Last Modified: 22 Oct 2013
India Spicy Family Adventure
Trip code: FTR
Validity: 01 Oct 2012 to 31 Dec 2013
Take the family away on a holiday with a laidback theme. This south west corner of India is a tropical paradise filled with Hindu temples, hill stations, pretty villages, lush green forests and tranquil backwaters. The adventure starts in beautiful spice-scented Cochin and drifts gently through Kerala. Make friends with a rural family over a meal and learn about local cultural traditions. Get up close to the glorious elephants that the region is known for and return home relaxed after a houseboat cruise. Finally, enjoy the Indian Ocean’s beaches to end this unforgettable getaway in style.
Table of Contents
- 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.
Days 1-2 Cochin
Namaste! Welcome to India.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 12noon on Day 1.
After checking into our hotel, you will have time to freshen up and relax, your Group Leader will brief you on what to expect in the days ahead. The rest of the day is free to enjoy as you please. Perhaps we’ll also take in a Kathakali show, a traditional dance drama in which performers wear an incredible amount of colourful costume and make-up. They sway to the music as local legends are retold by this art form dating back 500 years or more.
The next day we'll take a sightseeing tour of Cochin’s main attractions. Cochin (now known by the local name Kochi) – is built around a saltwater lagoon on the Arabian Sea, and remains the commercial capital of Kerala. From the tightly packed streets the scents of cinnamon, cloves and countless other spices mingle in the sea breeze. On the western shore of the Fort Cochin peninsular, rows of cantilevered Chinese fishing nets remind us of Kerala’s trade links with the outside world. The area is also home to a small community of Jews whose descendants sailed into exile some 2,000 years ago - a synagogue still remains. Close by is Mattancherry Palace originally built by the Portuguese and given to the Raja of Kochi in exchange for trading rights. Here we’ll see the remarkable series of murals, which illustrate tales from the sacred epic of the Ramayana.
There is plenty of time to wander through the narrow lanes lined with houses built by the Portuguese, Dutch and British in their own distinctive styles. However it’s not only the extraordinary assortment of architectural styles that can be found but also an array of interesting and tasty local dishes. Still strong on rice, coconuts and fish, local cuisine also embraces influences from Europe and the Arab world. This evening we have included a harbour cruise, a relaxing end to the day!
The Grand (2 nts)
Day 3 Guruvayur
This morning we leave Cochin and head to Guruvayur where we'll check in to our hotel and enjoy some free time to relax. Later we visit the Punathir Kota Elephant Camp – undoubted fun for the kids who will be able to get up close and personal with these gentle giants. Elephants are are loved, revered, groomed and are an integral part of Kerala culture and daily life. Over forty elephants are groomed at the Punathir kota ( kota means 'fort') and are brought as ritual offering to the temple. We can spend a whole afternoon with these huge mammals here. Watching the naughty baby elephants' playful antics is an entertaining experience. The place provides us an opportunity to watch how the sick elephants are medically treated in the traditional manner. We can also watch the training given to the elephants for various ritualistic performances.
Kanoos Residency (1 nt)
Days 4-5 Munnar
After breakfast we’ll board our charter bus for the journey eastward (approx 5-6hrs) to Munnar. We’re now in hill country and should notice the difference in both temperature and humidity from Cochin. Munnar was developed by British tea companies in the early 20th century and many buildings still reflect the town’s days as a British ‘hill station’. Today we can visit a local family and share lunch with them. The following day we explore Eravikulum National Park. This park was established in the 1970’s, primarily as a means of protecting an endangered species of wild goat, the Nilgiri Tahr. The terrain in the park is quite rough and steep but we’ll take a gentle trek along good paths, to spot these animals along with possibly elephants, sambar and macaques. This afternoon there’s time to wander around Munnar’s bazaars.
Nb. Eravikulum National Park is normally closed in April due to breeding season and for a part of the summer, when it's monsoon season. In these instances, we will visit a tea museum and take a guided walk around the town. In addition to this, the lunch with a local family will either take place with a family in Munnar or a family in Periyar, depending on their commitments.
