Month: November 2016

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Holiday gift list for adventurers

The gifting season is almost upon us, and if you know an adventurer or outdoorsy person, here’s a list of presents that will make their day! There are no clothes on the list, because sizes are tricky, and personal preferences are even more tricky. All these presents are easy to buy, and they’re gifts that will keep giving. And we’ve divided it up based on price, so you really have no excuse not to shop right now!

Stocking Stuffers:
If you know someone who loves the outdoors, but you don’t know them well enough for a big spend, these budget gifts are perfect.

Firestarter
INR 450 | View here
There’s nothing more uncomfortable for an adventurer than being stuck without a fire at night. Originally built for the Swedish Ministry of Defence, this Fire Steel tool is made to generate a shower of sparks that can help light a warm fire. Just strike the sawtooth against the fire steel, holding it above kindling like dry grass, wood chips, or dry leaves. This tool also comes with a bottle opener and is attached to a para cord to keep it handy.
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Gaiters
INR 860 | View here
These gaiters will keep leeches and other creepy-crawlies out of the boots of your adventurer. They’ll also be ideal for trekking through snow, sand and swamps. With adjustable ropes, hooks and velcro fastenings, as well as zippers, they’re fairly sturdy and adaptable.

Waterproof Dry Bag:
INR 455 | View here
You don’t need to be an adventurer to appreciate this one. These bags are waterproof (when closed properly), and will save you the trouble of wrapping things in plastic. If you’re going on a rafting or kayaking trip, if you’re heading out for a day on the beach, or if you’re expecting rain on a hike, the Dry Bag will keep your essentials dry.

Yoga Bars:
INR 330 | View here
Pick up these all-natural, yummy bars for meals on the go. Any adventurer knows the value of an easy-to-pack snack that won’t smash, crumble or melt. These quick snacks are made with healthy ingredients like oats, dates and chia seeds, and will give anyone a boost of long-lasting energy.
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Sports Gel:
INR 480 | View here
Trending all around the world right now, these sports gels are great for runners, trekkers, and anyone who’ll need sustenance during their adventure activity. It replenishes depleted electrolytes, boosts energy, and is easy to slip into a backpack or a running belt.
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Waist Pouch:
INR 529 | View here
It’s vital to keep your hands free on a run, on a trek, or on a day adventure. All your essentials are close at hand without needing to stop and swing your day pack or backpack around, or unzip all those pockets.
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Mid Budget Gifts:
These handy gifts are a little more expensive, but so worth it.

Headlamps:
Anyone who spends time out of the city, whether on a trek or camping, needs this. A headlamp is more convenient than a flashlight, because it leaves your hands free to cook, set up tents, build fires, or keep an eye on the bushes around.
View budget headlamp for INR 222: Grab this high intensity LED headlamp for a song.
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View premium headlamp for INR 1680: This PETZL headlamp offers different lighting modes and a long battery life.
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San-Disk Micro SD and Adapter:
INR 1289 | View here
It’s small, but oh so handy. This memory card is compatible with any Android device, and can be slipped into a phone on any trip. The adapter makes it easy to use on full-size SD devices. No more running out of memory when there’s a beautiful view of a valley or a sunset right in front of you.
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Tarkan Solar Charger:
INR 999 | View here
A solar charger is handy on multi-day treks or hikes. With a drizzle-proof and shock proof design, this charger can be strapped onto a backpack and charges all day.
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LUCI Inflatable Solar Lantern:
INR 1019 | View here
This award-winning design is lightweight, waterproof, and can be slipped into a daypack or a pocket. It needs to be left in the sunlight (or any incandescent light) for a day, to provide light for 6-12 hours. Strap it to your bag and take off for a hike, knowing that when you set up camp at night, you’ll have this right there.
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Lifestraw Purifier
INR 1745 | View here
Built for the adventurer who goes into the wild and might have to drink water from natural ponds or rivers, the Lifestraw bottle offers a small, compact and economical way to stay safe from 99.99 per cent of waterborne bacteria.
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Big Budget Gifts:
If the adventurer in question is a loved one, a partner, a dear friend, or a relative, then these are the gifts that will earn the sunniest smiles.

