India: mystic Himalaya & Ganges River Tour
With this adventure India tour, you have a 12 day tour package taking you through Haridwar and 6 other destinations in in the Himalaya and close to the Ganges. The itinerary includes accommodation in a hotel as well as an expert guide, meals, transport and more.
Welcome to Haridwar, gateway tothe Gods and one of the holiest pilgrimage spots in the world for Hindus. Upon your arrival on your own accord, either by air or train from New Delhi, you will be met and transferred for check in at your hotel in Hardiwar. Take a minute to enjoy your view over the bathing ghats on the river Ganges, lined with sadhus, temples and ashrams. In the evening walk through the bustling bazaars to attend the evening prayer (Aarti) to the Goddess Ganges at the Har-ki Pauri Ghat.
It is a spectacle of sound and colour with the pealing of temple bells and blowing of conch shells. The ritual starts at dusk with the priests lighting lamps and reaches a crescendo lasting nearly half an hour. Hymns and mantras echo across the banks of the Ganges. Devotees chant along with the clash of cymbals and chiming bells.
The reflection of golden hues of floating floral “diyas candles on the river Ganga is an inspirational sight. This is one of the most magical moments in India, a time when one is in communion with both God and Nature. An auspicious beginning and blessing as we begin our adventure. Return to the hotel and savour your first dinner in this magical city. Overnight in Haridwar.
Early morning we head out in open jeeps into Chila Wildlife Sanctuary, an area of pristine beauty and rich biodiversity for a wildlife safari. It has 23 species of mammals and 315 fauna species. We hope to come across a herd of elephants and may even catch a glimpse of the elusive tiger or a leopard. Other wildlife to be found are jungle cat, Himalayan yellow throated marten, sambar, cheeta, barking deer, wild boar, langur, ghural, sloth bear, reptiles and a large variety of birds. We end our safari at Van Gujjar Village inhabited by a nomadic tribe of the Himalayas.
In the winter season, these shepherds used to migrate with their herds to the Shiwalik foothills, and in summer, they migrated higher into the Himalayas and spent their summer months in the wilderness with their cattle. They sold milk to the nearby villages in exchange for money and other life sustaining goods. Due to restricted movement into the wildlife parks, their movement into the forest has been curtailed.
They now have semi-permanent settlements on the periphery of the jungle. Making a living from the milk of buffaloes and cows, these Gujjars are surprisingly vegetarians. A visit to the village provides an insight into their daily lives. We will share a meal with our hosts and take a short hike into the jungle. Return to your hotel in Haridwar in the afternoon.
This evening we will conduct a private ceremony invoking the blessings Mother Ganges on the hotel private ghat. Meals: Breakfast, lunch,dinner. Activity: 2 hr Game drive/1 hr village walk and interaction with nomadic tribes. Overnight in Haridwar.
Early rise for a morning session of yoga and meditation. After breakfast we put on cycling gear and cycle 24 km along an extremely picturesque route, along the Ganga canal with the jungle on your right and the Ganges river below to your left to the Beatles Ashram.
Visit the Ashram where Ringo, John, Paul and George came in 1968 and spent a few months composing over 40 songs during their stay here. Vegeterian lunch will be arranged at the ashram in Rishikesh. We cycle on another 10km upstream the right bank of the river Ganges. Transfer on to vehicles and drive 5km to the hotel for the night located on a hillside overlooking the river. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, bonfire dinner. Activity: 1 hr Yoga session / 34 Kms- 21mi cycling. Overnight in Shivpuri.
Early rise for a morning session of yoga and meditation. After breakfast we drive approximately 36km uphill ascending 1876m on the right bank of the river and then mount your cycles at a village called Dwarikhal for an exhilarating 60 km downhill ride on a mountain road, semi dirt, semi tarred, high along the ridge overlooking the gorge of the meandering river Ganges as it makes its way through the lower Himalayan ranges.
Cycle through oak and rhododendron forests, cultivated terraced fields and quaint villages as we descend down to the river at Vyasghat. Enroute stop for lunch at a wayside village to get a glimpse into the hardy lifestyle of the Garhwali hill folk. On arrival at Vyasghat check into the tented accommodation with ensuite bathrooms at the Banyan by the Ganges. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, bonfire dinner. Activity: 1 hr Yoga session. Overnight in Vyasghat.
This morning we begin our ascent into the heart of the Gharwal Himalayas to catch a glimpse of some of the world’s highest and most stunning peaks. After an early breakfast we drive 168km (6 hours) via Devprayag and Rudraprayag up to the village of Saari. From here we trek uphill for 2.5 km to our campsite at Deoriya Tal, a beautiful lake located in the Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary perched at an elevation of 2438 m, showcasing heavily wooded, lush green surroundings with snow covered mountains.
Enjoy great 360 degree panoramic views of the great Himalayan peaks of heights over 6000m Chaukhamba, Nilkantha, Bandarpunch, and the Kedar Range overlooking the lake. Overnight is in alpine tents at Deoriya Tal. Two men international quality tents will be provided on twin sharing. There will be a separate kitchen and dining tent and few toilet tents depending on the number of participants. Ponies will be arranged to carry luggage, while trekkers have to carry there day pack during trekking days. Bottled mineral water will be provided during this short trek. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Activity: 2.5kms/1.5mi – 3 hrs trek with steep uphill climb.
