Introducing you to the Crooked Compass Chase…
You have heard of the TV show The Amazing Race, now it’s your turn to get in on the action!
Grab a team mate and get your Sherlock Holmes on as you crack clues, compete and chase through the chaos and elemental beauty of the Indian sub continent as you explore India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Get lost amongst a tangle of narrow alleys in bustling bazaars, try your hand at bartering and bantering with locals. Hike to new heights in the shadow of Himalayan beauty and step back to colonial times in the lush hill stations of Sri Lanka. Test your handicraft skills, your balance, your patience, your ability to multitask, your geographical skills, your memory and more!
Think fast, act faster as you traverse these incredible lands relying on the kindness of strangers and the necessity of trusting your gut to haul you forward. Embrace unique cultures. Learn language skills you didn’t know you had. Encompass all the journey has to offer. The chase is fast. Things will go wrong. Things will go right. Unexpected encounters will knock you sideways. Your mind will boggle, your heart will swell with frustration and fondness. The adrenaline of conquering will fuel you to push on. After all, this is a chase…
Welcome to India! Upon arrival in Mumbai, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Mumbai (formerly Bombay), situated on the western coast of India, is the city of glamour and megastars, of industrialists and business houses, of a futuristic lifestyle and an amalgamation of the West with the traditional Maharashtrian culture. Apart from being the financial capital of India, it is also the capital of India’s most progressive state, Maharashtra. Mumbai is the gateway of India, and stands tall as India’s commercial capital and the country’s most cosmopolitan city.
In the evening, join the other teams for a welcome dinner at local restaurant “Khyber’.
Khyber is an iconic restaurant located in the art and heritage district of the city of Mumbai. Frequently patronised by local and international celebrities, distinguished personalities and even royalty, this venue has had the pleasure of serving the Prince of Luxembourg, Kuwait Royal Family, Sir Richard Branson, Sir Paul McCartney, Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Wendell Rodricks, Goldie Hawn, Richard Gere, Demi Moore, and many more.
After filling your stomachs and sussing out the competition, its time to rest up before your chase begins tomorrow! (D)
2 nights at The Gordon House or similar
Enjoy breakfast in your hotel. At 10.30am, you will meet in the hotel lobby where you will be delivered your first clue. Let the chase begin!
The message is cryptic, but once you have broken it, go, go, go! This first challenge has a time stamp attached to it and if you do not make it time, there will be many unhappy, not to mention hungry locals! This challenge will really test your multi tasking and ability to work under pressure! Complete your challenge and be handed your next clue.
This involves navigating the local transport system of Mumbai – a challenge in itself! Following the trail of clues to find your next location where its all about getting physical! Once you have successfully achieved and perfected the skills required to perform, you will be able to continue your chase!
Take the train to Churchgate station. You should be an expert at local transport in Mumbai by now! On arrival, you will be handed your next clue which is also today’s check point! No time to relax. Crack the code and off you go!
Once you have checked in at your meeting point, the remainder of the day is yours at leisure to explore on your own or perhaps plot and plan tactics for the next day of challenges ahead! (B)
Following breakfast in your hotel this morning, you’ll be transferred to the airport for your flight to Jaipur. Upon arrival at Jaipur airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Known as the Pink City, a hue of delicate pink blankets the buildings and monuments of Jaipur, offering a feeling of warm invitation as you set foot in the city. The story goes that when Queen Victoria visited Jaipur in 1876, the king of Jaipur painted the whole city pink as a sign of his gracious hospitality, a tradition that even today, is a hallmark of Jaipur.
This afternoon, you will set off for a heritage walk in Jaipur taking you from the Albert Hall Museum to the Choti Chaupar.
Starting at the Albert Hall Museum, the glory of this site dates back to 1876 AD and is an impounding case of Indo-Saracenic style of building designed by Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob. Your next pit stop ois at New Gate. Then comes Nanak Ram Patel ki Gali or Thatheron Ka Rasta, where metal making experts reside and are still work with conventional hand instruments. Anant Bhagwan Ka Mandir along Nataniyo ka Rasta is the next huge attraction of fascination on your walk. This sanctuary is in excess of 250 years of age. Strolling down the path, you will reach Sarvajanik Kuan or The Public Well – the spot where ladies used to accumulate while drawing on water and indulged in pep talks. Sangh Ji – Jain Temple is really popular for its customary Kundan dating back to 1731.
