All posts by Supriya Vohra

Satpura National Park: Luxury Safari to the Heart of India

On the 40th anniversary of Ibex Expeditions, Mandip and Anita Soin, owners and Directors, take you on an enthralling personally led deluxe journey through this forest declared as a National park in 1981. Have you considered walking in a forest in the footsteps of erstwhile explorer, Captain James Forsyth of the Bengal Lancers who traversed this forest in 1862? The Satpura Tiger reserve covers 528 km from Gujarat in the East through Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh and is an extensive forest area with unique flora and fauna and is the only tiger park in India that allows for a controlled walking safari and mobile camping access accompanied by forest guards.

We first experience a walking expedition through the forest spending two days in a mobile camp. Later we experience the deluxe Reni Pani safari lodge and engage in canoe and jeep rides, all the while enjoying the local hospitality and community interactions. We then travel to the beautiful Ahilya fort (Relaix and Chateau) in the countryside town of Maheshwar living like a royal and explore the countryside with its seamless confluence of textiles, culture, serenity, and architecture. Boat rides on the Narmada river, island picnics and drinks by the poolside sum up the high life as you retreat into a bygone era of simplicity and grace.

Since 2012, Ibex Expeditions has supported the Give Back to Nature programme of WWF India and for each participant of this journey, we will donate US $ 40 per person.

Itinerary

Arrival Delhi

On arrival into IGI Delhi airport at hours, you will be met by our Office Assistant, holding a name placard followed by transfer to your hotel. Since your arrival is late at night, check-in to your hotel and rest.

Hotel: Imperial 

Delhi

After breakfast, proceed on a guided tour of Delhi at 0930 hours which includes the city’s world heritage sites. Drive through New Delhi roads & sights such as India Gate, The Presidential Palace and Parliament house to get a feel for the grand new city that Sir Lutyens built in the early 1900s.

Meals: Breakfast

Delhi – Bhopal by plane

Early morning transfer to airport to board the scheduled flight to Bhopal. Flight – Jet Airways 893: 0540 – 0700 hours Reporting time – 0400 hours On arrival at Bhopal airport, transfer to your retreat on the outskirts of the town. Post lunch at 1400 hours, your private city guide will report to the hotel for a guided excursion to Sanchi stupa (45 km one way). Today, the remarkably preserved Great Stupa is the centerpiece of Sanchi’s World Heritage-listed Buddhist monuments. Return to the retreat in the evening for dinner and a good night’s sleep.

Meals: Breakfast on the plane, lunch and dinner

Hotel: Jehan Numa Retreat

Wide Oyster Magazine Interviews Mandip Singh Soin

Netherlands’ based international travel magazine Wide Oyster recently interviewed Mandip Singh Soin about his journey, his passion for exploration and his concern for the planet. Given below is the republished version. The original article is available here.

For Love and For the Planet: Reisheld Mandip Singh Soin
By Marco Baneveld

There are more and more voices that traveling is bad for the environment. We believe that traveling in the right way makes the world a better place. In the words of David Attenborough : “No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced.”

WideOyster highlights travel heroes who are committed to the world. In this edition Mandip Singh Soin, explorer and environmentalist.

When I met Mandip in a bus in Salta, en route to the Juramento River (for those who raft: a number 5), we immediately got talking. An incredibly nice man, full of puns and easily recognizable by his colorful turbans. I knew a lot that I was laughing with a fairly remarkable person. But I would soon find out.

Over the past four decades, Mandip Singh Soin, an Indian Sikh, has climbed, skied, jumped parachute and immersed himself in a thousand other adventures on all seven continents. “My wanderlust started early,” he recalls. “I was 15, climbed into the Himalayas and was overwhelmed by adventure and nature.” He turned his passion into his work.

His company Ibex Expeditions was born in 1979. Ibex organizes tailor-made adventures and has received many international awards over the years. Just like Mandip itself, by the way. This year the company is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

His experiences all over the world made him more and more involved in protecting the nature that he loves so much. And with success.

Mandip is the only Indian who has received the NESS Award from the Royal Geographical Society, UK . He also received the prestigious Tenzing Norgay Adventure Award from the hands of the President of India. He is the founder of the Ecotourism Society of India and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, UK and the Explorers Club, USA . He is a man to be reckoned with. Big time.

In 2015, he was awarded the Citation of Merit by the Explorers Club for his work on mountaineering on six continents. Other recipients of this award include Jeff Bezos, John Hemming, Gilbert M. Grosvenor, Lord Robert ST Chorley, Nigel N. Winser, Naomi Uemura and Robert D. Ballard.

We were allowed to ask him some questions about how traveling can do the world well and how it can help preserve our beautiful planet for future generations.

 

Mandip, why are you traveling?

