Mountains & Mystics Trip Notes

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Last Modified: 09 Apr 2013
Mountains & Mystics
Trip code: HHSF
Validity: 01 Jan 2012 to 31 Dec 2012
This is a journey of body and soul as we travel through the foothills of the world's highest mountains. These mystical lands look and feel very different from the rest of India - from the food and clothes, to the crisp clean mountain air and spiritual sway of the inhabitants. Discover the complex diversity of India and be enchanted by a land balanced between physical and spiritual worlds.
TRIP CHANGES 2013
From the 20th January 2013, the itinerary will no longer be going to Dalhousie, Khajjiar or the Chamba Valley, and will include Haridwar and Rishikesh instead. Tours will now depart on selected Sundays rather than selected Mondays. Please note the departure on the 7th Jan 2013 will remain the same as the 2012 itinerary.
The itinerary will be 13 days (instead of 15 in 2012) as follows:
Days 1-2 Delhi
Days 3-4 Shimla (and the toy train)
Day 5 Mandi
Days 6-7 Dharamsala/McLeod Ganj
Days 8-9 Amritsar
Days 10-11 Rishikesh
Days 12-13 Delhi
The detailed itinerary and prices will be released 1st November 2012
Table of Contents
StyleImportant notesFinish point instructions
ThemesGroup sizeEmergency contact
MapYour fellow travellersEmergency funds
ItinerarySingle travellersVisas
Also available to purchaseAccommodationIssues on your trip
Itinerary disclaimerMeals introductionWhat to take
Culture shock rating MealsHealth
Physical ratingTransportSafety
Physical preparationGroup leaderTravel insurance
Included activitiesJoining point Responsible Travel
Optional activitiesJoining point descriptionA couple of rules
Money ExchangeJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Spending moneyArrival complicationsResponsible Travel projects
TippingFinish point Carbon offset
Departure taxFinish point descriptionFeedback
Style
Original
  • Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Themes
Explorer
Map
Mountains & Mystics
Itinerary
Day 1 Delhi
Namaste! Welcome to India.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 1pm on Day 1.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
India's capital is an exciting, busy, and often chaotic city but it's also one of the most interesting in the world with historical sites from different eras, museums and galleries, shops and endless bazaars!
There are plenty of things to see and do in free time. Visit the World Heritage-listed Mughal masterpiece of Humayun's Tomb. This was the first garden tomb in India, built way back in 1570. Wonder at the tall brick minaret of Qutub Minar, which was started back in the 1100s. Explore the mighty Red Fort of Delhi. Part palace and part fort, it plays an integral part in the history of the city with former residents ranging from royal families to British soldiers.
Join your group leader on an excursion into the sights and sounds of Old Delhi! Set off on the city's modern metro system, then get a taste of India's famed public transport with a cycle rickshaw ride through chaotic streets, such as the famous Chandni Chowk. Make a visit to the Jama Masjid, Delhi's oldest mosque and one of its most impressive buildings, then visit the Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) to learn about the Sikh religion.
Included Activities
  • Delhi - Old Delhi walking tour
  • Delhi - Jama Masjid
  • Delhi - Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple)
Optional Activities
  • Delhi - Humayun's Tomb - INR250
  • Delhi - Qutb Minar - INR250
  • Delhi - Red Fort - INR250
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 2-3 Shimla
Leave Delhi by train and head out across the state of Punjab to Kalka (approx 4.5 hrs).
From Kalka, board the World Heritage-listed 'toy train'. Prepare for a scenic journey as you travel along a railway line which snakes through many tunnels on its spectacular climb to Shimla (approx 6 hrs). It's a long travelling day but Shimla's faded colonial charm will win you over in no time.
Once the summer capital of India, Shimla is where the British viceroys and their government would retreat during the monsoon months to escape the stifling heat of the plains. Set amongst spectacular rolling hills and spread across a number of peaks, Shimla offers an array of nature walks, ranging from gentle to challenging.
