Last Modified: 15 Jul 2013
Trip code: HHRCC
Validity: 01 Jan 2012 to 31 Dec 2012
Travel to the far-flung corners of India on this trailblazing adventure. In the north, camel-ride through the desert, immerse yourself in frenetic bazaars, witness pilgrims worshipping in temples, and relive the glory of ancient empires. Venture south to bask in a tropical climate, cruise along Keralan backwaters and come face-to-face with local culture and religion in small rural towns. This fantastic trip finishes off on the gorgeous beaches of Goa - the perfect place to unwind and celebrate an extraordinary journey with a well-deserved cocktail. Enjoy the freedom to be immersed in the diverse cultures of colourful, chaotic, enchanting India.
TRIP CHANGES 2013
Please note that this tour will now begin Every Saturday in 2013 (July - Apr) instead of Every Sunday in 2012 (Jul-Apr). This change will begin from the 12th Jan 2013, please note that the 6th Jan 2013 departure will be unaffected by this change.
Table of Contents
To save you money and the hassle of booking multiple trips, this journey is a combination of some of our most popular adventures so your leader and the composition of your group may change.
- The best value journeys on the planet! On a Basix trip you can expect amazing experiences, but none of the inclusions that you may not want. Which means budget (1-2 star) accommodation, plenty of free time, activities that are optional and the freedom to choose meals to suit your budget. On some trips you may be camping and required to set up your own tent. You'll also have access to a group leader to offer advice and help you uncover the region's hidden gems. On a Basix journey, the way you travel is all a part of the adventure. Depending on the destination and the itinerary, you could find yourself travelling on anything from a donkey to a bus or a private safari vehicle. These trips are ideal for first-time travellers seeking fun and independence with the support of a group leader. They're also ideal for independent travellers looking to make the most of their travel time with minimum hassle and maximum experiences.
Days 1-2 Delhi
Namaste! Welcome to India.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
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.
Join your group leader on an excursion into the sights and sounds of Old Delhi! Set off on the city's modern metro system, then get a taste of India's famed public transport with a cycle rickshaw ride through chaotic streets, such as the famous Chandni Chowk. Make a visit to the Jama Masjid, Delhi's oldest mosque and one of its most impressive buildings, then visit the Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) to learn about the Sikh religion.
Board an overnight train to Jaisalmer (approx 19 hrs). Our sleeper trains along the way are clean and air-conditioned, and are a great way to travel long distances and still get maximum time in each place. Beds are padded berths with sheets, pillow and blankets provided but some people prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. Please note you may be sharing with locals in a same/mixed gender situation. It's advised to bring your own food on this train.
- Delhi - Old Delhi walking tour
- Delhi - Jama Masjid
- Delhi - Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple)
- Delhi - Humayun's Tomb - INR250
- Delhi - Qutb Minar - INR250
- Delhi - Red Fort - INR250
Hotel (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Days 3-5 Jaisalmer/Thar Desert
We should arrive in Jaisalmer around midday if there are no train delays.
Looking like a scene from The Thousand and One Nights as it rises from flat desert surrounds, Jaisalmer is a centre for nomadic tribespeople who come to trade in the narrow twisting alleys full of markets and ornately carved houses.
Discover Jaisalmer's narrow twisted alleys, which are full of markets and ornately carved houses.
Take the opportunity to ride camels out over the sand dunes to spend a night under the stars. At night, the riders get the camp fire burning and cook us dinner. In the morning, wake up early for an amazing desert sunrise, before a simple breakfast. This is a taste of nomadic life and it's definitely travelling at its very best. We sleep under the stars - mattresses and blankets are provided but we don't have tented accommodation.
Visit the Jaisalmer Folklore Museum. Located on the banks of Garsisar Lake in the Mehar Bagh Garden, its wide variety of exhibits offer a great experience for visitors.
- Jaisalmer - Camel safari & overnight desert camp
- Jaisalmer - Folklore Museum - INR10
Guesthouse (2 nts), Camping (with basic facilities) (1 nt)
Days 6-7 Jodhpur
Take a bus across the desert to one of Rajasthan's largest cities, Jodhpur (approx 6 hrs).
