Taking on the Indian Outdoors

Bouldering
Photographer: Jyothy Karat

Words: Aurelia Fernandes

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell were definitely on to something when they sang “Ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no valley low enough, ain’t no river wide enough…” Even if you aren’t into 1960s R&B, you can’t keep your inner adrenaline junkie from getting out there and taking on the world. This summer, LPMI urges you to do just that. From conquering the land to taking on the deep blue sea, our adventure experts are here to help you take that leap of faith… literally!

MEET THE MASTERS
Adventure sports isn’t a cakewalk. From equipment to location and operators, it’s paramount to consider various factors before you get out there and do it all. Meet our experts, the adventurous ones who’ve tried, tested and even run operations, ensuring that you make the most of your time in the great outdoors.

Johann Daniels, Founder and director,Jack & Hill Adventures
Jyothy Karat, Filmmaker and photojournalist
Jehan Driver, Founder and managing director, Quest Expeditions

 Trekking: Johann Daniels picks his top 5  treks across India

1. THE GRAND GARBETT TREK, MAHARASHTRA
The most beautiful trek during the monsoons is the Grand Garbett Trek. Starting off from Bhivpuri, on the banks of the Dhom Lake, this trek takes you past freshwater streams and rustic villages, ending in the hill station of Matheran. Get ready to walk through the clouds.
Operator: JACK & HILL ADVENTURES

2. KHEERGANGA, HIMACHAL PRADESH
The much-talked-about Kheerganga is popular among urban hippies in India and across the world. The hike offers a scenic route passing through villages and allows you to experience the raw power the Parvati River leaves in its wake. The trail is camouflaged in tall pine trees and, for most of the hike, you will barely feel the sun. At the summit, there’s a spring water pool, and restaurants with gorgeous views of the mountains.
Operator: None needed; this trek is accessible to everyone – start from Kasol

3. MARKHA VALLEY TREK, LADAKH, JAMMU & KASHMIR
The journey through the Markha Valley is a classic trek across two high mountain passes, traversing kaleidoscopic gorges, ancient settlements and monasteries. It offers trekkers the opportunity to stay in authentic Ladakhi homestays, earning it the moniker “Ladakh’s teahouse trek”. The majestic monasteries and beautifully-designed homes are as much an attraction as the vast, remote landscape in this corner of Ladakh. There are several worthwhile side trips veering off the main trail, taking travellers to some spectacular viewpoints. One such trail leads you to the base camp of Kang Yatze (6,400m), allowing you to catch a glimpse of the multi-coloured confluence of the Markha and Zanskar Rivers.
Operator: UNPLUGGED LIFE

4. DZUKOU VALLEY, NAGALAND
Between the borders of Manipur and Nagaland, at 2,452m above sea level, lies the secret kingdom of the North East – Dzukou Valley. It spreads out like a lush green carpet, dotted with rivulets, herbs, flowers and the rare Dzukou lily. The six-hour trek in the valley is an ideal getaway for nature and adventure enthusiasts as it offers breathtaking misty and exotic views. With the quaint villages of Jakhama and Viswema serving as bases for the trek, your experience of being one with nature starts the moment you arrive in Nagaland.
Operator: CHALOHOPPO

5. SANJAY GANDHI NATIONAL PARK, MAHARASHTRA
Mother Nature has blessed Mumbai well. Within the heart of the city lies the 104sqkm Sanjay Gandhi National Park, one of the largest national parks within a metropolis. The park is home to wildlife and is known to have the highest density of leopards in the world. To grab a quick respite from the chaos of city life, go on a trek within the park, which leads to the highest point at 305m, from where the Tulsi, Vihar and Powai lakes can be seen. This trail is an enriching experience for any wildlife enthusiast.
Operator: JACK & HILL ADVENTURES

Bouldering: Jyothy Karat picks 3 great spots for bouldering in India

1. BADAMI, KARNATAKA
Home to some of the country’s toughest climbing routes, Badami is the perfect place to boulder, even if you are a beginner. Why? Because the formations here are made of sandstone, which is easy on the hands, allowing you to climb for longer periods of time. The red cliffs are reminiscent of Uluru in Australia, especially at sunrise and sunset. The rock formations also provide shade on some routes, ensuring that you don’t tire easily, making Badami an ideal place to boulder even in summer.
Operator: JYOTI RAJ, aka Monkey Man

2. HAMPI, KARNATAKA
Located roughly three hours away from Badami is another great spot for bouldering that doesn’t need an introduction – Hampi. Suitable for novices and pros alike, Hampi has no shortage of rock formations, allowing climbers to really test their skills. However, unlike Badami, the walls here are granite and not sandstone, which tends to chafe your fingers rather easily. Climbers usually tend to tape their fingers while scaling granite walls; do check with your operator before you take on the boulders here.
Operator: SPORTCLIMBING INDIA

3. CHITRADURGA, KARNATAKA
If you’re looking for a location with stunning views and ruins like Hampi, easy walls to scale like Badami and relatively unexplored like Manali, pack your bags and make your way to Chitradurga. This little hidden gem is quickly gaining popularity, as it has all the makings of an ideal bouldering spot. The highlight here is the granite wall formations that let you climb for as long as your fingers can handle the friction and chafing. In fact, Karnataka as a whole should be on your list for bouldering, because it’s also home to Varlakonda, an up-and-coming bouldering destination. GETHNAA, formed by the government of Karnataka, has centres at Varlakonda, Ramnagar and Badami.
Operator: GETHNAA

Kite Surfing: Jehan Driver’s top 4 spots to go kite surfing

1. RAMESWARAM ISLAND, TAMIL NADU
With strong trade winds for up to nine months each year, Rameswaram promises a lengthy kitesurfing season. There are two wind seasons, each for four to five months or more. The south-west winds start around April and last till September with winds blowing in the 18 to 25 knots range, while the north wind blows between December and March, ranging 15 to 20 knots. A popular kitesurfing spot on this island is the Gulf of Mannar, which is also home to great marine biodiversity.
Operator: QUEST ACADEMY

2. MANAPAD, TAMIL NADU
Manapad is famous for its unique coastline formed by lava accumulation on the beach over hundreds of years. It offers wind speeds between 20 to 30 knots that blow over two magnificent lagoons; shallow and flat water is perfect if you’re interested in boosting tricks. It also has a good point break around the peninsula if you want to catch waves. Although there is wind almost through the year, the best season is between December and March.
Operator: VILLA DE JOSEPH

3. DWARKA, GUJARAT
Located 144km from the town of Jamnagar, Shivrajpur (Blue Bell) Beach is a beautiful cove made for kitesurfing. It’s almost a hidden gem of sorts, as not many kitesurfers know about it, but it has some good conditions for the sport. There are no schools or operators in Dwarka, but, if you are trained and have your own equipment, Blue Bell Beach is made for you.
Operator: None

4. MORJIM BEACH, GOA
From adventure seekers to hippies, Goa is a favourite among travellers. Home to many beautiful beaches, Goa’s biggest drawback is that said beaches are overrun by tourists. Thankfully, there are still a few quiet spots that allow you to enjoy Goa’s beauty. North Goa is home to a few peaceful spots that are great for kitesurfing. Mondego Bay at Morjim beach is great for land-kiting as well.
Operator: VAAYU VISION

To know so much more about Indian adventure sports, check out LPMI’s April 2019 issue. Pick up a copy from your newsstand or click to subscribe via Zinio or Magzter.