India Unplugged Trip Notes

India Unplugged

Last Modified: 12 Jul 2016
India Unplugged
Trip code: HHRCC
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
Travel to the far-flung corners of India on this trailblazing adventure tour. In the north, ride camels through Jaisalmer's desert, lose yourself in the electric bazaars of Jodhpur, witness pilgrims performing ancient ceremonies on the ghats of Varanasi and marvel at the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra. Bask in the tropical southern climate, cruise along the Kerala Backwaters and come face-to-face with local customs in small rural towns. This fantastic trip finishes off on the gorgeous beaches of Goa – India's idyllic beachside holiday destination. Enjoy the freedom to be immersed in the diverse cultures of colourful, chaotic and enchanting India. TRIP CHANGES FOR 2017: From 1st January 2017 this trip will visit Abhaneri and its phenomenal step wells on day 15 replace the night in Bharatpur and optional bird sanctuary visit. There are no other major itinerary changes.
Table of Contents
StyleYour fellow travellersFinish point
ThemesAccommodationEmergency contact
Is this trip right for you?Accommodation NotesVisas
Why we love itMeals introductionWhat to take
MapMealsClimate and seasonal information
ItineraryMoney mattersHealth
Itinerary disclaimerGroup leaderTravel insurance
Physical ratingSafetyA couple of rules
Included activitiesJoining pointResponsible Travel
Important notesJoining point descriptionThe Intrepid Foundation
Group sizeJoining point instructionsFeedback
Style
Basix
Themes
Explorer
Is this trip right for you?
- This trip involves some long bus and train rides, which can be tiresome but offer a quintessential Indian experience.
- Sleeper trains are clean and air-conditioned and a great way to travel long distances while still getting maximum time in each place. Beds are padded berths with sheets, pillow and blanket provided (although some people prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet). Please note that you may be sharing with locals of the same or opposite gender. For your own security, take a lock for your hand luggage.
- We visit a number of temples on this trip, which requires a certain level of modesty. Please bring clothes that cover the arms and pants/skirts that go past the knees. A light scarf is also a good idea for covering shoulders and arms when it’s hot.
- Depending on the time of year, temperatures in northern India can get very hot and very cold. Please bring layers and a range of adequate clothing, including thermals and sun protection.
- When camping in the Thar Desert, you’re truly in the middle of nature, so conditions are basic and there are no toilet facilities. Please bring water, face wipes, hand sanitizer and any other supplies you may need.
- You will also be travelling by local bus on this trip. While conditions are basic, this is a great way to rub shoulders with the locals while enjoying the passing scenery.
Why we love it
- Experience old and new India in the bustling streets of Delhi, where ancient temples stand against billboards advertising Bollywood films
- Discover the ancient forts, lake palaces, rural villages and colourful cities of Rajasthan: sandy red Jaisalmer, blue Jodhpur, white Udaipur and pink Jaipur
- Ride out into the Thar Desert on a camel safari. Feast on Rajasthani cuisine at sunset before bunking down to camp between the sand dunes
- The Taj Mahal in Agra may be one of the most recognisable buildings in the world, but its poetic history and beauty have the power to surprise even the most jaded travellers
- Pushkar and Varanasi are among the holiest cities in India. Climb to hilltop temples at sunrise, dodge cows in the street, and observe pilgrims praying and bathing along the ghats of the sacred Ganges River during a boat cruise
- A homestay with a local family is a special experience, especially in the serene backwaters of Kerala
- The city of Madurai showcases southern India at its liveliest. Explore the city’s bazaars and discover the colourful, intricately carved Sri Meenakshi Temple
- Visit the World Heritage-listed Virupaksha Temple in Hampi, a spectacular monument surrounded by ruins
- Golden beaches and age-old fishing villages make Goa one of India’s most tranquil retreats – and the perfect last stop on your adventure
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 Delhi
Namaste! Welcome to India.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
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 an option for 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.
Optional Activities
  • Delhi - Humayun's Tomb - INR500
  • Delhi - Qutub Minar - INR500
  • Delhi - Red Fort - INR500
    Accommodation
    Hotel (1 nt)
    Day 2 Delhi
    In the morning, set off with the group to explore Old Delhi on a guided walking tour. Experience the chaos of an Indian traffic jam, as you inch your way through the streets around Chandni Chowk marketplace in a traditional cycle rickshaw. Visit the Jama Masjid, Delhi's oldest and India’s largest mosque, and then stop by the Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) to learn about the Sikh religion. Tonight board a 19-hour overnight train to Jaisalmer. Local vendors will board the train at various stops to sell snacks, but it’s advised that you bring your own food for the journey.
    Included Activities
    • Delhi - Old Delhi Walking Tour
    • Delhi - Jama Masjid
    • Delhi - Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple)
      Accommodation
      Overnight Sleeper Train (1 nt)
      Day 3 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.
      Maybe 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.
      Pack a small overnight bag for our travels today and leave your big luggage at our hotel until our return.