Jodhpur is known for its antique shops and the best lassi in India. And yes, it is where those famous trousers come from.
Visit Sadar Bazaar, one of the oldest markets in India. Built around a clock tower amid spice and vegetable markets, juice sellers and sari materials, Sadar Bazaar also has numerous vendors with carts selling everything from Bollywood soundtracks to armfuls of sparkling bangles.
Explore the colossal Mehrangarh Fort and take in the great views from its ramparts, which dominate the city's skyline.
Take a tour of the nearby Bishnoi villages. The Bishnoi are a peaceful nature-loving community and no trip to this region is complete without experiencing the fascinating traditions of the tribespeople of rural Rajasthan.
- Jodhpur - Meherangarh Fort - INR300
- Jodhpur - Trip to Bishnoi villages - INR250
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 8-10 Udaipur
Take a local bus to Udaipur (approx 8 hrs).
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.
On arrival in Udaipur, take a walk around town to help gather your bearings. Explore Udaipur's twisting alleys filled with silver, shoes, bags, leather goods and miniature paintings.
There's plenty to see and do in your free time here:
Enjoy a half hour boat ride on the famous Lake Pichola and see marvels like Lake Palace and Jag Mandir Island (seasonal depending on the water level in the lake).
Visit City Palace, one of the largest royal palaces in India, and check out the unbelievable treasures within - from vivid murals to antiques and royal utensils.
Join the famous Spice Box cooking school and spend a half day learning the secrets of Indian cuisine. With lessons on preparation and cooking, you'll be able to whip up a full Indian meal in no time.
Be part of a musical concert combining seven traditional Rajasthani folk dances.
Check out the Monsoon Palace. Formerly known as the Sajjan Garh Palace, this palatial hilltop residence overlooks Lake Pichola. It was originally named after Maharana Sajjan Singh (1874–1884) of the Mewar Dynasty, who built it in 1884.
Explore Shilpgram, a rural arts and crafts village, which depicts the lifestyles of the tribal people of western India with displays of traditional mud huts and artistic performances.
- Udaipur - Lake boat ride - INR350
- Udaipur - City Palace guided tour - INR115
- Udaipur - Thali cooking class and lunch - INR400
- Udaipur - Cultural dance show - INR100
- Udaipur - Monsoon Palace - INR160
- Udaipur - Shilpgram craft village - INR25
Guesthouse (3 nts)
Days 11-12 Pushkar
Travel by train to the city of Ajmer (approx 7 hrs).
Take private vehicles from Ajmer to our hotel in Pushkar (approx 45 mins).
Pushkar is one of the India's holiest places. It's also a market centre for many of the local village people and a great place to sit back and relax.
Head out to explore Pushkar's main bazaar and many sidestreets - some great bargains can be had, as some of the cheapest clothes and jewellery in northern India can be found here. Walk around the lake, with its bustling ghats and temples, to watch the devout as they worship at the holy waters. Visit the only Brahma Temple in India.
Early risers can make the sunrise hike up the hill to the Savitri Temple for magical views over the town. There could also be a wonderful steaming glass of chai waiting for you if the chai man is there - certainly well worth the trek.
- Pushkar - Brahma Temple - Free
- Pushkar - Savitri Temple - Free
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 13-14 Jaipur
Travel by local bus to the 'Pink City' of Jaipur (approx 4 hrs).
A friendly, busy town crammed with palaces and bazaars full of jewellery, textiles and folk-based arts, Jaipur is a firm favourite with travellers.
Some options for your free time here include:
Travel out to the old capital of Amber and explore the hilltop fort complex known as the Amber Fort.
Make a stop at India's most photographed building after the Taj Mahal, the Hawa Mahal or 'Palace of the Winds'.
Take a walk to the city's crowded and colourful bazaars, which sell a wide variety of artisan goods. Semi-precious stones are the local speciality - be sure to wander by the stalls at least once.
Go to Jaipur's Royal City Palace - one of India's finest - and spend time exploring the various rooms and apartments.
Discover the extravagance of a Bollywood blockbuster, with all the Hollywood-style elements of action, romance, drama and music (sometimes all rolled into one), at the spectacular Raj Mandir Cinema.
