12. December 2016 – 13:00
The year 2016 has been marked by interesting journeys, wonderful encounters and many highlights.
This year took us on trips across India- from the southernmost state of Kerala, via Karnataka and Mumbai through Rajasthan to Rishikesh and to the far north to the plateau of Ladakh. Whether on foot, by bike or on the mat – true to our motto- the Chalo! Travels tours were an interesting mix of diverse activities and experiences.
The year began for us in Hampi with a “boulder week” in one of the largest bouldering and climbing areas in the world. Afterwards we went on a ten-day tour through Kerala with the medical student Lea, who completed an internship here in India.
We went by houseboat and canoe through the backwaters. While we were swimming in the Arabian Sea, we could see dolphins. We also hiked through the tea and spice plantations of the Western Ghats, were initiated into the keralan cooking arts, did yoga every morning and explored the Perijar Nature Reserve. A relaxed trip with a private driver and overnight stays in nice homestays.
In April, the three yoga friends Katja, Katrin and Andrea made their way to rural Rajasthan. Here we spent two intense weeks in the ashram to practice yoga, enjoy Ayurvedic treatments and participate in a regular ashram life. A relaxing journey to “real India”. Weekend outings with a visit to the medieval city of Jodhpur and a camel ride in the desert, as well as participation in Hindu rituals with the guru and a short stop in Mumbai rounded off the retreat in India.
In the same ashram, a few weeks later, I ran a week-long children’s yoga camp. In addition to yoga classes, English, dancing, art, martial arts and sports were also taught.
After smaller trekking tours in June, we went on a large mountaineering expedition to the 5932 meter high Hanuman Tibba. Our small team, consisting of Jogi, David and me, mastered the mountain tour in alpine style. A real adventure that, in addition to technical climbing, required a lot of physical strength and willpower.
A little later we went up high again- but this time with the bikes. Our destination was Leh– To get there we crossed 5 mountain passes in 8 days (2 of them are over 5000 meters) and drove for 550 kilometers on one of the highest pass roads in the world. In the end we even ventured up to the Kardungla Pass (5600 meters), the highest motorable pass in the world!
Our mixed group of young and old with Frank and Michael from Germany, Subbu from India, Daniel from England and me, had a lot of fun during the tracks, but also in the camp with warm chai and good food. What a great team!
The rainy season in August did not stop Christian, Arianne and me from a two-week trip through Rajasthan. The Taj Mahal in Agra, a camel ride through the Tharr desert with sunset and subsequent overnight under the Indian starry sky, yoga in the ashram, heavy monsoon rain in Jodhpur, palaces and forts, train rides across the desert state and a visit to the romantic city of Udaipur are just some of the highlights of this eventful journey. It is a pity that our joint trekking tour has failed due to illness. Maybe we’ll catch up with them another time, because Christian’s trekking shoes are still waiting for him in Manali.
After a short trip to the Buddhist Spiti Valley with participation in Buddhist ceremonies, living in one of the highest villages in the world at 4200 meters and climbing the 5960 meter high Kanamo summit, Anja visited us for a twelve-day trek from Manali to Daramshala.
The trek is probably one of the most beautiful in the whole Himalayas: wild mountain landscapes, glaciers, lonely shepherds with their animals, a remote village between two high passes and their crossing. Intensive day hikes of 6 to 8 hours, cooking together and lots of interesting conversations – it was a peaceful time.
At the end of September, I participated in the international Hero MTB Himalaya as a newly sponsored “Hero Action Team Member” (the only sponsored mountain bike team in India). The nine-day race is one of the most physically demanding events for me of the year and I am delighted to have come through the race well. In the meantime, the race has become a real insider tip among mountain bikers and more and more international riders are taking part. For 2017, Chalo-Travels will offer complete packages with pre- and post-program (more on this in January newsletter).
In October I was allowed to travel with two very special girls. Gracy and Susanne are not only very interested and active travelers, but also became two good friends.
In just a few days we trekked to a 4200 meter high pass, visited the Taj Mahal, lived in a yoga ashram in Rajasthan and Rishikesh and explored Jodhpur, Delhi and Daramshala.
Thanks to all participants for this beautiful year. It was only through your open-minded and travel-loving way that the journeys could become these great experiences.
India is not an easy country to travel and can quickly overwhelm, but with a little flexibility, openness, and a positive attitude, India will quickly become a country to which you will feel forever connected.