For the last few years, women across the world have been travelling for leisure and business. Either as a solo traveller or in small groups, women prefer living lives on their own terms. Now, it doesn’t matter to them whether they speak the local language, live in resorts or travel to a developed or a developing country. Women, simply want to travel.

Those who have been travelling for years might have their share of fun and goof-ups, however, for those who are not confident, here are a few women travel safety tips that will get you started.

Research your destination:

Trust us, researching your destination is as good as being there. Going through the pictures and finding the most beautiful beaches, cities and things to do will make you rethink; should I extend my stay?

While you do so, make sure you look upon safety information. This will help you ensure that you book a stay in neighbourhoods that are safe and public transport, and taxes are available with ease. Medical centres are close by and more.
Reading up on safety ratings and experiences shared by previous clients of a hotel, lodges are always a win-win situation.

Even if you intend to indulge in some adventure sports or late night clubbing, make sure you read.
Finding such information before you head out is a good idea.

Transit safely:

Packing bag needs to be done smartly.


Carrying the things that you need on your day trip is highly suggested. As a traveller, you are likely to carry your smartphone, laptops, tablets, DSLR with expensive lenses, etc. Make sure you don’t fill these items in your checked in bag or onto the luggage hold on a bus. Instead, carry a separate bag that you will have on you at all times. Do make it a point to carry your passport, your medication, your jewellery, your credit cards and some local currency.

Don’t tell people your location:

If you’re travelling alone, don’t mention the name or your hotel or where you are staying. If you feel very uncomfortable, make sure you don’t share at all. Also, if you are planning on meeting someone, meet at a local landmark that’s popular and crowded at any time of the day.

Learn to read situations:

There could be endless situations that could get you in trouble, while some are obvious, there are times when you feel uncomfortable, nervous or get negative vibes.

Just don’t go ahead.  It’s okay to offend people or being rude, self-preservation is the most important thing you can do to stay safe:

Dress like a local:

Well, dressing up the way you want it wherever you go is how we would like to keep things. However, there are certain countries, cities that are best when you blend in. One way to do so is simply dressing up like a local.

Knowing where to splurge and save:

Travelling to a new city will let you do pendently of things. However, make sure you know where to spend and save.

Make a local friend:

Honestly, a local friend is like a bonus. They will show you around, give you endless tips and help you save money and have loads of fun.

Just make sure you have found the right one.

Opt for small group travel:

Some countries will let you walk alone at night and make you feel safe, while others might be impossible to invade outdoors. In such cases, travelling with experienced small women travel groups like us is a good idea. We make sure our trips are safe, allow for a richer experience, less hassle & assure you come back with good memories.

To know more about our upcoming women-only trips, click here to know more.

No trip is complete without making a visit to the famous Meteora. The view from a hundred feet above sea level is surely breathtaking and no words are enough to describe this feeling. Somethings are best experienced with your own eyes, don’t you think so?

Meteora Hiking TourIf you’re looking to experience the beauty of one of the country’s most enthralling destinations, Meteora, here’s our ultimate guide to visiting the abode.

Well, you can do it all by yourself, but a guided trip works wonders. After all, you don’t want to reach the destination and miss out on some important historical and cultural significance. An educated tour like ours will offer in-depth knowledge that goes beyond guidebooks.  With our trip to Greece, you will be able to walk through hidden trails that only locals know of

Best time to visit:-

Before you make your way to the mountains of Thessaly, make sure you know the best time to visit i.e late April to early November. But if you love to swim and sunbath, late May to early October. Would be ideal. Those of you planning to go to Greece on a honeymoon, ensure to late visit between May to early October.

Background:

Meteora is one of the most visit places in Greece due to its unusual topography and important historical and religious site.  Situated 100 feet above sea level, the 6 active monasteries “suspended in the air” will surely take your breath away. They are located near the town of Kalambaka at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly near the Pineios river and the Pindus Mountains.

This sight alone itself attracts over hundreds of tourist every day. However, there was a time when there were over two dozen monasteries across Meteora.

How To Get There:-

By Train:

An affordable way to get around Meteora is with the help of a bus. Start your journey by simply taking a direct train from the Larissa Train Station to the town of Kalambaka from Athens. Just keep in mind that you book the round trip back to Athens from Kalambaka. This way the trip will work out to be affordable and ensure you don’t sit around wasting precious time that could be used to travel.

By Car:

Those of you looking for more freedom, hiring a car would be fun and let you travel at your own time. With a car, you can easily drive around the monasteries as it’s far more convenient.

Hike to meteor with wonderful world

Once you have reached the destination, tour guided hiking tour is the best way to learn the history of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our hike begins at the foothills of Doupiani rock, beneath the old ruins of Pantokrator monastery. From here, we cross through the immense rock formations to reach the northern side of Meteora. We spend some time discovering the hidden monastery of Ypapanti and the ruins of St. Dimitrios. As our tour guides are local, you are likely to hear stories and the legends behind each place you pass along the trail.

Once the hike is done, the bus will drop you off at the small village of Kastraki for lunch and then we return to our hotel.

