India

Untamed India 14-Day Wildlife Safari

Tour:
14 Days
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$5,998
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SINGLE SUPPLEMENT
Single travelers staying in a room by themselves will be charged this additional single supplement fee, as all of our regular prices are otherwise based on double occupancy.

SINGLE SHARE OPTIONS (if available)
If you are traveling alone and wish to share a room, we will make every effort to find you a roommate of the same gender, in which case you will not have to pay the single supplement fee. The single supplement will be charged until we are able to confirm a roommate for you. If we are able to match you with a roommate, the single supplement will be refunded. In the event that we cannot find a share for you, you will be required to pay the single supplement fee.

New: Click the Singles Find a Share' icon below or check our "Community" page to connect with other single travelers looking to share.

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India

Untamed India 14-Day Wildlife Safari

Destinations

  • Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Satpura National Park
  • Taj Mahal
  • Bandhavgarh National Park
  • Khajuraho Temples
  • Varanasi - Ganges River

Highlights

  • Tiger and wildlife safaris by boat, jeep or foot in 4 national parks and wildlife reserves
  • 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • Elephant, Walking and Boat Safaris in Satpura National Park for a more intimate and authentic experience of the forest and wildlife - the only place in India where this is possible! A Wild Planet Special!
  • Tiger Safari in Bandhavgarh National Park
  • Expert Naturalist Guides and Trackers
  • Khajuraho Erotic Temples
  • Varanasi - Ashrams and Aarti Ceremonies by the Holy Ganges River
  • A Combination of 4 & 5 Star Hotels and Top Safari Lodges

Itinerary at a Glance

  • DAY 1 Delhi
  • DAY 2 Agra, Taj Mahal / Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary
  • DAY 3 Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary / Sarus Crane Wetlands
  • DAY 4-5 Satpura National Park Walking Safari, Boat Safari
  • DAY 6 Satpura National Park Jeep Safari
  • DAY 7 Satpura / Bandhavgarh National Park
  • DAY 8-9 Bandhavgarh National Park Tiger Safari
  • DAY 10 Bandhavgarh Tribal Village
  • DAY 11 Bandhavgarh / Khajuraho
  • DAY 12 Khajuraho Erotic Temples / Sarnath
  • DAY 13 Varanasi Ashrams, Museum, Ganges River Ceremonies
  • DAY 14 Varanasi / Delhi

Untamed India 14-Day Wildlife Safari

Detailed Itinerary

DAY 1 Delhi

DAY 2 Agra & Taj Mahal / Chambal Sanctuary

Transfer to Agra after breakfast (200 km). After lunch, visit the majestic Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. This beautiful mausoleum is pure white marble and an architectural marvel. The Taj was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved consort Mumtaz Mahal. Declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO, the Taj Mahal has always evoked varying emotions from wonder to ecstasy and often times, inspired poetic verse. Over the centuries, it has become the symbol of undying love and flawless beauty. Afternoon transfer to Chambal Safari Lodge (70 km) and enjoy evening nature walks around the lodge.

DAY 3 Chambal Sanctuary / Boat Safari - Sarus Crane Wetlands

Morning wildlife safari by boat on the Chambal River with spectacular opportunities to view Gharials (Fish-eating crocodiles) Marsh Mugger crocodiles and Gangetic Dolphins, as well as many birds including the rare Indian Skimmer, Spoonbills, Herons, Kingfishers, Fishing Eagles, Flamingos and Partridges. In the afternoon visit the Sarus Crane Wetland Area, where large numbers of the Sarus Cranes breed.

DAY 4 Chambal / Satpura National Park

Early morning transfer to Agra and board Shatabdi Express train to Bhopal. On arrival transfer to Satpura National Park (180 km). Satpura is an unknown jewel not found on the beaten path. It is unchartered and unspoiled and represents wilderness at its very best. This reserve is part of one of the largest contiguous blocks of forest left in India and is still connected to other reserves by forest 'corridors'. This region therefore represents the largest block of tiger habitat left in the world. The magnificent deep valleys, high mountains, rivulets, waterfalls and vast reservoirs combine to give this park a unique beauty. It is the only place in India where you can enjoy wildlife safaris by boat and foot, which allow for a more intimate and authentic experience of the forest and wildlife than any other national park.

DAY 5 Satpura National Park - Walking Safari, Boat Safari

Enjoy walking safari in the morning and boat safari on the Denwa River in the afternoon to see the wildlife of Satpura.

DAY 6 Satpura National Park - Jeep Safaris

Morning and afternoon game drives in to the park. Game drives are still one of the best ways of seeing wildlife simply because you can cover a large amount of territory in a relatively short time, tracking wildlife through warning calls, checking favored resting and feeding spots and traversing a range of habitats. While a vehicle takes you one step away from the immediacy and excitement of exploring the jungle on foot, a well-conducted game drive game is a joyous experience. The vehicles are small, quiet jeeps with modified seating for easy wildlife viewing and photography. The drivers are specially trained both to handle vehicle in this rough terrain and to treat wildlife with respect while always being conscious of the needs and comfort of the passengers. Every vehicle is accompanied by a well-trained naturalist guide. Game drives are usually for 3-4 hours in the morning with packed breakfast and about 3 hours in the afternoon.

Wild Planet Adventures Exclusive!

Meet the local tribal villagers and interact with them to discuss conservation issues in this area also interact with park officials.

