Nepal and India Overland Trip Notes

Nepal and India Overland

Last Modified: 04 Oct 2013
Nepal and India Overland
Trip code: HDOLC
Validity: 01 Jan 2012 to 31 Dec 2013
Journey through the amazing lands of Nepal and India, taking in the colourful cultures, impressive icons and stunning sights along the way. Experience the very best of these two countries - from the busy cities filled with animated people, crowded bazaars and commercial enterprise, to small remote villages where a slow-paced rural life endures. Be awed by the immense beauty of the Taj Mahal, the warm glow of a Goan sunset and the displays of faith around every corner in Varanasi. Escape the heat in the cool climate of Darjeeling plantations, cruise the waters of Kerala, try to spot tigers and elephants in national parks and embark on an exciting safari into the desert. Mix with local children, pilgrims, market traders, tribal people and farmers to witness the heart and soul of India and Nepal in these proud people. This adventure delivers many moments of breathtaking beauty and thrilling adventure - don't miss the chance to see the very best of Nepal and India.
This trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Dragoman shares Intrepid's ethos for adventure travel and has many years' expertise in overlanding.
Table of Contents
StyleImportant notesEmergency funds
ThemesGroup sizeVisas
MapYour fellow travellersIssues on your trip
ItinerarySingle travellersWhat to take
Itinerary disclaimerAccommodationHealth
Culture shock rating Meals introductionSafety
Physical ratingMealsTravel insurance
Physical preparationTransportResponsible Travel
Included activitiesGroup leaderA couple of rules
KittyJoining point The Intrepid Foundation
Optional activitiesJoining point descriptionResponsible Travel projects
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsCarbon offset
Spending moneyFinish point Feedback
TippingFinish point description
Departure taxEmergency contact
To save you money and the hassle of booking multiple trips, this journey is a combination of some of our most popular adventures so your leader and the composition of your group may change.
  • The best value journeys on the planet! On a Basix trip you can expect amazing experiences, but none of the inclusions that you may not want. Which means budget (1-2 star) accommodation, plenty of free time, activities that are optional and the freedom to choose meals to suit your budget. On some trips you may be camping and required to set up your own tent. You'll also have access to a group leader to offer advice and help you uncover the region's hidden gems. On a Basix journey, the way you travel is all a part of the adventure. Depending on the destination and the itinerary, you could find yourself travelling on anything from a donkey to a bus or a private safari vehicle. These trips are ideal for first-time travellers seeking fun and independence with the support of a group leader. They're also ideal for independent travellers looking to make the most of their travel time with minimum hassle and maximum experiences.
Nepal and India Overland
Day 1 Kathmandu
Namaste! Welcome to Nepal.
There is an important group meeting at 6pm. Your leader will leave a note at reception telling you where and when this important meeting will take place.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If your flight arrives too late, we recommend that you consider arriving a day early and book a night's accommodation prior to the trip so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your kitty, insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting so please ensure you have all details on hand to provide to your leader.
Kathmandu is a mixture of ancient architecture and modern development and, with its rich artistic and cultural heritage, 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.
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 2-3 Royal Chitwan National Park
Leaving Kathmandu after breakfast, we drive 200 km through stunning scenery down to the Terai grasslands. Our destination is Chitwan National Park where we will stay for the next 2 nights, staying in a comfortable local guest lodge. Traffic coming out of Kathmandu can be notoriously bad, but we should arrive around mid afternoon.
Chitwan National Park is situated in the central Nepali Terai, a huge nature reserve protecting hundreds of square kilometres of grassland and marshes. Home to over 700 species of animal in total, it's a fantastic place to see wildlife and you are nearly guaranteed to see the heavily armoured Asian rhino, as well as sloth bears and even tigers if you're lucky.
If we arrive in good time we will make a visit to Bis Hajaar Tal, also known as 20,000 Lakes which is a wetland area near the Royal Chitwan National Park. Here we will get the opportunity to see peacocks, wild boars, deer and there is also a slim chance of seeing tigers and rhinos. If we cannot visit 20,000 Lakes today we will make our visit tomorrow.
As well as wildlife spotting, it's also good to take a walk through some of the the small villages along the edge of the park, where the locals still live a very traditional lifestyle.
Alternatively you may like to visit the Elephant Breeding Station nearby if time permits.
The next day we'll spend exploring the national park. For many, the highlight of the day is the elephant safari in search of tiger and rhino. This evening we'll be treated to a traditional Nepali dance demonstration.
Included Activities
  • Chitwan NP - 20,000 Lakes wetland area
  • Chitwan NP - Elephant Safari
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 4 Sunauli
This morning we have a relaxed start to the day, leaving our lodge in the afternoon for a short drive of 160 km to Sonauli on the Nepal/India border, where we spend the night in a local hotel.
Sonauli is on the border between India and Nepal and is a crossing point for many journeys between the 2 countries. Although not a tourist location, it gives the chance to explore a rural area and experience a place not many people stop over at.
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 5-6 Varanasi
Crossing the border into India, most of today will be spent travelling (approx. 260 km)and we will arrive in the holy city of Varanasi in the evening. We will stay here for 2 nights, basing ourselves at a comfortable local hotel.
The ultimate destination for all Hindu pilgrims, Varanasi is full of temples, shrines and devotees. It may not be one of the world's cleanest cities but there is no doubt it is one of the world's most amazing.
Next day we get up very early for a boat trip down the Ganges.
Dawn is probably the best time of day to experience the morning ritual of the thousands of worshippers who come to the ghats to purify themselves, floating down the river on a local boat. You will also be able to see the burning ghats, where the bodies of the faithful are cremated and their ashes strewn out over the waters. To the Hindu people this is a very special, spiritual place and Varanasi has a very evocative and sometimes almost otherworldly atmosphere.
The rest of the day is free for you to explore the rest of the city.
Included Activities
  • Varanasi - Ganges boat trip
Optional Activities
  • Varanasi - Temple entrance fee - USD20
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 7-8 Bandhavgarh National Park
Today we will spend most of the day travelling as we journey overland from Varanasi to Bandhavgarh National Park, (approx 350 km), which is famous for tigers. We stay here for 2 nights, camping at a forest lodge.
Bandhavgarh National Park is truly one of India's most magnificent wildernesses with a relative abundance of tigers compared to other national parks, so our chances of spotting some are high.
The following day we spend in Bandhavgarh going on a half day jeep safari in search of tigers and other wildlife. There will also be some time just to kick back and relax around the lodge campsite.
Trips travelling in India between July and October, will not be able to visit Bandhavgarh NP due to the park being closed. Instead the itinerary will spend longer in Chitwan NP in Nepal and spend time at the Royal Beach Camp activity centre in the Himalayas. We will also visit the deserted palaces and temples Orchha.
Included Activities
  • Bandhavgarh NP - Tiger Safari
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 9-10 Khajuraho
Today we drive 210 km from Bandhavgarh to Khajuraho. In the afternoon we have a guide visit of the erotic temples followed by a very short drive to our treehouse campsite.
Far from any major population centres, modern or historical, Khajuraho's remote location saved its stunning 1,000-year-old temples - infamous for their explicit carvings depicting the entire Kama Sutra - from destruction by foreign invaders.
