Gypsy Shack's Best of 2014

2014 was a fabulous year! We added a number of destinations, met a lot of wonderful people, forged new and lasting friendships, dug into unknown cuisines, traveled to a lot of new places, experienced the unknown and tried our hands, er feet, at adrenalin pumping activities! From all the new places that we visited and all the new activities that we tried out, we made a list of the best journeys we have been on this year.
Here is Gypsy Shack's Best of 2014! 


#1 Best Trekking Journey

The Har ki Dun Trek topped our list of trekking journeys this year. The Har ki Dun Valley is known for its wild flower meadows and avi-fauna population as it falls inside the boundaries of the Govind National Park. Besides the Har Ki Dun peak, magnificent views of the Hata and Swargarohini peaks can also be enjoyed from the trails.
Har ki Dun Ramdana Fields
Har ki Dun Ramdana Fields

#2 Best Wildlife Journey

The Satpura National Park topped our list of jungle safaris this year. Located in Madhya Pradesh, Satpura National Park is probably the only national park in India that allows walking safaris, canoe rides and bicycle rides in the core area of the national park. Walking safaris, drive to Churna to see ancient rock paintings, jeep safaris, game drive and canoe rides make this a wonderful trip.
Drive to Churna
Driving to Churna

#3 Best Birding Journey:

Pong Wetlands topped our list of Birding tour this year. Located in the Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh, these serene wetlands set against a backdrop of the Dhauladhars are home to some 95,000 birds, both local and migratory. Some of the birds that you can spot here include River Lapwing, Bar-headed Geese, Pheasant-tailed Jacana and Bronzed-winged Jacana, Brown Crake and Baillons, Ruddy-breasted Crake, Siberian Rubythroat and Blue Throat, Long-tailed and Bay- backed Shrikes, Common grey Hornbill, Common Coots, and the Common Pochard.
Black headed Jay at Pong Wetlands
Black Headed Jay at Pong Wetlands

#4 Most Kid-friendly Journey:

Kathotiya and Samardha with nature walks, camping, rappelling and myriad of adventure sports are the best journeys to take when with the family. The kids will get to engage, learn and excel at life skills as much as they will enjoy and cherish each activity the family does together. 
Adventure Sports at Kathotiya
Adventure Sports at Kathotiya

#5 Best Eco-tourism Destination:

Binsar, Uttarakhand is well known for the Binsar Bird Sanctuary that is home to over 180 species of birds. Established to conserve the shrinking broad leaf oak, community based tourism is encouraged within and around the Binsar sanctuary. Facilities for visitors are well maintained and looked after by the villagers. Walk through footpaths in the sanctuary, chasing bird calls and panther tracks, with snowy mountains towering in the backdrop, visit mountain villages and interact with the locals who will act as your hosts, cooks, guides  and friends
Scarlet Minivet, Binsar
Scarlet Minivet at the Binsar Bird Sanctuary

#6 Best Wilderness Destination:

The Hemis National Park, India's highest national park, is one of the few locations in the world to see the snow leopard in its natural habitat. 16 mammal species and 73 bird species have been recorded in the park. The trails wind through thick pristine snow in winters. Look for paw prints! You can also spot Blue Sheep, Ladakhi Urial, Great Tibetan Sheep, Eurasian brown bear and a number of Himalayan and trans-Himalayan birds of prey. Within the park boundaries, there are a number of Tibetan gompas and holy chortens, including the 400 year old Hemis Monastery.
Snow Leopard at Hemis
Snow Leopard at Hemis National Park

#7 Most Daring Adventure:

The icy Chadar Trek takes this! Trek in sub-zero temperatures on the frozen Zanskar, on ice that changes colors with the degrees of the sun, along the stark Zanskar ranges. You will learn a lesson in resilience as this trek will test you to the limits of physical and psychological strength. With no defined trails, absolutely cut off from the rest of civilization, in the bitter Himalayan winter, this is one daring adventure! 
The frozen Zanskar River
The Frozen Zanskar River

#9 Most Scenic Journey

Chopta Village & Chandrashila Trek features as the most scenic journey on our list. The trekking route passes through beautiful forests of conifers, thick wooded slopes, thickets of blazing red rhododendrons and alpine meadows that are blanketed with wildflowers in summer and layers of pristine snow in winter to the Chandrashila Peak. Spectacular 360 deg views of the Kedarnath range can be enjoyed from here. Enroute, you can also visit the beautiful Deoria Tal and the 1000 year old Tungnath Temple, 3680 m, the highest Shiva temple in India. 

Tungnath Trail

Tungnath Trail

#10 Shortest Journey:

The 1D journey to Kerwa that includes adventure sports, bird watching and paddle boating is the shortest on our list and one of the best. You don't need to have a lot of days to enjoy a good rewarding time. At the Kerwa jungle camp, you can complete a number of activities in a few hours and get the best out of the trip in so little time. In this era of the perpetually-out-of-time, can we ask for more!
River Crossing in Kerwa
River Crossing at Kerwa

#11 Highest Adventure:

Roopkund Trek goes all the way to the 4800 m high Roopkund lake. The clear blue lake that resembles a crater has almost 200 human skeletons in and around it. A 2004 research attributed all the deaths to a sudden and severe hailstorm.
The Roopkund Lake
Roopkund Lake

#12 Longest Journey

Stretching 9N/10D, the glamorous Chadar Trek is the longest we have in our list. Trek over the frozen Zanskar from Chilling to Nyerak Pullu and back.
Chadar Trek

Chadar Trek

#13 Newest Activity:

This year we will go Scuba Diving in the turquoise tropical waters of the Andaman sea! Imagine colorful reefs and swarms of silvery fishes - the wonderful marine life will leave you enthralled.
Marine life in the Andaman Sea
We look forward to you journeying with us to the unknown this new year.


Happy New Year 2015, à la gypsy style!


Article by: Mohana Das

All photo courtesy: Gypsy Shack

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