Coleman Sundome 3-Person Tent
INR 4574 | View here
This tent is great for trekkers who might like to spend the night out in the Sahyadris or in the lower foothills of the Himalayas. It is well-ventilated and will keep campers dry and protected from milder elements.
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Wildcraft Rucksack:
INR 6077 | View here
Most trekkers/travellers use their bags until the threads are falling apart. It’s because they’d rather spend that money on a trip than buy a new bag. That’s where you step in. Buy them something that saves their shoulders and backs.
P.S: If you’re looking for recommendations for more backpacks, check out our Gear Guide article.
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Nikon Coolpix:
INR 16,498 | View here
This Nikon camera is an adventurer’s best friend. It can be taken scuba diving, up to 30 metres deep; it can be taken on snow treks, up in the air on a paraglider, and on treks in the mountains.
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Garmin Forerunner
INR 27,990 | View here
If you’ve got a big budget, this is a perfect person for a serious runner or marathoner. Garmin makes some of the top fitness wearables in the world, and the Forerunner 235 gives you a whole range of cool features. Starting from a heart-rate monitor, audio prompts, smartphone notifications, and more. If you know someone who’s training for Everest or Kilimanjaro in 2017, this will help them create and monitor training plans for themselves.
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GoPro Hero 4 Adventure Edition
INR 30,900 | View here
You’ll see GoPro anywhere there is adventure, whether it’s windsurfing, paragliding, scuba diving, or trekking. Almost every adventure brand out there uses a GoPro, and it makes perfect sense. This tiny device can take a beating in any terrain, and comes back with all the evidence safely stored. The Adventure Edition has improved controls, easier usage, and convenient features. It’s also designed to withstand extreme conditions, and is compatible with all GoPro mounts and accessories.
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You know what the best part of this list is? You order all these presents online and get them delivered to your doorstep. No battling the Christmas/New Year crowds at the last minute!

10 great ways to spend New Year’s Eve

Don’t wake up on the 1st of January 2017 with a splitting hangover, the remnants of last night’s party rotting in your kitchen sink, the smell of burnt fire-crackers in the air, and the milkman/bai ringing the doorbell.

Just don’t.

Do something that takes you out of the city instead. You’ll wake up to a dewy morning somewhere, with the misty-fresh world making 2017 look so bright and new. Here are 10 spectacular ways to bring in the new year:

1. Snow treks in the Himalayas
snow treks in himalayas
Get out of the city and head for the sanctuary of the mountains. In the winter, the snow blankets the ground, muffles all sounds, and creates postcard-perfect landscapes just for you. You can play in the snow, build snowmen, have snowball fights, and camp in the snow. Check out our list of treks, and if you don’t see what you like, write to us at [email protected] We’ll find something you can do.

P.S: If camping in the snow is not your thing, we’ve got lodge-based treks like this one that you can do. You’ll spend the day outside, but at night, you’ll have cosy rooms and soft beds to sleep in.

2. Rafting and camping in Rishikesh
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Head to the holy town for a spiritual new year celebration. You’ll battle the rapids of the Ganges, live in cosy tents, spend evenings around a bonfire, and eat good food. You should definitely check out the Ganga Aarti while you’re there. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate how beautiful it is to watch those lamps float down the fast-flowing river.

3. Paragliding in Maharashtra
paragliding maharashtra
If you’re short on time, you don’t have to go far. Take a day trip to Kamshet, sign the forms, and strap up. A skilled instructor manages your glider, leaving you free to scream, sing, and admire the views of the rolling landscape around you. Soaring through the sky gives you a whole new perspective for the new year, and might even encourage you to book a paragliding certification course.

