Rustic Pathways | India

Video and Photos

One of the kids I got to know while doing service
One of the kids I got to know while doing service
Local kids being goofy
Local kids being goofy
A Tibetan temple
A Tibetan temple
This was the view from the yoga room in McLeod.
This was the view from the yoga room in McLeod.
The boys digging the hole for the toilet in Bala.
The boys digging the hole for the toilet in Bala.
The view from our hike in McLeod.
The view from our hike in McLeod.
Walking with the elephants at Wildlife SOS
Walking with the elephants at Wildlife SOS
The rolling mountains of the mighty himalayas
The rolling mountains of the mighty himalayas

About

Rustic Pathways operates programs in India focusing on education, community health and social services, and the stunning environment. Besides being home to the Himalayas, there is beauty hidden in every corner of India. Traveling with Rustic Pathways, you will have the opportunity to teach local children English and math, explore the famous backwaters of Kerala, or work with the world’s largest sloth bear rehabilitation center. Rustic Pathways’ India programs are perfect for those who are looking to learn about the culture and aid in the conservation of some of this world’s most precious wildlife.

“With 1.2 billion people and 5,000 years of history, India is anything and everything all at once. It’s a kaleidoscope of people, religion, language, culture, food, and adventure. From the Himalayan peaks of the north all the way down to the backwaters of Kerala in the south, India has everything. It can take a whole lifetime to discover what it has to offer!”
--Kai Johnson, India Country

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Questions & Answers

Reviews

9.6 Rating
based on 20 reviews
  • Impact 9.3
  • Support 9.9
  • Fun 9.3
  • Value 9.5
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 9 - 16 of 20
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Daniela
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing summer in India

I loved working with Tibetan refugees in India and I loved the staff. I made so many new friends and enjoyed the homestays so much. I loved my trip and would recommend it to anyone interested in refugee work or Tibetan culture. We were much more involved with Tibetan and Nepali people than Indian. so if you want to learn about Indian culture this may not be the best trip. my favorite part of the trip was the long hike we did in McLeod Ganj.

What would you improve about this program?
I would add a visit to the Taj Mahal because that's the one touristy thing that everyone wants to do and it's not too far from new dehli where the airport was.
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Cory
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Children of India was a success

We sent two of our daughters on the trip to India with Rustic Pathways. We have used this company before and plan to use them again next year as well! As a parent I have been completely satisfied and my children have come home with wonderful stories and memories. I have total confidence in this organization!

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Izzy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Loving the country and meeting new friends

I loved Namaste India this summer because of the amazing things we did in Southern India. One area we stayed in was Munnar, it is a beautiful area with a colder climate but amazing tea plantations. The hotel we stayed in was isolated in the mountains, with the clouds dropped low. The best part of being in Munnar was getting to visit a local village, where many of the citizens used to be nomad travelers but overtime decided to settle down. The village in Munnar was small, most things were handmade and the rest was things that were traded in the market. Even though I really enjoyed seeing the plantations, museum, village and martial arts in Munnar, there were some things I wasn't fond of. Thanks to Rustic Pathways, and my trip leaders, Divya and Meg, I got to experience something special; getting an inside view of Indian culture. The RP online site prepared me very well for a packing list, I packed exactly what I should have. I do wish someone would have told me to bring a bag that could be a duffel with wheels, and not to pack too many pants. I wished I wouldn't have packed so many pants because I did end up by a BUNCH of pants and I ended up not wearing the pants I brought to India.

What would you improve about this program?
I wasn't fond of the hour or two we got to go shopping since there was only one or two shops. I believe that in the future unless there are some places that shopping would be good, or really enhance the experience, maybe there shouldn't be given hour or two of shopping every day.
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Cristi
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Namaste India

I went on this trip expecting to see some exciting sights, try some new food and maybe meet some cool people, but that was just the beginning. I chose to go on the Namaste India trip because I felt as if I would get to see the most out of India but at the same time have opportunities to really experience each sight we went to. This trip does contain a lot of time in commute and at first it's dreadful but once you make friends, bus rides become two hour sing alongs and intense games of "I spy." It is important to remember to bring a pair of speakers if you have them because everyone will be thanking you two hours into a six hour bus ride.Traveling with companies whose staff lives in the country you are traveling to, opens up a unimaginable amount of once in a lifetime opportunities. Pretty much everyone who travels to Agra Fort rides the elephants to the top and then looks around, but on this trip we had the memorable opportunity to take a quick five minute bus ride down the street and paint elephants who would be attending a wedding in the following hours. You also get to stay on a house boat for two nights on this trip and since our trip leader knew the owner of the house personally, we were allowed to climb to the top of a two story boat and jump off the roof. This might not seem like much but being able to say that you "jumped off the roof of a house boat and into the arabian sea" is pretty cool. The language barrier is not a big deal on this trip since most Indians that you interact with do speak English and if they don't, your tour guide is always a yell away. It's important to keep an open mind on this trip since Indian culture is far different than Western culture, and as long as you do, you'll have a phenomenal trip.