      Today brings an opportunity to ride camels out over the sand dunes to spend a night under the stars in the beautiful Thar Desert. We get driven by jeep to the camel camp, meet our guides and ride through the desert to our camping spot for the night (up to 3 hours).

      After our ride we set up our camp and our guides will get a camp fire going to cook dinner. We truly are under the open sky here, with mattresses, pillows, sheets and blankets provided for camping out.

      Wake up early the next morning for an amazing desert sunrise before a simple breakfast. Then we ride our camels again (up to 90 min) back to our drop off point to return by jeep to the city.

      IMPORTANT INFORMATION:
      Please note that during winter months (Dec/Jan) temperatures in the desert can drop below zero. Your leader will monitor the weather forecast to decide whether this activity will be able to go ahead. Should weather conditions prohibit us from camping, we will take a day trip to the Thar Desert instead of the overnight stay. Some travellers have also preferred to being sleeping bags for camping in winter months. We recommend that travellers to India during this time of year bring adequate warm clothing, including thermals as even in the cities the temperatures can be low and hotels often are not centrally heated.
      Included Activities
      • Jaisalmer - Camel safari & overnight desert camp
        Accommodation
        Overnight Camel Safari (1 nt)
        Meals
        1 dinner
        Day 4 Jaisalmer
        Rise early to enjoy the sunrise over the sand dunes before having a simple breakfast. The ride back to the drop off point from the desert takes around 90 minutes. Return to the city by jeep, where you can take an optional trip to the Folklore Museum. This small museum displays printing blocks, musical instruments, religious artefacts and camel decorations, offering insights into the cultural heritage of Jaisalmer.
        Optional Activities
        • Jaisalmer - Folklore Museum - INR10
          Accommodation
          Guesthouse (1 nt)
          Meals
          1 breakfast
          Day 5 Jaisalmer
          Today is a free day to explore Jaisalmer. This old fortress city has long been a centre for nomadic tribespeople who come to trade in the twisting alleys and markets inside the walls. Perhaps visit the Jain temples, do some shopping or admire the ornate havelis (traditional Indian houses) found throughout the city.
          Accommodation
          Guesthouse (1 nt)
          Day 6 Jodhpur
          Catch an early morning air conditioned train through the desert to Jodhpur (approx. 6hrs)
          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.
          Included Activities
          • Jodhpur - City walk
            Accommodation
            Hotel (1 nt)
            Day 7 Jodhpur
            You have the option to visit the colossal Mehrangarh Fort today. The fort is one of the largest in India and is still run by the Jodhpur royal family. Explore the palaces, galleries and artillery inside the fortress walls and admire great views over the city. Today’s other option is to take a tour of the nearby Bishnoi villages. Take a glimpse into rural Rajasthani life and learn about the rich cultural traditions of these peaceful, nature-loving tribespeople.
            Optional Activities
            • Jodhpur - Village Day Trip - INR700
            • Jodhpur - Meherangarh Fort - INR600
              Accommodation
              Hotel (1 nt)
              Day 8 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).
              If time, 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.
              Accommodation
              Guesthouse (1 nt)
              Day 9 Udaipur
              Enjoy a free day to explore the sights of Udaipur. Perhaps take a short boat ride on the famous Lake Pichola and see the palaces of Jag Mandir and Jag Niwas rise out of the water of their own reflections (season depending). Take a guided tour of the lakeside City Palace complex, the largest palace in Rajasthan. While inside, check out vivid murals and royal antiques, and pop into the impressive Jagdish Temple that’s dedicated to the Lord Vishnu. Alternatively, learn the secrets behind making the perfect Indian thali during a half-day cooking class at the Spice Box school.
              Optional Activities
              • Udaipur - Lake Pichola Boat Ride - INR300
              • Udaipur - City Palace - INR250
              • Udaipur - Cooking Class - INR500
                Accommodation
                Guesthouse (1 nt)
                Day 10 Udaipur
                Today’s excursion sees you visit Sajjan Garh (Monsoon Palace). Perched atop a hill overlooking Lake Pichola and built it in 1884, the palace was named after Maharana Sajjan Singh of the Mewar Dynasty. You might like to join a trip to the nearby rural arts and crafts village of Shilpgram, where mud huts, artistic performances and traditional rural ways of life can be observed. Back in Udaipur, enjoy a concert combining seven traditional Rajasthani folk dances.
                Optional Activities
                • Udaipur - Cultural dance show - INR150
                • Udaipur - Monsoon Palace - INR300
                • Udaipur - Shilpgram craft village - INR25
                  Accommodation
                  Guesthouse (1 nt)
                  Day 11 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 CAMEL FAIR:
                  In 2015 the Pushkar camel fair will be held between approx 18th Nov - 25th Nov. 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.
                  The following 2015 departures will be in Pushkar during the festival:
                  6th November
                  11th November
                  13th November
                  Included Activities
                  • Pushkar - Walking Tour
                    Accommodation
                    Hotel (1 nt)
                    Day 12 Pushkar
                    Early morning risers can hike up the hill to the Savitri Temple for sunrise views over the town. If the chai man is there enjoy a steaming cup of tea at the top. Later in the day pay a visit to the colourful Brahma Temple, which is dedicated to the Hindu god, Brahma. If you’re lucky enough to be in town for the Pushkar Camel Fair, experience one of India’s most famous festivals.