4. Cycling in Kerala
kerala adventures cycling
Head to God’s own country, Kerala, for laid-back cycling trips through the lush cardamom plantations, quaint lanes, tea estates and backwaters.

5. Goa adventures
goa adventures snorkelling
If you’re travelling to Goa for the New Year, take some time to browse our adventures in this coastal paradise. We’ve got snorkelling trips, boat cruises, easy 1-day ocean treks that take you up onto the cliffs for better views of the sea, fun dives for those who are looking for scuba, and cycling tours that take you through the lanes of old Goa or through the islands of Goa.

6. Diving in the Andamans
andamans diving scuba
Why hang about in the cities when you could be in a tropical paradise on New Year’s Eve? You’ll float peacefully in the warm, blue ocean, go on a Try Dive to see what life is like under the surface, and spend the rest of your day in shorts, bikinis, and sunglasses. You could even choose to do a Discover Scuba Dive, which is the first step towards getting your PADI certification!

7. Bungee jumping in Rishikesh
bungee jumping india adventure
Start the new year with an adventure like no other! Book a trip to Rishikesh, and jump off the highest bungee platform in India. When you’re standing at 83 metres (270 feet) above the river, your heart will pound like never before.

P.S: If bungee jumping is not your thing, we’ve also got Asia’s longest flying fox, or India’s highest giant swing (from the bungee platform).

8. Camping around Mumbai/Pune
camping maharashtra
Get away from the city, and head into the welcoming arms of Mother Nature. You can camp by a lake, sing songs around a bonfire, sleep in tents, and enjoy the nippy air of an outdoorsy New Year’s Eve night, and wake up to a misty morning.
Call for details: 9920250519

9. Treks around Maharashtra
trekking maharashtra
Sign up for a trek that starts on the 31st of December. When the clock strikes midnight, you’ll be somewhere up in the Western Ghats, enjoying a bonfire and the starry sky above.

10. Multi-adventure camp in Bangalore
adventure bangalore
If you live and work in Bangalore, here’s something for you. Take off to an adventure camp for New Year’s Eve. You’ll spend the days trying out kayaking, rock-climbing, rappelling, and other exciting sports. And in the evenings, when it gets cold, huddle around a fire to stay warm.

If there’s something on your bucket list for the New Year, tell us. We’re putting up new adventures all the time, and maybe we’ve got an amazing offer that you can’t refuse.

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Interview with an adventurer – Shabbir Chandabhai, Kilimanjaro conqueror!

Shabbir Chandabhai is a Bombay boy who went to the US to study, got married, had two children, and is an architect. But that’s where his story diverges from the norm. He’s recently conquered Mt. Kilimanjaro, done some intense alpine climbing in the North Cascades, and is aiming at Everest next.

Shabbir took a break of 15 years (f-i-f-t-e-e-n y-e-a-r-s) to build the life he wanted, and then decided he missed the mountains too much. So he whipped himself back in shape, set his sights on Uhuru in Kilimanjaro, and found himself at the top of this towering giant one day.

Naturally, The Great Next couldn’t wait to hear from him.

Image credit: Shabbir Burhani

TGN: Tell us a little about yourself. What do you do for a living? What kind of adventures do you like? What do you do for fun?
SB: I have been a dreamer since childhood (no wonder I could never focus in school!) I dreamed about exploring the unknown, travelling to far off places, designing and building things. By profession I ended up being an architect, however I love reading, photography, and generally being outdoors. I love the urban environment, rather than the secluded suburbs and I have lived in mega cities all my life. Maybe that is why I love to get away to nature at the first opportunity. Growing up at sea level was fun; however I have always preferred the mountains to the beaches!

When I am not designing, I am usually lounging on my Eames chair reading or working in my backyard, sometimes I’m planning social events to meet family and friends; but at the back of my mind, I’m always working on a new plan to go ‘into the wild’.