Deshadan Hotel (2 nts)
Days 6-7 Madurai
This morning we continue our journey westward by bus to Madurai, a city with an illustrious history. The journey usually takes around four hours and we should arrive at our hotel around lunch time, however road conditions on this journey may mean the time taken is longer. Madurai is the largest of what are collectively known as ‘The Temple Towns’. South India’s temple architecture is very different to that of the north, but these are iconic structures in their own right. On the northern plains, temples are graced with slim sikaras (towers) whereas here in the south immense gopurams (gateways) carved with thousands of painted Hindu gods are the most striking elements of the Dravidian temples.
Meenakshi temple is no exception - inside is a maze of halls, pillared cloisters and sanctuaries - all of which seem to be decorated with a profusion of murals, carvings and inscriptions. The heady fragrance of incense is everywhere, as is the chanting of priests whose deities are garlanded with colourful flowers. Outside the temple complex the streets are no less enthralling and seem to resemble one huge bazaar with hawkers, stalls and even the occasional passing elephant! Every morning Shiva is taken from his resting place with Meenakshi to the main temple shrine and returned in the evening with great ritual. Tonight, after an afternoon’s exploration, we should have the chance to visit the Meenakshi temple to witness the daily ceremony of ‘Putting Shiva to Bed’. We’ll return to our hotel by cycle or auto rickshaw.
The following day is set aside for us to choose your own activities. We might choose to laze by the hotel pool, or if we’re feeling more energetic, take an auto rickshaw to the impressive Thirumalai Nayak Palace. Built in Indo-Mhugal style, the Palace was restored by the British in the 19th century and retains some beautiful examples of Tamil decoration. Alternatively we may decide to venture further afield, with a visit to Trichy. The focus of Trichy is the towering Rock Fort Temple. We make our way to the entrance and from there climb the 400 plus steps past several shrines onto a rock plateau. From the plateau there are stunning views over the city, coconut palms and paddy field patchwork of the Cauvery River plains. Back down the steps and we can make our way to the old town where the labyrinth of narrow, 18th century streets are lined with craft workshops and small textile shops.
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 8-9 Periyar National Park
We cross from Tamil Nadu into Kerala and drive the five or so hours to Periyar National Park, one of the main wildlife sanctuaries of southern India and one of the countries largest. Situated in the Cardamom Hills region of the Western Ghats, the park covers 777 square kilometres, at an altitude of between 914 and 1,828m. At its centre lies a large artificial lake, built by the British in 1895 to supply water to the region around Madurai and over 15 square kilometres in area. In 1973 the park became part of Project Tiger in an effort to save this wonderful animal from extinction. The park has a rich variety of wildlife - both mammals and birds. We would indeed be lucky to see the elusive tiger and leopard - both of which inhabit the forest, but should certainly see sambar, chital, otter, wild boar and gaur along with a rich variety of birdlife (and the odd leech!). In addition, wild elephants are often seen in the park.
We'll have some free time to relax and get used to the sounds of the wildlife in the park. We might like to take the opportunity to take a bullock and cart ride as part of a community-based eco-tourism project where locals will take us around their village in the valley behind the mountains of the Periyar Tiger Reserve. We could also hire a bike in the village of Kumily and explore the area, visiting the local tea and spice markets, or cycle amongst the cardamom-covered hills. Later on, we’ll spend time at a nearby elephant camp where we can see these majstic animals at close quarters again before rounding the day off with a visit to a local market.
The next day we’ll continue our exploration of the park on foot in a small group; this is one of the few wildlife parks in which visitors are able to walk. We make regular stops to watch for elephant and gaur, as well as monkeys and birds.
