Mystical Myanmar

Myanmar, with its rich tapestry of culture and history, beckons adventurous souls seeking to immerse themselves in the allure of golden pagodas and enchanting landscapes. Imagine a journey like no other, a voyage exclusively for solo women travel groups, where camaraderie blossoms, and the splendor of ancient temples and breathtaking vistas unfolds. Join us as we delve into the essence of a women-only adventure holiday, unveiling the mystical beauty of Myanmar’s golden pagodas.

Embarking on a journey in women-only travel groups isn’t just about exploring new horizons; it’s a celebration of women’s strength and unity. Sharing experiences with like-minded souls fosters deep connections and empowers each traveler to discover her inner strength.

The Shimmering Grandeur of Shwedagon Pagoda

Our journey begins with a visit to the iconic Shwedagon Pagoda, a true symbol of Myanmar’s spiritual heart. Adorned in gold and studded with precious gems, this pagoda’s splendor at sunrise or sunset is nothing short of magical. As the sun’s rays touch its surface, a sense of awe and tranquility washes over, reminding us of the beauty in simplicity.

Bagan’s Timeless Charms

The ancient city of Bagan is a testament to Myanmar’s rich history. A hot air balloon ride over the sprawling plains offers a bird’s-eye view of the thousands of golden pagodas that pepper the landscape. Amidst the tranquility and history, we find moments of reflection and inspiration.

Inle Lake’s Serenity

The tranquility of Inle Lake is a balm for the soul. On traditional longboats, we glide along the calm waters, passing stilted villages and floating gardens. The Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda stands as a guardian of the lake, its golden spires mirrored in the water, reflecting a sense of balance and harmony.

Yangon: Where Golden Pagodas and Urban Pulse Converge

Yangon, Myanmar’s bustling capital, is a mesmerizing blend of old-world charm and modern vitality. Its colonial architecture, including the famous Strand Hotel, stands as a testament to its colonial past. At the heart of the city lies the awe-inspiring Shwedagon Pagoda, a golden beacon that casts its spiritual glow over the bustling streets and markets, creating an enchanting juxtaposition of tradition and progress.

Buddhist Traditions and Culture

Myanmar’s vibrant tapestry is woven with threads of Buddhist traditions and rich culture. Monasteries echo with the soft chants of monks, their saffron robes a symbol of devotion. The graceful gestures of traditional dance tell stories of ancient legends, while the intricate carvings on pagodas narrate a history of spiritual reverence. The aroma of incense wafts through the air as devotees offer prayers, and the gentle ring of temple bells evokes a sense of tranquility. From the delicate art of thanaka paste adorning the women’s faces to the serene meditation practices, Myanmar’s culture breathes life into its spiritual essence.

Culinary Explorations

A journey through Myanmar is incomplete without savoring its diverse cuisine. Discover the art of traditional cooking and the stories behind each dish. As we break bread together, we forge bonds and create lasting memories around the communal table.

  • Flavors of Myanmar: Embark on a culinary journey through the diverse tastes of Myanmar’s cuisine, from savory curries to flavorful salads.
  • Market Treasures: Wander vibrant local markets, where the colors and aromas of fresh produce, spices, and street food entice the senses.
  • Cooking Workshops: Engage in hands-on cooking workshops led by local chefs, learning the art of crafting traditional dishes like Mohinga (noodle soup) and Shan-style tofu noodles.
  • Tea House Traditions: Immerse yourself in Myanmar’s tea house culture, sipping aromatic tea and indulging in conversations with locals about life, culture, and food.
  • Cherished Recipes: Discover the stories behind cherished family recipes passed down through generations, providing insights into the deep-rooted culinary heritage.
  • Riverbank Feasts: Experience the joy of communal dining with riverside barbecues, and relishing grilled delicacies while watching the sunset over the water.
  • Sweet Delights: Satisfy your sweet tooth with traditional desserts like moh let saung (sticky rice cakes) and mont lone yay paw (coconut jelly).
  • Farm-to-Table Connections: Visit local farms and fishing villages to understand the importance of sustainable practices in Myanmar’s culinary traditions.
  • Culinary Connections: Through shared meals and cooking experiences, forge connections with fellow travelers and locals, uniting over a love for food and cultural exploration.

A Retreat into Nature

The hill station of Kalaw offers a refreshing change of pace. Trek through lush landscapes, passing terraced fields and local villages. Amidst nature’s embrace, we find solace and a renewed connection with our surroundings.