DAY 7 Satpura National Park / Bandhavgarh National Park

Early morning birding near the lodge. After quick breakfast and with packed lunch, transfer to Pipariya Railway station to board the train Kolkata Mail to Jabalpur. On arrival transfer to Bandhavgarh National Park (170 km).

Before its designation as a National Park in 1968, Bandhavgarh was the hunting preserve of the Maharajas of Rewa (still owners of the ancient natural fort that dominates the forest at the heart of the park). Though small in comparison to Kanha, Bandhavgarh's hilly core protects 105 sq. kilometers of prime deciduous Sal forest and immense grassy meadows - studded with small lakes and marshes and patches of evergreen forest - that currently offer the best chances of seeing and photographing Tigers anywhere in India. The reserve is superb for other large mammals too, with Indian Gazelle (or Chinkara), Sambar, Four-horned Antelope, Indian Muntjac, Nilgai and large numbers of Chital, as well as an array of rare and elusive species such as Sloth Bear, Honey Badger and Jungle Cat. Boisterous troops of Grey Langurs are frequently seen and small mammals include Ruddy Mongoose, Indian Hare and Northern Palm Squirrel. Bandhavgarh's varied habitats support a wealth of exciting birds too, among them localized specialties such as Mottled Wood Owl, Brown Fish Owl and Stork-billed Kingfisher. You have further chances of a broad range of other central Indian species - from White-breasted Waterhen, Malabar Pied Hornbill and Indian Pygmy and Yellow-crowned Woodpeckers, to Olive-backed and Tree Pipits, Indian Robin, Tickell's Blue Flycatcher and Tawny-bellied, Puff-throated and Jungle Babblers. Bonelli's Eagle is one of many birds of prey to be seen.

DAY 8-9 Bandhavgarh National Park - Tiger Safaris

You have two full days to explore this diverse park set among the Vindhya Hills of Madhya Pradesh. Travel in 4x4 vehicles and by elephant, when possible (once during the stay - subject to announcement from park authorities), for optimal wildlife viewing. In the lowlands of the park we look for wild boars, as well as several deer species including muntjac or barking deer, sambar, and chital or spotted deer. Plus, keep an eye out for the elusive leopard and tiger. In the trees overhead we watch for Rhesus macaques and Hanuman langurs, and bird watching in the area is phenomenal.

Wild Planet Adventures Exclusive!

Meet with the conservation organizations along with park officials to learn about anti poaching measures being taken to protect the Tigers. Watch a slide show by an expert naturalist and briefing about the history, habitat and wildlife of Bandhavgarh National Park.

DAY 10 Bandhavgarh Fort / Tribal Village

Bandhavgarh Fort sits atop cliffs that soar to 800m (2625ft), and which tower 300m (1000ft) above the surrounding countryside. It is no longer possible to walk up to the fort - too many tiger encounters have worried the park authorities and put an end to that - so you will travel by jeep to the top of the escarpment. The track is steep and bumpy but well worth making the effort, with chances of seeing Indian Vulture (which breed on the cliffs), Dusky Crag Martin, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Jungle Prinia and wintering Sulfur-bellied Warblers along the way. Views from the top of the escarpment, which you'll savor as you enjoy your packed lunch, are breathtaking. Afternoon tribal village tour to witness their routine activities.

DAY 11 Bandhavgarh National Park / Khajuraho Erotic Temples

Morning game viewing in to the park by jeeps. Later drive to Khajuraho (250 km). Khajuraho. The city was once the original capital of the Chandela Rajputs, a Hindu dynasty that ruled this part of India from the 10th to the 12th centuries. The Khajuraho temples were built over a span of a hundred years, from 950 to 1050. The Chandela capital was moved to Mahoba after that time, but Khajuraho continued to flourish for some time. The whole area was enclosed by a wall with eight gates, each flanked by two golden palm trees. There were originally over 80 Hindu temples, of which only 22 now stand in a reasonable state of preservation, scattered over an area of about 8 square miles. The Khajuraho temples, constructed with spiral superstructures, adhere to a northern Indian shikhara temple style and often to a Panchayatana plan or layout. A few of the temples are dedicated to the Jain pantheon and the rest to Hindu deities - to God's Trio, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, and various Devi forms, such as the Devi Jagadamba temple.

While the outer carvings adorning this UNESCO World Heritage Site graphically depict erotic sexual acts, the temples depict these carnal pleasures only externally, on the outside face of the buildings. On the inside the art represents deeper levels of spiritual consciousness. Further, the more graphic sexual carvings are at the external base level, whereas the most ascendant experience is at the highest internal pinnacle, showing the organic human transition from more superficial worldly pleasures to deeper spiritual awakening. The ornate carvings artfully reveal the inspiration for spiritual evolution as it unfolds from within the sacredness of the experience of being human.

DAY 12 Khajuraho Erotic Temples / Varanasi

Breakfast at the hotel. Later visit Eastern and Western group of temples. The eastern group consists of three Jain temples in an enclosure and four others scattered around the old village of Khajuraho. Also the famous sculpture of the damsel removing a thorn from her foot - in the Parsvanath temple (Jain group) The western group is the biggest, best preserved and easiest to access. The largest temple of the western group, and the most magnificent, is the Kandariya Mahadev Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Built during the reign of King Vidyadhara, of the Chandela dynasty, the temple soars to an impressive height of 31 meters above the main platform, and has lavish and elaborate sculptures, representing Chandela art at its very zenith. Other temples in the group are Chausath Yogini, Chitragupta, Vishwanath, Lakshmana, Matangeshwar, Devi Jagadamba, Parvati, Lakshmi and Varaha temples, each with its own history, presiding deity and points of interest. In time transfer to airport for flight to Varanasi. On arrival proceed straight to the excursion at Sarnath.

