TEAM IBEX

Mandip Singh Soin

MANDIP SINGH SOIN FRGS

Two roads diverged…

As he stood close to the summit of Black Peak at the age of 15, Mandip knew he was smitten by adventure and the great outdoors and was 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 early 1979.

Besides arranging world class adventure and specialist tailor made holidays for enthusiasts from around the world, he has personally undertaken expeditions with a diversity that has helped him enhance the professionalism at Ibex. Life’s adventures drew him closer to saving the environment for future generations and his attention turned to ‘making a difference’ and embracing the advocacy of Responsible Tourism, Environment and Ecotourism with a deep passion.

Mandip continues exploring and discovering new adventures within India and in distant lands. Having travelled to over 45 countries and six continents, he keeps a keen eye on the changing face of tourism and the needs of the discerning traveller, incorporating this into the Ibex journeys.

Much of the Ibex success is attributed to the well qualified professionals who work hard to provide you with a first class experience. From choosing the right luxury Camp or a charming boutique hotel to the overall itinerary design, the focus is on delivering an immersive journey.

The Ibex guides & trip leaders are a bunch of exceptional individuals who are educated and have a wealth of experience, excel in wilderness skills and are good humoured. The field staff include guides, cooks and porters, ever striving to make the tour successful, braving all weather conditions. Not to be forgotten are the hard working office staff who keep the entire operation running. Their enthusiasm, hard work, attention to detail and willingness to help is valued highly.

Expeditions

Below is a list of some of the diverse adventures & expeditions he has undertaken since 1973.

