Need to take a break from a demanding job?
Want to boost your confidence levels at work?
A good solution: escape for a week to an adventure sports camp.
We are sure your next two questions will be:
1. What if I am scared of heights or terrified of fast-moving mountain rivers?
2. How expensive is this option?
Worry not. Many professional adventure tour companies, which organise such activities today, ensure you are safe and comfortable as you enjoy the challenge of participating in a range of physical activities. You can even do this on a budget.
Interested? We bring you the lowdown and details of the packages available.
Popular adventure activities
Lt Col MK Munshi (retired), an avid adventure sport lover and a wildlife photographer based in Mumbai, guides us.
A raft is a floating platform constructed by tying a series of logs together. The logs are fastened with ropes and cross-wooden planks. The challenge is to guide the raft through the rivers using poles; these poles act both as a pedal and as a rudder for steering the raft.
You need to climb a rock face with your bare hands, sometimes aided with long steel pins called pitons. For safety, a rock climber is secured with a rope around his/ her waist, which is belayed (tied to a peg) by another climber at a higher altitude to protect those who are climbing after him in case of an accidental fall.
A kayak is a narrow, light boat intended for one or two persons. Kayakers use a double-ended paddle that acts as a rudder as well as a paddle to take the boat forward and to steer it.
In kayaking, the kayakers take the boat through fast moving mountain rivers. They negotiate difficult sections of the river or rapids (an extremely fast-moving part of a river, caused by a steep descent in the riverbed) by carrying the boat on their shoulders and walking on the banks.
This involves driving through forest and mountain roads in a four wheel drive vehicle or specially-modified vehicles. You could also ride horseback or elephant back through the wild, crossing rivers and streams in the process.
Mountaineering is a great challenge -- the more difficult the ascent, the greater the challenge. Mountaineers normally go in groups, roping themselves together, with one as the leader and others following. The rope acts as a safety prop, which protects a mountaineer. In case he/she slips or falls, the others are able to pull him back with the rope.
This involves carrying a backpack and following trails in the mountains, forests, wild meadows and so forth. You get to be close to nature and halt only at the end of the day at a forest lodge or trekker hostel. You could even takes notes or photographs of what you hear/ see along the trail.
This activity happens on snow slopes, where the skier uses 'long runners' which he/ she wears with special shoes. The skies, or 'long runners', are made of wood or composite material.
This technique involves rapidly coming down a cliff using a rope. The rapeller often uses a special harness and passes a rope between his legs and over his shoulder. He slides down the cliff by pushing himself from the cliffside while sliding down the rope.
Sounds tough? Yes. But beginners can attempt all these activities.
"The degree of difficulty is based on the capabilities of the participants. Our staff is also very vigilant. The general ratio is about one instructor per 10 participants," says Christine Patham, vice president Snow Leopard Adventures, a tour company that organises adventure sports activities on a regular basis. Amongst those who have attended camps by Snow Leopard Adventures include Hollywood actor Brad Pitt, mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary, former Indian cricket captain Kapil Dev and Bollywood actor Milind Soman.
Other attractions -- wildlife
Most adventure camps tend to be located in very scenic places, so you can treat your eyes to some of the most beautiful wildlife of India.
"Spotting wildlife is an art. One requires immense patience and the ability to remain silent to be able to spot animals in the wild," says Patham. The most commonly seen fauna in a Snow Leopard Adventure camp are peacocks, barking deer, langoors and, on some occasions, leopards.
If one visits Camp Tusker, a Snow Leopard Adventure camp at the Rajaji National Park in Uttaranchal, one can even spot wild elephants, spotted deer and wild boar.
"We all possess hidden strengths that we ourselves are sometimes unaware of, and these activities help participants gain confidence," says Patham.
In most adventure activities, the learning curve is similar to other human resource developing courses -- you are taken out of your comfort zone and pushed into the wilderness.
Certain camps -- where they may have no electricity, no mobile coverage and no television -- are a drastic change from the usual city life. At camps, you learn to adjust to new situations and overcome your fears.
Schools, colleges, IT companies, BPOs, teachers and groups from the armed forces register for adventure programmes, hoping to go through the same learning curve experienced by college students and corporate executives when they go for events geared by character building and team building activities.
Equipment and gear
Most adventure tour companies are well-equipped for such sports and activities. You just need to carry your usual clothing and toiletries and, maybe, special clothes for rafting, ie synthetic tops and trousers for women. The rest is usually provided for.
The health factor
Most tour companies lay down rules for people with certain health conditions such as pregnancy, asthma, heart trouble and so on.
