Classic Tibet

11 Days from $4,405

START: Kathmandu

FINISH: Kathmandu

AGES: 15 - 99

THEME: Explorer

Overviewicon readmoreicon minus

Description

Beginning in the compact capital of Kathmandu, embark on a fulfilling expedition to the mystical lands of Tibet. This 11-day journey will take you through the mountainous passes, past stunning lakes, and into spiritual communities enriched and enlightened by Buddhism. Take a day trip from Kathmandu to explore Nepal’s natural side, explore Tibet’s wondrous capital of Lhasa to be awed by the imposing Potala Palace, and venture high into the hills to Shigatse, notably for the Tashilhunpo Monastery. This peaceful small group trip has adventure written all over it.

Start: Kathmandu

Finish: Kathmandu

Ages: 15 - 99

Theme: Explorer

Accommodation: Hotel (10 nights)

Destination: Kathmandu

Highlights

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Flanked by the majestic Himalayan Mountains, Kathmandu is nothing short of a legendary destination. Its bustling alleyways are filled with monks, incense, goats and sacred cows, and its temples steeped in symbolism.
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With knowledgeable local guides and others to look after the finer details, it has never been easier to make the journey into the far-fetched and mystical land of Tibet.
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In Lhasa, discover the dazzling former home of the Dalai Lama and the enchanting atmosphere of the pilgrim-filled Jokhang Temple – the holiest in the Tibetan Buddhist world.
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Each leg of a Tibetan road trip seems more incredible than the last. Climb stunning passes, drive along the sides of misty mountains, and take in jaw-dropping views of skies and shimmering lakes.
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Accompany devoted pilgrims on their kora (prayer circuit), spinning prayer wheels on a clockwise walk around the perimeter of the vast Tashilhunpo Monastery.

Itineraryicon readmoreicon minus

icon check Day 1 : Kathmandu

Namaste! Welcome to Nepal. Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 2 pm. This group meeting will be longer than your normal Intrepid meeting as there are a fair bit of paperwork to go through for the visa application, including a six-page form to fill out. Then, your group leader will take you to take the photos needed for the visa application (5 USD per person) to make sure all the photos submitted are in line with the embassy requirement. After all the formalities are out of the way, head out in the evening with your leader for a welcome dinner to try some delicious Nepalese cuisine.

icon check Day 2 : Kathmandu

This morning, our local representative will take all the necessary documents to the Chinese embassy and submit them for the group visa application. In the meantime, you’ll need to be ready to be called into the embassy for any further enquiries about the group visa, so your tour leader will take you for short walks near the hotel in case an urgent embassy visit is required. It is, however, possible for you to take an optional visit to the nearby monkey temple. After 2pm when the embassy procedures are finished, your tour leader will take you on a walking tour (approximately 2.5 hours) to explore the excitement and allure hidden in the lanes and alleys of Kathmandu. Step out into the streets of Kathmandu, whose mixture of ancient architecture and modern development, and rich artistic and cultural heritage, means it remains the legendary destination it has been for decades. Crowded markets and bazaars are the centre of Nepali life and the narrow streets are home to holy men, monks, bicycles, incense, goats and sacred cows.

icon check Day 3 : Bhaktapur - Changu Narayan - Kathmandu

Today, leave Kathmandu old town in the morning on a private bus to visit one of the Nepal’s most renowned ancient towns – Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur was one of the three royal cities in Kathmandu valley, and remains a living museum with stunning architecture and art, rich history and fascinating religion of Buddhism and Hinduism. Take a stroll with your leader through the zigzagging alleys and learn about the stories of the kings and the saints of the past, interact with locals and admire the intricate wood carvings and pottery making. Continue on to Changu Narayan – a hidden gem in Kathmandu’s religious scene, being one of the oldest Hindu temples in the region. Enjoy some time of tranquillity and nature here before heading back to the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu.

icon check Day 4 : Lhasa (3656m)

Fly to Tibet's capital, Lhasa (approximately 2 hours). Colourful and historic, the holy city of Lhasa is situated in a small valley. Unknown to the outside world for years, even the most adventurous and hardy of explorers rarely reached the city without being turned away, either by the treacherous terrain or the fierce warrior monks that protected Tibetan territory from intruders. Nowadays it welcomes tourists, but remains an enchanting city, steeped in culture and mythology.