  • Schoolboy Expedition 1973 – Member -Indian Public School boy’s expedition to Black Peak 21,000 feet in the Garhwal Himalaya in May 1973 reaching 19,000 ft.
  • Trans Himalayan trekking expedition 1975 – Month long St. Stephen’s College Trans Himalaya trek from Manali (Himachal Pradesh) over the Shingo la via Padum to Kargil (Jammu &Kashmir) over 400 kms in 1975.
  • Solo attempt & Himalayan expeditions – As a liaison officer with the British Kalanka expedition of Allen Fyfe & Bob Barton, attempted Bamchu peak as a solo climbing effort and reached 19,000 feet. Also went as a Liaison Officer with the American Dunagiri expedition (Garhwal Himalaya), British Merseyside expedition to Sattu Da Par, Polish KR4 expedition and the Mulkila M5 expedition in Lahul (Himachal Pradesh) from 1975 – 1979.
  • Anthropological & Deep Sea Fishing expedition 1977 – Leader for a two week expedition, visiting different islands in the Andaman’s, studying the indigenous tribes and doing deep sea fishing in May –June 1977.
  • European Alps , Scotland and Wales – From May 1979 to March 1980, went to the French, Swiss & Austrian Alps, the Italian Alps and Dolomites for trekking, rock climbing, Ice climbing, mountaineering, downhill & langlauf skiing as well as tandem hang gliding and kayaking.
  • Rock climbing, Ice climbing, Mountaineering and Skiing – The Engadine valley & Zermatt in the Swiss Alps; Ceres Couloir on Mont Blanc du Tacul, Chamonix in the French Alps; Cima Tosa, Cima Brenta, Cima Molveno & Torre di Pratti in the Italian Dolomites; Snowdon & A Dream of White Horses in Wales; Gardyloo Gully on Ben Nevis & The Raven’s Gully on the Bucchaile Etive Mor in Scotland in winter, and snow and ice climbing near Stockholm in Sweden, to mention a few.
  • Outdoor Instructor 1980 -Instructed at the National Outdoor Centre at Plas y Brenin in North Wales in 1979 and the Outward Bound in Loch Eil, Scotland in 1980.
  • Virgin Himalayan Expedition/First Ascents in 1980 – Made first ascents with Japanese expedition from Hokkaido University of Z1 6400 metres as well as Independence Peak 5600 metres in Zanskar, J&K in July – August 1980.
  • Rafting Expeditions – Participated in the Rogue River expedition in Oregon in May 1981 and a five-day expedition down the River Zanskar in India in 1981, 1995 & 2013.
  • Cycling Expedition 1981 – Member of French cycling expedition from Delhi to Kathmandu, via Pokhara, a journey of 1500 kms over 3 weeks in December 1981.
  • All India Rock climbing expedition 1984 – Leader of a 3 member rock climbing- dedicated expedition to different parts of India making ascents and first ascents near Delhi (Damdama & Dhauj), Mumbai (Mumbra), Bangalore (Savandurga) and Pachmarhi in October 1984.
  • Camel expedition 1986 – Leader of India’s first camel expedition of 450 kms, crossing India’s Thar Desert from Jaisalmer in Northern Rajasthan to the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat in February 1986.
  • Light weight & semi alpine style expedition 1986 – Member first Indian ascent of Mt. Meru North 6450 m in September 1986 without porters, guides or tents. As part of an Indo Swedish effort, used lightweight tactics and made the ascent in 4 days & descent in 2 days. There has been no Indian ascent since.
  • Mountain Rescue 1988 – Under an Inlaks Foundation Grant, in 1988 undertook Mountain Rescue training in North Wales, Scotland and Chamonix and applied these skills and knowledge into the Indian Himalaya. Sir Edmund Hillary was the Patron of the Project called HELP – Himalayan Evacuation and Lifesaving Project.
  • Arctic environmental expedition 1989 – Instructor with Robert Swan’s ICEWALK International Students Environment Expedition in the Canadian Arctic near the North Pole, under the auspices of the (UNEP) United Nations Environment Programme studying the ozone hole and global warming for a month in May 1989 based at Eureka in Ellesmere Island at 80 degrees North. As an Instructor, he escorted India’s youngest student, Shailendra Sinha at the age of 16.
  • Elephant expedition 1990 –Leader, first Indian Elephant Expedition of 101 kms in the forests of Kerala starting from Adirapally Falls near Trichur till the Tamil Nadu border in the Parambikulum forest reserve. Rode bareback without howdahs for 11 days in Jan 1990.
  • Youth Educational Expedition 1990 -Chief Field Leader of an International Youth Educational Expedition in Sikkim in May 1990 in cooperation with the Youth Exploring Society of India and the British Schools Exploring Society, UK studying hydrology, botany, ornithology, Art etc. Trekked till near the Goecha La under the shadows of Mt Kanchenchunga.
  • Angling Expedition 1992 –Member of a British Angling Expedition to the Himalayan tributary rivers of the Ganges at Rameshwar and Pancheshwar for the mighty Mahaseer (Carp family) 1992 led by British Angler, Paul Boote.
  • Frozen River & Winter Expedition 1994 – Leader ‘Ice Trek’, a pioneering Indo-British winter expedition in Ladakh and Zanskar with Lord John Hunt as Patron. This was a journey of 150 kms from Padum to Nimu on the frozen River Zanskar through the gorge in February 1994 consisting of 5 British and 2 Indians. Studied Zanskari lifestyle in winter and also awarded the Explorers Club flag for the expedition. Attempted Stok Kangri 6153 m in winter with skis, reaching approximately 18,000 feet. This led to the start of Winter Tourism in Ladakh.
  • Bungee jumping and tandem sky diving 1995 –Bungee jump at Hanmer Springs and a tandem sky dive in Christ Church in New Zealand in 1995, Auckland 2008 and Longmont, Colorado in 2010.
  • Adventure Mapping in Sri Lanka 1995 –Undertook a tour to map Adventure potential in Sri Lanka in the southern and middle territories with hikes and ascents of local hills.
  • Wildlife Ecotourism expeditions 1996- 2001 – Visited over 25 National Parks and Sanctuaries all over India, Sri Lanka and South Africa to assess the ecotourism potential and lay out strategies for the tourism industry. In Periyar (Kerala) and in Konhoma (Nagaland) walked with poachers/hunters turned Naturalist guides and in South Africa participated in a Lion capture.
  • Hot Air Ballooning – Hot air ballooning over the Napa and Hidden Valleys in California in 2000, the Hunter Valley near Sydney and in India around Jaipur in Rajasthan in 2009 & 2013.