"We expect participants to tell us if they are suffering from any ailment. Depending on that, we can adjust the difficulty levels and the type of activities for them," says Patham. Usually, adventure tour companies have qualified personnel, who are also trained in CPR and first-aid.
Adventure tourism and your budget
Adventure tourism is now picking up pace as against several years ago when it was not considered a sport for the common man -- people thought it was too dangerous or beyond one's budget.
Today, you are likely to find an activity that fits your budget. Just make sure you register with reliable adventure tourism companies.
You can tailor your itinerary and prices can vary depending on the nature of the trip you plan. There are special discounts for students and people from the armed forces.
i. Snow Leopard Adventures' Camp Panther, Rishikesh.
Duration: 2 nights/ 3 days
Cost: Rs 5,800
Accommodation: Safari tents
Activities include river rafting, rappelling, nature walk, swimming, rock climbing, bird watching in the surrounding areas, kayaking on a placid stretch of the river, beach games like volley ball, frisbee, tug of war, trekking and day hikes to the surrounding hills.
For further details, visit http://www.snowleopardadventures.com/camp_panther.asp
ii. Snow Leopard Adventures' LEADERS Summer Camp 2006
This camp is for children in the age group of 9 to 16 years.
Cost: Rs 8,600
- June 3 - June 9
- June 10 - June 16
- June 17 - June 26
- Train tickets from Delhi-Haridwar-Delhi on the non-AC Jan Shatabdi Express
- All transport from Haridwar-Camp-Haridwar in an non-AC vehicle
- Complete boarding and lodging at Snow Leopard Adventures camp
- All adventure activities/ use of equipment and the services of trained outdoor instructors
- Entry fee to Rajaji National Park
Does not include:
- 4.08 percent service tax levied by the Government of India
- En route expenses/ personal expenses
- Medical and insurance covers
- Any expenses incurred due to exigencies/ force majeure (inclusive of natural disasters, riots, acts of god, etc)
Snow Leopard Adventures Pvt Ltd
9174 Sector C-9
New Delhi -- 110 005
Phones: (011) 26122775, 26891473, 26134554
Web site: www.snowleopardadventures.com
iii. India Outdoors' four-day Camping and Rafting on the Tons, Garhwal
Cost: Rs 6,000 per head.
Tented accommodation on twin share
Rafting and trekking arrangements
All meals & soft drinks at the camp
Professional guide fee, camp staff and cook
Does not include:
Rail fare (approximately Rs 1,000 both ways from Delhi)
Transfers by car from Dehradun onwards by car/ jeep to the camp and back.
169/C Outhouse Neelkant Niwas
Dr Ambedkar Road
Mumbai -- 400 014
Phones: (022) 24186360, 24102446, 30948621
Web site: www.indiaoutdoors.com
iv. Pugmarks Holidays' 12-day Manali Trek
Cost: Rs 10,100
Pune-Delhi-Pune sleeper class train fare.
Delhi-Manali-Delhi by chartered bus.
Freshly cooked food at campsite.
Tented accommodation with sleeping bags, carry mats and blankets.
Trekking/ activity equipment and fees of resource persons.
Practise treks in Pune.
Pre and post-camp get-together and a gift.
Does not include:
Meals during travel Pune-Manali and Manali-Pune.
Personal expenses such as telephones, cold drinks, mineral water, laundry, porter charges, etc.
Insurance of any kind.
Medical, hospitalisation and related expenses.
Any item not covered under the head cost includes.
595, Deccan Gymkhana
Behind Sai Petrol Pump
Pune -- 411 004
Phones: (020) 56014112, 56014113, 09822267648
Web site: http://www.pugmarksholidays.com/
v. Aquaterra Adventures' four-day Camp Kuflon Basics.
Cost: Rs 4,600
Accommodation on twin sharing basis
All meals, soft drinks
Escort for birdwatching and day hikes
Does not include:
Laundry or expenses of personal nature such as batteries, film rolls etc.
Aquaterra Adventures (India) Pvt Ltd
Greater Kailash - II
New Delhi -- 110 048
(011) 29212641, 29212760, 51636101
(0) 9811103831, 9868244275
Web site: http://www.treknraft.com/
More tour companies
No 105, Sector 70
Web site: http://www.himadventures.net/
C1- 2838 (GF)
Sushant Lok 1
- (0124) 2574435, 5514503
(0) 9810809047, 9891955061
Web site: http://www.adventurehills.com
Great Indian Outdoors
6086 - B-8,
India -- 110 070
Phones: (011) 26891626, 26897573, 30935998
South City 1
Gurgaon -- 122 002
Phone: (0124) 4081500
GC, Ramanachala Apartments
Bangalore -- 560 059