icon check Day 5 : Lhasa

This morning, take it easy to adjust to the altitude. At noon, take a cooking class and learn the fine art of preparing momo – traditional Tibetan dumplings – for lunch. Though the dish appears in neighbouring countries Nepal and Bhutan, it’s believed to originate in Tibet. In the afternoon, you’ll visit Sera Monastery where the fascinating Buddhism debate takes place between the Tibetan monks. You won't understand a thing that they are debating about, but it's pure joy to see how they heatedly discuss the philosophies in quite an exaggerated way.

icon check Day 6 : Lhasa

In the morning, visit the Potala Palace – the former home of the Dalai Lama that’s perched 130 metres above the city. The palace is divided into two parts, the White Palace (secular and used as offices and the like) and the Red Palace (home to chapels, shrines, and tombs of Dalai Lamas). This incredible structure is a feat of architecture for this small kingdom. Afterwards, visit Jokhang Temple, considered the spiritual heart and most sacred temple of Tibet. It always attracts a steady wave of pilgrims. Spend some time exploring this six-acre World-Heritage listed site and learn a thing or two about its history. According to legend, the temple was built on top of a lake after many failed attempts to build monasteries in other nearby locations. Feast your eyes on golden Buddha which stands in the centre. If you still feel energetic enough, perhaps join the pilgrims walk around the Barkhor street or around the Potala Palace, both of which are considered sacred koras by the Tibetan Buddhists.

icon check Day 7 : Shigatse (3890m)

Leave Lhasa in the morning and take a private transfer to Shigatse (approximately 6 hours). Though it's a long day of driving, the scenery along the way is spectacular, so sit back, relax and enjoy it. There will be stops for lunch and to take in the stunning mountainous scenery. Shigatse is home to the massive Tashilhunpo Monastery, traditionally the seat of the Panchen Lama. On arrival in the afternoon, your group leader will take you on a short walking tour and visit the local market which has all kinds of Tibetan souvenirs to offer. The Shigatse Tibetan market is also an ideal opportunity to purchase a chuba – a traditional Tibetan-style cloak.

icon check Day 8 : Shigatse

This morning, visit the Tashilhunpo Monastery, where your leader will take you on a tour through the buildings, each with their own intricate decorations, legends and religious imagery. If you’d like, you can ask for directions to the tranquil Chapel of Jampa and meditate on the world's largest gilded statue. The courtyard outside of the Kelsang Chapel is one of the best places to observe the pilgrims and monks prepare for ceremonies. Be welcomed to our hospitable Tibetan family in town and learn all about their life and tradition in this special part of the world over some yak butter tea and Tibetan style snacks. In the evening, join the pilgrims on their kora by spinning prayer wheels as you walk around the perimeter of the monastery and take in the lovely views and atmosphere.

icon check Day 9 : Lhasa

Journey back to Lhasa (approximately 6 hours). Grasp your last bit of time in this scared city for some more shopping, or just to do some people watching, which is fascinating due to the public displays of devotion and spirituality from the locals. You could also head to Barkhor street for local souvenirs. This evening, why not find a restaurant with a view of the illuminated Potala Palace for dinner with your fellow travellers – your group leader will know of some good spots.

icon check Day 10 : Kathmandu

This morning, say goodbye to your Tibetan leader and take a flight back to Kathmandu (approximately 1.5 hours). Your Nepal leader will greet you at the airport and get ready to dive back in the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu again. Maybe enjoy a final dinner with your group together – boasting a delicious array of international and local cuisine, Kathmandu is lovely place to dine, especially with your small group.

icon check Day 11 : Kathmandu

There are no activities planned today, and you are free to depart the hotel at any time before the 12 noon check out. If you are departing later, luggage storage can be arranged at the hotel.

