area in 18 tiger states were surveyed with a total of 1,540 unique tiger photo captures. Tiger population has increased in several states like Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerela.

20-01-2015_Tigers685-4Improvement in score of 43 tiger reserves

The third round of independent management effectiveness evaluation of tiger reserves has shown an overall improvement in the score of 43 tiger reserves from 65 per cent in 2010-11 to 69 per cent in 2014. An economic valuation of six tiger reserves done for the first time has provided quantitative and qualitative estimates of benefits accruing from tiger reserves which include ecological, economic, social and cultural services. A compendium on the profile of tiger reserves was also released besides a report on corridors and a book on tiger dynamics. Several tiger reserves were also recognised for excelling in select thematic areas.

Active Holiday brings Intrepid Travel’s adventure trips to India

Manali-Leh1Indian travellers are beginning to travel differently as many are no longer content to sightsee their way through numerous destinations in record speed. Evolved Indian travellers want to experience destinations in a deeper way and are embracing new travel styles including the outdoors. Although in nascent stages, outbound travel from India is set to slowly join the adventure travel revolution; that according to a study conducted by Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), has grown by 65% annually since 2009.

In response to this movement, the Active Holiday Company – India’s first outbound adventure touring company, is pleased to announce its partnership with adventure travel giant Intrepid Travel. As a result of this partnership, Indian travellers seeking more from their holidays will now benefit from an unparalleled choice of fun, reliable and responsible adventure holidays.

There is tremendous value to be derived from this partnership for both companies – Intrepid offers discerning Indians a new touring style at very competitive prices, while Active Holiday Company is a specialist organization with a deep understanding of the needs of such travellers and travel companies who want to serve this segment said Gauri Jayaram, Founder of Active Holiday Company and a cycling, trekking and outdoor travel enthusiast with over 20 years experience in the travel industry.

TT Adventurer's courseIntrepid Travel was founded by two Australians who wanted to share their passion for adventure travel with the world. In addition to delivering excellent service to its travelers, Intrepid gives back in any way possible to support local businesses, making travel more ethical and eco-friendly. As one of the largest tour operators in this space, the company now services over 100,000 travellers a year on close to 1000 trips all over the planet. With prices starting from just US$240 for a 2-day trip its average trip price is US$1,400 per person.

TrekkingWe are delighted to be increasing our focus in India, a market with much untapped potential for soft adventure travel’ said Jacquie Burnside, General Manager of Emerging Markets for Intrepid Travel, sharing her enthusiasm on the opportunities the Indian market offers. ‘We look forward to sharing our grassroots travel experiences with Indians looking to get off the beaten path and we are excited to be partnering with the Active Holiday Company whose signature Small Group Big Fun trips are the perfect fit for our travel style and philosophy’ she concluded.

The Active Holiday Company is India’s first travel company specializing in creating international vacations that are based on activities like cycling, trekking, marathon races and wildlife adventures, to name a few. The company is committed to delivering eco-friendly, fun holidays that offer unforgettable experiences while supporting local communities. The company is also the official representative of the Virgin Money London Marathon and the Bank of America Chicago Marathon – two of the six World Major Marathons.

Thrill and forgotten romance of airship flight…

Passengers getting in the ship
Passengers getting in the ship

“In an age in which flying has become one of the most unromantic of travel experiences, the resumption of Zeppelin flights has proved an unqualified success” (Telegraph Travel). I can compare it in its beauty to an experience of a sea plane flight in Maldives.  Indeed Zeppelin flights seem most unbelievable compared to modern jets and dreamliners, but they are superbly romantic and exciting. And taking a zeppelin flight at a place where first zeppelin flight took place more than hundred years ago can be thrilling. Also worth considering is the fact that there are not too many places in the world offering this adventurous experience.

View from the airship
View from the airship

Zeppelin is a type of rigid airship pioneered by the German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin in the early 20th century.The Zeppelin was invented in Friedrichshafen in South-west Germany, and we can also take a flight from this lakeside town aboard one of the world’s most romantic forms of transport. Airship rides of various lengths and routes are offered to the general public around the area of the Bodensee (Lake Constance), and occasionally at other locations in Germany. The Zeppelin NT is a 246-foot long semi-rigid airship which can accommodate two pilots and up to 12 passengers in a gondola equipped with large sightseeing windows.  The airship is inflated with safe, non-flammable helium and usually cruises at an altitude of about 1,000 feet/300 meters, at a speed of approximately 35-40 mph, or 60-70 km/h.

