Last Modified: 01 Oct 2014
India & Nepal Experience
Trip code: HHKWC
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
Combine the best of India and Nepal in one superbly comfortable trip. Experience the colour and chaos of Delhi's bazaars, visit erotic temple carvings in Khajuraho and witness intimate displays of faith on the burning ghats of Varanasi. Roam the grounds of the iconic Taj Mahal, head out on a jungle safari and listen for the whispering prayer flags of Kathmandu. Throw in temple towns and village visits, lakeside retreats and mountain hikes, spiritual moments and local interactions for an unforgettable tour bursting with incredible adventures.
TRIP CHANGES FOR 2014:
From 1st January 2014 the India & Nepal Experience will be a 22 day trip. As a result of traveller feedback we now travel from Kathmandu to Pokhara and have included an overnight stay in Bhaktapur instead of Begnas.
This trip is run by our experienced sister company Peregrine Adventures. Your group is therefore likely to be a mixture of Intrepid passengers and other like-minded international travellers.
Table of Contents
- Comfort is your style of travel if you want the whole grassroots experience with more inclusions, meals and creature comforts. While accommodation is predominantly tourist class (3-4 star), on some itineraries there is the opportunity to stay with a local family, spend the night on a train or camp out in exotic places (without putting up your own tent of course). Along the way, you'll really experience the destination up close. You'll mingle with locals, enjoy a taste of their way of life and gain special insights from your leader. This is not luxury travel, but real world experiences - just with a softer landing!
Days 1-2 Delhi
Namaste! Welcome to India.
Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
An airport arrival transfer is included. This transfer is only valid if arriving on day 1 or if you have booked pre-trip accommodation through Intrepid. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 15 days prior to travel (note - we may not be able confirm request made within 15 days of travel). Once you have provided your details a transfer representative will be booked to meet you at the airport and transfer you to your 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!
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.
- Complimentary airport arrival transfer
- Delhi - Old Delhi walking tour
- Delhi - Jama Masjid
- Delhi - Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple)
- Delhi - Humayun's Tomb - INR260
- Delhi - Qutb Minar - INR260
- Delhi - Red Fort - INR250
Hotel Swati Deluxe or similar (2 nts)
Days 3-4 Jaipur
Travel by express train into the state of Rajasthan and continue on to its capital, Jaipur (approx 5 hrs).
A friendly, busy town crammed with palaces and bazaars full of jewellery, textiles and folk-based arts, Jaipur is a firm favourite with travellers.
Take a walk to the city's crowded and colourful bazaars, which sell a wide variety of artisan goods. Semi-precious stones are the local speciality - be sure to wander by the stalls at least once.
Travel out to the old capital of Amber and explore the hilltop fort complex known as the Amber Fort.
Make a photos stop at India's most photographed building after the Taj Mahal, the Hawa Mahal or 'Palace of the Winds'.
Go to Jaipur's Royal City Palace - one of India's finest - and spend time exploring the various rooms and apartments.
Visit one of the five astronomical observatories built by Maharaja Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur.
Discover the extravagance of a Bollywood blockbuster, with all the Hollywood-style elements of action, romance, drama and music (sometimes all rolled into one), at the spectacular Raj Mandir Cinema.
- Jaipur - Walking tour
- Jaipur - Amber Fort guided tour
- Jaipur - Hawa Mahal
- Jaipur - City Palace - INR330
- Jaipur - Observatory - INR220
- Jaipur - Bollywood movie at the Raj Mandir Cinema - INR350
Hotel Rani Mahal or similar (2 nts)
Day 5 Agra
Travelling by private vehicles, the journey to Agra takes us across the plains of Rajasthan and into the state of Uttar Pradesh (approx 6 hrs).
Agra is home to one of the world's most recognisable monuments, the Taj Mahal.
Hop on to your motorised rickshaw for a tour of the city - a truly fun and Intrepid way to see the monuments of Agra.
Visit the Taj Mahal - a masterpiece of shimmering white marble set amid beautiful formal gardens. Built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his wife Mumtaz, this 'teardrop on the face of eternity' (as it was described by writer Rabindranath Tagore) lives up to all expectations.
