Going close to the edge has been always been irresistible for man. As early as the 14th century people had started climbing mountains using only ladders and ropes for support, and today, with the kind of resources that allow us to book a skydiving trip in less than 5 taps on a touchscreen, many millennials are opting for adrenaline highs over lounging in hammocks.
But while travel magazines turn out inspiring articles and tour organisers promise adventures supposed to put Marco Polo to shame, an uncomfortable question mark still hangs against these sports. Daring turns into disaster in a nasty way, and most of us try not to think of it when making travel plans.
Consider the statistics. There were a spate of paragliding accidents last year – a Japanese tourist died in Himachal, a local paraglider died in Tamil Nadu and another was injured in Maharashtra’s hills. In the last 6 months rafting too took its own toll with three drowning in Uttarakhand and another in Arunachal. At the famous Raid De Himalaya rally last year, the Extreme category was called off after a 47-year-old Kolkata biker fell into a gorge.
So what? There is risk in crossing the road too, right? Sure, but at least in that case if you’re hit you’d know that it was an accident. You weren’t promised safe passage by anyone, nor did you sign off your life safety with a participation form.
Before signing up for any adventure sport it is very important to check the organiser’s credentials including license, and to do a reality check on your own capabilities. Also, do consider sparing currency for an adventure sport insurance, which was finally introduced in India last year. Lastly, if you’d just prefer something that doesn’t bring you face to face with death, pick from the following list of comfortable adventures.
1. Climb the biggest small hill
Seen the film 127 Hours and felt bad for the poor guy stuck with a hand under a boulder? Perhaps the highest number of adventure mishaps take place in the mountains, whether during monsoon treks in Sahyadris or climbing in the Himalayas. The latter, in particular, are so isolated that help often takes a long time to come. Instead, take a walk in the gentler South Indian hills. Like Thadiyendamol, which is the highest mountain in the Western Ghats and easily accessible from a private resort.
2. Take to calm waters
The rafting industry is full of tall promises with old safety jackets for rescue, and often, enthusiasm makes tourists ignore the precautionary measures. Instead, try kayaking, which is usually done on calmer waters and doesn’t involve chasing rapids. Kopili River in Meghalaya is ideal for it.
3. Float on air
Paragliding and hang gliding put you completely at the pilot’s mercy. For women, there’s also the added risk of being molested mid-air, as happened last month to a Bombay tourist out on a tandem paragliding ride. Instead try hot-air ballooning, where you’d at least have your hands free to flail in case you’re falling. Pushkar has some fantastic rides on offer.
4. Go on a long bicycle ride
Provided you are good on two wheels, cycling is one of the slowest, most healthy ways to explore any terrain that allows it. You can control the movement to a comfy pace, and take a tent along for camping en route. East Coast Road is one great stretch to consider.
5. Ride a camel
Doesn’t sound adventurous enough? Well, consider the discomfort of sitting on an animal whose humps poke into you and leave your thighs sore with the position. Also consider the desert sky full of stars, and decide for yourself if adventure isn’t about gazing into the greatest mystery of all.
Image Credit: Nikhil Mudaliar