Rajesh Rasania admits that the first few seconds after he jumped off an aircraft, were the scariest moments of his life. But after completing his skydiving adventure at 15,000 feet above the ground, the 55-year-old claimed he was game for it again.
The Santacruz-based imitation jewellery merchant did not indulge much in sight seeing on his ten-day vacation to Cape Town last month. Instead, his vacation was packed with adrenaline-pumping activities that included skydiving and bungee jumping.
Rasania is among a steadily growing group of vacationers opting for adventure holidays over laidback leisure trips even though they are five times as expensive. "My mother, 73, took a chopper ride but was upset she couldn't skydive," said Rasania.
According to travel agents, bookings for destinations such as South Africa and New Zealand, which offer exciting adventure sports, have risen by more than 30% from last year. "Around 80% Indians visiting South Africa opt for adventure experiences," said Aashish Chadda, founder and partner at Leisure Ways, a luxury tour consultant.
Skydive Mossel Bay, an adventure tourism destination in Cape Town saw the number of Indian tourists increase to 600 this year from 469 in 2010. "What's most fascinating is that we get tourists from across all age groups," said Henk van Wyk, drop-zone operator at the facility.
Bipul Ganguly, 36, a chartered accountant from Khargar doesn't regret his vacation to New Zealand, which costed him thrice as much as a trip to Singapore. "The trip changed my attitude towards vacations," he said .
Closer home, Chimes Aviation Academy (CAA), a flying school in Sagar, Madhya Pradesh, introduced skydiving tours in September. According to its web page on social networking site Facebook, the company charges Rs20,000 for a free-fall jump from an altitude of 15,000 feet.
Travel experts feel exposure to stunts on reality shows is a key driver in promoting adventure tourism in India. "Having seen celebrities do daring stunts, people have become confident," said Jay Bhatia, western region chairman of the Travel Agents Association of India.