If having some of the world’s largest mountain ranges isn’t enough to draw adventure travelers to India, the opportunities for camel rides, nature treks, and a range of watersports should seal the deal. From the northern Himalayas to the beaches of Goa, you can easily fulfill whatever your daredevil heart is yearning for (or partake in more relaxed and serene adventures throughout the diverse landscapes). Switch from snow to desert to sea with ease; fit in all your thrills while exploring this affordable, vibrant country.
With the variety of climates, terrains, and cultures throughout the entire country, it’s no surprise that India has been growing as a destination for adventure travel abroad. To make the most of your adventure in India and hit all the best spots, you’ll want to nama-STAY as long as possible!
The Himalayan Region is heavily-toured amongst adventurers due to the endless amount of possible activities. Snowcapped mountain peaks, icy river walks, and flower-infused valleys offer mountaineering and trekking opportunities for beginner to advanced adventure seekers. Fancy a long holiday? Battle the 22-day Chadar Ice Trek in Ladakh or the 11-day Himachal Mountain Trail Biking race in Himachal Pradesh and gain some bragging rights along the way. For a shorter adventure in India, cross the Alpine Desert via camel back or ski down the highest of slopes(for the way up, take a helicopter lift!).
After spending a few days in the capital city of New Delhi, whirling around the streets in auto rickshaws and witnessing the splendor of managed chaos, your desert adventure awaits just west in Rajasthan. Safari during sunrise in Jaipur and try one of the newest adventure activities in India, hot air ballooning, during sunset in Pushkar. Pack your camera and head to Ranthambore National Park, one of the best spots to view tigers in their natural jungle habitat. Don’t leave before getting cultured at the 10th-century fort featuring traditional Indian temples.
If you are a water enthusiast, Goa is what you’ve been dreaming of. Stretching along the western coast, Goa is a popular destination for those looking for a sandy and festive experience. From more common options such as parasailing, white water rafting, and snorkeling, to newer water sports such as kite surfing, you will have an action-packed trip.
Adventure Travel in India
With the amount of available adventure activities in India, an organized program can help you maximize your time and resources while getting the most out of your experience.
India is a vast country, and every corner has something new and exciting. Trekking and hiking are extremely popular amongst both locals and travelers; hiking the trails will allow you to get up close and personal with rare wildlife, local villages, and archeological sites. Experience the spirituality of India by trekking to some of the most treasured temples and partake in a ceremony. March is one of the best times to go hiking in India, as you’ll have clear skies and will avoid the humid monsoon months.
If you are looking for a dual skill-building and adventure-taking opportunity, photography programs are calling your name. The colors of India’s clothing, nature, and shrines are enough to keep the shutters flowing. Diversity at its finest. Live amongst locals and create a photo diary of students, monks, cows, and health workers, then shift your focus to the country’s unique holidays (such as Holi’s kaleidoscope of colors). With photography, you will have a unique way of both putting yourself in India and bringing the stories of India out to the world.
Another dual purpose choice comes in eco-travel opportunities. Experience nature in its purest form while educating yourself and others on conservation. Work on research projects with tigers and elephants and learn how these creatures are struggling to survive. The best time for animal adventures in India is during the hot and dry months between April and June, when many animals are moving more looking for water (probably to wash down their naan bread).
Costs & Affordability
India is one of the most affordable countries for travel and living. Unless you’re solely staying in big cities and luxury hotels, traveling in comfort will not break the bank. Flight costs will definitely be your biggest expense, followed by the latest popular adventure activities, like hot air ballooning or any private excursions.
The exchange rate is in your favor while traveling in India. You could spend just $1 or $2 on a standard lunch or up to $10 on a nicer dinner. Stay away from international chains when buying toiletries or clothes and you will spend less than half the amount you would back home.
Participating in an organized adventure travel program in India will help cover a lot of costs. By paying upfront (prices vary depending on program and length!), you won’t have to worry housing, meals, in-country transportation, trainings, and pre-planned excursions for the duration of your trip.
Accommodation & Visas
For a lot of people, daily living in India can be much different than their home country. Consistent traffic and animal noises from the streets, the concept of bargaining in markets, and knowing where you can get clean drinking water can either stress or thrill you.
With an organized adventure travel program in India, the transition to Indian norms will typically be a bit easier. Trip organizers will ensure you have or know how to get drinking water, they will most likely provide accommodations with Western toilets, and they will give you insider tips for getting around like a local. During excursions and activities around India, these amenities aren’t always guaranteed, so be prepared to learn how to use a bucket-shower and a squat-toilet (they really are better and more environmentally friendly!); always carry some toliet paper around with you in case you need it. Embrace the differences and get excited the chance to learn something new!
Every foreigner entering India will need to have a visa. If your planned itinerary will mainly be recreational, a tourist visa is all you’ll need, and you can print it out for free online. Even though adventure-seekers can also be risk-seekers, this is not the time to risk being late with your visa! You’ll want to mail in your application and passport at least three to four weeks before your departure to avoid any last-minute mishaps. If you will be joining an organized adventure program in India, your coordinator will be able to give you more information on the type of visa you will need. Contact your local for specific requirements.
Benefits & Challenges
India is huge, and with the low cost of life, you could visit many different areas during your adventure. While safety is always a concern when traveling abroad (especially for women in India), you will find that by simply staying cautious and being smart with your decisions you can enjoy exploring all that surrounds you. Also keep in mind that locals are extremely welcoming and are always willing to offer suggestions or go out of their way to help you.
The pace of life in India may be much slower than what you are used to in your home country. This can be frustrating if you enjoy a sense of urgency or if you like your coffee shops open at 7 a.m. (try 9 a.m. instead). Instead of looking at your watch, wondering when you will arrive, take the time to enjoy a tea break during the six hour bus ride. India offers a beautiful opportunity to let go of rigid schedules and simply live life day-by-day (no wonder yoga originated here!).
The best part traveling in India is that a simple hike may introduce you to a family’s coffee farm where you will taste all colors of coffee beans, or that the kids down the street may teach you a brand new ball game. Even when you don’t have your climbing or ski boots on, you’ll still find an adventure around every corner in India. Dive in and enjoy!