photos

Adventure Sports & Tourism

Tourists ski on the slopes following snowfall, at Solang in Manali.

PTI Photo

When he’s not driving expensive cars, Salman Khan enjoys a bit of bicycling too. Brand ambassador of breathtakingly scenic Arunachal Pradesh, he put on his cycling shoes (and a handsome Monpa jacket) for promoting the Mechuka Adventure Festival. Flanking him are Arunachal CM Pema Khandu (left) and MoS Kiren Rijiju.

Photograph by PTI

Pune adventurist Shital Rane-Mahajan set a new record by becoming the first Indian to skydive sporting a colourful "Nav-wari sari" in Thailand

Photo source: Twitter

Tourists attempt river-rafting on Beas river in Manali.

PTI Photo

Participants take part in the shikara race during the Expedition India Adventure at Dal Lake in Srinagar.

PTI Photo by S Irfan

A team of Aryans taking part in Young India Adventure Racing Championship organized by Adventure Racing Federation of India (AFRI) at Castle Rock, in Goa.

PTI Photo

Bike riders compete at the the Monsoon Dirt Track Challenge 2016 competition in Nagaon.

PTI Photo

42-year-old skydiver with more than 18,000 jumps- Luke Aikins- made history when he became the first person to leap without a parachute and land in a net instead.

Courtesy: Youtube

Hand- and foot-holds turn a wall into a fitness rockface

In this file photo, Iranian female rock climber, Farnaz Esmaeilzadeh, scales a natural cliff in a mountainous area outside the city of Zanjan, some 330 kilometers (207 miles) west of the capital Tehran, Iran.

AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi

Alxandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin of Russia perform during the ice dance free dance of the NHK Trophy figure skating in Nagano, central Japan.

AP/PTI

In this file photo, Marussia driver Jules Bianchi of France waves during drivers' parade before the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan. His family says Bianchi has died from head injuries sustained in a crash at the Japanese Grand Prix. The news was confirmed by the Manor F1 team. Bianchi, 25, had been in a coma since the Oct. 5 accident, in which he collided at high speed with a mobile crane which was being used to pick up another crashed car.

AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File

Conde de la Maza fighting bulls run after revelers during the running of the bulls at the San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain. Revelers from around the world arrive to Pamplona every year to take part in some of the eight days of the running of the bulls.

AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

Germany's Andre Greipel celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the second stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 166 kilometers (103 miles) with start in Utrecht and finish in Neeltje Jans, Netherlands.

AP Photo/Peter Dejong

A spectator waves a Dutch flag as the pack with Poland's Michal Kwiatkowski, center in white, and Germany's Tony Martin, center, wearing the best sprinter's green jersey, passes during the second stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 166 kilometers (103 miles) with start in Utrecht and finish in Neeltje Jans, Netherlands.

AP Photo/Christophe Ena

British Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after winning the British Formula One Grand Prix at Silverstone circuit, Silverstone, England.

AP Photo/Rui Vieira

Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands steps out of his car after its rear tires were locked during the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai, China. Verstappen stopped on the main straight and retired from the race.

AP Photo/Andy Wong

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain holds his trophy and a bottle of champagne on the podium after winning the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai, China.

AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain waves while standing on his car at parc ferme after winning the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai, China.

AP Photo/Toru Takahashi

Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson of Sweden steers his car followed by Force India driver Sergio Perez of Mexico during the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai, China

AP Photo/Toru Takahashi

Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg of Germany steers his car through a gravel trap in the qualifying session for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne, Australia

AP Photo/Ross Land

Participants before being flagged off for land Yachting Expedition in Rann of Kutch, Gujarat.

PTI Photo

The British Breitling Wingwalkers, Danielle Hughes and Emily Guilding, soar past the Burj Al Arab in Dubai at 1,500 feet (460 meters) in excess of 100mp/h, ahead of their Dubai debut performance at the 2014 UIM Skydive Dubai XCAT World Powerboating Series. The British team is the only aerobatic formation display team who employ full time wingwalkers and fly their two Breitling-liveried 1930’s Boeing Stearman bi-planes at Air Shows and major sporting events around the world.