- Jaipur - Amber Fort guided tour - INR200
- Jaipur - Hawa Mahal - INR50
- Jaipur - City Palace - INR300
- Jaipur - Bollywood movie at the Raj Mandir Cinema - INR300
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 15 Bharatpur
Travel to Bharatpur by bus (approx 5 hrs).
Bharatpur is home to the famous Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary.
Once the domain of royal duck shooters, the World Heritage-listed Keoladeo Ghana National Park is now regarded as one of the world's most important bird sanctuaries with over 400 different species identified. Even for non-bird fanciers, the forests and wetlands in the area are a welcome respite from the noise and chaos of Indian cities.
- Keoladeo - Bird sanctuary entrance - INR400
- Keolodeo - Cycle rickshaw hire (per hour) - INR210
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 16-17 Agra
Head east by public bus to Agra (approx 2.5 hrs).
Agra is home to one of the world's most recognisable monuments, the Taj Mahal.
Visit the Taj Mahal - a masterpiece of shimmering white marble set amid beautiful formal gardens. Built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his wife Mumtaz, this 'teardrop on the face of eternity' (as it was described by writer Rabindranath Tagore) lives up to all expectations.
Visit Agra Fort on the banks of the Yamuna River. Built in 1565 by Emperor Akbar, the fort was originally designed to be a military structure. It was converted to a palace in Emperor Shah Jahan's time and eventually became his prison after he lost power in 1658.
Leave for Varanasi on an overnight train (approx 12 hrs).
- Agra - Taj Mahal - INR750
- Agra - Red Fort - INR300
Hotel (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Days 18-20 Varanasi
The ultimate destination for all Hindu pilgrims, Varanasi is full of temples, shrines and devotees. It may not be one of the world's cleanest cities but there is no doubt it is one of the world's most amazing.
You have a plenty of free time to explore this holy city:
Wander through the Old City with its maze of narrow alleyways packed full of small shops and stalls. See pilgrims bathing and performing rituals and ceremonies unchanged for hundreds of years; temples full of bell chimes and the smell of incense; the dhobi wallahs and the burning ghats.
Spend the evening soaking up the magical atmosphere of a candle flower ceremony, on a Ganges river cruise as the sun sets.
Start early with a sunrise boat ride on the Ganges, passing the many ghats and temples along the river.
Leave for Kolkata on an overnight train (approx 15 hrs).
- Varanasi - Sarnath - INR250
- Varanasi - Sunset candle flower ceremony - INR100
- Varanasi - Sunrise boat ride - INR50
Hotel (2 nts), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Day 21 Kolkata
Once the capital of British India, Kolkata has had some bad press over the years. Flooded by refugees after the partition of India and famines in Bengal, the city suffered as wave after wave of immigrants pushed its infrastructure to the limit and slums and street dwellers came to symbolise the city to the world. However, the Kolkata of today is renewed and emerging as a major cultural centre with art galleries, museums and a healthy film and theatre scene. With its British architecture, its trams and, of course, the river with its famous bridge, Kolkata is a vibrant and exciting city with plenty to offer.
Head out to browse the flower markets or watch traditional wrestlers at their outdoor gymnasiums.
Today the first half of the tour ends - say goodbye to some group members and get ready to meet the rest of your group tomorrow!
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 22 Chennai
Fly to Chennai for the second half of your trip. This flight is NOT included in the price of this trip and you must arrange your own flight from Kolkata to Chennai. Please book a flight that arrives into Chennai before 3pm so you can meet your new group at 4pm. Make sure you have a printed copy of your flight itinerary so you can enter the airport.
Chennai is an exciting mix of modern commercialism and tropical languor - with plenty of museums, art galleries, historical sites, shops and bazaars to keep you busy.
Head out to see San Thome Basilica and later take an evening stroll along Marina Beach to hang out with the locals.
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 23 Mamallapuram
Leave the city behind for the laidback beaches of Mamallapuram. It's only a short bus journey (approx 2 hrs) along the scenic East Coast Road.
Mamallapuram is a scenic fishing village.
