Travel across wild India on this trailblazing 23-day adventure tour. In the north, see pilgrims performing ancient ceremonies on the ghats of Varanasi and stare at the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra. Down south, go in search of wild elephants and tigers on safari and take a joy ride on the famous toy train, passing through hill stations, and enjoying the mountainous scenery along the way. This fantastic trip finishes off seaside in the important port city of Kochi – India's idyllic beachside holiday destination. Soak up all the freedom and diverse cultures of this big, colourful, chaotic and enchanting country. Oh, and did we mention all the biryani and chai you’ll eat? Experience real India with a knowledgeable local leader and a wicked itinerary to suit.
Ages: 18 - 29
Theme: 18 to 29s
Accommodation: Homestay (1 nights), Hotel (16 nights), Lodge (1 night), Overnight sleeper train (4 nights)
Namaste, welcome to Delhi! Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm, if you arrive early, there's plenty to do in this wonderfully chaotic city. Wander the streets, sip on your first chai or practice haggling in one of the many markets. If you prefer some structure, there's a variety of Urban Adventure day tours that offer a great first taste of Delhi. Find out more at urbandventures.com
This morning head out on a walking tour around the commercial heart of Delhi, visiting Chandni Chowk (Sheeshganj Gurudwara) and Connaught Place along the way. Explore Old Delhi on a bicycle rickshaw to dig that little bit deeper. You'll then have some free time to do as much sightseeing as you can, before boarding an overnight sleeper train bound for Varanasi. The journey should take around 13 hours and you'll arrive into Varanasi early in the morning.
Arrive into Varanasi early and head straight to the hotel to freshen up before plunging headfirst into this holy city, which is one of the world's oldest. Explore the narrow laneways and backstreets on a walking tour with your guide, before watching the world pass by along the ghats. Your evening is then free to do as you wish.
Wake up early and experience one of the highlights of your time in India. This morning, jump in boats and watch the sunrise over the Ganges. Pilgrims bathing, cremation fires and riverside haircuts - India is best before dawn and this is the best way to see it. The rest of your day is free to explore, before catching an overnight train to Agra tonight (approximately 11 hours).
Arrive into Agra early this morning, then head to the most iconic site in India, the Taj Mahal. The highlights of India just keep coming. You have a full day to explore Agra on a motorised rickshaw trip, with Agra Fort being another incredible optional activity in the afternoon. The rest of your day is then free.
Jump on a bus this morning and travel for around four hours to Rajasthan's pink capital, Jaipur. On arrival into the city stop off at the Hawa Mahal (pink sandstone palace) before heading to your hotel. Use the opportunity to freshen up and then venture out for a walking tour of the old city. In your spare time, perhaps take an optional tour of the Jaipur City Palace.
For many travellers, a hot air balloon experience is one of the highlights of Jaipur. Ballooning can be done over Jaipur on the morning of Day 7, between September and June. For additional information, please see the important notes section of your trip notes. Later in the morning, enjoy a guided tour of the medieval Amber Fort with a local guide. Make sure to grab another cup of chai before settling in for this evening's 13-hour overnight train journey. Tonight, you'll hop a train bound for Rishikesh.
Arrive early in to Rishikesh, a spiritual town lying in the verdant foothills of the Himalayas. Embark on an orientation walk with your leader before enjoying free time to roam at your own leisure. Aptly named the 'Yoga Capital of the World', Rishikesh is a great place to relax and seek a little enlightenment. In your free time, why not visit The Beatles Ashram – a spiritual retreat inhabited by the famous band in the sixties. In the evening, perhaps take a stroll along the holy Ganges River as temple bells ring and the nightly fire ritual of Ganga Aarti begins.
This morning, get among the relaxing vibes of Rishikesh and take part in a one-hour yoga class. Afterwards, perhaps tuck into a masala dosa for breakfast before walking or riding it off on one of the trails along the Ganges. For something more adventurous there is the option to white-water raft down the Ganges. In the afternoon, reunite with your group for a walk through the jungle nearby. Tonight, experience sleeping under the stars just outside of Rishikesh, you’ll be staying in a fixed campsite with twin-shared tents and western-style toilets surrounded by nature and mountain views.
Have a chilled morning at your campsite before returning to Rishikesh where you’ll be able to use a day room to freshen up and have a shower. Spend the rest of the afternoon wandering around Rishikesh before catching an evening train (approximately 5 hours) back to Delhi.