Next day there is the option to head into Panna National Park in search of wildlife on a jeep safari, or you might prefer to explore the local area or just relax on the banks of the river at our campsite.
Included Activities
  • Khajuraho - Guided temple tour
Optional Activities
  • Khajuraho - Panna Game Reserve Jeep Safari - USD40
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 11-12 Agra
After breakfast we leave our campsite and head 400 km towards Agra. Most of today will be spent travelling and we will arrive in the early evening. We stay in Agra for 2 nights, staying in a basic local hotel.
Agra is home to the Taj Mahal, arguably one of the most iconic buildings in the world. But there is more to Agra than the Taj Mahal, and at the very least you should also try to visit the magnificent Red Fort and Itmad-ud-daulah tomb. The city is also a
good place for shopping, particularly jewellery, textiles and other arts and crafts.
We spend the following day exploring Agra by rickshaw, starting with sunrise at the Taj Mahal and a guided tour, followed by a visit to the Red Fort.
The Taj Mahal is a travel icon. Often described as one of the wonders of the world and familiar to us all, coming face to face with this magnificent building never disappoints. Built in the 1600s by Emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum in memory of his second wife, Mumtaz who died during child-birth, it took over 20,000 people many years to complete. Craftsmen were brought in from all over India, Central Asia and even Europe to work on the marble inlay work and complex decoration. The building is often described as a "monument to love", because of the story of Shah Jahan's love for his wife, the woman who he said claimed his heart at first sight. To see the sunrise at the Taj Mahal is a magical experience, sitting quietly and watching as the iridescent white marble takes on a soft morning glow is a memory you will never forget.
Included Activities
  • Agra - Red Fort
  • Agra - Rickshaw ride
  • Agra - Guided Taj Mahal tour
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 13-14 Jaipur
We leave Agra for Jaipur (approx 230 km) stopping en route at Fatehpur Sikri.
The 16th-century palaces and pavilions of Fatehpur Sikri - a fortified ghost city - are perfectly preserved, and the city is home to an impressive 'victory gate', which leads to the tomb of a Muslim saint.
Arriving in Jaipur in the early evening we check in to our comfortable local hotel where we will spend the next 2 nights.
A friendly, busy town crammed with palaces and bazaars full of jewellery, textiles and folk-based arts, Jaipur is a firm favourite with travellers.
Whilst in Jaipur you will have the option for an early morning or late afternoon hot air balloon ride over the Pink City of Jaipur. We will also have a full day exploring the sites of Jaipur on the truck with our local guide.
Included Activities
  • Jaipur - City tour
  • Jaipur - Fatehpur Sikri
Optional Activities
  • Hot Air Balloon ride - USD225
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 15-16 Delhi
We leave Jaipur after breakfast and travel 245 km to arrive in Delhi in the afternoon. Whilst in Delhi we stay in a friendly local hotel.
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!
The following day is a free day.
You may wish to 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.
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 17 Bikaner
After breakfast we leave Delhi for the journey 400 km to Bikaner. The drive will take us most of the day, stopping en route for lunch. In Bikaner we will either stay in a local hotel, or at an eco-lodge a short distance outside the city.
Once an important staging post on the great caravan routes, Bikaner still contains many bazaars within its impressive walls, as well as a superb fort and palace.
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 18-20 Jaisalmer/Camel Safari
Morning drive of 385 km from Bikaner to the ancient Rajasthani city of Jaisalmer, arriving early afternoon stopping at the Karni Mata (Rat Temple) en route.
Travel out to the 600-year-old Karni Mata temple, full of rats considered to be the reincarnation of followers of the Hindu goddess Durga. Locals believe that it's particularly auspicious if one of these holy rats runs over your bare feet - so if you're squeamish, you might have to stay outside!
We base ourselves in Jaisalmer for the next 3 nights, staying in a comfortable local hotel.
The city of Jaisalmer is one of the old Rajasthan capitals and dates back to 1156 AD. The city is dominated by the old fort, built on a hill which gives it a commanding view over the Thar Desert, and has been the scene of many battles. Built of beautiful yellow sandstone, the fort's walls are a tawny beige colour during the day, fading to honey-gold as the sun sets. The monumental walls are ornately designed with imposing parapets and towers at every turn, covered in intricate stonework - and in the old town the havelis (houses of once important Jaisalmer families) look like small palaces with façades covered in fine carvings and highly decorated balconies.
The next morning is free for you to explore more of Jaisalmer, before we head out on a camel safari into the Thar Desert in the late afternoon. Exploring the desert with local Rajasthani camel drivers is the most authentic way to experience the area. Tonight we camp out in the desert, sleeping under the stars.
Returning from our camel safari the following morning, we have the rest of today to relax or explore more of Jaisalmer and the surrounding area.
Included Activities
  • Bikaner - Karni Mata Rat Temple
  • Jaisalmer - Overnight Camel Safari
Hotel (2 nts), Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Days 21-22 Jodhpur
This morning we drive 285 km from Jaisalmer to another famous Rajasthani city, Jodphur. We should arrive in the early afternoon, leaving the afternoon free for you to do as you please. Tonight we stay in a comfortable local guesthouse.
Jodhpur, situated on the edge of the Thar Desert is affectionately known as "the blue city" because of the many indigo coloured houses in the old town. These are best seen from the ramparts of the mighty Meherangarth Fortress, which looms above the bustling city.
Elsewhere in the city, Nai Sadak is the place to head for shopping, lined with shoe and sari shops, or check out Sardar Market, a riot of sights, sounds and smells that's a baffling assault on the senses. Close nearby are the historical sites of Jaswant Thada, built at the end of the 19th century and constructed entirely out of sheets of marble; and Mandore, the ancient capital of Marwar.
Today we will be in and around Jodphur. In the morning we visit the Meherangarh Fort & Palace, before splitting up into small groups of twos or threes for our community homestay. Overnight in local family homes.
Built in the 1400s, Meherangarth is the largest fort in the whole of Rajasthan and has never been taken by force. The fort complex itself is huge, housing the Maharaja's palace a number of temples and extensive gardens.
Included Activities
  • Jodhpur - Megerangarh Fort & Palace
Hotel (1 nt), Homestay (1 nt)
Day 23 Pushkar
Short morning drive of 215 km from Jodhpur to the holy town of Pushkar. Afternoon free to explore. Overnight in local hotel.
The small town of Pushkar is perhaps most famous for its huge camel fair held in October or November every year. It is also an important pilgrimage site for Hindus as it is considered a very holy place, and there are a lot of temples here, including one of the few Brahman temples in all of India. Situated around a lake, most of the buildings are low and whitewashed and the streets are small and narrow, giving the town a wonderfully mellow atmosphere. This is a great place to kick-back and take it easy for a while. Wander the streets, relax with a drink while you watch the sunset over the lake and indulge in a spot of souvenir shopping.
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 24-25 Udaipur
After breakfast we set off from Pushkar for a 300 km drive to Udaipur, arriving mid-afternoon. We will have 2 nights here, giving us plenty of time to discover this amazing, romantic Rajasthani city. Overnight in comfortable hotel.
