Thursday, 22 January 2015

Trekking and Outdoors: Why is Safety a Critical Factor

Trekking and outdoors is a fast growing interest in the country and India with its diverse geographical spread is on the top five Go-To destinations in the world. Hence, numerous trek locations and offbeat outdoor vacation destinations are attracting a lot of travellers from not only India, but from around the world. 

Wilderness travel is as exotic and attracting, as it is challenging. Though trekking is a hit in a lot of locations in the country, The Himalayas are the unbeaten king in the category, because of the magical experience and the dream-like terrain. Every season, The Himalayas witness huge number of trekkers and hikers – both, first timers as well as experienced adventurers.

While the Himalayas are attracting more and more trek enthusiasts every season, the safety, however, still remains an issue. The high altitudes, tough & remote terrains and extreme & unpredictable weather conditions – everything is a potential problem that is known to halt treks, leaving people stranded or trapped. Hence, Safety is probably the biggest concern in the current outdoor adventure travel scene.

Recently, the Chadar Trek of Ladakh was put on a hold by Leh Govt because of a potential natural mishap. The various groups of trekkers that were already starting this popular trek, were hence, stranded. Last season, the Valley of Flowers trek was in news because of a broken bridge that closed down commute. 

Himalayan treks are often faced with landslides blocking the roads, snow fall covering ever surface, strong winds making it impossible to camp outside and the simplest to deal with – rains. All this is what a travellers’ nightmares are made of, not to mention, the travel company’s too. To combat all the above, this is what is required:

  1. An extremely well thought of trek plan. The trek has to be well thought through, including the trail, the time of travel and the group strength. It is best to travel in small groups because it ensures more safety and attention. 
  2. Expertise, experience and leadership quality of the guides. To lead the trekkers expertly under unpredictable weather conditions, to have the kind of experience that helps you foresee the nature conditions, and to act quickly and cleverly in times of need. 
  3. A strong back up for safe stay, that has to be a part of the main plan. The backup planning need to count for every possible What-If situation, with the safety of trekkers in mind.

At GIO Adventures, safety of our trek groups is our first concern. When you go outdoors for an offbeat or adventure activity such a trekking and camping, along with your physical well being, your mental state is equally important. One tiny detail, like a smelly sleeping bag can make you feel unsafe or uncared for. In India, especially for first timers, mental and emotional fitness is often overlooked, which is a pity. A trip should never make you want to change your mind about outdoors and head back home instead. This is something we at GIO Adventures treat as a priority. 

We believe that a trek is successful only when every possible crisis condition is thought about, tended to and prepared for. When you are in the Himalayas, anything less that fully prepared is not acceptable, and we follow it like our Bible. From small trek groups, minimum of two professionally trained mountain guides per group, and a strong backup from our Himalayan Eco Lodges – GIO Adventures is the safest outdoor offbeat and adventure firm in India. And take it from us – Safety is the MOST crucial factor in outdoors.

At GIO Adventures we pride ourselves on well trained, safety savvy and an extremely experienced team of guides and experts for all our activities. GIO Adventures has a team over a hundred highly experienced and motivated Outdoor Specialists. All our guides are professionally trained and the team is led by the legendary Mohan Singh Gunjiyal. Mohan Singh is a Padam Shree awardee and a mountaineer par excellence and is GIO Adventures’ Chief Instructor.

When it comes to safe practices, small groups come on top. Operating in small groups of never more than 12 people at a time, is our mantra. Each group has a minimum of 2 guides who have proven their capability over the years – from leading treks efficiently in the wilderness, to even carrying trekkers on their backs in cases of emergencies. The commitment and compassion are the driving force in the team, that has been our pride since 1999. Safety is crucial and critical when it comes to outdoors.

The nature is wonderful and exhilarating, and there is immense joy in exploring new places, but remember – safety first! Adventure is out there, go explore. But start after making sure it is as safe as it is thrilling. In short, what we want to say is, please put safety first when planning a trek.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Himalayan Adventure: Contest

The mighty Himalayas are India's pride, the world's spiritual destination and a magical treasure of spell-binding beauty that captivates the hearts of millions. Himalayas have been the favorite travel destination for people around the world for centuries, because of the unmatched beauty and the everlasting magic.

Himalayas are a dream destinations for those seeking peace and tranquility. It is one the bucket lists of thousands around the world looking to get closer to nature, to experience the famous Himalayan Magic. But there's more - The Himalayas are also the world's most popular adventure site for treks, hikes, camping and SO much more.

We at GIO Adventures, want to begin 2015 with a lot of Himalayan adventure and magic, and we want you to be a part of it!

So, tell us about your Himalayan Dream, and stand a chance to win a relaxing holiday amidst the breathtaking view of Himalayan Peaks, along with custom made goodies and vouchers.

