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Top 5 Unconventional Monsoon Escapes in India

Jul 07, 2013

Add a special spark to your vacation with these unique getaways.

Take an Active Vacation to Wayanad

This is the destination for the entire family, including grandma and grandpa. Pradeep Murthy and Roby Paul Kurien, the founders of MuddyBoots, believe everyone should enjoy the outdoors — regardless of age or fitness. Based on your stamina, they plan custom hiking and bike tours in Wayanad, Kerala. Spot a few elephants, cheetals and bisons as you bike through the Tholpetty and Muthanga wildlife sanctuaries. And when your legs get tired, take the Bamboo Express (a bamboo raft) across the lake.

A monsoon visit offers its own benefits. Flooded paddy fields teem with well-fed fish and crabs. Let the locals help you find a catch. And even if you can’t catch them yourself, you can still enjoy the delicious fish.

While we’re talking food, try mango or pineapple pickled in brine or gooseberries preserved in honey. For a completely local experience, watch and help farmers plough, sow and plant a paddy. And let the wet paddy get you in the mood for mud football!

Rate: Rs. 1,500 ($30 CDN) for a day of mixed activities.
www.muddyboots.in


Book an Activotel at Rishikesh

One reason you must visit the Atali Ganga Activotel (active hotel) at Rishikesh during the monsoon with your family is that it lets you enjoy the River Ganga in all its beauty from up close. The resort is built into a sloping hillside and extends two and a half acres across the Ganga.

The second reason to plan your trip here is that the Atali Ganga staff take complete care of their customers. All 22 cottages at the resort are air-conditioned and you also have the option of camping out at night.

With a myriad of activities awaiting you as soon as you check in, the super-efficient staff at Atali Ganga ensure that there’s never a dull moment during your stay. Choose from hiking, climbing, mountain biking, yoga, astronomy and their latest addition, a high ropes course. A staff member at Atali Ganga helps you plan your itinerary, and well-trained active officers help you achieve your goals.

If you visit with kids over six years of age, they’ll learn a trick or two (fully supervised) and enjoy their fair share of adventure too.

Rate: Starts at Rs. 10,000 ($200 CDN) per night.
www.atali.in


Explore the Old-World Charm of Rajasthan

Rajasthan has so much to offer, and one tour lets you savour it all. Mingle with the local tribes and cameleers in Pushkar. Visit the palaces and forts in Jaipur and Udaipur. Marvel at the havelis in Mandawa. Get up close and personal with the panthers at the Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary. Take in a spectacular view of the Kumbhalgarh wall — second in length only to The Great Wall of China.

Titled Rajputana — An Exploration of Rajasthan, this tour, designed by Mandip Singh Soin of Ibex Expeditions, promises to enthrall you as you explore the grandeur of the princely state of Rajasthan. It gives you a real taste of nomadic living in the Thar Desert while travelling atop a camel. Traverse sand dunes, rock shelves and scrubland by day and enjoy the stars in the open wilderness by night.

This 19-day itinerary is a mix of several hikes, train and car trips, and camel and elephant safaris. The best part is travelling in a camel caravan and taking in the beautiful views — especially when the sporadic monsoon showers brighten up the landscape.

Rate: Rs. 246,000 ($4,550 CDN) to Rs. 267,000 ($4,950 CDN) per person for a 19-day trip.
www.ibexexpeditions.com


Experience Luxury in the Backwaters

Bespoke hospitality is the unique selling point of Vaamika Island Resort, a boutique hotel in the backwaters of Kochi, Kerala. Spread over seven acres, Vaamika houses six luxurious lakefront villas. Each villa boasts its own private islet and a rich array of amenities. Expect your own boat jetty, lakefront infinity pool, secluded massage and yoga pavilion and butler service. To further ensure your privacy, the resort includes a wealth of restaurants, shared amenities and reception areas.

It’s easy to be swept away by the charm of Vaamika. The 30-minute ride in a luxury Sea Ray from Bolgatty Marina in Kochi to the island is a great start to your visit. Book a Casurina House if you’re travelling as a couple or High Noon if you’re travelling with another couple. Vaamika fulfills all your dreams and is perfect for your honeymoon. Enjoy swimming in the private infinity pool, quiet dinners and an Ayurvedic massage.

If you’re up for some entertainment, a Kathakali performance at the art museum is always a good bet. For those looking to shop, the art museum houses a collection of South Indian artifacts. Book a quiet holiday at Vaamika if you want to escape the city’s bustle and the monsoon slush.

Rate: Starts from Rs. 8,000 ($160 CDN) per night.
www.vaamika.com


Enjoy the Grand Canyon of Zanskar

While it’s pouring throughout most of India, Ladakh enjoys its best weather. The snow melts and the rivers start flowing again. If you’re an adventure junkie, make the most of this time of year. Book a multi-day adventure on the Zanskar River and experience the white water rafting trip of a lifetime.

Aquaterra Adventures, one of the world’s best adventure travel outfitters, runs a great Zanskar rafting trip. They take you to Leh first, for acclimatization at an altitude of 11,000 feet. An interesting couple of days in Leh include taking in palaces and ancient monasteries in the region. The trip from Leh via Kargil to the Valley of Zanskar is a beautiful drive. Rafting begins with Class II rapids on the Stod River. As you progress, you wind your way down the desolate Zanskar River Gorge, which has been compared to the Colorado River Gorge for its sheer magnificence and is rightfully called “the Grand Canyon of Zanskar.”

India’s best-kept secret, the Zanskar Gorge is a paddler’s delight with Class III and IV rapids throughout. Go for it, and immerse yourself in this life-changing adventure!

Rate: Rs. 67,000 ($1,340 CDN) per person.
www.aquaterra.in

BY PRITI SALIAN
PUBLISHED IN THE HEALTH & WELLNESS ISSUE, SUMMER 2013

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