Udaipur undoubtedly lives up to its reputation as India's most romantic city. Rolling hills, white marble palaces and lakes come together appealingly and it's a centre for artists, dancers and musicians. The shopping is also superb, with miniature paintings being the speciality.
Free day to explore the sites of Udaipur or relax on one of the many roof-top terraces.
Visit City Palace, one of the largest royal palaces in India, and check out the unbelievable treasures within - from vivid murals to antiques and royal utensils.
Enjoy a half hour boat ride on the famous Lake Pichola and see marvels like Lake Palace and Jag Mandir Island (seasonal depending on the water level in the lake).
Optional Activities
  • Udaipur - City Palace guided tour - INR115
  • Ayurvedic massage - INR1200
  • Udaipur - Lake boat ride - INR250
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 26 Ratlam
Leaving Udaipur we have a local cook join us on board who will accompany us over the next few days whilst we are bushcamping.
Today will mostly be spent travelling approx 220 km on the backroads of rural Rajasthan. We are well off the tourist trail here and tonight we will bush camp, perhaps on the edge of a local village.
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 27 Mandu
Morning driving of 200 km, continuing our route through rural villages and towns. Our destination is Mandu - an extensive and mainly deserted hill-top fort. In the afternoon we will have time to explore the palace and tomb.
Mandu is home to great monuments built by the leisure-loving Afghan royals who ruled this region in the 15th century.
Visit the 'Ship Palace' - Jahaz Mahal - a beautiful structure built between two lakes. Within it is a phenomenal 4-storey structure with a 7 ft-deep pool fed by a Persian wheel on the first floor. An ingenious filtration system slows the flow of water through a spiral that looks like a coiled snake and the entire effect is simply breathtaking.
Tonight we will either stay in a local guesthouse, or camp.
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 28-29 Ajanta/Ellora
From Mandu we take an early morning drive of approx. 250 km to Ajanta.
Over the next couple of days we will have a guided tour of both the Ajanta and Ellora Caves.
Hidden in a rocky escarpment, the caves at Ajanta were discovered in 1819 by a British hunting party that stumbled upon them. Their isolation has contributed to the fine state of preservation we find them in today. In all there are twenty nine caves nestling in the curve of a stunning deep gorge, all dating from around 200 BC to 650 AD. The caves are beautifully decorated with paintings and sculptures telling the story of Buddha and illustrating tales from Buddhist fables and jatakas. The frescos are amazingly colourful and considered by many as amongst the finest examples of Buddhist art in India.
Ellora is known for its remarkable sculptures. The 34 cave temples at Ellora are mainly Hindu and Jain. The Hindu caves are the most dramatic and the sheer size of the Kailasa Temple is overwhelming. It covers twice the area of the Parthenon in Athens and is 1 and a half times as high. It was carved out of solid rock from the top down, and it is estimated that it entailed removing 200,000 tonnes of rock.
Included Activities
  • Ajanta - Guided Buddhist Caves visit
  • Ellora - Guided Caves & Rock Temples visit
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 30-31 Mumbai
Setting off early we say goodbye to our local cook and we have approx. 400 km drive from Ajanta and Ellora to Mumbai arriving mid to late afternoon.
Mumbai is probably the most cosmopolitan city in India. It's also home to the largest film industry in the world, Bollywood. So if you've never seen an Indian movie before, this is the place for it. Full of high-drama, romance, suspense, music and dancing, Bollywood films are all-singing, all-dancing extravaganzas. It's pure, unadulterated entertainment and escapism, so even if you can't understand the language, they still make an interesting spectacle.
Combine India's version of LA with a hefty dose of traffic, busy streets, lively bazaars, briefcase-clutching businessmen cutting international deals in soaring skyscrapers and some impressive colonial architecture, and there you have Mumbai. The city is a mad mixture of horrific poverty standing side-by-side with prolific consumerism; this is the financial capital of the subcontinent and it has the shopping centres, bars and restaurants to match - but more than half the inhabitants live in the slums. Mumbai can be a bit of a shock to the system and an assault on the senses. But once you get your head around it, you'll begin to appreciate all the city has to offer. Wander the streets and discover some of the beautiful old colonial and art deco buildings, treat yourself to a meal in one of the country's best restaurants, or shop until you drop in the bazaars. In the evening, visit Chowpatty beach where colourful crowds of people mill about in the cooler evening air. Palmists, balloon sellers, magicians and acrobats all compete for your attention, vying to show you the magic of Mumbai.
The following day is a free day to further explore Mumbai.
Optional Activities
  • Guided Dhavari Slum tour - USD10
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 32 Ganpatipule
We leave the hustle and bustle of Mumbai very early this morning to aviod the rush hour traffic and head 375 km along the Konkan Coast to the little coastal town of Ganpatipule. Depending on what time we arrive at Ganpatipule we will either visit the Ganpati Temple (Ganesha Temple) this afternoon or the following morning.
Tonight we will stay in basic beach side resort with facilities.
Ganpatipule is a sleepy hamlet in the Ratnagiri district of southwest Maharashtra in India, around 375 km off Mumbai by road. Untouched by commercialism, the pastoral beauty of the village is enhanced manifold by the six kilometres of virgin beach on the breathtaking Konkan coastline. The locals believe that Ganpatipule is blessed. They say that in an age when men were devout and miracles were the norm, the scriptures talked of four Dwardatas (welcoming deities) to the sub-continent, and they marked Ganpatipule as the western deity.
According to a local folklore, the Hindu god, Ganapati (Ganesha), taking umbrage by a remark made by a native lady, moved to Pulé (a few km ahead of the town) from his original abode of Gulé. Thus the region was named Ganpati-pulé. A 400 year old Ganpati image at Ganpatipule is said to have sprung up from the soil. This deity faces the west, so as to guard the western gates, unlike deities in other Indian temples who face the east. The temple is at the base of a hill, and
pilgrims walk around (pradakshina) the hill as a mark of respect.
Aside from its clean beach and clear waters, Ganpatipule is rich in flora, including mangroves and coconut palms. Here, you can leave the hectic world behind as you laze around on golden sands or explore the many trails that lead from the beach.
Included Activities
  • Ganpati Temple
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Days 33-34 North Goa
Our journey continues 235 km along the coast to Goa.
We will be basing our 2 night stay at the more popular beach of Baga and Calangute as it has fantastic facilities, restaurants and bars with plenty of taxis and rickshaws to explore the quieter Northern beaches of Arambol, Anjuna and Vagator.
To many people, Goa is all about the beaches; and it's fair to say that the soft white sand and sparkling blue water of the Indian Ocean are definitely one of the main attractions here. But this is also an area rich in history and culture. The coastal state retains much of its old Portuguese colonial architecture, traditions, religion, and lifestyle, particularly in the capital of Old Goa, where there are several churches, a cathedral and lots of great local markets all well worth exploring. Relax under a palm tree on the beach, watch the dhows sailing out into the sunset and see the fishing boats landing their catch, or wander around the local spice plantations revelling in their heady scent; there's something here for all kinds of different travellers. The locals say that time moves more slowly in Goa, so if nothing else it's a brilliant stop for a few days; a great chance to enjoy a bit of tranquillity in an often frenetic country. Goa is also home to some fantastic cuisine, including many fish-based curries, classic Goan pork vindaloo and Feni, a local spirit made from coconut and cashew nuts.
