Thrilling Outdoor Adventures That Will Raise Your Adrenaline

India is blessed with a variety of landscapes that offer a diverse range of adventures for you to choose from. This guide is a selection of some of the finest outdoor experiences you can have in the country
Ziplining in Jodhpur
Ziplining in JodhpurFlickr: Aditi Mittal

Bouldering In Hampi

For climbing enthusiasts, the giant granite boulders dotting the Tungabhadra River beside the ruins of the Vijayanagara Empire have become quite a craze. Within sight of centuries-old temples, the region is irresistable to travellers looking to pinch holds, crimp, and belay. There's nothing climbers like better than finding the perfect line of ascent, and Hampi's boulders—with their bizarre shapes—pose problems aplenty.

The boulders cover some 300 sq km, making them one of the largest climbing arenas in the world. Golden Boulders - Climbing Handbook Hampi by Gerald Krug and Christiane Hupe offers a detailed list of climbing areas and lines.

Climbing a boulder in Hampi, Karnataka
Climbing a boulder in Hampi, KarnatakaFlickr: ryguywy

How to get there: Book a flight to Ballari Airport or a train ride to Hospet Junction station and take a car or bus ride to Hampi. There are regular bus services between Bengaluru and Hampi.

Running The Ladakh Marathon

The 10th iteration of the annual Ladakh Marathon took place in September last year. The marathon is divided into four races, the shortest of which is a 7 km dash at almost 12,000 ft. For the truly adventurous, the full 42 km marathon starts at the Shanti Stupa before heading down to the airport and through the villages of Palam, Chushot, and Choglamsar. It criss-crosses the Indus river before finishing back in Leh.

For ultrarunners, there is a mammoth 71 km endurance race from the Khardung La mountain pass to Leh. Registration has not yet opened for the 2024 edition, so keep a close eye at Fees begin from INR 2,200 for Indians not native to Ladakh.

A section of the Ladakh Marathon
A section of the Ladakh MarathonFlickr:

How to get there: Ladakh can be reached by flight from New Delhi airport only as there are no direct flights from other cities. Road travel is perhaps the most picturesque way of travelling to Leh, so lots of visitors travel from Manali to Leh or via the Srinagar-Leh highway to soak in the sights.

Trekking To Kangchenjunga

Mount Everest frequently sees record-breaking visitors hoping to climb the tallest mountain in the world, but it's a wonder that more people don't venture to Kangchenjunga Base Camp and the beautiful Zemu glacier. The approximately 11-day trek begins and ends at Zema, in the Zemu Chu valley. The trail passes through wild landscapes of gorges, forests, and meadows.

In the springtime, there are rhododendrons in bloom, and in the autumn, an amazing array of moss and lichens. The Zemu glacier has breathtaking views of the northeast face of Kangchenjunga, as well as those of the giant peaks of Siniolchu, the South Simvu Glacier, The Twins, and more.

Kangchenjunga sits 28,169 ft above sea level
Kangchenjunga sits 28,169 ft above sea levelWikimedia Commons: My Discovery

How to get there: Hire a credible trekking agency in either Nepal or Sikkim that can arrange permits to climb Kangchenjunga. Travel to Kathmandu, or book a flight to Bagdogra in West Bengal and take a bus or taxi to cover over 100 km to Gangtok. Alternatively, get off at Siliguri or New Jalpaiguri railway station and travel onwards by road to Sikkim.

Ziplining At Mehrangarh Fort

Jodhpur's Mehrangarh Fort is one of the most imposing fortresses in the country and one of the best ways to enjoy its spectacular ramparts, moats, and lake-filled ravines is by ziplining. In an experience that brings you as close to being Batman as possible, fly along any of Flying Fox's six different ziplines for great views and a full-on adrenaline kick. From the baby 70m Chhota Wallah line across a ravine to the big-daddy The Magnificent Marwar (300m) line stretching across two lakes to the tip of a tower, each of the lines is an adventure.

Ziplining at the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur
Ziplining at the Mehrangarh Fort in JodhpurFlickr: Vinay Nair

How to get there: Get off at Jodhpur Airport or hitch a train ride to Jodhpur railway station. There are buses aplenty in Rajasthan that connect cities like Udaipur, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, and Jodhpur with one another.

Cycling In The Nilgiri Mountains

The Tour of Nilgiris takes biking enthusiasts on a 800 km odyssey through Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala. The route passes through the Bandipur, Wayanad, and Mudumalai sanctuaries, traversing challenging terrain and offering riders the spectacular scenery and biodiversity of the area.

