From the Expert’s Desk
Exploring India on foot is indeed a unique and enriching experience that allows us to get close to nature, culture, landscape, and people in a way that few other modes of travel can offer. It is one of our favorite ways to showcase a destination to our Indian and Foreign guests to get a feel of our homeland. One of the things that we nurture in this process is to slow down and soak in.
This month’s spotlight is on Ms. Shobha Chadda, co-founder of Red Coral Hospitality which works with exclusive hand-picked close-to-nature resorts and experiences in India. Shobha carries with her three decades of experience in the hospitality sector and has had an opportunity to explore and market off-beat walks and hikes through her portfolio in India to Explore India on Foot.
“Exploring India on foot can be a truly immersive and rewarding experience, allowing you to connect with the culture, people, and landscapes on a deeper level.
Discovering a new destination is always an exciting adventure, and there’s no better way to fully embrace the essence of a place than by traveling on foot. Walking allows for a genuine Slow Travel experience, where one can fully appreciate the landscape’s vistas by staying in the moment rather than zipping from one place to another.
Walking tours in cities have gained tremendous popularity in recent years, thanks to passionate travel curators, local experts, and individuals dedicated to showcasing the history, heritage, and culinary delights of their cities. While urban walking tours provide valuable insights into the history, heritage, and culinary traditions of cities, there’s a profound and soul-stirring connection that comes with becoming one with the untamed landscapes of mountains and jungles.
Our favourite walking destinations unquestionably include the Himalayas, Western Ghats, and the central Indian jungles. These regions showcase the incredible geographical and ecological diversity that India has to offer, each providing a unique and diverse range of walking trails and natural experiences.
The Himalayas and the Western Ghats are celebrated for their mountainous terrain, picturesque landscapes, and opportunities for walking & trekking amidst the grandeur of towering peaks or through lush, misty forests. The serene, snow-capped Himalayan trails and the verdant, tropical pathways of the Western Ghats provide a breath-taking contrast in terms of scenery and climate.
On the other hand, the central Indian jungles offer an entirely different kind of experience. Here, you can delve into dense forests, explore wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, and witness the rich biodiversity that these regions harbour. Walking through the jungles allows you to connect with nature on a more intimate level, as you immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and smells of the wilderness. For the love of the Jungles, we encourage our guests to skip a jeep safari and venture into the jungles on foot .
In the winter, we’ve had the opportunity to explore the snow-capped Himalayan ranges of Uttarakhand, which is a truly mesmerizing experience. As you navigate the trails through Oak, Rhododendron, and Pine woodlands, you’ll encounter stunning vistas and the rich culture of the Garhwal and Kumaon regions.
On your journey, the forest occasionally parts to reveal charming little hamlets of the Garhwal and Kumaoni communities. The locals, known for their warm hospitality, welcome you with open arms. Their culture is deeply intertwined with the Himalayan landscape, and you’ll have the opportunity to learn about their customs, taste local cuisine, and witness age-old traditions. The serene landscapes, the welcoming communities, and the raw, unspoiled beauty of the region leave an indelible mark on your soul, reminding you of the enduring allure of the mountains and the warmth of the people who call them home.
While the Himalayas are young, towering, and majestic, the Western Ghats are characterized by rolling hills and plateaus with deep valleys. They have their own unique characteristics, geological histories, and ecological diversity. The Western Ghats, also known as the Sahyadri Mountains, are older than the Himalayas, dating back to around 150 million years. They are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a recognized biodiversity hotspot, home to a remarkable array of flora and fauna, particularly rich in endemic species.
Traversing the Western Ghats on foot during the monsoon season can be a unique adventure. The lush green landscapes burst to life with cascading waterfalls, vibrant flora, and a refreshing, misty ambiance. The monsoons offer an ideal opportunity for enthusiasts passionate about herpetology & the Western Ghats boast a high level of plant and animal diversity, including unique species of frogs, snakes, birds, and mammals.
The final touch is that you can minimize your carbon footprint and actively support a more sustainable and responsible form of tourism when you embark on a walking tour. Savour your environmentally conscious voyage!
Kumaon Trail: Best time: October to mid-December & February to April.
Central Indian Wildlife Trail : Best time: November to mid-March.
Western Ghat Hikes : Best time : June to September.