Testimonials

Marc Soprovich

  • Vancouver, BC
  • Sept 2016: Spiti

India, “a code word representing the letter I, used in radio communication”.

Communication is the basis for understanding one another, both culturally and spiritually. Sarju is a person who knows no strangers, and therefore the gift of communication is fluid within him. The patient adaptation of this gift allows for the intimate discovery of the people around us, and in this case our trip to Northern India. For about a month Sarju expertly navigated us though the most dangerous roads, and most remote areas in India, the northern reaches of Himachal Pradesh. You cannot buy this trip from the commercial vendors because it does not exist.

I could talk endlessly about the experiences that we had in the Himalaya’s, but the pictures of the trip amply fulfil that task. Suffice to say exquisite comes to mind.

Throughout the entire trip Sarju captured each opportunity of discovery by striking conversations with the locals and bridging the gap from us, the inquisitive tourists, and the locals. We received the usual remuneration from the landscape and ambiance that the culture purveys. But what made the experience truly unique was the personal interaction and conversation with the monk at a local monastery, or an invitation for tea from an elder in a remote village a 13,000 feet. This fell out from Sarjus’ patient nature and knowing of when to speak and what to say. Over and over again, Sarju presented these opportunities and more importantly allowed the group to capitalize from them.

Some things are beyond words…. You just have to experience them to understand…

Lawrence Chambers

Be ready for the unexpected… dusty, twisty, narrow, high mountain roads, a rock slide that may alter your travel plans, shortness of breath while high elevation hiking, fabulous photo opportunities, authentic food, being up close and personal with the local inhabitants. This is personalized, adventure travel. Sarju’s local knowledge and personal contacts provided an authentic experience in a part of India most people will never experience.

Journey to the Himalayas is a trip I would recommend to any adventure traveller AND I would highly recommend Sarju. In fact, I could not see doing this trip with anyone else, it is really that unique. If you are considering this trip, please feel free to contact me and I will provide you an overview of my experiences.

Thanks Sarju for your planning, organization, flexibility, compassion and honesty.

Sincerely,
Lawrence Chambers.

Sandy S

  • Vancouver, BC
  • Sept 2016: Spiti

Our trip to the Himalayas was one of a kind. It is a very unique cultural experience that would not have been the same without Sarju’s knowledge of the area and the people. We were introduced to many locals, who Sarju knew from the communities. The northern India people were very kind, generous, and willing to share their homes, tea, and food with us.

Seeing the Yaks, and the monkeys was interesting. The roads in northern India are and experience in them self. Beautiful scenery, steep cliffs, winding roads. Truly death defying. We were very thankful for the amazing drivers we had, who were familiar with the roads in the area.

Delhi is busy vibrant city and very different from the north. My favorite part in Delhi was going on the auto rickshaw’s, scooting amongst the traffic.

I WOULD RECOMMEND THIS TRIP FOR A ONE OF A KIND EXPERIENCE!

John

  • Onanole, MB
  • Sept 2016: Spiti

In early 2016, I was fortunate to learn about Sarju’s excursions to the Himalayas from a friend who knew Sarju and who highly recommended his adventure tours. Based on that recommendation, I contacted Sarju who personally addressed all my concerns and provided all the information that I needed to be prepared for my adventure of a lifetime. I quickly booked for a tour in September of 2016 and it was fabulous!
This is not your average commercially available tour. Sarju likes to guide small groups, in our case six people, so that he can provide that personal touch. We visited areas that were very remote and we took the time to get to know the local people and focus on the culture of the region. The small group size allowed us to adjust our itinerary to suit the group and enabled us to share meals and experiences with the local people. Sarju may have started out as our guide, but we quickly became friends!

Sarju is very knowledgeable about northern India as he grew up in the area. He is a very experienced guide who works diligently to provide the best experience possible. He has a great network of contacts that enable him to efficiently plan accommodations, transport and meals. Sarju was very organized with respect to all the travel arrangements, accommodations and food. Everything was arranged in advance and everything was great. We had incredible meals, lots of laughs and all manner of accommodations, from five star hotels to tents at 15,000 feet!

The Himalayas are very different from the India that we usually think of, with small isolated villages, a relaxed lifestyle, and incredible mountain views. Sarju is very dedicated to providing a unique experience that would be very difficult to find anywhere else at any price. His tours are great value and he is a great friend! I would highly recommend Journey to Himalayas to anyone with a sense of adventure.

Marianne N

  • Kamloops, BC
  • Sept 2016: Spiti

A trip to the northern part of India including the Himalayan region was never on my bucket list. But when a close friend of mine mentioned that he was planning a trip with few other friends and Sarju as a guide I considered it. I had some concerns travelling to this part of the world as I had never done any adventurous travelling before but after a phone call from Sarju my mind was put at ease and the trip was on.

It was amazing. Sarju met us at the airport and from that moment there was no anxious moments to be had. Sarju had carefully and meticulously planned and organized everything. We experienced great and authentic meals and accommodations, interacted with host families and with villagers, met with some amazing locals who are trying to make a difference, had incredibly experienced and personable drivers who had to drive on roads that made you hold your breath. Sarju was always making sure our needs were met from having enough bottled water, snacks, time for photos, breaks from driving to making sure we were acclimatizing properly.