Mystical Myanmar, with its golden pagodas and captivating landscapes, invites women to step into a world where empowerment, connection, and cultural enrichment converge. This women-only journey transcends sightseeing, creating a space for shared experiences and personal growth. As we bid farewell to Myanmar, we carry with us not only memories of its beauty but also the bonds formed on this remarkable voyage of discovery. Ready to embark on a transformative journey through the enchanting mystique of Myanmar’s golden pagodas and immersive cultural experiences? Join us on this women-only adventure and be a part of the vibrant tapestry of Buddhist traditions, culinary delights, and shared moments. Secure your spot now at and let the exploration begin!

Spiti Valley Adventure Trips

Nestled in the remote trans-Himalayan region of Himachal Pradesh, India, Spiti Valley is a mesmerizing high-altitude desert. Shielded by snow-capped peaks, it boasts an otherworldly landscape characterized by barren mountains, deep gorges, and ancient Buddhist monasteries perched on cliffs. At an average altitude of over 4,000 meters, the valley is a haven for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts alike. It remains accessible only during the summer months due to heavy snowfall in winter. Spiti’s unparalleled beauty, unique culture, and serene ambiance make it a dream destination for those seeking solace amidst the raw grandeur of the Himalayas.

Spiti Valley’s allure lies in its fascinating geographical features. It ranks among the highest inhabited regions globally, with villages perched at jaw-dropping altitudes. Dhankar village, for instance, sits at 3,894 meters above sea level. The valley is surrounded by majestic snow-capped peaks, offering breathtaking vistas at every turn. Its arid desert-like terrain contrasts with the lush greenery of other Himalayan regions, making Spiti a truly unique and surreal destination.

Planning the Adventure to Spiti Valley

Planning a road trip to Spiti Valley requires careful consideration. The best time to visit is from June to September when the weather is favorable and roads are open. Ideally, set aside at least 7 to 10 days for the trip to explore its beauty at a relaxed pace. Obtain Inner Line Permits for foreign nationals and Indians from outside Himachal Pradesh to access certain restricted areas. The most popular route is from Manali via Rohtang Pass and Kunzum Pass. For a hassle-free and well-organized road trip experience, check out WegoBond at They offer expertly curated itineraries and travel solutions, ensuring an unforgettable Spiti adventure.

Scenic Drives

As travelers embark on the road trip to Spiti Valley, they are greeted with awe-inspiring landscapes that leave an indelible mark on their souls. The journey unfolds amidst rugged terrain adorned with barren mountains of varying hues, showcasing nature’s artwork at its finest. The picturesque villages that dot the valley are a sight to behold, with their whitewashed houses, vibrant prayer flags, and ancient monasteries seemingly suspended in time.

The road winds through high mountain passes, each revealing its own breathtaking charm. Rohtang Pass, at an elevation of 3,978 meters, welcomes travelers with panoramic views of the Pir Panjal range. Kunzum Pass, standing tall at 4,590 meters, captivates with its snow-capped peaks and an aura of spirituality. These passes serve as gateways to the surreal Spiti Valley.

As the journey continues, travelers are enthralled by the mesmerizing beauty of the Himalayan ranges, with their snow-drenched summits that pierce the sky. The Chandra River gushes along the route, accentuating the serene and untouched ambiance of the valley.

Each turn in the road reveals new vistas, inviting travelers to immerse themselves in the untouched grandeur of Spiti Valley and experience nature’s sublime symphony firsthand.

Monasteries and Ancient Culture

Spiti Valley’s cultural heritage is steeped in ancient Buddhist traditions, making it a spiritual haven. The valley is adorned with numerous monasteries, each holding profound spiritual significance. The Key Monastery, perched atop a hill, is one of the oldest and largest in the region, offering breathtaking views and an aura of tranquility. Inside, travelers can witness ancient murals, scriptures, and priceless artifacts.

The local people, predominantly of Tibetan descent, warmly embrace visitors, making them feel at home. Their hospitality is heartwarming, and engaging with them offers insights into their unique way of life and spiritual beliefs. As travelers immerse themselves in the rhythm of monastic life and partake in local rituals, they find solace and a sense of inner peace amidst the serene and spiritually uplifting atmosphere of Spiti Valley.

Challenges and Adventures

A road trip to Spiti Valley comes with its share of challenges and adventures. Travelers must navigate treacherous roads with sharp bends and hairpin turns, test their driving skills on rocky terrains, and cross high mountain passes at dizzying altitudes. Additionally, the risk of high-altitude sickness looms, requiring acclimatization and proper precautions. However, conquering these obstacles rewards adventurers with an unforgettable and rewarding experience.