  • International Friendship Expedition 2002 –Member of an Indo-Pakistan Friendship expedition in the Swiss Alps, climbing Monch, under the aegis of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the World Climbing & Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) in 2002, the Year of the Mountains. Acknowledged the Swiss Government declaration of Aletsch glacier as a World Heritage site and also took on an advocacy role in creating a Trans Boundary Environmental Peace Park at the disputed Siachen Glacier between India and Pakistan. Coordinated by Roger and Julie Ann Payne and Ian McNaught Davis of UIAA and the Ambassador of the Mission was the former President of Switzerland, Adolf Oggi.
  • International Eco tourism & Volcano Expedition 2003 – Leader of a two-week expedition to the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Ascended the Barren Island volcano, undertook Rainforest treks, and studied Tribes & Tribal issues, Tourism Impacts and ecotourism ideas in March 2003. Presented a white paper on eco sensitive tourism in the Andaman Islands to the Government of India including the recommendation of keeping the Nicobar Islands closed for tourism. This was a joint initiative between the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India; Department of Tourism, Government of Andaman & Nicobar Islands; and Ibex Expeditions.
  • Jeep expeditions – Leader of a 3 week Jeep Safari of over 1500 kms from Delhi to Ladakh over high passes and lakes in June 2003. Earlier, jeep safaris undertaken in Zanskar, Spiti and Ladakh.
  • Druk Path trek 2006 – Leader of a 2 week trek in Bhutan starting in Paro and ending in Thimphu over hill and dale.
  • Rainforest and highest mountain in South East Asia 2006 – Leader of a 2 week trip, climbing Mt Kinabalu (4095 meters) in Sabah, Borneo in December 2006. Explored the rain forests of Sukau, studied the Orangutan and Proboscis monkeys and rafted down the Padas River.
  • River Ecotourism expedition 2007 – Chambal River expedition with the Madhya Pradesh Eco Tourism Development Board on the bio diverse rich River Chambal, to bring ecotourism to dacoit troubled villages and convert them to Naturalists. Studied conservation and bio diversity issues and evolved a tourism activity plan for the area in March.
  • The Sacred mountain expedition 2007 –Leader of a 3 week Jeep expedition, driving 2500 kms across Tibet from Lhasa to Lake Manasarovar and the 3 day ” Kailash Kora ” trek around the sacred Mt Kailash, crossing the Dolma La pass at 18,500 ft in May-June 2007. Also visited the Base Camp of Mt Everest North face from the Tibetan side via the Rongbuk valley.
  • Anniversary climbs in the Swiss Alps 2007 – Participated in the 150th year anniversary celebrations of the Alpine Club of UK, in Zermatt and climbed the ‘Thermometer Egg’ route on the South face of Rifflehorn, the Pigne de la Le and Mt Allalain to commemorate 150 years of the Alpine Club, 75 years of the Himalayan Club & 60 years of India’s independence.
  • Arunachal multi-adventure journey 2008 – Leader of a 2 week multi adventure journey to remote Arunachal Pradesh, from Tawang in the East to Pasighat and beyond undertaking jeep safari, trekking through tribal villages and rain forests and rafting down the Siang River.
  • Fly fishing in Vermont 2008 – Trained and did fly fishing for Bass in the state of Vermont near Burlington, USA.
  • Mongolia 2009 – Leader of an 18 day expedition in the footsteps of Genghis Khan, on foot, on camel back and horseback through the remote Gobi Desert and the High Steppe regions of Eastern Mongolia. Ascent of the 1686m Zorgol Hairhan in the Bayan-Onjuulsoun area of the Tuv province.
  • Madagascar 2010 – Leader of a 15 day expedition exploring the Tsiribihina River by pirogues (local boats), visiting bat caves and climbing the jagged limestone pinnacles of Tsingy de Bemaraha, a UNESCO World heritage site, looking for endemic lemurs and chameleons, snorkelling & sailing in a dhow off the Mozambique Channel, replicating early explorers who sailed from Arabia.
  • Chambal River expedition 2011 – In cooperation with the Ecotourism Society of India and the Madhya Pradesh Ecotourism Development Board explored a plan to declare the area as a World Heritage site and to bring ecotourism possibilities for the local communities for new Tourism experiences.
  • Diverse adventure activities 2011 -2012 –Rafted down the Findhorn River, Scotland 2011; Hot air ballooning in the Aravalli Mountains of Rajasthan; Canyon Swing & Zip Wire in Rishikesh and Sailing on Lake Lucerne in Switzerland in 2012.
  • Peru expedition 2012 –Leader of a 2 week expedition exploring the Amazon rain forest of Tambopata; trekking with the Andean community in the Sacred Valley; rafting the Vilcanota River; trekking to Machu Picchu and walking up the Huayna Picchu.
  • Zanskar River rafting expedition 2013 – Leader of a 10 day expedition on the grade 5 rapids of River Zanskar combined with a jeep safari from Ladakh to Zanskar.
  • Namibia Dunes & Wildlife Oct 2013 –Climbed ‘Big Daddy’ the second highest Dune in Namibia and undertook a wildlife safari in the Namib Desert & a Bush plane flight over the Skeleton coast.
  • Morocco Adventure journey Nov 2013 –Undertook a fortnight journey from the World Heritage Sites of Fez and Volubilis to riding Camels in the Sahara desert in Merzouga, an attempt on Mt Toubkal in the High Atlas Mountains and Deep-Sea fishing off the coast of Agadir in the Atlantic.
  • Namibia Wildlife Safari June 2014 – Led a trip through the principal Wildlife National Parks and studied their Community based conservation practices. National Parks visited were Otjiwarongo, Etosha, Grootberg, Twyfelfontein, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay.
  • Chile Adventure Journey 2015 –  Led a trip to the Atacama Desert, hiking in Patagonia to Torres del Paine, rafting the Petrohue river and Flyfishing in the Lake District.
  • Trans Siberia & Southern Gobi 2016 – Led a trip experiencing the Trans Siberian express from Moscow to Ulan Bator and to Southern Gobi in Mongolia, looking for Dinosaur eggs and climbing the Gobi dunes.

