Switzerland, France, Austria, America, Canada, Italy, New Zealand, England, Australia and the Slavic countries are all well known as some of the top holiday destinations. They have excellent facilities for the action enthusiasts — but they are not cheap.
India is probably one of the most inexpensive destinations globally that has a variety of adventures awaiting the thrill seeker.
For those looking for some excitement this summer, nothing can beat going under the sea, scuba diving, taking to the skies in a balloon or even being airborne in a paraglider.
Then there are other offbeat activities such as the rough and tumble of white-water rafting, where you are guaranteed to experience the heady rush of adrenalin.
In fact, summer time is special for knife-edged adventure sports — from river rafting to scuba diving, snorkelling to mountain biking and Jeep safaris to paragliding and ballooning.
Look around and there will be a number of options to choose from.
Height of thrills
For the hardcore adventurer, one of the most exotic choices is a self-driven bike or Jeep ride from Manali to Leh. The 475-kilometre distance tests the nerves of the toughest high-altitude drivers even as it opens up the most stunning sights of nature.
It’s virtually travelling on the roof of the world. For over half of its length, the road is over 13,000 feet above sea level and the three-day drive takes you through four mountain passes, sometimes at dizzying heights of around 17,000 feet. It is nature at its loftiest. Do not expect fancy hotels and eateries on the way. There is virtually no habitation, no petrol pumps and no service centres. You are on your own on this road. And by the way, don’t forget your camping gear because that is the only way you will be sleeping!
Test the waters
If you don’t like heights but still crave an adventurous vacation, go ahead and test the waters. Nothing can be more exhilarating than white-river rafting in Rishikesh. Here you will encounter sharp bends and exciting rapids, which are graphically termed as The Wall and Marine Drive. There are baby patches for the faint-hearted but for the adventure seekers, there are rough rapids that first hoist you up and then down the steep descent, raft and all, till you come hurtling down in a haze of a white curtain of water.
Rishikesh — one of the holiest cities of North India — has the Ganges flowing through it. The river in these parts is loaded with different grades of rapids on its entire length and at times, gradients can drop a mind-boggling 50 feet for each kilometre. Raftable water levels are unpredictable, which makes this one of the scariest adventures for the uninitiated and a daring challenge for those who like action.
Plumbing the depths
The sea holds its own charm in summers. The golden sands of Bangaram in the Lakshadweep Islands offer excellent deep-sea adventures.
Scuba diving here is one of the most thrilling experiences. At places, the magnificent coral reefs start from the shore and then drop sharply from 10 metres to a mind-boggling 100 metres, which can send a shiver up the spine of the toughest people.
If you are not game for scuba diving, go in for the milder sport of snorkelling. This is best done in the Jolly Buoy/Red Skin Islands in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This is an equally exciting water sport, as the sea here offers some exotic views of marine life and coral sea beds. The surf on the beach can be rough, so it is advisable to go with a tour operator who provides the full gear for the sport and has a professional who will be nearby for any support you need.
Up In the air
For those who like to take wing, there is hang gliding and paragliding in Bir-Billing in the Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh. Considered to be one of the best paragliding take-off points in the world, Bir-Billing at a height of 7,500 feet is surrounded by the Dhauladhar range, which rises to a dizzy height of around 13,000 feet.
If you pine for both the sea and the air experience, there’s always the option of parasailing in Goa. The beaches here offer some of the best opportunities for taking off from a sailboat and experiencing the thrills of being airborne.
But if you get vertigo at the thought of paragliding, you can head for Ranthambore in Rajasthan. This is not just one of India’s best-known tiger reserves but is also well known for hot-air ballooning. View the tigers from the skies as your balloon soars higher and higher. So go ahead choose your adventure and make it a summer experience you will not forget in a lifetime.