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 35-36 South Goa
After a couple of nights on the northern beaches of Goa we head off in the truck to the southern beaches visiting the site of Old Goa en route.
Old Goa is a historical city located in the north Goa district. The city was constructed by the Bijapur Sultanate in the 15th century, and served as capital of Portuguese India from the 16th century until its abandonment in the 18th century due to plague. The remains of the city are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Old Goa contains churches affiliated to various congregations, including the Se Cathedral (the seat of the Archbishop of Goa), the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, the Church of S. Caetano, and notably, the Basilica of Bom Jesus which contains the relics
of Saint Francis Xavier, which is celebrated every year on 3 December.
We will stay for 2 nights in beautiful beach huts on the stunning beach of Agonda which is a perfect place to just sit back and watch the fishing boats landing their catch and sampling the delicious local cuisine or visit the nearby beach of Palolem with its many bars and restaurants.
Included Activities
  • Goa - Guided Old Goa tour
Beach hut (1 nt), Hotel (1 nt)
Days 37-38 Hampi
Leaving the beaches of Goa behind us we set off on a long drive day (approx. 400 km), crossing into the state of Karnataka to the village of Hampi located within the ruins of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. Tonight we will stay in a local guesthouse.
Hampi was the last capital of the last great Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar. Its fabulously rich princes built Dravidian temples and palaces which won the admiration of travellers between the 14th and 16th centuries. Conquered by the Deccan Muslim confederacy in 1565, the city was pillaged over a period of six months before being abandoned.
Enriched by the cotton and the spice trade, Hampi was one of the most beautiful cities of the medieval world. Imposing monumental vestiges, partially disengaged and reclaimed, make of Hampi today one of the most striking ruins of the world.
On our second day here we rise early and set off on our guided tour of Hampi. Our second night is in the local guesthouse.
Included Activities
  • Hampi - Guided village tour
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Day 39 Bush Camp
We set off from Hampi to start our journey to Mysore. We will try and cover approx. 200 km and aim to bush camp along the way.
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Days 40-41 Mysore
From our wild camp we head to Mysore where we will stay for 2 nights in a comfortable hotel. The second day is free to explore the city's beautiful gardens or visit one of the many palaces and the Shri Chamarajendra art gallery.
Mysore is one of India's most attractive towns. Unlike some of India's biggest cities it feels quite manageable in size, and it's beautiful buildings are packed full of history. The Maharajah’s Palace, the Lalitha Mahal (Summer Palace) and Shri Chamarajendra art gallery are all definitely worth a visit.
Historically the town was the capital of the mighty Maharaja kingdom of Mysore, ruled by the same family from 1399 until 1947. There was a brief period where the throne was usurped by one of the most colourful of Indian rulers, Hyder Ali and then by his famous son Tipu Sultan. Today the city is the state capital and one of the centres of the silk trade. It's well laid out with wide streets and many gardens, making it a pleasant place to wander around. It is also one of the major incense manufacturers in India - some call it "The Sandalwood City" and you will find yourself enveloped by the aromas of sandalwood, jasmine, rose and musk.
Included Activities
  • Mysore - Maharaja's Palace
Optional Activities
  • Temple Entrances - USD20
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 42-43 Wayanad District
Today we travel 150kms up into the hills, heading for the hill station of Wayanad, a small settlement surrounded by tea and coffee plantations. Whilst in Wayanad we stay as guests of local families at a local homestay.
The lush hill station district of Wayanad is nestled at the foot of the Western Ghats. Rolling green hillsides, surrounded by misty peaks and dotted with luxurious tea, coffee and spice plantations, the small communities here are the perfect place for a spot
of rest and relaxation - the area is famous with locals for its spectacular natural beauty. Part of the region is designated as a wildlife sanctuary in order to protect the many animals that live here and it's possible to trek through the forest reserves. This is one of the few places in India where you're almost guaranteed to see wild elephants, and if you're lucky you may also be able to spot deer, bison and langur monkeys.
The second day here is a free day to relax and explore the tea and coffee plantations and surrounding hills. Second night at family homestay.
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 44-45 Kochi
Leaving Wayanad after breakfast, today is a travel day, driving approximately 260 km to Kochi. Overnight in a comfortable local hotel.
Kochi, in Kerala, is a town split between the mainland and a group of islands just off the coast, so a boat trip is the best way to tour the main sights, which include the oldest church in India and Vasco de Gama's final resting place. Opposite Fort Cochin you can watch fishermen working their cantilevered Chinese fishing nets, typical to this region. Interestingly the town is also home to a dying Jewish community that has roots going back as far as 1000 AD and there is a synagogue here that was built in the sixteenth century. Kochi is also the home of Kathakali dancing, India's most spectacular dance drama. The hundreds of different arrangements are based on stories from the Ramayan and Mahabharata - the two epic stories of Indian mythology.
The next day we take a city tour by boat around the coast and islands taking in various sites including the Jewish Quarter, St Francis Church & the Chinese fishing nets. In the evening we will watch the famous Kathakali dancers, India's most spectacular dance drama. Our second night is spent in a comfortable hotel.
Included Activities
  • Kochi - Kathakali performance
  • Kochi - Fort Kochi boat tour
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 46 Kerala Backwaters
Leaving the bustle of Kochi behind today we embark on our overnight houseboat cruise on the tranquil Keralan back waters to Allepey.
Allepey is the gateway to the Keralan backwaters. The network of waterways here extends over hundreds of miles; not surprising then that Allepey is sometimes described as "The Venice of the East". The backwaters are best explored by boat as life revolves around the water here, children often learn to swim before they can walk and they row boats before they ride a bike.
Jump on board a typical Keralan houseboat and meander down the waterways, try your hand at fishing and just lay back and enjoy this unique landscape.
Houseboat (1 nt)
Days 47-49 Varkala
Leaving the backwaters behind us we head to the beach resort of Varkala (Approx. 120 km). There is free time to simply relax or explore the surrounding area. Varkala is well known for its beaches and there are also lots of great local restaurants where you can sample the justifiably famous Keralan cuisine. During our time in Varkala we stay at a beach resort.
Varkala sits on India's Keralan coast and is home to some of the whitest and most pristine beaches in the whole country. The sandy bay here is protected by soaring cliffs, the beach sits below the rock face, whilst the town itself sits prettily along the cliff edge above, a string of laid-back bars, restaurants, guesthouses and hotels. It's a great place to just kick back and relax, but if you want to get active, there are plenty of water sports on offer, including surfing, windsurfing and scuba-diving. Sitting on the sand and watching the sun dip below the horizon is the perfect way to end a day here.
Hotel (3 nts)
Day 50 Madurai
We have a full day journey today to the ancient capital of Madurai (approx. 400 km) visiting Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin), the most southern point of India, en route. Tonight we stay in local hotel.