Visit Agra Fort on the banks of the Yamuna River. Built in 1565 by Emperor Akbar, the fort was originally designed to be a military structure. It was converted to a palace in Emperor Shah Jahan's time and eventually became his prison after he lost power in 1658.
- Agra - Motorised rickshaw tour
- Agra - Taj Mahal
- Agra - Agra Fort
Raj Mahal Palace or similar (1 nt)
Days 6-7 Orchha
Take an express train into the state of Madhya Pradesh (approx 3.5 hrs).
After arriving in Jhansi, travel by auto rickshaw across a classic Indian rural landscape to the picturesque town of Orchha to experience a very different side of India (approx 45 mins).
Along the way we visit Taragram, one of Intrepid's Responsible Tourism projects. This unique papermaking plant was set up to give tribal women from the area a chance to work outside the traditional areas normally afforded to them. All the paper is made from recycled clothing and wood pulp.
Situated on the banks of the Betwa River, Orchha has changed little over the centuries. Originally a hunting area, it became the capital of the Bundela rajas and, as a result, Orchha has more temples and palaces than any town of this size deserves.
See the stunning Orchha Palace, built by Bir Sing Deo for his friend Jehangir, the great Mughal ruler.
Take the chance to experience the local flavours at a cooking demonstration by our local friends.
- Orchha - Taragram visit
- Orchha - Orchha Palace
- Orchha - Cooking demonstration
- Orchha - Ram Raja Temple puja (prayer) ceremony
Bundelkhand Riverside or similar (2 nts)
Day 8 Khajuraho
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.
Khajuraho's 'Kama Sutra' Temples were all built during the Chandela Dynasty 1,000 years ago, most within a 100 to 150-year time frame. These temples have baffled foreigners and Indians alike since their rediscovery by the British in the late 19th century. What they were built for and what the delicate and erotic carvings mean is open to wide interpretation. Some believe that these intricate designs, all located on the exterior of the temple, were meant to symbolise the leaving of sexual desires before entering the holy sanctuary within. Others argue that these carvings were a way of teaching young boys in the hermitage about life outside of religion. We take a tour of the western temple complex.
Khajuraho is home to a famous classical dance festival, take the opportunity to view a performance.
Visit a local Hindu family for a home-cooked vegetarian meal and gain an insight into the life of middle-class Indians.
- Khajuraho - Kama Sutra temples
- Khajuraho - Traditional dance performance
- Khajuraho - Home-cooked lunch & family visit
Usha Bundela or similar (1 nt)
Days 9-10 Varanasi
Take a quick flight from Khajuraho to Varanasi. At times this flight can be delayed by fog.
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.
Wander through the Old City with its maze of narrow alleyways packed full of small shops and stalls. See pilgrims bathing and performing rituals and ceremonies unchanged for hundreds of years; temples full of bell chimes and the smell of incense; the dhobi wallahs and the burning ghats.
Start early with a sunrise boat ride on the Ganges, passing the many ghats and temples along the river.
Spend the evening soaking up the magical atmosphere of a candle flower ceremony, serenaded by traditional musicians on a Ganges river cruise as the sun sets.
- Varanasi - Old city walking tour
- Varanasi - Sunset candle flower ceremony
- Varanasi - Sunrise boat ride
- Varanasi - Sarnath - INR250
Hotel Hindustan International or similar (2 nts)
Day 11 Delhi
You have a free morning in Varanasi to wander the ghats and do some last-minute shopping in one of the city's colourful bazaars, before a short flight to Delhi (approx 1.5 hrs).
This evening is free for some exploration on your last night in India.
Hotel Swati Deluxe or similar (1 nt)
Day 12 Kathmandu
After you check out of the hotel, you will say goodbye to your Indian tour leader at the airport and take a short flight to Kathmandu, Nepal.
Upon arrival in Kathmandu, you will be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel.
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
The evening is free, but your tour leader will usually organise an evening meal (optional) at one of Kathmandu’s fine Nepali restaurants.