Lectures

  • “Himalayan Challenge” to the National Youth Council & Singapore Adventure Club, Singapore.
  • “Responsible Tourism” in Balikpapan, Indonesia at the PATA Adventure & Ecotourism conference & mart.
  • “Future Trends of Eco Tourism and Adventure Travel” keynote address in Nassau, Bahamas, at the World Congress of Adventure Travel Society.
  • “A High Altitude Perspective” to McKinsey India’s Annual Conference at Cochin, India.
  • “Outward Bound Management Development” at the National Human Resource Development Network conference in Hyderabad.
  • “Considerations in Packaging High Risk Products” at the PATA Adventure & Eco-tourism conference in Kathmandu, Nepal.
  • “Winter trekking in the Himalaya” at the Annual symposium of the Alpine Club, in North Wales, UK.
  • “Eco tourism Vs Adventure Travel” at the Malaysian International Adventure Festival in Kuala Lumpur.
  • “Ice Walk” at the Himalayan Club on the environmental expedition to the Arctic, in India International Centre, Delhi.
  • “Environmental and Sustainable Tourism” –  panellist presentation at the PATA Annual Conference in Nagoya, Japan.
  • “Good environmental practices of an award winning tourism company – Ibex Expeditions” in London at the World Travel Market, London, UK.
  • “A retrospective of 25 years of adventures & explorations in India and overseas” at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.
  • Panel Chair for “Sustainable & Eco Tourism ~ Good practices” at the Annual Convention of the Indian Association of Tour Operators held at Jodhpur, Rajasthan.
  • “Adventure & Eco tourism in India” at the Johannesburg Country Club, South Africa.
  • “Adventure and Character building for the Youth” at the annual Mayo Heritage Society day in New Delhi.
  • “Travel and adventure possibilities in India” in a seven city tour of the USA coordinated by Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.
  • Presented a paper on “Responsible Tourism” at the Sustainable Resources conference at Colorado University, Colorado.
  • “Three decade retrospective” at the Middlebury College in Vermont, USA.
  • “Wildlife Tourism” at the  International Conference on Sustainable Tourism by the Ecotourism Society of India & Madhya pradesh Tourism in Bhopal.
  • Presentations to the Eco Development Boards of the Government of Odisha and Madhya Pradesh and the Forest Department of Uttar Pradesh.
  • “Explore with Soin” slide presentation at The Bengal Club, Kolkata.
  • “Tales of an Explorer” slide lecture at the Harvard University, Berkeley & Colorado College, USA.
  • Presentations on India at the Peranakan Museum, SKAL Club and the Singapore Adventure Club, Singapore.
  • “An India kaleidoscope of travel opportunities” at the Taj Pierre in New York and for the PATA Boston chapter in Boston, USA.
  • “Responsible Tourism practices” at the Annual Convention of the Indian Association of Tour Operators conference, Mumbai.
  • “Travelling for Good” at TedX, Delhi and “To the centre of the Universe’ at Adventure Stories, New Delhi.
  • “Tales of an Explorer” presentations at The Nehru Centre & The Travellers Club, London; Cafe Amsterdam in Ulan Bator, Bookworm in Beijing, Hotel ShangriLa in Lima, Indian School in Dubai & University of Woolongong in Abu Dhabi.
  • “Future of Mountaineering & Mountains” at the 150th anniversary celebration of the Swiss Alpine Club,Pontresina, Switzerland.
  • Plenary session at the Adventure Travel & Trade Association (ATTA) World Summit on “Adventure Cases worth speaking about – Ibex Expeditions” in Killarney, Ireland.
  • “Tales of an Explorer” at the Diplomatic Club, Muscat, Oman.
  • Plenary session at the PATA Adventure Travel & Responsible Tourism Conference & Mart in Thimphu, Bhutan.
  • Photography exhibitions at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi on Mongolia and Saving the Siachen glacier.
  • Radio interviews in Dubai & Oman.