TGN: Have you always been an adventurer? What inspired you to start?
SB: Not really. I was always an introvert as a child, loved to be home and play with Lego, rather than go out and play with friends in the park. However, my parents encouraged us to get outdoors. Once I remember getting a good scolding because I ventured out biking with some friends outside my residential colony, which was beyond my bounds. Maybe I should not have taken my mom’s words to “get outdoors” as literally.

My parents used to enroll us at YMCA summer camps, and we always had a ball of a time. Slowly we started going for camps to various hill stations around India, which was a huge inspiration for me to get out there with a bunch of new friends and explore.

TGN: Tell us about some of your most memorable early travel experiences.
SB: In my college days, we took a trip to Nepal, starting in Kathmandu, and driving to Pokhara. From Pokhara we could see the spectacular Annapurna range. After Nepal we ventured into Gangtok, Sikkim. That was the first time I saw Kanchenjunga with Makulu, Mt. Everest and Lhotse in the background. Now, I am not sure if it was good or bad, but viewing Everest from Tiger Hill was when the aim to try to climb Everest someday was born. I was always pretty good at geography in school, and all I could think when I saw Everest was of its height: 8848 metres.

On another camp to Uttarakhand, we had to pass a physical test to qualify for this camp in the high mountains. I completed the rigorous course around the hills of Belapur (New Bombay) with ease and qualified. From Shimla, we trekked higher to a remote village which was 9000 to 9500 ft above sea level. We learned some technical rock climbing, rappelling, tent pitching, and target shooting and did some unforgettable trekking on the hills in the vicinity. Trips like these were pretty much the foundation for my love of the hills and mountains.

Towards my final years in college, we ventured out on some other trips to Kullu, Manali and Shimla. Went up Rohtang Pass, Sela Pass, Changu lake and then another unforgettable trip to North-east India in 2000. We travelled all the way up to Tawang and Bomdila and trekked within that region close to the India-Burma and India-China border. The culture, the architecture and the landscape, a combination of all these made it a spectacular destination and ever since I have been longing to go back to the Himalayas.

Image credit: Shabbir Burhani

TGN: But then time went by?
SB: Yes. After college, it was time to graduate and build a career. I graduated and worked for 2 years in Mumbai and in 2002, headed to the US to get my Masters degree. Got married in 2003 to my amazing partner in crime, and have had 2 wonderful kids since then. Time flew by and I never got a chance to get back to climbing. Yes, we did do some camps, hikes and whitewater rafting, however nothing was an intense and challenging which I dreamt of. 15 years of my life just whizzed by….

TGN: And now you’ve climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Congratulations! How did that come about?
SB: In 2008, I happened to go to Tanzania for a wedding. That’s when I saw the spectacular Mt Meru. I’d been out of the game for a while, but the yearning for the mountains hit me hard again. I spent some time trying to work things out, and then finally decided to get back to it. I started small, joining a gym to do some cardio and weight training with a professional trainer. I got into running a few days a week as well. All the time, I could feel Kilimanjaro waiting. I asked family and friends if anyone was interested in climbing with me, but nothing really materialized. By some chance, I happened to mention to my trainer, Matt, that I was going to climb Kilimanjaro, no matter who joined me. And guess what? He decided he’d join me. We managed to gather another 9 members to climb with us.

So we trained for 4 months, 4 intense months of gruelling training, and then finally, set out in Feb 2016. On the 26th of Feb, all of us reached the top of Kilimanjaro, at a height of 19,341 feet.

Image credit: Shabbir Burhani

TGN: What did it take, getting to the top?
SB: In my teenage days I suffered from asthma. I had some severe lower back problems around 2009 which lingered for a few years. I wanted to challenge myself, test my body and soul, so to speak, and hence wanted to get back and climb. It was very challenging indeed, especially after 15 years. However, I loved the experience, which has been sort of a self-discovery for me and ever since then, it has got me to do more and challenge myself further not only in climbing but all aspects of life!