AP/PTI

Ganatra practises on a model

Fly-By-Touch Ganatra and Avi

A group of trekkers beside the Spanglung Serpa river

Bibek Bhattacharya

A Changpa lady takes stock of her flock of pashmina goats

Sankar Sridhar

Wild horses graze at Kyamar with the Zanskar range in the background

Bibek Bhattacharya

Sunlight and shadow play on the surface of Tso Kar

Sankar Sridhar

A mule train makes its way down to the wide waters of Tso Moriri

Sankar Sridhar

Taking a break in the shade of a tree en route to Puri from Bhubaneswar

Prashant Sirkek

Riding into Puri in a rickshaw

Prashant Sirkek

A starlit night over our camp in the Markha valley

Sujoy Das

Our ponies approaching the top of the Kongmaru La (5,100 metres)

Sujoy Das

Jigme, the daughter of the couple who run the Korphon homestay at Chokdo, chats with a member of the trekking group over a cup of tea in the kitchen

Sujoy Das

The lake camp below Nimaling with the peak of Kang Yatse in the background

Sujoy Das

An old man leads his donkeys from Hankar to pastures above the valley

Sujoy Das

Hanif takes a snooze at our lunch stop after the tea tent in Tahungtze

Sujoy Das

Ponies crossing one of many streams before reaching the Hankar campsite

Sujoy Das

Barley ready for harvest in the fields below Markha gompa; the brief summer allows Ladakhis to grow just a single crop

Sujoy Das

Evening at Hankar village

Sujoy Das

Goin' Down, Goin' Out WHOA! "The First Lady of Indian Cricket" has got some bracing cold Antipodean wind whipping at her face—and a Scud's eye view. Ditto, her man. On the field in Maori­land, he's been plotting a skydiver's graph too—an arrow going true south.

Members of the Slovenian Cross-country ski team in front of the Olympic rings at Laura Cross-country Ski & Biathlon Center of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.

AP Photo/Gero Breloer

Richard Freitag of Germany soars through the air during FIS World Cup ski jumping in Willingen, Germany.

AP Photo/Jens Meyer

A village girl with her sibling walking up to the border pillar at Lungwa

Sopan Joshi

Vintage cars at the Treasured Wheels museum at the Pathalipani treehouse resort

Sopan Joshi

The forest camp beside the Doyang reservoir

Sopan Joshi

Manish at the Doyang camp

Sopan Joshi

A treehouse near Pathalipani in Assam

Sopan Joshi

Elephants in Kaziranga

Sopan Joshi

The army helipad in Lungwa

Sopan Joshi

Negotiating a landslip near Kohima

Sopan Joshi

Handicrafts on sale in Lungwa

Sopan Joshi

School kids in Lungwa

Sopan Joshi

Nishant firing a muzzle loader

Sopan Joshi

Our host in Lungwa

Sopan Joshi

Crossing the Doyang reservoir

Sopan Joshi

Riding through a tea garden near Kohora in Kaziranga

Sopan Joshi

Crossing a bridge on the Doyang

Sopan Joshi

Camping along the Doyang river reservoir

Sopan Joshi

The beautiful spire of Stok Kangri as seen from Leh

Ahtushi

Expedition tents at the picturesque Base Camp

Ahtushi

Expedition guides put up prayer flags on the summit of Stok Kangri

Ahtushi

A trekker heads down to Stok village along the Stok Chu valley

Ahtushi

Trekkers make their way down to Stok village from Mankarmo along the Stok Chu valley.

Ahtushi

Ponies are widely used to ferry supplies in Ladakh, especially on trekking routes. Here, the owner of this pony enjoys his ride, as a trekker ambles along on the moraine flats below the Stok Kangri Base Camp.