Head out and explore Mall Road - Shimla's most popular shopping stretch. A viewpoint also offers fantastic views of the Himalayas.
Visit the Viceregal Lodge, originally the residence of British Viceroy Lord Dufferin, to see where the partition agreement that separated India from Pakistan and Bangladesh was drawn up.
Discover the extravagance of a Bollywood blockbuster, with all the Hollywood-style elements of action, romance, drama and music (sometimes all rolled into one).
Included Activities
  • Shimla - Viceregal Lodge
Optional Activities
  • Bollywood movie - Free
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 4 Mandi
Travel by jeep to the small town of Mandi (approx 6 hrs).
Situated on the Beas River at a height of 760 metres, Mandi has a rich cultural heritage of both historical and theological significance. It was once part of the salt route to Tibet, today it's the gateway to the Kullu Valley.
Head into the centre of town to explore a huge sunken shopping centre, the only one like it in India and the focal point of all entertainment in Mandi. Further out, find hilltop temples with wonderful views. You can spend time hiking in the hills, strolling along the river or checking out the colourful bathing ghats.
Stay in the former palace of the Raja of Mandi, which has basic amenities.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 5-7 Dharamshala
The journey into the mountains of India is an adventure in itself - travel in a public bus along rough roads to the next Himalayan town, Dharamsala (approx 6 hrs).
Dharamsala is famous as the home of the exiled Dalai Lama - this hilltop retreat is full of monasteries, prayer flags and monks in crimson robes. Spend time exploring the many facets of Tibetan Buddhism, learning about the inherent spiritual beliefs of this peaceful religion, as well as soaking up the great mountain views.
Visit the fascinating Norbulingka Institute which was developed to train Tibetan refugees in skills needed to preserve the traditional arts and crafts of Tibet. Its peaceful grounds feature a beautiful temple with some amazing spiritual iconography, as well as some ornate statues. The surrounding area is dotted with workshops, where wood carving, metalwork and needlework are done, as well as an interesting thangka painting school where you can watch intricate pieces being created.
The Losel Doll Museum features an exhibit of intricately detailed dolls illustrating the traditional clothing and daily life of the people in each region of Tibet, plus displays of religious events and festivals.
Take part in a cooking demonstration by a local man who has been conducting these classes for years. Learn to make the popular 'momos', a speciality in Tibetian cuisine. Please check availability with your leader.
Included Activities
  • Dharamshala - Norbulingka Institute guided tour
Optional Activities
  • Cooking class - INR250
  • Massage - INR650
  • Yoga class - INR150
Accommodation
Hotel (3 nts)
Day 8 Dalhousie
Make the up-and-down journey westwards to our next Himalayan valley in a public bus (approx 7 hrs). The long drive to Dalhousie take us along steep and narrow mountain roads, past small villages, farmers at work in the fields and some marvellous views.
Once a hill station for the British army, Dalhousie sprawls across five hills and is now a major settlement for Tibetan refugees.
Walk the narrow lanes which circle along the ridge like a figure eight and enjoy some fantastic views of the Himalayas and the deep valleys below.
Please note that all accommodation is Dalhousie is very basic and ours is no exception. Dalhousie can be very cold and damp. Nearly all the beds in town are doubles but we will do the best we can for twin-sharing passengers.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 9 Khajjiar
Take transfers to Lakkar Mandi, where our trek to Chamba begins.
Our main bags will be sent ahead to Chamba, we trek carrying only small daypacks.
The trek starts uphill from Lakkar Mandi into the forest with a warm up 4 km, then the trail goes downhill through some quite steep and narrow passages. After a steep climb up for about 1.5 km, the final stretch is almost flat on a forest road. Stop for the night in Khajjiar. The duration of this day's trekking is about 6 hours, and a good level of fitness is required to enjoy the day.
Khajjiar is a lovely alpine area complete with a small lake and sloping meadow.
