Cycling through Rajasthan Trip Notes

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Last Modified: 13 Nov 2013
Cycling through Rajasthan
Trip code: HZXJ
Validity: 01 Jan 2012 to 31 Dec 2013
Rajasthan has landscapes varying from green rolling hills to barren deserts. The whole state is dotted with dramatic fortresses, reminders of the Rajputs and their warrior past. Away from the desert, the countryside is a patchwork of villages and small towns where we can see the timelessness of rural India. Cycling is the perfect way to explore, with some vehicle assistance to cover the longer distances. From Jodhpur our journey takes us first to the beautiful lakeside city of Udaipur, and on to the holy town of Pushkar. Leaving the desert scenery behind we ride to Jaipur, a town overlooked by the splendid hilltop Amber Palace. We also visit Sariska National Park, beautifully located and home to an abundance of wildlife, and finish with the magnificent Taj Mahal.
The operator for this trip is our experienced sister company Exodus. Your group will therefore be a mixture of Intrepid booked passengers and other international like-minded travellers.
Table of Contents
StyleDeparture taxVisas
ThemesImportant notesIssues on your trip
ItineraryGroup sizeWhat to take
Also available to purchaseYour fellow travellersHealth
Itinerary disclaimerSingle travellersSafety
Culture shock rating AccommodationTravel insurance
Physical ratingMealsResponsible Travel
Included activitiesTransportA couple of rules
Optional activitiesGroup leaderThe Intrepid Foundation
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsResponsible Travel projects
Spending moneyEmergency contactFeedback
TippingEmergency funds
Style
Original
  • Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Themes
Cycling
Itinerary
Day 1 Delhi
Namaste! Welcome to India.
Your trip normally begins at the hotel in the morning of day 1. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the final joining instructions - sent approximately two weeks before departure. These instructions will also include information about where and what time to meet the group.
The rest of the day is used to assemble the bikes and explore locally before and evening briefing.
India's capital is an exciting, busy, and often chaotic city but it's also one of the most interesting in the world with historical sites from different eras, museums and galleries, shops and endless bazaars!
There are plenty of things to see and do in free time. Visit the World Heritage-listed Mughal masterpiece of Humayun's Tomb. This was the first garden tomb in India, built way back in 1570. Wonder at the tall brick minaret of Qutub Minar, which was started back in the 1100s. Explore the mighty Red Fort of Delhi. Part palace and part fort, it plays an integral part in the history of the city with former residents ranging from royal families to British soldiers.
We start cycling early the following morning in order to get used to the Indian weather and city traffic. After cycling for about 25 km we return to the hotel for breakfast and a shower. We then start our sightseeing of New and Old Delhi by bus. The bikes and main luggage will be transferred to Jodhpur by bus (remember to take your required toiletries and other essential items in your day bag). In the evening we transfer to the station and catch the overnight train to Jodhpur.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Itinerary
Included Activities
  • Sightseeing tour of Old and New Delhi
Accommodation
Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Day 3 Jodhpur
We arrive into Jodhpur in the morning and transfer to our hotel where there is free time to relax or have a wander in the surrounding area. In the afternoon we get the bikes out and go sightseeing on two wheels.
India's enigmatic 'Blue City', Jodhpur was founded by the Rajput chief Roa Jodha and was formerly the capital of the state of Marwar The city has a captivating Old Town with palaces, heritage buildings, colourful streets and is surrounded by an immense wall almost ten kilometres in circumference. Jodphur is dominated by the Mehrangarh Fort that stands on a rocky hill commanding the surrounding desert.
In the afternoon we visit the magnificent Meherangarh Fort from where we have a great view of the blue houses, painted to distinguish them as those of Brahmins.
Cycling distance: approx 20 km
Included Activities
  • Jodhpur - Meherangarh Fort
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 4 Udaipur
We start our day cycling for about 35 km, then transfer by bus to Ranakpur where there is time to visit the stunning 15th century Jain temple.