Clothing:

When visiting the Meteora, it’s always a good idea to carry the right clothing. Carrying the right pair of shoes, a t-shirt and pants will make your hike comfortable and fun. 

Here are a few things that you just can’t miss out when hiking to Meteora 

2-3 pairs of shorts – Hiking is always going to be fun and bit tiring for those who are doing it after a long time. However, wearing the right clothes will not only help you pack light but also ensure your hike is comfortable. 

Ensure to carry 2-3 good pairs of track pants or shorts that will let you go hiking in comfort. 

3 tank tops or t-shirts – Don’t forget to match them with your shorts.

1 light jacket – let us tell you, it might get a little hot in Greece during summer, but do carry a light jacket as there is a sea breeze that is likely to make you feel cold.

2 bras – You don’t need many since you will be wearing 

7 pairs of underwear – It’s always better to carry a few extra. You never know when you might need them.

2 pair of socks – the right pair of shoes and comfortable socks is all you need to keep your feet happy up to the hike.

Deodorant – a good deodorant will help you keep smelling nice as it is very hot

Sunscreen:

Considering it is going to be hot, wearing the right clothes might not be enough. Hence, carry sunscreen and apply it on areas that might need extra protection. (the back of your neck, face, etc.)

Hat/Cap:

Along with the right clothes and sunscreen, wearing a hat will not only keep you away from the sun but also protect your hair and scalp. 

Note:

Make sure you are physically fit and carry comfortable clothes and good shoes that will make hiking easy.

Dress code: The monasteries in Meteora have a strict dress code – women must wear a long skirt and a top with long sleeves. Overnight at Doupiani Hotel or similar.

Once you are done looking at the magnificent Meteora, there are plenty of other things you can do in Greece.Meteora Hiking Tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Go on a private on-foot tour of Athens
  2. Enjoy sunset at Oia
  3. Stay in a beautiful boutique hotel in Santorini
  4. Visit the archaeological site at Delphi

Besides, our trips are planned in such a way that you get enough free time to go around and explore Greece all by yourself. So start packing your bags and get prepared to visit this magical destination and fall further in love with Greece.

The flight from Mumbai to Guwahati was to take 3.5 hours. So, I had plenty of time to wonder about the Arunachal Pradesh trip on which I was about to embark. I hadn’t visited this part of the country till then. But I tried to curtail my excitement by reminding myself that the itinerary had warned of long journeys on bumpy roads for a major part of the trip. And luxuries were apparently going to be left behind as we proceeded from Assam to Arunachal Pradesh.

Now, about two weeks after my return, I smile amusedly at the image of that brooding woman staring out the aeroplane window. If I could, I would tell her that none of those apprehensions was worth a second of her time and that she was about to experience a wonderful vacation that would throw up many pleasant surprises.

The gist of the itinerary was this – we were to spend two nights in Kaziranga, Assam, and visit the Kaziranga National Park, which is a UNESCO world heritage site and is home to the world’s largest population of the Great Indian one horned Rhinoceros. From Kaziranga, we would set out for Arunachal Pradesh, covering three places in the western part of the state – Bomdila, Tawang and Dirang.

Photo by Kaziranga National Park

When I think of the time spent at Kaziranga, lovely memories flood my mind. The enjoyable safaris in the morning and afternoon. Jumping up from my seat in excitement as a rhino crossed the path of the first jeep in our small caravan. Seeing a captivating flash of brilliant blue as a pretty bird named Neelkanth flew away from a branch. Standing close to domesticated elephants and laughing at the antics of an adorable, playful baby elephant named Babu. Walking with newfound friends through the peaceful and pretty Iora resort on a moonlit evening and inhaling the intoxicating fragrance of the ‘Raat ki Rani’ flowers.

Then we began our journey to Arunachal Pradesh, the land of dawn-lit mountains, and in the subsequent six days, so many moments were etched permanently on my mind that it would be impossible to list them all.

My heart lightens up now when I think of that divinely beautiful land.

Arunachal Pradesh can overwhelm you with its loveliness and enchant you with the spiritual tranquillity in its air. We would spend about eight hours travelling by Innovas every day, and the roads were often in bad condition. However, that was just a trivial side note in our travel story. From beginning to end, our attention was absorbed by the stunning vistas that surrounded us.

Splendorous mountains…lush fields…pretty villages…sparkling streams…verdant forests…clear blue skies with fluffy white clouds…gorgeous waterfalls…

Each morning, we would set out with a sense of adventure, and each evening, we would retire to our rooms with the contentment of having seen more breath-taking sights.

We visited serenely beautiful monasteries where monks of all ages were absorbed in studies and prayers. At the gorgeous Nuranang waterfalls, all the elements of nature seemed to come together to create a magical display. While strolling through a picturesque, tranquil Monpa village, I found it hard to remember what kind of lives we led in our bustling cities. The stunning Sela Pass had so much scenic beauty that it was difficult to decide which way I ought to stand and stare. At the Jaswantgarh and Tawang War Memorials, we heard incredibly touching and inspiring tales of bravery by the soldiers who fought in the Indo-China War of 1962 and laid down their lives for our motherland.