What's Included?icon readmoreicon minus

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Meals

10 Breakfasts, 1 Dinner
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Transport

Plane, Private Bus, Public Bus
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Accommodation

Hotel (10 nights)
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Included Activities

  • Shigatse - Tibetan family visit

Important Detailsicon readmoreicon minus

icon readmoreicon minusJoining Point

Hotel Manaslu

Lazimpat

Kathmandu

NEPAL

icon readmoreicon minusFinishing Point

Hotel Manaslu

Lazimpat

Kathmandu

NEPAL

icon readmoreicon minusPhysical preparation

Much of your journey will be at high altitude (ie. above 3000m) so it's important that you are aware of the risks and affects of travelling in this region. Please ensure you familiarise yourself with the signs and symptoms of AMS before you travel, and seek advice from your doctor on any health concerns that may be affected by travel at altitude. As we are travelling in remote areas with very limited or basic medical facilities, it's important that all travellers are in excellent health before joining this trip. 

icon readmoreicon minusImportant information

1. Please do not obtain a Chinese visa in advance. As we must enter on a Group Visa when crossing into Tibet from Nepal, any other valid Chinese visa in your passport will be cancelled.

2. In order for us to apply for your Tibet entry permit you must provide a scanned, colour copy of the personal details page of your passport to your booking agent no later than 40 days prior to the start date of your trip. You will also need to advise us of your current profession at this time.

3. Your tour leader will lead your through the visa application formalities on Day 1 including arranging for passport photos to be taken for your visa. Please see itinerary Day 1 for details.

4. Please be aware that in recent years there have been times when restrictions on nationalities being able to travel on specific departures have been implemented or Tibet has been closed to foreign tourists without warning.

5. Due to the demands of travelling at high altitudes a Passenger Self Assessment Form is required for this trip.

6. All clients will be entering Tibet on a Group Permit arranged by Intrepid Travel and as such it's not possible for anyone to leave the group and remain in Tibet or continue to travel in China individually. All travellers must enter and leave Tibet with the group. 

7. It's a criminal offence for anyone to carry images of the Dalai Lama or the Tibetan flag - doing so may lead to confiscation of the items, detention, arrest or imprisonment by Chinese authorities. We strongly advise travellers against carrying these items at any time in or into China.

8. A Single Supplement is bookable to purchase on this trip for all nights, subject to availability.

9. Please note while traveling in China you will not be able to access some popular websites, particularly social media or news sites.

10. You will have different tour leaders in Nepal and in Tibet. The flight and immigration procedures between Kathmandu and Lhasa will be unaccompanied.

11. The two internal international flights on this itinerary between Lhasa and Kathmandu are included in the trip price.

12. The luggage limit for the included flights is 23kg for check in luggage, 7kg for carry on.

13. This trip starts with a Welcome Meeting on Day 1 at 2pm.

icon readmoreicon minusGroup leader

All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

icon readmoreicon minusSafety

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/safety-field

STRIKES: Demonstrations and protests are common in Nepal, with strikes regularly occurring that may result in curfews or roadblocks being enforced at short notice. At these times, businesses may close and vehicles may not be allowed on the roads. You should avoid any demonstrations or political gatherings and follow local advice, including that of your leader in the event of any disruptions. PETTY THEFT & CRIME: Pickpocketing and other petty theft is common, especially in places where tourists or foreigners frequent. Take care when walking around at night. Avoid walking on your own and don’t carry large sums of cash. Keep valuables in a hotel safe if possible. Bars and restaurants now close at midnight as part of a government crackdown on illegal activities. Foreigners remaining in bars and clubs after hours have been detained by the police. Police have increased their presence in Thamel and Durbar Marg, popular tourist districts in Kathmandu, in an effort to reduce crime in these areas. You should seek out police if you have been robbed or affected by any crime. ALTITUDE: Altitude sickness is a risk, including on the Annapurna, Langtang and Everest Base Camp treks. Please make sure you familiarise yourself with signs and symptoms before you depart and monitor your own health during your trek. INSURANCE: Make sure your insurance covers you for your intended activities, including travel and trekking above 3000m if this is included on your itinerary, mountain rescue services and helicopter evacuation costs. FESTIVALS: Travelling in Nepal during Holi Festival (1-2 March 2018, 20-21 March 2019, 9-10 March 2020), can at times be dangerous due to revellers consuming intoxicating substances. The day is often associated with physical violence and danger. Your leader will advise you and your group on what places to avoid on this day and it may even be necessary for us to alter your itinerary for the day to avoid putting you or your group leader in high risk situation. Travelling during the Hindu festival Diwali (7 November 2018, 27 October 2019, 14 November 2020) can also be dangerous. During this time there are many displays of fireworks in the streets. It can be very noisy for several days and there is also a lot of pollution caused by the fireworks. As there are no restrictions on buying fireworks there are often injuries caused by people exploding them inappropriately. During this festival your leader may be required to alter your itinerary to avoid any dangerous areas to avoid putting the group at risk. INTERNAL FLIGHTS: There have been a number of air accidents in Nepal. We only use airlines that have passed strict safety audits for included internal flights in Nepal, including Buddha Air, Yeti Air & Tara Air.