                    Notes: The Pushkar Camel Fair is held in November each year. However, the fair is based on the lunar calendar so dates can vary and be hard to confirm. We will do all we can to ensure that travellers booked with a trip to coincide with the fair will get an opportunity to see the best of the festival, but we cannot take responsibility if the dates of the fair change. Pushkar hotels raise their rates considerably during the festival, so departures across this period will be subject to a surcharge. Although we make bookings months in advance, accommodation in Pushkar tends to overbook at this time. That’s why we ask for a flexible approach from people travelling at this time.
                    Optional Activities
                    • Pushkar - Brahma Temple - Free
                    • Pushkar - Savitri Temple - Free
                      Accommodation
                      Hotel (1 nt)
                      Day 13 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 photos 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.
                      For many travellers a hot air balloon experience is one of the highlights of Jaipur. Ballooning can be done over Jaipur on the morning of day 14 between Sep & Jun. For additional information please see the important notes section of your trip notes.
                      Included Activities
                      • Jaipur - Walking Tour
                        Accommodation
                        Hotel (1 nt)
                        Day 14 Jaipur
                        For many travellers, a hot air balloon experience is one of the highlights of Jaipur. Ballooning can be done over the city early in the morning between September and June. For additional information, please see the ‘Important Notes’ section of the trip notes. In the afternoon, visit the Amber Fort. Set on a hilltop overlooking Maota Lake, the fort is an excellent example of Rajput architecture. Entering the Sheesh Mahal (Hall of Mirrors) is a particularly memorable experience.
                        Optional Activities
                        • Jaipur - Amber Fort - INR500
                        • Jaipur - Hawa Mahal photo stop - INR200
                        • Jaipur - City Palace - INR400
                        • Jaipur - Movie at the Raj Mandir Cinema - INR400
                        • Jaipur - Balloon Safari - USD250
                          Accommodation
                          Hotel (1 nt)
                          Day 15 Bharatpur
                          Travel to Bharatpur by private vehicle (approx. 5 hours)
                          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.
                          Optional Activities
                          • Bharatpur - Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary - INR500
                          • Bharatpur - Cycle Rickshaw Hire (3 hours) - INR750
                            Accommodation
                            Hotel (1 nt)
                            Day 16 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).
                            Optional Activities
                            • Agra - Taj Mahal - INR1000
                            • Agra - Agra Fort - INR550
                              Accommodation
                              Hotel (1 nt)
                              Day 17 Agra
                              Today explore the spectacular Red Fort on the banks of the Yamuna River. Built in 1565 by Emperor Akbar, the fort was originally designed to be a military structure. If you have extra time, you may like to continue onto Akbar's Mausoleum to pay your respects to the great emperor. In the evening, take a 12-hour overnight train to Varanasi.
                              Accommodation
                              Overnight Sleeper Train (1 nt)
                              Day 18 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.
                              Depart for Delhi on the overnight train. Depart Varanasi around 7:30pm arriving into Delhi around 8:30am
                              Included Activities
                              • Varanasi - Old City Walking Tour
                                Accommodation
                                Hotel (1 nt)
                                Day 19 Varanasi
                                Start very early with a sunrise boat trip along the Ganges, passing pilgrims bathing and praying along the colourful ghats. See dhobi-wallahs (washerwomen and men) drying clothes along the riverbank. Make sure you keep an eye out for the sinking Vishnu temple near the Manikarnika Ghat. The rest of the day is free for you to do as you please. Perhaps take a trip out to Sarnath, where Buddha gave his first speech after finding enlightenment. The Dhamekh Stupa dominates the landscape of this holy site.
                                Optional Activities
                                • Varanasi - Sarnath day trip (entry only) - INR250
                                • Varanasi - Sunset Candle Flower Ceremony - INR120
                                • Varanasi - Sunrise Boat Ride - INR60
                                  Accommodation
                                  Hotel (1 nt)
                                  Day 20 Varanasi
                                  In the morning, you have some free time to explore more of Varanasi. Perhaps visit the Vishwanath Temple, which is laden with 800 kg of gold plating. Slow down your pace with a visit to the Kriti Gallery, which displays the work of local Indian artists. In the afternoon, board a 15-hour overnight train to Delhi.
                                  Accommodation
                                  Overnight Sleeper Train (1 nt)
                                  Day 21 Delhi
                                  We arrive late morning today from our overnight train.
                                  You have a free rest of the day to explore Delhi. Your leader will be on hand to give you some suggestions.
                                  Accommodation
                                  Hotel (1 nt)
                                  Day 22 Trivandrum
                                  Enjoy a free morning in Delhi before making your way to the airport to fly to Trivandrum.
                                  The internal flight from Delhi to Trivandrum is NOT included. Please book a flight that arrives into Trivandrum before 4.00pm so you can meet your new group at 6:00pm.
                                  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.
                                  Accommodation
                                  Hotel (1 nt)
                                  Day 23 Varkala
                                  Varkala sits on India's Keralan coast and is home to some of the whitest and most pristine beaches in the whole country. The sandy bay here is protected by soaring cliffs, the beach sits below the rock face, whilst the town itself sits prettily along the cliff edge above, a string of laid-back bars, restaurants, guesthouses and hotels. It's a great place to just kick back and relax, but if you want to get active, there are plenty of water sports on offer. Sitting on the sand and watching the sun dip below the horizon is the perfect way to end a day here.
                                  Accommodation
                                  Resort (1 nt)
                                  Day 24 Varkala
                                  Enjoy a free day in Varkala. This is a great place to sit back and relax, but if you want to get active there are plenty of water activities on offer, such as surfing and windsurfing. Even though this is a popular destination for Indian tourists, the beaches are quiet and laid-back. If you have time, perhaps rent a scooter and ride through fishing villages to Varkala Light House.
                                  Accommodation
                                  Resort (1 nt)
                                  Day 25 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.
                                  Included Activities
                                  • Kerala Backwaters - Pole Boat Ride
                                  • Kerala Backwaters - Village walk
                                    Accommodation
                                    Homestay (1 nt)
                                    Meals
                                    1 dinner
                                    Day 26 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.
                                    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.
                                    We will reach Kochi around midday. Today we will go on an orientation walk with our leader and take in the sights in the vicinity of our accommodation.