Day 13 Kathmandu
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 real Kathmandu is a contrast. Work your way through manic traffic to the peace of the Great Stupa of Tibetan Buddhism at Bodhnath and the nearby holy site of Lord Shiva. Heighten your spiritual awareness as you witness the devotion of the people around the religious sites and feel the pulse of Kathmandu in the colourful local market.
Outsourced Hotel (1 nt)
Days 14-15 Pokhara
We have an early departure from the hotel for our flight to Pokhara which usually offers spectacular views of the main Himalayan chain to the north. On arrival in Pokhara we take a boat ride across the lake (Phewa Tal), which is the second largest in Nepal. We visit the Peace Pagoda, where we enjoy excellent views of the mountains including the Annapurnas and the famous fishtail peak, Machhapuchhare, as well as back across to Pokhara.
We also visit the fascinating International Mountain Museum, where we learn of the amazing tales and hear about the exploits of the various climbing expeditions in the past. A free day has been allocated for further exploration in the peaceful surroundings of Pokhara. Your leader can advise you of sightseeing opportunities. The lakeside area has good shopping opportunities and internet cafes. Pokhara has an interesting old area as well as an elaborate Hindu temple and a Buddhist monastery.
- Pokhara - International Mountaineering Museum - NPR500
Outsourced Hotel (2 nts)
Days 16-17 Bandipur
In the morning we drive to Bandipur. This traditional Nepalese settlement is a natural treasure and one of the hidden gems of Nepal. As tourism in Nepal developed along the main infrastructures of roads and airports, for over 30 years there simply was no main road linking Bandipur to the main infrastructure, leaving it almost intact from touristic influence. The village is saddled on a high ridge above Dumre, 700 meters above above the Marsyangdi River Valley and is gifted with an exceptional view of the Himalayan panorama.
The surrounding hills are ideal for hiking, along trails that take you through villages, verdant forests, 'power places', and hilltop shrines which once doubled as fortresses. We explore this incredible settlement and take in the many opportunities to immerge in the culture of Nepal as it once was, enjoy the spectacular views, incredibly maintained architecture and amazing trails.
- Bandipur - Guided walk
- Chitwan - Canoe safari, Bird Watching walk or Jeep safari
- Chitwan NP - Bird watching tour - USD30
Outsourced Hotel (1 nt), Lodge (1 nt)
Days 18-19 Chitwan National Park
After breakfast we drive to Chitwan National Park. After arriving and settling in, we are introduced to the camp staff and resident naturalists who will discuss our program at Royal Park Wildlife Resort.
There is some flexibility and activities may vary with the time of the year and known wildlife movements and locations. We may visit the elephant camp to see how their handlers, known as phanits, care for these beautiful animals.
A late afternoon safari takes us into the forest and grasslands to observe the varied and exciting wildlife in the park. In the early evening the local Tharu dance troupe may perform a cultural program. We then enjoy dinner and afterwards we are free to relax in the bar.
An early morning excursion could include either another safari to different parts of the park in search of the great Indian rhino, deer and exotic bird life or joining one of several other activities including a visit to the elephant breeding centre. Tiger sightings are rare these days, but these magnificent animals do inhabit the park.
After breakfast we leave the lodge for a trip by dugout canoe on the Rapti River. This is an exciting trip with chances to view marsh mugger crocodiles and various birds that inhabit the riverbanks.
A program is organised for us for the rest of the day that may include further excursions by jeep or a visit to one of the nearby villages.
- Begnas walking tour
- Boating on Begnas Lake
Lodge (1 nt), Outsourced Hotel (1 nt)
Day 20 Bhaktapur
We spend the day exploring Bhaktapur’s famous temples, starting at Durbar Square, the majestic Lion Gate and the Golden Gate, reputed to be the most beautiful piece of art In Nepal. The Pashupati Temple, a replica of the Bagmati River in Kathmandu. An enlightening morning of discovery and enrichment as we truly deep dive into all Bhaktapur has to offer.
Outsourced Hotel (1 nt)
Days 21-22 Kathmandu
There is the option of an early morning bird watching safari for those interested - it is well worthwhile. After breakfast we drive on to the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu.