He had an extensive knowledge of the area, customs and language and was so very enthusiastic to share this with us. His love of the area was definitely contagious. We met with some wonderful personal friends of Sarju that shared their home and food with the group. Something that would never have happened on any bus tour.
I had the experience of a life in India with Sarju as a guide and give him much thanks and gratitude for that.
Thank you Sarju.

Sophia Dagher

  • Vancouver, BC
  • Sept 2016: Spiti

The idea of taking a guided group trip has never appealed to me. I have always enjoyed traveling for the sense of adventure and spontaneity. This trip surpassed all of my expectations. The breadth of different scenery and culture we saw in such a short amount of time was amazing. Looking back on it it’s actually hard to believe how much we experienced.

Sarju’s specific experience, connections, and know-how of the region allowed for us to experience things a normal tourist would have never gotten to see or do. Everything was taken care of for us with plenty of room for each individual to explore and make the trip his or her own experience. We were provided with excellent services all around whilst maintaining what felt like a true local grass roots experience. This trip would not be for someone without a sense of adventure, but I could not think of a better way to experience a taste of the real Indian Himalayas.

Jeannie

  • Vancouver, BC, Canada. 2014

I just completed a month-long trip to India. This was my first time in India and I must say the trip was extraordinary – it was exciting and intense and really very special. Sarju played a significant role in creating this experience.

I had the good fortune to attend the Kalachakra in Leh, Ladakh in July 2014 with a group of friends. Subsequently we planned to travel by car over Rohtang Pass to Manali and then Dharamsala but were not sure how to make arrangements. We were also interested in spending a little time on side trips once we reached Himachal Pradesh, but as first time visitors to this region, were not sure how to make this happen.

Sarju became our guide through this leg of our journey. He was wonderful! He took care of everything: employing a very experienced driver (absolutely necessary on this challenging road through mountain passes in monsoon season), making hotel and meal arrangements, and the whole time sharing his background knowledge of the history and culture of each of the regions we travelled through. He knows and loves Himachal Pradesh – he grew up here and as an avid hiker shared stories of the numerous treks he had completed and the interesting people he met along the way.

Sarju organized side trips tailor-made for us. I enjoy textiles so he took us to meet a group of women who weave traditional handloom wool blankets in Manali. My friend was curious about yaks (we hadn’t seen yaks in Ladakh – somehow he managed to find a yak in Manali and we now have a picture of her sitting on a yak!)

On the way to Dharamsala from Manali we stopped in Naggar at the former home of Helena and Nicholas Roerich, fascinating artists from Russia who spent most of their life in India. We visited an historic temple and then had a wonderful lunch at a restaurant with a great vista which offered many unique local dishes.

Overall, Sarju made sure every aspect of our journey was thoughtfully planned to make the most of our limited time. I am confident that he has given the same attention to detail in each of his tours. He is an outstanding host and he is a lot of fun. Thank you Sarju!

Janet

  • Halfmoon Bay, BC, Canada. 2014

It was our first trip to India and my friend and I were nervous about the journey through the Himalayas and the valleys between Ladakh and Dharamsala. But the angels were kind to us and Sarju agreed to be our travel guide for the journey.

The journey was indeed as wild and dramatic as I’d anticipated – but with Sarju as our guide and protector I felt relaxed and confident we were well cared for. In the end I was able to enjoy all the sights and experiences with both pleasure and excitement.

I can’t find enough words of praise for all that Sarju brought to our journey: His meticulous and cautious planning made us so comfortable that all worries and anxieties melted away. His deep sensitivity to our needs, budgets, feelings and desires made everything flow easily. His knowledge of the people, the languages and cultures, and the various religious traditions made the experiences rich and rewarding. His personal connections throughout the region made the stopovers meaningful and more memorable than a typical tourist’s journey. And his easygoing and joyful attitude made it all a fun and happy time.

Just one small example of the lengths Sarju went to in order to make the trip everything we hoped it would be: I had casually mentioned with a laugh one day that I’d like to have my picture taken with a real Himalayan yak. Well I’ll be darned, but after a lengthy taxi ride through Manali to an obscure park on the outskirts of town, and after walking awhile along trails in the park, Sarju suddenly told me to look up, and lo and behold there was my yak, groomed and ready for me to sit on for my photo! It was a bit of a silly tourist moment, but it was exactly what I’d wanted!!

Annette

  • Sudbury, ON, Canada

I started on my ‘Journey’ about 6 years ago when I attended a picture presentation by a woman who had just returned from the Himalayas with Sarju and several other friends. I was struck by the beauty of the landscape but more importantly I was very interested in the cultural aspect of her journey. Soon after, I contacted Sarju. Although Sarju was not planning a return journey in the near future, we kept in touch and met a few times over the years. So, by the time my Journey with Sarju began, I felt that Sarju and I had gotten to know each other a bit. Most importantly, he understood that I was not interested in climbing a peak, but rather interested in ‘smelling the roses’ and learning about local culture while hiking through the hills and spending time in villages. In other words, the journey was more important that a predetermined end.