                                    Some of the sights to see include St Francis Church, Santa Cruz Basilica and the famous Chinese fishing nets.

                                    There's the option of attending a Kathakali dance performance tonight at 5pm. 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.

                                    The following day we will head to the Mattancherry part of Fort Kochi where we explore the old Jewish quarter, Synagogue and Dutch Palace. The tour takes approximately 2-3 hours after which the rest of the day is free.

                                    In your free time why not join one of our Urban Adventures such as Fort Kochi by Bike, Home Cooked Kochi or Kochi Food & Culture Tour. Please check with your leader in advance if you would like to book one of these tours and they can assist in making arrangements.
                                    Included Activities
                                    • Kochi - Fort Kochi sightseeing
                                      Accommodation
                                      Hotel (1 nt)
                                      Meals
                                      1 breakfast
                                      Day 27 Kochi
                                      Today, head to the Mattancherry part of Fort Cochin to explore the old Jewish quarter, synagogue and Dutch Palace (Kochi Palace) on a guided walking tour. The tour takes around three hours, with the rest of the day free to do as you wish. Why not join one of our Urban Adventures day tours, such as Fort Cochin by Bike, Home Cooked Kochi or Kochi Food and Culture Tour. Please check with your leader in advance if you’d like to book one of these trips.
                                      Optional Activities
                                      • Kochi - Dutch Palace - INR5
                                      • Kochi - Kathakali performance - INR300
                                        Accommodation
                                        Kaliveedu Lodge or similar (1 nt)
                                        Day 28 Periyar National Park
                                        Set high in the ranges of the Western Ghats is the Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve. This wildlife sanctuary surrounds a picturesque lake, formed by the building of a dam in 1895, which meanders around the contours of the wooded hills and provides a permanent source of water for the local wildlife. Though it's a tiger reserve, tourists come here to view the Indian elephants in the act of ablution and playfulness by the lake.
                                        Included Activities
                                        • Periyar - Spice farm tour & dinner
                                          Accommodation
                                          Hotel (1 nt)
                                          Meals
                                          1 dinner
                                          Day 29 Periyar
                                          After breakfast, enjoy a free day with an optional walk around Periyar National Park. Be on the look out for tigers and other wildlife such as bison, wild boar, elephants and spotted deer. Set high in the ranges of the Western Ghats, this wildlife sanctuary surrounds a picturesque lake formed by the building of a dam in 1895. If you’re lucky, you might even see Indian elephants bathe playfully in the lake.
                                          Optional Activities
                                          • Periyar National Park - Guided Wildlife Walk - INR200
                                            Accommodation
                                            Hotel (1 nt)
                                            Day 30 Madurai
                                            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.
                                            Included Activities
                                            • Madurai - Walking tour
                                              Optional Activities
                                              • Madurai - Sri Meenakshi Temple - INR50
                                              • Madurai - Aayiram Kaal Mandapam - INR50
                                                Accommodation
                                                Hotel (1 nt)
                                                Day 31 Madurai
                                                Today is a free day in Madurai. Perhaps head to the Ghandi Museum to learn about the man who fought for India’s independence or wander through the 1,000 pillars of Aayiram Kaal Mandapam. This is also a great opportunity to haggle with vendors at the bazaars and the tailors' market. In the evening, take an overnight sleeper train to Mysore (approximately seven hours). Sleeper trains are clean and air-conditioned, and beds are padded berths with sheets, pillow and blanket provided (although some people prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet). Please note that you may be sharing with locals of the same or opposite gender.
                                                Accommodation
                                                Overnight Sleeper Train (1 nt)
                                                Day 32 Mysore
                                                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.
                                                Board an overnight train from Mysore and head up to Hampi, via northern Karnataka (train departs approx 7pm and journey takes around 10 hrs).
