India Himalayan Adventure
PROGRAM DATES: MAY 16 – JUNE 27
- Explore incredibly diverse regions of India, from the farmlands of Punjab to the foothills of the Himalayas.
- Take a field trip with a school of deaf and blind children to the Golden Temple.
- Paraglide in Solang Valley, one of the best paragliding sites in the world.
- Learn how to stay green on a beautiful 4 day hike on the foothills of the Himalayas.
PROGRAM FEE: 2,650
INDIA…THE WAY WE SEE IT
Ask any traveler, India is one of the craziest places in the entire world. It could be the staggering population (somewhere around 1.2 billion at the moment), the incredible diversity, or the physical landscape, but whatever it is, you won’t forget it.
Few other countries are as challenging on your body and your mind. Packed with bitter-sweet contradictions, you will often find yourself as frustrated as you have ever been in one moment and contemplating the beauties of life in the next. These contradictions are amplified through the gaping urban-rural divide that has left a country with skyscrapers, Bollywood, and modern telecom centers on the one end, while, on the other, millions have little access to electricity or clean water.
Independent Travel Time is your opportunity to go out there and explore on your own terms.
- Explore the Kathmandu mountains through numerous trekking options.
- Travel around India’s hotspots: dig the music scene in Varanasi, photograph the Taj Mahal in Agra, and unwind in the yoga capital of the world, Rishikesh.
- Jetset to the parties in Goa or the dive spots around the Maldive Islands.
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. Whether it’s at a homestay for the whole group in Chennai, or under the stars on the Annapurna Circuit, you can expect to be cooking together and meeting new people in every camp and village.
*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.
Just click on the headers to read more!
After arriving in India’s capital city, Delhi, participants will be picked up from the airport where the journey will begin. During an in-country orientation, participants will find themselves navigating the busy streets, interacting with local vendors, practicing their bartering skills, and sampling the delicious local cuisine. Team members will spend several days exploring the sites of Delhi and adapting to the vast differences they will be exposed to for the rest of the program.
From Delhi, the group will travel to the Sikh state of Punjab where participants will volunteer with a privately funded school for deaf and blind children. The team will spend its first few days warming up to the beautiful city of Patiala, rich both in its color and royal heritage. Here participants will be introduced to their host families near the school with whom they will be staying. Participants can visit any area of the school they are interested in: English with the older kids, coloring with the younger kids, gym class, or spending time in the kitchen. For our second week, we will also have an opportunity to plan and organize specialized classes – English, math, computer science, etc. One of the highlights of our time in Patiala is a field trip with the school to visit the amazing Taj Mahal in Agra.
Heading north into the foothills of the Himalayas, participants will move to Dharamasala, a hill station in the upper reaches of the Kangra Valley. Our time here begins with a beautiful four-day hike to Kareri Lake with Mountain Cleaners, a local organization dedicated to finding sustainable solutions to the garbage problem in the area. After the hike, the adventure continues to Solang valley, one of the best paragliding sites in the world! We will then stay in Dharamasala where the group has the opportunity to work with Tibetan refugees, volunteer in drop-in English conversation classes, check out rafting in the area, and simply wander the streets of this amazing city…maybe even catching a glimpse of the Dalai Llama in his hometown?
Centrally located on the Ganges river, Rishikesh is arguably known as the World Capital of Yoga. Yoga and meditation centres are balanced by great opportunities for more rafting and hiking, making it a great option for everyone. A great spot to regroup and prepare for ITT.
Participants will also have Independent Travel Time (ITT) – a staple of all Operation Groundswell programs. You can travel independently if you desire, but everyone is urged to travel in pairs or small groups. During this time, participants are not under the auspices of the organized program and are entirely responsible for themselves. Participants are given the emergency contact number of trip organizers during ITT for any advice or safety concerns. ITT is the ideal time for participants to learn more about their specific interest, whether it be volunteering, traveling, or just relaxing.
All Operation Groundswell trips reconvene for a trip debrief known as the “Disorientation” prior to flying home. This trip finishes where it all started, in the wonderful chaos of Delhi, with the chance to check out some of the country’s best dining and shopping, explore Sikh temples, and relax in the Lodi Gardens. We discuss our accomplishments, how we can stay in touch, and what future projects we can collaborate on before returning everyone to the airport for some tearful goodbyes.
MEET YOUR TRIP LEADERS
Get ready to spend six weeks with some of the raddest people on earth…we’re not even exaggerating! Just click on their name to read more about them.
While studying journalism at Ryerson University, Natalie interned at CTV Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She lived with an awesome couple who had a giant map with gold stars marking all the places they had been. That inspired Natalie – the travelling, not just the gold stars – so 48 hours after her last exam, she boarded a plane for Europe. Since then, she has backpacked across South and Central America, taught English in South Korea for a year and travelled through Southeast Asia, Nepal, and India. After returning to Canada to study education, Natalie found OG’s website. She related to their manifesto and backpacktivist mentality, and liked the small, grassroots feel of the organization. So she applied and spent this past summer falling in love with Haiti on OG’s Grassroots Education trip. Now back in Toronto, Natalie can be found perusing the travel section of used bookstores, playing board games with her roommates or making soup.
Stepping off a plane alone into a hot Delhi morning back in 2006 confirmed all of James’s suspicions about how much life there was to be had out on the open road. Fast forward six years and with the exception of the times required to complete a Maths degree at Durham University, he has spent the majority of his adult life beyond the seas that surround the little island of his birth, Great Britain. Believing in the importance of diverse experiences has led him from DJ to street-based charity fundraiser, from cleaner to development Project Manager in Haiti, from chef to OG Trip Leader. He’s decided that his free time is best spent moving. You’ll often find James moving slowly round the world, quickly down or up mountains or simply to the beat. Either way, he’s not planning on gathering any moss any time soon!