Fly to Hyderabad for the second half of your trip. The flight and local transfers are included in the cost of the trip. Please note you will not be escorted by your North India tour leader on the transfers and the flight. This morning, say goodbye to some of your crew who may not be joining you for the second stage of the trip, and take a flight from Delhi to Hyderabad, the capital of southern India's Telangana state. At 6 pm, you’ll get to meet your new leader and travel friends. There’s much to see in this busy tech-focused city. Check out the Golconda Fort and its well-manicured gardens, head to Hussain Sagar – a heart-shaped lake with a large standing Buddha statue, and pick up a delicious biryani on your travels. Once you’ve had your important meeting, get the gang together and tuck into some local food! Your group leader will know a great place to go.
This morning, take a walking tour of Hyderabad with your leader to get your bearings and learn a little bit more about this southern Indian city. You’ll also get the chance during the day to discover the weird and wonderful world of Bollywood with a visit Ramoji Film City. This 2000 acres of land is the largest integrated film city and the largest studio complex in the world. It can accommodate up to 20 film units at one time, with various shooting locations such as a London street, Japanese gardens, an airport, a hospital, and even a laboratory.
Today, take a visit with your group to Charminar, also known as the Four Minarets. Constructed in 1591, this monument and mosque has become an icon of Hyderabad, and provides an area where locals Islamic communities come together in the surrounding markets to celebrate events and festivals. The afternoon is free for you to explore, and a perfect opportunity to take up one of the optional activities on offer, like a visit to the Golcanda Fort and the Salar Jung museum. This evening, be ready to take an overnight train to Chennai.
Arrive in the morning to Chennai, and then take a private vehicle to Pondicherry via Mamallapuram. You’ll have time to see the sights of Mamallapuram, including the striking granite structure of the Shore Temple overlooking the Bay of Bengal, the ancient carvings of Arjuna’s Penance and the Pancha Rathas (Five Rathas). These five Hindu temples clustered in the southern end of the city are extraordinary examples of structures carved from single large rocks in the 7th century, fully hidden in the sand until they were excavated by the British around 200 years ago. Afterwards, arrive in coastal Puducherry and perhaps relax with a coconut curry. The total driving time today is approximately 5 hours.
The city of Puducherry (Pondicherry) has a strong French influence, seeing it was a French colonial settlement in India until 1954. Explore this cultural mix on a sightseeing walk with your group leader and visiting the French quarter, as well as Arbindo Ashram and Ganesh Temple. During your free time take a walk along the Beach Promenade.
Today, take a local bus from Pondicherry to Villupuram (approximately 2 hours), and then a 6-hour train journey to Madurai. Once arrived and checked-in, take a leader-led orientation walk around Madurai city, where you’ll spend the rest of tomorrow exploring. This evening your leader can take you on an optional walk through Madurai market, where you can try crispy dosas, flaky parotta (flatbread) and jigarthanda (Madurai’s answer to a lassi). You might even witness the art of a chai walla (chai street vendor) seamlessly pouring between the jug and cup, and putting on a bit of a show while preparing your drink.
Wake up in Madurai and go check out the historic Meenakshi Temple, located on the banks of the Vaigai River. It’s colourful and ornate structures are definitely worth a photo. Otherwise, there is the option to visit the National Gandhi Museum, housing important artefacts of Ghandi, as the city of Madurai played an important part of his journey. Make sure you take some time to relax today, as you will board an overnight train bound for Mysore (approximately 14 hours).
Arrive in Mysore in the morning (approximately 10 am), and head directly to the ornate Mysore Palace. This is the official royal residence of the Wadiyar dynasty and is the seat of the Kingdom of Mysore. It dominates the skyline of the city and is a clear example of Indo-Saracenic architecture. Afterwards, head by private transport to Bandipur (approximately 1.5 hours). On the way, stop by your local driver’s home for a biryani lunch. Delicious!
This morning, head out and take up an included safari in the Bandipur National Park. The park covers 874 square kilometres and has many endangered animal and plant species in its boundaries. The park is well-known for spotting elephants and tigers, as well as macaque, civet, giant flying squirrel, striped hyena and leopard, to name a few. After your park safari has come to an end, travel by private vehicle for around 2 hours to the highland district of Coonoor.