“For all the amazing and different landscapes, the bewildering architectural styles and the fantastic types of people living in this world. The peculiarities and eccentricities of people and cultures around the world. It makes this planet a very interesting place to travel. ”

What did it bring you?

“A better understanding of people, myself and also a better understanding of how the planet ticks.”

How does travel define you as a person?

“There are two types of journeys: the inner journey and the outer journey. Traveling opens windows in the mind. It has taught me to be empathetic and at the same time it has made me realize that I have to contribute to a better world.

Do you think there is a ‘good’ way of traveling and a ‘bad’ way of traveling?

“The right way is to understand and open up to cultures and people you visit. But your choice of travel also counts: choose sustainable hotels, lodges and tour operators, which also respect the locals and give them back to the community where the journey goes. Also try to donate something to support nature and culture, such as the WWF or local non-profit organizations for the environment, cultures or education. There is so much to do, so little money and every drop counts. Bad tourism does nothing of the above and only goes for itself and the cheapest, without having to worry about the impact of tourism. Bad tourism is not about attracting you to what your impact is and just taking it. ”

You are committed to the environment. Can you explain that?

“Well, first we set a good example with Ibex. Just to feel good about it and to care for the environment. For example, we do not make campfires with wood from the environment during our Himalayan expeditions. There is not much firewood there and what there is is primarily meant for the local communities, we think. Nowadays we burn less and less on open fire because of the CO2 and we use solar energy to cook, shower and light to reduce our impact.

We soon started making recommendations to other tour operators. Now we do this in India on a national level through the Ecotourism Society of India. There is so much to do. ”

Why are it the more adventurous journeys that contribute to nature conservation?

“If tourism is the arrow, adventure travel is the arrowhead. These trips like to go to areas where normal tourism does not dare yet. They are often unexplored areas. Tourism then brings jobs, money and the exchange of knowledge. Adventurous travel organizations are often a pioneer in the field of nature protection. Because nature is the playground that people love so much. You don’t want to ruin that. In the words of David Attenborough : “No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced. ”

However, there is a side note. Because this type of travel can also be done irresponsibly and it will be damaged more than it does well. So we have to keep making wise decisions. ”

What would your advice be for people who are concerned about the impact of travel?

“Be more aware where you are going and how you are traveling. Respect cultures and people. Pay attention to which travel agency you are traveling with and consciously choose sustainable accommodation. See if you can possibly compensate the CO2 for your flights. Traveling can be a powerful tool to protect this planet and create a better understanding between people. It is ultimately your choices that make the difference. ”

 

With Mandip to the heart of India

There is probably no better way to discover India than with Mandip Singh Soin. For the 40th anniversary of their company, Mandip and his wife Anita lead an expedition to the heart of India, in the footsteps of Captain James Forsyth, an explorer who served in the Indian army at the end of the 19th century. The journey takes you to the forests of Satpura in the state of Madhya Pradesh. You stay in luxury camps and colonial lodges and immerse yourself in art, culture, nature, wildlife and recipes from the kitchen of the Nawab family. A great walking experience through the Satpura Tiger Reserve. You also visit Bhopal, Mandu and Maheshwar where you stay in the Ahilya Fort, the private palace of the former Holkar dynasty.

Read more about this journey here. 

Telluride Mountainfilm Festival comes to India

This year, once again, we bring the Telluride Mountainfilm Festival to India. We have been the international tour host for the festival since 2017.

Mountainfilm is one of America’s longest-running film festivals, beginning in 1979. Their mission is to use the power of film, art and ideas to inspire audiences to create a better world.

Through the years, Telluride Mountainfilm festival has always been best described by one unchanging word: inspiring. Year-round and worldwide, they take a selection of festival films on the road. They present both single-event and multi-day shows, hosted by a wide array of organizations, including schools and colleges, corporations, community groups and theater operators. Through the tour, they touch the lives of some 65,000 people every year and visit more than 100 locations on five continents. One of the films, “Minding the Gap“, was nominated for an Oscar this year.

We’re hosting the event at the Oddbird Theater and Foundation on the 11th of April, as well as at Boulderbox on the 12th of April. Apart from this, we’re also having educational screenings at several schools and universities across Delhi. Boulderbox is our main sponsor/supporter, as well as Make My Trip.

Facebook Link to the event at Oddbird Theatre (11th April): https://www.facebook.com/events/1114835285362702/

Direct Link for passes at Oddbird Theatre (11th April): https://www.oddbird.org/event/reserve/mountainfilm-on-tour-delhi/april-11-7-30pm

Facebook Link to the event at BoulderBox (12th April): https://www.facebook.com/events/1393815250758778/

All images © Mountainfilm

Ladakh: A Photographic Journey to “Little Tibet”

Flying into Leh, the former capital of the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh, feels more like landing on the moon than landing in India. Its harsh, mountainous terrain is starkly beautiful and very dry, due to its high altitude and cold desert climate. Dotted with stupas and whitewashed houses, the Old Town is dominated by a dagger of steep rocky ridge topped by an imposing Tibetan-style palace and fort.


