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      June 2012 > In safe hands...
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In safe hands...

The whole point of our self-guided walking holidays is for you to experience different places, lands, peoples, cultures, customs and landscapes for yourself – and at your own pace – without the obvious disadvantages of being part of a group, and subject to the whims and fancies of the majority. (I can’t think of anything worse!)

However, there are some places where having a local expert to guide you is essential – and on our walking holidays to the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India (on which we work with Village Ways) we feel that the guides are, in fact, an integral part of the whole experience. (Team photo: courtesy Village Ways.)

Walking holidays in IndiaHaving been brought up in the communities between which they will guide you, they are extremely knowledgeable about not only the most interesting paths to follow, but also which places along the route offer the best chance to encounter 'secret' India, in particular birds, flowers or animals.

Not that this means you have to join a group. On arrival at the first village, you will be introduced to your very own guide who will accompany you for your time in the hills, blending discretely into the community each evening, but being there each morning, smiling and ready to tailor the next day’s walking to your wishes. (Picture right: Hem and Harish identify a leopard 'scratch' on one of the trails.)

Walking holidays in IndiaThey walk at your pace, stop when you want to, offer fascinating insights into the local flora and fauna, customs and language, and act as your friendly interpreter throughout your stay. Local people regard it as a great privilege to be selected, as the guides receive training from Village Ways in skills such as hospitality and conversational English.

The guides act as ambassadors for the rural communities: some are sons or daughters of farmers, some are studying through distance-learning courses and others have experience as trekking guides. (Picture left: Purin and Sher, two of your guides in the Saryu Valley.)

They are, in fact, self-employed and take with them guidebooks, binoculars, first aid kits and other equipment on loan from Village Ways. Santosh Joshi, a guide from Dalar in the Binsar Sanctuary, explains: “In 2007 I joined Village Ways because it is a project that involves everyone from the villages with equally shared benefits, and I am now able to live in the family home”. One thing that stands out is their great enthusiasm and love of the natural environment of their homeland, and the fact (ok, so that’s two) that they are able to stay and work in the villages they were brought up in. Being local people, they know everyone and so walking gives you a chance to meet their family and friends.

Walking holidays in IndiaAnd we’re delighted to say that their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed by our customers. Mrs H of Chertsey fondly recalls her guides, Yashpal and Khim, who “were very kind and attentive – Kim especially being sensitive to the speed at which we walked and adjusting his pace to match our faltering steps. He was extremely thoughtful.” Mrs JM Tumelty of Lancashire concurs, telling us that “our guides were excellent, had superb knowledge of the local wildlife and great skill in finding birds, animals and plants for us to see, and also introduced us to their families, local people and way of life.” (These two images: on the trail between Khali and Kathdhara with Hem and Harish.)

The efforts and courteousness of the transfer drivers also receive high praise, as epitomised by Mr Peters of Cambridgeshire who told us, “Our driver for eight hours' sightseeing in Delhi – Chhatur Singh – was very considerate and gave us sensible advice. He took care of us including taking us to an excellent restaurant. The other transfer drivers were all very good and obviously experienced at coping with somewhat scary road conditions. We felt safe in their hands.”

Which is how we want you to feel – in safe hands.
Walking holidays in India
  (Picture: Tara, one of the female guides.)

Posted: 15/06/2012 08:27:58 by | with 0 comments
Filed under: India, journey, walking


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