Unique Flora and Fauna

Spiti Valley’s diverse flora and fauna thrive in the harsh yet captivating environment. The valley boasts unique alpine desert vegetation, including wildflowers and medicinal plants that have adapted to the extreme conditions. Amidst this arid landscape, elusive and rare wildlife species find refuge. The majestic snow leopard, a symbol of wilderness, roams the snowy peaks, while the agile ibex gracefully navigates the rocky cliffs. Other notable species include Tibetan wolves, blue sheep, and Himalayan vultures, making Spiti a biodiversity hotspot. Exploring this natural paradise offers travelers a chance to witness the raw beauty of these elusive creatures in their natural habitat.

Camping and Stargazing

  • Camping in Spiti Valley offers an enchanting experience under its pristine, pollution-free skies.
  • With minimal light pollution, the valley becomes a stargazer’s paradise, revealing a mesmerizing canvas of stars and celestial wonders.
  • Stargazing tips: Bring along a telescope or binoculars for enhanced views, use stargazing apps to identify constellations, and carry warm clothing for the chilly nights.
  • Witness shooting stars streaking across the night sky, creating magical moments and fulfilling stargazing dreams.
  • The Milky Way galaxy sprawls across the heavens, painting an awe-inspiring spectacle that leaves travelers in absolute wonder.
  • Camping under the clear, starry skies of Spiti Valley offers a profound sense of connection with the universe, a humbling experience that renews the spirit and ignites a passion for exploring the cosmos.

Local Cuisine and Interaction

Spiti Valley’s local cuisine is a delightful blend of flavors influenced by Tibetan and Himalayan culinary traditions. Travelers must savor the traditional momo dumplings, filled with savory vegetables or meat, and tingmo, a soft steamed bread perfect for dipping into rich stews. Thukpa, a soul-warming noodle soup, is a comforting treat after a day of exploration.

For beverages, try butter tea, a unique concoction of tea, butter, and salt, which provides both nourishment and warmth in the cold climate. Chang, a locally brewed barley beer, is a popular choice to bond with the locals.

Interactions with Spiti’s warm-hearted locals offer a glimpse into their way of life. Sharing meals with families creates cherished memories, as they recount stories of their cultural heritage and life in the valley. Witnessing traditional dance performances during festivals fosters a deeper appreciation for their art and traditions.

Understanding their self-sustaining practices and close-knit communities fosters a sense of admiration for their resilience in a challenging environment. These heartwarming experiences provide travelers with a genuine connection to the land and its people, leaving an enduring impression of Spiti Valley’s welcoming spirit.

Responsible Travel

Embrace responsible travel in Spiti Valley by leaving no trace, disposing of waste properly, and respecting the region’s cultural norms. Conserve water and energy, support local businesses, and engage with the community respectfully. Together, let’s preserve the pristine beauty of this Himalayan gem for future generations to cherish.

Souvenirs and Handicrafts

Explore Spiti Valley’s local markets brimming with unique handicrafts and souvenirs. From intricately woven carpets and hand-knitted woolens to vibrant Thangka paintings and silver jewelry, these treasures showcase the region’s rich cultural heritage. By purchasing these artisanal products, travelers contribute to sustainable tourism and uplift the livelihoods of local craftsmen.

Safety and Precautions:

  • Acclimatize: Take it slowly upon arrival to high-altitude regions like Spiti Valley to allow your body to adjust to the reduced oxygen levels.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to combat dehydration caused by dry air and high altitudes.
  • Watch for Symptoms: Be aware of signs of altitude sickness, such as headache, dizziness, and nausea, and seek medical attention if necessary.
  • Drive Cautiously: The mountain roads in Spiti Valley can be challenging, so drive carefully, be mindful of blind spots, and avoid speeding.
  • Carry Medication: Consult a doctor and carry necessary medications for altitude-related issues, as well as a first-aid kit for any emergencies.

Parting Thoughts

As women venture into the captivating Spiti Valley, they embark on an adventure of a lifetime. The small group adventure holidays provide a unique camaraderie, fostering new friendships and a shared spirit of exploration. As we reflect on the road trip, the memories linger—the breathtaking landscapes, encounters with rare wildlife, and the warm hospitality of locals. Amidst the rugged terrains, we found tranquility and serenity, a respite from the bustling world. Spiti Valley remains an untouched paradise, leaving a lasting impression on our hearts. For more unforgettable women adventure trips, check out WegoBond at and immerse yourself in the boundless wonders of the world, one adventure at a time.


