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About Blazing Trails

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Blazing Experience

The Blazing Trails team has been running motorcycle tours continuously since 1999. Thus, our hugely experienced staff are well able to take care of all planning and logistics, leaving you to get on with enjoying the bike and the many wonders our destinations have to offer. We believe that in terms of everything from safety provision, through machinery, to accommodation, our local knowledge allows us to provide the best motorcycling experiences. Our tours are largely designed to cater for riders of all abilities looking to make something extra-special of their traditional two-week break. We know how important the time is to you, so we don't skimp on organisational detail. Whatever tour you choose, we'll take care of all transport and accommodation while you're on tour, and then whisk you safely back to the airport for your trip home - simple as that.

 


Blazing Safety

At BT we put a high emphasis on safety. So far as we know we are the only tour company that takes a fully-kitted medic (currently qualified to EU standards) on every Asian tour. Our Indian emergency equipment includes ample oxygen, neck brace and backboard – we have everything in house to stabilise and evacuate a casualty, or simply to deal with squits, headaches or cuts and grazes. In the Himalaya, all tours are also backed-up by a support vehicle carrying our medic, to ensure that any casualty is dealt with promptly, which is especially important when operating at altitude.  Serious accidents are extremely rare, but better safe than tragically sorry...

 

 


 

Blazing Staff

We are not a hit-and-run operation. Although we provide our tours through the financial security of our UK-registered company, we live in India and South Africa for most of the year, with bases in both countries. Our key workers are emplyed on good salaries, with paid holidays, and provid with a good standard of accommodation. This engenders the two-way trust and respect that allows us to work as a team – essential in dealing with the trials and tribulations that life on the Indian trail can throw up. On African tours, Suzie and Damon will be running them.

 

Suzie I'Anson (nee Lumsden)

Blazing Trails was set up by Suzie Lumsden, now I'Anson, who still runs operations along with husband Damon. Having first travelled to the Subcontinent in 1989, she bought an Enfield 350 Bullet, taught herself to ride in Delhi, and went on to cover some 35,000km of India. A decade later Suzie became involved in the Enfield Challenge, a huge charity operation in southern India, as a guide/outrider on an event with some 150 bike-mounted participants. Her experiences in 1999 led her to resign from her job in London move to India and set up Blazing Trails later the same year. After many years in the saddle, Suzie is quite some Enfield rider and still leads the majority of tours. Working as an official on the Raid-de-Himalaya has extended both Suzie's knowledge of the area and her network of useful contacts. As well as her native English, Suzie speaks good Hindi, French, some Spanish, Italian and swears profusely in Greek.

 

Damon I'Anson

Has been working with bikes since he was 17, first as a despatcher, then mechanic, before entering bike journalism in 1995 at the launch of RiDE magazine. Over the next six years, Damon became deputy editor of RiDE, road test editor of Bike and editor of Performance Bikes. In 2002, Damon went freelance specialising in adventure touring. He has ridden in Thailand, Australia, South Africa, Costa Rica, the US, Sri Lanka and most of Europe. In 2005 Damon did a 16,000km 'lap' of India on an indigenous 150cc bike and the following year returned on a Yamaha XT660R to claim a bike World Altitude record (18,743ft). Also in 2006, Damon entered and won the Raid-de-Himalaya (on which he later officiated), before touring Nepal for several months. Damon speaks his native Cockernese, terrible Thai, hideous Hindi, touring French and still writes a few words for the UK press from time to time.

 

Ahmed Jamal

Or simply 'Jamal' to most people, is our chief mechanic. Already with some considerable working knowledge of the Royal Enfield motorcycle, Jamal joined Blazing Trails in 2000 and has been twirling the spanners on the team full-time ever since. Jamal maintains our Indian bike fleet with great care and follows tours, dealing with any roadside problems. He has also been known to take a bike down to the crank and reassemble it overnight when called upon. In many years of dealing with Britishers, Jamal has acquired considerable skills in the art of sarcasm and can out-swear a sailor if the situation calls for it – like when someone thrashes the hell out of one of 'his' bikes. Otherwise, he is as gentle and polite as the day is long. Originally from Sultanpur, near Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, Jamal is versed in the Urdu language and, of course, Hindi. His English is good, though smattered with accent-packed bike-isms.