Eight kilometers north of Varanasi is Sarnath, where the Buddha delivered his first sermon in the Deer Park after he received enlightenment. The ruins of monasteries, built more than 2000 years ago, include the Dhamek Stupa, the Dharmarajika Stupa and the main Mahabodhi. The Society of India recently built a modern Vihara, the interior frescoes of which have been executed by a Japanese artist. At Sarnath stands the famous Ashoka Pillar of polished sandstone whose lion capital has been adopted by the Republic of India as its state emblem.

DAY 13 Varanasi / Ashrams / Museum / Ganges River Ceremonies

In the early morning enjoy a boat ride on the Ganges. Return to the hotel for breakfast and later proceed for temple tour and The Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum. The Bharat Kala Bhavan museum inside the Benares Hindu University has a valuable collection of miniature paintings, sculptures and bronzes. A special gallery has a 19th century map of the Raj Ghat excavations and old etchings of the city. Besides Hindu, Islamic and Buddhist artifacts, the works of contemporary artists like Jamini Roy, Nicholas Roerich and Alice Boner are displayed here. Afternoon is free for own activities. Late evening visit to the Ghat for the Aarti prayer ceremony.

DAY 14 Varanasi / Delhi / USA

Transfer to Delhi in time for your onward flight home.

 

India Lodging

Our Untamed India & Nepal Itinerary specializes in quality lodging with an emphasis on the highest quality meals possible for a safe and comfortable - even luxurious - stay in India and Nepal. Great care has gone into our selection of lodging partners, with particular emphasis on lodges that offer outstanding wildlife viewing opportunities. These special lodges offer all the comforts of home and pamper you with delicious local Indian regional specialties. Our meals are sometimes extravagant, always healthy, and can cater to most special dietary needs.

DELHI

Jaypee Vasant Continental

A tribute to the cosmopolitan culture of New Delhi-the Jaypee Vasant Continental unfolds the finest lifestyle experiences for you. An exquisite blend of business and pleasure, it is the perfect place to confer, relax or pamper your senses. It is one of the finest boutique hotels in New Delhi, India. Jaypee Vasant Continental is located in the upmarket Vasant Vihar area, strategically close to the New Delhi Airport.

CHAMBAL

Chambal Safari Lodge

The accommodations at Chambal Safari Lodge combine the warmth of local Indian homes with the comfort of modern amenities. Every effort has been made to make this lodge as eco-friendly and respectful to its surroundings as possible.

SATPURA

Reni Pani Jungle Lodge

Reni Pani Jungle Lodge is an exquisitely designed conservation and wildlife-focused lodge located close to the Satpura National Park and Tiger Reserve. It features 12 luxury cottages encompassing 3 distinct structural designs, a cozy central meeting place called the Gol Ghar & a jungle pool located along its seasonal nullah. It's spread over 30 acres of striking forest cover typical of the Satpuras'. The camp-site features magnificent trees, a sprawling meadow, a seasonal nullah, uneven yet beautiful topography & water holes that attract several species of birds & animals.

BANDHAVGARH

Tiger Den Resort

The Tiger's Den Resort is located in the beautiful lush green and tranquil surroundings of the Land of the White Tiger - Bandhavgarh National Park. The resort has 34 elegantly appointed Deluxe and luxury cottages rooms. The balconies of the cottages overlook the marvelous and gigantic hills of the Vindhyanchal range.

KHAJURAHO

The LaLiT Temple View Khajuraho

Located near the famous Khajuraho temples, The LaLiT Temple View Khajuraho is only 500 meters from the world heritage site of Western Group of the Khajuraho Temples and is within the closest proximity to these temples. This lodge is surrounded by lush gardens, beautiful surroundings and temples dating back to ninth century and offers world-class comfort.

VARANASI

The Gateway Hotel, Ganges Varanasi

The Gateway Hotel is set amidst 40 acres of lush green gardens, the veritable haven of peace and tranquility in this crowded and ancient temple city. The hotel is constructed in the holy Swastik shape (The Swastika is an ancient symbol which re-presents good fortune and blessing). The Gateway Hotel, Ganges offers recently renovated & refurbished world-class contemporary rooms & suites with choice of views ranging from the lush green gardens or the swimming pool.

 

India Activities

At a Glance

Our Untamed India & Nepal Multi-Safari includes Satpura National Park, one of the only parks in India where you can enjoy walking safaris and boat safaris, for a more intimate and authentic wildlife experience. You'll also enjoy safaris by jeep, boat and elephant-back as you explore Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary, Bandhavgarh Tiger Preserve, and Bardia National Park, as well as boat rides on the Holy Ganges river to witness the sacred Aarti ceremonies, visits to ashrams, temples and city tour of Kathmandu. We know you've chosen to travel with us for our wildlife emphasis, so we've included a wide variety of adventure activities designed to educate, inspire, and bring out the wonder in you. All of our activities are flexibly designed to accommodate different skill levels and interests, while exposing you to a variety of unique eco-systems in order to see the most amount of wildlife. And did we mention fun?
 