CHINA China is a safe country to travel in and very few travellers will experience any safety concerns. Serious crime against foreigners is relatively rare, but incidents do occur. Foreigners can be targeted for passports, electronic devices, mobile phones, purses and handbags. Major tourist sites and areas frequented by foreigners attract thieves and pickpockets. Take extra care at major tourist sites, street markets, Beijing International Airport, major international events and conferences and popular bar areas after dark. There are occasional incidents with taxi and pedicab drivers who insist the passenger misunderstood the fare. Avoid travelling in unmarked or unmetered ‘taxis’ and insist on paying only the meter fare. Ask the driver for a receipt (fapiao), on which the taxi number should be printed. You can take this to the police to lodge a complaint. Counterfeit bank notes (especially RMB100) are increasingly common. They are generally crumpled to avoid detection. Unscrupulous traders may try to switch your genuine bank notes for counterfeits. A common scam when paying a taxi fare with a RMB100 note occurs when the taxi driver swaps the note for a fake note, and returns the fake note to the passenger, refusing to accept it for payment as it’s counterfeit. Check carefully before accepting notes. It is quite normal to do so. Beware of scams particularly in popular tourist areas. A regular example is the ‘tea tasting’ scam. Scams usually involve a foreign national being invited to visit a bar, shop or cafe – for example to practice English or meet a girl - but results in demands for an exorbitant fee, often payable by credit card. This can result in threats of violence or credit card fraud.

TIBET The Chinese authorities sometimes suspend issuing Tibet Entry Permits to foreign nationals, and may also restrict travel to Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures in neighbouring provinces by those who have already obtained a permit. These restrictions can happen at any time, but in particular during sensitive periods or major religious festivals - especially around February and March, coinciding with the Tibetan new year festival and the anniversary of uprisings in Tibet. Travellers to all Tibetan areas should monitor government travel advice and other media for information about travel to Tibet. Ongoing political and ethnic tensions can lead to unrest and violent protests in Tibet. While foreigners are not normally targeted during unrest, you should be alert to the possibility of being caught up in any unexpected demonstrations or outbreaks of violence. Security measures are tight around any large public gathering and unauthorised gatherings may be dispersed by force. There have been a large number of self-immolations, including in Tibetan areas outside of the Tibetan Autonomous Region itself. The Chinese authorities tend to react quickly to these incidents and will increase the security presence in the area. Avoid becoming involved in any protests or calls for Tibetan independence. Don’t film or photograph any such activities.

icon readmoreicon minusVisas

Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required.

Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends.

NEPAL:

All foreign nationals (except Indian passport holders) require a visa to enter Nepal. Visas are obtainable from embassies abroad, land borders (including borders with India & Tibet) and on arrival at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan Airport.

Getting a visa at the airport or land borders can sometimes take time due to long queues. There have been instances when travellers are asked to show proof of exit from the country, ie flight tickets. You may also need to provide two passport photos and the following fees in US dollars (subject to change, cash only). Other currencies are also accepted although rates may differ. The following costs were correct at time of writing:

- Multi entry visa valid for 15 days - US$30

- Multi entry visa valid for 30 days - US$50

- Multi entry visa valid for 90 days - US$125

Your visa application form may require you to state the dates on which you enter and exit that country. Please note we suggest you list your date of entry a few days before, and date of exit a few days after your intended dates in case you encounter any delays or problems en route. To help calculate the exact dates of these crossings we have found the website www.timeanddate.com to be very useful.

CHINA GROUP VISA:

Tibet is a province of China and all travellers require a Chinese visa. Current regulations require that all foreign visitors entering Tibet from Nepal do so on a Group Visa. Your tour leader will arrange for a Single Entry Group Visa in Kathmandu on Day 1 or 2 of your tour. Please do NOT obtain a Chinese visa before you travel. Any existing Chinese visa in your passport will be cancelled upon application for the Group Visa. The cost of the Group Visa is approx US$115 per person (US citizens US$200) to be paid in cash to your group leader.