The main temple, beautifully carved from marble, is dedicated to Adinath. It has 29 halls supported by 1444 pillars, each delicately carved with a different design.
We then get back on the bikes and ride through the Aravlli hills for another 40 km before transferring by bus to the stunning lakeside town of Udaipur.
Udaipur undoubtedly lives up to its reputation as India's most romantic city. Rolling hills, white marble palaces and lakes come together appealingly and it's a centre for artists, dancers and musicians. The shopping is also superb, with miniature paintings being the speciality.
We spend the following day cycle sightseeing, visiting the City Palace and Jagdish Temple, which holds a huge black stone image of Jagannath, an aspect of Lord Vishnu. If time allows it may be possible to visit the gardens of Gulab Bag or take a boat trip on the lake.
Cycling distance: approx 75 km day 4 and 20 km day 5.
Included Activities
  • Jain Temples
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 5 Itinerary
Included Activities
  • Palace Complex Entrance
Optional Activities
  • Udaipur - Lake boat ride - INR250
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 6 Kumbhalgarh
It's time to leave this beautiful city and turn north as we cycle to Kumbhalgarh. The route stays away from the main road and follows a less direct but quieter series of back roads and allows us to see the fascinating rural life of India. It can be hot cycling in India but the support vehicle will be on hand if you require a four-wheeled break. Kumbhalgarh has one of the finest examples of defensive fortifications in Rajasthan with a lovely temple and palace with panoramic views.
Cycling distance: approx 75 km
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 7 Pushkar
It's back to the desert scenery today as we make our way to the holy town of Pushkar. Our route today follows rural back roads to the main highway from where we transfer in the vehicle. Reaching Ajmer we turn into the desert to ride to Pushkar via a pass in the Snake Hills. Surrounded by the desert the little town is a holy site on the fringes of a lake. This is a great place to relax and soak up the atmosphere. If you still have the energy a 45 minute climb on foot to the hilltop temple for sunset is recommended before returning to the town to watch the giant bats drink from the lake.
Cycling distance: approx 65 km
Please note, during Pushkar Camel Fair, the itinerary is slightly amended to spend two nights in Pushkar and one night in Sariska National Park in order to maximise time at the festival. Accommodation in Pushkar during the Camel Fair will be in en suite Swiss cottage tents with attached bath, and all meals will be included.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 8 Jaipur
We leave Pushkar on our bikes and travel through desert backroads and small villages to the town of Rupnagar - a marble working centre. There is then the option to extend the ride to the Naraina railway crossing from where we transfer by vehicle to Jaipur.
Cycling distance: approx 94 km
The following day we have a sightseeing tour of Jaipur by bus.
Jaipur, like Delhi, has both old and new parts, although we will concentrate on the old. The streets are busy with camels and bullock-carts, and monkeys make their home in the old city walls. We visit the City Palace, once the home of the Maharaja, before seeing the 18th century Jantar Mantar, an astronomical observatory built by the city’s founder Jai Singh. We’ll also see the famous Palace of the Winds; here royal maidens once watched the streets below through the fabulous jali (lattice screens) which hid them from prying male eyes. Today snake charmers and fortune-tellers ply their trade below the same hideaway.
A few miles from the main city is the splendid Amber Palace, rising above a lake. We walk up the hill and through the massive gateway to the courtyard. Jaipur is a centre of many handicrafts, such as durries (woven rugs), carpets, printed cloth, semi-precious stones and leather ware. It is difficult to leave a workshop without buying anything!
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 9 Itinerary
Included Activities
  • Sightseeing tour of Jaipur
  • Amber Palace, Jaipur
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 10 Sariska National Park
We have a combination of cycling and driving today as we leave Jaipur behind us and return to rural India. We transfer to Jamwa Ramgarh and then cycle to Sariska via Pratap Garh, and through the beautiful landscape of the Aravali foothills. At Sariska we stay in a hotel with private facilities.