No trip is complete without making a visit to the famous Meteora. The view from a hundred feet above sea level is surely breathtaking and no words are enough to describe this feeling. Somethings are best experienced with your own eyes, don’t you think so?

If you’re looking to experience the beauty of one of the country’s most enthralling destinations, Meteora, here’s our ultimate guide to visiting the abode.

Well, you can do it all by yourself, but a guided trip works wonders. After all, you don’t want to reach the destination and miss out on some important historical and cultural significance. An educated tour like ours will offer in-depth knowledge that goes beyond guidebooks.  With our trip to Greece, you will be able to walk through hidden trails that only locals know of

Best time to visit:-

Before you make your way to the mountains of Thessaly, make sure you know the best time to visit i.e late April to early November. But if you love to swim and sunbathe, late May to early October. Would be ideal. Those of you planning to go to Greece on a honeymoon, ensure to late visit between May to early October.


Meteora is one of the most visit places in Greece due to its unusual topography and important historical and religious site.  Situated 100 feet above sea level, the 6 active monasteries “suspended in the air” will surely take your breath away. They are located near the town of Kalambaka at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly near the Pineios river and the Pindus Mountains.

This sight alone itself attracts over hundreds of tourist every day. However, there was a time when there were over two dozen monasteries across Meteora.

How To Get There

By Train:

An affordable way to get around Meteora is with the help of a bus. Start your journey by simply taking a direct train from the Larissa Train Station to the town of Kalambaka from Athens. Just keep in mind that you book the round trip back to Athens from Kalambaka. This way the trip will work out to be affordable and ensure you don’t sit around wasting precious time that could be used to travel.

By Car:

Those of you looking for more freedom, hiring a car would be fun and let you travel at your own time. With a car, you can easily drive around the monasteries as it’s far more convenient.

Hike to Meteora with WeGoBond

Once you have reached the destination, tour guided hiking tour is the best way to learn the history of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our hike begins at the foothills of Doupiani rock, beneath the old ruins of Pantokrator monastery. From here, we cross through the immense rock formations to reach the northern side of Meteora. We spend some time discovering the hidden monastery of Ypapanti and the ruins of St. Dimitrios. As our tour guides are local, you are likely to hear stories and the legends behind each place you pass along the trail.

Once the hike is done, the bus will drop you off at the small village of Kastraki for lunch and then we return to our hotel.


When visiting the Meteora, it’s always a good idea to carry the right clothing. Carrying the right pair of shoes, a t-shirt and pants will make your hike comfortable and fun. 

Here are a few things that you just can’t miss out when hiking to Meteora 

2-3 pairs of shorts – Hiking is always going to be fun and bit tiring for those who are doing it after a long time. However, wearing the right clothes will not only help you pack light but also ensure your hike is comfortable. 

Ensure to carry 2-3 good pairs of track pants or shorts that will let you go hiking in comfort. 

3 tank tops or t-shirts – Don’t forget to match them with your shorts.

1 light jacket – let us tell you, it might get a little hot in Greece during summer, but do carry a light jacket as there is a sea breeze that is likely to make you feel cold.

2 bras – You don’t need many.

7 pairs of underwear – It’s always better to carry a few extra. You never know when you might need them.

2 pair of socks – the right pair of shoes and comfortable socks is all you need to keep your feet happy up to the hike.

Deodorant – a good deodorant will help you keep smelling nice as it is very hot


Considering it is going to be hot, wearing the right clothes might not be enough. Hence, carry sunscreen and apply it on areas that might need extra protection. (the back of your neck, face, etc.)


Along with the right clothes and sunscreen, wearing a hat will not only keep you away from the sun but also protect your hair and scalp. 


Make sure you are physically fit and carry comfortable clothes and good shoes that will make hiking easy.

Dress code: The monasteries in Meteora have a strict dress code – women must wear a long skirt and a top with long sleeves. Overnight at Doupiani Hotel or similar.

Once you are done looking at the magnificent Meteora, there are plenty of other things you can do in Greece.

  1. Go on a private on-foot tour of Athens
  2. Enjoy sunset at Oia
  3. Stay in a beautiful boutique hotel in Santorini
  4. Visit the archaeological site at Delphi

Besides, our trips are planned in such a way that you get enough free time to go around and explore Greece all by yourself. So start packing your bags and get prepared to visit this magical destination and fall further in love with Greece.


