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The Himalayan challenge provides a little bit of everything: an opportunity to volunteer in a meaningful and sustainable way, a chance to experience the best of rural Indian culture, and to cap it off, a rigorous but rewarding trek in the stunning Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas.
Your volunteer project will take place in Palampur, “The Tea Capitol of North India.” You will be working at one of our partner schools teaching English, Health Education, and a variety of other subjects depending on the school’s needs. You will also lead extracurricular activities for the students and work on infrastructure renovations at the school, maximizing your handprint during the two weeks you are there.
The five-day trek will test your endurance; it is crucial that you be in good physical condition in order to embark on this trek. After spending two weeks volunteering at the foot of the Himalayas, you will have the chance to explore the mountains on foot on a challenging trek through the spectacular and scenic Nohru pass. The amazing views and breathtaking scenery will more than compensate for the strenuous ascent through rugged terrain!
If you want to see more of India during your time here, you can sign up for the extension trip that will take you on the Golden Triangle route through Agra, Jaipur, and New Delhi. See world-famous sites such as the Taj Mahal, experience the mouthwatering different flavors of Indian cuisine, and see all of what the world’s most populous democracy has to offer.
Arrive in New Delhi and have the afternoon free to explore the city. Take the metro or a rickshaw around and wake up after a long flight by taking in the historical sights, the vast hodgepodge of upscale shopping centers and street bazaars, and the organized chaos of the streets. At night, embark on overnight sleeper train ride North to Himachal Pradesh.
Upon arrival in Palampur, you will settle into your accommodation, undergo your orientation, and go on a quick city tour to see the highlights of the town that you will familiarize yourself to over the coming weeks. You will also have the chance to shop for any needs (SIM cards, toiletries, snacks, etc.)
You will volunteer at one of our partner schools on the outskirts of Palampur where you will have to work with students aged 3-16 in grades 1-10. These schools offer educational opportunities to students who come from poor, rural families and are considered to be Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The staff at these school work tirelessly to make up for the resource disparity between their schools and wealthier private schools, and the assistance our volunteers provide is highly welcomed. You will be focusing on teaching English, as the level of English students speak will affect their future educational and employment prospects. In addition, you will teach about nutrition and sanitation, art, music, sports, drama and any other subjects you may be proficient in. As local schools tend to emphasize rote learning straight from the book, this is an opportunity to teach students in fun and interactive ways, including games and competitions.
You will embark on the most challenging part of your Challenge: trekking in the Himalayas. You will head east to the town of Bir, where you will meet with your guide and gear up for the days ahead. The trek will be of moderate difficulty for the majority, but the portion of the trail leading up to Nohru Pass is steep and exhausting; stay hydrated and keep encouraging each other until you finally make it over the literal and metaphorical hump. On day 20 we return to Delhi.
Today you have the option to head on our extension trip or return back home.
Extend your trip and take part in an amazing trek into the Annapurna for just $800.
See the natural beauty of Nepal by taking part in this 5 day trek (2 travel days) in the highest mountain range in the world – The Himalaya. The climax to your trek is Poon Hill where you will experience a 360-degree vista of the giant Annapurna Mountain range
You will be picked up from your accommodation in Palampur and transferred to Amritsar. From here, you will travel on to the Wagah border (between Amritsar in India and Lahore in Pakistan) in time to witness the famous ‘lowering of the flags’ border-closing ceremony.
Today is packed full of sight-seeing around Amritsar. After breakfast you will start at Harmandir Sahib (the Golden Temple), which considered the cultural and spiritual centre of Sikhism and dates to the 16th century. From there you will move on to the Durgiana Temple, an important Hindu temple renowned for its carved silver doors. To round off the day you are free to explore the local markets! In the evening you will continue to soak up the local atmosphere with the chance to sample some traditional Punjabi cuisine.
Today you will be traveling by train from Amritsar to Agra. On arrival, you are then free to explore the city as you wish. Agra may be most famous for the Taj Mahal, but there’s more than enough to keep you busy for your whole stay, such as Akbar’s tomb and the ‘Baby Taj’.
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
It’s time to see the Taj Mahal! An early morning trip to India’s best known landmark won’t disappoint; it’s as touching as it is beautiful, famously described as “a teardrop on the cheek of eternity” by poet Rabindranath Tagore. There’s even more to the Taj Mahal site than the famous white mausoleum (which is itself breathtaking). Following the Taj Mahal you will explore the historic and enormous Red Fort. There’s so much to discover in the Red Fort that you’ll be wandering about for hours with your camera in hand. It also boasts some impressive viewpoints, and you’ll get a great perspective of the Taj Mahal from here.
Today will start by visiting the Mughal city of Fatehpūr Sikrī, south west from Agra. Built to be the capital of an empire, it was then abandoned shortly after completion in the 16th century. You will afterwards take the overnight train to Jaipur for the next stop on your Golden Triangle tour.
You’ll start your time in Jaipur by visiting the Amber Fort just outside the city, the area’s principal tourist attraction. The fort boasts some stunningly decorative interiors as well as extraordinary views from its hill-top location overlooking the Maota Lake. You will then return into Jaipur to visit the City Palace and see the architecture that gives the city the nickname ‘The Pink City’.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Your final day in Jaipur will allow you to take in some rather more unusual sites at the Jantar Mantar and the Hawa Mahal. The afternoon will give you more time to do some final haggling in Jaipur’s lively and varied bazaars to ensure you have all the silk scarves, tea, jewellery, spices, tableclothes, etc, to take home with you.
Today you will travel back to Delhi by train ready for your flight home the following day. If there’s anything you missed here at the start of the trip, do an express visit before you leave.
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Please note that dates are subject to minor changes and these will be broadcast well in advance to your departure.