Panoramic windows for a big view
Panoramic windows for a big view

With panoramic windows, spacious seats and rooms to walk about, this is a comfy way to fly. Float 1000 feet above the ground and above the shimmering blue blue of Lake Constance, see the snow capped Alps to the south and lush vineyards and orchards to the north; look down on four countries, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Then tour the Zeppelin Museum to learn about this milestone in aviation history.

airship floating over lake constance
airship floating over lake Constance

The Zeppelin flights from Friedrichshafen last between 40 and 90 minutes – riding over beautiful Lake Constance with its shorelines and islands and to the south the mountains of Switzerland. Its often claimed that passengers who travel on the giant silvery Zeppelins of the past enjoy a degree of luxury and elegance unmatched by any other form of aviation.  One can open the windows, speak without effort, enjoy watching the world go by 1,000 ft below and tell ourselves what it must have been like when far bigger airships were having their heyday… Airship flying is total joy from beginning to end and in between.

Actually, vacation experiences in SouthWest Germany are as varied as the landscapes between the Rhine, the Neckar and the Danube Rivers. There is plenty of fun for the whole family: Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, and the kids, of course. And almost everyone in Germany speaks English – even the children!

Head for some thrilling adventure to 19 Degree North

Aamby Valley cityOnce, adventure travel was the exclusive domain of daring young backpackers, this on longer is applicable. This season you can head for an adventure escapade filled with endorphin-boosting and some eye-opening extreme activities at Independent India’ s first planned hill city Aamby Valley City.

19 Degree North at Aamby Valley Cityis an ideal adventure getawaywith diverse range of fun activities, the adventure park promises an exhilarating experiences to enjoy the first-of-its-kind rides for the whole family! 19 Degree North, the epitome of adventure in Maharashtra is the place for all adventure and adrenaline junkies. If you are one of those brazen person who wants to get down and dirty, who revels in the mud and fears no twist or turns; who simply holds the handles of the bike and let’s go, 19 Degree is a must visit.At 19 degrees, they have just the thing for you: ATV biking. Saddle yourself and explore the wild woodlands of Sahayadri with the park’s Forest trail ATV biking package. The wolf packs of your friends and you can explore the uncharted path, atop a Gypsy, where experienced Marshalls take you on an exhilarating ride across the picturesque landscape at India’s largest track. How about we bring to life one of your many favorite video games? Instead of shooting at the enemy on your screen you can do it in real life in a game of paint ball contest. 19 Degree is a destination for a non-stop action and if you make it alive out of this war of paint ball raged amongst your friends, then challenge them for a race of remote control cars on the tracks.

jungle safariHow about getting harnessed in the centre of a giant plastic ball and giving in to the forces of gravity? If that sounds exhilarating then you must remember the word Zorbing for that is the name given to this sport is offered at 19 degrees. If you are looking for something out of the box then you must try the zip-line at 19 Degree.  A zip-line gives you a 360 degree view of the world, so go topsy-turvy and fall head over heels without lamentations. For those of you who like Casear believe in “vidi veni vici” Rappelling a military assault technique, the thing for you. The experience at the Sahayadri Mountains would be incomplete without rock climbing on the formidable mountains, and uneven terrain. Brave the rains with the sports bikes and make your way across the challenging landscape. Take in this breathtaking scenery while you trek in the wilderness and listen to the rhythmic music of the nature. Intriguing rides like ATV bikes, Zorbing, Paintball Shooting, Rock Climbing of upto 35 feet, Rappelling, Jungle Safari, Remote Control Car Racing and many more exciting activities at 19 Degree North are full of adrenaline and exhilarating for adventure enthusiasts.

TrekkingFor adventure enthusiasts looking for a wild time, Aamby Valley City offers a unique camping experience far removed from civilization. Amidst nature you can splurge on delectable barbeque snacks and a scrumptious meal along with delightful beverages. Wilderness Picnics can be extended to an overnight stayin the lap of nature. You can also choose to trek to the location and pitch your own tents along with a make shift Kitchen, toilets and dining areas. Fancy being a chef! Try cooking for yourself or get our chefs to make you a lavish spread in midst of nature.

You can also enjoy a grand bonfire and an entertainment night under the open starlit sky. When the night grows on you keep a vigil on your young and old folks. There’s a wide choice of survival activities during the day. For the not so adventurous, it could be just a night out with friends and family in the lap of nature, with dinner and drinks thrown in.

ATV ride at 19 Degree NorthA special treat in the monsoons is the Jungle safari tailored to help clients enjoy the gifts of the rainy season and plug in your ears the smooth flowing sound of music on waters. Explore the uncharted path, atop a Gypsy, where experienced Marshalls take you on an exhilarating ride across the picturesque Sahayadri Mountains. Speeding over winding paths, wading through flowing streams, feeling the wind in your hair and rain on your face, this is an experience that literally leaves no bone unturned. This joyride is just the beginning of a unique adventure that takes you to a point where cascading waterfalls invite you to scale its lofty heights.

So throw caution to the winds, leave all your fears, shed all your inhibitions and live like there is no tomorrow. At Aamby Valley City you don’t toe the edge of the cliff you jump off it without a second thought and spread your wings. This summer, Aamby Valley City is the apt place for the family armed with enthusiasm for adventure; extreme adventure activities are sure to satisfy your appetite for thrill.