From gorgeous mountains, massive glaciers to stunning fjords, Norway is an untouched beauty waiting to be explored. Thanks to its location that has managed to keep this country a mystery to many. If you love exploring the unexplored, our women-only holiday to Norway will offer you some of the best experiences ever!

With stunning Aurora Borealis, large historic cities, magnificent cathedrals, a progressive population and unending ways to stay active outdoors, the Scandinavian country of Norway is surreal!

Here are 5 experiences that you just cannot miss when you visit the ‘Northern Beauty!

Aurora Borealis activity in the world – Tromsø

norway guided tours

Also known as the ‘Northern Lights’ this usual phenomenon in the Arctic region is an experience you cannot miss. And with our Hunting the Northern lights trip this February, you can be one of the few women that get to experience this stunning sight!

Our women-only tour will take you to the city of Tromsø where you can chase the Aurora and take the most stunning photos ever!


If you are looking for a better city to live, we bring you Oslo. Here, you can enjoy car-free streets, eco-friendly gourmet restaurants, museums and galleries, interesting architecture, and a lot more. While Norway’s capital city is small, there’s plenty to do and we guarantee you won’t get bored at all.

Besides, what makes it even better is the city’s location. It is placed strategically between the blue Oslofjord and the vast green forest of Oslomarka that lets you go hiking, cycling, fishing, and skiing.

Still, think you can give our women-only holiday to Norway a miss?

Keep reading…

Winter Fjords Cruise:

How often do you get a chance to cruise?

Especially between a submerged glacier valley through some of the most beautiful natural attractions around.

With our women-only trip to Norway, you will get a chance to see the characteristic island Håja and learn about the history, landscape and wildlife of the incredible island of Kvaløya.

If you are lucky on this women-only holiday, we might also get a chance to see whales, otters, seals and sea eagles. Besides, you could also be given the opportunity to try some fishing.

Train Ride to Myrdal:

norway guided tours

You might have spent hours traveling by train but nothing as scenic as the world’s most wonderful train ride from Oslo to Flam. Our women-only holiday Norway guided tours guarantee you all the fun!

Simply get in the train and enjoy the incredible journey through steep gradient and picturesque nature.

Don’t forget to count the tunnels on your way!


Spectacular Photo Opportunities

No matter where you go travelling on our Norway guided tours, there is one companion that remains constant, your camera!

And with a camera, wouldn’t you love to take a picture when you stand in the air?

Kjeragbolten in Norway is an unusual boulder which stands between two sides of 984 metre-high mountain crevice and surprisingly.

A picture might seem apt with you on top, however, the challenge lies in reaching the top.


The second largest city of Norway, Bergen, lies up the mountainsides, overlooking the sea, embracing you. Here, you will get to see the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the painted wood houses, museums, art galleries and much more.

So don’t forget to keep your cameras ready!

The Atlantic Ocean Road:

northern guided tours

If you love long beautiful roads and the wind in your hair, Norway is home to the ‘world’s best road trip’.

With our land of the midnight sun trip, we will drive through this exquisite 8.5 kilometres route splashed occasionally by sea waters.

Excited much?

Wait, there’s more….

Rib Boat in Tromso:

northern guided tours

Northern lights are not the only reason to visit Tromso! With our Trip this summer, you can hop on to a Rib boat and admire the Norwegian landscape under the midnight sun.

If you’re lucky, spot the harbour porpoises, seals, and sea eagles.

So why wait now?

So, if you’re looking to experience the beauty of Norway, then make sure to check out our women-only holidayHunting the Northern Lights Trip and The Land of the Midnight Sun!


When I mentioned to my friends and family that I was going to Korea, there were a series of questions – Why? What’s there to see in Korea? Are you sure it’s safe? And of course, the over smart one – north or south? I couldn’t understand the reason for these questions – no one asked me these when I visited Italy or Croatia earlier this year. Yet, it was my visit to South Korea that had my well-wishers mouthing concerns. And that just made me more adamant to go!

So why did I actually want to go to South Korea? Apart from the honest truth that the dates fitted perfectly, it was also because it was a country I’d never considered visiting. Sadly whenever I did hear about South Korea, it was in context to their troubled northern neighbour. A neighbour which has intrigued me for long, a country I’m absolutely forbidden to visit by my family, and one I won’t on ethical grounds as tourism there benefits only the government and not the people. So when the opportunity came to visit South Korea, I grabbed it because I couldn’t go north. And I’m so glad I did.

