Last Modified: 25 Apr 2016
Kathmandu to Delhi
Trip code: HHSD
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
Embark on an adventure tour of Nepal and India, from the rich wildlife of the Himalayan foothills, across the sacred River Ganges, to the birthplace of Buddha. Between Kathmandu and Delhi see the pilgrimage to the ghats of Varanasi, tip-toe through the most exciting places to visit in Delhi and visit the magnificent Taj Mahal of Agra. An adventure that will bring all your senses alive, this trip through Nepal and India is an incredible way to see the best of the region.
Table of Contents
Is this trip right for you?
- This trip involves travel on public transport and some long days of driving – Day 7: Lumbini to Varanasi (approximately 10 hours), an overnight train on Day 10: Varansi to Orchha (approximately 15 hours) – so some patience will go a long way towards your enjoyment here. Sit back, relax, watch the scenery go by, and embrace travelling like a local.
- This trip crosses the Nepal-India border on Day 7. Indian e-visas do not apply when entering overland. Please see the ‘Essential Information’ section of the Trip Notes for more information.
Why we love it
- Fall in love with Nepal, prayer flags and spicy chai in stunning Kathmandu
- Explore Old Delhi by foot and cycle rickshaw, where ancient temples stand against extravagant billboards advertising Bollywood films
- Discover how the Taj Mahal, one of the most recognisable buildings in the world, still has the power to surprise even the most experienced travellers
- Forget about setting an alarm, there’s only one way to wake up in this world and that’s with a sunrise sail along the Ganges
- The chance to come face-to-face with black-horned rhinos in Chitwan National Park
Day 1 Kathmandu
Namaste! Welcome to Nepal. This adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1. 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, maybe arrive a day early so you're able to attend. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. At the meeting have your insurance details and next of kin information ready for collection. Step out into the streets of Kathmandu, whose mixture of ancient architecture and modern development, and rich artistic and cultural heritage, means it remains the legendary destination it has been for decades. Crowded markets and bazaars are the centre of Nepali life and the narrow streets are home to holy men, monks, bicycles, incense, goats and sacred cows.
Day 2 Kathmandu
Today you’ll head out to the ancient Swayambhunath stupa, known to tourists as the Monkey Temple and Kathmandu's most important Buddhist shrine. The sleepy, all-seeing Buddha eyes that stare out from the top have become the quintessential symbol of Nepal. You’ll also join the pilgrims at Bodhnath Stupa – the largest stupa in Nepal and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. It's the centre of Tibetan culture in Kathmandu and rich in Buddhist symbolism. Continue on to Pashupatinath – a Hindu temple on the banks of the Bagmati River in Deopatan, a village 3 km north-west of Kathmandu. It's dedicated to a manifestation of Shiva called Pashupati (Lord of Animals). There are also a number of optional activities to take advantage of if you have the time. Perhaps explore Patan's Durbar Square. The square and its surroundings – including the Royal Palace of Patan and a series of temples – are good specimens of ancient Newari architecture. There's also Bhaktapur, located about 20 km east of Kathmandu, known as the 'City of Devotees' and Nepal's cultural gem. It’s filled with monuments, palaces and temples of elaborate carvings, gilded roofs and open courtyards. Maybe take-off on a flight from Kathmandu airport to see some spectacular mountain scenery. Those who don't have the opportunity to go trekking can get panoramic views of the Himalayas in just an hour.
- Kathmandu - Swayambhunath Temple
- Kathmandu - Bodhnath Stupa
- Kathmandu - Pashupatinath Temple
- Kathmandu - Day trip to Patan - NPR500
- Kathmandu - Day trip to Bhaktapur - NPR1500
- Kathmandu - Early Morning Everest Scenic Flight - USD220
Day 3 Chitwan National Park
This morning you’ll take a local bus across to Chitwan National Park (approximately 6 hours), which sits at the base of the Himalayas. UNESCO declared the area a World Heritage site in 1984, and it offers some of the best wildlife viewing in Asia, with rhino, deer, monkeys and a wide array of birdlife including the infamous Nepalese wild chickens all here. Arrive and settle in to your accommodation before jumping on a bike to explore a local village. In the evening, prepare for tomorrow’s exploration of the park with a presentation on the park's history, flora and fauna.
Notes: Please be aware that due to safety concerns we have suspended all wildlife jungle walks within Chitwan National Park.