Appointments & Memberships

  • Founder President, The Ecotourism Society of India.
  • Honorary Member, The Scientific Exploring Society,UK.
  • International Fellow of the Explorer’s Club, USA.
  • Trustee, Himalayan Environment Trust, India.
  • Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, UK.
  • Advisor, The Outdoor Journal, India.
  • Expert Member, Mountain Protection & Access Commissions of the Union Internationale des Associations D’Alpinisme (UIAA), Switzerland.
  • Member of the American Alpine Club, USA and The Alpine Club,UK.
  • Member, Madhya Pradesh Ecotourism Development Board (MPEDB).
  • Member, Ecotourism Society of Himachal Pradesh.
  • Member, Governing Council, Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi.
  • Member, Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF).
  • Member, Bombay Natural History Society of India (BNHS), World Wide Fund for Nature, India (WWF), Indian National Trust for Art& Culture Heritage (INTACH).
  • Former Hony Local Secy, The Himalayan Club.
  • Former Chair, The Explorers Club, South Asia Chapter.
  • Former Member, International committee of PATA for Sustainable tourism.
  • Former Member, Judging panel, National Tourism Awards, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India; PATA Gold Awards & SKAL International.
  • Former Member, Executive Committee, The Himalayan Club, India.
  • Former Senior Vice President, Adventure Tour Operators Association of India.
  • Former Member, National Tourism Committee, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
  • Former Judge, Tourism for Tomorrow Awards of The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC),UK.

Publications

  • Editor–in–Chief of the 4th edition of “ Ecotourism and Environment Handbook – a ready reckoner for the Tourism Industry”: Published in 2014 by The Ecotourism Society of India in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, Govt. Of India.
  • Editor of the three previous editions of The Ecotourism  Handbook, published by the Govt of India.
  • Foreword for “Hammer Menschen”- a book on India by Richard Kienberger of Germany.
  • Article “India’s Top 30 EcoHotels” in the Conde Nast Traveller magazine, India.
  • Chapters on Trekking & Rafting in the Driving Holidays books of Koko Singh on Zanskar & Uttarakhand.
  • Chapter in ‘Incredible Himalayas’ book by Capt MS Kohli.
  • Contribution to the ‘Guide to Rock Climbing in and around Delhi’ by Mohit Oberoi.
  • Article ‘Towards the Centre of the Universe’ in The Outdoor Journal.
  • Articles for the Himalayan Journal, Indian Mountaineer, The Outdoor Journal, Go Now, Times of India and Hindustan Times.

Awards

  • Citation of Merit, The Explorers Club, New York, USA. 2015.
  • Lifetime Achievement Award by the Adventure Tour Operators Association of India 2013.
  • Global Punjabi Society Achievement Award at New Delhi, 2013.
  • Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award for Lifetime Achievement by the President of India 2011.
  • Limca Book of Records – Man of the Year & India’s Most Versatile Sportsperson 1992 and 2008.
  • International Institute for Peace through Tourism Achievement Award, Switzerland 2003.
  • Award by Sir Edmund Hillary for contribution to Himalayan Environment, India.2003.
  • Best Green Leader, Pacific Asia Writers Association, London 2000.
  • Ness Award, Royal Geographical Society, London 1992.
  • Gold Award, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award,1979.
  • College Colours, Rifle Shooting, St Stephen’s College and Delhi University, 1979