After a disastrous flight on China Eastern, and a missed connection, a co-traveller and I arrived in Seoul in the evening. As we drove into the city we were greeted by clean, well maintained roads, no horns and dazzling lights. It was over the next few days when our guide, a brusque, grandfatherish, knowledgeable man called Kim, reiterated how poor South Korea was till the 1950s and how the country had overcome that situation, did I actually understand how proud the citizens were of their country.

We were a small group of women – nine of us – from different parts of India. And that’s the beauty of trips like these, the joys of meeting new people and learning from each other. With Kim to guide us around our days in Seoul were spent sightseeing (we saw North Korea from a very safe distance) to walking down the streets of Meyongdong eating street food and buying cosmetics.

It was Gyeongju though that became my favourite. We spent the evening exploring the Bulguksa Monastery followed by a tea ceremony with a young monk. The gentleness of his ways, the calmness that he exuded left me wondering if I would ever be able to feel like that in my urban life. Or is that kind of inner stillness possible only if we move away from external disturbances? While I didn’t ask him any of these questions, we did ask several including ones on love and relationship, which turned his cheeks red. Even the simple vegetarian dinner at the monastery was scrumptious and if I say we overate, that would be an understatement. Later, we joined the priests in offering evening prayers and while it was a unique experience it turned into the much needed workout session after binge eating. We were asked to follow the priest and to my horror he kept doing prostrations.

Busan was a delightful experience, with the contrasting quirky Gamcheon Cultural Village to the modern Haeundae Beach area with flashy lights and busy restaurants. It was here that I enjoyed a traditional Korean bar-b-que, a pleasure for any meat lover. On the grill atop the table meat of your choice is cooked in front of your eyes. Along with the meat there are a hundred tiny bowls with variety of kimchi and salad leaves to add flavor. We devoured every bit of food on our table, and then, feeling guilty, walked along the shore to digest our humungous meal.

Our last stop was Jeju Island, a destination that often crops up in the visa free places list for Indians. Filled with tangerine gardens and plantations this vast island almost seems uninhabited in certain parts. From the airport we headed to Love Land, which had more comical than erotic statues of couples engaged in sexual acts. We also visited Jeju Folk Village, the home to the female divers, whose average age according to our guide was sixty-five. In fact the village boasted of a granny who was 109 years old, and two others who were above 100. The village supports its economy through products made and sold only there, and I dared to buy a facial cream made of horse lard and tangerine. Someday I’ll dare to use it.

As the colours of autumn swept across South Korea they painted the country vibrant reds, maroons, browns, yellows and greens. And these colours, interspersed with glittering lights, remain etched in my memory. My week in South Korea was certainly well spent.

-By Richa Wahi


Question: What happens when you are stuck in a rut, exhausted with the mundane, and feel like your life has come to a complete standstill?

Answer: You go jump off a mountain!

And jump off a mountain I did with WeGoBond’s three-night getaway to Andretta.

Nestled among the Dhauladhar range is an idyllic artists’ colony and the village of Andretta. Established in the 1920s by Norah Richards, the Irish theatre artiste and environmentalist, Andretta has, over the years, attracted many noted artists, painters, and more recently potters. Steeped in culture and a bedrock of Punjabi theatre, this quaint little village in the Kangra valley exudes a charm that is second to none. I was about to get a deep dive into all this and more during my three-night stay in this beautiful village.

It’s 5 p.m., my flight has landed at the Delhi airport, and I make a beeline to the taxi stand and instruct the driver to take me to the bridge near Majnu ka Tila, where all the buses for Dharamshala convened. With some Arijit Singh and A.R. Rahman for the company, I reach my destination without much fanfare. The bright green Bedi Bus against a full moon on a yet-to-be-inaugurated bridge made for a striking setting. I meet the rest of the group. While we wait for the other passengers to board, we put this time to good use and get to know each other—the four other lovely ladies with whom I’d be spending the next few days.

At dot 8 p.m. the driver signals that we are about to move. Once on the bus, I doze off to the din of Judwaa 2 playing on the screen in the foreground. Although I’ve travelled on a sleeper bus in the past, this one was a unique experience. I thought I was in for a bumpy ride, but lo and behold I slept like a baby during the entire eight-hour journey. The full moon played hide and seek as the bus trudged around the winding hills once it left the city limits.