Madurai is Tamil Nadu's second largest town and ancient capital. Madurai is recognised as the centres of Dravidian culture with its main attraction the famous Shree Meenaksh Temple in the heart of the old town. Its many gopurams are covered with profusions of multicoloured images of gods, goddesses, animals and mythical figures. The city is a huge non-stop bazaar full of shops, street markets, temples and small industries. It is one of southern India’s liveliest cities, yet small enough not to be overwhelming. The views from one of the temple towers are breathtaking.
Kanyakumari is a town in the state of Tamil Nadu in India. It is also sometimes referred to as Cape Comorin. Located at the southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula, it is the geographical end of the Indian mainland.
Kanyakumari takes its name from the Kumari Amman or Kanyakumari Temple, situated in the town, on the seashore, the very confluence of the three water-bodies – the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengaland the Indian Ocean.
Included Activities
  • Madurai - Kanyakumari visit
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 51 Trichy
This morning we visit the Shree Menaksi Temple in Madurai before a short drive to Trichy (approx. 140 km). In the afternoon we make a visit to the famous Rock Fort and Sri Ranganathaswamy temple complex. Staying overnight in comfortable local hotel.
The town of Tiruchirappalli, more commonly known as Trichy, is famous for its Rock Fort. Its name means “city of the sacred rock” and if you climb the 434 steps to the temple of Ganesh at the top, you will be rewarded with magnificent views of the town and surrounding plains. Even more spectacular is the temple complex of Ranganathaswamy, set on the island of
Srivangam and covering some 2½ sq km, making it the largest complex in India. It consists of 21 gopurams - huge ornately decorated and carved towers - and a number of shrines and temples. It is still very much in use and the gopuram at the entrance was only completed in 1980, though its base dates back several centuries.
Included Activities
  • Trichy - Roch Fort & Sri Ranganathaswamy Temples
  • Madurai - Sri Meenakshi Temple
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 52 Pondicherry
Leaving in the morning we head to the French influenced Pondicherry (approx. 230 km). The afternoon is free for time to explore. We will stay tonight in guesthouse accommodation.
The united territories of Pondicherry are unmistakeably and charmingly French, complete with a Hotel de Ville, French consulate and police who wear red "kepis" hats and belts. Pondicherry is also the home of the famous Sri Aurobind Ashram and its offshoot Auroville. The Ashram, founded by Sri Aurobindo in 1926, is one of the most popular in India amongst tourists and ex-pats, and also one of the most affluent.
The town enjoys duty free status and is known for its leather goods and hand-made paper products. With its French influence, many of the shops have a distinctly European feel.
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Day 53 Mahabalipuram
A short drive brings us to Mahabalipuram (Approx. 100 km). Here we make a visit to the unusual shore temples and pagodas. Tonight we stay in a comfortable hotel.
Mahabalipuram is the second capital and seaport of the Pallava Kings of Kanchipuram. It is famous for its shore temple and the 'Descent of Ganges', a relief carved on a vast rock surface. Mahabalipuram is a small, but very pleasant and easy-going village, consisting mainly of two main streets. It stands at the foot of a low lying, boulder-strewn hill where most of the temples and rock carvings are located. Stone carving is still very much a living craft in Mahabalipuram and a visit to the school of sculpture would be an interesting site to visit.
Included Activities
  • Mahabalipuram - Shore Temples & Pagodas
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 54 Chennai
We make a short journey to Chennai, the fourth largest city in India (approx. 55 km) stopping at a snake & crocodile farm en-route. The afternoon is free.
Chennai (previously known as Madras) was the site of the first major settlement of the East India Company in 1639, and is now the fourth largest city in India. The town grew up around the Fort St George and along Mount Road and some interesting historic buildings can be seen here. It's true that it is busy, noisy and often extremely hot, but in many ways it is a surprisingly efficient and orderly place by Indian standards. The Government Museum is worth a visit if you're interested in the history of the city, and for motorcycle enthusiasts the Enfield Factory tour is a must - though it only runs on certain days of the week, so check days and times before you make the journey. You might prefer to just wander the streets and soak up the atmosphere, exploring the many temples and bustling local markets.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 55 Tirupati
Today we head to the bustling town of Tirupati (approx. 205 km). In the afternoon we will visit the holy temple. Tonight we stay in a friendly local hotel.
In the very south of Andhra Pradesh, is the small town of Tirupati. Thousands of pilgrims flock here everyday to visit the Temple of the Lord Venkateshwara which sits above the city on the holy mount of Tirumala. So revered is this place that foreigners are sometimes asked to denounce their own faith and swear allegiance to Venkateshwara before they are allowed to enter the inner sanctum of the temple.
Included Activities
  • Tirupati - Sri Venkatesvara Tirulalai Temple
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 56 Bush Camp
Leaving Tirupati, we will spend the next couple of days overlanding through Andhra Pradesh, one of the least developed states in India.
This is real off the beaten track travel and we will aim to cover approx 550 km today. Tonight we will find a spot to bush camp for the night, possibly somewhere near Mylavaram.
The next day we continue our drive north through the backroads of Andhra Pradesh towards Orissa state we aim to cover approx 390 km today. We will bush camp again tonight. Exactly where we stop will depend on the route we choose to take.
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Days 57-58 Visakhapatnam
Today we continue driving approximately 350 km through the backroads of Andra Pradesh. Our final destination tonight is the coastal town of Visakhapatnam where we will spend the night in a hotel.
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 59-63 Orissa Tribal Area
Today we begin our Orissa tribal tour, starting in a small village called Goudaguda. Beautiful earthen pottery is skilfully produced in this area and you may even get the chance to try it for yourself. On the second day we will make our way to neighbouring Mali and Kondhy villages before returning to Goudaguda for the night via an organic coffee plantation. We stay in a local guesthouse for these two nights, which has been styled on local tribal houses.
The following day we drive to the lively Chatikona Market, a weekly highlight for the Dongria Kondh tribe. We then roll along the hills to Muniguda, where we spend the next two nights. On arrival we will be welcomed be New Hope Charitable Trust, a local NGO helping to uplift the poor and disadvantaged. We will camp in the grounds of the charitable trust for two nights.
Our final two nights in this region include an overnight stop in the coastal town of Gopalpur where we will check out the local fish market before taking the scenic backroads to reach our quiet camping spot at Chilika Lake. Enjoy a bamboo pole cruise, a local BBQ and hopefully a spectacular sunrise.
The hinterlands of Orissa are intensely tribal areas, home to more than 60 different tribal communities, all with their own distinct indigenous culture and traditions. Perhaps one of the most fascinating tribes are the 'Bondas',fiercely independent primitive people of Tibeto-Burmese origin. The women of this tribe wear many silver necklaces from their shoulders up to their chin and prefer to take younger husbands, so that they will have someone to earn a livelihood for them in their old age. The Paraja tribe are also particularly interesting because of the numerous gods and goddesses they worship, who are all said to live in the hills and forests. They also love dance and music and celebrations are also accompanied by a lot of singing and dancing. This is a remote region, difficult to visit as a single traveller and exactly the kind of place where overlanding comes into its own. On our overland tours we spend 3 or 4 days exploring this area, joined on the truck by a local guide who takes us as guests to the tribal communities, introducing us to the local people so we can experience this fascinating area and its people up close.
