In a world of endless exotic faraway experiences and retreats, Shakti stands alone. From all the lands travelled far and wide this place had us at ‘Himalaya’.
Nestled in the furthest quietest reached of North Western India, this one of a kind abode lets you lay your head in plush feather down duvets, overlooking snow capped mountains at 8000 feet up.
Forget calling the office, there’s no chance. A wifi free zone with no phone signal. It’s just you and the Griffin Eagles
With our sense of adventure and close proximity to the largest mountain range on the planet, it was a tickling aspiration to step into the footsteps of Michael Palin. His Himalayan adventure had once had us raptured as young budding explorers and we felt to follow suit to see what all his fuss was about on his BBC documentary.
A 5am greeting from our driver and our luggage swiftly carted in to the boot for our lengthy journey ahead we were set to head up in to the clouds. The magic of Shakti is that from beginning to end everything is taken care of.
Starting with a first class ticket to Kathgodham from New Delhi train station where our private driver awaited with our trustee guide, Par, a keen mountaineer expert ready to offer endless expedition options. Carting us to our first stop, the Himalayan home stay in the Kumaon region, he was happy to share his wealth of knowledge on the largest mountain range in the world and what we could expect from our experience high up in the Himalaya's!
It's dusk when we arrive just in time to see the shimmering light on the peaks as we get wrapped in pashminas woven by the locals, drinking tea followed by sun downers toasting our toes around the fire pit at our own private village house.
Beautiful blue wooden doors lead to our gorgeous home for the night, floors covered in the softest of sheepskin rugs making the perfect place to sit by the fire with a Bill Aitken book before slumber nestled in plush feather down duvets.
The next morning we wake up to the gentle murmur of cattle bells and padding hooves at dawn from the neighbours team of cows. And breakfast is served in front of the cinematic performance of the sun crawling up from behind the mountain peaks surrounding us and making her entrance.
With the place dotted with luxury comforts from the west and around the clock waiting staff, as polite as a royal butler, it's as if magical elves slip in and out of the shadows to create a dreamlike himalayan haven making you feel oddly at home. It may be the delicious Madeleines and afternoon tea that has something to do with it.
Master chef, Yeshi, an ex Tibetan monk whips up gastronomic masterpieces with recipes from all over the globe using the organic garden and local spices. Believe us, everything that graces your lips from this cooking wizard is excellent. And the door to his specially designed kitchen is always open for a lesson or a nosey with a big smile.
This heavenly retreat has a unique and magical charm beyond your wildest of dreams. Your days will disappear with rapid ease and in between hikes and afternoon reading sessions your personal staff wait on you like ninja butlers, swiftly making culinary delights appear and disappear with silent grace. Something we would like to instil in our own homes.
Shakti made us never want to leave but the real world was beckoning and it was time to take our clean lungs and happy hearts a little closer to sea level again. 'Because in the end you won't remember that time working in the office or mowing your lawn, climb that god damn mountain'. Perfectly said in the wise and wild words of Jack Kerouac.
Book your Tailor made Luxury Himalayan Hideaway at shaktihimalaya.com
With crisp clean oxygen filled lungs and veins pumping with french press coffee we set off for the village of Leti, part 2 of this breathtaking saga. But first a pit stop en route at the Golhu Devta Bell temple. A place to see thousands of golden bells tied by red ribbons paying homage to local deity to this specific region with blessings and well wishes. A truly beautiful sight of peaceful worship.
A quick note on the local security, in the form of langur monkeys, who have a penchant for stealing the odd shoe or two...if you don't want to be pegging it like Usain Bolt, don't look them in the eyes.
Add on four hours of winding roads and you get to Leti 360 sitting at a whopping 8000ft. The wonderful visionary and owner, Jamshyd Sethna, birthed the idea of a retreat to escape the noise of the city and immerse truly into nature. With the beautiful canvas of the Himalaya's, he built the retreat from scratch. It's stunning architectural design of rustic meets modern using locally sourced materials of stone, wood and glass create a peaceful space without skimming on luxury. All in support of the local communities and conscious of the ecological impacts. A true legend in his own right.
Each lodge has floor to ceiling glass displaying panoramic views of the mountain peaks and griffin eagles grazing past your head. It's a place where only the gentle rustling of the organic vegetable patch and light birdsong can be heard. I could hear my own exhaling of crisp mountain carbon dioxide with every sip of masala chai dusted with spices that remind you you're not in the Alps.
The Four Things To Know
1 Every journey is private and tailored to your requirements and timings. Getting there is a big journey and the roads carve around the mountain range so don’t eat anything heavy. We made the mistake of scoffing a lot of chocolate and nearly projectile vomited on our way up, but all the more worth it when you reach the top.
2 You don’t have to be fit for this. Your guide caters the whole journey for you, there are a range of gentle to technical hikes or you can just stay put in the luxurious base camp with boardgames and books, there is plenty to keep entertained.
3 Be prepared to switch off from the world. The last village with signal is an hour and a half away. With no wifi or electricity, just torch light and solar panelled small lamps but there is a generator in the main lodge where you can charge your camera etc.
4 There are only four eco huts at Leti 360 and one dining table so dinner is served and shared in an intimate lounge dining area.
Take the overnight Train from Delhi to Kathgodam (7 hours) followed by an 8 hour drive to Leti 360
Flight to Delhi Private Charter Flight from Delhi to Pithoragarh, followed by a 5 hour drive to Shakti 360 Leti
Chopper from Delhi to Kapkot, followed by a 2 hour drive to Shakti 360 Leti
The Four Things To Pack