Patriotic emotions welled up again when we visited the Bumla Pass, which marks the Indo-China border, and saw brave soldiers who endure extremely harsh conditions to protect our country.

The roads that lead to Bumla Pass are in terrible shape. But the scenery more than made up for the gruelling drive. There are a few lakes on the way to the Pass, and we halted for a while at the exquisite Sangestar Tso lake. Then we continued on our journey to Bumla Pass, which lies at an altitude of over 16,000 feet. It was a surreal experience to know that we were standing in a place that separated one country from another. The visit to the Pass was undoubtedly a huge highlight of the trip and I will forever be grateful to Shibani for arranging the required permits for us.

Although the itinerary had said that luxuries would not be available post-Kaziranga, Wonderful World had made the best possible arrangements for us and we got perfectly good and comfortable rooms at every place. Sejal, our group leader, was highly efficient, capable and caring. And her lively nature increased the fun quotient of the trip ☺. Our guide was knowledgeable, resourceful and friendly, as were all the drivers. As for the food arrangements during our daily road trips, the roadside dhabas served simple but delicious vegetarian thalis that were quite inexpensive.

It was an added pleasure to see neatly arranged rows of flower pots outside almost every house that we passed on the way. The flowers were of such riotous colours and shapes that I often couldn’t resist touching their soft petals just to confirm that they were real.

All in all, the trip to Arunachal Pradesh proved to be truly enjoyable and unforgettable.

The long drive up to Bumla Pass was especially memorable. The driver of our vehicle for that particular journey was a cheerful, humorous and talkative person, and he kept us entertained with interesting and charming titbits about the region and its people. It didn’t occur to me until later that he was probably trying to keep our minds away from the rocky roads. He also bought us chewing gum to help us deal with the change in altitude.

At one point, we disembarked to take pictures, and while getting back into the car, one of the doors wasn’t shut properly.

Our driver drolly said, “Madam, aapne door ko pyaar se bandh kiya hain. Lekin yeh pahaad ka gaadi hain….pyaar nahi samajhta.”

All of us chuckled, and after the door was closed forcefully, we set off again.

Those words of the cheerful Arunachali driver stayed in my mind for a while.

The vehicles that ply on those rough terrains may not understand love, but I believe the mountains most certainly do. Approach them with respect and reverence, and they will keep your safe. Approach them with a spark of love in your heart, and their cold purifying breeze will turn that spark into a glorious blaze. And as you stand in the midst of those silent, powerful and unchanging mountains, something inside you may be transformed forever.

Points to note while travelling to Arunachal

Carry the following:

  1. Medicines for nausea, headaches/backaches and altitude sickness
  2. Snacks/biscuits
  3. Sunscreen lotions
  4. Ample quantity of woollen clothes – jackets, sweaters, thermal wear, gloves, socks and a cap

Leave behind the following:

All your cares ☺

Courtesy: Ranjana Balagopalan

From gorgeous mountains, massive glaciers to stunning fjords, Norway is an untouched beauty waiting to be explored. Thanks to its location that has managed to keep this country a mystery to many. If you love exploring the unexplored, our women-only holiday to Norway will offer you some of the best experiences ever!

With stunning Aurora Borealis, large historic cities, magnificent cathedrals, a progressive population and unending ways to stay active outdoors, the Scandinavian country of Norway is surreal!

Here are 5 experiences that you just cannot miss when you visit the ‘Northern Beauty!

Aurora Borealis activity in the world – Tromsø

norway guided tours

Also known as the ‘Northern Lights’ this usual phenomenon in the Arctic region is an experience you cannot miss. And with our Hunting the Northern lights trip this February, you can be one of the few women that get to experience this stunning sight!

Our women-only tour will take you to the city of Tromsø where you can chase the Aurora and take the most stunning photos ever!

Oslo:

If you are looking for a better city to live, we bring you Oslo. Here, you can enjoy car-free streets, eco-friendly gourmet restaurants, museums and galleries, interesting architecture, and a lot more. While Norway’s capital city is small, there’s plenty to do and we guarantee you won’t get bored at all.

Besides, what makes it even better is the city’s location. It is placed strategically between the blue Oslofjord and the vast green forest of Oslomarka that lets you go hiking, cycling, fishing, and skiing.

Still, think you can give our women-only holiday to Norway a miss?

Keep reading…

Winter Fjords Cruise:

How often do you get a chance to cruise?

Especially between a submerged glacier valley through some of the most beautiful natural attractions around.

With our women-only trip to Norway, you will get a chance to see the characteristic island Håja and learn about the history, landscape and wildlife of the incredible island of Kvaløya.

If you are lucky on this women-only holiday, we might also get a chance to see whales, otters, seals and sea eagles. Besides, you could also be given the opportunity to try some fishing.