In the afternoon we drive to Kathmandu, the evening is free but usually our group leader will organise an evening meal (optional) at one of Kathmandu’s fine Nepali restaurants.
Our trip ends on Day 22 after breakfast. Your leader will be on hand to advise and assist with your onward travel arrangements.
Outsourced Hotel (1 nt)
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.
- HHKWC Essence of India & Nepal - Single Supplement (HHKWC)
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Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
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.
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.
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.
Over the years we have found that many of our travellers find the need for tipping to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if they don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, we have established a tipping kitty system. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members.
If you are happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.
The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest INR20. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest INR100 per day for local guides.
Porters: Throughout your trip you may at times have a porter in addition to your leader. We suggest INR50 per day for porters.
Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of INR100-INR150 per day is generally appropriate.
Local transport: For a half day city tour we suggest INR50 per day. For a full day city tour we suggest INR100 per day.
Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline $US 2-4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
All international departure taxes should be included in your flight ticket.
Kathmandu Valley-wide transport bandhs (strikes) can be called at very short notice. When these bandhs are in place the Nepal Tourism Board and the Nepal Tourist Police in conjunction with the Himalayan Rescue Association run Shuttle Bus Services between various hotels in Kathmandu and the domestic and international airports; this service costs 300 rupees person.
Please note adverse weather conditions at Lukla airport may occasionally mean that your flight to/from Kathmandu cannot operate. Please bear this in mind when making comparisons between companies offering this trip. We build in additional days into the itinerary to accommodate this however, very rarely persistent adverse weather could mean that the start of your trek or your return to Kathmandu is delayed. Ultimately any prolonged delay of your return to Kathmandu may result in missing your intended international flight. In these circumstances we cannot be held responsible for you missing onward travel arrangements.
Between June and August, it is monsoon season in Nepal. If you do choose to travel during this time, please note that you will encounter wet conditions, obscured views, and an extra leech or two.
Maximum of 16 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
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.
Outsourced Hotel (7 nts), Hotel Swati Deluxe or similar (3 nts), Bundelkhand Riverside or similar (2 nts), Hotel Hindustan International or similar (2 nts), Hotel Rani Mahal or similar (2 nts), Lodge (2 nts), Raj Mahal Palace or similar (1 nt), Usha Bundela or similar (1 nt)
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.
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.
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.
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.
20 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 6 Dinners
Budget for meals not included:
Train, Boat, Cycle rickshaw, Private vehicle, Metro, Plane, Private Bus
Sleeper trains in India have berths on both sides of the carriage, with some also having 4-6 berth compartments (dependent on seasonality and the journey). The carriages are multishare, with bunk beds and curtains that close over the beds. Most compartments are air-conditioned. Due to the complex nature of booking train travel in India, Intrepid cannot always guarantee that the group will travel always together in the same compartment or carriage. We have contingencies in place in these cases. Your tour leader is the best guide in these situations.
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.
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.
Please also make sure have a copy of the local operator's emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
Australia: Yes - in advance
The Indian Government has advised that from December 2014, all visa applicants will need to be physically present at a visa application centre, by appointment, to submit their applications and biometric data, including fingerprints and facial imagery). ALL Australian travellers to India will need to personally attend their nearest consulate to complete their visa formalities.
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 OR on arrival*
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 for most nationalities. 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.
*Visa on arrival is available for select nationalities, including New Zealanders provided that specific criteria can be met. See link below for more information.
All foreign nationals (except Indians) require a visa to enter Nepal. Visas are obtainable from embassies abroad on arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport and at some land borders (including borders with India and Tibet).
Getting a visa at the airport can sometimes take time due to long queues. There have been instances when passengers were asked to show return flight tickets. You will also need to provide two passport photos and the following fees in US dollars cash. Other currencies are also accepted although rates may differ. The following costs were correct at time of writing:
- Multi entry visa valid for 15 days - US$25
- Multi entry visa valid for 30 days - US$40
- Multi entry visa valid for 90 days - US$100
Please note if you are staying in Nepal for less than 24 hours while in transit a transit visa can be issued on presentation of your international flight ticket, there is a nominal charge of US$5 and one photo is required.
