Meet Raj Sharma - India
There are so many interesting cultures here that travelling from region to region can be like going from one country to another.
What led you to becoming a leader?
I had previously worked with overseas volunteers who came to teach in local schools, and I enjoyed getting to know people from all over the world. A desire to travel and explore my own country, to share my knowledge and experiences of life and to help people fall in love with India all led me to become a tour leader.
Is there one ‘real life experience’ that stands out for you?
On our Classic Rajasthan tour, which takes us around some beautiful locations of Rajasthan, we catch a three hour train from Bundi to Bassi Barisal. It's a typical local train with wooden seats and instead of having an advanced reservation it’s on a 'first come first served' basis and I find this train to be the ultimate real life experience because we get to experience how local people travel. I'm always pleased that people are so welcoming and nice to my passengers and I enjoy being a bridge between the tourists and locals, removing the language barrier. We meet many people from rural villages in this train who have never even travelled to a big city in India, and they are keen to hear more about life in the western world.
What is the most special thing about the region you lead in?
India is full of colours and festivals, has everything to offer from beaches to backwaters, mountains to desert, big cities to villages. But the most special thing about my region is its vibrant nature and liveliness. There are so many interesting cultures here that travelling from region to region can be like going from one country to another.
What is your favourite travel destination and why?
My favourite travel destination is Hampi which is one a World Heritage Site situated in Karnataka state. Hampi was the capital of the Vijyanagram Kingdom from the 14th to 16th-century and now it has the ruins left of the old culture, history and glory. The reason I love Hampi is because it has all the things I love - mountains, rocky hills, history, architecture and nature.
What is your favourite travel memory?
There are so many and it’s hard to choose one, but experiencing the first flight of my life and seeing Mt Everest on that flight would have to be my favourite. It happened on my fifth tour as an Intrepid leader. I could not believe that I was really in the air, seeing the stunning Himalayas and the highest peak in the world. My passengers loved it even more because of the look on my face.