Day 4 Chitwan National Park
Today after breakfast, take a walk to the Rapti river from where you’ll be taken by boat to Ghagtai village (approximately 3.5 hours). On foot, enjoy exploring the village full of friendly locals and them some brilliantly coloured bird watching along the Rapti river, which shelters about a quarter of the world's remaining gharial population. This fish-eating crocodile has long been hunted for the supposed aphrodisiac qualities of its snout. Spend the night in a lodge with a view of the river in Ghagtai tonight.
Notes: From October (to June) when jeep safaris resume you will boat part of the way before meeting drivers and touring the national park by vehicle (approximately 3-4 hours), finishing in Ghatgai in the late afternoon. Your accommodation in Ghatgai is simple with basic facilities and food, but plenty of jungle ambience. Toilet and bathroom facilities are shared.
- Chitwan - Canoe safari, Bird Watching walk or Jeep safari
1 breakfast, 1 lunch
Day 5 Chitwan National Park
Today you’ll return to your base in Chitwan National Park via Twenty Thousand Lakes (Bis Hajaar Tal). Nepal’s second largest natural wetland, this beautiful reserve area is a maze of small lakes that teems with wildlife. Home to numerous crocodiles, this is one of the park’s best areas for birdwatching, with hundreds of species using it as a migratory route stop. If you’re lucky you might catch some more sights of the Indian Rhino. You’ll return to your accommodation in the afternoon, dropping by the crocodile breeding centre on the way. Then there’ll be time to relax, or to take part in a number of optional activities – including biking, bird watching, cultural performances, canoe rides, or village tours.
Notes: Elephant Performances & Elephant Riding. While we respect each individual’s decisions while travelling, Intrepid does not include elephant rides or unnatural performance activities on any itinerary, and we recommend you bypass these activities should they be offered to you during your stay. Professional wildlife conservation and animal welfare organisations, including the World Animal Protection (formerly the World Society for protection of Animals) advise that contrary to common belief, captive elephants remain wild animals and despite good intentions, unfortunately many venues are unable to provide the appropriate living conditions elephants require and this ultimately impacts their well-being. While there is some merit in the argument that the money that you pay for the activity goes towards keeping the elephants and their mahouts employed, we know that it also fuels demand for elephants to be captured in the wild or captive bred. We thank you for your support in improving the welfare of these majestic creatures.
Day 6 Lumbini
Leave Chitwan this morning for your final stop in Nepal. Travel by private vehicle to the Nepalese border town of Lumbini (approximately 5 hours). This is no ordinary border town, but the birthplace of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, and one of his four holy places of pilgrimage. It's said in the Parinibbana Sutta that Buddha identified the sites as those of his birth, enlightenment, first discourse and death. You’ll visit the beautiful Ashoka Pillars and hop on cycle rickshaws to the Maya Devi Temple, the actual site where Lord Buddha is thought to have been born.
- Lumbini - Ashoka Pillars, Maya Devi Temple & Heritage Park
Day 7 Varanasi
Today it’s wave goodbye and say Namaste, as you leave Nepal and cross the border into India. Though there’s always something to look at out the windows, it’s a good idea to have some other entertainment on hand for the long day of travelling ahead (approximately 8-10 hours including stops). You will cross at Sunauli and head for Varanasi. The change of scenery from Nepal to India is immediate. Enter Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, and be greeted by holy cows ambling along the highway. This is one of holiest cities around, the ultimate destination for Hindu pilgrims who travel from far and wide to experience this spiritual city. Overflowing with temples, shrines and devotees, Varanasi might not be one of the world's cleanest cities but there’s no doubt it’s one of the most amazing.
Day 8 River Ganges Boat Trip
Today you’ll experience the sacred River Ganges, lifeblood of millions of Indian people, with a boat cruise through the heart of rural India. Transfer to the Ganges (approximately 2 hours) by small riverboats for the sailing trip. A support crew will be on hand as you sail down this iconic waterway, passing village communities and viewing river life as it goes on around you. The boats are equipped with life jackets, the deck has mattresses and cushions to relax on, and it’s all covered with a cloth roof for sun protection. Arrive at your campsite and relax riverside, read a book or play some cricket. Watch the sun go down and eat a delicious vegetarian meal prepared by the boatmen.
