An afternoon conversation with a friend at a coffee shop:
Friend: So what have you been doing the last few years?
Me: I founded a travel startup. We run adventure trips in the Himalayan region of India, Nepal and Bhutan.
Friend: Wow! We travel to these places for vacation. So if that is work for you, when do you holiday?
I get asked this many times. Interesting question. I thought I’d write about the life behind running an adventure company. Just one part of it. The part of how we build our itineraries and open trips for our guests.
It all starts with an interesting region or trail in mind. Something you have heard of or seen or read about which holds your attention. Then starts a lot of browsing on the web for relevant information around the region. Mostly titbits of info which acts as a starting reference. And then comes the fun part. Times we always look forward to. The actual exploration or Recce! At Adventure Sindbad, we don’t just draw up itineraries from scattered information on the web. We make sure we have walked every trail that we decide to list on the website. We have recced every trip listed and have experienced the details before we have opened it up. Talking about recce, we thought it would be good to tell you how we plan it.
Recce (in short for reconnaissance) – in the Oxford dictionary says the process of getting information about enemy forces or positions by sending out small groups of soldiers or by using aircraft! Or the process of visiting and quickly looking around a place in order to find out information about it.
We don’t survey enemy positions or fly aircrafts but we do recce in bare essentials, like a soldier on the ground 🙂
As a boot strapped company, we need to ensure our costs are basic, while we travel in our lean periods to visit new unknown locales. Typically a recce time is shorter than the actual trip, because as someone who is also a guide, our walking speeds are faster (if we are trekking) – days are long and tiring. We generally go lean(small team sizes -2 to 3 members) and pretty mean (when it comes to spending). I remember how we hired a rickety Maruti Van from a good friend and roamed around huge swathes of Changthang, when we were doing ground work for a future itinerary. We ended up pushing the vehicle…all huffing and puffing, the last few kilometers up Chang La Pass(5360m). All worth it for the money saved and an awesome adventure earned!!!
On Trek recces, our day starts with the break of dawn, as we need to cover longer paths in shorter length of time, and closes after dark, where we then pitch our tents for the night.
We carry all basic essentials with us – tents, mattress, sleeping bag, cooking stove, quick food all in our own backpack. We are totally self-sufficient. There is no crew waiting for us, or no outside help available. The day is spent understanding the terrain, drawing the route map, and clicking a lot of pictures and ends with us making our notes to remember the highlights of the day.
There is acquaintance built with the locals and plans shared – for remote locations which is less inhabited. We don’t want to be surprising the locals with a trekking party later. Hence the familiarity with the locals, and making them inclusive becomes an important part of how we think of designing our itineraries. There is acquaintance with the local terrain, marking our areas that will be safe for trekkers and for the crew to set up the camping site. Safety, altitude gain, water availability, pastures for horses are key facts in deciding campsites.
“For us as a team, this is our holiday – our definition of an adventure as we spend time in the unknown!”
Once back, there is a lot of hard effort in the back end – scrounging through content. Our notes, maps, photographs, conversations to create that perfect itinerary which we think would be a unique experience for our guests. Creating picture albums, writing blogs and creating our content which conveys what a guest would experience on the trip. If you want to be part of the recce process, you can write to us to know more about our Co-Venture program. If you want the perfect handcrafted holiday, with a safe and committed crew, look up the adventures that we have waiting for you.