Cycling distance: approx 70 km
The following morning we set out by open jeep for a morning game drive into the park. The park itself is very interesting to explore and there is an abundance of wildlife. Leopard sightings are possible (although rare) and there are also deer, wild boar, antelopes, jackals, hyenas, jungle cats and myriad bird species. In the evening there is the option to take another game drive or to visit the nearby village.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 11 Itinerary
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 12 Bharatpur National Park
After breakfast we begin the day's ride from our hotel to Muhwa where we then take a short transfer to our lunch spot. Another short transfer takes us to Bharatpur National Park. This park is known for its Unesco World Heritage-listed bird sanctuary. On arrival in Bharatpur we visit the bird sanctuary on our bikes. The sanctuary is home to an array of egrets, ducks, coots, storks, kingfishers, owls, eagles and harriers. There are now over 360 species of birds to be found here.
Cycling distance: approx 85 km
Included Activities
  • Bird Sanctuary - Bharatpur
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 13 Agra
In the morning we leave Bharatpur and cycle to Fatehpur Sikri.
Fatehpur Sikri was the emperor Akbar's deserted royal city. This impressive and well-preserved citadel became his capital in 1571. The mosque (designed to hold ten thousand worshippers), the palaces, residences and halls of audience are all made from decorative red sandstone. But this magnificence only lasted 14 years, as in 1584 Akbar left Fatehpur Sikri to secure his outlying territories, leaving this city much as we see it today - in perfect condition.
Later we transfer to Agra where we will visit the beautiful white marble Taj Mahal for sunset.
The Taj Mahal is a travel icon. Often described as one of the wonders of the world and familiar to us all, coming face to face with this magnificent building never disappoints. Built in the 1600s by Emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum in memory of his second wife, Mumtaz who died during child-birth, it took over 20,000 people many years to complete. Craftsmen were brought in from all over India, Central Asia and even Europe to work on the marble inlay work and complex decoration. The building is often described as a "monument to love", because of the story of Shah Jahan's love for his wife, the woman who he said claimed his heart at first sight. To see the sunset at the Taj Mahal is a magical experience, sitting quietly and watching as the iridescent white marble takes on a warm glow is a memory you will never forget.
Cycling distance: approx 40 km
Included Activities
  • Agra - Guided Taj Mahal tour
  • Jaipur - Fatehpur Sikri
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 14 Delhi
This morning we will visit the imposing Agra Fort.
Built in 1565 by Emperor Akbar, Agra Fort was originally designed to be a military structure. It was converted to a palace in Emperor Shah Jahan's time with mighty sandstone walls enclosing the beautiful white marble pearl mosque, palaces, halls, courtyards and fountains. The fort eventually became the emperor's prison after he lost power in 1658.
In the afternoon we transfer by bus to Delhi, arriving in the evening in time for dinner.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Included Activities
  • Agra - Agra Fort
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 15 Itinerary
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
  • HZXJ Single Supplement (HZXJ)
  • HZXJ Local Bike Hire - Cycling through Rajasthan - Exodus (HZXJ)
    Itinerary disclaimer
    Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
    Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
    Culture shock rating

    Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
    Physical rating

    This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
    This is a moderately demanding trip, but with plenty of time to explore. We average about 70 km (43 miles) per day, with a total of 11 days of cycling. Cycling is mostly on quiet backroads but occasionally on roads with traffic. This part of India can be very hot.
    Included activities
    Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
    Optional activities
    A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
    Money Exchange
    The official currency of India is the Indian Rupee (INR).
    The most convenient and cheapest way to obtain local currency in is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM), which are readily available in most towns.
    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.
    While traveller's cheques have security advantages exchanging them can be a lengthy process, commissions can be high and they can be difficult to change in rural areas, on weekends and public holidays. The use of credit cards is restricted, mainly to major hotels/establishments.
    Spending money
    Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
    Tipping
    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:
    Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest INR20. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.
    Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest INR100 per day for local guides.
    Porters: Throughout your trip you may at times have a porter in addition to your leader. We suggest INR50 per day for porters.
    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 INR100 per day is generally appropriate.
    Local transport: For a city tour we suggest INR50 per day.
    Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline $US 2-4 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.
