For Maxis & Brenda

April 2013.

The majestic Indian Himalayas

Dear Maxis and Brenda,

Pack your bags as it is time to head to the majestic Himalayas of India. Destinations are pretty easy to find, but it’s what you do with them that counts. With this itinerary and your active lifestyles, I just know you are going to make this trip one for the memory books.

India is an important country, muscular, challenging and engaging: you cannot visit it and return home unchanged. India has the strength to show you its soul while holding you in its spell. The images you take away are often complicated and conflicting and, sometimes, uncomfortable. But they are always compelling. Traveling in India is a remarkable experience that needs to be savored slowly, carefully and intelligently. I know you will love your time in India.

Day 1: Arrival

Today you will arrive in Delhi. Upon arrival, you will find the tempo, the bright colors, the fascinating shops and the procession of animals to be exotic and enticing. There appears to be a new independence of spirit in India that is informed by excellent education, great sophistication and an increased connectedness with the wider world, all fuelled by new opportunities for investment and investors. India is not a “once in a lifetime” trip to be taken in later years. It is a country that bears visiting young and revisiting ever after—at a pleasurable, easy pace. This is just your first of many journies to India in the years to come. Use your five senses and just take it all in.

Your Guide, Sonali, will meet you at the airport and bring you to your hotel for the day. You will spend the night at the five-star Lodhi. The Lodhi is decorated with contemporary Indian artwork, each room elegantly designed with high-end furnishings, private plunge pools and balconies. You will have the day at your leisure to explore your new neighborhood. The hotel is located just 10 kilometers from the 17th-century Red Fort. The Red Fort, elegantly crafted in red sandstone, was the residence of the Mughal emperor for nearly 200 years. Today it is home to several museums that are worth exploring to get an understanding of India’s complex past.

Day 2: Delhi by foot

Whether or not you’ve visited Delhi before and covered the city’s essentials, a nice way to spend the morning or afternoon is wandering south Delhi’s Hauz Khas Village. Immersed in the greenery of Deer Park, Hauz Khas is home to a medieval madrasa and various tombs in addition to independent art galleries, boutique shops and a number of cafés. Stroll along Back Lane, with the best shops in the area, and for a lunch break try Coast Café.

After a traditional Indian dinner this evening, you will be collected from your hotel by Sonali and transferred to the rail station in time to board your overnight train to Kathgodam.

Days 3-5: Kathgodam trekking

Upon arrival in Kathgodam this morning, you will meet your trekking guide at the railway station. Sonali will help you gather your supplies and you will head into the foothills of the Himalayan mountain range for spectacular scenic beauty and pristine snowcapped mountain views.

The little known Kumaon region lies in the northern hill state of Uttarakhand, offering some of the most stunning mountain scenery anywhere in the world. Here you will have access to a place far removed from the modern world, where space and peace provoke the imagination and nourish the soul.

You will spend the next three days trekking through the foothills of the Himalayas, traversing pine forests and scenic valleys, and visiting small village temples as you go. You will be housed each night in a different village, where a traditional home has been refurbished and beautifully decorated for a comfortable, simple stay. Meals are prepared by a chef who travels along with you—breakfast is a simple affair, lunch is always a picnic, and dinner is served around a warm fire in the evening. Finish each day with a traditional cup of chai.

Days 5-8: Leti Yoga retreat

Once you’ve finished your adventurous trek through the Kathgodam region, you will head just north of the Kumaon villages, where you will check-in to fantastically secluded 360º Leti, your home at 8,000 feet for the next three nights.

The property consists of four luxury cabins built with local materials, each paying homage to the natural surroundings and offering complete tranquility. Per our conversations, your sojourn will also be environmentally-friendly: Leti relies partly on solar heating, though the rooms also offer wood burning stoves. Every night your bed will be warmed with hot water bottles beneath pashmina throws.

There are fabulous fishing and hiking opportunities in the surrounding area, and Leti is the absolute perfect place to spend your days outdoors with a good book. It is a location that is both serene and inspiring.

I have arranged three days of private yoga and meditation lessons especially for you, with only the best yogis in India. Surrounded by panoramic views of the snowcapped Himalayan mountains, you will spend your time finding the peace within you and recharge your soul in the Great Outdoors.

Day 9: Sunrise hike

After an early sunrise mountain hike with your guide, celebrate the end of your Himalayan adventure with a cup of Chai and traditional Indian breakfast at the top of the mountain. You will enjoy views of Ramganga Valley, Heeramani Glacier, and Nanda Kot. On your way down, pay your respects to the shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva.

After a delicious lunch prepared by the Leti chef, you will head back down the mountain to the railway station for your overnight train to Delhi.

Day 10: Spa day in Delhi

Sonali will bring you to the Imperial New Delhi, an iconic five-star hotel in the heart of the city. This luxury hotel, built in 1931 by Blomfield and inaugurated by Lord Willingdon in 1936, has an awe-inspiring heritage interwoven in colonial elegance.

After a calming and restoring yoga session, you will be whisked off to the world-class spa for a day of pampering. After trekking in the Himalayas, your tired muscles need a little soothing and relaxation before your flight the following day. Enjoy a 90-minute invigorating deep tissue massage that will be sure to harmonize your spirit with your chakra and find your resource for infinite energy. Afterward, enjoy your choice of body wraps and facials before relaxing in the spa pools and sauna.

You will spend your last evening in India at the world renowned restaurant, The Spice Route. The Spice Route will mesmerize all your senses enrapturing you with its sensuous exotica that only India can do.

Day 11: Departure

Sonali will escort you to the airport so you can catch your flight back home. I sincerely hope you enjoyed your time in India. India is a diverse and vibrant country with much to offer even the most seasoned travelers. It will leave you longing for your next visit.

Maxis and Brenda, it has been my pleasure to plan this itinerary for your Himalayans adventures. Please do call if I can be of any help.