Travelogue – Kenya : The Safari experience

[tabs slidertype=”top tabs” auto=”yes”] [tabcontainer] [tabtext]Intro[/tabtext] [tabtext]Day 1[/tabtext] [/tabcontainer] [tabcontent] [tab]This, my friends is an experience of a lifetime… I bet there is no place on earth which can be so simple and adventurous, yet so amazingly beautiful. We had planned our road route from Srinagar to Leh. But due to military and political issues in Srinagar at that time, our folks didn’t even want to hear of us going there. So we had to change our route starting from Kullu in Himachal Pradesh instead of Srinagar. Leh, has always been a dream destination for me. I wanted to go there purely to experience the Mighty Himalayas and a bit of the fragile and antagonistic environment of being close to the Line of Control; Indo – Pakistan and Indo – China border.I tried the same route last year but I couldn’t even make it to Rohtang Pass because of huge traffic blocks caused due to landslides. …..but this time I made it happen! The panoramic highlights…. [justified_image_grid preset=15 thumbs_spacing=5 title_field=description caption_field=caption caption=fade margin=10 mouse_disable=yes row_height=280 ids=”6451″] [justified_image_grid preset=15 thumbs_spacing=5 title_field=description caption_field=caption caption=fade margin=10 mouse_disable=yes row_height=280 ids=”6454″] [justified_image_grid preset=15 thumbs_spacing=5 title_field=description caption_field=caption caption=fade margin=10 mouse_disable=yes row_height=280 ids=”6450″] [justified_image_grid row_height=280 ids=”6452″] [justified_image_grid row_height=280 ids=”6455″] [justified_image_grid row_height=280 ids=”6456″] [justified_image_grid row_height=280 ids=”6453″] [justified_image_grid row_height=280 ids=”6449″] …..this is just the beginning! On a pleasant Thursday afternoon, the three of us… Me, R (My better half) and S (friend of ours), after our long day’s work, left for Dubai as we were to board from there. After check-in, we roamed around in the duty free shops, got some extra memory cards and torch (which really came into use later). Just before boarding, we munched on Big macs without having a clue that we gonna be missing ‘the food’ immensely for the next week!! The Himalayan Road trip begins… [/tab] [tab]Day – 1 Route : Delhi – Kullu – Rohtang pass – Keylong At last!! ….after a very long wait and years of dreaming, the Himalayan trip is on!!! 😀 They were watching a Hindi movie in the flight, Meanwhile I was actually thinking about a ‘plan B’ if things go wrong like last year. At 03.30 am, we landed at Delhi International Airport, having plenty of time to catch our connection flight to Kullu from the domestic terminal, which is 13 km away from the International terminal. We were very excited about landing in India and being in the capital city, but our mood took a different swing when we got out of the airport. ___________ Here are some Travel Tips to be taken in Delhi: There are plenty of prepaid taxi booths within the airport for which you pay Rs. 220-250. Do NOT take them. We expect taxis to be waiting outside to take us as we had already paid for it. But no cabbie is going to stop for you for reasons I don’t understand. You can find empty taxis passing by, but they simply don’t want to stop for you. And please note that these taxis are basically a piece of scrap metal on four tyres. There is free shuttle service from the International terminal to the domestic one. Don’t bother wasting your time waiting in the endless queue. Walk out of the airport and you will find private taxis who will not agree to take you initially (again, for no obvious reason). So you have to plead and say that you will miss your flight so that they will agree… at a higher price of course. Best option – Ask your friends to pick up and drop off, if you have any in Delhi. Otherwise.. Good luck!! ________ Finally, we reached the domestic terminal at 5.30 am, with barely 40 minutes left for our flight. Rushed in and thankfully the flight was late by an hour (as expected from Indian Airlines). We got into the passenger service bus but had to wait in line besides the runway for about 35 minutes giving way to the huge cargo flights to pass by. Our journey to Kullu was on a 50 seater plane and we got some spectacular views of the freshly brewed clouds in downy pale blue sky, and our first glimpse of the majestic Himalayas. (Click on the pictures to have a better idea of what I’m talking about!!) [justified_image_grid preset=15 thumbs_spacing=5 