Included Activities
  • Orissa Tribal Area - Guided village & market tours
Camping (with facilities) (4 nts), Guesthouse (2 nts)
Days 64-65 Puri
Today our tour of the tribal areas comes to an end and we drive on to the small town of Puri. Puri is one of the holiest pilgrimage places in India and it's other main attraction is it's long sandy beach. We stay in Puri for 2 nights at a comfortable local hotel, so there's time to enjoy the luxury of a shower and a comfortable bed after the previous few nights bushcamping.
Puri is one of the oldest cities in the eastern part of India and an important destination for pilgrims, as it is considered to be one of the four holiest towns in the whole country. The huge Jagannath Temple is where the faithful head to worship, an enormous complex which is home to more than 5000 priests and helpers. Unfortunately unless you are Hindu you will not be able to enter the temple, but even from the outside, you can't help but be impressed by the sheer scale of the building. The town is also popular with local Indian holidaymakers because of its long sandy beach and pleasant waterfront, which makes it a good spot to kick back and relax and re-charge your batteries.
On our second full day in Puri, we will take a guided tour of the Konark Sun Temple. We may also visit the Usthi Foundation's Childrens Village project, which provides education and primary care for disadvantaged kids in the area. Alternatively we will visit a different children's project in Kolkata.
Included Activities
  • Puri - Konark Sun Temple
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 66-67 Kolkata
We have a morning drive arriving into Kolkata, the largest city in India. We make our way to our comfortable hotel where we will base ourselves for exploring this remarkable city.
Once the capital of British India, Kolkata has had some bad press over the years. Flooded by refugees after the partition of India and famines in Bengal, the city suffered as wave after wave of immigrants pushed its infrastructure to the limit and slums and street dwellers came to symbolise the city to the world. However, the Kolkata of today is renewed and emerging as a major cultural centre with art galleries, museums and a healthy film and theatre scene. With its British architecture, its trams and, of course, the river with its famous bridge, Kolkata is a vibrant and exciting city with plenty to offer.
The next day is a free day to explore Kolkata.
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 68 Bush Camp
Leaving Calcutta we head north towards Sikkim. Today is a travel day and we will be driving across the Ganges, the huge holy river that is the lifeblood of this region. Tonight we will bush camp along the way, possibly near Sultanganj.
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 69 Siliguri
Our journey to Siliguri (approx. 340 km) takes us to the foothills of the Himalaya where we will camp tonight at the Ganga Ram Tea Plantation.
Camping (with basic facilities) (1 nt)
Days 70-71 Darjeeling
Due to the narrow, steep and winding roads of this particular area today we wave goodbye to our overland truck as we load up our 4x4s that we will stay with for the next few days.
From Siliguri its a relatively short journey of approx. 90 km to Darjeeling, a town that is really more a collection of villages situated on a high ridge, linked by a series of steps and winding lanes and surrounded by rice and tea terraces. The rest of the day is free for you to explore and tonight we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.
Situated on a high ridge and surrounded by terraces of rice, tea, quinine and fruit trees, Darjeeling is a collection of villages linked by steps and lanes so steep that they appear to almost be built on top of each other. The views are fantastic from here, looking down on to the rivers below with Mount Kanchenjunga in the background - and on a clear day even Mount Everest can be seen in the distance. For the very best view, take a pre-dawn excursion to Tiger Hill, where you can see the magnificent sunrise over the Himalayas, definitely worth the early start. The cool climate and slow pace of life here are an abrupt contrast to the rest of India. It's a pleasant place to explore, with monasteries and tea plantations to visit and Tibetan craft shops and markets to browse through.
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 72-74 Karmi Farm
This morning we leave for Karmi Farm, a tea plantation located in a remote rural area about 3 hours from Darjeeling. We will travel in our 4x4s to Karmi Farm however, if you would prefer to do a bit of trekking, it may be possible to organise for you an optional trek to the farm, taking in some spectacular scenery. We will stay at Karmi Farm for three nights, in guest lodge accommodation with stunning views.
Karmi Farm was originally known as Karmi Estate and is the home of the Pulger-Frame family who have been associated with the area for over 200 years. Ronald Frame was a Scottish tea planter who came to this area in 1950 and met local Deki Pulger, marrying her 10 years later. Ronald managed a tea estate in the area in Darjeeling until 1967, bringing up his young family there - but then the family left India, although they did return for family holidays over the years. Today Ronald's son Andrew has returned to Karmi, offering travellers the opportunity to visit the farm and gain a fascinating insight into the lives of the hill farmers who live here and in the surrounding area. The farm itself is spectacularly situated with amazing views and a unique atmosphere, the perfect place for a bit of rest and relaxation. Bird-watching, trekking and sometimes yoga are also all on offer he, depending on your own particular interests.
We will spend the next couple of days at Karmi Farm, allowing time for more optional trekking and our visit to the Karmi Farm Clinic charity project.
Through the generations Karmi has always been a place for the local people to go for help. Before the jeepable roads reached the area it was at least a 3 hour walk to get to the nearest hospital so there was seen to be a real need for some simple health care for the local community. With help from friends in the UK the clinic started up in September 2001. Donations came from friends and guests staying at the farm with volunteer doctors and nurses coming out from the UK. For further information on the project and for details of how you can either donate or find out the which supplies you can bring out on your trip for the clinic. Please go to:
Alternatively you might prefer to just kick-back and relax at the lodge, lounging on the terrace and taking in the amazing views. Karmi Farm is also a great place for birdwatching if you're into your wildlife.
Included Activities
  • Karmi Farm - Charity Clinic visit
Optional Activities
  • Darjeeling Foothills day trek - USD30
Guesthouse (3 nts)
Days 75-77 Gangtok
After breakfast we leave Karmi Farm in our 4x4s to continue our journey of approx. 200 km on to Gangtok, the hilltop capital of Sikkim. We will stay in Gangtok for 3 nights in a comfortable local hotel.
Gangtok, is the capital of Sikkim, an Indian state that was an independent kingdon until 1975 and considered to be one of the last Himalayan Shangri-La's. In recent years the region has seen ever increasing numbers of tourists and Gangtok in particular has seen a lot of development. Fortunately though, the landscape here makes building roads quite difficult, so you don't have to go too far to get off the beaten track. In Gangtok itself you might be interested in visiting some of the towns many temples, monastery or the Institute of Tibetology. Also nearby is an orchid sanctuary, where some 450 species of local orchids can be observed, particularly spectacular if you happen to be there during their flowering season.
The next morning we take a guided visit of the nearby Rumtek Dharma Monastery. The afternoon is free for you to explore Gangtok.
On the other side of the valley from Gangtok is the Rumtek monastery, an important centre for the Kagyu-pa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Here you can get a good insight into the workings of the religion, or simply to sit and drink tea whilst admiring the amazing Tibetan murals.
Our third day here in Gangtok is free to further explore the surrounding area by taking an optional trip to Tsomgo Lake or just relax and take it easy.
Included Activities
  • Gangtok - Rumtek Monastery
Optional Activities
  • Tsomgo Lake day trip - USD20
Hotel (3 nts)
Day 78 Siliguri
Today we re trace our steps back to Siliguri, (approx. 135 km), where we meet back with our overland truck and camp overnight at the Ganga Ram Tea Plantation.