 

adam lewis

adam  2896Joined us in 2012, following a six-year, 300,000km, round-the-world motorcycle journey (www.shortwayround.co.uk). In subsequent years he has spent six months riding from England to faraway Magadan (remotest Russia)....and back! Along the way he became the first person to ride the entire length of Tajikistan's Bartang Valley. Returning home just long enough to procure an Indian visa, he returned to Blazing Trails in the autumn of 2013 and has led our India and Nepal tours since. In 2014 Adam become the first foreigner to ride solo into North Sikkim while mapping out our Darjeeling and Sikkim Tour. Away from Blazing Trails our 'pocket rocket' struggles to sit still. A keen mountain biker, bikepacker and photographer, Adam is eternally plotting new motorcycle adventures. Known for his lack of hair, he can be bribed with red wine, port, Doombar, cured meats and plain chocolate Hob Nobs.

 

kate oliver

KateIs known among the Blazing team as 'The Chaser.' Kate joined Blazing Trails in 2016 and has since cloocked-up over 15,000km through India and Nepal as a guide for the company. In her spare time she enjoys her own adventures, which have included cycling solo through South East Asia and riding the old Dakar Rally route through Morocco on her Suzuki. In 2016 Kate graduated with a Masters in Creative writing from Oxford University and is always keen to talk about poetry. Her other passions are mountain biking, bikepacking, photography, sea fishing, swimming, cooking, drinking red wine and eating good cheeses. Possessed of spring-loaded hair, Kate's emergence from a helmet is an event in itself.

 

Jaras Muscaria

200Also known as 'Billi'. Billi is Hindi for cat, an animal after which our Lithuanian programmer bears very great resemblance in manner (though if we were to be correct by gender in Hindi this tom would be a 'Billa'). Billi, a curious sub-species of interweb-feline, is the geezer responsible for this website and making it all tick. He also designed our real-time internet booking system, which took some nouse – and please don't blame him if you are struggling to pay via Paypal, as it's not our fault. Billi is now not full time in India, but wanders Europe in purr-suit of the purr-fect mate. He is, though, still a regular visitor to India and sometimes outrides on tours. Yet another of our cunning linguists, Billi speaks and writes in Lithuanian, Russian, Polish, English, Spanish and some Hindi.

 

 


Blazing Legalities

Any company supplying any two elements of a tour or holiday (in our instance transport and accommodation) is classed as an 'organiser'. As such, we are bound by law to be 'bonded' – insured so that if we as a company went bust, any money you had paid for a future trip would be returned to you. Any EU company taking money for trips like ours without the appropriate bonding is acting illegally. Likewise, companies offering tours should have appropriate liability insurance so that they can pay out should a claim for damages due to negligence be made against them. Any company running tours with any flight element must hold an Air Transport Operator's Licence (ATOL)... as we do.

  


Blazing care

There are other legitimate companies offering tours such as ours that you may like to consider travelling with, but there are also many operating in India on a purely cowboy basis. Every year new outfits show up with websites featuring copied itineraries... and many of these soon vanish. Often they have underestimated the difficulties of operating in India and have neither the staff, nor the contacts and experience to deal with a crisis on the road. With these matters in mind, it would be folly not to ascertain the operator's status on the matters outlined below before making a booking...

 

 

Experience

Who exactly is going to be leading your tour and what experience of the areas through which you will be travelling do they have? We met groups in the high Himalaya who were being 'led' by people who had never even been on the Manali-Leh route before! When one of their clients had an altitude problem, they had neither oxygen, nor any idea in which direction to evacuate them. 

Medical matters

Will there be a real medic travelling with you and what equipment will they be carrying? Do they have a vehicle to evacuate you if you're hurt?

Numbers

How many people are likely to be on a trip and what is the staff/client ratio? How many people will there be to a room?

Bikes

What happens if you crash and damage the bike? At Blazing Trails, we take care of all that at no extra cost – unless you've been repeatedly warned to take it easy. Unlike some other outfits, we do not charge for any mechanical repairs.  

Legitimacy

Is the company with which you are booking bonded and insured? If not, you may have great difficulty getting back any deposits you've paid if your tour is cancelled. If a company is asking for a cash balance on arrival in India, it is highly likely they are operating illegally, either because they are not insured, or/and are avoiding paying tax. There is also the chance that there may be nobody there to meet you when you turn up in India with a pocket full of cash and nowhere to go!