Visit the famous Shore Temple. There's also time to inspect the numerous mandapams (carved pillars in front of temples), watch stone carvers at work, see the fishing fleet or simply relax at a beachside restaurant.
- Mamallapuram - Shore Temple - INR250
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 24-25 Madurai
Transfer from Mamallapuram to Chengalpattu railway station in private jeeps (approx 1 hr).
Board a local train to Madurai (approx 8 hrs).
Crammed full of bazaars, pilgrims, cycle-rickshaws, beggars and street markets, Madurai showcases southern India at its colourful and lively best.
Visit the Sri Meenakshi Temple, which lies at the heart of the city. This ancient, still active temple is a labyrinth of lamp-lit corridors which lead to shrines where some mysterious and interesting rituals are performed.
Wander the bazaars and the tailors' market.
Take an overnight train further south to Varkala (approx 8-9 hrs). Our sleeper train is clean and fan-cooled, a great way to travel long distances and still get maximum time in each place. Please note you may be sharing with locals in a same/mixed gender situation. Most trains have a dining carriage where food/snacks/meals are available. Please bring your own sleeping sheet. The train is not air-conditioned.
- Madurai - Sri Meenakshi Temple - INR50
Hotel (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Days 26-27 Varkala
The picturesque temple town of Varkala boasts a number of yoga and massage centres, but its dramatic cliffs are its most distinctive feature. Sit back in one of the many clifftop cafes to admire the glistening Arabian Sea below, or walk down to the beach for an afternoon of seaside relaxation.
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 28 Kerala Backwaters Homestay
Take a local train along the Keralan Coast to reach Alleppey (approx 2.5 hrs).
Auto rickshaws take us from Alleppey train station to the boarding point for our boats.
Alleppey's sleepy, palm-shaded backwaters are Kerala's hidden treasure. Once an important trading port and now famous for its August 'snake boat' races, Alleppey is the starting point for most journeys into the backwaters and also hosts a mid-December musical festival.
Crossing the backwaters, head to an island village to stay with local families (approx 1 hour).
Explore the backwaters with a local guide to observe the different facets of local life - this is a great chance to meet and talk with the people who live here. Strolling under palm trees and weaving in between the rice fields that cover the island, learn about their lifestyles.
Take a leisurely pole boat ride around the lake and enjoy the outstanding scenery.
Accommodation is on a multishare basis and all the families live within a few hundred metres of each other, with at least one person in the family speaking a reasonable standard of English. Food is traditional Keralan home cooking.
Homestay (1 nt)
Days 29-30 Kochi
Crossing the backwaters by private boat, head for Alleppey (approx 1.5 hrs).
Take a local bus to Kochi (approx 2 hrs).
Spread over several islands, Kochi is a fascinating place full of Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and English influences.
Some options for your free time here include:
Head out to explore the major sights of Fort Cochin and visit the spice bazaars and antique shops. The best way to get around the islands is by using the ferry network.
Visit the Dutch Palace, built by the Portuguese in the middle of the 16th century. It was taken over by the Dutch in 1663, who added some improvements before presenting it to the Rajas of Cochin.
Be part of a Kathakali dance performance. This classical dance is a highly charged and powerful drama that combines devotion and physical virtuosity with symbolic storytelling to produce one of the most impressive and vibrant forms of theatre in the world. It requires lengthy and rigorous training to attain complete control of the body and sensitivity to emotion so as to be able to render all its nuances through facial expressions and hand gestures.
Stay at Intrepid Kaliveedu. This is a special lodge offering very different ambience with large landscaped gardens, air-conditioned rooms and a central location close to most of the sights in Fort Cochin.
Board an overnight train to Bangalore - our gateway to Mysore (approx 13 hrs).
- Kochi - Dutch Palace - INR5
- Kochi - Kathakali performance - INR250
Hotel (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Days 31-32 Mysore
On arrival in Bangalore, take the opportunity to get a taste of India's most modern city - there's some time to hit the streets and grab breakfast.
Board a local bus to Mysore (approx 3 hrs).
Mysore is an easygoing town with a pleasant climate, perfect for wandering around on foot.