title_field=description caption_field=caption caption=fade margin=10 mouse_disable=yes height_deviation=60 ids=”6472,6473,6475″] On landing in Kullu, we were very excited seeing the beauty of the green mountains around us. We got out of the flight looking all around, gaping at the yellow flowers and taking in the fresh air. Kullu airport was only a room sized terminal where we grab our baggage and walk out in 2 minutes. Right outside, our driver was waiting for us with a placard. His name was Baliram, and was a very sweet and humble person. Our ride was a fairly old Toyota Qualis which was not what we had arranged for. We talked to the local agent, but he said the terrain is a bit rough, so the 4×4 which we had asked for couldn’t reach Kullu on time. He assured that a Tata Safari will be waiting for us at Sarchu. Without losing our enthusiasm, we started our journey with Baliram bhai and headed towards Manali. [justified_image_grid preset=15 thumbs_spacing=5 title_field=description caption_field=caption caption=fade margin=10 mouse_disable=yes height_deviation=60 ids=”6469,6470,6471,6450″] This popular honeymoon destination is 40 km away from Kullu. We checked in at a hotel, to freshen up and bought some biriyani to eat on the way. We were on the road in the afternoon which gave us a sunny view of the scenery. The roads were good and the mountains on both sides were green with apple trees in between. [justified_image_grid preset=15 thumbs_spacing=5 title_field=description caption_field=caption caption=fade margin=10 mouse_disable=yes height_deviation=60 ids=”6487,6486,6490″] After about 13 km we reached Solang valley, a skiing and para-gliding spot. Without halting there for too long due to the afternoon sun, we took a couple of pictures and resumed our journey to Rohtang pass. [justified_image_grid preset=15 thumbs_spacing=5 title_field=description caption_field=caption caption=fade margin=10 mouse_disable=yes height_deviation=70 ids=”6492,6493,6494,6495,6496″] After 20 km, the ride became bumpier and dangerous, as the tarmac gets deteriorated and the roads became narrow. This went on for an hour till we reached Rohtang Pass. There is no guarantee at all that you would pass…. [justified_image_grid preset=15 thumbs_spacing=5 title_field=description caption_field=caption caption=fade margin=10 mouse_disable=yes height_deviation=70 ids=”6501,6502,6530″] …Rohtang pass! The view from Rohtang Pass is not for me to explain. Felt as if, we were all in a dream and did not want to leave the place. Breathtaking beauty of the snow capped mountains, green fields full of flowers and wild horses along with the cool breeze left us mesmerized. Below are a few pictures which will give you a small idea of what I’m so exaggerating about! Well..not really! [justified_image_grid preset=15 thumbs_spacing=5 title_field=description caption_field=caption caption=fade margin=10 mouse_disable=yes height_deviation=200 ids=”6451″] [justified_image_grid preset=15 thumbs_spacing=5 title_field=description caption_field=caption caption=fade margin=10 mouse_disable=yes height_deviation=70 ids=”6578,6584,6581,6579,6580″] After a long session of photography, we left the beautiful hilltop of Rohtang Pass to Keylong where we were to stay at Hotel Valley View. …drive to Keylong was mostly downhill and the roads were mostly… streams!!! There is no too many words to explain the beauty of the place. It can never be explained but can only be experienced. [justified_image_grid preset=15 thumbs_spacing=5 title_field=description caption_field=caption caption=fade margin=10 mouse_disable=yes height_deviation=70 ids=”6591,6588,6590,6589,6592″] We reached the hotel at around 8 pm. After seeing the dirty toilets in that hotel, we went in search of another one. Without much option, we settled in at Hotel ** where the toilets were still messy(but better than the other one) and the food horrendous(Don’t ask!). I went to bed hoping to get some sleep and the night to pass as quickly as possible to get out of there! Travel Tips for Keylong : Do not halt at Keylong as the place isn’t very developed and hence the quality of accommodation and food is very poor. The best alternative is to stay at Jispa which is 22 kms from Keylong. Note that the next filling station from Keylong is 365 kms ahead! This is just the beginning of food-less nights… so do carry with you biscuits, noodles, chocolates and tinned food. Sleeping bag is an option. [/tab] [/tabcontent] [/tabs]

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