Misty Dhillon
Misty Dhillon

Misty Dhillon is an internationally acclaimed master of the Golden Himalayan Mahseer, the king of freshwater game-fish in India. Misty’s passion for the mighty Mahseer began in 1995 with his first encounter as a young fisherman. He has since researched and pioneered patterns and techniques for catching this “Golden Goddess” for both spinning and fly-fishing. Misty is considered a world authority on the Golden Mahseer.

In 2004 Himalayan Outback opened for business. With business partner, Mickey Sidhu, Misty started the company to introduce the magnificent Mahseer to sport fishing enthusiasts worldwide. Himalayan Outback reflects his and Mickey’s conservation values, under Misty Dhillon’s guidance, they adhere to the strictest conservation standards. In addition to offering among the world’s highest quality fresh water fishing experiences, Himalayan Outback provides other types of Indian adventure travel experiences that benefit local villagers, preserve the local habitat and protect the future of the Mahseer population.

Misty is one of only two international representatives in India of the International Game Fish Association. He has appeared on numerous television shows and documentaries featuring the Golden Mahseer. He is certified by the Federation of Fly Fishers as the first Certified Casting Instructor of India. Misty and his wife, Aikta, make their home at their River Lodge on the Western Ramganga River just outside the Jim Corbett Tiger Reserve in the northern Indian state of Uttrakhand.


How do the experiences you offer at The Himalayan Outback give guests a unique perspective on the history, people or culture of your region?

Saryu River Float Trip.
Saryu River Float Trip. ©Klug Photos.

Travelling through the less-traveled corridors of Kumoan’s Himalayan foothills that borders both Nepal and China comes with a special feeling of witnessing life in its simplest forms; customs and traditions built over centuries, legends and folk-lore amongst the most dramatic landscape and wildlife. From glimpses of traditional life-style and terraced farming practices to local legends, deities and folklore. In other places temples have stood by the confluence of two rivers for hundreds of years. Combining the experience of hiking, wildlife safaris, rafting and viewing Himalayan vistas in Northern India’s Uttarakhand’s Kumaon region, with meeting the traditional Himalayan highlanders – herdsmen, farmers and Hindu priests, leaves our travellers with some of the most lasting memories and a fresh perspective on life.

How have the experiences that you offer evolved since their inception?

By avoiding main-steram tourist routes we’ve over the past decade found ourselves connecting with local communities sometimes beyond the limits of money-power. Experiences that have influenced some special moments for our guests. These aspect of rural India and cultural exchanges and interactions allows our travellers to walk away with some truly special moments. These experiences over the years allow our guests to witness indigenous life-styles and ancient practices that offer powerful insights. Over the years we’ve also built a large part of hiking and multi-sport adventures in and around our wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. Our state has some 9 national parks. As we continue to diversify, we’re finding special trips in or around more such places that compliments these adventures in terms of both birdwatching as well as wildlife sightings.

What do you wish every guest knew as they consider participating in the experiences you offer?

India can be a bit overwhelming for the first timer, which is why we customized our travel to provide safe and meaningful trips for our guests. On our trips, you are taken care of from the moment you arrive in Delhi until the moment you board the plane to head home.

 

A visit to a Himalayan temple.
A visit to a Himalayan temple.

What do you wish every guest knew as they consider participating in the experiences you offer?

India can be a bit overwhelming for the first timer. On our trips, you are taken care of from the moment you arrive in Delhi. Northern India’s Kumoan region

What is one unexpected piece of clothing or equipment guests should have to maximize their enjoyment of the experiences you offer?

Patagonia Nano Puff is a light and very compact jacket. It’s easily accessible as temperatures drop in the evening and are easy to store away in the smallest of back-packs. Of course, another simple, essential items for our outdoor adventures are a head lamp and good walking/trekking shoes.

What is one travel trend that really excites you?

Reviews and social media testaments. Real reviews from real people. Travelling to India for the first time finding good reviews can go a long way! Most of our customers truly have adventures of a lifetime and no one can tell it better than the guests themselves!

What is one insiders tip to getting the most out of an experiential travel vacation?

Push yourself beyond your typical comfort zone. When walking past a local villager, take off your glasses , make eye contact, smile and greet each person. The warmth you will receive back will stay with you for a long time. Also try not to compare everything to what you are used to…allow your perspective to expand beyond what you already know. The remote villagers may seem poor compared to western standards of living, but the mental and physical health that is cultivated by their lifestyle is something we can all learn from.

Shopping in India's Himalayan outback.
Shopping in India’s Himalayan outback.

What is one strategy that has helped your business to grow?

Rural Tourism Marketing. Identifying and understanding ‘our perfect customers’ and knowing their fears and desires – and designing our Himalayan adventures to meet their needs. By doing this, we attract customers that fit our expectations and vice versa. Happy guests become repeat guests, and offer positive reviews to others.

What is one personal habit that has helped you to be successful?

Listening to my wife.

Please share one instance where a guest had a moving or emotional reaction to the experience you provided to them.

We hosted a group of anglers and hikers. Typically an angler will not give up one minute of river time on a trip, but the fishing had already been great on this trip, so some anglers decided to take a morning off and join the hikers for a fun day in the village. It was just before Diwali, India’s Festival of Lights, so we took with us a fun activity for the guests and villagers to do together. First we sang songs together. One from the locals in their local language, and then one for our guests in English. It was great fun! Next we gathered together to paint small clay oil lamps that are lit on the night of Diwali. Guests paired up with local children and adults to paint their oil lamps, and then exchanged lamps with one another, so that when they were lit on Diwali night they would remember each other. I specifically remember one of the most avid anglers being blown away by the connections and new perspectives he had at the end of that day. He even claimed it was almost better than catching his biggest fish! That is saying a lot for an obsessed angler!

Connect:

himalayanoutback.com
Misty on Twitter: twitter.com/mistydhillon
Misty on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/misty-dhillon-0b5b5013
The Himalayan Outback on Instagram: instagram.com/thehimalayanoutback
The Himalayan Outback on Facebook: facebook.com/The-Himalayan-Outback-110277282383609

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