Coonoor is in the heart of India’s tea plantations and one of the three Nilgiri hill stations, along with Ooty and Kotagiri. The actual township of Coonoor is a colourful and bustling place perched on the hillside. Today, enjoy a ride on the famous toy train ride on the mountain railway line, passing through the other Nilgiri hill stations, and enjoying the mountainous scenery along the way. Also included today is a visit to one of the surrounding tea plantations, where you’ll get to walk through the estate and learn more about the process of tea making and have a taste, of course.
This morning say goodbye to Coonoor before taking a private vehicle to Coimbatore (approximately 2.5 hours). Around mid-day, we embark on a five hour train journey to Kochi – a major port city on India’s southwest coast.
This morning we explore Kochi on a leader-led sightseeing tour of Kochi, where you’ll pass the Dutch Palace, the Jewish synagogue and the unique sight of shore operated lift nets, more commonly known as Chinese fishing nets. There is also the opportunity to book into an optional cooking class or to learn the art of Kathakali dance. Ask your group leader for more information if this interests you.
With no activities planned for the final day, you are free to leave the accommodation at any time. That doesn’t mean that your adventure has to end! There is a selection of Urban Adventures tours that may interest you, including Aromas of Kochi – a sightseeing experience around the Fort Kochi area, visiting a pappadum factory, among other highlights. Visit urbanadventures.com/destination/Kochi-tours for more information.
- Kochi - Jewish Synagogue
Hotel Mehar Castle
15 Ajmal Khan Road, Block 15A WEA
Phone: 91 1125814071
1387, Pattalam Road,
Alternate Joining point
For trips departing on the following dates, use this joining point.
29 Jan 2020 (HHYHC2001292), 12 Feb 2020 (HHYHC2002122), 11 Mar 2020 (HHYHC2003112), 06 May 2020 (HHYHC2005062), 03 Jun 2020 (HHYHC2006032), 08 Jul 2020 (HHYHC2007082), 05 Aug 2020 (HHYHC2008052), 09 Sep 2020 (HHYHC2009092), 23 Sep 2020 (HHYHC2009232), 14 Oct 2020 (HHYHC2010142), 28 Oct 2020 (HHYHC2010282), 11 Nov 2020 (HHYHC2011112), 09 Dec 2020 (HHYHC2012092), 16 Dec 2020 (HHYHC2012162)
Hotel Mehar Castle
15 Ajmal Khan Road, Block 15A WEA
Phone: 91 1125814071
1. The internal flight from Delhi to Hyderabad is included in the price of your trip.
2. A single supplement is available for purchase on this trip. This single supplement covers all nights with the exception nights on the overnight trains.
3. Hot air balloon flights are operated by Sky Waltz in Jaipur. Flights operate from September 1st to April 31st and last approximately 60 mins. Return transfers, tea and coffee plus light refreshments and a certificate of flight are included in the cost. You can register your interest and pay your tour leader at your joining meeting on day 1 of your trip. Payment must be made by cash in either INR/AUD/USD/GBP only and is USD$260pp (subject to change). Flights are subject to availability and weather conditions (tickets are fully refundable in case of bad weather).
4. As this is a combination trip the composition of your group as well as your leader may change on Day 11.
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.
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:
HERITAGE HOTELS: On this trip you will be staying in some heritage hotels and traditional guesthouses, and these are one of the charms of this trip, but occasionally staircases, balconies and passages etc don't always comply with western safety standards. Please don't expect elevators in these properties as they are preserved to their original state.
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD: Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
SEAT BELTS: Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.
LIFE JACKETS: While life jackets are generally available on water craft, there may be occasions where they are not provided and child size life jackets are not always readily available. If travelling with children and this safety issue concerns you we will be able to advise alternative methods of transport (where available) for you to travel to the next destination. You can choose to travel independently for this leg of the journey. This would be at your own expense.
FIRE PRECAUTIONS: Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
SWIMMING POOLS: You may stay at hotels with unfenced pools and no life guard on duty.
BALCONIES: Some hotel balconies don't meet western standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
AIR POLLUTION The high levels of air pollution in New Delhi (and across urbanised India) may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be especially affected. Please ensure you bring the required medication with you if you have any of these type of medical conditions. You can check the pollution index levels for many cities on the following website: http://safar.tropmet.res.in/ Our tour leaders have a supply of masks for sale at the joining meeting should you wish to purchase one.
