This trip can be tailor made and the best time to travel is between June and the end of October
Responsible tourism: North India vacation, cultural immersion and the himalayas
Our promise to sustain the environment: Transport
Many of the places where we travel are environmentally pristine. We work with locals and those who travel with us to take simple actions to respect and protect the natural environment for this generation and the next.
Almost all our Travelers use air transport to get to India and return home. With this in mind we have designed this trip so that a majority of domestic travel is by train, a lower carbon and slower way to travel. We are currently formalising a tree-planting programme that we call ‘Green Footprints’ to offset these CO2 emissions. We will continue planting native trees in protected community forest land close to Thali Village or Karsog Block in Mandi in the Himachal Pradesh region. The broadleaf tree species to be planted are Pipal, Botha and Khair (the latter which has medicinal properties) and these will primarily planted during the monsoon in July and August. Additional community benefits come from stabilising the ground, protecting the villages from flooding.
We use local guides in all our trips which both provides them with valuable employment and income but also benefits the travelers by helping them understand how locals in these hilltop villages live. Travelers who get involved in community projects will benefit from working alongside locals and seeing the benefits that these simple projects can have to these remote Himalayan villages.
Our promise to sustain the environment: Energy
With many of the remote areas in which we travel unable to rely upon a reliable source of energy for living, we are able to make our Travelers aware of these challenges and show them how villagers have overcome them. This exposure traditional and sustainable ways of generating and conserving energy are interesting and useful for Travelers to understand and perhaps to apply in general terms on their return home.
During this visit, there is the potential to visit water-powered flour mills in the remote valleys of Shimla Hills and natural farming practices such as harvesting and grading that are reliant upon wind power. These projects may form part of our charitable low carbon portfolio in future.
Our promise to support our communities: Volunteering & Charity
An important element of any of our trips is to enable interaction between Travelers and local communities. Our Founder Director grew up in this region and so we know how best to support local people and their economy.
Many poor families are provided with basic food rations from the Indian Government each month. However some families are so poor that they struggle to even cover the approximately £6/month cost of the additional food needed to feed a family of 4 or 5 people.
Through a generous donation from one of our travel groups combined with other funds, our Asra Charity has established a Food Subsidy Programme in the hilltop village of Thali Panchayat. We will be supporting about 20 families for the next 2 years.
Providing food for these families is important first step in helping them to become self-dependent. We will also be helping these families in parallel by providing basic education, skills development and support with farming.
Education is seen as being a basic right in western societies and most are lucky enough to have a good quality, free education. In India, fewer children receive such an education and therefore less likely to be able to go on to do further study and training for professions such as teaching or engineering.
Through donations from our own charity, we have supported selected villagers over a number of years with training to become engineers, teachers, guides and chefs. The first of these people lucky enough to benefit from this support are just now completing their training with the benefit of being more confident, rounded and well-trained. We hope that this will help the communities more widely to transform themselves over the coming years.
On this trip, Travelers will have the opportunity to visit a school in the hilltop village of Thali and to meet teachers and pupils and perhaps to help with some daily activities there that will enrich the students and our Travelers. The visit to the school will be by an experienced, local guide with specific knowledge of Himalayan culture and communities.
We also use hotels or farm stays from trusted local partners throughout this trip which we hope will help further generate economic benefits over the long term. In addition, staying at these small establishments, having the chance to eat truly local cuisine and interact with local people provides a much more stimulating visit for our Travelers.