Vaibhav Kala of AquaTerra
Adventures joins Adventure Travel Mentor.com this month for a
Q&A focused on his experiences in India, and now he’ll share
some of his knowledge with you.
Vaibhav is one of the most experienced river and mountain guides in
India, and he has lead many trips on some of the toughest challenges in
the Indian Himalayas. He has also run all of the major Himalayan rivers
and is responsible for opening up new areas to adventure travelers.
In addition to his love for river expeditions, Vaibhav is also an
accomplished climber and often incorporates climbing into the
expeditions he leads in the Himalayas.
ATM: Welcome to Adventure Travel Mentor, Vaibhav. Let's get
right to it. In which part of India do you spend most of your time for
Vaibhav: I would say that I spend most of my time throughout the entire
northern stretch of the Indian Himalaya from Ladakh in the northwest to
Arunachal Pradesh in the far eastern corner.
If you had to name the three most popular adventure travel
activities that clients ask you about, what would they be?
If I had to limit it to three adventure travel activities I would have
to go with trekking, rock climbing and white water rafting.
What are some of the cultural highlights that your clients
tell you they like most in India?
My clients really enjoy the variety and diversity in the Indian
culture. It seems like the culture changes every couple of hundred
kilometers, or so, if not less. There is an interesting range of
traditions to explore, the colors people like to use vary from place to
place, the foods are different and there are many different Indian
lifestyles that fascinate the people we guide through the countryside.
Which river is your favorite for white water rafting?
It's hard to choose just one, but I would say my favorite would be the
Upper Brahmaputra / Siang river in Arunachal Pradesh. You would have to
experience it for yourself to truly understand why I make it my top
When is the best time of the year to go white water rafting in
It all depends on the specific area you want to go, so you should check
with your guide, but generally speaking you should look at a time
between October and December or between February and August to plan
your river adventures in India.
Tell us a little about the most popular kayaking trip. What do
people talk about most when they sit around the camp fire at the end of
The most popular and accessible kayak trip is the Ganga River. Not only
is the Ganga one of the major rivers in India, it’s also the national
river. It runs from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal and we see some
of the most beautiful parts of it on our river runs. It’s really
Generally, the campfire talks focus on the excitement of the day from
the rapids and how we navigated them to the size of the waves. Then the
people are excited about what to expect for the next day. It's fun to
listen to people as their passion for the river adventures grows after
each and every day.
What else can your adventure travel clients look forward to
besides white water rafting and kayaking when you take them on an
As we discussed a little earlier, our guests really enjoy getting to
know the local people and their cultures. They interact with local
communities, see the way they live, experience their customs and
traditions, and they really get to know the locals and their way of
life. It's an incredibly unique cultural adventure.
Tell us a little about your most exciting adventure of all
time. Where did you go, and what did you do?
I guess it was in 2002. I opened up the Siang river (Upper Brahmaputra)
to commercial river running, and it was one of the most remote trips we
had done at the time. And it was exciting for a few reasons: There was
the thrill of opening a new area, the water level was very, very high
and it was a fun group of journalists, clients and TV crews.
How did you get into the world of adventure travel? Share a
little about your background.
I was doing a lot of hiking and climbing through school and college. I
always wanted to get a job in the outdoors, but adventure travel in
India was still very much in the nascent stage. River running was
getting established in the late 80's and I saw my chance, and was
hooked, ever since.
If you could do just one adventure travel activity what would
I would have to say that river running is my favorite thing to do.
There's just so much excitement around every bend in the river complete
with a fresh rush of adrenaline. And then you get a peaceful stretch
where you can process all of the fun you just had. there's also a great
sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.
Tell us a little about your business, AquaTerra Adventures.
Aquaterra Adventures run trips throughout the Indian Himalaya, and we
have arguably the largest range of hiking, climbing and rafting trips
in the Himalaya.
We started in 1995, and the company has opened up many new trips over
the years. We are very serious about running responsible, eco-friendly
tours, and we offer many adventure options throughout the year. We also
have very high standards for safety, the equipment and the hygiene
requirements for our clients.
We are also the only Indian company to be rated as 'Best Adventure
travel Outfitters on Earth" by National Geographic in a Survey
conducted by National Geographic Society in 2008 and 2009.
If you would like to contact Vaibhav, or get more information about his
guided tours, you can visit his Web site at www.aquaterra.in.