Ahtushi

Trekkers heading up to a saddle on their way to climbing Stok Kangri

Ahtushi

Easter Island They stand proud and oddly innocent, the stone moai sentinels of Easter Island, 3,512km off  Concepción, the closest continental point. Chile’s Rapa Nui National Park is a visitor-friendly Unesco site, surrounded by pristine beaches and dive sites, flung far from modern living, reached by long flights from Santiago and Tahiti. Why did the Rapa Nui ancients quarry and carve the 887 monuments that weigh 14 tonnes at an average height of 13ft? And what happened to them? The stones aren’t talking. islandheritage.org

La Rinconada, Peru It’s a poor gold mining town three miles (5,100m) up in the air and it’s the highest, some say harshest, place on the planet to make a living. La Rinconada is something of a lawless frontier that’s low on sanitation, schools and oxygen. But the six hour bus ride on unpaved roads from the port city of Puno, which itself lies en route the Orient Express and other scenic train journeys to Cuzco and thence Machu Picchu, is utterly memorable. visitperu.com

Pitcairn Island, South Pacific This 47 sq km patch of pretty belongs to Britain deep in the ocean off New Zealand. “Why not pay us a visit?” locals say, either on a yacht or the supply vessel MV Claymore II, which drops off passengers for four or 11 days before it swings by again. Charming full-board homestays, a marine reserve, authentic curios, friendly company, robust seafood and beautiful vistas—that’s Pitcairn. And if you are ‘interested in the lifestyle on a small remote island, with a comfortable climate, and rich in natural resources,’ they’ll even help you immigrate. visitpitcairn.pn

Macquarie Island, Australia It’s a lonesome halfway between Australia and Antarctica, this pile of land sticking out of the Macquarie Ridge—the only place in the Pacific where rocks from the earth’s mantle are exposed at sea level, qualifying it as a Unesco site and a point of interest for cruises en route to Antarctica. It’s also one of the cloudiest places on earth with roughly 36 days of sunshine in a year. Fewer than 50 researchers at Australian Antarctic Division’s Macquarie Island Station inhabit the 128sqkm ‘Macca’, which leaves plenty of room for the world’s entire population of royal penguins to nest here. discovertasmania.com, antarctica.gov.au

Krubera or Voronya Cave, Georgia The deepest known cave on Earth has tongue-twisting coordinates—it’s situated in the Arabika Massif of the Gagrinsky Range of the western Caucasus in the Gagra district of Abkhazia in the Eurasian nation of Georgia. It’s named so after noted Russian geographer Alexander Kruber, although it also came to be called the Voronya or crow’s cave because of the number of crows that nest outside it. No one knows where it ends but brave speleologists have so far scaled down to 2,197m, give or take 20, making it the only cave on the planet that’s deeper than 2,000m (look for the Ukrainian Speleological Association’s ‘Call of the Abyss’ expeditions). speleoukraine.org

Stephen Alvarez

Kaffeklubben Island Kaffeklubben is widely acknowledged as the northernmost point of land on Earth, the ultima thule. It translates as ‘coffee club’ island, quirkily named by Danish explorer Lauge Koch, who got here first, after the coffee club at a Copenhagen museum. It’s a tiny patch of land, just a kilometre long, yet the purple saxifrage blooms here in the summer. This is, ‘a place where the silence is a thousand years deep.’ It’s all of 713km from the North Pole and in case you wish to paddle there, the coordinates are on tools. wmflabs.org. See also arcticthule.com.

Tristan da Cunha It’s the remotest island on the planet—2,816km from South Africa although the island of St Helena is a tad closer at 2,430km (South America is 3,360km away). Portuguese sailor Tristão da Cunha discovered it in 1506. It’s a British Overseas Territory with a Royal Mail pin code of TDCU 1ZZ, assigned because post was getting lost. Residents fish and farm, the only way to get here is by a 7-day boat trip from Cape Town, and they positively love visitors. tristandacunha.org

Indira Point, Nicobar They used to call it Pygmalion Point and, for a while, India Point, before political exigencies took over. India’s southernmost point lies on the Great Nicobar island of the Nicobar group, which is 540km off Port Blair and much closer to Sumatra in Indonesia (150km as the crow flies). It has half a dozen rivers, including one named after Pygmalion’s Galathea, and it’s not tiny at 1,045 sq km. The critical Colombo-Singapore shipping route via the Malacca Strait passes to the south, and India’s southernmost naval station, INS Baaz, is on Campbell Bay, 45km away. Special permits are required to venture further into tribal areas, but they are awfully hard to come by. andamans.gov.in