You will also enjoy a tuk-tuk ride during the walk.
In the evening, enjoy dinner at ‘Niroz Restaurant.’ Return to your hotel after dinner. (B,D)
Overnight at Alsisar Haveli or similar
This morning, enjoy breakfast in your hotel. You will then off to visit a nearby farm – Dera Amer, where you will have the opportunity to feed Lakshmi – one of the elephants owned by the family who is also a local aristocrat.
You will have plenty of opportunities to be photographed with her as she is fond of posing before the camera! Later participate in an elephant painting competition and the winner will be the team who completes the task as accurately and quickly as possible, replicating the design provided.
This afternoon, its team Crooked Compass vs the locals in a cricket match! See who has the best batting and bowling skills.
From here, there is no rest. It is time to kick on and throw yourself into a treasure hunt of Jaipur. Each team will be handed a list of clues and items to collect in their adventures through the bazaars and studios of traditional craftsman. The first team to collect all items and reach the check in point, is today’s winner! (B)
Overnight at Alsisar Haveli or similar
Depart after breakfast as you drive to Agra. On arrival, check-in at your hotel.
This afternoon, enjoy a Mughal Heritage Walk which will give you a rare behind the scenes glimpse of one of the world’s most treasured tourist attractions – the Taj Mahal, but from the other side of the river. The Heritage Walk is one 1km stretch through India’s Mughal history and amicable people and is an unforgettable experience.
This walk is facilitated by the community youth under the umbrella of Heritage Footprints, who have been trained as tour facilitators to provide both historical facts and anecdotes. (B)
Overnight at Hotel Seven Hills Tower or similar
Early this morning, visit the Taj Mahal at sunrise. The Taj Mahal is best seen at different times of the day when the white marble reflects the nuances of the changing light from the sun.
Built by Indian artisans and artisans from neighbouring Islamic countries, the Taj Mahal is aptly described by the poet laureate Tagore as ‘A tear on the face of eternity’. Decorated with a mosaic of semi-precious stones and Persian calligraphy recreating verses from the Koran, the mausoleum is an ‘Urs’, an important place of pilgrimage since the empress died in childbirth making her a martyr. Prayers are said and passages from the Koran are constantly recited in the mosque and cenotaph chamber.
Return to your hotel after visiting the Taj Mahal for breakfast before departing for Delhi. On arrival back in Delhi, it is time to get back into the spirit of the chase! You will be handed a clue at your hotel with two options. Can you decipher what each one means? Which one will your team choose? And go!
Set off to complete your challenge which will be closely monitored and judged by the locals. Once you have completed, your challenge and been given your next clue, it is time to race to the days check in point at one of Delhi’s most impressive monuments!
Now you can relax. After ending your day, enjoy dinner at Chor Bizzare located in Old Delhi. Chor Bizarre is India’s first theme restaurant which captures the spirit of the chor bazaar or ‘thieves market’ within its kaleidoscopic interiors and serves authentic regional Indian cuisine in a unique atmosphere. Pirates gallery, an attic and quirky are some of the popular descriptions for its eclectic decor. Each dining area is furnished with items that refuse to match; we forgot to steal the matching pieces! (B,D)
Later drive back to your hotel.
Overnight at The Visaya or similar
This morning after breakfast, you’ll be transferred to the airport for your flight to Kathmandu. Upon arrival at Kathmandu’s International Airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Welcome to Nepal!
Nepal – officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal is a mystical country nestled in the folds of the magnificent Himalaya mountain ranges. The people of Nepal can always be seen to be smiling. Nepal is a deeply religious country, as you will see in their temples, Monasteries and buildings. The fertile, mountain-sheltered Kathmandu Valley is the historic heart of Nepal, where the Himalaya’s most sophisticated kingdoms rose and fell and where Nepali art and culture were developed and refined. In many ways the Kathmandu Valley is Nepal.