    Departure tax
    All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
    Important notes
    LOCAL PARTNER:
    This trip is operated by our trusted local partners, Exodus.
    AGE RESTRICTIONS:
    The minimum age of clients on this trip is 16 years. Please note that teenagers aged 16 or 17 must be accompanied by (and share accommodation with) a parent or legal guardian.
    BIKE HIRE:
    If you need to hire a bike please let us know at time of booking. Your sales consultant will be able to provide you with the cost for bike hire.
    Group size
    Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
    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. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
    www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
    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 Trip Notes. 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.
    Accommodation
    Hotel (13 nts), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
    The overnight train will be booked in 2-Tier sleeper A/C. There are many excellent trains in India however the standard of seating and sleeping is not in line with European standards. All seats are pre-allocated at the time the tickets are issued, meaning that we are not able to guarantee the whole group are together on the train, your leader will manage this as best as possible and will always check on you during the journey. Indian trains are safe to travel on however we would recommend that you keep any valuables with you at all times. Snacks are often offered on board (at an additional cost) but you may wish to purchase your own food prior to the journey. Whilst some trains have western-style facilities, the majority of services are equipped with squat toilets. Please note trains sometimes get delayed for numerous reasons, which is obviously beyond our control, however we endeavour to minimise the impact of these delays on the overall itinerary.
    Accommodation in Pushkar during the festival will be provided in en suite Swiss Cottage Tents with attached bath and all meals will be included.
    Meals
    14 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 1 Dinner
    Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
    Generally you can eat out very cheaply in India. There is a good choice of restaurants and sometimes there is a choice between Indian and Western style food. If you are a vegetarian, India is an ideal destination. Included lunches on riding days are usually taken in local roadside cafes. Please note that service in restaurants can be quite slow.
    Transport
    4x4, Bicycle, Support vehicle, Overnight sleeper train
    A support vehicle is with the group at all times so you only have to carry your day-to-day items. When we take the train we book in 2nd class a/c. In Sariska we take game drives in open topped jeeps.
    If choosing to hire a bike, we use Merida/Trek bikes with front suspension. Bike hire should be arranged at the time of booking. Very occasionally a bike of your size may not be available. We may be able to offer you a bike of a different but acceptable size, or otherwise you must bring your own bike.
    Group leader
    The trip is led by a local English-speaking leader along with a local driver. Local guides will be used at various sights.
    Arrival complications
    We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the emergency contact section below for who to contact depending upon your starting location.
    No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
    Emergency contact
    In the case of genuine crisis or emergency please call our partner EXODUS on their 24 HOUR EMERGENCY NUMBER Tel: +44 (0) 1582 644 100.
    For all other enquiries please contact our Reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week. For further contact details please use the following page:
    Emergency funds
    Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
    Visas
    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
    We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
    INDIA:
    Australia: Yes - in advance
    Belgium: Yes - in advance
    Canada: Yes - in advance
    Germany: Yes - in advance
    Ireland: Yes - in advance
    Netherlands: Yes - in advance
    New Zealand: Yes - in advance
    South Africa: Yes - in advance
    Switzerland: Yes - in advance
    United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
    USA: Yes - in advance
    There is NO visa on arrival in India. Indian visas can NOT be obtained 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.
    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.
    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 and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
    Most 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 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.
    You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
    BRINGING YOUR OWN BIKE:
    Plenty of people choose to bring their own bikes on our cycle trips. If you wish to bring your own bike, please note that we cannot guarantee against small scratches and paintwork damage involved in the loading and unloading from support vehicles.
    HELMETS:
    Please note that helmets must be worn when riding on all our Cycling holidays. You must bring your own helmet with you for this trip, as they are not available for hire.
    EXTRA BIKE BITS:
    You may like to bring your own saddle (excluding the seat post), or over gel cover to fit to the hire bikes. We encourage this, if it's your preference. However, please note that you are responsible for your own equipment, and removing your saddle at the end of the trip. We can't guarantee the return of any bike parts left behind.