Notes: Tents are twin share with mattresses and blankets provided. It gets cold in winter, so a sleeping bag is recommended if travelling at this time. There is a squat toilet tent, and no showers available. Lunch, dinner and breakfast are provided during you time camping. Water and soft drinks are available to purchase, but no alcohol is allowed here, as the Ganges is a sacred place. Please note that due to high water levels on the River Ganges and the associated safety concerns, the boat trip won't operate during the monsoon or other times of heavy rainfall. Departures affected by such safety concerns will be communicated during the trip by your leader – it's difficult to know well in advance how much rain there's likely to be at any point in time. In these cases, an extra night will be spent in Varanasi including a visit to the temple complex of Sarnath, the place where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon.
- River Ganges - Overnight Boat Trip
1 lunch, 1 dinner
Day 9 Varanasi
After your Ganges camping adventures, sail back in to Varanasi. Set off by cycle rickshaw to visit the oldest part of the city, bustling with tourists and priests, and see different rituals being performed. Wander through the Old City with its maze of narrow alleyways packed full of small shops and stalls, and lumbering cows. 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. There’s an option to take a trip to nearby Sarnath, one of the four main Buddhist pilgrimage destinations. The site is where Buddha preached his message of the path to enlightenment and features a number of stupas and museums to explore. Or perhaps visit Ram Nagar Fort, a crumbling 17th century fort and palace on the eastern bank of the Ganges, that’s the ancestral home of the Maharaja of Banaras. This evening soak up the unique magical atmosphere of a candle flower ceremony as the sun sets.
- Varanasi - Old City Walking Tour
- Varanasi - Sunset Candle Flower Ceremony
- Varanasi - Ram Nagar Fort - INR150
- Varanasi - Sarnath day trip (entry only) - INR250
Day 10 Varanasi
Today starts early with a sunrise boat ride on the Ganges, where you can watch the light gradually illuminate the many ghats and temples along the river as you pass. The rest of the day is free for you to use as you like. You can explore the laneways and alleys behind the ghats, picking up some examples of the excellent local silk industry, or perfecting yoga in this most chakra-balancing of places. This evening you’ll board an overnight train for Jhansi, the nearest junction to Orchha (approximately 15 hours).
Notes: Sleeper trains are usually comfortable and air-conditioned (sometimes fan-cooled), and are a great way to travel long distances and still get maximum time in each place. Most of the time sheets, pillow and blanket are 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.
- Varanasi - Sunrise Boat Ride
Day 11 Orchha
Upon arrival in Jhansi, travel by auto rickshaw through traditional rural Indian landscapes to reach the beautiful town of Orchha on the banks of the Betwa River (approximately 45 minutes). Here you’ll have the opportunity to uncover a very different side of India. Initially a hunting area, Orchha has changed very little over the centuries. Despite its small size it is filled with many beautiful temples and palaces, built here in the 16th century by the ruling Bundelas clan. Here you'll explore the palaces and temples scattered across the peaceful countryside, starting with an orientation walk in rural areas untouched by modern life and meet the very friendly locals. This evening witness the Ram Raja Temple puja (prayer) ceremony at the shrine at the heart of the city.
- Orchha - Ram Raja Temple puja (prayer) ceremony
Day 12 Orchha
After breakfast you will visit the stunning Orchha Palace, built by Bir Sing Deo for his friend Jehangir, the great Mughal ruler. Take note of the grand Iwans (domes) that were built large enough to allow the movement of war elephants. Later today you’ll get a closer experience of local flavours at a cooking demonstration by our local friends. You’ll also make a stop at Taragram, one of our Responsible Tourism projects. Taragram is a paper making factory that enables local tribal women to work outside the realm usually afforded to them. The paper is crafted from wood pulp and recycled clothing.
- Orchha - Orchha Palace
- Orchha - Cooking demonstration
- Orchha - Taragram visit
Day 13 Agra
Agra might not be the prettiest city in the world, but the minute you see its iconic sites that won’t matter one bit. After arriving early into the city this morning by train (approximately 5 hours) you’ll head straight to the most recognisable sight in India. It doesn’t matter who you are, the Taj Mahal will exceed all your expectations with the morning light shimmering off its white marble surface. Best known as a monument to love and loss, the 17th century Taj is a beautiful example of Mughal architecture, surrounded by trimmed English gardens. The highlights keep coming as you take a motorised rickshaw tour, a truly fun and Intrepid way to see the monuments of Agra. The city is also home to one of the finest looking forts in India. you’ll enter the dark red sandstone stronghold of Agra Fort - part fortress, part palace and part prison - and search through throne rooms and tiny but incredibly decorated mosques. Later, if you’ve got the energy, you can also visit Akbar's Mausoleum – a beautiful sandstone and marble tomb built for the greatest of the Mughal emperors.