A visit to Mysore isn't complete without a look around Mysore Palace. One of the most ornate palaces in India, its interior is a riot of colour, mosaics and mirrors.
Visit the Keshava Temple in Somnathpur - a stunning example of Hoysala temple architecture (approx 1 hr from Mysore).
You have plenty of time to explore the surrounding countryside, so head out and climb Chamundi Hill - site of the Sri Chamundeswari Temple, which is dedicated to Goddess Durga.
Catch the bus to Bangalore (approx 3 hrs).
Board an overnight train and head up to Hampi, via northern Karnataka (approx 10 hrs).
- Mysore - Keshava Temple - INR100
- Mysore - Maharaja's Palace - INR200
- Mysore - Chamundi Hill temple - INR40
Hotel (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Days 33-34 Hampi
Arrive in Hampi and cross the river to our guesthouse by canoe.
Hampi is a beautiful ancient temple town situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra River.
Explore the Vittala Temple - the architectural highlight of Hampi's Vijayanagar ruins.
- Hampi - Vittala temple - INR250
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Days 35-36 Goa
Catch an early morning train from Hospet and reach Goa in the evening (approx 10 -11 hrs).
Famous for the sandy beaches that line its coast, Goa is a fascinating and distinctive region in India's southwest. Brimming with Portuguese influences and bursting with fresh food, this region has earned its idyllic badge.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
Hotel (1 nt)
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.
This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
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.
INTERNAL FLIGHT NOT INCLUDED:
The flight on day 22 from Kolkata to Chennai is NOT included in this trip. You must book this ticket yourself. Please book a flight that arrives into Chennai before 2.00pm so you can meet your new group at 4:00pm.
PUSHKAR CAMEL FAIR:
In 2013 the Pushkar camel fair will be held between approx 9 - 17 November.
In 2014 the Pushkar camel fair will be held between approx 30 October - 6 November.
The Pushkar Camel Fair is undoubtedly one of the most vibrant festivals in India, and can be a true highlight, but please note the fair is based on the lunar calendar, so the fair dates can vary and it can be hard to confirm the exact festival dates.
We will do all we can to ensure that travellers booked on departures that coincide with the fair will get an opportunity to see the best of the festival, but due to the uncertain and flexible nature of this festival we cannot take responsibility if the dates of the fair are changed resulting in your visit not coinciding with the fair.
Pushkar hotels typically raise their rates considerably during the fair so departures across this period will be subject to a surcharge. Unfortunately, although we make bookings months in advance, Pushkar accommodation tend to overbook at this time so we ask for a flexible approach from our travellers who choose to travel at this time.
Maximum of 12 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. 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 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.
Hotel (20 nts), Guesthouse (7 nts), Overnight sleeper train (6 nts), Camping (with basic facilities) (1 nt), Homestay (1 nt)
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 different Intrepid trips 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 (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
Some of the accommodation along the way is very basic, staying in local guesthouses and homestays with limited facilities. Some facilities are shared and some accommodation has cold water only. We use a mixture of air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned rooms.
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.
2 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch, 2 Dinners
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.
Camel, Bus, Train, Auto rickshaw, Overnight sleeper train, Boat, Canoe
LONG TRAVEL DAYS
There are some long travel days and some of the transport can be quite cramped and without air-conditioning.
Sleeper trains in India have berths on both sides of the carriage, with some also having 4-6 berth compartments (dependant on seasonality and the journey). The carriages are multishare, with bunk beds and curtains that close over the beds. Most compartments are air-conditioned.
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.
16A/2 WEA Near Karol Bagh Metro Station
Phone: +91 1142502294
Joining point description
Located in the intriguing Karol Bagh market area, surrounded by a mix of local stalls, shops and restaurants, as well as some western shops. It is only a 25 minutes ride by auto rickshaw (INR70-80 with bargaining) to get to the heart of Delhi, Connaught Place. The hotel features a restaurant and room service, and rooms are equipped with AC, TV & phone. Luggage storage and safe deposit facilities are also available at the hotel.
Joining point instructions
Delhi's Indira Gandhi's International Airport is approximately 25km from Karol Bagh. One of the biggest airports in the world, it can be quite chaotic and can take some time to process your visa and collect your luggage.