Included Activities
  • Locally-guided trek
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 10-12 Chamba Valley
Another full day of walking brings us to the town of Chamba. From here we take a short local bus ride before making our final trekking ascent - a steep 30 min climb from the road up to our accommodation. Otherwise it's mainly downhill walking today except for a gentle climb out of Khajjiar.
A little visited region, Chamba Valley is known for its exquisite natural beauty.
Our simple homestay accommodation, Orchard Hut, is located on the side of a hill commanding fine views of the valley below. Our three nights here as the guests of a local family - a great way to experience traditional rural life. Note that there's no hot running water or attached bathroom, although water can be heated in buckets.
Please be aware that during the months from December to March, there may be snow which will affect the trekking from Dalhousie to Chamba.
Included Activities
  • Locally-guided trek
Accommodation
Homestay (3 nts)
Days 13-14 Amritsar
Leave the mountains and travel by jeep to Pathankot railway station.
Take a local train down to Amritsar, situated in the heart of the rich fertile plain known as India's breadbasket (approx 6 hrs).
Amritsar is the holiest city for the Sikh people and the centre of Sikhism.
Explore the Golden Temple (Shri Harimandir Sahib), which sits in the middle of a sacred lake surrounded by a marble walkway, and spend time listening to the soothing sounds of the devout chanting verses from the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book.
Visit Jallianwala Bagh, the site of the infamous 1919 massacre that played such an important role in the steps to India's independence.
Head out to the India-Pakistan border to witness the pomp and circumstance of the daily flag ceremony - a military practice that the security forces of India and Pakistan have followed since 1959. This ceremony takes place every evening before sunset at the Wagah border, which as part of the Grand Trunk Road was the only road link between these two countries before the opening of the Aman Setu in Kashmir in 1999.
Board an overnight train to Delhi (approx 9 hrs). Sleeper trains are clean and air-conditioned, a great way to travel long distances and still get maximum time in each place. Beds are padded berths with sheets, pillow and blanket provided but some people prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. Please note you may be sharing with locals in a same gender/mixed gender situation.
Included Activities
  • Amritsar - Golden Temple
  • Amritsar - Jallianwallah Bagh
  • Amritsar - Wagah Border visit and flag ceremony
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Day 15 Delhi
On arrival in Delhi, transfer to our hotel where day rooms will be available until midday, so take the opportunity to freshen up.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
If you are departing India today its best to book your flight for later in the afternoon as train delays do occur.
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
  • HHSF Single supplement 2012 (HHSF)
    Itinerary disclaimer
    Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
    Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
    Culture shock rating

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

    Be prepared for some serious physical activity. The majority of activities included on this trip will be challenging. The fitter you are, the more you'll enjoy your holiday.
    Physical preparation
    We recommend that you undertake regular aerobic exercise in the weeks before you travel, particularly if you are not in the habit of regular exercise. Walking, jogging, swimming or riding a bike are all good ways to increase your aerobic fitness, which will allow you to enjoy the trip to its fullest.
    The trek on days 8 and 9 can be quite strenuous and a good level of fitness is required.
    Included activities
    Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
    Optional activities
    A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
    Money Exchange
    The official currency of India is the Indian Rupee (INR).
    The most convenient and cheapest way to obtain local currency in is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM), which are readily available in most towns.
    Foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded can be very difficult to exchange, so please bring clean bills, and small denominations are most useful.
    While traveller's cheques have security advantages exchanging them can be a lengthy process, commissions can be high and they can be difficult to change in rural areas, on weekends and public holidays. The use of credit cards is restricted, mainly to major hotels/establishments.
    Spending money
    Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
    Tipping
    If you are happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.
    The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
    Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest INR20. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.
    Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest INR100 per day for local guides.
    Porters: Throughout your trip you may at times have a porter in addition to your leader. We suggest INR50 per day for porters.
    Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of INR100 per day is generally appropriate.
    Local transport: For a city tour we suggest INR50 per day.
    Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline $US 2-4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
    Departure tax
    All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
    Important notes
    ALTERNATIVE TRAVEL:
    If you wish to do this trip but aren't keen on walking then alternative travel arrangements can be made. (Please note that additional costs might be incurred).
    Group size
    Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
    Your fellow travellers
    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
    Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
    www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
    Single travellers
    Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
    A Single Supplement is available on this trip. Please refer to your booking agent for further information. On the following nights the Single Supplement is not available:
    - Day 4 Mandi
    - Days 10-12 Chamba Valley
    Accommodation
    Hotel (10 nts), Homestay (3 nts), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
    OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
    The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
    TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
    Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
    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.
    HONEYMOON HAVENS
    Some of the locations that we visit are 'honeymoon havens' where hotels don't have beds that separate. Bedding will be provided separately.
    ROOM HEATERS:
    Room heaters during winter are available in some of the hotels on this trip, though hoteliers charge extra to hire. Intrepid doesn't cover this cost. Approx cost for a room heater is Rs 100 -150 per night.
    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. Please note you may be sharing with locals in a same/mixed gender situation. Most trains have a dining carriage where food / snacks / meals are available.
    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
    3 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 3 Dinners
    Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
    USD 300.00
    Transport
    Auto rickshaw, Bus, Cycle rickshaw, Overnight sleeper train, Jeep
    There are some long travel days and some of the transport can be quite cramped and without air-conditioning.
    OVERNIGHT TRAINS
    Sleeper trains in India have berths on both sides of the carriage, with some also having 4-6 berth compartments (dependant on seasonality and the journey). The carriages are multishare, with bunk beds and curtains that close over the beds. Most compartments are air-conditioned.
    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.
    Joining point
    Hotel Pooja Palace
    15A/11 WEA Puja Park
    Karol Bagh
    New Delhi
    110005
    INDIA
    Phone: +91 1125745275
    Joining 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.
    www.hotelpoojapalace.com
    Joining point instructions
    Delhi's Indira Gandhi's International Airport is approximately 25km from Karol Bagh. One of the biggest airports in the world, it can be quite chaotic and can take some time to process your visa and collect your luggage.
    The taxi ride from the airport to our starting point hotel takes approx 1 hour and costs between INR 500 - 600 (prepaid traffic police booths).
    IMPORTANT: Please avoid taxi touts who tell you that they have a metered taxi parked outside the airport. Previous passengers have complained that they have been charged hefty amount for the transfers.
    Alternatively Intrepid offer a pre-arranged transfer service option. Enquire with your agent and advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your trip departure. If you have purchased an arrival transfer please exit by doors 4 & 5 and you will be met in the arrivals hall. If you cannot find your representative, please look for him at Costa coffee.
    If you have any problems and cannot locate our representative, or if your flight is delayed please call the following 24 hour numbers:
    +91 9911 972 636
    +91 9560 849 444
    Failing the above please take a taxi to the hotel (using the instructions above) and advise your group leader.
    Check in time at hotel is 12 midday.
    Arrival complications
    We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
    If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
    No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
    Finish point
    Hotel Pooja Palace
    15A/11 WEA Puja Park
    Karol Bagh
    New Delhi
    110005
    INDIA
    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.
    www.hotelpoojapalace.com
    Finish 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 Delhi Indira Gandi Airport takes about 1 hour and should cost between 450 -500INR. Hotel reception or your leader can help you arrange a taxi.
    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.
    Emergency contact
    In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency Intrepid's India office can be reached on +91 1145 006 400 during business hours (9.30am to 6pm) or after hours on +91 9999 916 229.