Train Ride to Myrdal:

norway guided tours

You might have spent hours traveling by train but nothing as scenic as the world’s most wonderful train ride from Oslo to Flam. Our women-only holiday Norway guided tours guarantee you all the fun!

Simply get in the train and enjoy the incredible journey through steep gradient and picturesque nature.

Don’t forget to count the tunnels on your way!

 

Spectacular Photo Opportunities

No matter where you go travelling on our Norway guided tours, there is one companion that remains constant, your camera!

And with a camera, wouldn’t you love to take a picture when you stand in the air?

Kjeragbolten in Norway is an unusual boulder which stands between two sides of 984 metre-high mountain crevice and surprisingly.

A picture might seem apt with you on top, however, the challenge lies in reaching the top.

Bergen:

The second largest city of Norway, Bergen, lies up the mountainsides, overlooking the sea, embracing you. Here, you will get to see the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the painted wood houses, museums, art galleries and much more.

So don’t forget to keep your cameras ready!

The Atlantic Ocean Road:

northern guided tours

If you love long beautiful roads and the wind in your hair, Norway is home to the ‘world’s best road trip’.

With our land of the midnight sun trip, we will drive through this exquisite 8.5 kilometres route splashed occasionally by sea waters.

Excited much?

Wait, there’s more….

Rib Boat in Tromso:

northern guided tours

Northern lights are not the only reason to visit Tromso! With our Trip this summer, you can hop on to a Rib boat and admire the Norwegian landscape under the midnight sun.

If you’re lucky, spot the harbour porpoises, seals, and sea eagles.

So why wait now?

So, if you’re looking to experience the beauty of Norway, then make sure to check out our women-only holidayHunting the Northern Lights Trip and The Land of the Midnight Sun!

Home > Travel Diaries

A South Korean Sojourn

When I mentioned to my friends and family that I was going to Korea, there were a series of questions – Why? What’s there to see in Korea? Are you sure it’s safe? And of course, the over smart one – north or south? I couldn’t understand the reason for these questions – no one asked me these when I visited Italy or Croatia earlier this year. Yet, it was my visit to South Korea that had my well-wishers mouthing concerns. And that just made me more adamant to go!

So why did I actually want to go to South Korea? Apart from the honest truth that the dates fitted perfectly, it was also because it was a country I’d never considered visiting. Sadly whenever I did hear about South Korea, it was in context to their troubled northern neighbour. A neighbour which has intrigued me for long, a country I’m absolutely forbidden to visit by my family, and one I won’t on ethical grounds as tourism there benefits only the government and not the people. So when the opportunity came to visit South Korea, I grabbed it because I couldn’t go north. And I’m so glad I did.

After a disastrous flight on China Eastern, and a missed connection, a co-traveller and I arrived in Seoul in the evening. As we drove into the city we were greeted by clean, well maintained roads, no horns and dazzling lights. It was over the next few days when our guide, a brusque, grandfatherish, knowledgeable man called Kim, reiterated how poor South Korea was till the 1950s and how the country had overcome that situation, did I actually understand how proud the citizens were of their country.

We were a small group of women – nine of us – from different parts of India. And that’s the beauty of trips like these, the joys of meeting new people and learning from each other. With Kim to guide us around our days in Seoul were spent sightseeing (we saw North Korea from a very safe distance) to walking down the streets of Meyongdong eating street food and buying cosmetics.

It was Gyeongju though that became my favourite. We spent the evening exploring the Bulguksa Monastery followed by a tea ceremony with a young monk. The gentleness of his ways, the calmness that he exuded left me wondering if I would ever be able to feel like that in my urban life. Or is that kind of inner stillness possible only if we move away from external disturbances? While I didn’t ask him any of these questions, we did ask several including ones on love and relationship, which turned his cheeks red. Even the simple vegetarian dinner at the monastery was scrumptious and if I say we overate, that would be an understatement. Later, we joined the priests in offering evening prayers and while it was a unique experience it turned into the much needed workout session after binge eating. We were asked to follow the priest and to my horror he kept doing prostrations.

Busan was a delightful experience, with the contrasting quirky Gamcheon Cultural Village to the modern Haeundae Beach area with flashy lights and busy restaurants. It was here that I enjoyed a traditional Korean bar-b-que, a pleasure for any meat lover. On the grill atop the table meat of your choice is cooked in front of your eyes. Along with the meat there are a hundred tiny bowls with variety of kimchi and salad leaves to add flavor. We devoured every bit of food on our table, and then, feeling guilty, walked along the shore to digest our humungous meal.

Our last stop was Jeju Island, a destination that often crops up in the visa free places list for Indians. Filled with tangerine gardens and plantations this vast island almost seems uninhabited in certain parts. From the airport we headed to Love Land, which had more comical than erotic statues of couples engaged in sexual acts. We also visited Jeju Folk Village, the home to the female divers, whose average age according to our guide was sixty-five. In fact the village boasted of a granny who was 109 years old, and two others who were above 100. The village supports its economy through products made and sold only there, and I dared to buy a facial cream made of horse lard and tangerine. Someday I’ll dare to use it.