Reuters (From Outlook Traveller November Issue, 2013)

Mechuka, Arunachal Pradesh Snow-capped mountains, a lovely lake, a scenic valley and the winding Siyom River—such are the attractions of Mechuka, a tiny tribal outpost 29km from India’s border with Tibet, 180km northwest of Along, the mountainous district headquarters of West Siang. Mechuka’s greatest glory, however, is the 400-year-old Samten Yongcha monastery, a Mahayana contemporary of the more famous gompa at Tawang. helptourism.com

Narcondam Island Volcanic rocks and sparkling ocean fringe this dormant volcano, which lies 114km off the ‘main’ Andamans. Narcondam is a strip of land 3km long and 4km wide with nary a flat stretch of terra firma—its 710m-high peak is the second-highest on the islands (Saddle Peak on North Andaman is only 22m taller). The endangered Narcondam Hornbill is endemic to it, and diving gigs come by once in a way for some of the most spectacular corals anywhere. bookyourdive.com/lacadives

Kalyan Varma

The Garvault Hotel, Scotland The most remote hotel in mainland Britian has to be in the Scottish Highlands, of course. This is the heart of Flow Country, the largest expanse of peat and wetland bog in Europe, spread over 4,000 sq km of the Caithness and Sutherland counties. The Garvault is tucked into the shadow of the hulking Beinn Griam Mor, a mountain appreciated for its character. It overlooks the mysterious Rimsdale Loch and there are hills covered with heather as far as the eye can see. garvaulthotel.co.uk

Alaska’s Inside Passage Sea Bird and Sea Lion are both intimately small National Geographic expedition ships that head for Alaska’s southeastern coast, their modest size (and all 31 cabins have windows) enabling access to rarely visited coves, difficult-to-reach inlets, wildlife-rich passageways and isolated communities. Expert naturalists travel along and the voyage is tailored to be slow, fulsome and knowledge-based. nationalgeographicexpeditions.com

Gobi Desert, Mongolia It’s a desert, you say, there’s barely any precipitation and some areas don’t see any rain for years. The temperatures go up and down to 40, both ends of the Celsius scale. But the cliffs of Bayanzag are flaming red, there are kilometres of 200m-tall ‘singing’ sand dunes at Khongoryn Els, and the icy valley of Yolling Am is shatteringly beautiful. gobitours.com

Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia The fire and ice analogy is unavoidably apt for Kamchatka, the ethereal peninsula in Russia’s far east, its sprawl encompassing the world’s southernmost arctic tundra and attendant, abundant wildlife. Surprisingly, tours are easily arranged to geological wonders like a 6km-long valley of 90 geysers, part of the Unesco site that’s simply called the ‘Volcanoes of Kamchatka’, 29 of which are active. visitkamchatka.com, ecotourismrussia.com

To the edge of Space This one’s so futuristic, you’ll have to wait a while for it. Once safety tests are cleared, by 2015 thrill-seekers can travel to the edge of space over 35km above the earth’s surface in specially designed spacecrafts or float up in helium-powered balloons for some pretty special views of the blue planet. Check out takeme2space.com.

Everest sky-dive, Nepal Mix the world’s highest mountain set among some of the world’s highest mountains, a plane and a parachute  and you get the Everest sky-dive, arguably the world’s most exciting (not to mention dangerous) sky-dive. Trek up the Khumbu region to Namche Bazaar and and then to Syangboche. Acclimatize here before heading to Pangboche for training sessions and then enjoy five jump days of incomparable beauty and high thrills. How to do it: There are quite a few operators but the best of the lot is Everest Skydive (everest-skydive.com), who organize the trek and the jumps with a team of elite skydivers for $25,000 per person. You get two full jumps, one above Syangboche and the other above the Ama Dablam base camp.