- Agra - Taj Mahal
- Agra - Agra Fort
- Agra - Akbar's Mausoleum - INR125
Day 14 Delhi
It’s back on the rails today as you take a day train to India’s capital (approximately 4 hours), sharing the journey with locals as the chai wallahs make their way down the carriages. In Delhi, watch one of the world's greatest shows unfold as people, traffic, cows and kids all work together in a kind of organised chaos around historical sites from different eras, museums and galleries, shops and endless bazaars. This is the place to grab a chai, put your feet up and let it all soak in. Please note that due to train arrival times there may not be any free time in Delhi at the end of this tour.
Notes: We advise booking additional accommodation to extend your stay. If you stay a couple of extra days there are plenty of things to see and do. Make a visit to the Jama Masjid, Delhi's oldest mosque and one of its most impressive buildings, or to the World Heritage-listed Mughal masterpiece of Humayun's Tomb, the first garden tomb in India, built in 1570. You could wonder at the tall brick minaret of Qutub Minar, which was started all back in the 12th century, or explore the mighty Red Fort of Delhi. Part palace and part fort, it played an integral part in the history of the city with former residents ranging from royal families to British soldiers.
- Delhi - Red Fort - INR500
- Delhi - Humayun's Tomb - INR500
- Delhi - Qutub Minar - INR500
Day 15 Delhi
Your adventure through India and Nepal ends after breakfast this morning and you're free to leave the accommodation at any time. If you'd prefer to stay on in Delhi a little bit longer, then additional accommodation can be booked prior to travel (subject to availability). An Urban Adventure is a perfect way to finish your time here.
- Delhi - Culture Vulture Delhi Urban Adventure - INR2500
- Delhi - Gandhi's Delhi Urban Adventure - INR2500
- Delhi - City Food Crawl Urban Adventure - INR3500
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.
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.
Kathmandu - Swayambhunath Temple
Kathmandu - Bodhnath Stupa
Kathmandu - Pashupatinath Temple
Chitwan - Canoe safari, Bird Watching walk or Jeep safari
Lumbini - Ashoka Pillars, Maya Devi Temple & Heritage Park
River Ganges - Overnight Boat Trip
Varanasi - Old City Walking Tour
Varanasi - Sunset Candle Flower Ceremony
Varanasi - Sunrise Boat Ride
Orchha - Ram Raja Temple puja (prayer) ceremony
Orchha - Orchha Palace
Orchha - Cooking demonstration
Orchha - Taragram visit
Agra - Taj Mahal
Agra - Agra Fort
1. A single supplement is available on this trip. See under the Single Traveller section of your Trip Notes for more information.
2. Please note that due to train arrival times there may not be any free time in Delhi at the end of this tour. We advise booking additional accommodation to extend your stay.
Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.
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.
A Single Supplement is available on this trip. Please refer to your booking agent for further information. On the following nights the Single Supplement is not available:
- Day 3 Ghatghai (Chitwan)
- Day 8 River Ganges Boat Trip
- Day 10 Overnight train
Camping (with basic facilities) (1nt), Deluxe permanent tent (2nt), Guesthouse (1nt), Hotel (7nt), Lodge (2nt), Overnight sleeper train (1nt)
OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
Some of the accommodation along the way is very basic, staying in local guesthouses and homestays with limited facilities. Some facilities are shared and some accommodation has cold water only. We use a mixture of air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned rooms.
SLEEPER TRAINS IN INDIA:
Sleeper trains are clean and air-conditioned (fan-cooled at times), a great way to travel long distances and still get maximum time in each place. Beds are padded berths, sheets, pillow and blanket are provided but some people prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. There are basic toilet facilities at the end of each carriage, but no showers available on overnight trains. Please note you may be sharing with locals in a same/mixed gender situation. Most trains have a dining carriage or a food/snack cart that is brought through the carriages. There are also plenty of vendors selling tea, coffee, water and snacks during the journey.