TIBET PERMIT:

All nationalities require a permit to enter Tibet. We will apply for this permit on your behalf. In order to apply for the permit, we require at the time of booking (no later than 40 days prior to travel):

- Scanned colour copy of the photo page of your passport in JPEG format. Please make sure that this copy is of the passport that you will be travelling on. If you have to renew your passport after booking please notify us as soon as you have a new passport number and bring your old passport with you on your trip as well. This may also cause significant delays in obtaining your Tibet permit so please plan ahead. If we do not receive these documents from you in time, your name and passport details will not be listed on the group permit and you will not be able to board the flight to travel to Lhasa with the group.

- Your current profession. Some professions including diplomats, journalists, military or police personnel may be denied permission to enter Tibet. 

Due to the political sensitivities and increased security in this region it is important to understand that unexpected difficulties in obtaining Tibet permits may arise, and are out of our control. Regularly and without any official announcements by the government authorities permitting travel, the region of Tibet can be closed to visitors, or travel permits denied without warning. It is impossible to predict if or when such issues may be encountered again in the future.

In the event of an individual or group permit being denied, or last minute closures of the border between Nepal and China, we will endeavour to provide an alternative itinerary within Nepal. 

RETURNING TO CHINA:

If you are planning to continue your travels in China after your tour (ie. flying from Kathmandu to Beijing) you will need to apply for another Single Entry Tourist Visa at the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu after your tour. Please check with the embassy for any specific application requirements. At time of writing the embassy is open for visa applications on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and may be able to provide same day service.

icon readmoreicon minusWhy we love it

Flanked by the majestic Himalayan Mountains, Kathmandu is nothing short of a legendary destination. Its bustling alleyways are filled with monks, incense, goats and sacred cows, and its temples steeped in symbolism.

With knowledgeable local guides and others to look after the finer details, it has never been easier to make the journey into the far-fetched and mystical land of Tibet.

In Lhasa, discover the dazzling former home of the Dalai Lama and the enchanting atmosphere of the pilgrim-filled Jokhang Temple – the holiest in the Tibetan Buddhist world.

Each leg of a Tibetan road trip seems more incredible than the last. Climb stunning passes, drive along the sides of misty mountains, and take in jaw-dropping views of skies and shimmering lakes.

Accompany devoted pilgrims on their kora (prayer circuit), spinning prayer wheels on a clockwise walk around the perimeter of the vast Tashilhunpo Monastery.

icon readmoreicon minusIs this trip right for you

This trip visits places that are at high altitude, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Medical and Health information’ section of the Essential Trip Information for up to date recommendations.

Part of travelling with Intrepid means respecting local cultures and sensibilities. That way you get the most out of your interactions with local people and environments. Please note that Tibet has a strong Buddhist culture, so please keep an open mind and be respectful of pilgrims who may be worshipping during your visit.

Steeped in myth, spirituality and of course remote mountainous terrain, Tibet is a great place to visit if you're an open-minded traveller. This itinerary is operated at a leisurely pace, but please note that independent travel is not allowed in Tibet, therefore, to visit any tourist sites, you will need to have a licensed guide with you. In your limited free time, if there's another monastery that you wish to visit, please consult your tour leader. Only a few meals are included, so mostly you'll find your own (with plenty of suggestions from your leader of course) – a great way to mingle with locals and discover unexpected delights!

There are some quite long days of travel, which can be tiring. On the other hand, the scenery is absolutely amazing, so sit back, relax and soak it up.

Note that in recent years there have been some restrictions on certain nationalities being able to travel on specific departures. Tibet has also been known to be closed down to foreign tourism without warning.

icon readmoreicon minusHealth

All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

ALTITUDE SICKNESS:

Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!

Before your trip:

Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatizing to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.

During your trip.

While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.

Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/altitude-sickness

BIRD FLU:

The World Health Organization (WHO) has previously confirmed human deaths from avian influenza in China.

There is a very low risk to travellers. For further information please visit: http://www.who.int/influenza/human_animal_interface/en/

icon readmoreicon minusFood and dietary requirements

FOOD IN NEPAL:

In Kathmandu and Pokhara there are plenty of restaurants and cafes for all tastes and budgets. For a glimpse at what traditional Nepali cuisine entails, check out our guide here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/guide-to-nepali-cuisine/

Nepal caters very well towards vegetarians and vegans with almost all restaurants having a veg section of the menu. Your tour leader will be able to direct you towards restaurants that are known to have better hygiene, especially in tourist areas where they are travelling with our groups regularly.