                                                Included Activities
                                                • Mysore - Orientation Walk
                                                  Optional Activities
                                                  • Mysore - Keshava Temple - INR200
                                                    Accommodation
                                                    Hotel (1 nt)
                                                    Day 33 Mysore
                                                    Today is a free day in Mysore, with plenty of optional activities to keep you busy. Perhaps explore the countryside surrounding Mysore. Climb up Chamundi Hill to the Sri Chamundeswari Temple at the top, which is dedicated to the goddess Durga. At 7 pm board an overnight 10-hour train to Hampi via northern Karnataka.
                                                    Optional Activities
                                                    • Mysore - Maharaja's Palace - INR200
                                                    • Mysore - Chamundi Hill & Temple - INR100
                                                      Accommodation
                                                      Overnight Sleeper Train (1 nt)
                                                      Day 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.
                                                      We drive to Hubli (approx 3 hours) and jump on an overnight train to Goa (approx 8-9 hours).
                                                      Optional Activities
                                                      • Hampi - Vittala temple - INR250
                                                        Accommodation
                                                        Guesthouse (1 nt)
                                                        Day 35 Hampi
                                                        After breakfast, explore the ruins of the Vijayanagar Empire and the huge boulders on the outskirts of town. Use the rest of the day to explore. In the early evening, drive for around three hours by private vehicle to Hubli, where you’ll board an overnight nine-hour train to Goa.
                                                        Accommodation
                                                        Overnight Sleeper Train (1 nt)
                                                        Day 36 Goa
                                                        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.
                                                        Accommodation
                                                        Guesthouse (1 nt)
                                                        Day 37 Goa
                                                        There are no activities planned for the final day and you’re able to depart the accommodation at any time. Goa is a great place to end the trip – if you can, we recommend staying on for a couple of nights to relax and explore.
                                                        Itinerary disclaimer
                                                        ITINERARY CHANGES 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. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! 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. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.

                                                        OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
                                                        Physical rating

                                                        Included activities
                                                        Delhi - Old Delhi Walking Tour
                                                        Delhi - Jama Masjid
                                                        Delhi - Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple)
                                                        Jaisalmer - Camel safari & overnight desert camp
                                                        Jodhpur - City walk
                                                        Pushkar - Walking Tour
                                                        Jaipur - Walking Tour
                                                        Varanasi - Old City Walking Tour
                                                        Kerala Backwaters - Pole Boat Ride
                                                        Kerala Backwaters - Village walk
                                                        Kochi - Fort Kochi sightseeing
                                                        Periyar - Spice farm tour & dinner
                                                        Madurai - Walking tour
                                                        Mysore - Orientation Walk
                                                        Important notes
                                                        1. The internal flight from Delhi to Trivandrum is NOT included. Please see important notes for details.
                                                        2. Please see website for Pushkar Camel Fair dates
                                                        3. This trip is a combination of two of our most popular departures. As such the make up of your group and your tour leader may change on day 22.


