As World Challenge’s Product Team Manager, I’m fortunate enough to travel to some of our destinations from time to time. My visits are an opportunity to see how things are on the ground, spend some time with our Ground Team and test out a few of our travellers’ experiences. A few weeks ago, this found me donning my backpack and taking flight towards Delhi, India.
Though we’ve had groups travelling in India for many years, we haven’t been back since 2019, and we’re really excited to be starting up again very soon. This was my first trip to India, and I wasn’t quite sure what I was letting myself in for. I touched down in Delhi, navigated the backstreets of the old quarter, sampling traditional parathas on the way, ventured into the mountains of Uttarakhand to stand on my first Himalayan summit and met community partners in rural parts of Rajasthan, before soaking up the sunrise at the Taj Mahal. It’s safe to say that India blew me away, surpassed my expectations, and left me eager for more.
Here are my top tips for an amazing Indian adventure:
- The trekking is some of the best you’ll find. The lesser-known state of Uttarakhand up in north-eastern India is home to many Himalayan peaks, offering breath-taking views as rewards to challenging climbs. There’s a deep spiritual connection to the mountains too, so the cultural immersion amplifies the experience even more.
2. It’s all about Chai. As someone who thrives on a morning coffee, I wasn’t sure I could be converted to the Indian tea-drinking tradition. Chai punctuates everything you do in India, and I quickly found myself favouring the sweet, spicy, milky tea over a weak instant coffee. A visit to a tea house makes for a great taste of local life too.
3. Overnight trains are much less intimidating than the internet makes them sound. I had a great trip from Delhi to Haridwar – it’s an interesting experience, and the railways provide vital links to remote areas, allowing you to travel like a local to some interesting areas, and check something off the unique experiences list as you go.
4. Appreciate the cows. As a huge part of Hindu culture, cows can be found almost everywhere you go, from the middle of Delhi to the winding mountain roads of the remote mountainous regions. The animals are well respected and become a point of intrigue and affection the more you see them. Challenge yourself and your team to get a photo of a cow in the most unexpected spot you can!
5. You’ll travel far, but you won’t get bored on the way. India is a huge country, and this means that accessing lots of the most exciting hotspots will involve some big travel days. Sitting on a bus for several hours might not seem like the best way to spend an adventure day, but you’re almost certain to see lots of things you didn’t expect on the way. Some of my favourite roadside spots included camels, elephants, and temples, not to mention the colourful trucks and tuk-tuks or rickshaws, as well as mind blowing views.
6. You’ll probably eat curry three times a day, but you’ll be OK with that. The local offerings will always be far superior in both taste and quality to any more western dishes on the menu, and you’ll quickly become keen to lap up a juicy aloo paratha (potato bread) with a side of curry for breakfast over a traditional boiled egg and toast. With such a variety of dishes on offer, it’s hard to get bored.
Written by Liz Tuck