Camping (with basic facilities) (1 nt)
Day 79 Bush Camp
Today will mostly be spent travelling, (approx. 280 km), as we continue our journey from Siliguri, crossing the border into Nepal. Tonight we will aim to bush camp in the Himalayan foothills, possibly near to a place called Barhara.
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 80 Khatauti Khola
This morning we continue our journey, (approx. 465 km), on to Khatauti Khola, home to the Royal Beach Camp eco-adventure camp in the Nepalese mountains.
There are all sorts of optional activities on offer here such as kayaking, rafting, hiking and mountain biking. Tonight we will set up camp at the Royal Beach Camp.
Khatauti Khola is the site of the Royal Beach Camp in Nepal. It is the perfect location to learn water sports or take the faster waves if you feel you are a bit more of an intermediate. There is white water rafting, kayaking and canoeing to try your hand at and for the truly daring, there is an opportunity to jump into a gorge with the plummeting waters dropping over you. Whatever you decide to take part in, you are sure for an enthralling day.
Optional Activities
  • Whitewater Rafting or Kayaking - USD20
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 81-82 Kathmandu
This morning is free for adventure activities, then after lunch we drive approx. 85 km to Kathmandu, where we stay in a comfortable local hotel.
Kathmandu is a mixture of ancient architecture and modern development and, with its rich artistic and cultural heritage, 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.
The following day is departure day. There are no activities included and you may depart at any time.
Optional Activities
  • Trekking & rafting - USD100
Hotel (1 nt)
    • Mumbai to Kathmandu (HDOAC)
    • Kathmandu to Chennai (HDOCC)
    • Northern Circuit India & Nepal (HDONC)
    • India Encompassed Overland (HDVWC)
    Itinerary disclaimer
    We must emphasise that the routes, activities and places visited described in these trip notes are intentions and are meant as a rough guide only. We intend following the route detailed but exact night stops cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our basic planned itinerary. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, road or bureaucratic conditions may demand it. Or it may be because we find a better, more interesting route. While actually en route, unexpected hospitality, a local festival or a great place to chill out can determine our exact route and itinerary on any given trip.
    Overnight stops and driving distances each day may vary to best suit the needs of the group.
    Culture shock rating

    The comforts of home are more of a rarity. English isn't common and the food will be quite different to home. It's important to observe some of the local customs to not cause offence. Many of the locals’ standard of living may be confronting.
    Physical rating

    This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
    Physical preparation
    In these parts of the world you'll need to be healthy enough to cope with extremes of climate; from hot deserts through to the cold of high mountain areas.
    Overland travelling can be demanding - long, rough travel days and dusty conditions can be challenging to some. You'll need to be fit enough to help every day with the camp chores (cooking, washing up, general camp set up) as well as putting up, and taking down your own tent. There are some long driving days and some early morning starts. The step-up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high, can become tiring. You need to judge if you are physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down the step at least 8-10 times a day.
    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.
    On this trip it's compulsory to contribute to a kitty. The kitty is an on-ground payment put into a central fund and overseen by travellers and the crew. It helps fund accommodation, camp meals and some included activities. Kitty amounts are subject to change to reflect local price increases. Please check our website for the up-to-date amount 48 hours prior to your trip commencement.
    Your kitty will be collected when you arrive for your trip, either on day 1 or, if on a combination trip, in stages throughout your trip.
    You may pay your kitty in a mixture of US Dollars cash and the rest in local currency (amount and type of currency to be agreed by the leader at the start of the trip). Most of our travellers chose to bring a cash passport with them for withdrawing local currency (you can visit for further information on these). This is a very secure way of carrying your money whilst travelling. You treat them exactly like an ATM card and draw out local currency from an ATM to give to your leader within each country.
    If you do choose to pay part in local currency your trip leader will confirm the current exchange rates with you so you will know exactly how much to hand over.
    Travellers cheques have become increasingly difficult to change around the world with passengers and our leaders experiencing huge frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept them on our trips.
    Kitty does not cover food while staying in hotels and hostels.
    We constantly monitor local price changes and exchange rate fluctuations that could affect kitty expenses. Final kitty contributions are likely to be different from those quoted in the brochure or at the time of booking so you must check the final amount just before departure.
    As our kitty is flexible the indicated amount is indicative only. Follow the link below to view the kitty amount for your departure date.
    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.
    India has very good opportunities for shopping, especially for locally made goods, and during your trip it is highly likely that your local guides will take you to emporiums as well as workshops where these goods are made. Many people find this a great opportunity to buy local handicrafts, silk, jewellery and carpets. Guides will often assume that visitors will want to go shopping, it is very much part of the culture, but if you do not wish to go please make this clear to your local guide at the time.
    Money Exchange
    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.
    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.
    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.
    Tipping is entirely voluntary. The Dragoman crew may be travelling with you for many weeks and usually they become good friends with most members of the group. It is sometimes easy to forget that they do work hard to ensure that you do have a great trip. If you feel you would like to tip them, they certainly would appreciate it. On a number of our trips, we also use a local guide as well as our own Dragoman crew. These guides live and travel with you through their home country and it is usual to tip them when they leave. We recommend USD10 to USD15 per person.
    Departure tax
    All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
    Important notes
    With increasing concerns about tourists embarking on tribal safaris, the government of Orissa has imposed strict rules for trips to areas inhabited by tribal groups. As a result, the Orissa part of our itinerary has changed and we will now stay in hotels, lodges, or campgrounds associated with local NGOs rather than bushcamping in villages. We will also travel with a local guide for the duration of the visit to the tribal area and have more meals and activities included. This has all resulted in a significant increase in the kitty for this trip compared to what has previously been advertised.
    Please note this Intrepid trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Your departure will be run in a Dragoman vehicle with a Dragoman crew.
    The minimum age for this trip is 18 years old and bookings for minors, even if accompanied by a parent, cannot be accepted.
    In order to confirm your place on this trip we will need a clear scanned copy of your passport, passport photo and your Indian visa as soon as possible after booking.
    Snap bandhs (strikes) can occur at any time in Nepal with very little notice, resulting in your itinerary having to be revised. Although we will endeavour to minimise any additional costs incurred there may be occasions where the traveller will need to cover trip changes, including flights, of which you will need to use your emergency funds and then claim the money on your travel insurance.
    Heat and humidity during summer (Apr-Jun) in India can be particularly oppressive with temperatures reaching 45 degrees C/113 degrees F.
    Trips travelling in India during the monsoon season (between July and October), will not be able to visit Bandhavgarh NP. Instead they will spend longer in Chitwan NP in Nepal and spend time at the Royal Beach Camp activity centre in the Himalayas. They will also visit the deserted palaces and temples Orchha.
    For trips in Southern India that occur over Christmas and New Year please allow approximately $130USD extra on the kitty for seasonal increases in accommodation costs.
