Himalayan Adventure




Himalayan Adventure

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  • Explore a piece of the vibrant, historic Himachali culture by getting to know the people, the food, and the language of a hill station in the Himalayas.
  • Visit Macleod Ganj, home to the Tibetan Government in exile, the official residence of the Dalai Lama, and the focal point of the Tibetan refugee community. Get ready to explore the history and mission of the Tibetan diaspora, and why Tibet is and was worth fighting for.
  • Collaborate with a charitable eco-tourism initiative working to blend modern sustainable farming approaches to ancient sustainable practices.
  • Hike to remote villages in the breathtaking Spiti Valley and discover the Buddhist communities, culture, and religion of the uniquely beautiful Himalayan Plateau. 

Program Dates

May 20 – June 28
July 8 – August 16

Program Fee + Community Contribution

$2,905 + $615
$3,185 + $750

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Sample Itinerary

*This itinerary is based on our previous experience with the region. Programs change every year based on the needs of our partners. This should give you a sense of what our program may look like.

Orientation – Delhi

The adventure begins as soon you are picked up from the airport in India’s capital city of Delhi. During our in-country orientation, we’ll be traipsing through the busy streets, interacting with local vendors, practicing our bartering skills, and sampling the many sights, smells, and tastes of Delhi. We’ll spend several days exploring the religious sites of this huge and diverse metropolis and adapting to the vast differences we’ll be exposed to for the rest of the program.

We will also kick off the main focus of the program as we visit one of the many activist communities that are working in India’s political capital to make their voice and the voice of their community heard.

Up into the Himalayas – Dharamsala

Heading north into the foothills of the Himalayas, our team will move to Macleod Ganj, located 2100 m. (6800 ft.) up on a ridge above Dharamsala and in the upper reaches of the Kangra Valley. We’ll be partnering with Students for a Free Tibet as we work on campaigns to communicate the challenges faced by Tibetans both in their homeland, as well as in their refugee community beyond its borders. We’ll also have the chance to meet with groups working to improve the lives of Tibetan refugees through education and vocational training. Our time here will give us unique insight into a worldwide student activist network, the local Himalayan culture (Himachali), and the efforts to sustain the transplanted culture of the refugee community.

More than that, we’ll also have the chance to hike some epic trails, practice yoga, or take a cooking, music or language class!

Into the Spiti Valley

Our team will head north through Shimla to the Spiti Valley – a desert mountain valley located high in the Himalayas. We’ll immerse ourselves in a landscape and culture that was identical to Tibet’s until 1949, when Tibet lost its independence. During our time in this very remote, agrarian region on top of the world, we will work along side Ecosphere, an NGO that designs environmentally sustainable tourism initiatives that responsibly tour the local Mahayana Buddhist communities. The immersive nature of this experience will likely mean hiking between villages and homestays, delving even deeper into our community connections, getting off the grid, and soaking up the fierce sun and thin air that comes with living in the mountain desert!

Independent Travel Time

A staple of all Operation Groundswell programs is Independent Travel Time (ITT). You can travel independently if you desire but we encourage everyone to travel in pairs or small groups. ITT is the ideal time for you to learn more about your specific interest, volunteering with Tibetan refugees in the north, traveling inland, or just relaxing on the coastal beaches. With over a billion people and the largest mountains in the world, you won’t be short of options here! And be sure to check out the Spiti area where we’ll leave off. Pro tip? The Ki Monastery is well worth a day of your time!

**Please note that you are not under the auspices of the organized program during ITT. Team members will be given the emergency contact number of program leaders during ITT for any advice.

Disorientation – Rishikesh

Our group will reconvene for a program debrief known as ‘disorientation’ prior to flying home. We will meet in Rishikesh, arguably the world capital of yoga, and another of India’s many holy centres, nestled along the surging Ganga river. Yoga and meditation centres are balanced by great opportunities for more rafting and hiking, making it a great option for everyone and the perfect place to debrief and end our experience together. We’ll re-live memories of the program, reminisce about our wild and wonderful experiences, discuss how to stay connected, and collaborate on projects in the future. Then off to the airport for some tearful goodbyes!

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What’s Included?


A comprehensive program itinerary and educational curriculum focused on the issues facing your specific region


Experienced and caring program leaders with you 24 hours a day


All lodging and accommodations throughout the program


Three local meals a day


All group tours, entrance fees, and excursions


All group transportation on the ground


Regular discussions and workshops to help you internalize and reflect on your experience


Support from OGHQ whenever you need it


Independent Travel Time is your opportunity to go out there and explore on your own terms!

  • Border hop on over to Nepal for a different Himalayan perspective.
  • Experience the vibrant music scene in Varanasi or visit the Taj Mahal in Agra.
  • Hang out with the elephant, monkeys, and tigers at Jim Corbett National Park.


With OG, you live like the locals.

Traveling as much as we do on the India program, there will be a number of different styles of accommodation. Tents on the side of a mountain, a homestay in Ladakhi villages, or a dorm room in the Shiva Blues art hostel in Manali, there’s always a quirk to the places we call home on the road in India. One of the most welcoming cultures in the world, expect to be amazed at the hospitable nature of the people and communities who we stay with. Life is different on the road, but backpackers embrace it all, even if the best part is the story you get at the end! So get ready to embrace cold-water bucket showers, “cozy” sleeping conditions, and the occasional squat toilet!

Meet Our Regional Director

Turning 18 was like the firing of a starting gun for James. He started moving across borders and continents and hasn’t found the finish line yet. Typically found bothering mountains with his skis, or holy men with questions, his initial wanderings and wonderings spanned a diverse set of scenery, continents, and jobs to keep the show on the road. Four years with OG has only served to strengthen his early convictions around the transformative potential of travel experience to peel back our preconceptions about our world, and to better facilitate shared understandings which can benefit all of us.

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