The taxi ride from the airport to our starting point hotel takes approx 1 hour and costs between INR 500 - 600 (prepaid traffic police booths).
IMPORTANT: Please avoid taxi touts who tell you that they have a metered taxi parked outside the airport. Previous passengers have complained that they have been charged hefty amount for the transfers.
Alternatively Intrepid offer a pre-arranged transfer service option. Enquire with your agent and advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your trip departure. If you have purchased an arrival transfer please exit by doors 4 & 5 and you will be met in the arrivals hall. If you cannot find your representative, please look for him at Costa coffee.
If you have any problems and cannot locate our representative, or if your flight is delayed please call the following 24 hour numbers:
+91 9911 972 636
+91 9560 849 444
Failing the above please take a taxi to the hotel (using the instructions above) and advise your group leader.
Check in time at hotel is 12 midday.
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.
No. 22, Poonomali, High Road, Near Chennai Central Railway Station
Phone: +91 4425615102
Continuing point description
Emarald Hotel is located at the heart of the City and close to major shopping areas, opposite to the well known Ripon Building, the office of the Mayor of Chennai. The hotel is a short distance from Chennai Central Railway Station. Facilities include a business centre with broadband internet connectivity, 24 hours room service & doctor on call. Rooms have modern amenities like flat screen TV, mini bar, tea and coffee making machines, cold and hot water, hair dryer and direct dialing telephones.
Continuing point instructions
An arrival transfer from the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Transfers cannot be arranged on arrival. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 30 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 Intrepid.
The hotel is within easy walking distance from Central Railway station. The Domestic airport is approx. 20 Km, and the International airport approx. 22 Km. We recommend AVIATION EXPRESS taxi services which are safe and efficient. It should cost you around 500 INR to reach Hotel Emerald depending on your time of arrival.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer you will be met on arrival by an Intrepid representative. The Intrepid representative will be waiting for you in the arrival lounge and will be holding an Intrepid sign bearing your name. Please note that neither the driver nor any representative should ask you for additional payment.
If you cannot find your pre-booked transfer, or you have any concerns about your transfer, please call the representative directly on +91 960 096 5600. If that number is not answered then kindly call our office at +91 931 004 6191.
If you have booked accommodation with us prior to your trip, please present your voucher to the hotel reception on arrival. If there is any problem with your booking please ask the reception to call the Intrepid office on to resolve the issue for you. If there is a problem with your room after check in, please ask the reception desk first to see if the problem can be rectified or your room changed. If you are not satisfied with the resolution offered by the hotel, please then contact the Intrepid office on the number above.
Cobrawaddo, Baga Bardez
Phone: +91 8322276564
Finish point description
The hotel has 24-hour reception, elevator, security deposit boxes and luggage storage. All rooms have AC.
Finish point instructions
A departure transfer from our hotel to the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 30 days prior to your trips start date. If you plan to stay longer, this departure transfer can only be offered in conjunction with post-tour accommodation booked through Intrepid.
A taxi to the airport takes about 1 hour and should cost around INR 1200. Hotel reception or your leader can help you arrange a taxi.
Check-out time from the hotel 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.
TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT:
It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary to store your luggage separately (and unattended) from the group. 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. If your bag does not fit in these areas then often the only place to put it is on your bed or seat. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.
Where Intrepid covers the cost of luggage storage for 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.
Temperatures can be low in the winter months, especially at altitude, so bring a set of warmer clothes including thermal underclothes and a fleece jacket.
A sleeping bag is very useful for the camping and the overnight train journey during the colder months but in the warmer months a sleeping sheet will suffice. If you prefer, a blanket can be bought locally.
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 consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. 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.
Please bring a photocopy of your passport main page and airline ticket if you will require airline reconfirmation at the end of your trip.
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.
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.
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 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!
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
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.
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.
You may stay at hotels with unfenced pools and no life guard on duty.
Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the trip until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by our local representative.
If you have credit card insurance our local representative will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact telephone 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:
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.
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.
Carbon Offset C02-e 769.00 kgs per pax.
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