 

 

Facebook Reviews

I did the shimla to leg trip in July , great trip fantastic scenery,great group of people. The trip at times was hard going and made you wonder why you were doing this , great feeling of achievement at the end. Adam and Kate, Ian the medic, Jamal and Javed were all very helpful. Did not think I would like to go back to India but looking back now I most certainly would. Trip of a lifetime. There were a few issues with the management side of blazing trails which I am sure will sort themselves out, contact was more than a little haphazard .
Dean Mitchell
Dean Mitchell
2018-08-26T08:45:59+0000
Had a fantastic time during through Himachal Pradesh in June 2018 - beautiful scenery, fantastic tour guides Kate and Adam, an excellent medic Ian, wonderful mechanics Javad and Jamal and bus driver extrodinare Sanjev. Highly recommend - the bikes were great and there is nothing like a giant flock of sheep traffic jam on an India road!
An Na
An Na
2018-07-31T19:36:57+0000
I would like to thank all who ran the blazing trails tour to Spiti valley June 9th to 23rd,enjoyed every moment despite my limitations and the company of all who travelled with me.I am unsure where to go next!.
Paul Howden
Paul Howden
2018-07-26T14:20:36+0000
Just finished the Spiti valley tour. Absolutely fantastic. The Blazing Trail team really looked after us. If you enjoy motorcycling Adam and Kate really go out of there way to give you an interesting and challenging ride. The rest of the team Javed Jameel sajad and Ian (medic) are all gr8 As well.
John Mauger
John Mauger
2018-06-22T04:25:17+0000
Just back from the Lesotho Tour. In my opinion, Lesotho has the best roads I have ever ridden. Race track quality roads with epic views that last for hours. Very little other traffic, no police or speed cameras in the highlands. Lesotho has the epic mountain and Canyon scenery, South Africa has the beautiful coast and grand desert views. The dirt road sections (especially Sani Pass) were also superb. You need to do Sani Pass before they tarmac it. The wildlife is impressive although this tour is not aimed at this. The accommodation was all excellent, really plush for a Blazing Trails Adventure. We used the Suzuki DL650 Vstroms, which were brilliant little bikes. The most comfortable bike I have ever ridden. They are lively enough on the twisty stuff and surprisingly grippy on the dirt. I was wary of visiting South Africa after listening to all the media stories about crime and mugging etc. but we did not experience anything even slightly threatening, quite the opposite. Thanks to Suzie (for putting up with my complicated plans), Damon for leading the tour and sorting out the extra activities before the tour and Doug the support driver. In summary, Lesotho is a hidden gem, go there before it gets busy. P.S. The exchange rate is good, so everything is relatively cheap. R. J Evans, Suffolk.
Robert 'Rab' Evans
Robert 'Rab' Evans
2017-11-01T10:03:10+0000
Just got back from the Leh to Manali tour. It was genuinely one of the best trips I have ever done. The scenery was unbelievable and the riding was absolutely brilliant. Mile after mile of perfect winding mountain roads, broken up by sections of gravel, sand and river crossings. The Enfield coped surprisingly well with everything I threw at it and never missed a beat. The riding was pretty challenging at times, as was the effect of the altitude, but that just made it all the more rewarding. The guides and support crew were awesome. Considering how remote the locations were and how unreliable the Indian roads could be everything ran pretty much according to plan. The few small problems we had were sorted out with minimal fuss. The accommodation was sometimes basic but comfortable enough and the food was generally good if not a little monotonous at times (lots of dhal). The local people were incredibly friendly and helpful. I could not recommend this trip more to anyone who fancies a bit of a challenge.
Graham Matthew
Graham Matthew
2017-08-16T19:53:03+0000
We did the Spiti valley tour in June. It was out of this world. Everyday was a new adventure. I have withdrawal symptoms & want to do it all again. Love the old Enfield, perfect for the challenge! Met some great people, stayed in some amazing places. Thanks Kate, Adam & gang �
Maria Whitehead
Maria Whitehead
2017-07-08T18:25:37+0000
Just finished the Shimla to Leh tour and thought it was awesome! Adam, Kate, Kris & Jamel & the boys made it a great couple of weeks. Totally recommended.... Challenging, tiring, but ultimately excellent :) Thanks all Wayne
Wayne Morris
Wayne Morris
2017-07-07T15:45:57+0000
