Tag Archives: responsible tourism

Ladakh: A Photographic Journey To Little Tibet - Ibex Expeditions

Ladakh: A Photographic Journey to “Little Tibet”

Ladakh: A Photographic Journey To Little Tibet - Ibex Expeditions

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.

Ladakh Tours - Ibex Expeditions
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.

Ladakh Trips - Ibex Expeditions

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.

Himraj - Ibex Expeditions

The journey will take place this September. Send in your queries to ibex@www.ibexexpeditions.com!

Trans-Siberian Tours - Ibex Expeditions

Travelling Home – When We Wander, Are We Lost?

Himali Singh Soin writes a meditative piece on the idea of home.

Originally written in August 2014 for Jetwings Magazine.

Newborn, I open my eyes to the bright light of the world, the ceiling split open and spilled the sky, then rivers, deserts, mountains, forests, whales, butterflies, cactus into my room. I looked around, and a map—like wallpaper—formed. I have lived on a
map since.

Where we live, there are lofts comprising suitcases, photo jackets and rope and lenses, telescopes and binoculars, hats and compasses, knives, swords, snow boots, fishing lines, journals, harnesses, collapsible chairs, postcards, big bags for an expedition, little bags for a day’s reconnaissance, pocket bags for nail clippers, mini soap bottles, disposable underwear, water sippers, jasmine oil, more rope, microfiber towels, a book on birds, Hillary’s advice, a book on trees, walkie-talkies and a phone number on the fridge with which to stop the newspaper periodically, because, lofts undone, maps plotted, we are (always) on our way and there would be no one to read the news, though the news—and the newspaper man and his eponymous thump—would undoubtedly continue to take their own course.

Round and around we go

As a family of explorers, we are perpetual peripatetics, scouring deep crevices and deceiving surfaces of the world. Our adventures—in the viscous olive pools of Mexico’s cenotes, along the clay licks of the inner Amazon, the dunes of Morocco, the expanse of the Gobi, the raw bulbs of Madagascar, the source of the Nile, the high prayers of Tibet, the rush of the raft on the river Zanskar, the slithering forests of Periyar and many more—refresh our eyes, reboot our consciousness so that we are always aware, most strikingly, of what it means to live.

But what of home? The daily din? The mean, the normal, the everyday thump
of the newspaper on the porch, the place where nothing changes and everything stays the same. How content I am here! Home, to me, was becoming an exotic other. I do not return home, but travel home. In some ways, I carry my home with me, building nests even as I abandon them. But in others, it is the physical place—the fuss of the family, the bursting bookshelf, the ritual of routine—that makes up my nostalgia. It is this object, heavy with embedded meaning, that cannot be carried.

Among the countries that I have visited, from my foreign imagination, home comes to mean a variety of things. In Tibet, home is a desire for a way of life without siege, an unthreatened thought. Home means return to peace, a return of identity— Tibetan Buddhism. It means that the prayer flags left en route to Mt Kailash flutter in freedom and the glass facades of Chinese commerce that reflect back the Potala palace are silenced, so that the whispers to his Holiness might finally be heard.

In Madagascar, where over 80% of all flora and fauna is endemic, home is where the familiar is comprised of the unique everywhere else. In a land so native,
the sight of a baobab, like an upturned tree, a neuron touching the nerve of
the sky, is enough to arouse a sense of belonging. Though the people are made up of immigrants from the coasts of Africa and Asia along with French colonies, the landscape is inherent.

Moving home

In Mongolia, home is a shifting place, shifting by season, by the fertility of the soil, and endless, always a distant end and constantly being re-assembled. The ger tent, made of a lattice of wood and felt, is a yurt that the nomads pack with them on their journey from pasture to pasture. The word ger means home.

In Ethiopia, home is where the River Nile has its source. Home is the red earth and dust beneath the wares of a Monday market. Home is the ritual coffee ceremony and popcorn. Home is the Timkat, where homage and exchange is the same thing, where what is white is full of colour and where sound is a music that sings of progress and hope. Home is a country where everything is embossed with touch, with feeling, love, thought, idea, energy from the blood, the tingling of the anatomy at work, pregnant with the future, ripe from the past. Where everything is done by hand; baskets are being woven, injera poured, steel fixed on buckets, trucks oiled, hay stacked, hand shaken, kissed, cheque written, wall painted, rocks from street removed, sacks of sand stacked, money begged for, body knelt before sun and god, child stroked, wife caressed, folds of white bedsheets neatly folded and tucked, where home is the origin.

In Peru, home is an ocean of forest split, like arteries, by terracotta rivers. Home is the remembrance that the Incas were here. It is walking a path for centuries till the moss is removed, and thick, grey slabs of stone and a whole civilization is uncovered. When the Incas looked up at the Wilkamayu, or the Milky Way, they saw the galaxy reflected in the river. When they saw a hummingbird dip its slender snout in an orchid, they told the story of the princess who was transformed into an orchid while waiting for her warrior prince to return from war, then the warrior prince was transformed into a hummingbird so he could forever be with his wife. And for the tears that were shed, the orchid is called Wakanki, ‘you will cry’. Home is lore.

