Q: What’s your favourite place so far? Why?
Vallari: Before I get into the specific destination, I believe in roaming and exploring each & every destination in the world. But yes, once you start your first explore, you never forget the memories of that destination & you start loving that place desperately.
When I started trekking, I was confused where to begin with. But after so many explorations, I got to know that there are so many good places in the world to roam around. But I like to go to Himalaya again & again, that has always excited me. The weather changes every moment and every time the same place looks completely different.
Q: What place(s) is/are top of your bucket list?
Vallari: I love to explore & I am hard core trekker. So still there are many places to cover. I like the words of Dalai Lama “Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.”
Q: Do you prefer solo travel or with someone else?
Vallari: I prefer to travel in a group. Because traveling together will tighten your bond with them and you’ll know their deepest thoughts.
For me the best companion for hiking is my buddy & husband Aditya. Hiking with your dear ones is really an amazing experience.
Q: What kind of event do you like most? Himalayan or jungle safari or local trek, etc.? and why?
Vallari: Basically all of these places have their own beauty. When you travel in the nature, each and every moment is a learning.
While trekking in the Himalayas you can find your inner peace. You can literally meet with the real you…!! That’s the beauty of Himalayan Treks.
On the other hand in Jungle safaris you just lost yourself in the nature. One becomes passionate to see different species of animals, birds and of course the Kings of the Jungle…!!
Q: What has been the most interesting food you’ve tasted during trek/tour?
Vallari: Frankly speaking after a long trek and hectic schedule any simple food also becomes delicious…!! But yeah I love to have Momo’s & yummy Pakodas in trekking.
Q: Could you share a story where you had to survive with bare min. food or water?
Vallari: Haha…!! How can I forget that memorable and exciting trek of AMKK, that’s Alang, Madan, Kulang & Kalsubai. One of the toughest trek in Sahyadri. We all hardcore Trekkers had been there in 2006. Before this trek we had completed 4 days trek of Jivdhan, Naneghat, Hadsar & Chavand. All were exhausted after summit of Kalsubai, the last peak of our trek and Maharashtra’s Everest. Due to some reasons we started descending late night. As a Trekker we always carry extra water with us so there were no shortage of water but that time we had very less prepared food to eat and due to time constraints we couldn’t cook so literally we ate dry Poha & Thecha i.e Chilli Chutney from our ration. That was the amazing trek. And we enjoyed each and every situation.
Q: Which place has the friendliest people with your own experience?
Vallari: I believe that human nature is like a boomerang…!!! What you do will comes to you. If you are good with local people believe me they will do anything for you.
Q: Who is/are the most interesting persons you’ve met so far?
Vallari: It’s really complicated question…!!! For me every human being is interesting. Each and everyone has some interesting qualities what we need is just a sight to see it.
Q: What’s been your scariest moment?
Vallari: Though you are an adventure freak or a gypsy soul, Thoda Dar to Chahiyehi…!!! There must have some fear before you go for an adventure. This fear will control you from overconfidence.
Q: Do you make an effort to learn local language or pickup some words when you trek/travel? Which language was easiest and which one difficult to pick up so far?
Vallari: I love to learn new languages. I always tried to speak with localites in their language…!! It creates strong bonding with people.
Q: What interesting things that you collected and brought home?
Vallari: Oh god… My home is becoming museum now…!!!
I like to collect nature-created wooden forms found in Jungles. Their different shapes, textures and characters fascinate me. Also I love to collect attractive stones, feathers, sea shells etc.
Q: How do your family and relatives feel and support your trips?
Vallari: They are highly supportive & inspire us to visit different places. They are not only supportive but enthusiastically participate in many adventurous activities.
Q: What’s the longest you’ve been away from home? And where?
Vallari: I had travelled to numerous places all over India in last 10 years. Each time, I have spent months in valleys, mountains and Jungles, away from home. And all that time spent was a heavenly experience for me! It was a great learning experience too! But the most memorable amongst them was 7 day tour to Kardalivan in South India. Earlier I had visited this place a dozen times. But this time, when I was there for 7 days, for the first time I felt like leaving my heart at home. And I missed my heart so much!😊 My daughter Sarisha had just entered her 6th month and I had to leave her at home.
