Earthy Holidays with Great Indian Outdoors (GIO)

It is next to impossible to feel warm, comfortable, relaxed and close to nature, given the day to day rat race of the city. This is one reason I love running to the hills at any given chance I get. However, finding solace even there can be tricky unless you find the perfect atmosphere to dwell in.

During my 10 day adventure trip with Great Indian Outdoors, I experienced serenity after a very long time. I would credit this totally to the Himalayan Eco Lodges & Camps, the accomodation arm of the outdoor company. The kind of earthy accommodations they offer with warm homely meals, makes you feel comfortable right from the start. Their locations are such that allow for maximum proximity to nature – trees everywhere, a river flowing nearby, plants and flowers in your backyard – that you can’t help but feel rejuvenated. I saw this in each and every place I stayed in. No exceptions.

And it wasn’t just about earthy décor or atmosphere of the lodges. It was for the eyes, mind and the soul. GIO takes this motto to heart and excels in providing earthy holidays that refresh all the senses.  Plus, adventure filled vacations can be a great way to stay fit on the go!

How Does GIO create earthy holidays?

Rustic charm in Himalayan Eco Lodges 

Not only is the location usually offbeat to offer a serene atmosphere, everything from the colors of the walls to thatched roofs (Like in the Kund lodge), greenery all around and eye pleasing landscapes all add up to their charm. The location is the most integral part of the stay – one should feel that the place is perfect to unwind and yet not absolutely cut off for families and groups.

Himalayan Eco Lodge in Auli

Loved my stay at Himalayan Eco Lodge in Auli – Stunning views all day long

Meet the locals

From your own guides, other people who work at the lodge, river instructors and people one meets while walking through the village – you are in local company all the time. You won’t find ‘hotel’ like hospitality. Which means, more understanding of the region, anecdotes, local legends and orientation to local life. I really enjoyed meeting the GIO guides who were friendly, honest and always smiling. Since I was traveling solo, I never once felt unsafe and infact, felt sad about leaving my new found friends behind. I was surprised and happy to hear that each area I went to had a different local guide hired from a nearby village. This makes me feel the positive impact of tourism which GIO makes in the local villages by hiring drivers, guides, cooks, maintenance etc – locally!

local guide GIO

With Pinki – our awesome local guide

Unexplored trails

While some trekking and hiking routes are well-established ones, the real fun lies in a muddy paths that sling over a hillsides and gives you first row seats to stunning sunsets or fabulous sunrises. This can happen only when someone knows the region at the back of their hands. That’s when the local staff at the lodges feature again. In my search of find endemic birds of the areas, I often asked a local guide to tag along with me. We used to go right into the jungle, where there are no paved paths to look for our feathered friends. At all points, I felt safe and secure – even in the middle of nowhere.

chalkot camp

Finding my way through dense forest near Chalkot camp

An eye on the environment

This is another amazing thing I noticed and has been drilled into the staff as well. There was no plastic on the treks or at the lodges. I saw the guides picking garbage as we went along. In fact, they politely urged the guests too. This is great for early hikers and young kids. The deep sense of respect that they will have for the enviroment will be everlasting. At the lodges GIO makes all efforts to reduce waste, harvest rainwater, use solar powered lamps and anything possible to reduce the load on environment.  How many companies do you think even think about their carbon footprint?

clean camp

Always clean up after we pack up – was the basic rule!

Promoting indigenous culture

I was extremely happy when I was invited by a local villager to join her for a cup of tea in her humble hut. This gesture made me realize how pure hearted the village people are (versus big city folks) and how important it is to make yourself present to  local culture while traveling.

villager chalkot

This kind villager invited me for Tea in her humble hut

Being one with the outdoors

Eventually, the company stands for making one fall in love with the outdoors. It’s about dropping your city comforts and getting the shoes muddy and legs a little tired to be in the company of great mountains, rushing rivers and respecting them. It is perfect for families as kids can learn about the great outdoors as well as being environment friendly from an early age.

Amazing views of snow capped Himalayan peaks at Deoriatal Lake

Amazing views of snow capped Himalayan peaks at Deoriatal Lake

For all these reasons and more, I would highly recommend booking a trip with GIO and feel rejuvenated by enjoying one of the many earthy vacations they offer.

Read all articles from my adventures with GIO here

Chopta to Tungnath – Me Vs a Snow Trail
Skiing in Auli – Finding a Cure to your Adventure Fix
Fun and Easy Adventure Activities in Jayalgarh
Deoriatal Trek – A Journey of Self Discovery
Chalkot Nature Camp – Secluded Retreat in the Woods

Disclaimer – I was GIO’s guest on a 10 day earthy holiday and experienced everything first hand so now I can genuinely recommend them to my readers 🙂 

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