- Elephant Camp
- Plantation Visit
Silver Crest Hotel (2 nts)
Days 10-11 Malabar Backwaters
This morning we descend from the hills and make the three hour drive to Kumarakom. Here we board a houseboat to begin a cruise through the complex system of beautiful lagoons and canals known as the ‘Malabar Backwaters’. These waterways are the principal means of communication and trade for scores of homes and villages. Along the banks, at jetties and ferry stops, there's often a wonderful array of produce ready for market - sacks of cashews are piled high next to coconuts.
Our houseboat is a converted kettuvallam (rice barge) constructed in a traditional way from anjali (jackfruit) wood. ‘Kettu’ means knot and ‘vallom' means boat. These giant 80-foot long crafts have been adapted to provide simple but comfortable accommodation. The decks are carpeted with coir matting and furniture made from cane which is of typical southern style. Each boat has air conditioning, an open lounge, deck, kitchenette and a crew, usually comprising two oarsmen and a cook. Traditional lanterns are used as lights.
Our cruise on the backwaters is coming to an end. Before it does, soak up the surroundings and tranquil atmosphere. We may pass houses, perched on strips of land only a few metres wide. Lined with swaying palms, with shimmering green paddy fields beyond, the backwaters make a beautiful and peaceful setting. We may even encounter traditional boats with their huge sails and dragon-carved prows.
Many people are employed in the coconut industry, where the coir (fibres) and copra (white meat) is processed in numerous small, often family-run, mills. Cashews are an important cash crop, and fishing plays an obviously vital role in the economy. After breakfast on board, our houseboat cruise ends at Aleppy where we'll take a transfer to our hotel accommodation.
Overnight boat (1 nt), Coir Village Hotel (1 nt)
Days 12-14 Kovalam
This morning transfer to Kollam railway station and catch the train to Trivandrum (2hrs). Approximately 25 minutes drive from Trivandrum lies your accommodation for the next two nights at Kovalam Beach. We’re free to spend your time here lazing on the beach or by the hotel pool. Alternatively we could have a traditional ayurvedic massage, where oils extracted from plants with medicinal properties are worked into the head, arms, shoulders and back – a perfect trip end for parents. Or what about making a full day journey to the very south of India, to Kanyakumari and look south towards Antarctica! You can explore locally on foot and sometimes bikes can be found to rent out.
On our last evening the Group Leader will no doubt organise a traditional ‘last supper’.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart our accommodation at any time. Please check 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
Kovalam hotel (2 nts)
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.
- FTR - Spicelands & Elephants - Single supplement (FTR)
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.
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.
These trips are a relaxing break. You don't have to worry about doing anything physically demanding unless you want to.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
Heat and humidity during summer (Apr-Jun) in India can be particularly oppressive with temperatures reaching 45 degrees C/113 degrees F.
Age restrictions apply to this trip: minimum age 5. Please note that anyone aged under 18 must be accompanied by (and share accommodation with) a parent or legal guardian.
This trip is operated by our experienced local partner, The Adventure Company.
Maximum of 20 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:
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. On our Family Adventures, single relatives or friends are welcome to travel along with a family. These single travellers share with people of the same gender for the duration of the trip and in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Please note that 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 Comfort and Original style trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (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.
A single supplement is available on this trip, please refer to your booking agent for further information.
The Grand (2 nts), Deshadan Hotel (2 nts), Silver Crest Hotel (2 nts), Kovalam hotel (2 nts), Hotel (2 nts), Overnight boat (1 nt), Kanoos Residency (1 nt), Coir Village Hotel (1 nt)
Accommodation is clean and simple. You'll mainly stay in small, locally-run, 2-3 star hotels and guesthouses, which reflect the character of the area,generally these will be a twin room with private facilities. Sometimes you'll stay in larger, more comfortable hotels or occasionally rustic accommodation with basic facilities. We use a variety of accommodation on most trips; chosen for their value for money, location and atmosphere. We also try and incorporate unique accommodation experiences, such as a night with a local tribe, or sleeping under the stars in the desert.