As the colours of autumn swept across South Korea they painted the country vibrant reds, maroons, browns, yellows and greens. And these colours, interspersed with glittering lights, remain etched in my memory. My week in South Korea was certainly well spent.

-By Richa Wahi

 

Question: What happens when you are stuck in a rut, exhausted with the mundane, and feel like your life has come to a complete standstill?

Answer: You go jump off a mountain!

 

And jump off a mountain I did with Wonderful World’s three-night getaway to Andretta.

 

Nestled among the Dhauladhar range is an idyllic artists’ colony and the village of Andretta. Established in the 1920s by Norah Richards, the Irish theatre artiste and environmentalist, Andretta has, over the years, attracted many noted artists, painters, and more recently potters. Steeped in culture and a bedrock of Punjabi theatre, this quaint little village in the Kangra valley exudes a charm that is second to none. I was about to get a deep dive into all this and more during my three-night stay in this beautiful village.

 

It’s 5 p.m., my flight has landed at the Delhi airport, and I make a beeline to the taxi stand and instruct the driver to take me to the bridge near Majnu ka Tila, where all the buses for Dharamshala convened. With some Arijit Singh and A.R. Rahman for the company, I reach my destination without much fanfare. The bright green Bedi Bus against a full moon on a yet-to-be-inaugurated bridge made for a striking setting. I meet the rest of the group. While we wait for the other passengers to board, we put this time to good use and get to know each other—the four other lovely ladies with whom I’d be spending the next few days.

 

At dot 8 p.m. the driver signals that we are about to move. Once on the bus, I doze off to the din of Judwaa 2 playing on the screen in the foreground. Although I’ve travelled on a sleeper bus in the past, this one was a unique experience. I thought I was in for a bumpy ride, but lo and behold I slept like a baby during the entire eight-hour journey. The full moon played hide and seek as the bus trudged around the winding hills once it left the city limits.

 

My beauty sleep was interrupted by the conductor’s announcement at the crack of dawn the following day. ‘Chalo Bhai, Dharamshala Walley utro!’ We had reached our destination.

 

Dharamshala is situated in the Kangra valley, at an elevation of 4,780 feet, in the shadow of the majestic Dhauladhar mountains. It is the second capital of Himachal Pradesh (the first being Shimla), and the residence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and the centre of the Tibetan exile world in India.

 

It was late October and the early flurry of snow on the majestic Dhauladhar signalled the onset of winter. As a desert dweller, the white carpet of snow was a sight to behold! The crisp air and the early morning sun instantly began to work its magic on us. A quick breakfast of aloo parathas and masala chai from a roadside restaurant and we were on our way to the Mirage, our wonderful homestay in Andretta.

 

The Mirage was one of the key highlights of our Andretta trip. The property is owned and run by Denis Harrap and his fantastic team—including Sweety, the friendly German Shepherd who kept us company throughout our stay, accompanying us even on our hikes and market walks—who made sure we had a lovely time and gave us a taste of the pahadi lifestyle. Built in 1948, the property is the perfect hideaway to soak in tranquillity and rejuvenate those frayed city nerves. It has a stunning yoga room and a swimming pool (under construction). The rooms are well appointed, with unique artefacts curated from across the world, giving us a glimpse of Denis’s extraordinary travels across the world. We stayed in the White House, a two-storied Himachali mud house with a cosy fireplace. Reproductions of Amrita Sher-Gil’s paintings made for a striking look against the whitewashed walls, and so did the vintage calendars and posters from the bygone era.

The cottages at our homestay

The Mirage is a labour of love, and this is evident in the attention that has gone into creating this beautiful haven—right from the name-sign on the cottage gate to the dinner plates and bedside tables, all managed efficiently by Denis’s hardworking team. My favourite bit about my room—amongst many others—was the bed-heating blanket, chanced upon accidentally. While it wasn’t too cold to use it, I found it was an excellent remedy for aching knees and sore muscles.

 

After taking in the surroundings over a cup of masala chai and locally made butter biscuits, followed by a delicious Himachali lunch of dal, chawal, and sabzi, we head straight for our 2 p.m. appointment with Shubham at the Andretta Pottery and Craft Society. The next two hours go by in a swirl at the potter’s wheel, throwing and moulding, and getting the clay to yield to our command. The entire experience was therapeutic, from turning the wheel, to the cool clay awaiting its destiny at the potter’s hand, I walked out of the centre in a state of zen.

 

Next came the village walk with stops at Sobha Singh Art Gallery and Norah Richards’s house where she taught students how to perform plays in a small theatre outside her courtyard. Her house has recently been renovated by the Punjabi University, Patiala, with the skills of local artisans. The courtyard theatre is still in use by the Punjabi university students, where plays are performed every year on 29 October to commemorate Norah’s birthday. As I explored the 1935 mud house, I felt a strange sense of déjà vu—this was a world so far removed from mine, yet it felt like I belonged here.

Under the now-waxing moon the five of us, with Sweety in tow, spent the rest of the evening exploring the nooks and cranny of this beautiful little village and mingling with its warm and hospitable locals. We kept things simple and easy today because tomorrow we were all set to face our mountains and needed to be in the best form possible.