The remainder of your day is at leisure. (B)
Overnight at The Inn or similar
Following breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Pokhara. Upon arrival, check-in at your hotel.
Pokhara is a remarkable place of natural beauty. At an elevation lower than that of Kathmandu, it has much more tropical feel to it; a fact well appreciated by the beautiful diverse flowers that prosper in this environment. The enchanting city with a population of around 95,000, has several beautiful lakes and offers stunning panoramic views of the Himalayan peaks. The serenity of the lakes and the magnificence of the Himalayas rising behind them, create an ambience of peace and magic. The valleys surrounding Pokhara are home to thick forest, gushing rivers, emerald lakes and of course, the views of the world famous Himalayas.
Today we have some optional activities for you to consider or you can simply have the day at leisure.
OPTION 1 – Paragliding:
If you are in search of the true beauty of nature and adventure at the same time, than Tandem Paragliding in Pokhara could be one of the best things you can experience. It is one of the top 5 commercial tandem paragliding locations in the world.
Tandem flying involves a pilot flying with a passenger having separate harnesses for both which are attached to each other and to the wing. They are built for comfort and safety & it feels like an armchair in-flight. Once you have taken off, relax and enjoy the epic scenery. You can take pictures and movies yourself or can ask your pilot to do for you with a GoPro camera.
During the flight you can enjoy the view of 3 highest mountains (Dhaulagiri, Annapurna & Manasulu) in the world, out of 8 which are of above 8,000 m height from sea level as well as the magnificent view of Pokhara city and Fewa Lake.
OPTION 2 – Zip Flyer:
Nepal’S zip flyer located in Sarangkot at an altitude of 1625m, covering a distance of 1860m which is the longest in the world. As you zip along, enjoy the real natural beauties of the Annapurna & Dhaulagiri range including Machhapuchhre as well as nice view of Pokhara city can also be observed with that feeling of flying through the sky at the speed of 140km/hr. Zip flyer is comfortable and has the best technology for its authenticity, strength and durability.
OPTION 3 – Ultralight Flight:
Ultra-light aircraft only take off from Pokhara and offer spectacular views of the lakes (including famous Fewa Lake), Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges (including famous Machhapuchhre Mountain), Pokhara city, beautiful villages and hills at the same time. An ultralight is a very light aircraft with a powered engine that has no windows and seats are available for only two persons, including a pilot and a passenger. This aircraft can reach very close to mountain peaks allowing you to observe the magnificent views of the mountains and high hills from close range. (B)
2 nights at Hotel White Pearl or similar
After an early morning breakfast, you will be picked up from your hotel and drive about 45 minutes to Naudanda, the starting point of your hike. You will be hiking for approx 4 hours today. To finish before the heat of the day, you will start hiking at 7:30 am.
From your starting point, Naudanda you will see the world waking up and the sun rising above the Himalayan peaks. On the way, you will see the farmers working on their land and meet the ever-smiling children on their way to school. You will pass through villages from various ethnicities, such as the Brahmin and Chettris. This provides you with a unique chance to see how several cultural groups are living side by side. Apart from the cultural experience, you are accompanied by great views of the Himalayas and Lake Phewa. Hike until you reach Sarangkot. From here, you have a perfect view of eight majestic mountains right in front of your nose. The reflection of sunlight from the mountains is always a breathtaking site. From Sarangkot, return to Pokhara (approx 30 mins.) (B)
After breakfast, drive to the airport for your flight to Kathmandu (approx. 25 minutes). Upon reaching Kathmandu, drive to Panauti. Panauti is a historical, and a hidden gem of Nepal. History books state that in the early 18th century, the king of Bhaktapur gifted Panauti state as a dowry to his brother-in-law. Panauti still holds an apex reputation for its beautiful temples, arts and crafts, festivals and tradition. Panauti nestles at the confluence of two spiritual rivers, Rosi and Punyamati.
From here, take a one-hour hike to Balthali, a small village nestled into the Nepali countryside with terraced rice fields and thatched farmhouses. Your hosts at the resort will welcome you and after lunch, you have some free time before you head off for your next challenge in a nearby village. You will be handed a clue with two options. Pick wisely as both challenges are incredibly different but will have you truly immersed in local life!