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.
3 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners
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.
The official currency of Nepal is the Nepali Rupee (NPR).
ATMs can only be found in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Bhaktapur. Money exchange facilities are available in Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan (only outside the park) and Bhaktapur.
The Government of Nepal has banned the import, export and use of 500 and 1000 Indian rupee notes in Nepal. You should ensure you are not carrying these notes on arrival in Nepal as they will be confiscated and you may be fined.
While travellers' cheques have security advantages exchanging them can be a lengthy process, commissions can be high (up to 10%) and they can be difficult to change in rural areas, on weekends and public holidays. If you choose to bring travellers' cheques, make sure they are a major brand and major currency.
Please note that most establishments in Asia will not accept foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded and they can be very difficult to exchange or extra fees added when exchanging at banks. Please ensure that you have new, clean notes.
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.
Please don't tip with coins or notes of or less than NPR1, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.
Hotels: Service charges have been introduced in Nepal. Hence there is no need for tipping; except for porters, for whom NPR20-30 is adequate.
Restaurants: Please check the bill and if there’s an addition of 10% service charge, there’s no requirement for tipping. Otherwise, 5-10% of the total bill amount is appropriate.
Local guides: US$1-2 per person, per day for local guides. (Including city tour guides, jungle guides, rafting guides, assistant trek guides).
Porters: US$1-2 per person, per day, per porter.
Drivers: US$1-2 per person, per day is generally appropriate.
Local transport: For a city tour we suggest US$1 per person, per day.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
Budget for meals not included: 180.00
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.
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our 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:
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:
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.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
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.
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.
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.
There have been a number of recent air accidents in Nepal. We only use airlines that have passed strict safety audits for internal flights on this trip, including Buddha Air, Yeti Air & Tara Air. EU clients please see our safety page for important information regarding internal flights in Nepal.
Kathmandu Guest House
Phone: +977 14700632
Joining point description
The first ever hotel in Thamel, and used to be a 'Rana' mansion. It is located right in the centre of Kathmandu and boasts a famous garden, courtyard restaurant and 24hr security including CCTV. Please note, as the name suggests, this is a guest house with over 100 rooms, rather than a hotel and the rooms are generally small and basic.
Please note that post 2015 earthquake the old wing of the Kathmandu guesthouse has been demolished and building has commenced on a new section of the hotel. While there is building work continuing, we do not foresee it diminishing from your stay.
Joining point instructions
Please refer to your itinerary for the joining hotel name and address. If you have not pre-booked an arrival transfer you will find taxis available on arrival at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport
There are two pre-paid taxi booths inside the terminal, one on each side as you exit the baggage claim area. They have fixed rates of NPR600 to anywhere in the Thamel area from 6am-8pm and NPR800 from 8pm-6am. Otherwise you will need to bargain hard from the taxi rank outside of the airport - aim for NPR500. The drive into Thamel takes 30 to 40mins depending on the traffic.
Alternatively Intrepid offer a pre-arranged transfer service option. Inquire 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 after exiting customs outside. Look for our representative holding a sign with your name on it. If you have any trouble locating your transfer rep, or if your flight is going to be delayed, please call the following numbers:
+977 980 112 3617
Normal check in time at the hotel is after 12:00.
Hotel Pooja Palace
15A/11 WEA Puja Park
Phone: +91 1125745275
Finish point description
Located in the 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 minute ride by auto rickshaw (INR70-80 with bargaining) to get to the heart of Delhi, Connaught Place. Rooms are equipped with AC, TV, fridge and telephone. There is a restaurant and 24 hour room service. Luggage storage and safe deposit facilities are also available at the hotel.
Finishing point instructions
A pre-booked departure transfer to the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 15 days prior to your trip start date. If you plan to stay longer, this departure transfer can only be offered in conjunction with post-tour accommodation booked through Intrepid.
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.
A taxi to the airport takes about 1 hour and should cost between 450 -500INR. Hotel reception or your leader can help you arrange a taxi.
A local social enterprise, Sakha Wings, runs an all-women taxi service which provides extra peace of mind and security for solo women travellers. To book at taxi with them, call +927 870 8888 or register on their website http://sakhaconsultingwings.com/hire-a-cab.php
Before check in you must have your check in luggage x-rayed and sealed. Also ensure at check in that your hand luggage is tagged. (This is a mandatory in order to clear security.)
