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Cultures, camping and cooking

Adventure Company traveller, Paula McNamara discovers the delights on India on her first adventure

It was something I had never done before, and in truth, not something that I ever wanted to do. But when I stepped off the plane into the chaos of Delhi, yes, it was a culture shock but within moments, I was fascinated.

My partner, John and I had travelled to India on my first ever trip of this ‘kind’. Usually heading for the sun to lie on the beach for two weeks, John had cunningly convinced me to take on an adventure style holiday. He had previously been to China and Thailand and definitely has the bug, so it was time I took the bullet and ventured into the unknown.

Booked on a group tour, I was perhaps slightly apprehensive about travelling in such close quarters with strangers, but from the minute we met our leader, lovely Suard and the two other members of our group, it was like long lost friends meeting again. Our two companions, affectionately known as mum and dad, John, Suard and I set off towards Agra to visit the infamous Taj Mahal, which absolutely lives up to its romantic reputation.

As we moved on to visit beautiful Orchha,  I found myself cooking an enormous traditional Indian meal with a local family; with plenty of laughing, spices, enjoyment, and the occasional help with Hindi from Suard , the harmony of the group ebbed from the kitchen. It was an incredible experience to witness such a cultural exchange in one’s home, a moment that really, amongst many others, made the holiday.

We travelled to the holy city of Varanasi one of the oldest living cities in the world and to call it fascinating or colourful would be an understatement.  We were camping and taking an overnight boat here, right in the thick of it, so I was marginally nervous about the camping part. I think I’ve been missing out. We camped close to the edge of the infamous river, witnessing a rainbow of boats float by and thousands of candles floating down the river. It is a hugely indiscreet city, and death here forms part of daily lives. To die in Varanasi is considered massively favourable as the city offers Moksha – a release from the cycle of life and death.

As we took our boat out the next day, we witnessed a highly intimate ritual most common on the ghats at Varanasi. A family performing their final send off for a deceased loved one before placing them in the river, to make their final journey.

We were all humbled into silence as the passing from life occurred and the family paid their respects in the traditional way. It blew me totally away, as did many of my experiences in India and this is just one example I’ll carry with me forever.

I suppose the moral of my tale is that I’ve truly learnt to appreciate the hand I was dealt. Be it food on the table, a clean toilet or cultural interaction, they’re real gifts.

I already have my next adventure planned and this time I'm heading for the wilds of Africa, with my sights firmly set on Southern Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Bring it on.

 

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From £770pp exc flights
5
(average rating, based on 1 review)
Trip type: 
Cultural
Adventure level: 
2. Gentle
Max group size: 
12

Classic Rajasthan

Asia, India | 16 days
Trip code: 
HHSC
Rustic village life - India
The princely state of Rajasthan is packed with palaces, forts, temples and many other fascinating sites.

Departs in:

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From £860pp exc flights
3
(average rating, based on 4 reviews)
Trip type: 
Cultural
Adventure level: 
3. Moderate
Max group size: 
12

Delhi to Kathmandu

Asia, India, Nepal | 16 days
Trip code: 
HHSK
The Taj Mahal - India
This exciting trip combines a journey through some of India's most celebrated cultural and historical highlights with an exploration of the remarkable Himalayan country of Nepal.

Departs in:

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From £430pp exc flights
Trip type: 
Cultural
Adventure level: 
2. Gentle
Max group size: 
16

Golden Triangle

Asia, India | 9 days
Trip code: 
HHSN
Local market
The Golden Triangle is a classic introduction to India's three most popular cities; Delhi, Agra and Jaipur

Departs in:

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From £795pp exc flights
5
(average rating, based on 3 reviews)
Trip type: 
Cultural
Adventure level: 
2. Gentle
Max group size: 
12

Southern India

Asia, India | 16 days
Trip code: 
HHSS
Local woman
Southern India's spirituality, mist-clad Nilgiri ranges, friendly people and wild animal sanctuaries make it a fascinating part of the country to explore.

Departs in:

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From £1,260pp exc flights
Trip type: 
Food & Cultural
Adventure level: 
2. Gentle
Max group size: 
12

Real Food Adventure - India

Asia, India | 15 days
Trip code: 
HHZM
Group adventure
A gastronomic journey into the cultural heart of India that make your taste buds tingle

Departs in:

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