Chaotic and bamboozling, travelling in India can be confronting, even for the experienced traveller. The reality for solo female travellers is it can be even more challenging, but don’t let that put you off exploring incredible India.
This amazing country is so full of colour, fascinating people, religious icons, ancient sites, fabulous street food and diverse landscapes. India is everything and more, and all at once. You wouldn’t want to miss this sensory overload of saris, sacred cows, slums, spices, car horns and incense!
We are thrilled that Intrepid’s Dheeraj ‘Monty’ Bhatt is once again a finalist in the prestigious Wanderlust World Guide Awards.
To be recognised as one of the best in his business amongst such a talented team of guides is an achievement in itself, but to receive such high praise several times during his 8 years with Intrepid is testament to Monty’s dedication and passion for adventure travel.
Holi or होली is the festival of color celebrated each spring in India. Go ahead and google images for Holi right now. I’ll wait…
Ah-may-zing, right? It’s an ancient Hindu religious festival that is now recognized in photos where people are playing with color – dry powdered color, colored water in water guns or balloons. Everyone is fair game, even the cows.
We always know that our travels are going to leave us with lasting memories, but as journalist Brenda McCormick discovered, our adventures can also leave us with lifelong new friends…
“I was heading to Australia and wanted to travel a little on the way there. My brother had been to Kathmandu and always spoke highly of the experience, so my friend Leanne and I decided to join Intrepid’s Kathmandu to Delhi tour as it also offered us the opportunity to see the Taj Mahal, which remains one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.
You come home, turn on the TV to watch the news. Unfortunately it’s hard not to conclude that we are living on a planet in crisis. Wars, poverty, discrimination; people lacking access to clean drinking water, food, education, healthcare; and the climate is changing.
On a daily basis, the majority of the world’s population is heavily impacted by these issues and more. When we look at the leaders of this world, we can also conclude that they are not doing a particularly good job at addressing these matters. It is not the lack of resources and money that are the problem – both are available. The problem is a missing focus on implementing solutions.
MatadorU graduate Priyanka Kher is your foodie guide for a day of gluttony…
“I grew up in Delhi. The city is home to food from nearly all the states in India, and in all variety of forms: snacks, street food, mains, appetizers. Given 24 hours, this is how I’d stuff my face.
To get everything in, you have to start early. First stop: a cup of Chai and Bread Pakora at the nearest tea-stall you can find; most are strategically placed on roadside corners and main intersections. Chai khokhas, as they are commonly known around India, are popular all-day hangouts that cater to all sorts, from the urban working class to students to minimum wage earners.
Seeing the first light of day peep over the horizon is one of those precious moments that we so often associate with our travels. Maybe because at home we’d normally be hitting the snooze button right about now, whereas when we’re on holidays we get to enjoy a peaceful and beautiful start to another day that’s filled with the promise of wonder and discovery. So set your alarm clock and see where Sue Elliot, our Intrepid Express editor, loves to see the sun rise…
Mt Sinai – Egypt
There is something about setting off in the dark that really adds to the drama of watching the sun rise – especially when you have to start climbing stairs and rocky outcrops by torch light. Hailing down one of the camel drivers was tempting, but my group leader assured me we were making good time and we’d be rewarded for our efforts. He was right – we found the perfect place to perch ourselves on the rocks in time to see the sun start to spread its dawn glow across the valley. It was magical – feeling the freezing desert temperatures start to abate, seeing the reds, golds and russet tones dance across the landscape below and joining in a pilgrimage that has taken place for centuries.
My favourite thing about travelling in India? Hands down it’s the food.
Everyone I’ve met who’s fallen in love with India talks about its spirituality, people, history and colour, but for me all of this is encompassed in the delectable cuisine that is found in every city and every village.
Nearly 100% of travellers will tell you their favourite real life experiences involve people. Meeting a kind local who pointed you in the right direction, enjoying a spirited haggling session with a charismatic shopkeeper or making new friends during a village homestay. But how do you hold on to these memories and photograph these lovely people? Travel photographer extraordinaire Steve Davey to the rescue with tips on how to take great portraits and capture those smiley, happy moments…
“You don’t want every portrait you shoot to be a happy smiling face, but the smiles of people you meet on the road are a major part of most people’s travel experiences. Getting a relaxed and non-gurning smile can be really difficult, so how do you avoid that grin turning into a grimace – or worse still the subject of your picture standing to attention like a soldier outside of Buckingham Palace?
Emerging from the airport, onto the busy streets of Delhi or Mumbai, the first-time visitor to India is immediately swept up in a sea of colours of every hue. Elegant and traditional reds, golds and blacks abound in Rajasthan’s Thar desert communities, with an infusion of more modern neon pinks, greens, oranges and turquoises. Heather Gramp, former Intrepid leader, is mesmerised by the fashions and styles of Indian women and her tip for female travellers is to have fun with it and follow their local lead…
“I often marvel that a crowd of Indian women look like they are ready for the red carpet on Oscars night, with sequins, beads and gold thread accenting the colourful cloth. Even in the most mundane midday market, women sparkle. The most popular clothing styles are the shalwar kameez, a pant suit originating in the Punjab and Kashmir and consisting of a long and loose kameez shirt (or collarless kurta shirt) over salwar drawstring trousers (either loose or the slim ankle churidar style), with a dupatta shawl draped across the neck and hanging down the back.