Generally WiFi is available in most parts of India and at most of the accommodation we use. It's usually free in public areas of hotels but some properties will charge for in room use. Please ask your tour leader or the specific hotel reception upon check in. Many restaurants and cafes (especially in tourist areas) offer customers free WiFi. Ask for the password when ordering.
Internet cafes are widespread in India and connections are usually reasonably fast, except in more remote areas.
You can purchase a SIM at the airport (or at kiosks everywhere) for use while travelling in India. Airtel or vodaphone are a good bet. SIMs are relatively cheap. You will need to usually provide 2 passport sized photos and a copy of your passport will be made.
Posting airmail letters to anywhere overseas costs ₹25/15. International airmail postcards cost around ₹12. For postcards, stick the stamps on before writing, as the post office can give you as many as four stamps per card. The post office is always a fun adventure in India!
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.
An E-Tourist Visa (eVT) visa on arrival is available for select nationalities including but not limited to the following: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, UK & USA. Passport holders from these countries can apply for an eVT to have their visa issued upon arrival at 16 major airports in India.
Please follow the instructions at - https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html and complete the application for your eVT.
- Please be aware of strict conditions regarding application and travel (check under ELIGIBILITY section of the website).
- E-Tourist Visas are available for entry of up to 90 days. For residents of USA, UK, Canada and Japan e-Tourist Visas are available for up to 180 days. If you plan to be in India longer you will need to apply for a tourist visa at an Indian visa application centre in your home country.
- Please note that travellers entering India overland from Nepal are required to apply for a visa in advance their home country. Visas will NOT be issued on the Nepal/Indian border.
- The e-Tourist Visa DOES NOT apply to travellers entering India overland. Please check your trip notes if you are crossing a border between India and Nepal.
- Indian visas are difficult and time consuming to obtain in Nepal.
Tourist visas are available in Single and Multiple Entry. Be sure to check the date you require a visa from and the length of time you will need to cover, especially if you change countries during your trip.
For your visa application you need to include the following information under the local contact section towards the end of the application. :
25/3 East Patel Nagar
Phone: +91 11 4500 6400
Please note that this information can change at any time. Please always refer to https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html
This is the only official visa online site. There are many other mirror sites that are run by visa service companies or scammers and may not be reliable.
Why we love it
Capture your best selfie in front of the Taj Mahal – a marble masterpiece and the mother of all mausoleums, this Indian icon is all part of Agra’s allure.
Get among the relaxing vibes of Rishikesh with a one-hour morning yoga class, then sleep under the starry Indian sky surrounded by nature and mountain views.
Spend a day exploring the world of Bollywood in Ramoji Film City: a huge park full of filming locations. You’ll feel like you’re on the set of a blockbuster!
Go in search for elephants and tigers, as well as macaque, civet, giant flying squirrel, striped hyena and leopard on an included safari in the lush Bandipur National Park.
Taste the perfect cuppa with a visit to one of Coonoor’s tea plantations. Learn about how tea leaves go from plant to cup.
Is this trip right for you
As this is a Basix trip, there is plenty of free time built into the itinerary for you to enjoy as you wish in each destination. Your leader will take you on an orientation walk in each destination to get your bearings and give you plenty of suggestions - then what comes next is up to you! Please take into account spending money for optional sightseeing (including local transport to and from sights) that isn't included in the trip cost when budgeting for your journey.
The regions visited on this trip can be extreme in temperature. It’s important to prepare for hot temperatures during the day and cooler climates in the evening. Rajasthan in particular can be very hot, especially in the summer. Layers are the best way to tackle any disparities in weather. This trip runs all year round, so it’s important to be aware of just how hot it can get in India in the summer months and cold in Winter, so choose the season that best suits you.
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. We visit a number of temples on this trip, which requires a certain level of modesty. Please bring clothes that cover the arms and pants/skirts that go past the knees. A light scarf is also a good idea for covering shoulders and arms when it’s hot.
This trip involves some long train rides, including a couple of overnight trains. The train journey from Delhi to Varanasi is approximately 13 hours, while the trip from Varanasi to Agra takes 11 hours and it's another 13 hours from Jaipur to Rishikesh. While this can be tiresome, train travel is a classic Indian experience. Sleeper trains are clean and air-conditioned and a great way to travel long distances while still getting maximum time in each place. Beds are padded berths with sheets, pillow and blanket provided (although some people prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet). Please note that you may be sharing with locals of the same or opposite gender. For your own security, take a lock for your hand luggage. Sleeper train journeys in and out of Varanasi can be subject to long delays because of weather conditions, including heavy rain or fog.