TGN: You’ve also done some crazy high-altitude climbs. Tell us about those. What’s the highest altitude you’ve been to?
SB: According to the definition, high altitude is between 5000-11500 feet, and very high altitude is 11500-18000 feet. In the lower Himalayas, I’ve been as high as 14,000 feet. But for the Kilimanjaro trek, we climbed to Uhuru Peak which is at 19,341 feet, with some Class 3 rock scrambling. In the North Cascades on Mt. Shuksan, I’ve climbed the summit pyramid at 9131 feet, which was tough because it was a mix of alpine climbing and technical rock climbing.

In the Cascades

In the Cascades

TGN: What’s the toughest trek/climb you’ve done?
SB: Since I intend to do some high altitude climbs around the world, training in an alpine setting was key. Thus based on recommendation from a trusted guiding company in the Pacific Northwest, we ventured into the North Cascades to climb Mt. Shuksan. It is not a very tall mountain, however was ideal to train in terms of glacier travel, cramponing, crevasse and self-rescue, etc. I must say, it was even so more challenging than Kili. I mean Kili had its own challenges; however Mt Shuksan is considered a pretty tough climb, especially the summit pyramid.

TGN: Tell us about Mt.Shuksan. That sounds interesting!
SB: This expedition started off with trailhead, approximately 2,500 feet in elevation. We climbed through dense forest and up into the alpine zone to camp at approximately 6,000 feet on the edge of the Sulphide Glacier. A long day with 50 lb. packs, 5-7 hours in duration, probably the hardest day of the trip. We set camp on the glacier, carving out an even ledge on the snowfield. Day 2 was a training day and we learned several very important aspects of climbing in that environment which would be key for our bid to the summit. On Day 3, we had a really early breakfast, geared and roped up and started out before sun rise. We travelled through various steep sections of the hill and dodged our way up, avoiding crevasses. We saw a spectacular sunrise in the midst of the beautiful mountain ranges of the cascades as we took our first break around 7500 feet.

Sunrise in the Cascades

Sunrise in the Cascades

We chugged along higher and got to the base of the summit pyramid which is a massive 800 feet of vertical rock wall. This was the most challenging part for me, due to my lack of experience on technical rock climbing. However, with the help of our great guides, we removed our crampons and commenced our assault on the rock wall via a section called the gulley. We must have climbed 600 feet of this wall when we came to a very difficult section, everyone moved ahead, except me. I just couldn’t lift my legs to complete that crazy manoeuvre to go to the next rock. It was killing me, I slipped and was almost dangling trying to desperately hold the edge of a section with my fingertips and tried to get a little bit of a toe grip on an edge below. This was a do or die moment! Since we were all roped up, Johnny, my guide, hauled me up a certain steep section, which helped me climb the remaining section to the summit. We finally reached the summit 10:30 am (Aug 23, 2016).

Traversing snow fields in the Cascades

Traversing snow fields in the Cascades

TGN: Do you tend to stick with climbing and trekking, or do you do any other adventure sports?
SB: With the climbing fever deep within me, I will keep exploring and trekking; however I do love white-water kayaking, which I intend to keep doing while I am not climbing.

TGN: Do you have a special moment from your adventure travel? A moment you just knew you’d never forget?
SB: My father is and has always been a great inspiration to us. To see him being strong as he suffers through his ordeal of PSP (neurological Parkinsons) gives us hope. I hope to live up to his dreams, hope to enjoy life and do what he would have loved doing in good health. That’s one of the reasons I changed my lifestyle, got back into shape, leading a healthy life and no matter what the challenges, learned to overcome them with a smiling face (in most cases). Climbing Kilimanjaro with an intention for raising funds to cure PSP was one of my goals. After going through all the challenges (remembering that my father is going through far greater challenges) and seeing the summit within a few steps away bought tears in my eyes. It was not about proving to anyone or putting up a show, it was all about personal hard work, overcoming the most audacious obstacles in life, reaching a personal goal was like a light at the end of the long dark tunnel. For me, this is the moment I will never forget.

This one's for you, Dad!

This one’s for you, Dad!

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