    Group size
    Maximum of 21 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:
    Single travellers
    Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
    Hotel (49 nts), Camping (with facilities) (12 nts), Guesthouse (9 nts), Bush camp (no facilities) (6 nts), Camping (with basic facilities) (2 nts), Homestay (1 nt), Beach hut (1 nt), Houseboat (1 nt)
    The type and variety of accommodation is determined by conditions on each of our routes. Each route is different - on some we use a mixture of campsites and wild camps; on others we also use hotels.
    In Asia it is not practical to camp when staying in towns and cities so we use hotel accommodation and eat out in local restaurants.
    The frequency and regularity of hotel stops depends on the route and area. There may be the occasional night stop, when staying in the grounds of a hotel, or at a campsite which may also have cabins available, when there is a choice of camping or taking a room. This doesn't mean that every week is the same. Some areas demand longer stretches without hotels than others.
    Standards of hotels will obviously be different to those of western countries and in Asia a 3 star hotel is more likely to be comparable with a European 1 star.
    Nights spent camping can be in a recognised campsite, in the grounds of a hotel, or wild camping in the countryside. For these days, the duties rota system is adopted when all members share in general camp duties - cooking, shopping, washing up, collecting firewood, etc.
    Campsites do have facilities, but are usually not to the same standard as you would find in western countries. Wild camps obviously have no facilities at all.
    Whether we wild camp or stay in a campsite, again obviously depends on the area and there is no regularity to the choice.
    You will need to bring some camping equipment with you - a sleeping mat, sleeping bag and pillow as these items are not provided.
    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.
    All meals when camping
    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 1250.00
    Overland vehicle, Camel, Train, 4x4
    Group leader
    On all of our Dragoman-operated Overlanding trips you will be accompanied by two Western crew members who are responsible for the group and the overall organisation of the trip.
    While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and to offer suggestions of things to do and see. In East and Southern Africa we will also have an African camp master/cook who is in charge of running the camp and organising all of the meals. Their knowledge of the local produce makes shopping at the markets great fun and you will learn how to prepare and cook some unusual dishes. In the rest of Africa, South America and the majority of Central Asia and China we use local guides who may stay with us for just a few hours or will actually travel with us for some or all of the journey. In these cases they become a third crew member and are able to offer their local knowledge as well as a real insight into the lives of the local people. Our crew are chosen for their leadership skills, and most importantly have a passion for the region and its people.
    We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader and crew; however, situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders
    On any Overland trip, there are a number of tasks that need to be done. Our overland trip leaders will organise the group into smaller groups of two or three who will take turns in the daily shopping and cooking, vehicle cleaning, disposing of rubbish, etc. There are also a number of other jobs that need doing e.g. collecting water and firewood, luggage loading, supervising the kitty and food stores, which may be assigned to particular people or on a rota system according to group size, make-up, and so on. You must come prepared to 'pull your weight' and share in these duties; you will become very unpopular with other group members if they have to do your share. The more you put into a trip, the more you'll benefit.
    Joining point
    Hotel Tibet
    Joining point description
    Hotel Tibet is located close to the Royal Palace and walking distance to all major embassies, airline offices, banks, immigration office and the famous shopping centres of Thamel. It is only 8km from the Tribhuvan International Airport and has a panoramic view of the Kathmandu Valley and the surrounding hills. Hotel Tibet is renowned for its hospitality and homey environment.
    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 Tibet
    Finish point description
    Hotel Tibet is located close to the Royal Palace and walking distance to all major embassies, airline offices, banks, immigration office and the famous shopping centres of Thamel. It is only 8km from the Tribhuvan International Airport and has a panoramic view of the Kathmandu Valley and the surrounding hills. Hotel Tibet is renowned for its hospitality and homey environment.
    Emergency contact
    Dragoman 24 HOUR EMERGENCY NUMBER Tel: +44 (0) 1728 862 222 This is an answer-phone. If calling outside UK office hours for non urgent questions, please leave a message. There is a number provided to call for a 24 hour manned mobile, in case of genuine emergency. For further emergency contact details go to:
    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 are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
    We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
    Australia: Yes - on arrival
    Belgium: Yes - on arrival
    Canada: Yes - on arrival
    Germany: Yes - on arrival
    Ireland: Yes - on arrival
    Netherlands: Yes - on arrival
    New Zealand: Yes - on arrival
    South Africa: Yes - on arrival
    Switzerland: Yes - on arrival
    United Kingdom: Yes - on arrival
    USA: Yes - on arrival
    Visas are obtainable from embassies abroad or on arrival at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan Airport. If getting the visa at the airport be prepared for 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 only: 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 two photos are required.
    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.
    The size of baggage that can be brought on this tour is limited by the locker space on the truck. Different trucks have different sized lockers however to be safe we recommend that your bag be no larger than 66cm deep, 30cm wide, and 30cm high. You will need to bring your own lock for your locker. We recommend a 20-30mm sized padlock with a long shackle.The weight limit for luggage on all trucks is maximum 20kg. Backpacks shouldn't have an external frame unless it can be easily removed and stored separately to avoid damaging other people's luggage.
    Please bring a sleeping bag (4-season is recommended - check that the weather will be like over the dates you are travelling), sleeping mat and a pillow as these items are not provided.
    Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your hotel safe and the safe on the overland truck to store the bulk of your money, passport, and airline tickets. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden.
    We strongly recommend that you photocopy all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.
    Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilized water stored in the purpose-built storage tank or in water jerry cans in your overland vehicle. You're free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like.
    All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
    You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
    As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water, even in hotels, as it contains much higher levels of different minerals than the water you may have at home. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for visitors drinking the tap water can result in illness. Generally this isn't serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it's enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday. Bottled water is widely available and your leader can recommend safe alternatives when available. Water consumption should be about 3 litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies.
    Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
    We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
    Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
    For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
    Where we use a local partner to fully operate one of our itineraries, we use the travel advisory of the country where that operator is based rather than the Australian DFAT advisory. This itinerary is operated by our local partners Dragoman, and as such will follow the British Government (FCO) Travel Advice. To view these travel advisories please log on to:
    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.
    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.
    The vehicle has fully lockable doors and windows, which is an obvious advantage, but it will probably be necessary to guard it at times and everyone should be prepared to share in this responsibility.
    In most areas there is very little to fear from the point of view of violence. But in all areas 'tourists' are a tempting target for pickpockets and con-men. Always be aware of this and be especially careful when leaving banks or money-changers, in any crowded areas, etc. NEVER leave things lying around - they will almost certainly get stolen. We cannot emphasise enough how important it is to always be security conscious and to take all necessary precautions. Great inconvenience and distress can be caused by having your documents or possessions stolen.
    A few of our past group members have had the unhappy experience of having their belongings stolen before the trip starts. Beware of carrying your passport and other valuables around with you in cities. We strongly suggest you deposit your valuables in your hotel safe on arrival.
    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.
    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:
    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.
    Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Nepal include:
    * The Kathmandu Environmental Education Project (KEEP) promotes positive impact tourism and minimum impact trekking through information services for travellers and locals. They also provide vocational training in hospitality, ecotourism, conservation, first aid and English to ensure the future ecological and cultural prosperity of Nepal.
    Carbon offset
    Carbon Offset C02-e 2509.00 kgs per pax.
    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.
    Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.