From daring endeavours in the wild to soft escapades well within humanity’s reach, there’s something in India for adventurers of all ages and experiences. So take your pick from the following range of safaris, road trips, tribal tours and watery splashes.
Diving in Lakshadweep
The pristine coral islands of Lakshadweep have some of the best dive sites in the country. Kadmat Island is one of the most popular haunts for divers – with dive sites at North Cave, the Wall, Jack Point, Shark Alley, the Potato Patch, Cross Currents and Sting Ray City. Yet another option for divers is the island of Bangaram – here you have the choice of taking a plunge at Manta Point, Life, Grand Canyon and the sunken reef at Perumal Par. The Thundi Beach in Minicoy offers world-class shipwreck dives as shallow as 8m into the sea. If diving is too hardcore for you, you can always settle for the smaller thrills of snorkelling, or plain swimming in the ultramarine waters of placid lagoons. Alternatively, hop on to a daylong boat tour of coral reefs and explore the waters at leisure.
Manali–Leh Road Trip
If you haven’t done this, you aren’t an adventurer at heart. The long drive from Manali to Leh – almost 500 km – packs in the best mountain scenery possible. A precariously narrow road across five dizzying mountain passes puts your driving skills (along with patience and determination) to test. Weather can be treacherous, adding drama and challenge to this two-day drive. The end result of the road trip, however, justifies all the hype around it. And that sweet ending comes in the form of the stunning lunar valley of Leh.
Jaisalmer Camel Safari
Golden sand dunes, a fort, romantic pavilions, haunting music, a thousand folk tales… the picturesque town of Jaisalmer is all this and much more. And nothing quite brings out its ‘desert’ appeal like a camel safari. It’s not just a ride to the dunes on camelback. The experience includes camping in the desert at night. The camel drivers turn both cook and entertainers by night, belting out one folk song after another. The food is rustic, the flavours simple. The day itinerary of a camel safari always includes a long stop for lunch – which is also the hottest part of the day. At resting points, the camels are unsaddled and hobbled; they’ll often have a roll in the sand before limping away to browse on nearby shrubs, while the camel drivers brew tea or prepare food. All these are eminently photo-worthy episodes, so don’t forget to keep the shutter tripping!
Bastar Tribal Tours
No heights, no waves, no rockfaces, no offroading… A trip to the heartland of India’s tribal belt is an adventure in its own league. Jagdalpur, the capital of the Bastar region, is an ideal base for exploring tribal Chhattisgarh. The best place to start is a haat (village market) on a Sunday. This is where you will see adivasis buying, selling and bartering their wares alongside town travellers. For some more vignettes of adivasi life, move outside Jagdalpur with a knowledgeable local guide.
Kaziranga Forest Safari
Home to around 1800 rhinos, Kaziranga boasts the world’s highest population of the endangered creature. That apart, Kaziranga is known to house the highest density of tigers among all designated parks and sanctuaries around the world. And the list goes on: elephants (believed to number around 2000), swamp deer, water buffaloes, leopards and several species of resident and migratory birds. Encounters with the rhino and the elephant is more than certain in Kaziranga, and the tiger – though as elusive as in any other park – makes sudden cameo appearance out of the wilderness. Due to its high rate of spotting animals, the park scores very well with children.
This article is an excerpt from our 50 Great Adventures. Go on, grab a copy NOW!