Flowing stories

Juchitan, a town in the state of Oaxaca in Mexico, is matriarchal, where women wear long flowing gowns printed with big red flowers. They call their dresses el agua; water. They wear their hair in big black balls framed by two braids on either side of their high cheekbones. They are silent but assertive. They are unshifting and strong. I sit bleary eyed early in the morning in the zocalo, the centre of the town, a kind of living room for all. I wait for the morning to rise and something interesting to happen.  Then a lady walks toward me and reaches over and strokes my shoulder then my arm and my hand. Her hand and eye twitch, she wears a long flowery dress but stutters when she speaks. She stares at me then tells me I am sick and that I must wave a knife over my head to rid myself of the infirmity. Usa una cuchia para curar la infirma. Then she stares at me again and walks away. I see her later in the day in the church. I walk past her, but I can feel her light and intense stare upon my shoulder. I don’t forget her words, for there are energies here. There are energies where random events make patterns and string together in fantastically webbed ways. Here, home is allowing strangers into your superstitions.

Beyond bricks and mortar

Conceptions of home differ even in the meaning of the word itself. French has
no word for home, while in American and English sports, home is a word synonymous for a goal, a kind of victory. Some think of home as a physical house, others as language, others as the haze in the sky or an old family recipe. On the internet, it’s a landing page.

And here, in India, where I live, home is more complex. As a foreigner, I would say India is the Taj Mahal, or the brandishing Bollywood poster, the saint in saffron. It cannot be read, however, as a stereotype.

It is inconsolable, non-negotiable. It is as much the country, the city, the house as it is the way people are, creating chaos together. It comprises argument and aggression, affection and dependence. It comprises reflexes and a muscle memory, exasperation and elation.

So is home a real place? How does one reach it? Or is it indeed nothing to write home about? When we wander, are we lost? When we thirst to check off every country from our list of never-visited, are we fulfilling a desire to simply see ourselves anew? Or does travelling allow us to dream more, invigorate our imaginations, step outside of moral and societal conduct? Does travelling away, in fact, allow us to return? Return in order to find adventures at our doorstep: in the gardener’s escapade with the ironing lady, or the competition between the women of the house on whose bowl of yoghurt is better made. Or simply in the wonder of the objects in the loft, and the memory of tales from faraway places.

Originally written in August 2014 for Jetwings Magazine.

Racing To Cross Antarctica - Ibex Expeditions

Antarctica Matters: Racing to Cross Antarctica

Racing To Cross Antarctica  - Ibex Expeditions

Two adventurers are attempting to cross Antarctica alone, without support, without being resupplied by food, or assisted by any means of transport other than the power of their legs. If either or both succeed, they will be the first to do so. No one has been able to cross Antarctica on foot, unsupported, yet.

The two adventurers are attempting this feat separately, and couldn’t be more different than each other.

Lois Rudd is a 44-year-old British Army captain. He wishes to slide into the record books, tracking two other British explorers—Roald Amundsen and Ernest Shackleton.  Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole in 1911. Ernest Shackleton wrote that “there remained but one great main object of Antarctic journeyings — the crossing of the South Polar continent from sea to sea”. 

Mr. Rudd is a grizzly British Army adventurer, carrying hot chocolate powder, dried porridge, along with the rest of his kit.

The second explorer is a 33-year-old American mountaineer and explorer—Colin ‘O’ Brady. Mr. Brady is a chiselled professional triathlete-turned-mountaineer. He has over 70,000 Instagram followers, a YouTube channel, and brought his own custom-made energy bars called Colin Bars.

While for Mr. Rudd the reason for taking on this journey is a personal one, Mr. Brady wants to win the race, and make history. 16 people have attempted to cross Antarctica so far. All failed. Waiting to see what happens now.

Source: Financial Times

We are going on an epic voyage to this expansive continent in March 2019. The journey aims to create ambassadors for Antarctica, who will pledge to protect and preserve the region from exploitation of all kinds. Check this link for more details of the journey, and send in your enquiries to us at ibex@www.ibexexpeditions.com


UPDATE: Colin O’Brady eventually won the race in 53 days. For more, read this BBC story.

Nongriat, Meghalaya | Ibex Expeditions

North East India: Responsible Tourism Recommendations at India’s International Tourism Mart 2018


Nongriat, Meghalaya Photo Credit: Neil D'Souza | Ibex Expeditions
Nongriat, Meghalaya Photo Credit: Neil D’Souza

The north-eastern part of India is an explorer’s paradise. Part of the eastern Himalaya, the region is covered by the mighty Brahmaputra-Barack river systems and its tributaries. The region has some of the last remaining  rainforests of the Indian subcontinent, that support diverse flora and fauna and several crop species. Dense forests, living roots bridges, emerald pools, high mountains and among these live some of the most amazing tribes of the world. The north-east is truly a gem.

At the 7th International Tourism Mart 2018 for the North East Region, our founder and explorer Mandip Singh Soin was a panellist at a session on adventure and ecotourism development in the region. He gave a number of recommendations to maintain the beauty of the region and work harmoniously with local communities. These included recommending tour operators to get an STCI certification (Sustainable Tourism Criteria for India), and to follow #responsibletourism practice in every step that accrue benefits to the #localcommunities and environment and allow for interactions with the amazing tribes of the region.

International Tourism Mart 2018 - Ibex Expeditions

When tour operators, governments and travellers make responsible tourism and sustainable travel as part of their policy and thought process, good things can be achieved.