India walking vacation activities

Multicultural mountains
Mountains, in particular the Himalayas, are sacred for many, so the cultural heritage around places like Ladakh and Sikkim is at the heart of any hiking vacation. Although half the population of Ladakh identifies as Muslim, many hikers follow in the footsteps of Buddhist pilgrims, taking in the Tibetan style gompas or monasteries, stupas or shrines dotted along many a trail, such as the Tache Gompa and Hemis monasteries on the Markha Valley trek. A lot of walking vacations here start in Ladakh’s capital Leh, where the ancient Namgyal Tsemo Gompa and nearby Thikse Monastery are always worth the trip.
The Western Ghat Mountains of South India are a whole other world, one that has been influenced by colonialism, plantations and so on, and walking vacations here often start in Munnar, the mother of all hill stations. These mountain towns were the summer retreats of British colonists when the lowlands became too hot, with walking vacations often taking in tea or coffee plantations, or certainly a cuppa or two. The world’s highest tea estate is in the Ghats, at Kolukkumalai.
Wildlife watching
Many walking vacations in India will take you into the wonderful realms of national parks, such as Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh, which is often incorporated into a walking vacation in neighbouring forests and jungles of Chhattisgarh. Its grassy plateaus and forests are home to tigers and leopards, as well as many other creatures, including sambar, chital and swamp deer that all congregate in its meadows.
In Ladakh, the most famous and elusive resident is the snow leopard, with tracking and trekking going hand in hand in these parts. Hemis National Park, for example, hides snow leopard secrets as well as ibex, wolf, blue sheep and lynx. The wildlife hub in South India’s Western Ghat mountains is Periyar National Park, one of the country’s most famous tiger reserves but also home to monkeys, elephants, leopards and a tizzy of tropical birds. There are 24 endemic birds in Kerala alone, with top spots including Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary, Eravikulam National Park and of course Periyar. See our Wildlife Watching in India guide for more details.

Our top India walking Vacation

Binsar to Jageshwar trekking holiday, India

Binsar to Jageshwar trekking vacation, India

Thrilling, tailor-made walking trips in the Indian Himalayas

From £1205 to £1287 13 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
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Wild camping
The whole camping half of the trip allowed for complete de-stress, with great staff, food and equipment to support long hours of hiking during the day in beautiful and extremely varied scenery.
– Leila Suwwan, in a review of her walking vacation in Kerala.
You want wild, you got wild, with serviced camping a feature of many walking vacations in India. Wake up to panoramic views of the Western Ghats at Top Station (1,900m), in the eponymous village at the heart of the Markha Valley or in a rainforest on the Nepalese border.
Capture your walk forever
Tigers, temples, peaks and people. The subject matter for photography on a walking vacation in India is infinite.
Learning to frame the swathes of tea plantations in the Western Ghats, or capturing the colour and joy of the Hemis Festival in Ladakh are just a couple of the challenges you may have as a keen photographer while walking in India. And then there are the Himalayas themselves, of course. Where to start with such a magnificent spectacle? Try a walking vacation that specialises in photography, to guide you in all your areas of interest.
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: Gaurav K] [Multicultural mountains – Thikse Monastery: snotch] [Wildlife watching – chital: Yathin S Krishnappa] [Wildlife watching - Malabar Grey-Hornbill : Lip Kee Yap] [Wild camping – Top Station: Navaneeth Kishor] [Capture your walk forever: Thangaraj Kumaravel]
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