    For all other enquiries please contact our reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week. For further contact details please use the following page:
    Emergency funds
    Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
    Visas
    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
    We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
    INDIA:
    Australia: Yes - in advance
    Belgium: Yes - in advance
    Canada: Yes - in advance
    Germany: Yes - in advance
    Ireland: Yes - in advance
    Netherlands: Yes - in advance
    New Zealand: Yes - in advance
    South Africa: Yes - in advance
    Switzerland: Yes - in advance
    United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
    USA: Yes - in advance
    There is NO visa on arrival in India. Indian visas can NOT be obtained in Nepal. Tourist visas are available in Single and Multiple Entry. Be sure to check the date you require a visa from and the length of time you will need to cover, especially if you change countries during your trip.
    Issues on your trip
    While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
    We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
    You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
    What to take
    What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
    Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
    You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
    TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT:
    It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary to store your luggage separately (and unattended) from the group. The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers, for when it comes to travelling on local buses and trains it's often only the smaller bags that will fit into the storage areas. If your bag does not fit in these areas then often the only place to put it is on your bed or seat. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.
    Where Intrepid covers the cost of luggage storage for included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense.
    WARM CLOTHING:
    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.
    SLEEPING BAG:
    A sleeping bag is very useful for the camping and the overnight train journey during the colder months but in the warmer months a sleeping sheet will suffice. If you prefer, a blanket can be bought locally.
    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.
    Health
    All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
    You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
    Safety
    Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
    We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
    Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
    For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
    FESTIVALS - HOLI & DIWALI:
    Travelling in India and Nepal during the Holi festival, a lunar festival next held in March 17, 2014 and generally held in March each year, can at times be dangerous - a lot of locals participate in consumption of intoxicating substances. The day has been associated with physical violence and danger. Your leader/guide will be advising you and your group on what places to avoid on this day and it may even be necessary for us to alter your itinerary for the day to avoid putting you or our group leader/guide in high risk situation.
    Travelling during the Hindu festival Diwali (a lunar festival next held on 03 November, 2013 and generally held from mid October to mid November every year) can also be dangerous. During this time there are many displays of fireworks in the streets. It can be very noisy for several days and there is also a lot of pollution caused by the fireworks. As there are no restrictions on buying fireworks in India there are often injuries caused by people exploding them inappropriately. During this festival your leader/guide may be required to alter your itinerary to avoid any dangerous areas to avoid putting the group at risk.
    HERITAGE HOTELS:
    On this trip you will be staying in some heritage hotels and traditional guesthouses - these are one of the charms of this trip, but occasionally their 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 in their original state.
    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.
    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 the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
    PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
    While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
    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.
    Travel insurance
    Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
    When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
    If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
    Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
    Responsible Travel
    We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
    LOCAL DRESS:
    Dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in areas of predominantly hot climate. In many rural areas women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.
    A couple of rules
    Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
    The Intrepid Foundation
    Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
    The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
    Responsible Travel projects
    Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in India include:
    * Asha Ka Jharna (AKJ) provides services to disabled children and adults. They run three special schools, currently assisting around 160 children, and an old-age home for the short-stay of elderly people. AJK also provides vocational training, participates in diagnostic camps and distributes aids and appliances to physically disabled persons.
    * Deepalaya is focused on building a better future for India's street children. They have assisted more than 44,000 underprivileged children through the provision of food and board, health care, meaningful education and vocational training, counselling and career guidance, understanding, friendship, and warmth and solace.
    * GOONJ channels vital resources to rural India through the distribution of used items such as clothes and household goods. Their school-to-school program of channelling resources like uniforms, shoes, stationery, lunch boxes etc from urban schools to rural schools will benefit more than 35,000 children in its first phase.
    Any donations you'd like to make can be given to your group leader in Delhi ONLY, they can then arrange for it to be passed on to GOONJ who will distribute these items to rural villages and people in need. You might like to consider taking over some clothes or other things you no longer require: woollens, footwear, bed sheets, blankets, utensils, first aid items, books, toys and school items - notebooks, pencils, pens, old uniforms or school bags - are all useful.
    Carbon offset
    Carbon Offset C02-e 338.00 kgs per pax.
    Feedback
    After your travels, we want to hear from you! This is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next trip if your feedback is completed online within 4 weeks of finishing your trip.