What would you improve about this program?
Since rustic pathway trips usually consist of ten to twenty people, it is difficult to please everyone's appetite. The options of food is often repetitive and short which can be annoying if you don't like lentils or curry. However, if you remember to bring a few granola bars to keep at the bottom of your luggage, you'll be all set.
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Emma
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Service in the Clouds + Dancing Bears = Happiness

Service in the Clouds (literally - IN THE CLOUDS!)
After the end of our 14 hour drive from New Delhi, someone in my car screamed "Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. LOOK. LOOK!" We were all so tired and delusional that we didn't react. He was FREAKING out. I decided to take a look out the window at this "most beautiful sight in the world." I didn't see anything. That is, I didn't see anything at first. Once I really looked, I saw THE "most beautiful sight in the world:" The Himalayas. The reason I couldn't see them upon first glance was because I hadn't looked up. I looked out like I do when admiring mountains in the US. These mountains were up high and they didn't look like mountains at first. I thought they were clouds. But after squinting my eyes I saw the faint line of the peaks of the Himalayas. My eyes were glued to the window of the car until we made it to Balla where that sight would be my backdrop for the next 2 weeks...

-Balla: eating; digging; carrying; mixing; chai tea; digestive cookies (I didn't get sick-luckily- but most others in my group did); dance classes; yoga; eating; napping; cow selfies; human knot; meditation

-McLeod Ganj: tuk-tuk rides; eating momos; teaching my Tibetan language partner; learning from her; listening to the stories from Tibetan refugees and learning how they remain so positive and loving; eating; shopping; avoiding eye contact with monkeys; walking barefoot in the temple of the Dali Lama

**IDNIAN FOOD IS THE BEST FOOD EVER**

Dancing Bears

-Agra: mashing mangos for sloth bears; picking up elephant poop (not as gross as it sounds!); hand-washing rescued elephants; creating enrcihment activities for the bears; eating; cooking; dancing, singing, and playing the local instruments in a former snake-charming village

What would you improve about this program?
Because I did two programs (which I highly suggest doing), we had a day in-between trips and we went to the mall in New Delhi. I would have preffered to do something that could only be done in India like go see monuments or historical sights.
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Carolina
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Only With Rustic

I'm so glad I did the Rustic Pathways Advanced Himalayan Photography Workshop trip because it truly is a trip of a lifetime. Rustic takes you to places that you wouldn't normally visit with your family or even when you're older. On my trip, we saw the Dalai Lama, toured the Hemis Monestery, stayed with a Ladhki family in Ang village, and camped with nomads on Lake Tsomoriri. My family vacations usually consist of relaxing pool side at the Four Seasons so one would think sleeping in a Yurt (nomad tent) in 30 dagger weather is my idea of hell, but in fact it was one of my all time favorite trips. Don't be afraid to do a rustic trip because the leaders, kids, and places you visit are truly amazing. As cliche as this may sound, I came back from the trip with a better view of life and much better appreciation for what I have. I couldn't think of a better way to spend your summer then by traveling around India with such an incredible company like Rustic Pathways.

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Jinan
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Lost Children of India

I went in expecting the trip to be less fun than it actually was, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun I had on the trip with the friends i made, the orphans at the home, and in the country itself.
Most of our days in Jaipur would consist of a 45-minute drive to the children's home in the morning, 2 hours of teaching/having fun, lunch for about an hour or two, and then 2/3 more hours of interaction with the children. We would then have an evening activity planned out before having dinner at our hotel.
The kids were absolutely amazing and many of them already understand basic English. They loved teaching us words in Hindi, and were eager to learn.
We learned about the history of Jaipur, toured the city and its temples, forts, and streets. The program leaders were very helpful if we had any questions and enjoyed answering our queries.

What would you improve about this program?
Travelling to/from New Delhi was a 6-hour drive each way, I would change the mode of transport between the two cities to a plane (as Jaipur also has an airport).
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ks48
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A life changing Trip

This trip was like nothing I had ever done before. It was truley amazing to stay with a homestay family and learn how they live their lifes and I feel changed because of it. One thing I would say to anyone thinking about going on a Rustic Pathways trip to India is that it will push you to your limits, you will be dirty and tired and maybe sick but it is those challenges that you face that make this trip so rewarding in the end.

What would you improve about this program?
I would make this trip a few days longer and less long car rides. I would also add more service opportunitys so we could meet the hours we thought we would.