Our special anniversary edition journey to Ladakh this September will be led by Himraj Soin, an adventure travel journalist who is an avid skier and climber;
studied at Colorado College. He is a National Geographic Student Expedition leader
and photographer and his expeditions have taken him to Tibet, Mongolia, Bhutan,Borneo, Madagascar, Peru, Morocco, Namibia, Argentina, Chile, and Antarctica, and more.

Following a theme of a responsible eco adventure, walking in the footsteps of the  this photo adventure journey will take you to all Buddhist monasteries, trek through breathtaking passes. You will discuss Buddhist traditions, learn about renewable energy projects with conservationists, visit outfits promoting sustainable development and walk along hillsides dotted with chortens and monasteries with exquisite Himalayan vistas.

The journey will take place this September. Send in your queries to ibex@ibexexpeditions.com!
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Mandip Singh Soin—Explorer, Environmentalist, Motivational Speaker, and a Badass Modest Mountaineer

Over the last four decades, Mandip Singh Soin has climbed, trekked, skied, sky dived and indulged in a diverse number of adventures in India and across the seven continents. The journey began at age 15, as he climbed in the Himalaya, he knew he was smitten by adventure and the great outdoors and took on “the road less travelled.” With a Masters in History from St. Stephens’ College, Delhi University, he turned his passion into a career.

Ibex Expeditions was born in 1979, a pioneering and bespoke adventure, safari and luxury travel company, recipient of several national and international awards.

Life’s adventures drew him closer to saving the environment for future generations and his attention turned to making a difference.

Mandip is also the only Indian to have received the NESS Award by the Royal Geographical Society, UK. He is the recipient of the Tenzing Norgay Adventure Award for Lifetime Achievement by the President of India.

Mandip is also the Founder President of the Ecotourism Society of India, and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, UK and the Explorers Club, USA.

In 2015, the Citation of Merit was awarded to Mandip for his outstanding work in mountaineering, notably for an unmatched spirit of adventure and exploration spanning six months. He joined the ranks of past awardees that include Jeff Bezos, John Hemming, Gilbert M. Grosvenor, Lord Robert  S.T. Chorley, Nigel N. Winser, Naomi Uemura, Robert D. Ballard among others.


Mandip is invited to deliver motivational and inspirational talks around the world at tourism forums, corporate houses, universities and schools, clubs and high commissions.

Email: mandip@ibexexpeditions.com

Rajasthan: The Land of Colour

Rajasthan, literally translated to Land of Kings, home to the massive Thar desert and the ancient Aravalli mountain range, has a rich history, ecology and culture. It is also one of our favourite  destinations.

Apart from the ruins of the Indus valley civilisation to the Dilwara temples; from the historically important forts and palaces to a diverse variety of wildlife, every city within Rajasthan offers a vibrant history behind its colours (the blue city of Jodphur, the pink city of Jaipur), cultures and customs.

For our special anniversary edition, we take you on a journey to Rajasthan’s historical, cultural and natural landscapes. From the grand forts of Amber and Mehrangarh, we will take you to Ramathra Fort, a tranquil space that lies between two famous wildlife reserves ~ The Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary in  Bharatpur and the  Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Sawai Madhopur. Due to its location in the far interior of eastern Rajasthan, it is a quiet space. Whether you wish to visit the fort’s ruins or take leisurely walks around the natural surroundings, or do everything, the adventure is yours. It is one of our favourite places in Rajasthan, and a hugely different experience from the explosion of colours and culture that one usually experiences in the historic state.

We will take you for a unique train ride through a rural, wooded hill section, somewhere in Deogarh. The tracks of this particular railway line were laid in 1894 when steam engines were still in use. As you chug along, the train making wide, sweeping arcs through the Aravalli’s, you may have to stop more than once for the driver to check his brakes. The view outside is breath- taking. The ground beneath your feet seems solid one moment, and then, like a trapdoor, suddenly swings out on its hinge to lead you onto a narrow, rickety looking bridge, taking you across a steep gorge.

Not only that, we will also take you on a safari close to where leopards live (!)

Rajasthan is colour, culture, history, nature, adventure~all in one beautiful region.

Join us in our immersive journey in March 2020! The journey will be led by photographer and adventure travel journalist Himraj Soin. He has led student expeditions for National Geographic, and is an avid skier and climber.

DETAILS

Where – Rajasthan
When – 04-16 March 2020 (12nights/13days)
Led By – Himraj Soin

For enquires, contact us at ibex@ibexexpeditions.com