  • Walking Safaris, Boat Safaris and Jeep Safaris - in Satpura National Park
  • Jeep Safaris and Elephant-back Safaris - in Bandhavgarh National Park
  • Jeep Safaris and Elephant Back Safaris - in Bardia National Park
  • Boat Safaris and Jeep Safaris - in Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Visit to the Sarus Crane Sanctuary
  • Temple tours in Khajuraho - erotic temple carvings
  • City tours of Kathmandu's famous UNESCO World Heritage sites including Boudhanath stupa, Swayambhunath stupa and Kathmandu Durbar Square.
  • Boat ride on Ganges River to witness the sacred Aarti ceremonies
  • Ashram tour - in Varanasi
  • Taj Mahal visit - in Agra
 

India Wildlife

Prolific Sightings

Wild Planet's wildlife safaris are designed for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. Our "Ultimate Wildlife" safaris are specially designed for maximum wildlife viewing. We take care to seek out wildlife that is rare, off the beaten path, and in greater numbers than you will see on conventional tours.

Our expert naturalist guides will educate you in the field so your experience is intimate and unparalleled. Still, wildlife viewing can unpredictable and requires patience and sensory awareness. A partial list of some of the animals you are likely to see is below:

Primates: Macaque Monkeys, Langur Monkeys, Rhesus Monkeys
Other Mammals: Elephants, Rhinoceros, Wild Buffaloes, Muntjac, Chital, Nilgai Bluebuck Antelope, Sambar Deer, Mongoose
Reptiles: Monitor Lizards
Birds: 450 birds species including: Hornbills, Indian Rollers, Kingfishers, Marabou Storks, Cranes, Water birds of all kinds

Likely Sightings

Cats: Tiger, Leopards
Mammals: Sloth Bear, Striped Hyena, Golden Jackal, Otter, Wild Boar
Reptiles: Pythons, Gharial, Crocodile
Birds: Eagles, King Vulture, Siberian Crane

Rare or Endangered Possible Sightings

Cats: Fishing Cat, Jungle Cat, Desert Cat
Mammals: Chinkara, Desert Fox
Reptiles: Cobras

 

India Guides

Vinod Goswami

Naturalist Guide

Vinod was born and raised in Delhi where he developed his interest in birds and animals during his employment in a renowned wildlife travel company. He is a graduate in history from the University of Rajasthan. Vinod has led wildlife safaris for many years throughout the Indian sub-continent and Nepal. He is the member of Bombay Natural History Society as well as member of Oriental Bird Club, UK.

Pankaj Joshi

Pankaj was born and brought up at Sawai Madhopur near Ranthambore National Park, where he first developed his interest in birds and animals. He graduated from the University of Rajasthan and studied nature and wildlife extensively. Pankaj is an avid birder who has led many wildlife and birding groups throughout India and Nepal with a lot of passion for sharing his love of India's natural and cultural history.

 

India Departures

India-Untamed India 14-Day Wildlife Safari

Dec 17, 2017 - Dec 30, 2017 14-days $5,898
Jan 14, 2018 - Jan 27, 2018 14-days $5,998
Feb 04, 2018 - Feb 17, 2018 14-days $5,998
Feb 25, 2018 - Mar 10, 2018 14-days $5,998
Mar 25, 2018 - Apr 07, 2018 14-days $6,198
Apr 15, 2018 - Apr 28, 2018 14-days $5,998
Oct 28, 2018 - Nov 10, 2018 14-days $5,998
Nov 18, 2018 - Dec 01, 2018 14-days $5,998
Dec 16, 2018 - Dec 29, 2018 14-days $6,198

*Pricing in blue reflects +$200 for peak season and holiday departures

 

India FAQ

India Facts for Visitors

Climate/Best Time to Go

India is a huge subcontinent and has distinct seasons for the Central Plains, the far Northern Himalayas, the eastern Assam Region, and the Southern Peninsula. The monsoons start slowly in the south in early June, and work their way up the peninsula by July. They are usually done by late Sept or Oct. Best time to go for our Leopards, Tigers and Palaces Safaris: Early November through April. Trips after April are possible until late June, but may be hotter.

Indian Visa

Visa requirements and validity change quite often. The following is only a guide to the requirements at the time of writing. Before applying you should check with the Indian Embassy or Consulate in your own country about the latest regulations and fees.

All foreign nationals, except those of Nepal and Bhutan require a visa for entry into India. Tourist visas are issued for a period of six months and are valid from the date of issue. You should not apply for your visa too early. You need to make sure its validity covers your entire trip. Always specify that you require a multiple entry visa, for which there is no extra charge.

You must apply for the visa individually, by filling in the application form and taking it, or sending it, to your nearest Indian Embassy or Consulate, together with your passport, two passport-sized photographs and the visa fee. Your passport must be valid for at least six months from your date of travel and have at least two blank facing pages for the visa. The safest and quickest method of obtaining a visa is to apply in person. Check before you go to make sure that the consulate is not closed for a national holiday. If you apply in the morning (before 12 noon), your visa will normally be issued the same day. The process sometimes takes as little as 30 minutes but you may have to come back to collect it in the late afternoon. If you apply by post, processing will normally take a minimum of 15 working days but may take considerably longer.

It is advisable to obtain your visa in your normal country of residence, if possible, otherwise it involves the extra time and cost to you of the local Indian consulate contacting the consulate in your home country for 'clearance'. The cost of a visa varies and often depends on your nationality and the current relationship between India and your country.