Check-out time from the hotel is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.
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.
All foreign nationals (except Indians) require a visa to enter Nepal. Visas are obtainable from embassies abroad on arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport and at some land borders (including borders with India and Tibet).
Getting a visa at the airport can sometimes take time due to long queues. There have been instances when passengers were asked to show return flight tickets. You will also need to provide two passport photos and the following fees in US dollars cash. Other currencies are also accepted although rates may differ. The following costs were correct at time of writing:
- Multi entry visa valid for 15 days - US$25
- Multi entry visa valid for 30 days - US$40
- Multi entry visa valid for 90 days - US$100
Please note if you are staying in Nepal for less than 24 hours while in transit a transit visa can be issued on presentation of your international flight ticket, there is a nominal charge of US$5 and one photo is required.
Your visa application form may require you to state the dates on which you enter and exit that country. Please note we suggest you list your date of entry a few days before, and date of exit a few days after, your intended dates in case you encounter any delays or problems en route. To help calculate the exact dates of these crossings we have found the website www.timeanddate.com to be very useful.
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.
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. :
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.
Your visa application form may require you to state the dates on which you enter and exit that country. Please note we suggest you list your date of entry a few days before, and date of exit a few days after, your intended dates in case you encounter any delays or problems en route. The following are the international / administrative border crossings for this trip:
Day 7 - Exit Nepal at Bhairahawa and enter India at Sunauli
To help calculate the exact dates of these crossings we have found the following website to be very useful: www.timeanddate.com
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:
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.
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.
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.
Temperatures can be low in the winter months, especially at altitude, so bring a set of warmer clothes including thermal underclothes and a fleece jacket.
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.
IMAGES FROM HOME:
During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos / postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc.
Please bring a photocopy of your passport main page and airline ticket if you will require airline reconfirmation at the end of your trip.
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
Kathmandu Valley-wide transport bandhs (strikes) can be called at very short notice. When these bandhs are in place the Nepal Tourism Board and the Nepal Tourist Police in conjunction with the Himalayan Rescue Association run Shuttle Bus Services between various hotels in Kathmandu and the domestic and international airports; this service costs 300 rupees person.
FREE TIME IN DELHI:
Please note that due to train arrival times there may not be any free time in Delhi at the end of this tour. We advise booking additional accommodation to extend your stay.
Please check online for predicted weather conditions for your trip before your departure to ensure that you have packed appropriate clothing. Winter in India can be colder than you might expect and as this is not peak travel season hotels in some regions may not have adequate heating. In these months you may like to bring thermals for sleeping.
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
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 group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
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.
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller.
Dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees 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.
ELEPHANT PERFORMANCES & ELEPHANT RIDING:
While we respect each individual’s decisions while travelling, Intrepid does not include elephant rides or unnatural performance activities on any itinerary, and we recommend you bypass these activities should they be offered to you during your stay. Professional wildlife conservation and animal welfare organisations, including the World Animal Protection (formerly the World Society for protection of Animals) advise that contrary to common belief, captive elephants remain wild animals and despite good intentions, unfortunately many venues are unable to provide the appropriate living conditions elephants require and this ultimately impacts their well-being. While there is some merit in the argument that the money that you pay for the activity goes towards keeping the elephants and their mahouts employed, we know that it also fuels demand for elephants to be captured in the wild or captive bred. We thank you for your support in improving the welfare of these majestic creatures. Further information is available on the below link:
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:
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.
* 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.
For more information, or to make a donation please visit: www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/?projectcountry=india
Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Nepal include:
just-one targets disadvantaged children living in dangerous and vulnerable situations on the streets and provides them with training and educational opportunities that bring greater economic security to themselves and their families. Your support through The Intrepid Foundation will assist them in developing their current facilities to include an activity centre and library at their rehab home, and help them build capacity to reach an even greater number of disadvantaged children.
*Seven Women works to economically and socially empower marginalised women in Nepal through literacy programs, skills training and income generation.
*The Himalayan Rescue Association Nepal (HRA) provides much needed medical and emergency evacuation assistance and treats many cases of severe mountain sickness.
For more information on our projects in Nepal, or to make a donation, visit: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/?projectcountry=nepal
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.