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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

Wild thing, you make my heart sing

Prachi Raturi Misra, Hindustan Times
June 22, 2012
First Published: 19:14 IST(22/6/2012)
Last Updated: 16:06 IST(23/6/2012)

As she waded through water, she could feel the little being in her six-month-pregnant tummy, wobble with excitement. At least that is what Manpreet Anand likes to believe. “Though my husband joked that the baby was probably nervous,” chuckles the young mother.

Manpreet and Amit Anand took off on a camping break to Camp Giri in Himachal Pradesh when they were expecting their first baby in 2010. Two years later, they went back with their almost-two-year-old daughter Vaanya. “You have to walk almost a kilometre and a half through a stream to reach the campsite. With Manpreet pregnant, we were slightly nervous but certainly more excited about our baby experiencing the magic of nature so close up,” explains Amit.

AdventureFamilies are now taking offbeat adventurous holidays rather than the usual shop-and-sightsee ones. Why? A number of factors, say experts.

Been there done that
One of the reasons Vikas Bhasin moved from a corporate career to start his own venture, Chrysalid Outdoors, is the same reason why people are moving from usual family breaks to adventurous ones: Boredom. “You want to do something new and more fun,” he says.

More families are visiting his two campsites in Maheshu, a village in Shimla, and Dharamshala than when he started out four years ago.

Not all visitors are adventurous people, he says, but they need a new kind of holiday. “Women have come here in high heels because their husbands didn’t tell them they’re going to stay in a camp. There is this initial freaked-out look on their faces but more often than not, they come back for more on another break.”
 
Time matters
The fact that his camp has very little phone connectivity is something that a lot of his clients love, chuckles Anurag Sharma, partner, Giri Camps.

Sharma who worked in the media for almost a decade before he started this venture with a friend, can easily identify when he sees people visibly shed their stress while frolicking in the stream that flows in front of the campsite. “City life hardly leaves families with time together.

When they do take holidays, the children again park themselves in front of a television, the mothers go shopping and the dads go for a game of golf or sit back with a bottle of beer... But in a camp, there is no television, nowhere else to go. We see families spend quality time and bond during the various activities” he says.

Adventure

So it could be a trek with your teenaged son in a thick forest as you have a heart-to- heart talk, the teamwork of rowing with your wife and children through a grade three rapid or simply lying on the soft sand and talking to your partner under a starlit sky. The simple fact that adventure brings families closer is something more and more families are discovering.

Nimish Pant, 35, a managing consultant with KPMG, couldn’t agree more. “A lot of young people lead very hectic professional lives. These breaks are an opportunity for families to bond and unwind.”

Last March, Pant, his wife Deepa, their two-year-old daughter Anaira, his parents, sister and dog went camping and rafting with Treks ‘n Rapids, 10 km upstream of Shivpuri in Rishikesh. The family holidayed in Thailand and Sing-apore last year, but nothing, Pant says, compares to an adventure break.

AdventureIt’s now or never
Jayesh Morvankar, executive director, Odati Adventures, Mumbai, says that excitement over active holidays is big. “Adventure family breaks will be the next big thing in India. There is the generation of young professionals who always wanted to get into adventure but didn’t (or did a little) and now want their children to experience it. Then, there is the generation whose children have grown up, and they can finally do whatever they always wanted to do or try newer things.”

Fifty-eight-year-old RK Arora, a resident of Punjabi Bagh in west Delhi, always wanted to try something adventurous. Last year, he went to Camp Giri with his wife, their sons, a daughter-in-law and granddaughter. “It felt wonderful to spend time with the family in the quiet. In fact, my wife who suffers from chronic pain in her knee, managed to trek almost two kilometres,” says Arora.

Two retired Air Force officers, who run Sam Enterprises in Delhi’s GK-II, noticed a sizeable number of families wanting to go on adventurous breaks last year. Partner Malyendu Mukherjee says, “This year, we plan to start some options for grandparents as well.”

Packing checklist
Sunscreen: Most camps are in the hills where the sun’s rays are harsh.
Floaters: Walking shoes take time to dry; carry floaters for water activities.
Multi-tool and/or Swiss army knife: To open canned food, a bottle of wine and for other emergencies.
Flashlight: And spare batteries.
Rain gear: The weather in the hills is unpredictable. Carry an umbrella.
Insect repellent: Bugs love city blood.
Favourite book or toy: If you are travelling with children, but the wonders of nature will keep the kids happier.
Medicines: Most campsites are away from large towns, so carry an adequate supply.

Photos courtesy: Camp Chrysalid

From HT Brunch, June 24

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