In the second week of September’17, TerraQuest successfully concluded it’s First All-women Self-drive Expedition :WanderWomen on The Road to Spiti.
When the WanderWomen got back from this Expedition to the majestic Valley of Spiti, the WhatsApp group and Facebook pages were flooded with photographs and memories from the profoundly overwhelming experience. There were heartwarming messages that expressed both gratitude for the organisers and the sadness of having to let go of the experience.
There was so much to absorb and so much to share, that Team TerraQuest decided to try and document most of it, if not everything.
We got the quickest responses from the wonderful ladies, on what their best moments were on the road, in some of the highest villages in the world, and while experiencing everything that our Spiti Expedition had to offer.
For WanderWoman Pradnya Bendre, the drive itself gave her a high. A passionate driving enthusiast, Pradnya took this Expedition up as a challenge to test her will and her skills on some of the most difficult roads in the world.
”I’ve been a little crazy about driving. People are usually making fun of me because I mostly don’t even allow my husband behind the wheel. But with family, the experiences are much different.
I was told not to take my own car to Spiti.
Yet, taking it may just have been the most important correct decision I took. The words Self-drive anyway got me hooked on. I wasn’t missing anything, honestly, even though that makes me feel a little guilty, because I had a beautiful family blessing me all the way from home.
There was so much to take in, the terrain was mind-blowing.
My mind just felt so clear.”
– WanderWoman Pradnya Bendre
WanderWoman Pradnya Behind the Wheel
While the high-light of the Expedition was the drive for Pradnya, WanderWoman Neha loved dedicating songs on the radio!
But the one moment that she may never forget, was the drive to Kunzum La.
“I couldn’t have asked for more. I experienced Snowfall.”
– WanderWoman Neha Gupta
When the ladies arrived at Kunzum La, it started to snow. It was also one of the few times it had happened on a Summer Self-drive Expedition to Spiti with TerraQuest.
It felt like the ladies were being blessed by the Ice-Gods for their endless resilience and optimism!
Yes. We got snowfall at Kunzum La
With Pradnya and Neha having given us such simple yet profound answers to their Best Moments, Malini’s long list of unforgettable experiences gave TerraQuest an insight into a professional journalist’s perception of the Expedition.
From the magnificence of the landscapes and the varying blues of the sky, to the picture postcard views the terrain offered, the list went on. But the drive to Kunzum La was what still left the strongest imprint on her.
“Arguably, my most unforgettable moment was the drive from Kaza to Kunzum La. The magnificence of raw nature kept me spell bound – The rocky mountains were as inviting as intimidating. The realisation that I am a mere speck of dust in this vast universe was thoroughly humbling and moving,
and brought copious tears.”
– WanderWoman Malini
WanderWoman Malini beneath Spiti Skies
And yes, weeping with joy was part of it. For WanderWomen Mugdha too, certain moments on the drive were overcoming enough to bring tears of happiness.
WanderWoman Mugdha Kalra caught Contemplating
“The Drive to Losar was out of the world. I had never seen anything like that before and at one point I just couldn’t stop myself from feeling a little too overwhelmed. I must have wept through a 15-minute stretch.”
– WanderWoman Mugdha Kalra
Losar, a charming little village at the extreme end of the Valley, has the rarest and most mesmerising of all terrain in Spiti.
WanderWoman with the Wind/Ice sculpted Structures in the backdrop
During the drive from Losar to ChandraTal, Mala ma’am couldn’t stop marvelling at the wind-sculpted terrain on the way.
For her though, the best experiences were the things that reminded her of what a blossoming childhood felt like.
“Sleeping and having meals in tents was so delightful. I was happy like a child who gets into its newly bought toy house!”
– WanderWoman Mala Kapoor
WanderWoman Ruchika, too told us how amazed she was at each surprise Spiti had to offer, from the Snowfall at Kunzum La to the clear rainbow that welcomed the ladies within the first couple of days of the trip. But like each lady on the trip experienced Spiti in her own distinct way, Ruchika’s best moment lay far away in the Wilderness at Kaza.
“The entire trip was the most amazing experience of my life. The most precious moment was looking at the Full Moon in Kaza. The beauty and stillness of a moonlit sky in a darkness so absolute, was the moment I will probably never forget.”
– WanderWoman Ruchika Gupta
WanderWoman Ruchika Gupta at Ki Monastery in Spiti Valley
Having organised an All-women Expedition for the first time with reviews as encouraging and exciting as these, TerraQuest is now planning to continue the #WanderWomen series with more trips and more destinations every quarter. The next one will be around the month of January.
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