                                                        Group size
                                                        Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
                                                        Your fellow travellers
                                                        GROUP TRAVEL
                                                        As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

                                                        SINGLE TRAVELLERS:
                                                        Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
                                                        Accommodation
                                                        Camping (with basic facilities) (1nt), Guesthouse (7nt), Heritage Property (2nt), Homestay (1nt), Hotel (18nt), Overnight sleeper train (6nt), Resort (2nt)
                                                        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.

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

                                                        PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
                                                        If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (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.
                                                        Meals introduction
                                                        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.
                                                        Meals
                                                        2 breakfasts, 3 dinners
                                                        Money matters
                                                        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.

                                                        Look for Bank of India or ICICI ATM's. Our experience has shown they are the most reliable ATM's to use for withdrawals. Your tour leader should be able to direct you to these banks.

                                                        Foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded can be very difficult to exchange, so please bring clean bills, and small denominations are most useful.

                                                        The use of credit cards can be restricted, mainly to major hotels, shops and establishments.

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

                                                        Over the years we have found that many of our travellers find the need for tipping to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if they don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, we have established a tipping kitty system. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members.

                                                        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-INR150 per day is generally appropriate.

                                                        Local transport: For a half day city tour we suggest INR50 per day. For a full day city tour we suggest INR100 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 5-7 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.

                                                        Budget for meals not included: 180.00

                                                        EMERGENCY FUNDS
                                                        Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.

                                                        Hot air balloon flights are operated by Sky Waltz in Jaipur. Flights operate mornings from September to June and morning and evening from September to March.
                                                        Morning flights depart around sunrise and evening flights late afternoon and last 60 mins. Return transfers, tea and coffee plus light refreshments and a certificate of flight are included in the cost.
                                                        You can register your interest and pay your tour leader at your joining meeting on day 1 of your trip.
                                                        Payment must be made by cash in either INR/AUD/USD/GBP only and is USD$250pp (subject to change)
                                                        Flights are subject to weather conditions and tickets are fully refundable in case of poor weather.

                                                        COMMISSION:
                                                        The receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops, services or activities is ingrained in the culture of the Indian tourism industry.
                                                        In an effort to best control and monitor shopping and activities with an aim for the best experience possible, Intrepid has established a system of carefully selected shopping experiences and activities based on positive feedbacks from our previous travellers. On occasion these will be as part of included walking tours or outside of included activities in free time. Please note that if you feel that you do not wish to join in on these shopping experiences we assure you there is no obligation and if you indicate your desire to not partake your group leader will help to facilitate a suitable alternative during this time.
                                                        Intrepid have set up a centralised system of receiving payments from these recommended suppliers, of which are then distributed towards local Responsible Travel projects (such as 'say no to plastic' cotton bags for our travellers and drinking water refilling stations), traveller information packs, and leader bonuses. Further details of these arrangements can be provided by your group leader on request.
                                                        While Intrepid endeavours to ensure that these suppliers and services maintain reasonable levels of quality, please note recommended suppliers are chosen based on past travellers feedback and experiences and Intrepid cannot explicitly guarantee the quality of the product. A priority in establishing this fund is that the experience of you our traveller is not compromised in any way. Please let us know via the feedback after your trip if we are successfully meeting this objective.
                                                        Group leader
                                                        All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

                                                        Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
                                                        Safety
                                                        Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our 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 leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

                                                        For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:

                                                        http://www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us/safety

                                                        FESTIVALS - HOLI & DIWALI:
                                                        Travelling in India and Nepal during Holi can at times be unsafe - drinking and drug use is more widespread during this holiday. Your leader/guide will advise your group on what places to avoid on the day.
                                                        It may be necessary to alter your itinerary for the day.

                                                        Diwali (a lunar festival generally held from mid October to mid November every year) is celebrated by local people letting off fireworks in the street. It can be very noisy for several days with extra pollution caused by 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 large crowds gathering and using fireworks.

                                                        HERITAGE HOTELS:
                                                        On this trip you will be staying in some heritage hotels and traditional guesthouses, and these are one of the charms of this trip, but occasionally staircases, balconies and passages etc don't always comply with western safety standards. Please don't expect elevators in these properties as they are preserved to their original state.

                                                        PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
                                                        While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

                                                        TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
                                                        Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!

                                                        SEAT BELTS:
                                                        Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.

                                                        LIFE JACKETS:
                                                        While life jackets are generally available on water craft, there may be occasions where they are not provided and child size life jackets are not always readily available. If travelling with children and this safety issue concerns you we will be able to advise alternative methods of transport (where available) for you to travel to the next destination. You can choose to travel independently for this leg of the journey. This would be at your own expense.

                                                        FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
                                                        Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

                                                        SWIMMING POOLS:
                                                        You may stay at hotels with unfenced pools and no life guard on duty.