Documents

Always carry your passport with you. This is normally required when changing money or checking into a hotel. A valid certificate of inoculation against yellow fever is necessary if coming from an affected area. No other health certificates are required.

Vaccinations

It is highly advisable to take all possible precautions against diseases that you may come in contact with while traveling in India. Currently recommended vaccinations are against Tetanus, Typhoid, Polio, and Hepatitis A. Vaccination against Rabies may also be worth considering. Smallpox has been eradicated and immunization is not necessary. Vaccination against Cholera is no longer required, recommended or even available in most countries. Malaria is a serious problem in some regions and you should take a course of prophylactics. If you are going to be in the Indian Subcontinent for several months, inquire about the current situation regarding Meningitis and Japanese Encephalitis B which may be prevalent in some rural areas, especially during the Monsoon. Ideally, 6-8 weeks before you intend to depart, you should check with your doctor to decide on a suitable course of vaccinations.

Customs

Travelers may bring in duty-free one bottle (0.95 liters) of spirits and 200 cigarettes. Personal effects such as binoculars, telescopes, camera with a reasonable amount of film, personal stereo and video camera area allowed on condition that they are re-exported. If carrying an unusually large amount of equipment, it may be wise to fill in a Tourist Baggage Re-Export From on arrival to avoid complications on departure. Customs may check all baggage.

Currency and Exchange

The unit of currency is the Indian Rupee, which is subdivided into 100 Paise. In August 2013 one US Dollar was approximately equivalent to Rs 60. Money can be exchanged on arrival at the airport, in banks and at better hotels. The latter are more convenient but give a slightly lower rate. Outside major cities it is best to exchange money at the State Bank of India or another nationalized bank. Currency exchange at banks can be very time consuming, especially in the smaller cities, so you may wish to change enough each time to avoid repeating the painful process too often.

Pounds sterling and US dollars are widely recognized in India, but you may have trouble exchanging other currencies outside the big cities. For safety take the larger part of your money in the form of travelers' checks as these are insured in case of loss or theft. It is advisable to bring only the better known brands such as Thomas Cook or American Express as those of lesser known companies may not be accepted in some banks. Take some cash in case there is a problem exchanging your brand.

Credit cards are becoming more widely known and can often be used to pay bills at the 'better' hotels, but this cannot be relied upon. It can be useful to have a small supply of US dollars in various denominations to cover unforeseen eventualities. You are not allowed to take Indian Rupees in and out of India. There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency you are allowed to bring into India, but amounts exceeding US$2,500 in cash/travelers' checks per person must be declared on arrival to facilitate re-export. When changing money, ask for and keep your official Foreign Exchange Certificate. This will allow you to re-exchange unspent Rupees on your departure, and is generally required by airlines, some hotels and by officialdom when extending a visa or suchlike. Rupees may be accepted if backed up by a FEC. Do not take damaged banknotes in your change, as you may experience difficulty in getting these accepted and even the banks sometimes refuse to change them. Notes worn to a hole in the center are a particular problem. The banks themselves staple notes together in bundles, and the resulting holes in the side are not a problem.

Time

All of India is within one time zone (Indian Standard Time) 5-1/2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT/UTC), 10-1/2 hours ahead of American EST and 4-1/2 hours behind Australian EST. The local concept of time differs from that of Westerners and you should not always expect a high degree of punctuality. The pace of life is generally much slower. Road and traffic conditions are such that average traveling speed is relatively low, typically 30-50 km/h, and can be even less in the mountains. The traveler who can relax and adjust to this rhythm will benefit from the experience.

Customs:

US residents are permitted a $400 per person (or $1,100 per family) duty-free tax exemption upon returning to the US

Departure Tax:

Approximately US $17.50

Electricity

230-240 volts AC at 50 cycles. Power cuts and fluctuations and outages do occur regularly in some areas, though in better hotels these are covered by their own electricity generators. Sockets are of the round three-pin variety, often in two sizes. European round two-pin plugs will often fit, though not very well, so that it can be difficult to obtain a good contact. It is best to use a universal adapter.

Food and Drink

With the wide availability and popularity of Indian cuisine in the US, it doesn't really need any introduction. Throughout India the better hotels and restaurants serve a wide selection of Indian, Western and Chinese food. In these one can generally assume that the food is safe to eat. In less salubrious establishments, or if in doubt, avoid meat, fish, salad and ice cream, which are the main causes of stomach upsets. A vegetarian lifestyle has much to recommend it in a country where most of the population does not eat meat.

Always carry drinking water. Do not drink water served at table at any other than the best establishments. Bottled 'mineral' water is widely available at restaurants, grocery stores and pharmacies, stick to this and bottled soft drinks. Tea and coffee are generally fine because they are boiled. Cold milk may be un-pasteurized. A refreshing drink is fresh lime soda (not lime water), plain or with sugar. Make sure that ice is not added, as it is not always safe. Beer of the lager type, is generally available in most of the better hotels and restaurants, although prohibition is in force in some Indian states. Other alcoholic drinks are best avoided, although you may wish to taste a small sample a local specialty. In southern India, green coconuts (tender coconuts) served at the side of the road give safe, refreshing drinking fluid. If buying bottled drinks from a roadside vendor, check that the cap is not rusty. This is an indication that the cap has been recycled and the bottle may have been refilled with a drink using unsafe water. Freshly pressed cane sugar and fruit drinks are not always safe. Make sure that drinking water has been boiled. The answer to the question 'has the water been boiled' will usually be 'yes', but this is not an indication that it has! It is more likely an indication of the fact that people do not like to say 'no'. Filtering does not remove the bugs. If in doubt, use water purification tablets bought from a chemist or camping suppliers in your own country. Micropur is a general-purpose tablet that is silver-based with no unpleasant aftertaste. Chlorine-based tablets (Puritabs or Steritabs) are more widely available. If you suspect water may be less pure, use iodine-based tables (e.g. Potable Aqua), and only ones effective against some pathogens such as Giardia and Amoebae, but try not to use these too often, and always follow the manufacturers instructions.