Q: What’s your dream trek/tour/adventure?
Vallari: We as hikers have explored so many places but still there are many unexplored places where I wish to go soon.
Q: How many states have you visited so far?
Vallari: India has got gift of Forts & tourist destinations, & I’m trying to visit as many destinations as possible. I have roamed around in Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan.
Q: How many forts have you climbed so far?
Vallari: As in Trekking & Mountaineering field, I have explored so many sea forts, hill forts, land forts in Maharashtra. And the count goes on.
Q: Do you like to document a trip? If so, how do you document your trip?
Vallari: Years ago when I started trekking I didn’t have camera and mobile phones to capture photograph or video so I used to write my experiences in my personal diary and I still love writing diary. I write blogs too. Now as we have got good cameras, visual documentation is a fun.
Q: What kind of place do you like most, sea, mountain, lake, river, beach, etc.?
Vallari: All these places have majestic views, wonderful nature, breathtaking adventure so I love them all.
Q: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learnt?
Vallari: In the Mountains each and every moment is a learning. I learnt so many interesting things while trekking.
Q: What has surprised you about yourself?
Vallari: Normally I am a short tempered person. But during the treks, when I have to lead the team & interact with the people I surprisingly find myself as a very calm, cool, patient person. Because it is very important for a leader to have that patience to take correct decisions in panic situations.
Q: How the mountaineering courses have helped or changed your lifestyle or perception about life and world?
Vallari: Very much…!!! Mountaineering courses made me very particular, disciplined and organised in life. Developed a different vision to look around the world & nature.
Q: Any food or drink that you can’t live without during travel?
Vallari: Frankly speaking there is no any particular drink or food. Just a natural water and any veg food makes me crazy…!!
Q: What’s your top travel tip?
Vallari: Roaming around the world is never stuff of money, but it’s all about of courage.
Be with the nature. Respect it. Surrender yourself completely to its beauty.
Q: Do you call yourself a traveller or a tourist?
Vallari: Both of these kinds of people traveler & tourist, travel but differences in different aspects, their perception about the places are different.
And Yes, I am A Traveler by heart…!!!
There’s something fascinating about travelling unplanned where one has no idea about what will happen next.
Q: What do you wish you’d brought that you haven’t?
Vallari: There are so many things which makes me crazy. I used to bring stuffs made by villagers, tribals, which also helps them to earn good money.
Q: What’s the longest single journey you’ve taken?
Vallari: I remember, when i decided to do trekking & mountaineering, I must know each & every aspects of nature. So i decided to go to NIM for Mountaineering courses. So that was my memorable longest journey to Uttarkashi.
Q: How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Vallari: Motivator. Good Manager. Good Planner.
Q: When you’re not traveling, what do you do the most?
Vallari: When I am not traveling I love reading. I read different kind of books. And now you will probably find me writing a few blogs for our Mountain Hikers website😊
Q: What are your interests/hobbies apart from traveling?
Vallari: I like swimming, photography, reading books.
Q: What was your specialization in your final years of education and how does it help you for your new career?
Vallari: I have done Masters in HR (Human Resource). I worked as HR for couple of years. And that experience helped me while organising any activity.
Q: When did you decide to give up your job/career and start MH?
Vallari: I am doing trekking from decade. Initially there was nothing in mind to start MH but after completion of Basic Mountaineering Course, Advance Mountaineering Course and Methods of Instruction course from Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi me & Aditya thought to use our knowledge for new trekkers. We started MH to encourage people, youth & mostly girls to come for trekking. Many parents think twice before sending their daughter for trek. But I am happy that now our girl participants count is growing & we have some good lady volunteers too.
Q: What challenges did you face initially to setup MH and how did you overcome those challenges?
Vallari: Before starting own set up one has to face many challenges. First of all you have to be mentally prepared for all future constraints. You have to change your lifestyle. You cannot say that I ll work only 9-6. You have to put extra efforts to grow your plant. But once you decide and mentally prepared, you can overcome any challenge.
TrekTalk with: Vallari Pathak
TrekTalk by: Vagabond Artist
Photo Credits: Vallari Pathak, Aditya Phadtare and Friends