My beauty sleep was interrupted by the conductor’s announcement at the crack of dawn the following day. ‘Chalo Bhai, Dharamshala Walley utro!’ We had reached our destination.

Dharamshala is situated in the Kangra valley, at an elevation of 4,780 feet, in the shadow of the majestic Dhauladhar mountains. It is the second capital of Himachal Pradesh (the first being Shimla), and the residence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and the centre of the Tibetan exile world in India.

It was late October and the early flurry of snow on the majestic Dhauladhar signalled the onset of winter. As a desert dweller, the white carpet of snow was a sight to behold! The crisp air and the early morning sun instantly began to work its magic on us. A quick breakfast of aloo parathas and masala chai from a roadside restaurant and we were on our way to the Mirage, our wonderful homestay in Andretta.

The Mirage was one of the key highlights of our Andretta trip. The property is owned and run by Denis Harrap and his fantastic team—including Sweety, the friendly German Shepherd who kept us company throughout our stay, accompanying us even on our hikes and market walks—who made sure we had a lovely time and gave us a taste of the pahadi lifestyle. Built in 1948, the property is the perfect hideaway to soak in tranquillity and rejuvenate those frayed city nerves. It has a stunning yoga room and a swimming pool (under construction). The rooms are well appointed, with unique artefacts curated from across the world, giving us a glimpse of Denis’s extraordinary travels across the world. We stayed in the White House, a two-storied Himachali mud house with a cosy fireplace. Reproductions of Amrita Sher-Gil’s paintings made for a striking look against the whitewashed walls, and so did the vintage calendars and posters from the bygone era.

The Mirage is a labour of love, and this is evident in the attention that has gone into creating this beautiful haven—right from the name-sign on the cottage gate to the dinner plates and bedside tables, all managed efficiently by Denis’s hardworking team. My favourite bit about my room—amongst many others—was the bed-heating blanket, chanced upon accidentally. While it wasn’t too cold to use it, I found it was an excellent remedy for aching knees and sore muscles.

After taking in the surroundings over a cup of masala chai and locally made butter biscuits, followed by a delicious Himachali lunch of dal, chawal, and sabzi, we head straight for our 2 p.m. appointment with Shubham at the Andretta Pottery and Craft Society. The next two hours go by in a swirl at the potter’s wheel, throwing and moulding, and getting the clay to yield to our command. The entire experience was therapeutic, from turning the wheel, to the cool clay awaiting its destiny at the potter’s hand, I walked out of the centre in a state of zen.

Next came the village walk with stops at Sobha Singh Art Gallery and Norah Richards’s house where she taught students how to perform plays in a small theatre outside her courtyard. Her house has recently been renovated by the Punjabi University, Patiala, with the skills of local artisans. The courtyard theatre is still in use by the Punjabi university students, where plays are performed every year on 29 October to commemorate Norah’s birthday. As I explored the 1935 mud house, I felt a strange sense of déjà vu—this was a world so far removed from mine, yet it felt like I belonged here.

Under the now-waxing moon the five of us, with Sweety in tow, spent the rest of the evening exploring the nooks and cranny of this beautiful little village and mingling with its warm and hospitable locals. We kept things simple and easy today because tomorrow we were all set to face our mountains and needed to be in the best form possible.

At 4 a.m., our trip lead, knocks at our door. ‘Wake up, it’s time to rise and shine!’ Little did she know my roomie and I were all set—suited and booted—ready to take off. After a hot cup of masala chai, we carefully tread the winding steps and make way to our car waiting to take us to Bir-Billing, one of the best paragliding sites in the world. The half an hour drive to the take-off site at the crack of dawn is scenic, and witnessing the first rays of the rising sun on the Dhauladhar range is mesmerizing.

Amit and Meenu, the husband-and-wife duo, meet us at the landing site at Bir. Once a corporate slave, Amit and Meenu decided to leave their city lives behind and moved to the mountains. Certified paragliding pilots with more than 700 hours of flying experience between the two of them, they now run BeOutdoors, an adventure eco-tour agency.

A short drive uphill to the take-off site at Billing, followed by some final instructions from Amit helps keep my mind occupied from the unthinkable. ‘Look straight ahead, don’t look down, just straight ahead and run, run, run … keep running, don’t stop,’ Amit instructs. Standing at an elevation of 7,900 feet, I have an epiphany: I wonder if Amit’s words are the antidote to my stuck-in-a-rut life situation.

My heart starts to race, Good lordy, what was I thinking, what did I sign up for? Perhaps a spa day would have been a better solution to drive away the blues!

