India’s incredible landmass naturally lends itself to a wide variety of things to do, some of which are not for the faint-hearted. Hiking and cycling require good fitness, while paragliding demands fearlessness. Less strenuous activities such as cruising the Kerala Backwaters are suitable for everyone and offer one of the most unique experiences in India. Of course, no visit to the country would be complete without a nod to the sacred elephants and tigers that help make the place special at one of the many nature reserves, such as Corbett National Park. And of course, the postcard perfect shot of the Taj Mahal.

Goa state puts India on the map for beaches, where visitors can swim, sunbathe or snorkel. Incredible India offers full packages to explore Colva and Palolem. Alternatively, the Madras coast of Kerala enjoys the distinction of being the cleanest in India with stunning waters and sands which can be accessed through trips arranged by Kerala Greenery.

The cooler climate, waterfalls, forests and hill stations in the province of Tamil Nadu are great for hiking. Kodaikanal has plenty of resorts such as Country Club India Kodaikanal Resort, which offer guided treks. The Leh district in the Himalayan mountain area of Ladakh is another popular spot that companies such as Dreamland Trek and Tour can take you around using local experts.

The Kerala Backwaters in the south are often described as “the Bayou of India” and are best seen by boat-cruise. A network of interconnected lakes, rivers and canals, the combined waterways stretch half the length of the state. The traditional way to explore is by kettuvallam, a long thatched houseboat. Day trips can be organized through Viator, while Kerala Holidays offers full houseboat tours of the region.

Elephant trekking is one of India’s most special activities. Visitors to Jaipur can take a Dera Amer Elephant Camp trek to see the Amber fort. Real enthusiasts can head to Uttarakhand state where Ecoindia offer five-day elephant rides through the Corbett National Park.

Cycling is an eco-friendly way to see the real India, with Art of Bicycle organizing one-day, multi-day and bespoke tours to explore Bangalore, Kerala, Rajasthan, Sikkim, or Tamil Nadu. Ecosphere Spiti is a not-for-profit organization based in Kaza in the Spiti Valley, offering cycling tours of Himachal Pradesh state, mountain bike rental and trail information.

Paragliding is an exciting way to get a bird’s eye view of India, with the Kullu Valley in Himachal Pradesh state and Kamshet in Maharashtra being two of the best places to take to the skies. Nirvana Adventures has a school that provides full instruction, while Indus Paragliding offers tandem flights to allow visitors to soar with a trained professional.

India’s pockets of wild cats attract many visitors to tiger tours each year. The Sariska Tiger Reserve in the Alwar district of Rajasthan is a good place to start, as are the tiger reserves in Pench and Kanha, which inspired The Jungle Book. On the Go offers 10-15 day trips, which take in tiger hotspots such as Pench, Bharatpur, Bandhavgarh, Kanha, and Ranthambhore National Parks.