Here's what you have to do.
Contest rules:

  • Blog about your Himalayan Dream. It can be anything, from an adventurous snow trek you want to undertake, or a bonfire outside a camp next to a enchanting Himalayan lake that you dream off, or a morning where you wake up to the stunning view of a rugged Himalayan Peak from your window. Anything at all! 
  • Blog about it in a minimum of 400 words
  • You can take inspiration from our treks and trips from our website here, and our ecological lodges and camps here and link your post to your dream trek/trip. Or you can plan a completely new dream holiday! It's your dream, just make it magical.
  • Your post must include the following line: This post is a part of the Himalayan Dream contest by GIO Adventures: India's Premier Adventure & Outdoors Travel Specialists since 1999.
  • Submit your entry to us through a comment on this post.
That's it.

If you like your Himalayan Dream, you might just get it for real! Yes. GIO Adventures team will pick up five blog posts that we like the most. Let's talk about the prizes, shall we?


1st prize: 1 winner will get a 3 day/2 night stay at one of our lodges in Sursingdhar (Tehri Lake), Viraatkhai (Chakrata), Kawalag (Shimla Hills) or Jayalgarh (on the banks of river Alaknanda).

  • The last date to avail this prize by the winner will be 30th June 2015, post which this offer will not be valid or entertained. 
  • No cash or or any other benefit would be offered in lieu of this prize/package
  • The winner can choose one destination from the above mentioned choices. However, the dates will be subject to availability at the time. 
  • This package will only include the stay and food
  • This package does NOT any of the activities that particular lodge/camp may offer (like hike, rafting, rock & rope activities etc). If the winner wishes to try out any of these activities, they will be charged separately.
  • This package does NOT include transport of any kind/
2nd Prize: 2 people will win a Flipkart Voucher of Rs.500 + a custom made GIO Adventures Fleece jacket each, for your future Himalayan adventures.

3rd Prize: 2 people will get a GIO Adventures Fleece Jacket each.

Last date of submission is midnight 2nd Feb 2015. (edit: last date is extended from 31st Jan till 2nd Feb on popular demand)

What are you waiting for? Start already!
Adventure is out there.

Monday, 5 January 2015

The Ultimate Himalayan Adventure Calendar 2015

Adventure is quickly overtaking ‘Facebook-ing’ as an hobby and we’re euphoric! If you are the kind that likes their travels and trips to thrill and give you an adrenalin rush, here is the ultimate Himalayan Adventure Calendar for 2015.  From trekking and mountaineering to rafting, cliff jumping, bridge slithering, body surfing, abseiling & rope course – all combined with natural backdrops and conditions, these destinations have just about anything an adventure traveller could ask for. Keep the list handy for 2015, so that your months are never dull. See what tempts you the most, and make the most of this year. Because, adventure as they say, is out there! 

  1. January: Chadar Trek of Ladakh. Every travel magazine and every adventure seeker is talking about it this season. The Chadar Trek on the frozen river Zanskar in Ladakh is an adventure that’s bringing international tourism to India, and rightly so. The landscape is beyond beautiful, and the Chadar Trek which comes in two varieties, a 9 day extensive trek or a 5 day Chadar experience, is an adventure seekers paradise. Ladakh is famed for its high passes, brackish water lakes, a stunning lunar landscape, a Buddhist culture warped in time, deep blue endless skies, and a landscape that is larger than life. So in January 2015, go walk on a frozen river bed, live in caves along the way and fight the twin difficulties of cold and altitude to conquer all!

