Long vacations or great weekends?

Long vacations because I can settle in and be myself. But great weekends are a challenge and bring out the best in people—you know you have only that much time and so you make it more fulfilling.

Travel alone on work or vacation with your family and friends?

With family and friends because I’m with them so rarely. But I do enjoy travelling alone. You can make up your own itinerary and do what you want. Also, when you travel alone you open up more to the culture because you rely on the strangers you meet. Everyone should (travel alone) at least once.

The best experience during your travels.

I’d say being on the Great Wall of China and going to Machu Picchu. (These places) make me feel that not only am I travelling, I’m also time-travelling.

Footloose: Brown travels 230 days in a year for work. Discovery

I’m very scared of being underwater. There was one instance when I was surrounded by stingrays in the Caribbean. That was a pretty bad experience.

The destination(s) that surprised you.

New Jersey and Nicaragua. New Jersey has always had a reputation of being crass and I associated Nicaragua with its civil war. But the people in both these places were wonderful. I’ve always enjoyed places where the expectation was one thing and the experience was another.

What do you always take with you?

Earplugs to drown out all the airport announcements. And a jar of peanut butter. It’s my emergency food of choice. After shooting for 12-13 hours a day, I’m so tired I don’t even want to go out and eat. I have a banana and peanut butter in my room and go to bed.

The travel tip you’d pass on to your kids.

Don’t overschedule. You need to keep at least one morning or afternoon aside where you can simply wander around with a map in your back pocket and let (yourself) discover places naturally.

Where do you holiday without the camera following you?

I go home to Brooklyn. I travel 230 days for work and when I’m home, I’m on vacation. I can’t think of boarding another plane when I’m not working.


Wilderness walk

Go take a hike. Literally.

This summer, Freespirit, the trekking arm of Countryside Adventures, is headed to Himachal Pradesh. Over 10 days, expect long walks (up to 4 hours a day), overnight camping, peak-spotting and even a shot at the Patalsu summit (14,765ft), if you so wish. Ex-Delhi, the party will spend its first night in Manali and launch the trek from Solang.

After camping overnight at Dhundi, in the Beas valley, which provides a spectacular view of the snow-clad mountains, head to Kund, the highest point of the trek at 13,780ft. On the way, you’ll spot the peaks of Friendship, Ladakhi and Hanuman Tibba.

Over the next few days, walk through deodar and pine forests and forage for wild strawberries. Depart for the nine-night/10-day trip from Delhi on 20 May. The non-camp nights will be spent in guest houses and homestays.

The cost of Rs13,750 per head includes non-AC bus and jeep travel, accommodation and guides. No specialist gear is needed, just a pair of good trekking shoes and the will to walk. To register, call 09869201443/91-22-24442944 or log on to Freespirit

Sumana Mukherjee


Serious summit

Satopanth is the second highest peak in the Gangotri group in Uttarakhand at 7,075m. Not a venture to be taken lightly, it combines a complex glacier approach, steep snow slopes and knife-edge ridges—all this before the summit itself.

Add to that the possibility of extreme weather and the remote location, and you’d have lost all but the lion-hearts. But those who sign up with Aquaterra’s 23-day trial run to the peak are promised more than their money’s worth—with the superlative back-up support that the operators are known for.

“It’s a serious climb. Also, because of permit restrictions, we can take along a limited number of experienced mountaineers," says Aquaterra’s Vaibhav Kala. If you’ve got it in you, and have around Rs1.5 lakh to spend (covering accommodation, permits, gear, porterage) call 91-11-29212641, 29212760, 41636101 or mail avilash@aquaterra.in

Sumana Mukherjee

Write to lounge@livemint.com