Health

For recommended immunizations, see section on Vaccinations. Travel to India, as with all tropical countries, presents the Westerner with particular health hazards, but with a little care most can be avoided. The most common problems are stomach bugs due to insanitary preparation of food, and especial care must be taken regarding food hygiene. Most stomach upsets are fairly mild and usually last 24 hours and are best treated by resting, eating little, avoiding fruit and dairy products and drinking plenty of fluid with a little added sugar and salt. However, cases of stomach upsets on our tours are extremely infrequent as long as you stick to the meals provided. Drugs such as Imodium do not cure the cause of diarrhea but simply alleviate the symptoms. They should only be used when absolutely necessary - on long journeys or in other circumstances where access to a toilet may be difficult. If symptoms are particularly severe with the stool containing blood or mucus, or last for more than three days, seek the advice of a doctor. If you are in a situation where no doctor is within reach, a course of antibiotics may be appropriate - Ciprofloxacin 500mg or Norfloxacin 400mg twice a day for three days. Giardiasis (Giardia) can also cause diarrhea with frequent foul smelling wind. The symptoms usually appear one to two weeks after infection and may disappear and return for a few days at a time. The cure is a single dose of Flagyl (metronidazole) or Fasigyn (tinidazole).

Malaria is prevalent in India especially during the monsoon and it is essential to take precautions including the currently recommended prophylactic drugs (consult your doctor for the latest recommendations) Start taking the tablets a week before your trip and continue the course of treatment for six weeks after leaving the malarial zone. It is unlikely, but possible to catch malaria while taking treatment. Avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes. They are particularly active between dusk and dawn when you should cover exposed skin by wearing light-colored long-sleeved shirts of a dense weave, long trousers and mosquito repellent. Sleep under a mosquito net, or use a mosquito coil or plug-in tablet. The same precautions are helpful against the risk of Dengue Fever for which there is no prophylactic. If affected by fever, shivering or severe headaches together with joint or muscle pain, seek immediate medical advice.

Disinfect cuts and scratches, but only cover with a plaster if there is a serious danger of dirt entering the wound. Healing takes place much faster if the skin is exposed to the sun and air.

AIDS is spreading fast in India, mainly through heterosexual transmission. Practice safe sex and if you need an injection, make sure a sterile needle is used.

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is a serious threat at high altitudes. It can affect anyone without regard to age or fitness, normally at altitudes of above 3500m though fatal cases have been known at 3000m. If going on a trek in the High Himalaya, or traveling in Ladakh, make sure that you spend some time acclimatising by spending two or three nights at each altitude above 2000 m for every 1000m climbed. Drink more than you would normally to compensate for the moisture lost through your breath in the dry air. Avoid alcohol and sedatives in spite of possible sleeplessness. The low levels of oxygen will mean that most people will experience breathlessness, but the other main symptoms of AMS are severe headache, dizziness, confusion, loss of appetite, a dry cough, nausea and vomiting. Mild symptoms usually subside after a couple of days' acclimatisation but anyone suffering more acutely, should immediately descend to a lower altitude. Even a few hundred meters can help.

Jet lag, sun and heat can cause problems. Acclimatise by taking it easy for the first few days. Wear loose cotton clothes, drink plenty of fluid and make sure you take sufficient salt in your food. Sunburn can happen surprisingly fast in the tropics. Wear a wide brimmed hat, keep arms and legs covered and use a high-factor sun cream. Apply a zinc sun-block to the nose, lips and forehead and anywhere else you burn quickly. Use sunglasses. Spending too much time out in the sun can also cause heat-stroke, particularly during the middle of the day. Victims are likely to feel unwell with a throbbing headache, be unable to sweat, have a high body temperature with flushed skin and become confused and aggressive. They should be taken immediately to a doctor or hospital. An itchy rash called prickly heat is not uncommon and can be prevented by keeping cool, wearing loose cotton clothing, using talcum powder and bathing regularly.

Fungal infections can cause an itchy rash, particularly between the fingers and toes, around the groin or on the scalp. Wear loose clothes of natural fibers and use plastic or rubber thongs in the bathroom and shower. Infections are best treated with a fungicide such as Tinaderm and by regular washing with medicated soap and exposure to as much air as possible. Clothes and towels should be washed as frequently as possible

Intestinal worms are common and caused by ingestion of un-hygienically prepared food or walking barefoot. Possible symptoms include an itching around the anus, particularly at night, and diarrhea. De-worming tablets are available at pharmacies.