Ballooning in Tuscany, Italy Tuscany is justly renowned for its gorgeous landscape and its gastronomic wonders, and now you can enjoy the beauty from a hot-air balloon. Ballooning in Tuscany (ballooningintuscany.com) has four sites in Montisi, Cortona, Siena and Fiano Romano from where they organize early morning balloon rides (€ 260 per person), which end with a champagne breakfast.

Zero gravity flights, US There’s just one way to levitate, and that is by flying one of Zero Gravity Corporation’s (gozerog.com) modified Boeing 727s in specially designated airspaces in the US. You fly to a height of 7,315m before the plane commences a 45° climb to 10,363m. Then the plane goes into a controlled free-fall and passengers experience weightlessness for about 30 seconds. This manoeuvre is then repeated 15 times, including in larger arcs to experience lunar and Martian gravities. At $4,950 per person, it’s an out-of-the-world experience.

Diving in Sipadan, Malaysia Some 35km off the coast of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo lies Sipadan Island, one of the world’s best diving spots. It’s home to colonies of turtles, sharks, barracudas, jacks and some 3,000 other species of fish, a 600m wall of coral and views of the deep blue. But words can’t quite encapsulate the ethereal beauty and the thrill of the experience. How to do it: A PADI training centre and a National Geographic-certified dive centre, Sipadan Scuba (sipadanscuba.com) is one of the best options. They organize diving day-trips to Sipadan for MYR 750 all-inclusive.

Alamy/Indiapicture

Skiing in Svalbard, Norway Given Norway’s passion for cross-country skiing, all of the country is dotted with designated skiing areas, each one with over 200km of prepared trails. You can do most of these by yourself. However, the most challenging skiing expeditions are in Svalbard, the remote Arctic archipelago that’s home to more polar bears than human beings. Over four days, ski over glaciers, crossing Spitsbergen (the only permanently inhabited island) from west to east. Covering about 10-15km per day, at points pulling your sleds along, and skiing to meet the Arctic sea ice, makes for one awesome adventure. Spitsbergen Travel (spitsbergentravel.com) organizes it for NOK 11,500 per person, all-inclusive, for a minimum of four people.

Climbing Friendship Peak India has many ‘climbing peaks’, but one of the more spectacular is Friendship Peak in the Pir Panjal range. This 5,289m peak lies on the high ridge of Shiti Dhar up the Solang valley. Climb up its rock-and-ice slopes over winding glaciers to the top for fabulous views of the Pir Panjal and Bara Bangahal ranges, the Kullu valley and peaks like Hanuman Tibba. How to do it: A number of trekking and mountaineering operators take you there. Thrillophilia (thrillophilia.com) leads two-week expeditions to Friendship for Rs 44,200 per person all-inclusive from New Delhi.

Snowman Trek, Bhutan Considered the most difficult trek in Bhutan, or indeed in all of the Himalayan range, this 20-day full-camping trek from Drukgyal Dzong to Sephu takes in several high passes and an ever-changing terrain ranging from coniferous forests to snowy wastes, and offers a window into remote Bhutanese communities. It brings you close to several beautiful Himalayan peaks like Jomolhari, Jichu Drake, Masagang, and Gangkhar Puensum. How to do it: Go only with reputed trekking operators like Guides of Bhutan (guidesofbhutan.com), Bhutan Nomad Adventures (bhutannomad.com) or Bhutan Trails (bhutan-trails.org)

Alamy/Indiapicture

Biking in Mustang, Nepal Located on the edge of the Tibetan plateau beyond the world’s deepest gorge—that of the Kali Gandaki, between the Annapurna range and Dhaulagiri—lies the kingdom of Mustang. A restricted spot till very recently, you can now bike there. Old trekking trails are being converted into roads along the Kali Gandaki, creating new and challenging MTB routes. Flying to Jomsom from Pokhra, you can push, carry and ride your bike all the way to Lo Manthang across five passes. How to do it: Many operators offer biking trips to the Kali Gandaki valley, but only a few take you to Mustang. One such is Grand Asian Journeys (grandasianjourneys.com) who offer a two-week itinerary of fully-supported biking for $3,095 per person.

