Flying Fox is the dream creation of Jono Walter, and Englishman who fell in love with India and who has established the first heritage adventure zip lines in Asia – soaring above Neemrana Fort, the Blue City of Jodhpur, the River Ganges in Rishikesh and the forests of Kikar in the Punjab, Flying Fox brought truly unique adventure tourism to India.
Here are his 15 Questions in 5 Minutes:
- Who you are (naturally!)
Jono Walter – Founder & MD of Flying Fox
- What inspired you to create your business?
A desire to enable people to experience something they never thought possible and to enjoy a view they never imagined seeing
- An anecdote which epitomizes your India?
My friendship with Aman Nath, creator of India’s first heritage hotel at Neemrana. While my wife and I were on our honeymoon in the foothills of Himalayas, he heard we were staying in the Writers Cottage in Ramgarh, above Nainital. Despite having never met us before, he invited us to tea on the veranda of his tea-planter’s bungalow, with sweeping views of the Kumaon hills, where we talked about everything from Rajput architecture to reincarnation. A decade later, when I was looking for a location to create India’s first ever zip line tour, I mentioned it to Aman and he was instantly open to the idea. He asked me what I wanted to do. I replied – “Aman, I want to fly you over your fort like a vulture”. “No, no”, he replied, “I don’t want to fly like a vulture, I want to fly like a god!” And so, Flying Fox was born.
- One thing that you can’t live without?
The promise of another adventure around the corner
- One thing that you hate?
People who tell me I can’t do something!
- If you could change one thing about India what would it be?
The air pollution in India’s cities – it’s choking people to death. The good news is that it can be done – the switch to CNG taxis and rickshaws in 2000 made a huge difference in Delhi. But the federal government needs to work with the states and NCR to make it happen as a top priority
- Who is your greatest inspiration?
I have many heroes – they include British mountaineers Eric Shipton and Bill Tilman who pioneered Himalayan exploration in the 1930s, fueled by apple brandy and a sense of adventure. The Dalai Lama – who fled the ransacking of his homeland and heritage without bitterness and whose incredible capacity for happiness and compassion is something we can all be inspired by.
- What is your favourite quote?
“He who binds himself to a joy
Doth the wing-ed life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies,
Lives in eternity’s sunrise”
- I have noticed huge changes in India over the last few years but what is the biggest change you have noticed in India over the last 10 years?
No more cows or Ambassadors on the streets of Delhi 🙁
Incredible progress in some cities – e.g. the Metro in Delhi – but no progress in more rural areas
- What do you think are the biggest challenges India faces over the next ten years?
To share the fruits of progress more equitably across all of India’s states and peoples
To tackle air pollution in India’s cities and make them healthy places where people want to live and work
- Which is the destination at the top of your bucket list?
The Sanctuary of Nanda Devi, in the Garhwal Himalaya – a high-altitude haven for the Himalayan blue sheep surrounded by 20,000 foot walls, currently closed to all travelers
- What is the one place you visited that you have NO desire to return to?
The Ministry of Home Affairs – in 2006 it took me 20 visits and the intervention of a retired Indian special forces Colonel to get my employment visa extended…At one point, when I was asking the Colonel why it was taking so long, why we had to return for the 17th time, why everyone in the ministry seemed to be asleep, he said simply: “Jono, the more questions you ask, the more lies you will hear”. Anyone who complains today about the FRRO has no idea how lucky they are!
- Book or Movie?
- Just for fun! I am doing a survey to find India’s most popular breakfast, what is yours?
A small glass of sweet, milky chai and a hot, crispy aloo paratha with a large slab of melting butter at a roadside shack in Punjab, watching the world go by
- In retrospect, what is the one thing you wish you could have told your 20 year-old self?
“Settle down young man and find yourself a steady career” (only joking…!). Honestly, I have no regrets about the decisions I took when I was 20. I wouldn’t be having the fun I am today if I’d followed the careers advice!
Book your zip adventure with Flying Fox on their website