My 1 month Journey began on August 1st 2011. Circumstances were unique in that I was the only guest but I believe the experience would have been similar had I been part of a group. The Journey involved a 17 day jeep safari through Himachal Pradesh with walks along mountain roads, stops and sleeps at villages, temples, monasteries and nunneries, daily hikes through the surrounding hills and an overnight hike over a mountain pass from one village to another. The monsoon rains resulted in an explosion of mountain flowers and lush greenery of incredible beauty, however, since the monsoons were particularly heavy, even in the arid regions, there were also many road closures, landslides, floods and even snow. As a result, we didn’t go to Ladakh or go on any extended overnight camping hikes as planned. That was ok with me because this Journey was about the ‘journey’ and not the ‘destination’. I appreciated Sarju’s caution, resourcefulness and flexibility. Sarju always took the time to gather all the relevant information before making any travel recommendations and decisions. We didn’t hesitate to go into hover mode for a few days, taking the opportunity to explore the mountains, villages and monasteries at our leisure. As a result of the change of plans, we spent more time at the end of the Journey in the Dharamshala region. This was a bonus, giving us lots of time to explore the local mountains and also, the Tibetan village where I learned about the saga of the Tibetan people and where I had the honour of participating in Buddhist philosophy classes. I was also lucky to experience the ‘end’ of the monsoons and beautiful sunsets on my last days in Dharamshala (whether it was the true ‘end’ of the monsoons or not was a topic of debate amongst the local population).

Vijay, our driver for the 17 day safari part of our trip, was a gem. He was an amazingly competent driver who made me feel safe in spite of challenging road conditions. He was cautious, conscientious and resourceful and provided invaluable input into the travel decisions. He was also a great hiking companion with a wonderful sense of humour.

My health was generally good, however, there were a few isolated challenges during which Sarju and Vijay always responded with much appreciated patience, compassion and caring.

The highlights:

  • the opportunity to take pictures of flowers, mountains, animals and especially people
  • the smiles, laughter and generosity of the people who offered us food and shelter without hesitation or expectation
  • meeting Sarju and Vijay’s many friends who welcomed, entertained and supported us on our Journey
  • cooking classes by Sarju’s ‘aunties’
  • an overnight hike over Bashleo’s pass, another hike up to a high-altitude mountain lake, and every other hike …. I can’t name them all!
  • picking peas and sharing a field lunch with local farmers and their children at an altitude of 4200m
  • touching the misty clouds while hiking in the monsoons with water, water, water everywhere and experiencing the contrasting arid environment of the rain-shadow (although there were unusual rains even in these areas)
  • the opportunity to visit holy places and to experience and develop a greater understanding of the Spirituality that permeates life in the mountains
  • the feeling of security that Sarju and Vijay inspired

Nathalie Gara-Boivin

  • Sudbury, Canada
  • Fall 2006: Himachal-Ladakh

Last September I had the experience of a lifetime, a trip to India. I had never dreamed of travelling and trekking in India, but thanks to Sarju I had the most amazing experience. We had a cultural and trekking experience that was unprecedented. He went out of his way to ensure that we stayed with host families as well as to ensure we were not taken advantage. We went above and beyond the call of duty. I would definitely go on another trekking trip with Sarju again!!!

Felix-Antoine Dandenault

  • Fall 2006: Himachal-Ladakh

Un voyage au fond de nous même, à travers des sentiers de hautes montagnes, habités par des gens et des symboles mythiques. Trouver le vide rempli de lumière, vivre la simplicité au bout des ses forces et en apprécier tout les instants. Voyage incroyable au Ladakh, Julley!

Félix-Antoine Dandenault, Septembre 2006

Chris Beninger

  • Ottawa, ON
  • Fall 2006: Himachal-Ladakh

What can I say about my trip through the Himalayas? There’s so much to say that saying anything at all would be an understatement of what we experienced there. All I can say is, if you’ve ever had the urge to go do it!
I had an absolutely amazing time, and got to do things few others can say they’ve done.

Our friend and guide, Sarju, was an experienced trekker and took all precautions in terms of acclimatization and ensuring we were prepared for our trek. As such, the organization of the trip went smoothly and without any major deviations.

All in all, it was a trip that I will always remember, and hope to one day do it again.

Chris

Yvan Goulet

  • Gatineau, QC
  • Fall 2006: Himachal-Ladakh

Hi, my name is Yvan Goulet. I recently went on a 5 week trip to Northern India in the fall of 2006. It was the most memorable experience in my life and I would like to thank Sarju, our guide, for doing such a wonderful job at making it so. His positive attitude and amazing organizational skills made this trip very enjoyable. Sarju has many friends and contacts and brings you off the beaten track to give you a real authentic experience. He is also an avid and knowledgeable trekker and knows the Himalayan terrain very well. I strongly recommend his services if you are interested, like me, in meeting fascinating people and experiencing unique travel. ”

Yvan Goulet