  2. February: Skiing in Auli. Auli is a favorite snow-destination of the country, because of its easy access from Delhi, and the pristine white sheet of snow in the winters that comes second to nothing. The slopes of Auli are perched high at an average altitude of 3000 mts (10000 ft) and face the high & majestic mountain giants like Nanda Devi, Kamet, Dronagiri, Trishul & Hathigodi peaks giving it a spectacular feel, making it the best Skiing Destination in India. It has a 4 kms long cable car (Asia's longest) and along with it has chair lifts and ski lifts for skiers. Ski here once, and come back every year because that’s how addictive it is. 
  3. March: Trek to Nagtibba. This is an extremely popular weekend trek that is just 3 day long but offers amazing camping experience along with the terrain. This trek starts and ends at Dehradun, which in turn is very well connected with other parts of the country. So close, yet one can reach an altitude of more than 3000 mts and hike in an absolutely remote region with almost no habitation. So, come here for a weekend and start your adventure. 
  4. April: Har ki Dun Trek. If you are a 'Lord of the Rings' fan, and are in awe of the landscape in it, then Har ki Dun will blow your mind with the  smorgasbord it has to offer. There are endless lush meadows, wild alpine flower gardens, scraggy mountains, towering snow-capped peaks, glaciers and gushing streams & waterfalls that seem to spring from nowhere. This 7 day trek is a week of adventure that will bring you closer to the healing and fulfilling nature. What’s not to love?
  5. May: Trek to Indrahar Pass. Come experienced trekkers, come newbie, come all! This Himalayan trek has something unique to offer to everyone. Set in the beautiful and unique Kangra valley, it is filled to the brim with hiking pleasures. On this trail one gets fabulous views of the Dhauladhar range. The trek starts from Dharamsala/McLeodganj, has magical camping locations, and the hike towards the 4420m high Indrahar pass is a thing every adventure lover dreams of. And oh, there are chances you’ll find snow here even in May and June. Perfect, isn't it?
  6. June: Trek  to Roopkund – the mystery lake of Himalayas. For many years, Roopkund, the beautiful and mysterious lake has held the attention of trekkers not only because of the enchanting landscape surrounding it but also because of the presence of several bones and skeletons that can be seen in its waters. The mystery has now been solved, obviously, but go there to witness it and you’ll see the appeal. The Roopkund trail is a classic case of experiencing both, the beauty and the beast. Only here the beast is equally if not more enchanting.
  7. July: Spiti. Do we need to say more? The landscape of this valley is stark and spectacular and challenges one’s idea of beauty at all stages. Spiti has captured the hearts of travellers and adventurers alike for years, and the region is flooding with breathtaking beauty and too-good-to-be-true landscapes. Spiti valley is often compared to its famous neighbor, Ladakh, in terms of beauty. Only, Spiti is still untouched by the impact of tourism and is hence more thrilling. This valley is open only for a few months every year as the high passes leading to it get blocked by snowfall. Along the trip, as you drive and hike through the wonderful vistas of this valley you come across small settlements with ancient monasteries, chortens, mane walls, fluttering flags, prayer wheels & Buddhist monks, leaving an image which is sure to last a lifetime. Half of 2015 is already over, what are you waiting for?
  8. August: Valley of Flowers. Ah, here comes the MOST famous adventure destination of all times – and if have already been here, we know you’re now nodding in agreement. Nestled in the Himalayan Valley, this is a World Heritage Site long acknowledged by renowned mountaineers, botanists, and in literature. From no-fuss travellers to adventure seekers Valley of Flowers is visited by people from all over the world. The valley is open only for a couple of months, generally, so you have to plan ahead and book in advance. This is also famous for its celebrity spotting but that’s not the point, the point is – millions of flowers spreading far and wide till the eye can see. The bloom starts immediately after the melting of snow. Different flowers bloom in different months but the peak blooming period is from mid July to mid August. Almost 300 species of wild flowers bloom here unhindered by mankind. But the valley has much more than just flowers: waterfalls, glaciers, towering mountains, big rivers and quaint villages. We clearly can’t shut up about it, so you better better visit it once and see it for yourself. Go book!
  9. September:  Hampta Pass. Wake me up when September ends, really? Not anymore because - Hampta is going to take your breath away. This is another Himalayan Trek for when the humidity is still hurting you in the cities and the winters seem far away, and you want an adventure to break free of the routine. So take 4 days off your city life, and head to the Lahaul-Spiti region for some serious fun. Enjoy the views - On one side is the absolutely lush green valleys of Kullu & Manali and on the other is the semi-arid region of the Lahaul valley. Hike, trek or camp, everything is possible here. All this is obviously dependent on weather conditions, but getting held up in a lodge that overlooks Himalayan peaks, is exactly the kind of unplanned adventure we crave for, and you? Not that it’s going to happen very often. September is magical in the Himalayas!
  10.  October:  White Water Rafting. Rafting is a rage these days because of the adventure-high it gives. White water, rapids, rafts and a lot of energy : perfect recipe for adventure. In 2015, plan a rafting trip to not just the well known and often crowded Haridwar-Rishikesh route, but also to the amazing rapids of Yamuna, Alaknanda, Upper Alaknanda, Tons, Kali, Spiti, Pin, Zanskar & Bhramaputra river in India. Our favourite is the White Water Fiesta! But if you are new to the world of wicked rapids, try a short trip of 2 or 3 days, and if you consider yourself the tamer of white waters, definitely go for the Rafting Expedition. If you are a fun family, the rafting with deluxe camping should be your pick. Co anything, but don’t miss the thrill of wading your rafts through the young rivers and feisty rapids. You’ve got to Raft in October!
  11. November:  Chopta. It has a beautiful Himalayan lake, minimal sights of civilization and a background story that goes back to Mahabharata. Interesting, right? This is a tempting region to explore in November, because Chopta is famous as the Mini-Switzerland of India because of its undulating green meadows – think Yash Chopra movies! The breath taking view of the majestic Himalayan peaks is an added bonus. Camping here is a totally enjoyable experience. One can also trek up to the Tungnath temple, which at an altitude of 3680m is the highest Shiva shrine in the world. Or just stay at a comfortable place in Kund where you can reflect on life, looking over the Mandakini river or the Kedar Peak, and trek high altitudes the next day.  Options, option.
  12. December - What? December 2015 already! It is now time for the most talked about White Chirstmas and New Year Bonanza. Spend Christmas amidst the pristine snow, and ring in the New Year surrounded with white Himalayas. There’s a lot you can do – from skiing to snow trekking, from multi-sport vacations to just chilling around the campfire, and from some kickass Snow Adventures to relaxing stays in the quiet mountains. Take your pick.
So you see, the Himalayas have a lot of adventure potential, along with the famous magic and majestic beauty. Have you made up your mind yet? So go, take off on the ultimate escapade in 2015. Take an adventure, live it up!