In the evening, join the other teams around a campfire followed by dinner at the resort. (B,D)
Overnight at the Balthali Village Resort or similar
Early this morning, witness the sunrise over the Himalayan ranges of Manasalu.
Return for breakfast at the resort before you join your guide and hike back down to your vehicle and head back to Kathmandu. On arrival, the remainder of the day is at leisure.
This evening, witness an aarti ceremony at the ghats of Pashupatinath Temple. This is Nepal’s most sacred Hindu shrine and one of the subcontinent’s great Shiva sites. The supreme holiness of the site stems from the Shiva linga enshrined in the main temple and its location. It expresses the very essence of Hinduism as pilgrims, priests, devotees, temples, ashrams, images, inscriptions and cremation ghats intermingle with the rituals of daily life, all sprawled along the banks of the sacred Bagmati River. The temple’s origins are obscure, an inscription dates from 477, but a shrine may have stood here for 1000 years before that. The evening Aarti ceremony on the banks of Bagmati River, is truly fascinating with mantras, kirtan, bells, incense and lights, all surrounded by the many devotees. It is a magical experience to witness. Later transfer back to your hotel. (B)
Overnight at The Inn or similar
Following breakfast, you’ll be transferred to the airport for your flight to Colombo. Our representative will meet you at the airport and you will be transferred to your hotel in Negombo. Welcome to Sri Lanka! (B)
Overnight at Arie Lagoon Negombo or similar
After breakfast at your hotel, drive to the tea plantation area of Nuwara Eliya (approx 5 hours). Upon arrival, check-in at your hotel.
Tea was first planted in Sri Lanka in 1824 at the Botanical Gardens at Peradeniya, when a few plants were brought from China. More were introduced from Assam in 1839. In 1867, a Scottish Planter named James Taylor planted tea seedlings in an 8 hectares of forest land, in the Loolkondura Estate. In 1873, the tea export industry of Sri Lanka began with a modest 23 lbs. being shipped to London. Tea will grow only on rolling terrain and is classified by elevation into low grown, medium grown and high grown. Today more than 200,000 hectares in the highlands and other areas, are blanketed by tea and around 300 million kilograms, with 25% of the world’s tea exports come from Sri Lanka, making it the world’s largest tea exporter. (B)
2 nights at St Andrews Hotel or similar
After breakfast, enjoy a tea tasting before taking part in a tea plucking competition.
Tea tasting (duration approx. 01 hour) is the process in which a trained taster determines the quality of a particular tea. Due to climatic conditions, topography, manufacturing process, and different clones of the Camellia Sinensis plant (tea), the final product may have vastly differing flavours’ and appearance. These differences can be tasted by a trained taster in order to ascertain the quality prior to sale. A tea taster uses a large spoon and noisily slurps the liquid into his/her mouth – this ensures that both the tea and plenty of oxygen is passed over all the taste receptors on the tongue to give an even taste profile of the tea. The liquid is then usually spat back out into a spittoon before moving onto the next sample to taste. The flavour, characteristics and indeed leaf colour, size and shape are graded using a specific language created by the tea industry to explain the overall quality.
Get ready for it! Now it is time for a tea plucking competition!
You will be decked out in local attire – a saree for the ladies, sarong for the gentlemen and provide you with a basket in which to collect your leaves. Choose the best area with your team mate as you are shown which leaves to pluck. This is a great skill activity to pluck 2 leaves and a bud. The team that collects the most amount of tea (and the right quality of tea leaves) will be today’s winner. You’ll find that it takes a bit of practice to make sure the leaves end up in your basket rather than on the ground! Return to the Tea Factory, where our chief tea taster, will inspect your efforts. He will reject any leaves that are unsuitable, so you must pay attention when picking, or all your efforts will be in vain!
Later, enjoy a walking tour of Nuwara Eliya.
Nuwara Eliya, also known as ‘Little’ England’, was the favourite hill station of the British who tried to create the resort into a typical English Village. The old brick Post office, country house like hill club, with its hunting pictures, mounted hunting trophies and fish, and its strict formal dinner attire; the 18-hole golf course, race course etc., evoke nostalgia of Colonial British Ceylon. End your walk at the Golf Club or Hill Club in Nuwara Eliya. Enjoy a BBQ dinner in the garden this evening. (B,D)
Following breakfast, drive to Kitulgala, to enjoy an adventurous white water rafting experience.