 

At 4 a.m., our trip lead, knocks at our door. ‘Wake up, it’s time to rise and shine!’ Little did she know my roomie and I were all set—suited and booted—ready to take off. After a hot cup of masala chai, we carefully tread the winding steps and make way to our car waiting to take us to Bir-Billing, one of the best paragliding sites in the world. The half an hour drive to the take-off site at the crack of dawn is scenic, and witnessing the first rays of the rising sun on the Dhauladhar range is mesmerizing.

Amit and Meenu, the husband-and-wife duo, meet us at the landing site at Bir. Once a corporate slave, Amit and Meenu decided to leave their city lives behind and moved to the mountains. Certified paragliding pilots with more than 700 hours of flying experience between the two of them, they now run BeOutdoors, an adventure eco-tour agency.

 

A short drive uphill to the take-off site at Billing, followed by some final instructions from Amit helps keep my mind occupied from the unthinkable. ‘Look straight ahead, don’t look down, just straight ahead and run, run, run … keep running, don’t stop,’ Amit instructs. Standing at an elevation of 7,900 feet, I have an epiphany: I wonder if Amit’s words are the antidote to my stuck-in-a-rut life situation.

 

My heart starts to race, Good lordy, what was I thinking, what did I sign up for? Perhaps a spa day would have been a better solution to drive away the blues!

 

Eddie, my tandem pilot, is cool as a cucumber and his calm demeanour doesn’t help soothe my frayed nerves. Eddie has been setting up the glide this whole time. He then ties me up, straps me up. I’m hooked and booked from all angles possible. There’s no way out. Eddie signals it is time to run. I take in a deep breath and with all the courage that I can muster I run. Six steps in, and suddenly there is no ground beneath my feet. I’m up in the thin air, sitting nicely on the glider’s seat, as Eddie navigates the bright orange glide. That was it. I spend the next twenty minutes taking in the views—the rising sun, the majestic ranges as far as the eyes can see, down below little villages with freshly tilled farms, red-tiled roofs where perhaps the inhabitants were just about waking up to the new day. Bliss!

 

The warm rays of the sun and the cool pahadi air made for a heady combination of ecstasy, hysteria, and a deep sense of gratitude. Tears streaming down my face, I had another moment of great realization. You see, I have a natural affinity to complicate things—whether it was jumping off a mountain or going about my daily life. Sitting on the glider, balancing a Go-Pro in one hand, and holding on to a plastic strap for my dear life I made a note to myself, to keep it simple, always!

 

We land at Bir, which I can only describe as a warm knife slicing through a block of butter. Utterly smooth.

 

Exhilarated, we make our way to Apoorva’s coffee shop, a few metres away from the landing site, for some delicious coffee and carrot cake. With our tummies full, we proceed to visit the number of monasteries along the way and stop for lunch at one of the monastery canteens for some thukpa and thenthuk.

 

Mind, body, and soul aligned, we head back to our homestay, and, as if it was a done thing, I turn on my bed heater to the max and go in for a four-hour snooze fest! After a relaxed dinner, we call it a day.

 

It’s day three now, our last and final day before we take the overnight bus back to Delhi. Excited to see what the day holds, my roomie and I are up bright and early as always—suited, booted, packed. There’s a village hike on the itinerary, followed by a scrumptious breakfast, then on to the HPCA cricket stadium in Dharamshala, and finally to Mcleodganj, with a visit to a church and the Bhagsunag waterfalls.

I’ve done many hikes, this should be a walk in the park, I tell myself. And it sure turns out to be one—except for the last leg of the walk when my sedentary knees decide to make a point. Ssshh, bad timing. Be quiet. I say and trudge along. Although slightly difficult in bits and places, the views of the surrounding ranges and the idyllic villages at its foothills are stunning.

 

Hike done and feeling mighty accomplished, we head back to a beautiful breakfast spread of besan chila, scrambled eggs, a gorgeous fruit platter, and an assortment of homemade jams and pickles. Breakfast devoured, we say our goodbyes to our wonderful host and hit the road to Mcleodganj. The rest of the day is spent sampling more thukpas and shaptas, exploring Mcleod’s meandering alleys, coffee shops, and dipping our tippy toes at the Bhagsunag waterfalls.

 

It’s now getting dark; the last ray of the setting sun demonstrates her final act across Mcleod’s skies—a kaleidoscopic display of brilliance in all shades of red. What a showstopper! This has been a magical day! We take in the panoramic view and get into the waiting bus.

 

As the bus begins its descent from Mcleod, I assume a comfortable position and doze off, this time to the backdrop of Happy Bhag Jayegi!

 

It’s 4 a.m. now. We’ve reached Delhi, I can tell by the heavy smog-filled air. Now comes the toughest part. The goodbyes. The bond we shared over endless cups of chais, crispy onion pakodas, buttery biscuits, and countless selfies, the five of us will shortly go in five different directions. I don’t know what it is, but I feel a gnawing pain deep within. I remind myself we live in the digital age and just a DM away. I instantly feel better. My attempt at ‘keeping things simple’ is working!