Travelling an average of 100 to 160 km every day can be a punishing schedule, but the tour is organised so that the riders get enough time to appreciate their amazing environment and go home not just with calves of steel, but also with greener lungs.

A participant in the Tour of Nilgiris
A participant in the Tour of NilgirisFlickr: TouroFNilgiris

How to get there: Contact the tour operator for specifics, but you can reach the Nilgiri Mountains by travelling to Coimbatore International Airport in Tamil Nadu and taking a bus or car ride to Ooty. Drive from Bengaluru, Mysuru, or Coimbatore and take in the spellbinding views of the Western Ghats, or get off at Mettupalayam railway station and take the Nilgiri Mountain Railway line to Ooty.

Climbing Kang Yatze

The beautiful peak of Kang Yatze is familiar to anyone who has trekked in the Markha valley. This graceful 6,400m peak can be easily climbed nowadays. The route follows Markha past the camp site of Hankar to the base camp.

The push for the peak happens in one day, starting at about 2 am to reach the fore summit (6,100m) before the sun becomes too strong. Reaching the main summit is a technical challenge as it goes over a heavily exposed, knife-thin edge. Most climbers turn back from this point. On a clear day, you get fantastic views of the Zanskar and Indus valleys, and the Karakoram peaks like K2. Outfitter Peak Adventure organises a 12-day expedition.

The Kang Yatze as seen from the Markha valley
The Kang Yatze as seen from the Markha valleyWikimedia Commons: SlartibErtfass der bertige

How to get there: Contact the tour operator for specifics, but Ladakh can be reached by flight from New Delhi airport only as there are no direct flights from other cities.

Surfing In Visakhapatnam

Vizag is a great place for beginners to hone up their surfing skills. The area around Rushikonda beach and Ramakrishna beach is fast becoming a popular destination. There used to be a time when the sight of a surfer out in the Bay of Bengal used to stop traffic, but nowadays there are quite a few dedicated surfing clubs with local members who surf daily, and even hold surfing workshops.

The waves here are fairly tame, about 3-to-5 feet in height (sometimes going up to 8 feet during storms or in the monsoon), but that is exactly what makes Vizag a great place to learn. Get in touch with Lonely Surfers Surf School the next time you're in Vizag.

Rushikonda beach in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh
Rushikonda beach in Visakhapatnam, Andhra PradeshFlickr: Kartik Kumar S

How to get there: Land at Visakhapatnam Airport or the Visakhapatnam Railway Station as both are well-connected with domestic airports and trains. There are plenty of bus services within Andhra Pradesh that link its major cities, as well as interstate buses going to Visakhapatnam from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Kayaking In Goa

Goa enjoys a high biodiversity in the interior parts of the state, which are made up of thick jungles, mangroves, and riverine beaches hosting a wide variety of avifaunal life. Day-long kayaking trips are probably the most relaxing way to enjoy this different side to Goa.

Lots of local kayaking outfitters have sprung up in Vasco da Gama which traverse the incredibly scenic Zuari, Mandovi, and Nerul rivers, as well as the Sal backwaters.

The Sal backwaters of Goa
The Sal backwaters of GoaFlickr: solarisgirl

How to get there: Book a flight to Goa International Airport in Dabolim or Mopa. The South Western Railway connects Vasco da Gama city with Hubli, Belgaum, etc., and the Konkan Railway connects Margao to cities along the western coast. Buses regularly ply the route between Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh to Goa.

River Rafting In Arunachal Pradesh

With its countless rivers, Arunachal Pradesh is one of the best places in India for rafting. The Brahmaputra (or Siang), Subansiri, and Lohit rivers offer incredible opportunities to indulge in this thrilling activity. Each one offers days of easy sailing as well as rapids that are Grade III and higher.

Rafting trips can take 10 to 12 days due to the difficulty of the terrain. Kayaking is another great way to explore the rivers, particularly on the stretches of the Marmong Gorge on the Siang. The remote Subansiri valley has no road connectivity which adds to the sense of being alone in the wild. Check out operators like Thrillophilia for a variety of rafting options.

Rafting on the Siang river
Rafting on the Siang riverFlickr: rideandclimbadventure

How to get there: Donyi Polo Airport, Itanagar is around 27 km from the main city but flights land only from Kolkata. Harmuti railway station in Assam and Naharlagun railway station in Arunachal Pradesh are the closest stations to Itanagar. You can also reach the capital by bus from Banderdewa, North Lakhimpur, Tezpur, and Guwahati.

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