T+L A list

Mandip Singh Soin

Founder & MD, Ibex Expeditions; Founding President, Responsible Tourism Society of India

As a young history graduate from Delhi University, Mandip Singh Soin took a leap of faith by following his passion for the outdoors. Over 40 years later, he’s the man behind India’s premier adventure travel company—and a vocal advocate of responsible travel. By Rashima Nagpal

For Mandip Singh Soin, responsible travel means to travel with a sense of empathy and to have a heightened sense of the place through the experience, while treading lightly. The founding president of Responsible Tourism Society of India (founded as Ecotourism Society of India in 2008) says his goal is to make India a sustainable tourism destination and to “ensure [that] tourism is a giver and a tool for conservation so that destinations are beneficiaries.” He intends to do this through industry action and government policy, and by advocating a set of guidelines for being a responsible traveller.

Soin’s passion for travel goes back to his teenage days, when he began participating in climbing expeditions. He has a long series of achievements under his belt, including a month-long Trans Himalayan trekking expedition in 1975; a 1,500-kilometre French cycling expedition from Delhi to Kathmandu, via Pokhara, over three weeks in December 1981; and several first ascents around the world. “My mantra is to be where I am not,” he says.

Soin has travelled to over 45 countries across the seven continents, but certain places have left an indelible impression on him. “The remote and dramatic landscape of the Antarctic, with whales and seals and penguins, makes it a blessing for whoever visits this last frontier of the planet,” he says. Closer home, the Himalayas are his favourite. “Ladakh and Zanskar are dramatic landscapes that take your breath away, sometimes literally due to the height! And the Kumaon, where we have a hill home, is where the heart is. Its lush, mixed forests and the sweep of Himalayan giants like Nanda Devi was [once] my stamping ground.”

No matter what the destination, Soin likes to pack in some diversity of terrain and activities. “I believe I am fairly versatile. I could have a good night’s sleep in a tent or a palace hotel,” he quips. After all these years, however, the adventure- enthusiast is not hung up on hard physical journeys and has eased himself into slow experiences such as a laid-back river cruise or wildlife safari. Next on his list is Papua New Guinea, for its amazing tribes and forests. With his expertise in adventure tourism and his ethos of a conscious traveller, this A-List member promises to make your 2022 journeys both thrilling and responsible.