Experience white water rafting in the picturesque Kelani River in Kitulgala covering 5 major rapids and 4 minor rapids. The distance covered is around 5km. The river and its surroundings will make you feel enchanted.
Continue your drive to Matara. On arrival check-in at your hotel. This evening, dinner is by candlelight on the beach as you dine with the sounds of the ocean. (B,D)
Overnight at Amaloh or similar
Early this morning, hit the water and depart for a whale watching tour. Take a packed breakfast with you to enjoy on the boat.
After watching the whales playing fluke their tales and breech, leave for Weligama to witness the fascinating skill of the Stilt Fisherman.
This is no ordinary fishing, there might be several methods of catching a fish but this one is mind-boggling. Fishermen in Sri Lanka use stilts to catch fish. Stilt Fishing is an old tradition practised by around 500 fishing families in Galle, in southwestern-most Sri Lanka, especially around the towns of Koggala, Kathaluwa, and Ahangama. They usually fish during sunset, noon and sunrise, with each one taking their elevated position and balancing about 2 metres above the water. There is a vertical pole en-grafted into the sea bed, attached to it is a cross bar, called petta, on which the fishermen do their balancing act. With one hand they hold the stilt and the other hand holds a fishing rod or a line to catch spotted herrings and small mackerels, which are then kept in a plastic bag tied around their waist or the pole. The fishermen of this area don’t mind sitting for long hours to get their catch. They don’t use a bait either on their hook! It’s a beautiful sight looking at the fishermen balancing on a thin plank, but at the same time it’s tough too. All this effort and toiling only to preserve their old custom, wonderful!
Now its your turn! Be handed a clue – one of which will be testing your balance at stilt fishing. The other, well you will have to crack that! If you can balance on the stilt for 30 mins, you can make your way immediately to the check in point! Choose the other option and you are on your own to make it into Galle where you begin your challenge. Once completed to the standard of your local judge, you will be handed a clue for the days check in point. (B)
Overnight at Amari Galle or similar
Following breakfast, explore the ancient city of Galle via tuk-tuk.
Galle is Sri Lanka’s most historically interesting town. It was a major port until about 100 years ago, but today it still handles shipping and sailing boats in the natural harbour.
Stroll around the lighthouse and harbour or visit the old town where you can see the traditional lace makers and wood carvers and purchase some of the finest souvenirs.
Galle’s oldest landmark is the massive Portuguese and Dutch Fort which is a ‘World Heritage Site’ in which the central city is contained. But the city may be much older. Some scholars believe it to be the ‘Tarshish’ of the Old Testament, to which King Solomon sent his merchant vessels, and to which Jonah fled from the Lord.
Today, the 90-acre Galle Fort shows no evidence of the Portuguese founders. The Dutch incorporated the Portuguese northern wall in a great rampart in 1663. A second, taller wall was built inside of it. Between the two walls, a covered passage connected the central bastion with the Fort’s two half bastion’s overlooking the sea. The Dutch also installed a sophisticated drainage system, complete with brick-lined underground sewers that were flushed twice a day by the high and low tides. The original gate to the fort was by the harbour. It is still there, marked by the British Coat-of-arms on the front and the Dutch V.O.C. (Vereenigde Oost Indische Compagnie) with the Coat-of-arms with a rooster crest, is on the inner side of the Fort.
Now is your final challenge for the tour. Both team members must participate. We will provide you with two king coconuts per person with a straw. Whicever team finishes drinking the two king coconuts first will be the winner.
From here, it is time to tally it all up. Who is the overall winner? Make your way to a local bar where the winner of your chase will be announced and you can enjoy a drink or two before transferring to the airport for your onward flight. (B)
Download this tour’s PDF brochure and start your planning offline!
**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures.
* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.
* A minimum of 6 adults is required to guarantee this departure.
A non-refundable deposit of $1000 AUD per person plus internal airfares is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.