Leeches can be a problem, mainly in rainforests during and after the rainy season. They are not known to transmit any diseases, but are a nuisance as the ensuing bleeding is difficult to stop. Coating feet and legs with insect repellent containing Deet can offer effective protection for a few hours. Remove leeches by applying a squirt of insect repellent, salt or a lighted match.

The change of climate often makes visitors prone to catching colds and coughs. Cold remedies are readily available at pharmacies, but the strongest cough lozenges which can be bought locally are usually Strepsils, so you may prefer to bring your own. Although there are doctors and hospitals in most towns, standards of hygiene can often leave a lot to be desired. Most hotels can put you in touch with a good English-speaking doctor. Fees are usually reasonable though luxury hotels are likely to work together with doctors whose fees reflect their high-class treatment. If you have a serious problem and are in a place that does not have the standard of healthcare that you require, the best solution may be to get on a plane to somewhere that does. The largest metropolises have good clinics and your country's embassy or consulate should be able to recommend one.

Common remedies are inexpensive and available over-the-counter at pharmacies in most towns, but care is not always taken regarding storage and expiry date. If you need a specific medicine, take sufficient supplies with you in case it is not available locally. New prescription glasses can be made up the same day in Delhi and some other big cities but it is best to take a spare pair from home with you.

Travel Medical Kit

- Antacid tablets - for acid indigestion

- Antibiotics - in case of serious infection off the beaten track, take a copy of the prescription with you

- Aspirin or Paracetamol - pain killer and fever depressant

- Calamine lotion or Antihistamine cream - to reduce itching from insect bites

- Diarolytes - for re-hydration after diarrhea

- Dequacaine - for severe sore throats and coughs

- Imodium or Lomotil - to control diarrhea

- Insect repellent - containing Deet

- Plasters and bandages - for dressing wounds

- Scissors

- Sterile packed syringes - in case you need injections in less than hygienic circumstances. Ask for a note from your doctor to explain what they are for.

- Sun block

- Sun cream

- Tweezers

- Water purification tablets

Safety

It is generally safe to travel, although petty theft is common in some of the bigger cities and on public transport where items may be pilfered from unattended baggage, or more seriously, baggage has been stolen from sleeping passengers. A good method of avoiding total theft is to attach you bag to the luggage rack with a cycle lock. All side pockets should be individually padlocked. Theft from hotel rooms can occur (usually only in the cheaper establishments) so keep luggage locked. Make sure your travel insurance gives adequate cover for valuables and equipment. In better class hotels, deposit valuables in the hotel safe, but don't forget to claim them before your departure. Otherwise, keep valuables on your person and out of sight in a money belt. Keep smaller amounts of money for the day in a separate wallet or purse. This avoids displaying large amounts of cash in public. Expensive cameras and optical equipment should be kept out of sight when not in use. Binoculars often attract requests for a look, but beware of the risk of transmitting eye infections. Bring a photocopy of the main pages of your passport with extra passport photos in case your passport is lost. Do not wear expensive-looking jewellery.

Climate

India's huge size and varied topography means the climate varies from place to place quite markedly. Broadly speaking India has a hot tropical climate, with the exception of the Himalayan Region. One can divide the year into three periods: the hot, the wet and the cool. During the hot and dry summer from the end of March to the end of May/beginning of June temperatures can reach the 40's (centigrade) during the middle of the day. The onset of the southwest monsoon usually begins in South India at the end of May and works its away to Delhi by late June/early July. During the monsoon it can rain every day - heavily, lightly or not at all. It can be hot and humid although temperatures are not usually as high as the summer. Travel at this time can be difficult in out-of-the-way areas of the peninsula, and many national parks are closed. The southwest monsoon usually lasts until September retreating from the northwest to the southeast. It is usually followed by a short northeast monsoon which normally only affects the east coast of South India and the northeastern states. From October to February is the cool season when daytime temperatures in the south can be in the mid 20's - 30's. At this time of year it can be quite cold in the north with night time temperatures in Delhi regularly below 10 degrees C. The cool season is relatively dry.

Clothing

Due to the varied climate, clothing needed depends on where and when you go. Three or four weeks in Delhi and Rajasthan from March to May require only light summer clothing, plus a warm sweater or jacket for early morning activities. At the other extreme a winter visit to the Himalaya dictates very warm clothing and a four season sleeping bag. Indian sensibilities may be offended by the sight of too much bare skin and whereas a pair of longish shorts and a t-shirt are suitable for a man, women should keep legs and shoulders covered as far as possible and not wear clothing that is too tight or otherwise immodest. In any case, it is best to wear long sleeved shirts and long trousers as protection against the sun and biting insects. A sun hat, sunglasses and sun cream should always be carried in your day pack. For high altitude trekking, you need an outer breathable waterproof jacket, an inner fleece or down jacket, thermal underwear, woolen hat and gloves. Layering is best so that you can add or remove layers depending on the temperature.

Pack primarily for comfort, with lightweight cotton or cotton-rich clothing. A laundry service is available at most hotels. The items listed below are essentials. Please bear in mind that local custom in India calls for modest dress. Women should not wear sleeveless tops or short shorts.

