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All Hail the Himalayas

There is much discussion in the shell-shocked world of the travel ‘industry’. What’s lost, what’s coming back, what’s never to return. Goodbye to the city break? Good riddance mass tourism! Farewell fly-and-flop. Well, I don’t know the answer to all that, but I do know that there is one journey I currently cannot get out of my mind, and it’s a journey that combines adventure with solace, a chance to look within while conversely gaining a wider perspective, where the privilege of visiting is apparent every minute. That journey is Shakti Himalaya.

Shakti is the brain-child of the singular Jamshyd Sethna, and was conceived to give access to remote areas of the Himalayas that would otherwise be all but unreachable. To provide privileged entry to places far removed from the usual clutter and noise of the metropolis. And to do so in a way that respected and indeed supported local livelihoods rather than trampling on them.

It is often a schlep to reach these places – a flight, then a train, then a long drive. But – my goodness me – is it ever worth it. Jamshyd has made possible an adventure in which you move through the Himalayas on mind-blowing walks, from one remote village house to the next, staying in repurposed local homes in the heart of the local communities. Logistics are orchestrated seamlessly but with a great deal of thought, and the hikes can be easy-going or arduous as you prefer. You travel alone. You meet locals who never see westerners. Picnics appear. Jamshyd and his gang were doing farm-to-table before there was a word for it.

It really is rather extraordinary and feels like an utter privilege to be there – because it is. And then there are the mountains themselves, and this is where my alliteration and superlatives fail me. Just go there and look and be dumbstruck. You’ll come home feeling small.

Shakti operates in three different parts of the huge Himalayan range: Ladakh, Kumaon and Sikkim. I have been lucky enough to visit the first two and so the photos above are from there. Their website gives a good impression of the different regions. It also showcases their philosophy: Inner Journeys, Outdoors. In these times of lock-down, I’m taking a lot of Outdoor Journeys, Inside, and it’s to the Himalayas that my mind is roaming.

For the first time in ten years at Trufflepig, we can actually say with some confidence what country Anton is currently in (the UK; London; the curry houses of Brick Lane). Email him here for more thoughts on travel to India, or within, or beyond.

This is where my alliteration and superlatives fail me. Just go there and look and be dumbstruck.

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