Himalayan Adventure

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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 a Tibetan refugee settlement and explore the history and mission of the refugee diaspora, finding out what Tibet was really like and why people are still fighting for it.
  • 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 culture and religion at the 1000 year-old Ki Monastery.

Program Dates

May 20 – June 28


Program Fee + Community Contribution

$2,845 USD + $565 USD


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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 who are working in Delhi to make their voice and the voice of their community heard in India’s political capital.

Up into the Himalayas – Dharamsala

Heading north into the foothills of the Himalayas, the team moves to Macleod Ganj, located 2100 m. (6800 ft.) up on a ridge above Dharamasala and in the upper reaches of the Kangra Valley. It is home to the Tibetan government in exile and the residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.


We’ll be partnering with Students for a Free Tibet, working with them 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 be hiking some epic trails, rafting on rivers, practicing yoga, taking cooking classes, and learning the local language. We’ll also have a chance to learn how to play indigenous instruments for those musically inclined.

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. We will work with NGOs that design 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!

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!


**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 centers, 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 Your Program Leaders

Zoe SilverbergThat little travel bug going around must have bitten Zoe. She is constantly buzzing around looking for new adventures and experiences. She has hiked the Himalayas, dived the Pacific, cycled the Alps and competed in a 24 hour hiking and biking race in the Sahyadri Mountain Range. Zoe always tries to have a unique travel experience by blending work and travel. She has worked in the field of informal and formal education in Canada, India, Singapore and Switzerland. She has worked as an outdoor education leader in Switzerland and Singapore and established and managed a swimming program in India. When she isn’t engaging in heated discussions about issues around equity and access, both locally and abroad, she can be found swimming and paddling in the magical fresh water lakes of Ontario, Canada. All this being said a Saturday night with a bowl of all dressed chips, a beer and the newest HBO mini series doesn’t sound all that bad.

Mav is an itchy feet nomadic soul, who holds love for the roads and its travelers at the core of his being.  Someone who travels around and lives light, with a box and a bike, the engineering graduate (who never ever used his degree) switched early to adventure sports.  He’s been a mountaineer, a rafter, and triathlon enthusiast, an acro yoga assistant, and a reflexologist. Mav shares a deep bond with mountains and the seas, and an even deeper one with kids and animals.  He has volunteered with slum kids and stray animals with NGOs like Project Khel, Jeevashraya, apart from having had a stint with the forces as well. You would find him either involved with mixing play and education for kids under the sun in a park, or rescuing stray animals; lost in the woods or bicycling around a city, or when none of these…sitting in a bar with buddies ‘n beer, or being a bartender himself!

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