Suggested Clothing

- 2 pairs of light-weight long trousers

- 1 pair of shorts (men only)

- 2 dresses and/or skirts and blouses (ladies)

- 3 short-sleeved shirts/blouses/t-shirts

- 3 long-sleeved shirts or blouses

- 1 sweater

- 1 windbreaker or light jacket

- 1 pair of comfortable walking shoes

- Rubber thongs/flip flops

- 1 pair of casual shoes

- Brimmed hat for sun protection

- Light raincoat or folding umbrella

Do's and Don'ts

As a foreigner you will be forgiven most faux pas if you adhere to western codes of conduct, but it helps if you can respect local customs and standards of behavior. Indians dress modestly and visitors do well to follow suit. Nudity is absolutely unacceptable for adults, though you may on a very rare occasion come across a naked sadhu (holy man), which is a different matter. Women, and to a lesser extent men, should avoid sleeveless tops and short shorts. You will, no doubt, notice that a bare midriff is considered acceptable among the local ladies but they normally keep the shoulders covered. Men should avoid wearing shorts when entering temples or mosques, although this may be allowed in some places.

In most temples it is necessary to remove shoes before entering, if not the whole temple, then at least the holiest shrines. Follow the example of the locals in this. There is often somewhere to deposit them at the appropriate entrance. Sometimes a small fee may be charged. Some temples, or parts of temples, are reserved for adherents of the religion. In some areas women may not be allowed.

If you are invited into a person's home, you should likewise remove your shoes unless otherwise indicated. Do not go into the kitchen or water-storage area unless you are invited, in which case remove your shoes. As in practically all of Asia it is rude to direct the soles of your feet at a person, or at anything of religious significance. When sitting, try to keep feet on the ground or tucked in. You should also avoid pointing with a finger at religious objects but rather use the open palm of the hand. A person's head is often regarded as sacred or vulnerable and should not be touched. Try to resist the Western temptation to pat children on the head. The symbolism of the hand, and the distinction between left and right, are considerably more important in Asia than in the west. The left hand is reserved for everything to do with the lower part of the body. Consequently, you should try to use your right hand in all social situations. Only eat with the right hand. If giving food, money, or any other object to someone, use the right hand. In special circumstances when making a presentation, it is polite to use both hands. Wash your hands before and after meals.

Do not touch anyone else's food, cutlery or cooking utensils. If you are drinking from the same container as someone else, do not touch it with your lips. Pour the liquid from a little way above your mouth. The fire and hearth are often considered sacred, hence it would be inconsiderate to throw anything into them. The holding of hands in public by persons of the opposite sex is frowned upon. Possibly because of the relatively overcrowded conditions in India, the interpersonal distance is much lower than in the West. You may feel that someone is being too intimate and standing too close to you. This is not deliberate aggression, it is just that this is the normal distance for locals, though somewhat mitigated by considerations of caste and rank. Traffic conditions are similarly affected.

Photography

India offers many opportunities for photography. Please respect people's sensitivities, and always ask for permission before taking a photograph of a person. Be prepared to send them a copy if requested. If you promise to do this, please do not 'forget' on returning home. Do not take photographs at airports, military installations, bridges, railway stations and other places of a sensitive nature. Beware also of using binoculars and cameras in such areas. Inside temples photography is often not allowed; the use of flash generally banned completely. Always check, since photographing religious objects may cause offense.

Film is often available locally, but is not of particularly good value, and may be past its shelf life. It is better to bring enough rolls and spare batteries to cover your needs for the trip. Officials at the airports insist that the x-ray machines are safe for films, but you may prefer to have your films hand searched to be on the safe side.

Many sanctuaries and cultural sites charge a modest camera fee in addition to the entrance fee. Video camera fees can be extremely high, but use of a video camera without the necessary permit can result in confiscation of the equipment. If you are carrying expensive cameras and optical equipment, it is a good idea to make sure it is covered by your insurance. If your tour goes to high altitudes, remember to take appropriate UV filters.

Language

18 languages are officially recognized in India plus hundreds of minor tongues and dialects. Hindi has been encouraged as a national language, but English is widespread and the first language for many educated people. In most urban settings and official dealings English will see you through. A small phrasebook such as the Lonely Planet Hindi/Urdu Phrasebook might be useful. A knowledge of the numbers, which are broadly similar in most of the country's languages, can be of some help.

Baksheesh/Tips

Hotel porters expect a tip, and waiters expect 10-15% of the bill. It is not necessary to tip taxi drivers with whom you have agreed a price for a single journey, but if you keep the same car for a day or more, it is appropriate. If you go trekking, and use a guide and porters, reward them at the end of the trek. In some situations, the judicious use of baksheesh may expedite matters. Giving money to beggars is a personal matter, although it is not encouraged. In India beggars can be extremely tenacious and keeping loose change handy can resolve the situation. Unfortunately, some tourists misguidedly give away pens and sweets, so children now consider pestering tourists for pens (Gimme one pen!) and sweets (Mithai!) normal. Thankfully this problem has not become widespread in Bhutan. If you would really like to help the local children, consider making a direct contribution to a local school, perhaps even with a long-term commitment.

Arrival and Flight Transfers

If you have arranged private transfers, you will be met by our driver/representative on arrival at the airport.

Departure and Airport Departure Tax

Indian regulations demand that you check in for your International flights three hours before departure. The Indian government levies an airport tax on departing international flights. Most airlines now add this to the ticket price, but in some cases you may have to pay on departure. Check with the airline to make sure you keep enough rupees for this purpose. It is illegal to take Indian Rupees out of the country, but any excess can be re-exchanged into hard currency at the airport on production of a Foreign Exchange Certificate (which you should insist on being given on first changing your money). You can do this at the airport banks after checking in but before going through passport control.

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