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You see a completely different side of life when you leave your car or tour bus behind and strike out on foot in South Asia – and TransIndus tours to the region offer you plenty of opportunity to do just that, whether a leisurely amble around a Sri Lankan tea estate to watch leaf pluckers at work, or a full-on trek over high passes to Himalayan valleys where the modern world has made little impact.
In many cases, our hotels have been specially chosen for their attractive rural settings. This allows guests easy access to some wonderful countryside, enabling you to explore local villages and landscapes in a more intimate way. You might be offered the chance to walk to a shrine, ancient monument, favourite local viewpoint or revered tree, or visit a settlement specializing in an art or craft form, such as pottery, weaving or blacksmithing.
For those wishing to penetrate more remote, mountainous terrain, we also offer trekking extensions to our regular tours. These range from two- or three-day hikes around lush Himalayan foothills in Bhutan, Sikkim and Nepal, to week-long expeditions at altitude involving nights under canvas and ascents of wind-swept passes bristling with prayer flags.
The pay-offs are manifold: the chance to see the majestic Annapurna summits before dawn, when they’re bathed in ethereal, amber-coloured alpenglow; or a view down a forested valley from a village made entirely of granite and cedar wood, several days’ walk from the nearest road; or the experience of camping in a high meadow, as moonlight illuminates the ice peaks towering on all sides.
Trekking in the Indian subcontinent, however, is not confined to the Himalayas. Several regions further south – notably around Kodagu (Coorg) in Karnataka and the Western Ghat range dividing Kerala and Tamil Nadu – also hold great potential for high-altitude and jungle treks, and our local experts on hand to arrange the best routes, guides and porters, whatever level of challenge you wish to tackle.
All four countries covered on TransIndus tours to South Asia have their own distinctive indigenous groups. India alone recognizes 645 ‘scheduled tribes’, each with its particular language, customs and religious practises.
Most live in areas well off the tourist trail, amid dense forests where they survive from subsistence agriculture, hunting and gathering. But TransIndus travellers are likely to cross paths with indigenous people on several of our regional tours, notably those to Orissa in eastern India, the Northeast Hill States of Assam and Nagaland, Kutch in north-western Gujarat and some of the more remote corners of Arunachal Pradesh in the Himalayas.
Of these, Kutch is the best geared up for tourism. Visitors to the region are welcomed at villages belonging to many different minority groups, both Hindu and Muslim, where men and women wear extravagant and colourful costume – part of a rich handicrafts tradition that’s received a major boost from tourism in recent decades. Mirror-inlaid patchwork quilts, embroidered bedspreads and tie-dyed textiles are just some of the dazzling work on sale.
TransIndus was among the first operators to offer luxury soft adventure tours to South Asia, and we’re constantly on the lookout for new and more wonderful ways to experience the region’s natural and cultural riches.
Soft adventure basically means trips that steer you off the beaten track to amazing places, without imposing excessive physical demands or an element of risk. Getting there is half the fun, whether on elephant back, bicycle or white-water raft. You’ll meet local people who have no connection with the tourist industry, for a more real, authentic experience of the country.
All you need is a spirit of, well, ‘soft’ adventure.
Delve in the forested mountains of northern Kerala for a glimpse of a rare lion-tailed macaque. Drive across the world’s highest mountain range to visit a remote Buddhist monastery gouged out of a massive cliff face. Or catch a local ferry across the Brahmaputra River in Assam to attend a ritual play by Vaishnava monks on Majuli Island.
And afterwards, retire to a comfortable hotel or lodge for a hot shower, first-class meal and peaceful night’s sleep so you’re fully re-charged and ready for more the next day.