 

Tight hugs and promises to stay in touch, we go our separate ways. I turn back for one last look. Three days ago on a full-moon night we met; three days later batteries fully recharged, with new-found hopes and inspiration, we march ahead carrying the spirit of adventure in our hearts and the search for our next big mountain.

 

Until then, here’s to sisterhood and our travelling plans!

 

 

Priscilla Stanley travelled to Andretta with Wonderful World in October 2018. She does not travel often by your average standards, but when she does you can rest assured that she is doing so to break free from life’s mundaneness that has set in at a tiresome pace. This was Priscilla’s fourth trip with Wonderful World. Previously she has travelled with them to Sri Lanka, Chikmagalur, and Puducherry, all of which she says has been life-changing and transformational.

 

Photographs courtesy of Madhula Banerji

 

women only trips

A little ‘Me Time’ is all we crave for. Isn’t it ladies? Without a doubt, we give you a chance to fulfil the year’s travel resolution. But the biggest question that tends to haunt us always, where do I travel?

Worry not; you could join our women-only trips that will ensure you take home tons of happy memories.  We personally research, visit and plan these women-only trips to ensure you have the best travel experience.

We also understand picking up a destination isn’t easy, that’s why we have listed down 6 best women-only trips you should definitely go once in a lifetime:

Hampi:

women only trips

If your boss cannot grant you leave for a long holiday in December, don’t worry, we’ve got your back. We have designed a short women-only trip to Hampi in December!

Trust us; Hampi is the perfect offbeat winter holiday destination in India. The temperature during this time dips to 15-degree Celsius in the evenings. To make sure you have a good time in our women-only trip to Hampi, we have especially shortlisted a few things to do/see.

To begin with, visit the temples!

Hampi is home to many temples one must visit. Some are ruins, and some have become popular places of worship. One iconic temple is Virupaksha temple where it is said that Lord Shiva married Parvati. Isn’t it quite interesting?

The next on the list is:  visit the ruins of the temples, palaces and forts! You haven’t visited Hampi if you don’t see and experience the remnants of the lives lived by the kings and queens!

You have to witness the jaw-dropping sunsets and the sunrises over the boulders among the ruins. It’s a sight you’ll never regret. The top of the Matanga Hill is rewarded with one of the best views of the rising sun that South India has to offer.

Another unique thing to experience in Hampi is to enjoy a coracle ride on the waters of the River Tungabhadra. A coracle is a circular shaped country boat that can carry about 6 to 8 people on a single trip across the river. These coracle boats have been in use in Hampi since the time of the Vijayanagara Empire.

Don’t you wish to hop inside a coracle ferry right away?

So if you wish to escape on a winter holiday, join us on women-only trip to Hampi.  You sure will get lost in the winter sun and will experience the Hampi – state of mind!

Pondicherry:


women only trips

Come 1st January 2019 and it’s time for new year resolutions. Well yes, we sure will give you a chance to fulfil this year’s travel resolution!  Our women-only trip to Pondicherry in January is the perfect place to go unwind.

Once you step into Pondicherry, you’ll only wonder whether you’re in India or France. Besides, the French ambience and colonial architecture will lure you for sure.

But wait, what makes our women-only trip to Pondicherry stand out?  Have you ever got a chance to paddle out on a surf board and yell “Surfs Up”, with abandon? Sounds pretty thrilling and exciting right?

We have specially designed this women-only trip wherein we have tied up with Kallialay Surf School to bring you an introductory session with instructors that are the surf pioneers in India. Trust us, these surf instructors make surfing look like a cake-walk.

Don’t you wish to feel the power of the waves, surging forward and backwards? It sure is an exhilarating experience and it’s something you should definitely try!

“Give time a break,” says the Pondicherry Tourism slogan. So, the best way to enjoy this women-only trip to Pondicherry is by following the same slow pace.

For all you ladies who are foodies, Pondicherry is a heaven. You can indulge in all kinds of cuisines; the speciality being French food, continental delicacies, and traditional south Indian cuisine.

Obviously, how can one forget Auroville! Auroville, the City of Dawn is a settlement where people from different nations can come and live in harmony. This enormous village of picturesque houses and lush greenery is among the most untouched places in India that should be on every woman’s bucket list who is a nature lover.

Our women-only trip also includes a visit to the Mahabalipuram where you will witness the ancient shore temple, the panch rathas and other rock carvings. It is quite interesting to see the brilliance of the human effort that is scattered all over India!

Lastly, ladies, you’ve got to try Retail Therapy because nothing feels as good as shopping! You can go shopping at the local leather shops and bring back home some incense sticks, aromatic candles, essential oils, handmade paper items & handicrafts.

Our women only-trip to this French capital of India will surely be a great start to your New Year travel resolution!

Norway:

women only trips

We understand you’re loaded with a lot of work and planning a holiday seems difficult and time-consuming.