FOOD IN CHINA:

What IS authentic Chinese food like? Check out these articles to get a taste:

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/china-food-trip-blog/

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/china-food-stereotypes/

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/a-guide-to-traditional-chinese-street-food/

VEGETARIANS & VEGANS:

Vegetarians in China certainly won't go hungry as there are always plenty of meat free options on menus including vegetable, tofu and egg dishes. Your leader can advise on some local favourites. Dairy is uncommon in Chinese cooking, although in some regions like Tibet, Xinjiang and Yunnan you will find milk products as part of the local cuisine. Vegans should also have few problems finding tasty meals in most locations. Nearly all cities will have vegetarian restaurants, often near to temples or monasteries that specialise in Buddhist cuisine. Check out this blog for a guide to eating vegetarian in Beijing: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/a-vegetarians-guide-to-beijing/

DIETARY NEEDS:

Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may wish to supplement inclusions with their own supplies from markets or supermarkets. Please note that some dietary requirements, such as Gluten Free, will be uncommon in China and you may need to explain to your leader what you can and can't eat as well as research common dishes before you travel.

ALLERGIES:

For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader will endeavor to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic and research suitable local foods before travelling.

TIBETAN FOOD

Common foods in Tibet include Chinese & Nepalese dishes, local noodles, dumplings (momo), yak butter or local milk tea and even yak burgers. While Lhasa has many cafes and restaurants to choose from, once outside of the capital there will be fewer or no options of where to have our meals. Your leader will choose places to eat that have been well rated by past travellers. Vegan and vegetarian choices are possible to cater for, although choice may be limited. The high altitude can affect how food tastes, so don't be surprised if you end up adding far more chili to your dishes than you would at home!

icon readmoreicon minusMoney matters

SPENDING MONEY:

When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

NEPAL:

The official currency of Nepal is the Nepali rupee (NPR). Its symbol is often displayed as Rs. USD are also widely accepted in Nepal. ATMs can only be found in Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Bhaktapur. Make sure you carry sufficient cash to cover your needs when travelling outside of these cities. Money exchange facilities are available in Kathmandu, Namche, Pokhara, Chitwan (only outside the park) and Bhaktapur. Credit cards are not widely accepted.

The Government of Nepal has banned the import, export and use of 500 and 1000 Indian rupee notes in Nepal. You should ensure you are not carrying these notes on arrival in Nepal as they will be confiscated and you may be fined.

Please note that most establishments in Asia will not accept foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded and they can be very difficult to exchange or extra fees added when exchanging at banks. Please ensure that you have new, clean notes.

Before departing on a trek, make sure you have enough Nepalese currency to purchase meals and drinks, in the smaller denominations where possible, as there are no ATMs and larger notes (such as 1000R) can be difficult to change.

SPENDING MONEY:

When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

CHINA

The official currency in China is the Yuan or Renminbi (CNY). 1 renminbi (yuan) = 10 jiao (mao). ATMs are widespread, so the easiest way to access cash on your trip is to bring a credit/debit card. Please check with your bank about overseas withdrawal fees before you depart and look for ATMs with your card logo. You may find that your card does not work in certain ATMs, so we recommend purchasing some CNY in your home country so you have some cash for your first day.

Currency exchange is available at major banks and some hotels. The easiest foreign currencies to exchange are USD and EUR, however please be aware of the security risk of carrying large amounts of cash. Commission is sometimes charged for currency exchange. Check the rate before you exchange and carefully check the amount you are given and ask for a receipt.

Please note that due to restrictions on currency conversion for foreigners in China it may not be possible to change left over CNY back into foreign currency, so please plan your budget and spending money well by withdrawing/exchanging what you need as you go.

TIPPING IN CHINA:

If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many of our destinations. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier.

In China tipping is not compulsory, but has become expected in the travel industry and is considered a way of showing appreciation for great service.

The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

- Restaurants, markets, and taxi drivers - tipping is not customary and is not expected by the locals.

- Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$5 per day for local guides depending on their service and their involvement with the group.

- Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest US$2-US$4 per day for drivers.

- Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$4-US$6 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.

Depending on the type of trip you are doing and the number of local staff involved, your tour leader may discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your group leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent. The record can then be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip.

CONTINGENCY FUNDS:

We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved.

The recommended amounts are listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting.

NEPAL:

If you are happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.

The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

Your Group Leader: You should consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$3-4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$2-3 per person, per day for local guides. (Including city tour guides, jungle guides, rafting guides, assistant trek guides)

Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of US$2-3 per person, per day is generally appropriate.

Local transport: For a city tour we suggest US$2 per person, per day.

Hotel porters: NPR50-100 is adequate for porters that assist you with bags to your room.

Restaurants: Please check the bill and if there’s an addition of 10% service charge, there’s no requirement for tipping. Otherwise 5-10% of the total bill amount is appropriate.

NOTE: Please don't tip with coins or notes of or less than NPR50, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.

TIPPING IN CHINA:

If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many of our destinations. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier.

In China tipping is not compulsory, but has become expected in the travel industry and is considered a way of showing appreciation for great service.

The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

- Restaurants, markets, and taxi drivers - tipping is not customary and is not expected by the locals.

- Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$5 per day for local guides depending on their service and their involvement with the group.

- Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest US$2-US$4 per day for drivers.

- Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$4-US$6 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.

Depending on the type of trip you are doing and the number of local staff involved, your tour leader may discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your group leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent. The record can then be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip.

icon readmoreicon minusWhat to take

What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances or up or down a flight of stairs. Our travellers usually find the smaller their luggage is, the more they enjoy the trip not having to worry about carrying heavy bags! Aim to keep your main luggage under 15kg. Many travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller suitcases or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps or handles. If you are taking overnight trains, or primarily using public transport then the smaller your luggage the easier it will be to store under or above bunks. A lockable bag or small padlock will be useful especially when travelling on public transportation as well. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water, camera, and jacket etc. when you’re exploring during the day. Below are some ideas and helpful tips on what you specifically need for this trip. Essential: - Clothing: a mixture of lightweight and dry fast clothing and warm layers are recommended essential for travelling in this region. Long shirts, pants, scarves are useful for covering shoulders & knees when visiting religious sites. - Shoes: sturdy and comfortable shoes for walking long distances are essential. - Personal travel documents inc. your passport (visa), travel insurance, fight tickets and trip notes. Photo copies of your passport and visa, passport size photos and travel insurance will be handy. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary. - small first aid kit including items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes, Band-Aids and insect repellent, and essential medicine depending on your doctors advice. - Money: cash/credit card/EFTPOS card and money belt - Sun protection like hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses. Recommended: - Refillable water bottle (1.5 litre capacity suggested): The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. - Cell phone, camera with spare batteries, charger, and adapter plug - Hand wash, travel wipes, toiletries and small towel - Watch/alarm clock and torch/flashlight (and spare batteries) - Torch or flash light esp. for stay at local guesthouses or home stays Optional: - Sleeping bag. Useful for camping, overnight trains and poorly heated hotels, particularly during the winter months of Dec - Feb when temperatures are low. - Sleep sheet. If you are travelling during the hot season you may wish to pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter what the weather. - Ear plugs to guard against street noise and snorers. - A good book, a journal and music player for overnight train rides and longer drives. Other things to consider: - Check weather in destinations you are travelling to online a few days before you go to make sure you pack appropriate clothing - Laundry facilities may not be available in all destinations, so make sure you have a few cycles of clothes to tide you over until your next chance to wash

Local authorities will react negatively if you are found carrying letters or packages from Tibetan nationals to be posted in other countries. Do not carry images of the Dalai Lama, Tibetan flags, literature or books on Tibet during your travels in this region as they may be confiscated or you may be detained. A hot water bottle and thermal clothes can be very useful for cold nights in Tibet and when heating is not adequate. Bedding is always provided, but some travellers have found that a sleeping bag hired in Kathmandu useful for getting a good nights sleep. Bring good quality walking shoes as there are many steps in monasteries and some uneven terrain. Due to the altitude weather can change very quickly. A windproof jacket is essential as are warm layers of clothes that can easily be added or removed as needed.

icon readmoreicon minusClimate and seasonal

CHINESE NATIONAL HOLIDAYS:

Please note that China's national holidays are the peak travel season for Chinese nationals. During this time, literally the whole country is on the move - that's over a billion people. Although these are fascinating and exciting times to travel in China, please be aware your group will almost definitely experience transport delays and massive crowds at tourist attractions and train stations. It's common for there to be difficulties in securing train or flight tickets at our preferred times, hotels become overbooked, traffic chaotic and changes to the itinerary are often necessary as a result. If clockwork organisation is important to you we advise you book outside of the weeks of the extended Chinese New Year in January/February, in the first week of May and the first week of October. If you decide to travel during this period please come with an open mind and be prepared for changes on the ground.

Here are the major holiday periods in China:

Chinese New Year: Feb 4-10 2019, Jan 24-30 2020

Qingming Festival: Apr 5-7 2019, Apr 4-6 2020

May Day: May 1 2019, May 1-3 2020

Dragon Boat Festival: Jun 7-9 2019, Jun 25-27 2020

Mid Autumn Day: Sep 13-15 2019, falls within National Day holidays 2020

National Day: Oct 1-7 2019, Oct 1-8 2020

icon readmoreicon minusA couple of rules

Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden.

Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.

The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips.

By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund.

If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.

icon readmoreicon minusFeedback

After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

icon readmoreicon minusEmergency contact

GENERAL ISSUES ON YOUR TRIP

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, please contact our local office:

Intrepid’s Local Operator: +861064067328

icon readmoreicon minusResponsible travel

Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel.

Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting:

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/responsible-travel

http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

LOCAL DRESS:

As with everywhere we travel, we strongly recommend wearing modest clothing in China (ie. covering shoulders and wearing shorts or skirts to the knee) both for your own comfort, and to respect that standards may be more conservative than in your home country, especially outside of major cities.

LOCAL CUSTOMS:

It's always a good idea to learn something about local customs before you travel, and visiting China is no exception. Your leader will be on hand to guide you through cultural differences during your trip, but here are some tips to get you started: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/china-etiquette-guide/

NEPAL

Dress codes are quite relaxed in tourist areas of Kathmandu and Pokhara, but much more conservative in other parts of the country. Remove shoes before entering certain temples and holy places and be aware that non-Hindus may not be permitted at some religious sites. Dress modestly, take care not to offend and ask your leader if you are unsure if something is appropriate.

PORTERS:

Our porters are valued members of our trekking teams. We operate our treks according to standards that provide respectful, safe and fair working conditions not only in Nepal, but on all our trips globally. For more information on porter welfare, see https://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/porter-policy

icon readmoreicon minusAccommodation notes

OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS

Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on a different Intrepid trip than your own.

CHECK-IN TIME

Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION

If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (subject to availability), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

CHINA

HOTEL ROOMS:

Some travellers have reported that hotels/accommodation in this region tend to have harder bed mattresses than those they are used to at home. You may like to request an extra quilt or bedding from the hotels if you find this an issue.

SMOKING ROOMS:

Smoking is prevalent in China and hotels generally do not offer specific non smoking rooms. Larger hotels with central air conditioning will sometimes transport the smell of smoke between rooms. While we ask our hotels to ensure our rooms are well cleaned and ventilated well before occupation in some cases this is not possible, and the smell of smoke may linger. Please speak to your leader about the possibility of changing rooms if you encounter this.

WIFI:

WiFi is often available in hotel reception areas and sometimes in rooms. Your leader will be able to advise on the best places to get connected.

TIBET

Please note, the standard of accommodation in Tibet varies considerably and can be basic at times, especially out of Lhasa. Hot water and power supply can be sporadic, and the facilities can be old due to the lack of development in the region as well. At the tent 'city' (our stay at the EBC section of the trip), we will be staying in a seasonal tented camp. The tents are spacious, well-equipped 8 person sized, which come with dormitory style single beds, solid flooring and a central heating stove. There are no showers here and the toilet facilities are a little primitive but the view of the north face of Everest should make up for the lack of creature comforts!

icon readmoreicon minusTravel insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.

If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php

icon readmoreicon minusYour fellow travellers

As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

SINGLE TRAVELLERS:

Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

icon readmoreicon minusItinerary disclaimer

ITINERARY CHANGES:

Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES:

A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist.

Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

icon readmoreicon minusAccommodation

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