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India with Kids 2013: Village to village walking in the Himalayan foothills. Day 1

The next day we embarked on what would turn out to be one of the highlights of our trip.

We were headed for the Kumaon region, in the state of Uttrakand. The Kumaon is famous for many things including the Corbett National Park, and the famous story of the man-eating tigers of the Kumaon. We were heading further north however, towards the town of  Almora and beyond, where we would be doing a three-day village to village walk in the Himalayan foothills. Some village houses in local villages have been refurbished for tourists. One spends the day walking from village to village with qualified guides, experiencing local culture and vistas of the magnificent Himalayas.

Our day started at around 4.30am, and we left the hotel at around 5.15am for the railway station. We were booked on the 6.15 am express to Kathgodam, which is a 5-6 hour trip towards the mountains. Our first class carriage was very comfortable, and we were served a good Indian Railways breakfast on board. Our guide for the next few days,  Pujan, met us on the train. In Kathgodam we had a great lunch (South Indian!) and then we piled into two cars for a 3 hr drive up into the hill country.

While it was a long and winding road, the journey was fascinating. This is a holiday region for Indian tourists mainly, and we made our way past a number of resort towns and villages which see hardly any foreigners.

Finally at around 4pm, the cars stopped at a small temple on the side of the road, and Pujan told us to take with our water bottles and hat for our very first walk. We spent the next couple of hours walking along well trodden paths, past village houses and fields full of wheat, stopping to chat to local people and smiling at the kids. One village lady asked if Eitan would like to stay with her family – her kids were climbing up trees armed with sickles to cut off branches. Eitan would probably have loved it! We walked past women carrying various loads on their heads, and we had to tiptoe past various village guard dogs. Finally, we arrived at our village house just before sunset.

“Our” house had three rooms fitted with double and/or single beds in a rustic but very comfortable way, with our own modern and sparkling clean toilet/shower block just outside.  Our

luggage was waiting for us, and we chose our rooms and then went for drinks, which had been set up outside. Various alcoholic options including cocktails, wines and beers for the adults, and rhododendron juice for the kids (Amazing!!). Dinner was excellent (various Indian dishes) – cooked by a dedicated chef and his team. We relaxed by the fire, and finally, after what had

been a very long day we were happy to go to bed.

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