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.
Malaria is a risk in many parts of India, including major cities. Cases of dengue fever are reported, especially in the period after the monsoon. Other mosquito-borne diseases (including Japanese encephalitis, chikungunya fever and filariasis) also occur. Take preventative measures such as as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn. Consult a medical professional regarding prophylaxis against malaria. For more information, see the World Health Organisation's fact sheets: http://www.who.int/neglected_diseases/vector_ecology/mosquito-borne-diseases/en/
India is classified as an ongoing transmission zone for Zika, with confirmed cases in Tamil Nadu and Jaipur. Basic precautions for protection from mosquito bites should be taken by people traveling to Zika transmission areas, especially pregnant women.
OTHER INFECTIOUS DISEASES:
Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including meningitis, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, tuberculosis, diphtheria and rabies) are common in India. Tap water is not safe to drink. Home-made or unlabelled alcohol can be poisonous. Seek medical attention if you suspect food poisoning, if you have a fever or suffer from diarrhoea.
During winter months (October-February), air pollution levels in parts of India can spike to hazardous levels. Severe pollution can increase the risk of respiratory problems. Those with pre-existing medical conditions, particularly heart and lung conditions, may be especially affected. Your leader can assist you to obtain a face mask if required.
Cases of influenza A(H1N1) are widespread in India during winter with a number of recent cases in Rajasthan. Discuss influenza vaccination requirements with your doctor or a travel health professional before departing and maintain good hygiene practices by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing, and washing your hands regularly. For more information, see the World Health Organisation's fact sheets: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/influenza-(seasonal)
Food and dietary requirements
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
FOOD IN INDIA:
Food is a way of life in India. You can snack for a bargain or dine in the finest Indian restaurants. Generally you can eat very cheaply in India. There is a huge choice of restaurants and street stalls serving traditional and local Indian food. In bigger restaurants in areas frequented by more tourists there is a choice between Indian, Chinese and Western style food. Here's some ideas of what to try: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/best-food-in-india/
Please note that service in restaurants (especially with a group) can be quite slow so patience is a must.
India caters very well towards vegetarians and vegans with almost all restaurants having a veg and pure veg section of the menu. If in doubt please check with your tour leader. See our guide to eating vegan in India here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/india-vegan-food-guide/
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. For some more advice on avoiding "Delhi belly", see our article here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/how-to-avoid-delhi-belly-in-india/
The official currency of India is the Indian Rupee (INR). It's symbol is ₹. The most convenient and cheapest way to obtain local currency in is via ATMs, which are readily available in most towns. Look for Bank of India or ICICI ATMs. Our experience has shown they are the most reliable ATMs to use for withdrawals. Cash shortages at ATMs can be a problem in rural areas. Foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded can be very difficult to exchange, so please bring clean bills, and small denominations are most useful. The use of credit cards can be restricted, mainly to major hotels, shops and higher end establishments.
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).
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.
Optional tipping kitty for this trip: 1500 INR per person
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 Intrepid destinations.
Your Tour Leader:
You may consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$3-US$5 per person (in local currency), 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
The receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops or services is ingrained in the culture of the tourism industry. Rather than turning a blind eye to this unavoidable issue in some areas, we have established a centralised fund whereby contributions from recommended suppliers are collected and distributed back into the business. We aim to provide the best value trips in the market, and this fund assists in keeping operating costs and trip prices low to you. A priority in establishing this fund is that the experience of our traveller - you - is not compromised in any way. Please let us know via the feedback form completed after your trip if we are successfully meeting this objective.
Optional Tipping Kitty:
On Day 1 your tour leader will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips for drivers, local guides, and hotel staff (excludes restaurant tips). The leader will keep a running record of all monies spent which can 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. Participation in this kitty at your own discretion, and you are welcome to manage your own tipping separately if you prefer. Please note the tipping kitty excludes tips for your tour leader.
What 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 you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes). Many travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are also convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips. Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:
TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary that your luggage gets stowed separately (and unattended). The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers, for when it comes to travelling on local buses and trains it's often only the smaller bags that will fit into the storage areas inside the bus or your cabin. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light. LUGGAGE STORAGE Where Intrepid covers the cost of luggage storage during included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense.
