Do you like polishing off scoop after scoop of ice cream as you tightly wrap your shawl around to keep the chill off your bones? Do you screw up your eyebrows and take deep philosophical dives into why some people complain about the cold in winter and rain during monsoon – since the elements are just performing fine? Do you wait breathlessly for these gifted 3 months – December, January and February – when winter sweeps you off your feet and you get a reason to strut around in your winter finery? When the other three C’s – curling, cosying and cuddling become the defining words of your daily dose?
If you nod NO to all of the above then all of the below is just for you (for YES nod-ers anyways I can’t stop you all from reading on). So you’ve my permission to keep going: 9 reasons why you should never ever visit Kumaon in winter.
1. Trek in winter is like totally revolting!
Not when you walk-the-adventure-talk on these narrow pahadi tracks or thrilling and remote Corbett jungle trails!
2. Homestays & luxury in this chill? Duh!
Wait till you immerse yourself in this cutting edge solar heated pool on a mountain top home stay – at the height of 2000 mts. (do I hear a gasp somewhere!)
3. Come winter you only will have eyes for BIGG BOSS with SALMAN KHAN from under your blanket.
Else say ‘hello’ to the Bigboss of Corbett NP as you catch some wild action here! Lodge beside a waterhole. What more can you ask for???
4. Breakfast with a view? You’ve done quite a few.
Not on this wooden deck under a powder blue sky overlooking the gorgeous Himalayan range – hazardous for all your senses.
5. The Chatter of solitude is just so not you!
Ditch the holiday crowd to messy hill stations and get charmed by doing absolutely nothing at all in these hidden gems of a home stays.
6. Crisp sky with bonus sight of the Himalayan hill range – travel agent’s trick I say!
In the interiors of Uttaranchal offering a panoramic 180° view of the Himalayas.
7. Corbett – done to death (even the pages are yellowing!). Yawn-inducing.
Betcha you didn’t think you go off-roading in the tiger territory, did’ ya? Grool.
8. Living inside the forest – Bro that’s so primitive!
Till you try these Swiss tents packed with all urban comforts. Thank us later!
Alifiya Calcuttawala, Regional Director, The Wanderers Kolkata writes about her experience at the High Tatras National Park which she visited in December 2013.
The way Tatras are today is a remnant from the last glacial period. The first travellers who visited High Tatras came only about 200 years ago and believed that the Tatras were full of gold, silver and other gemstones.
The Tatra is the oldest and the most visited national park in Slovakia and is in the list of UNESCO biosphere reserve. Every year the park is visited by approximately 5 million people and it offers 600 kilometers of hiking trails. The High Tatras are spread over 341 sq kms, 260 sq kms of which are on the Slovak side and is rich with mountain lakes (approx. 190).
We drove from Krakow to The High Tatras National park and stayed in a ski village of ‘Stary Smokovec’ for two nights. This was a good break between seeing cities. In the 2-3 days that we were there we rode snow mobiles, did dog sledging and also took a horse carriage ride. The weather was kind, it was -7 degrees, but the two hours of bright sunshine in the morning gave us the courage to go all out and experience the outdoors.
By 03.30 pm it starts getting dark and obviously very cold. The Grand hotel where we stayed, was a delight since it had an indoor pool, sauna and jacuzzi, giving an ample opportunity in the evenings to thaw out. 🙂
Interestingly, it was their peak season – after 2-3 days almost all the hotels were sold out for the New Year; and apparently Russians have their New Year after a week, so this is place is almost booked out till January 15!
This region is a playground for the affluent Russians who like to spend and have a luxurious stay complete with skiing activities, spa etc. (there aren’t many luxurious and high end accommodation option available in their country hence most of them come to the Tatra National Park and stay in Zakopane, Smokovec and Pleso etc.
High Tatras offer 22kms of well kept downhill courses – the skiing centres are among the top winter centres in Europe.
Dog sledging, skiing, hikes with snowshoes, snow mobile excursions, climbing the icefalls, avalanche courses, snow rafting, sledding and skating.
There is a winter fun park situated in Pleso where one can do snow tubing, air boarding, snow bags and zorbing.
And of course, you can also do sky adventures (sky diving, scenic flights, balloon flights and paragliding). These can be done throughout the year!
In December 2013, Alifiya Calcuttawala travelled on a 12 days journey to Eastern Europe with a small group who wanted to see the Christmas markets. Her itinerary started in Munich, ended with Budapest and included Salzburg, Český Krumlov, Prague, Krakow and the high Tatras!