                                                        BALCONIES:
                                                        Some hotel balconies don't meet western standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.

                                                        SAFETY FOR WOMEN TRAVELLERS:
                                                        Women should exercise caution when travelling in India. Reported cases of sexual assault against women are increasing; recent sexual attacks against female visitors in tourist areas and cities show that foreign women are also at risk. While the risk of an incident occurring on your trip is very low, below are some things you can do for your safety and peace of mind when travelling:

                                                        - Respect local dress codes and customs, perhaps dressing more conservatively than you do at home
                                                        - Avoid isolated areas, including beaches, unlit city streets and village lanes when alone at any time of day
                                                        - Avoid travelling alone on public transport, or in taxis or auto-rickshaws, especially at night
                                                        - If you have to use a taxi get them from hotel taxi ranks and use pre-paid taxis at airports. Try to avoid hailing taxis on the street. Some cities (including Delhi and Chennai) have special taxi services for women with women drivers
                                                        - If you’re being collected at the airport by a driver make sure they have properly identified themselves before you set off.
                                                        - When leaving your compartment on overnight trains (ie. going to the bathroom), ask a male travel companion to accompany you where possible

                                                        For further information and advice, visit:
                                                        www.gov.uk/government/policies/supporting-british-nationals-overseas/supporting-pages/advice-for-women-travellers
                                                        www.smartraveller.gov.au/tips/women.html
                                                        Joining point
                                                        Hotel Perfect
                                                        16A/2 WEA Near Karol Bagh Metro Station
                                                        Karol Bagh
                                                        New Delhi
                                                        110005
                                                        INDIA
                                                        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.
                                                        www.hotelperfect.co.in
                                                        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.

                                                        The Delhi metro is another option from the airport. Trains depart between approx 5am and 11:30pm, the trip takes approx. 45 mins and costs around INR100. Please refer to the metro map for lines, changes and directions to Karol Bagh where most of our hotels are located. http://delhimetrorail.info/delhi-metro-map

                                                        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 you will be met in the arrivals hall after clearing customs, your representative with sign board will be standing near the Costa Coffee next to gate no 5.

                                                        Please do not exit the gates, Costa coffee is just before the exit gate no.5.

                                                        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 9999 005 019

                                                        If you do not have a mobile phone, there are public phones next to Costa Coffee. Calls cost 1 rupee per minute

                                                        Failing the above please take a taxi to the hotel (using the instructions below) and advise your group leader. When you walk out of the exit door, you will easily be able to spot popular metered taxi counters such as Meru Cabs/Mega Cabs or Easy Cabs, show them your drop location and pay them as per the meter once you get to your hotel.

                                                        Check in time at hotel is 12 midday.
                                                        Finish point
                                                        Shenrod Palms
                                                        Sequira Vaddo
                                                        Candolim,Bardez
                                                        Goa
                                                        Goa
                                                        403516
                                                        INDIA
                                                        Emergency contact
                                                        For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us

                                                        For transfers and accommodation issues, Intrepid's India office can be reached on their 24 hour numbers:
                                                        +91 9599 914 852 or +91 9999 005 019

                                                        In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on: +91 9599 914 852

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

                                                        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.

                                                        Ravindra: +91 9999 916 229
                                                        Visas
                                                        Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

                                                        INDIA:

                                                        An E-Tourist Visa (eVT) Facility is available for holders of a passport for a number of countries. This facility allows travellers to pre-register and pay for their visa prior to travel to India. The Visa is collected upon arrival at one of 16 designated airports in India. Please note strict guidelines on the below website.

                                                        https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html

                                                        An E-Tourist Visa (eVT) visa on arrival is available for select nationalities including but not limited to the following

                                                        Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, German, UK and USA passports.

                                                        Passport holders from these countries can apply for an E-Tourist Visa (eVT) to have their visa issued upon arrival at 16 major airports in India.

                                                        Please follow the instructions at - https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html and complete the application for your E-Tourist Visa.

                                                        - Please be aware of strict conditions regarding application and travel (check under ELIGIBILITY section).

                                                        - E-visas are only available for entry of up to 30 days. If you plan to be in India longer you will need to apply for a tourist visa at an Indian visa application centre in your home country.

                                                        - Please note that travellers entering India overland from Nepal are required to apply for a visa in advance their home country. Visas will not be issued on the Nepal/Indian border.

                                                        - The E-Tourist Visa DOES NOT apply to travellers entering India overland. Please check your trip notes if you are crossing a border between India and Nepal.

                                                        - Indian visas are difficult and time consuming to obtain in Nepal.

                                                        Tourist visas are available in Single and Multiple Entry. Be sure to check the date you require a visa from and the length of time you will need to cover, especially if you change countries during your trip.