Your visa application form may require you to state the dates on which you enter and exit that country. Please note we suggest you list your date of entry a few days before, and date of exit a few days after, your intended dates in case you encounter any delays or problems en route. To help calculate the exact dates of these crossings we have found the website www.timeanddate.com to be very useful.
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).
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.
LUGGAGE ALLOWANCES ON INTERNAL FLIGHTS:
Please note luggage allowances on included flights are up to 15 kilos checked baggage and 5 kilos hand luggage. Any excess luggage charges are to be paid to the airline upon check in.
Please note luggage allowances on included flights are 10 kilos checked baggage and 5 kilos hand luggage due to flight baggage restrictions. Surplus baggage can be stored at the hotel in Kathmandu.
IMAGES FROM HOME:
During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos / postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc.
Please bring a photocopy of your passport main page and airline ticket if you will require airline reconfirmation at the end of your trip.
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.
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.
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.
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
There have been a number of recent air accidents in Nepal. We only use airlines that have passed strict safety audits for internal flights on this trip, including Buddha Air, Yeti Air & Tara Air. EU clients please see our safety page for important information regarding internal flights in Nepal.
FESTIVALS - HOLI & DIWALI:
Travelling in India and Nepal during the Holi festival, a lunar festival next held in March 6 2015, (in 2016 it is held on 23 March). 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 11 November, 2015, (30 October 2016) 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.
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
You may stay at hotels with unfenced pools and no life guard on duty.
Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.
On this trip you will be staying in some heritage hotels and traditional guesthouses, and these are one of the charms of this trip, but occasionally staircases, balconies and passages etc don't always comply with western safety standards. Please don't expect elevators in these properties as they are preserved to their original state.
Intrepid will provide life jackets for private boats, but cannot guarantee that all public ferries will have enough life jackets or life rings for all clients.
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:
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
Dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees by wearing sleeves and long trousers. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in areas of predominantly hot climate. In many rural areas women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.
ELEPHANT PERFORMANCES & ELEPHANT RIDING:
While we respect each individual’s decisions while travelling, Intrepid does not include elephant rides or unnatural performance activities on any itinerary, and we recommend you bypass these activities should they be offered to you during your stay. Professional wildlife conservation and animal welfare organisations, including the World Animal Protection (formerly the World Society for protection of Animals) advise that contrary to common belief, captive elephants remain wild animals and despite good intentions, unfortunately many venues are unable to provide the appropriate living conditions elephants require and this ultimately impacts their well-being. While there is some merit in the argument that the money that you pay for the activity goes towards keeping the elephants and their mahouts employed, we know that it also fuels demand for elephants to be captured in the wild or captive bred. We thank you for your support in improving the welfare of these majestic creatures. Further information is available on the below link:
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:
* Kathmandu Environmental Education Program (KEEP)
KEEP advocates and promotes ‘minimum impact’ trekking by working with visitors, the tourism industry and the local community. KEEP offers training on nature conservation to the local Nepalese, as well as basic and intermediate English for trekking guides and lodge owners, first aid training, eco-trekking workshops and courses on ecological thinking and Positive Impact Tourism. Your support through The Intrepid Foundation will support the purchase of clothing and equipment for the Porters Clothing Bank, and the conduct of porters’ awareness workshops. www.keepnepal.org
just-one targets disadvantaged children living in dangerous and vulnerable situations on the streets and provides them with training and educational opportunities that bring greater economic security to themselves and their families. Your support through The Intrepid Foundation will assist them in developing their current facilities to include an activity centre and library at their rehab home, and help them build capacity to reach an even greater number of disadvantaged children.
*Prisoner's Assistance (PA) Nepal
Prisoner’s Assistance (PA) Nepal helps to equip children of prisoners with self-sustaining life skills and education, moving them out of prisons and into the community. Your support through The Intrepid Foundation will help increase the capacity PA Nepal to support more prisoners’ children.
For more information on our projects in Nepal, or to make a donation, visit: www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/?projectcountry=nepal
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