Well, if you’re already frowning upon that thought, it’s time you pause, breathe and smile!

You may ask why? Well, we have a women-only trip planned to Norway in February 2019.

It’s time you and your girlies have some fun this Valentine’s Day! Don’t you worry, leave the planning on us!

There, now that smile on your face looks beautiful.

The best part about visiting Tromsø, Norway in February is that it has some of the highest Aurora Borealis activity in the world. It is located in the middle of the Northern Lights Oval, which means you have the greatest chance of seeing the lights, regardless of the sun’s cycles.

Yes, you can chase the Northern Lights with us!

Tromsø is only one of the best places in the world to view the Aurora. Hunting the Northern Lights is an experience of a lifetime.

If there is one train ride you’ll want to cherish for a lifetime it has to be the rail journey from Oslo to Flam! Flam railway is one of the most scenic rail lines in Norway without a doubt. You have to keep your camera handy as you might not stop clicking the spectacular nature, steep mountains, and foaming waterfalls.

So, are you ready to make snow-hearts with us this February?

Vietnam:

We are never tired of planning wonderful women-only trips for you. That’s why, if you cannot make it to Norway, we have planned another exciting women-only trip for you.

Breathtaking scenery, beautiful and pristine beaches, the bustling cities & so much more, Vietnam’s culture is as rich as their cuisine. The reasons to love Vietnam are many; however, we make sure you experience the best of Sensorial Vietnam. Yes, we have cherry-picked the best for you according to ‘What women like?’, ‘what women want?’  The first time you arrive in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, you will be taken by surprise.

Just by walking through the streets of Hanoi, you will learn all about the life of the Vietnamese. You can choose to escape to the surrealistic limestone islands from the impossibly blue Halong Bay.  Vietnam is sure to get you transported to a different era while walking the streets of the historic port town of Hoi-An. The local delicacies at Hanoi will ignite your taste buds and leave you wanting for more.  

What’s the best part? Since you’re travelling with women, there’s no stopping to shopping. The traditional handicrafts of Hoi An will surely return with you back home. If you plan to travel during February, this women-only trip: Vietnam should definitely top your travel list!

Cambodia:

If you ever visit Vietnam, you’ll realize that there’s another beautiful country that should make it to your travel bucket-list.
With white sand beaches, lush untouched jungles, mouth-watering dishes, jaw-dropping temples, Cambodia should definitely be on your women-only travel bucket list.

For those who aren’t aware, Vietnam and Cambodia are linked by the waters of the Mekong.

Ever since Angelina Jolie showcased a few action movies in the temple ruins at Cambodia as Lara Croft, Tomb Raider, this place has been a go-to travel spot on our women-only trips.

Our specially planned women-only trips for you always welcome some activity; especially for those who want to trek or cycle and explore. You can cruise on the bicycle around the paddy fields and explore this beautiful country.

Cambodia is home to the world’s largest religious monument – Angkor Wat. Watching the sun rise over Angkor Wat is one of life’s truly breathtaking experiences. Trust us, we’ve been there, done that.  You can also explore the many faces of the Bayon Temple. You may have a question; what do you mean by many faces? Yes, this incredible site has over 200 massive stone faces looking in all direction.

There is still a lot to discover in Cambodia. If you want to soak in the real and rustic Cambodia, you’ve got to visit the Tonlé Sap Lake. You will witness the communities living in floating villages around the lake. Interesting, isn’t it?

Needless to say, a holiday in Cambodia will not only be one of the best women-only trips but also a humbling experience for you.

Bhutan:

women only trips

We are sure you will be working hard tirelessly this New Year and you wish to slow down that fast-paced city life.

How about you relax and unwind yourself in our women-only trip to Bhutan in March?

You may ask, why Bhutan?

Bhutan, also known as the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’, is an isolated yet treasured the Himalayan Kingdom strongly knitted within its cultural realms.

Bhutan’s charm is deeply rooted in its uniqueness and authenticity, the friendliness and warm nature of its locals. One very interesting aspect about Bhutan is that the government has introduced policies to protect the country’s heritage and environment. That’s one reason, travelling there is like stepping back in time.

If you are a woman who loves the mountains as much as we do, you’ve surely got to be a part of our women-only trip to Bhutan.

Talk about Bhutan, the image of The Tiger’s Nest Monastery (Paro Takstang) always takes the front seat. It is one of Bhutan’s most iconic landmarks. The hike up to Tiger’s Nest takes a couple of hours but the views from the top are breathtaking. It is said that every Bhutanese person is expected to make the trek up to Tiger’s Nest at least once in their lives.

Bhutan is also known for its marvellous Buddhist monasteries. There is an enormous statue of the Buddha made of bronze and gilded in gold which is over 50 metres high and watches over Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. The Buddha was built to bestow blessings, peace and happiness on the world. We are sure you already have marked Bhutan on your women-only travel bucket-list.

We hope we made a good attempt by convincing you to join us on our women-only trips!

If you’ve already thought about packing your bags already; wait!

Share it with your girlfriends and take them along.