                                                        For your visa application you need to include the following information under the local contact section towards the end of the application. :

                                                        PEAK India
                                                        25/3 East Patel Nagar
                                                        New Delhi 110008
                                                        Phone: +91 11 4500 6400

                                                        Please note that this information can change at any time. Please always refer to https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html . This is the official visa online site. There have been reports of other non-official websites that travellers should be aware of.
                                                        What to take
                                                        What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes).

                                                        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.

                                                        Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:

                                                        http://www.intrepidtravel.com/pdf/trips/packinglist.pdf

                                                        TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT
                                                        It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary that your luggage gets stowed separately (and unattended). The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers, for when it comes to travelling on local buses and trains it's often only the smaller bags that will fit into the storage areas inside the bus or your cabin. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.

                                                        LUGGAGE STORAGE
                                                        Where Intrepid covers the cost of luggage storage during included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense.

                                                        SLEEPING BAG:
                                                        While a sleeping bag is not compulsory for this tour, many travellers have found one useful for camping, overnight trains and poorly heated hotels, particularly during the winter months of Dec/Jan when temperatures are low.

                                                        WATER BOTTLE
                                                        Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please 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.

                                                        PASSPORT COPY:
                                                        Please bring a photocopy of your passport main page and airline ticket if you will require airline reconfirmation at the end of your trip.

                                                        WARM CLOTHING:
                                                        It comes as a surprise to many travellers that India can be cold (ie. below zero!) during winter (particularly Dec/Jan), even in some cities and even when not at high altitudes. Make sure you are prepared for the weather during these months by bringing adequately warm clothes with you, including thermal underclothes and an appropriate jacket. Many hotels in India do not have central heating, so a warmer set of clothes to sleep in has also been recommended by our past travellers.
                                                        Climate and seasonal information
                                                        PUSHKAR CAMEL FAIR:
                                                        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 date although it usually falls in November each year.

                                                        The 28th October 2016 and 4th November 2016 departures are due to be in Pushkar during the Camel Fair. We will do all we can to ensure that travellers booked with a trip to coincide with the fair will get an opportunity to see the best of the festival, but we cannot take responsibility if the dates of the fair change. Pushkar hotels raise their rates considerably during the festival, so departures across this period may be at a higher price. Although we make bookings months in advance, accommodation in Pushkar tends to overbook at this time. That’s why we ask for a flexible approach from people travelling at this time as accommodation, order of activities and type of transport may need to change.

                                                        2015 PUSHKAR CAMEL FAIR DEPARTURES:
                                                        The following departures will be in Pushkar during the festival:
                                                        6th November
                                                        11th November
                                                        13th November

                                                        MONSOONS:
                                                        Travel in rural areas during the monsoon season can be hazardous. Monsoon rains cause flooding and landslides that can cut off some towns and villages for days. It is not unusual for trains to be delayed or cancelled resulting in itinerary changes or for activities in towns near to rivers and lakes (ie Varanasi) to need to be changed during this time of year.

                                                        DESERT CAMPING:
                                                        Please note that during winter months (Dec/Jan) temperatures in the desert can drop below zero. Your leader will monitor the weather forecast to decide whether this activity will be able to go ahead. Should weather conditions prohibit us from camping, we will take a day trip to the Thar Desert for our camel ride instead of the overnight stay. Some travellers have also preferred to being sleeping bags for camping in winter months.

                                                        HOT WATER:
                                                        Provision of hot water for showers in some destinations visited on this itinerary can be sporadic at best. While some hotels may promise hot water in the hope that they can deliver it, whether it is actually available is often beyond their (and our!) control. If a daily hot shower (especially in winter) is essential for your enjoyment of travel then you will struggle on this Basix tour and we suggest that you look at our Comfort style tours in India.
                                                        Health
                                                        All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

                                                        You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations 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.
                                                        Travel insurance
                                                        Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

                                                        When travelling on a 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:

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

                                                        Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
                                                        Responsible Travel
                                                        We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller.

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

                                                        LOCAL DRESS:
                                                        Dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees by wearing sleeves and long trousers. 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.

                                                        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$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:

                                                        http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

                                                        Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in India include:

                                                        * Pollinate Energy is a social business with a simple mission – to improve the lives of India’s urban poor by giving them access to affordable, clean energy products. Pollinate identifies and trains local people, their Pollinators, who have provided solar lights and cook stoves to over 8,000 families and counting.
                                                        pollinateenergy.org

                                                        * 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.
                                                        ashakajharna.org/

                                                        For more information, or to make a donation please visit: www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/?projectcountry=india

                                                        Feedback
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                                                        http://www.intrepidtravel.com/inspirations/feedback/feedback_leave.php