Eddie, my tandem pilot, is cool as a cucumber and his calm demeanour doesn’t help soothe my frayed nerves. Eddie has been setting up the glide this whole time. He then ties me up, straps me up. I’m hooked and booked from all angles possible. There’s no way out. Eddie signals it is time to run. I take in a deep breath and with all the courage that I can muster I run. Six steps in, and suddenly there is no ground beneath my feet. I’m up in the thin air, sitting nicely on the glider’s seat, as Eddie navigates the bright orange glide. That was it. I spend the next twenty minutes taking in the views—the rising sun, the majestic ranges as far as the eyes can see, down below little villages with freshly tilled farms, red-tiled roofs where perhaps the inhabitants were just about waking up to the new day. Bliss!

The warm rays of the sun and the cool pahadi air made for a heady combination of ecstasy, hysteria, and a deep sense of gratitude. Tears streaming down my face, I had another moment of great realization. You see, I have a natural affinity to complicate things—whether it was jumping off a mountain or going about my daily life. Sitting on the glider, balancing a Go-Pro in one hand, and holding on to a plastic strap for my dear life I made a note to myself, to keep it simple, always!

We land at Bir, which I can only describe as a warm knife slicing through a block of butter. Utterly smooth.

Exhilarated, we make our way to Apoorva’s coffee shop, a few metres away from the landing site, for some delicious coffee and carrot cake. With our tummies full, we proceed to visit the number of monasteries along the way and stop for lunch at one of the monastery canteens for some thukpa and thenthuk.

Mind, body, and soul aligned, we head back to our homestay, and, as if it was a done thing, I turn on my bed heater to the max and go in for a four-hour snooze fest! After a relaxed dinner, we call it a day.

It’s day three now, our last and final day before we take the overnight bus back to Delhi. Excited to see what the day holds, my roomie and I are up bright and early as always—suited, booted, packed. There’s a village hike on the itinerary, followed by a scrumptious breakfast, then on to the HPCA cricket stadium in Dharamshala, and finally to Mcleodganj, with a visit to a church and the Bhagsunag waterfalls.

I’ve done many hikes, this should be a walk in the park, I tell myself. And it sure turns out to be one—except for the last leg of the walk when my sedentary knees decide to make a point. Ssshh, bad timing. Be quiet. I say and trudge along. Although slightly difficult in bits and places, the views of the surrounding ranges and the idyllic villages at its foothills are stunning.

Hike done and feeling mighty accomplished, we head back to a beautiful breakfast spread of besan chila, scrambled eggs, a gorgeous fruit platter, and an assortment of homemade jams and pickles. Breakfast devoured, we say our goodbyes to our wonderful host and hit the road to Mcleodganj. The rest of the day is spent sampling more thukpas and shaptas, exploring Mcleod’s meandering alleys, coffee shops, and dipping our tippy toes at the Bhagsunag waterfalls.

It’s now getting dark; the last ray of the setting sun demonstrates her final act across Mcleod’s skies—a kaleidoscopic display of brilliance in all shades of red. What a showstopper! This has been a magical day! We take in the panoramic view and get into the waiting bus.

As the bus begins its descent from Mcleod, I assume a comfortable position and doze off, this time to the backdrop of Happy Bhag Jayegi!

It’s 4 a.m. now. We’ve reached Delhi, I can tell by the heavy smog-filled air. Now comes the toughest part. The goodbyes. The bond we shared over endless cups of chais, crispy onion pakodas, buttery biscuits, and countless selfies, the five of us will shortly go in five different directions. I don’t know what it is, but I feel a gnawing pain deep within. I remind myself we live in the digital age and just a DM away. I instantly feel better. My attempt at ‘keeping things simple’ is working!

Tight hugs and promises to stay in touch, we go our separate ways. I turn back for one last look. Three days ago on a full-moon night we met; three days later batteries fully recharged, with new-found hopes and inspiration, we march ahead carrying the spirit of adventure in our hearts and the search for our next big mountain.

Until then, here’s to sisterhood and our travelling plans!

Priscilla Stanley travelled to Andretta with WeGoBondin October 2018. She does not travel often by your average standards, but when she does you can rest assured that she is doing so to break free from life’s mundaneness that has set in at a tiresome pace. This was Priscilla’s fourth trip with WeGoBond. Previously she has travelled with them to Sri Lanka, Chikmagalur, and Puducherry, all of which she says has been life-changing and transformational.


Photographs courtesy of Madhula Banerji