    PERSONAL EQUIPMENT::
    A helmet, eye-protection (sunglasses), cycling gloves and water bottles or hydration system (e.g. camelbak). Please note that helmets must be worn when riding off-road on all our Cycling holidays. You must bring your own helmet with you for this trip, as they are not available for hire.
    RECOMMENDED CYCLING CLOTHING::
    Padded cycling shorts (with loose 'over-shorts' where recommended), breathable clothing, and a lightweight waterproof / windproof top. Shoes with relatively stiff soles are better for biking, but are not essential unless you are cycling long distances. Most people want to carry certain items with them during the day while cycling, for this for this we recommend a large bum-bag or small close-fitting day pack.
    FIRST AID KIT:
    You should bring a small, personal first aid kit with you including items such as high factor sunscreen, lip balm and chamois cream if required.
    SARISKA NATIONAL PARK:
    You should take a thick jumper or fleece and warm trousers for the game drive into Sariska National Park where it can get very cold in the early morning. As you will be visiting a national park please do bring some long sleeved neutral coloured clothing. This will help you prevent mosquito bites and will also improve you chances of seeing animals, which are scared of the bright colours.
    Health
    All Intrepid 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 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 and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
    Safety
    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. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
    We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air 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, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group 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 group 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:
    FESTIVALS - HOLI & DIWALI:
    Travelling in India and Nepal during the Holi festival, a lunar festival next held in March 17, 2014 and generally held in March each year, can at times be dangerous - a lot of locals participate in consumption of intoxicating substances. The day has been associated with physical violence and danger. Your leader/guide will be advising 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 our group leader/guide in high risk situation.
    Travelling during the Hindu festival Diwali (a lunar festival next held on 03 November, 2013 and generally held from mid October to mid November every year) 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 in India there are often injuries caused by people exploding them inappropriately. During this festival your leader/guide may be required to alter your itinerary to avoid any dangerous areas to avoid putting the group at risk.
    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 and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
    Travel 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 group 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.
    Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
    Responsible Travel
    We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
    LOCAL DRESS:
    Dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in areas of predominantly hot climate. In many rural areas women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.
    ELEPHANT PERFORMANCES & ELEPHANT RIDING:
    During your visit there may be opportunities to ride elephants and see them perform. While we believe it's important to give our travellers a choice and respect each individual's decision, we recommend that Intrepid travellers bypass this activity. Professional wildlife conservation and animal welfare organisations, including the World Society for Protection of Animals (WSPA), advise that contrary to common belief, captive elephants remain wild animals and despite good intentions, unfortunately many venues are unable to provide the appropriate living conditions elephants require and this ultimately impacts their well-being. While there is some merit in the argument that the money that you pay for the activity goes towards keeping the elephants and their mahouts employed, we know that it also fuels demand for elephants to be captured in the wild or captive bred. We thank you for your support in improving the welfare of these majestic creatures. Further information is available on the below link:
    A couple of rules
    Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
    The Intrepid Foundation
    Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
    The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
    Responsible Travel projects
    Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in India include:
    * Asha Ka Jharna (AKJ) provides services to disabled children and adults. They run three special schools, currently assisting around 160 children, and an old-age home for the short-stay of elderly people. AJK also provides vocational training, participates in diagnostic camps and distributes aids and appliances to physically disabled persons.
    * Deepalaya is focused on building a better future for India's street children. They have assisted more than 44,000 underprivileged children through the provision of food and board, health care, meaningful education and vocational training, counselling and career guidance, understanding, friendship, and warmth and solace.
    * GOONJ channels vital resources to rural India through the distribution of used items such as clothes and household goods. Their school-to-school program of channelling resources like uniforms, shoes, stationery, lunch boxes etc from urban schools to rural schools will benefit more than 35,000 children in its first phase.
    Feedback
    After your travels, we want to hear from you! We realise that our partner company may ask you to complete paper or online feedback following your trip, however we would also like to know what you thought and encourage you to submit your feedback to us too. 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.
    Once you’ve left your feedback with us you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.