Hard to describe how good the riding is in Lesotho. Day after day of the best bends through the mountains on good tarmac with a few bits of dirt thrown in. The friendly company and laid back but effective Blazing Trails organisation make for a great riding holiday with a touch of adventure. The incredibly friendly locals just add to the experience. Its my 6th trip with the company, which I suppose gives an indication that I would advise anyone looking for a trip with a bit of a challenge to give them a try.
Tony Lawson
Tony Lawson
2017-04-19T18:02:38+0000
Lesotho incredible. I am privileged to have done this. Cheers Damon
Richard Williams
Richard Williams
2017-04-18T12:17:27+0000
Great Adventure. Damon L’Anson has a lifetimes experience as a mechanic, journalist and adventure tour operator which he uses to arrange and lead an exceptional motorcycle travel experience. Having been awed by my trip to The Himalayas with Blazing Trails in 2009 I had every confidence in booking this trip for a new experience in The Cape of South Africa. I was not disappointed. As is the custom, you meet your fellow travellers at the boarding gate at Heathrow. Each of us, recognisable by our peculiar attire. This was a small group of reasonably diverse individuals drawn together through a common purpose to travel a new corner of the world by motorcycle. Damon’s based himself in this particular corner to take advantage of, long empty fast roads, spectacular scenery and wide open spaces traversed by well maintained gravel highways. He does his research. He finds the best roads and some quirky tea stops. It appears that excellent value food and drink is not in short supply in South Africa. The climate in The Cape is pitch perfect. The wall of warm cuddly air that wrapped around me as I stepped off the plane at George kept me company for the whole trip. A nice feeling when it’s February and you come from The UK. So the Suzuki Vstrom 650 cc was all I needed. The company was cheerful friendly and entertaining. The riding and scenery was uplifting. The overnight accommodation was always comfortable and, in some cases, added an extra degree of authenticity to this adventure. Many Thanks to Blazing Trails for providing me with another memorable and thoroughly enjoyable holiday. Peter Cawthorne
Peter Cawthorne
Peter Cawthorne
2017-02-21T21:44:37+0000
Did the Manali to Leh tour back in 2012, SUPERB, had a wonderful trip, I have been around the same areas before with two other groups, one was 'bitty' and the other was far to 'regimented', and became an Endurance race towards the end. But Blazing Trails was a finely tuned tour, not too excessive on its mileage so as to stop and smell the roses (amongst other smells), and hear the countryside, a well thought out route, allowing a day here and there to see more of an area and take in local culture, And the hosts and backup crew are perfect, so they don't need to change a thing in the way they operate, If fortune smiles on me again to venture out on another adventure tour then I know who i'll be travelling with....BLAZING TRAILS. Cheers Guys, and Gals. Damon, Suzie, Adam, Jamal, Ramji, and Doc 'good bacteria'.
Robert McNeil
Robert McNeil
2014-11-07T13:15:01+0000
We did the nepal tour in November and it is the best trip i have ever been on, the guides and support team were brilliant and we met a great bunch of people from all walks of life that we are still in contact with. To top our trip off me and my partner got engaged whilst in Nepal and are now looking to book another trip with bazing trails after we have paid for the wedding. Would absolutely reccomend this to anyone who wants to ride in these countries as it is the best way to view it and the team really put in a lot of effort to make it an amazing experience. Thanks blazing trails, until next time.
Sean Cunningham
Sean Cunningham
2014-06-18T14:08:09+0000
Been on four tours with Suzie and Damon now - Kerala twice, Nepal and Himachal Pradesh. I admit to being a bit dubious before the first one but when I got there I was bowled over by the experience and all my fears proved groundless. The old Bullets are a joy, the scenery,the people, the food and the riding are exquisite. The excellent Blazing Trails team are the icing on the cake and the unexpected benefit is that I've make great and lasting friendships during the tours. There are only two things to beware - that you may suffer terminal bliss and if you don't you'll be drawn back to India again and again! Must dash now as I've started to prepare for my fifth Blazing Trails tour - South Africa this time - but that's another story.....
Geoffrey Evans
Geoffrey Evans
2014-03-28T10:35:36+0000
Had the absolute best two weeks of my life on a tour of Himalach Pradesh with Suzie, Damon and their brilliant crew. Great mix of hotels/eateries, bikes great fun (um, still embarrassed about breaking 'my' beautiful Enfield. Incredible roads (Rohtan Pass). Totally recommend to anyone who loves fun. Really looking forward to joining them again. Thank you!
Steve Mortimer
Steve Mortimer
2014-03-27T20:19:58+0000