Aikta has always been a passionate traveler. She has explored quite a bit of the United States, as well as Mexico, Bahamas, Bermuda, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Holland, Ireland, England, and various parts of India, including spending five years living in the remote foothills of the Himalayas, outside of India’s oldest tiger reserve.
Her career background includes facilitating transformational experiences for people of all ages. Starting with mastering the art of service-learning while working for Loyola University, to obtaining her Masters in Contemplative Education from Naropa University, serving as a Transformation Specialist in her personal Brilliant Butterflies tutoring service, teaching in a variety of classroom settings -University through Elementary School, providing professional development on various topics for university faculty, in-service and pre-service teachers, hosting a variety of retreat and spiritual workshops, and eventually directing educational programs for 2 reputable non-profits focused on the topics of environmental education and arts & human development in Washington, DC. These two aspects of her life, travel and a passion for facilitating transformational experiences, merge together beautifully to serve travelers ready for a meaningful adventure.
Misty Dhillon brings the expertise of adventure travel to the vision of Transformative Travel. He began his career in 1999 as a passionate rafting and fishing guide, gaining the skills to eventually open his own dream company, The Himalayan Outback. With his passion he created an internationally acclaimed fly-fishing industry in northern India, trained a team of first generation fly fishing guides in the Indian Himalayas, and used community conservation efforts to protect India’s precious watersheds. Misty is best known for his seasoned expertise as an expedition leader. He has the ability to craft amazing expeditions to precious and remote parts of the planet with incredible detail and attention to service. His time creating a career in the outdoor travel industry, leading countless expeditions, and working with India’s best operators, has equipped Misty with the knowledge, international connections, and know-how to run fine attention-to-detail adventure journeys for travelers all over the world.
Misty’s experience with community conservation efforts allowed him to understand the importance of intentional and meaningful travel when visiting remote locations. It was this understanding that helped spark the creation of Transformative Travel.
Fernweh Fair Travel, an award winning non-profit that uses tourism to empower women as well as artists found in the “untouchable” community, is central to our Heart of the Himalayas journey, and is the brain-child of Poonam Rawat-Hahne. This powerhouse woman is originally from Uttarakhand in the Indian Himalayas, but currently resides with her family in Germany. She has lived, worked and travelled in many different countries but her passion and dedication can be found in the home-stays she has creative in remote Himalayan villages in India. She has recently travelled to Thailand for her permaculture certification, which she plans to use as she creates her latest project with locals to create a Eco-River Retreat that explores various self-sustained practices. They envision it serving as a learning space for others interested in low impact self-sustainable living.
A true traveller at heart, she enthusiastically designs each tour to offer the most powerful experience to both travelers and the locals. She has always loved going off the beaten path spending time with locals, discovering authentic cuisine, and learning about the culture of the country, and has crafted her tours to share the same with travelers.
Ramawtar, often called Ramji out of respect, is a real Indian renaissance man. It is hard to describe all of the gifts and talents he shares with fellow travelers as his offerings often seem infinite and boundless, especially when in the company of other passionate seekers. Ram enjoys sharing his gifts as a naturalist, artist, and is a true wisdom keeper on the medicinal and Ayurvedic use of native plants in India. Ramji also practices a variety of self-healing techniques, including Jin Shin Do (Japanese acupressure technique), Qi Gong, Reflexology, and Reiki. He is also a seed collector, sometimes for organic farming and sometimes to create jewelry from natural materials found along his travels. He encourages people to empower themselves by creating their own wholesome self-care products (anything from tooth powder, to soaps, to anti-septic creams, or medicinal massage oils) all made from locally sourced natural materials. He loves to share the local folklore, myths, songs, art practices, and sustainable-living practices (particularly organic farming practices) in rural and wild locations throughout India.
Ramji is also well known for leading Cycle Yatras (journeys). These are usually 5-7 day learning journeys, in which a group that is often meeting for the first time voyage together on bicycle to explore their own intrinsic value through gift culture. Travelers are asked to get onto bicycles and leave behind their money, food, non-essential medicines, waste products, or technology and venture out to connect from the heart to villagers living more self-sustaining lifestyles. Essentially cycle yatris carry a sleeping back, water bottle, possibly another pair of clothes, or shoes in a small bag on their back and peddle off to explore rural parts of India armed only with their bodies and hearts. The yatris have no destined route, but move organically and offer to work in rural communities in exchange for food and a place to stay. It is this special spirit of adventure and freedom that Ramawtar brings to all of his journeys that makes traveling with him so special.
Finally his natural affinity with children makes him a vital member of our village walks team, as he often makes friends with children within minutes, even when exploring a new village. He is also a skilled naturalist who quickly turns a beautiful trek into an exciting discovery experience as he shares the calls, names, physical features and behaviors of even the smallest creatures.
Anvesh Singh Thapa is the founder and co-owner of Expeditions India. Anvesh has been rafting and kayaking throughout the world for the past 20 years, making him one of the most skilled and experienced river guides in India today.
In past years, Anvesh has led numerous expedition-style trips, including opening the first commercial river trips on the Brahmaputra (post 2001 flood), Lohit, Kameng, and Saryu. He has also led expeditions internationally and is well-versed with the level of difficulty and excitement on rivers such as the Kaituna and Wairoa (New Zealand), Blue Nile (Ethiopia), Colorado, Green, and Salmon Rivers (USA) and the Stranda and Rundal (Norway).
Today, when he’s not busy playing with his baby daughter, you will find Anvesh actively engaged in the trips he runs. His passion and energy flow through every trip he guides. Anvesh is currently a NOLS instructor, and is a certified Whitewater Rescue Technician-Advance (Rescue 3 International), Wilderness First Responder (WMI, 2017), Skills Active Senior National Raft Guide Grade IV/V (NZ), and ACA Kayak Instructor Level 4.
Ing-Marie Putka, co-owner of Expeditions India, is originally from the Pacific Northwest, USA, but has felt fortunate to call India “home” since 2005. At Expeditions India, Ing-Marie uses her organization and communication skills to keep the office in order.
But her favorite part of the job is finding ways to move Expeditions India in an even more eco-friendly direction. She sees tremendous potential in the river community being allies in the work of environmental protection! Ing-Marie is also a writer, experiential educator, outdoor enthusiast, and most recently, a mother!
Founder of the Geeli Mitti (Wet Earth) Foundation, Shagun is known as a fun-loving life enthusiast who left a successful corporate career to explore a deeper sense of purpose. Her explorations led her to birth the creation of a sustainable-living learning center designed to provide livelihood for locals while educating visitors on sustainable practices that mutually benefit humanity and the earth. Her most popular workshops focus on natural building and permaculture design, as well as recycled waste creations.
At young age Ritish followed his dream into becoming one of India’s leading wildlife naturalists. For a decade he owned and managed one of India’s most Inspiring Eco Lodge; award-winning, Camp Forktail Creek. Dedicating himself to the likes of wildlife enthusiasts and bird-watchers but also leading wildlife expeditions in the Terrai region. Apart from being a seasoned wildlife expert he is know for his meticulous attention to detail, and good sense of humor.