Bungee jumping off Victoria Falls Bridge, Zimbabwe The spectacular Victoria Falls bridge linking Zimbabwe and Zambia across the Zambezi river is the spiritual home of bungee jumping. Leaping into the Zambezi gorge with the river over 120m below is pretty much a leap of faith as you fall a record 34m. How to do it: Jump only with a recognized operator. Victoria Falls Bungee (victoriafallsbungee.com) organizes jumps for $125 per person. If you’re an experienced jumper, try variations like the back flip and the star elevator.

Alamy/Indiapicture

Climbing El Capitan, US Almost a 100 million years in the making, El Capitan’s astounding 915m granite monolith is like nothing else on earth. It’s one of the meccas of rock climbing, and all the different routes up the mountain’s sheer granite face take up to a week for experienced rock climbers. It’s also a favourite with extreme BASE jumpers. Even if your climbing skills aren’t up to scratch, just the trek through Yosemite National Park to get to the mountain is worth it. Check out the Yosemite Park website, yosemitepark.com.

Kangchenjunga Trek, nepal Kangchenjunga, the giant massif, sits between Nepal and Sikkim, lording over a realm of glaciers, ice, snow, rock and forests. The entire area lies within the Kangchenjunga Conservation Area, a UN-assisted initiative, with sparsely spread out human settlements and a rich biodiversity. The trek from Taplejung in the foothills to Pangpemo at the base camp passes from the lower forests through some spectacular alpine environments and past giant peaks like Kabru, Jannu, Kangbachen, Kirat Chuli and of course Kangchenjunga itself. How to do it: Due to a lack of teahouses, you have to camp and be self-sufficient. In Nepal this is an expensive proposition. Great Himalayan Trail (thegreathimalayantrail.com) is a great resource for prices and trek operators.

AFP (From Outlook Traveller November Issue, 2013)

Kinnaur-Garhwal Traverse One of the best crossings of the Great Himalayan Range in India. Lamkhaga Pass (5,284m) connects two wildly different parts of the Himalaya—the Bhagirathi valley in Garhwal and the Baspa valley (pic) in Kinnaur. Apart from spectacular views and the thrill of crossing glaciers, snowfields, raging rivers, and gorgeous forests, Lamkhaga is also a cultural watershed. A better all-round Himalayan trek you can’t ask for. How to do it: It’s easy to do it on your own, with planning, and Inner Line Permits. Start from Chitkul in Kinnaur, as you gain less height from that valley to the pass than on the other side.

Alamy/Indiapicture

Hang Son Doong, Vietnam Imagine a cave as old as the Himalaya, about 9km long, almost 500ft high, home to a river and a jungle with flying foxes and monkeys and countless dramatic stalactites. Discovered in 2009, the Hang Son Doong cave set off a stampede among scientists. Subsequent exploration revealed a further network of 150 more caves. It’s  certainly one of the world’s most beautiful natural formations. How to do it: Vietnamese operators like Oxalis (oxalis.com.vn) offer week-long exploratory trips through the cave system with camping and caving for $3,000 per person.

On the way to the village of Ransi further down the Madhmaheshwar Ganga valley are a series of waterfalls that offer the perfect excuse for a much-needed bath before greeting humanity once again.

Sankar Sridhar

The Madhmaheshwar Temple. Also called Madhyamaheshwar, this is one of the most atmospheric and remote of the Siva temples of Garhwal.

Sankar Sridhar

Roped up as a precaution against slipping into crevasses hidden by snow, the expedition marches across the Panpatia snowfield. Ringed by towering peaks, the snowfield is a dream to walk across on a clear day. Its nighmarish avatar came to the fore on the second day when we battled mad winds and blinding snow, with not so much as a pebble to hide under.

Sankar Sridhar

Ang Dorjee shows us how he feels, now that we have crossed the Panpatia Col (hidden by the black outcrop of rock in the background), and by the prospect of heading out of the realm of snow and into flower-filled meadows in the next couple of days.

Sankar Sridhar

Sundar, our guide, leads the lung-busting climb up the flank of the Parvati icefall. Its treacherous terrain was made doubly dangerous and thrilling by bad weather

Sankar Sridhar