After a hearty breakfast you start your trek to Chopta which is a beautiful 13 kms trek. The trek starts from the lake and takes you through a dense cover of oak and rhododendron forests and gradual ups and downs to a meadow and then downhill to a small stream. Finally a steep hike gets you to the picturesque hamlet of Chopta which gives stunning views of the mountain ranges including Trishul, Nanda Devi, and Chaukhamba. It is located at an elevation of 2680 M, amidst thick forest of Pine, Deodar and Rhododendron. It is easily accessible and provides the starting point to Tungnath and Chandrashila. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Activity: 13 Kms./ 8mi Trek – 7 hrs. Overnight in alpine tents at Chopta.
This morning we carry a packed breakfast and take a “paghdandi”-footpath into the interiors of the forest on a 20 km track using all terrain bicycles to the village of Baiga tribe in the interiors of the reserve. The village showcases traditional tribal life with beautifully painted mud huts belonging to a primarily agrarian tribal society. Life in the village remains untouched and allows a rare insight into the anthropological heritage of Central India. The village location also allows panoramic views of the landscapes and forests of the area. After lunch afternoon game drive into the park to continue our search for our jungle book friends. Dinner at the Lodge. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner. Activity: 2 hrs cycling trip to Baiga Tribes / 3 hrs game drive. Overnight in Chopta.
This morning we watch sunrise over the magnificent peaks and pay our respects to the divine Mother Nature. After breakfast, we retrace our path 168km -5 hours along the Alaknanda and then the Ganges Rivers back at the Banyan on the Ganges Camp at Vyas Ghat where hot showers and comfortable beds await us after 3 nights out on trek. Evening at leisure. Dinner and overnight at your lodge. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.Transfer: 168kms/105mi – 5 hrs. Overnight at Vyasghat.
We start our day with a yoga and meditation session with our accompanying yoga master on the banks of the Ganges River. After breakfast we drive 35Km (1.5 hrs) from Vyasghat to Koteshwar Dam – the put-in point on the river Bhagirathi, the upper tributary of the river Ganges . After a comprehensive safety briefing and loading of the raft, we begin rafting from the dam site. The water levels are controlled by the dam and water is released daily at a particular time.
At low water Bhagirathi is a technical river requiring a lot of swift moves on the raft. But when the water level is high it offers some amazing white water. The major grade 4 rapids along this section are ‘Elephant Rock’, ‘Shoot’ and ‘Confluence’. Rest assured these rapids would give you an adrenalin boost!
We cross the confluence point at Devprayag where the Bhagirathi meets her sister tributary Alaknanda, and these two young mountain rivers together join to become the Ganga. Return to Banyan on the Ganges for a late lunch by rafts. Rest of the day is free to relax or walk and explore nearby villages. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Activity: 1 hr Yoga session / 3 hrs rafting (Grade 4 rapid). Overnight in Vyasghat.
Rise early for a session of Yoga on the banks of the river. After breakfast start rafting, along with inflatable kayaking for those keen to try their hand as we tackle some mild rapids over the next few hours to reach Kaudiyala. From Kaudiyala you have the option of continuing the journey for the next level of rapids or else you can travel by surface to the hotel in Shivpuri. After Kaudiyala the whitewater challenges get more exciting as we soon take on the ‘biggies’ like ‘Daniel’s Dip’ and The Wall rapid, a solid big water Class 4.
Later the sneaky ‘Three Blind Mice’ and ‘Crossfire’ rapids all add to the adrenalin mix of exciting white water rounding off our expedition circuit just where we started – at the Himalayan Hideaway Lodge! Rest of the afternoon to rest and relax and sample an Ayurvedic massage at the Lodge to ease the well exercised muscles from the activities of the previous 4 days. Let the body and mind ponder over the adventures while you relax in the warm mists of the lodge sauna! Bonfire and dinner at the hotel. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner. Activity: 1 hrs Yoga session / 3 hrs river rafting (Grade 3 & 4 rapids). Overnight in Shivpuri.
This morning after our final yoga session with our master and a hearty breakfast depart for an optional ‘gut wrenching ‘session at ‘Jumpin Heights’, a bungee jumping site about a 45 minute drive away from the lodge. Or else we can ”give back” to the region that has contributed to our Himalayan journey by visiting the social outreach programme of HOLI (Himalayan Outdoor Leadership Programme).
We visit the primary, intermediate and junior schools of the Malaghunti area and interact with the locals about the environment and conservation issues. Late afternoon we drive into the temple town of Rishikesh, we explore the town and at sunset witness the age old tradition of the “Ganga Arti”. With this farewell arti we say goodbye to the mystic river Ganges and the Himalayas. Return to lodge for farewell dinner. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Activity: Bungee jumping, 2 hr city tour. Overnight in Shivpuri.
After breakfast bid farewell to your Himalayan experience and hop on your transfer that is about 35 km and takes about an hour to reach Dehradun airport to board your flight. Breakfast included.