SLEEPING BAG: While a sleeping bag is not compulsory for this tour, many travellers have found one useful for camping, overnight trains and poorly heated hotels, particularly during the winter months of Dec/Jan when temperatures are low.
WATER BOTTLE Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. 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 ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation or simply refill with tap water (your leader will advise whether tap water is safe to drink in your destination). When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.
IMAGES FROM HOME: During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos / postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc.
PASSPORT COPY: Please bring a photocopy of your passport main page and airline ticket if you will require airline reconfirmation at the end of your trip.
WARM CLOTHING: It comes as a surprise to many travellers that India can be cold (ie. below zero!) during winter (particularly Dec/Jan), even in some cities and even when not at high altitudes. Make sure you are prepared for the weather during these months by bringing adequately warm clothes with you, including thermal underclothes and an appropriate jacket. Many hotels in India do not have central heating, so a warmer set of clothes to sleep in has also been recommended by our past travellers.
Climate and seasonal
As a general rule have a look online to check the weather in India just before you are about to travel. This gives you a clearer understanding of what to pack. Here are some general ideas of seasons in India:
December to March:
Pleasant weather – warm days, cool nights.
December and January bring chilly nights in the north.
Fog can delay trains travelling across the north of the country
Temperatures climb steadily from February.
April to June:
April is already hot; May and June are really hot and dry.
From June, the monsoon sweeps from south to north, bringing high temperatures and humidity
Cooler in the hills and mountains across the country
July to November:
Monsoon continues until November.
The southeast coast and southern Kerala see heavy rain from October to early December.
Travel in rural areas during the monsoon season can be hazardous. Monsoon rains cause flooding and landslides that can cut off some towns and villages for days. It is not unusual for trains to be delayed or cancelled resulting in itinerary changes or for activities in towns near to rivers and lakes (ie Varanasi) to need to be changed during this time of year. During the monsoon, excessive rainfall can see the river Ganges rise to unsafe levels. This may cause the suspension of all water related activities by local government. At this time of year walking along the Ghats can also be dangerous. Your tour leader will be able to advise you locally on any changes.
Winter in India can be colder than you might expect and as this is not peak travel season hotels in some regions may not have adequate heating. In these months you may like to bring thermals for sleeping.
Travel in rural areas during the monsoon season can be hazardous. Monsoon rains cause flooding and landslides that can cut off some towns and villages for days. It is not unusual for trains to be delayed or cancelled resulting in itinerary changes or for activities in towns near to rivers and lakes (ie Varanasi) to need to be changed during this time of year.
Please note that during winter months (Dec/Jan) temperatures in the desert can drop below zero. Your leader will monitor the weather forecast to decide whether this activity will be able to go ahead. Should weather conditions prohibit us from camping, we will take a day trip to the Thar Desert for our camel ride instead of the overnight stay. Some travellers have also preferred to being sleeping bags for camping in winter months.
Provision of hot water for showers in some destinations visited on this itinerary can be sporadic at best. While some hotels may promise hot water in the hope that they can deliver it, whether it is actually available is often beyond their (and our!) control. If a daily hot shower (especially in winter) is essential for your enjoyment of travel then you will struggle on this Basix tour and we suggest that you look at our Comfort style tours in India.
A 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.
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.
In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, transfer or accommodation issues, you can reach our local India Intrepid office on their 24 hour number:
For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/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.
EMERGENCY NUMBER: +91 9999 005 019
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:
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.
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.
Some of the accommodation along the way is basic or simple, staying in local guesthouses and homestays. Some may have shared bathroom faciluties with cold water only. We use a mixture of air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned rooms. Some areas of India experience daily load shedding. This is where the power may be turned off at certain times of the day and usually occurs for a few hours in early afternoon. Most hotel properties have a restaurant or cafe serving local meals. Many restaurants and hotels do not serve alcohol for religious reasons or due to local laws.
Showers at some hotels only have hot water at peak times (usually morning and evening). Outside of these times you may need to speak to reception to obtain hot water.
If you have any issues with your room, please speak to the hotel and your tour leader right away rather than your travel agent so that the problem can be addressed without delay.
Your 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.
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.
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.
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.
Homestay (1 nights),Hotel (16 nights),Lodge (1 night),Overnight sleeper train (4 nights)