GENERAL ROOMING CONFIGURATIONS:
Family of two - All family groupings of two will be put into a twin room.
Family of three - Wherever possible we will put you in a triple room. Please be aware that in some places triple rooms are in short supply. This means that, in practice, a triple room will often simply be a twin room with a mattress on the floor or a further bed squashed in. Where it is impossible to provide a triple room, you will have to decide which of your party takes the single room.
Family of four or more - You will most likely stay in two twin rooms. If and wherever possible we will aim put you in a quadruple room. Whilst we will do our very best to ensure that families are roomed close together (in some cases, we can arrange adjoining rooms), we can’t guarantee this. Most family holidays occur during peak season and we sometimes have little to no control over where you will be put. You need to come prepared for this.
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.
13 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Budget for meals not included:
Private Bus, Train
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.
M.G. Road Ernakulam
Joining point description
Centrally located on MG Road, all rooms are equipped with en suite bathroom, AC, internet, telephone, TV, miini bar & safe. The hotel features 24-hour room service, restaurant & laundry service.
Joining point instructions
Kochi's (Cochin) International Airport is 50km north east of the city. Taxis are the only available transport, and the journey takes approx. 90minutes. An air conditioned taxi costs approx. INR 1000 from the prepaid taxi booth in the arrivals hall. DO NOT hand your receipt to the driver until you have arrived at the hotel. Ignore any suggestions that "the hotel has burnt down" or "the hotel is full". Rest assured the hotel is there as is your booking.
An arrival transfer from the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure. If you plan to arrive earlier, this arrival transfer can only be offered in conjunction with pre-tour accommodation booked through The Adventure Company.
If you have pre-purchased an arrival transfer look for our local operator that will be waiting for you holding a sign with your name and The Adventure Company logo.
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
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.
Sagara Beach Resort
Light House Road
Finish point description
Sagara Beach Resort facilities include laundry, doctor on call, currency exchange and safe deposit. The hotel also has an Ayurvedic Centre, swimming pool and a restaurant on the roof.
Finish point instructions
A departure transfer is available - please enquire at time of booking.
A taxi to Trivandrum airport takes about 45 minutes and should cost between INR600-800. Hotel reception or your leader can help you arrange a taxi.
Normal check out time is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.
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 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.
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.
During the wildlife drives in open jeeps/canter (especially from October to mid March) it can be rather chilly so please pack warm clothing. It may also be a good idea to take a smart casual outfit for an evening out.
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 end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilized water stored in the purpose-built storage tank or in water jerry cans in your overland vehicle. You're free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like.
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.
As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water, even in hotels, as it contains much higher levels of different minerals than the water you may have at home. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for visitors drinking the tap water can result in illness. Generally this isn't serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it's enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday. Bottled water is widely available and your leader can recommend safe alternatives when available. Water consumption should be about 3 litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies.
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.
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!
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.
UNFENCED CAMP SITES:
On some trips you will at times stay in unfenced camp sites within national parks. While this is a fantastic experience, there are a few safety rules to follow. While staying in national parks it's important that you listen to any advice given by your tour leader and the park rangers regarding responsible and safe behaviour.
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:
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:
When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative and you should dress accordingly. To respect the local culture and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. As a guideline, shoulders and knees at the minimum (and everything in between including midriff and cleavage) should be covered at all times. Wearing shorts and singlet tops is not appropriate and may well restrict your entry into sites of a religious nature, family homes, and will limit your local interaction opportunities in general. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in the predominantly warm climate.
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.
Any donations you'd like to make can be given to your group leader in Delhi ONLY, they can then arrange for it to be passed on to GOONJ who will distribute these items to rural villages and people in need. You might like to consider taking over some clothes or other things you no longer require: woollens, footwear, bed sheets, blankets, utensils, first aid items, books, toys and school items - notebooks, pencils, pens, old uniforms or school bags - are all useful.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! This is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next trip if your feedback is completed online within 4 weeks of finishing your trip.