For travellers willing to step outside their comfort zone, who don’t mind being thrown in at the deep end. Just the ticket for those aged between 18-35 or anyone young at heart with an open mind, an eye on the budget & a nose for adventure.
Our Basic tours offer superb value and are ideal for those who are happy to forgo some creature comforts in favour of an authentic and fun experience. Under the leadership of a fully trained tour leader, you will enjoy all the highlights and freedom of independent travel with the convenience, security and companionship of a small group.
We ask that you read it carefully and that you take the document with you on your holiday. It contains information on visas, vaccinations, spending money, etc, as well as a detailed, day by day itinerary of your trip.
International flights, arrival and departure transfers, airport/departure taxes, visas, pre or post tour accommodation, meals, optional tours sightseeing or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature, laundry and flights unless specified. Some places that we visit charge additional fees if you are entering with a camera or camcorder - your city guide will advise on these and they can be paid for locally.
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. All foreign nationals (except Indians) require a visa to enter Nepal. Visas are obtainable from embassies abroad, the International airport, or on arrival at the India / Nepal border. 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 approximate fees in US dollars cash only: - Multi entry visa valid for 15 days - US$25 - Multi entry visa valid for 30 days - US$40 - Multi entry visa valid for 90 days - US$100 Please note if you are staying in Nepal for less than 24 hours while in transit a transit visa can be issued on presentation of your international flight ticket, there is a nominal charge of US$5 and 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.
Australia: Yes - in advance Belgium: Yes - in advance Canada: Yes - in advance Germany: Yes - in advance Ireland: Yes - in advance Netherlands: Yes - in advance New Zealand: Yes - in advance 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. http://india.gov.in/spotlight/encouraging-inbound-tourism-tourist-visa-arrival-tvoa-scheme
Many governments publish up-to-date travel advice for countries around the world. Information is gleaned from both local and international sources as well as ‘friendly’ governments, and the notices are often on the cautious side. Sometimes there will be conflicting information. For example, the Australian, UK and Canadian governments may agree on the nature of the advice; however, frequently they do not. And sometimes the views expressed by a particular government can be coloured by political considerations. We will monitor these travel advisories closely and may alter itineraries or cancel trips as a result. However, it is also your responsibility to stay informed and form a balanced view. We recommend that you visit the websites or contact the departments listed below. Unless otherwise stated, it is not normally the intention of the relevant government travel advice to dissuade you from travelling. Rather, it is to inform you of where and when you should exercise caution to avoid problems. Please also note that, as a responsible tour operator, we maintain constant links with our ground operators and your safety - at all times - is our paramount concern. You can check your government's latest travel advice at one of the links below:
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
U.S. Department of State New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
We strongly recommend you visit your doctor to discuss health requirements for your trip. They will advise you regarding the appropriate inoculations. In some places anti-malaria medication may also be required. Some vaccines need to be administered a few weeks before departure so allow yourself plenty of time. Obtain a certificate of vaccination and carry this with you on this trip. A dental check up is also highly recommended
Vaccinations may be required or recommended for this trip so you should consult with your travel doctor to obtain the latest up-to-date information. It is your responsibility to ensure that you obtain any vaccinations or preventative medicines for the countries you are visiting – or any which may be required by your home country upon your return.
For travellers from Australia and New Zealand, we recommend the Travel Doctor-TMVC clinics (see www.traveldoctor.com.au or phone 1300 658 844 for an appointment in Australia). Travellers from countries other than Australia and New Zealand should contact similar organisations or their travel doctor for advice. General health and vaccination information is available to all travellers at
www.traveldoctor.com.au/travelreport. Some vaccines require more than one dose, so arrange for your visit at least 4-6 weeks before you travel.
We recommend that you photocopy the main pages of your passport, your airline ticket, itinerary, insurance policy, traveller’s cheques and credit card. Keep one set of photocopies with you, separate from the originals. Leave one set of copies at home with family or friends. It is also worth taking some extra passport photos with you in case of additional visas, permits or other unforeseen paperwork.
No particular level of fitness is required for this holiday. You need only to be in good health. The camel trek in western Rajasthan does not require any great physical exertion; however the trotting momentum of the camels can cause some discomfort after a few hours!
Remember - the lighter you travel the better! A soft-sided duffel or sausage bag is the ideal form of luggage. It is recommended that you keep your luggage weight around 15kg and certainly no more than 20kg. A small or medium-sized backpack (45-50 litres) is another good option, but preferably one without a frame.
When you pack your clothing, consider the climate at the time of year you are travelling and any specific requirements for your trip as at certain times of the year some of the items suggested in the list that follow may not be necessary. Laundry facilities are available in most destinations.
Many people are surprised by how cold it gets in north India in December and January. The air flows down from the snow-capped mountain ranges to the north and can bet very chilly. It can get particularly cold at night, so it's important that if you're travelling around that time that you pack a warm jacket.
Below is a list of equipment and documentation that we suggest you take with you. Please use this checklist as a guide when packing for your holiday.
It is a good idea to take a small medical kit with you, and you should consider packing the following items:
Antibiotics, Lip-balm, moisturiser, sunscreen, headache tablets, antiseptic (e.g. Betadine), anti-diarrhoea tablets (for changes in diet and water), laxatives, band-aids/moleskin/dressing strips for blisters, small scissors/tweezers. Note that moleskin is particularly good for blisters and can be obtained from any pharmacy.
It is also recommended to carry a letter from your doctor explaining any less common prescribed medications that you may be carrying.
Stomach upsets are not uncommon when travelling through new destinations (usually a 24 - 48 hour 'bug') and this may cause diarrhoea, leading to dehydration. Should you develop a stomach upset you should eat only in moderation and drink plenty of fluids. It is a good idea to carry a couple of sachets of rehydrants with you (such as Gastrolite). We also suggest that you carry one of the common anti-diarrhoea tablets such as Imodium.
It can be quite easy to get sun burnt when you are not accustomed to the sun in new climates. You should take sensible precautions such as wearing a hat and using a good UV sunscreen. Finally, drink plenty of fluids - preferably water.
In general, water is not safe to drink in the areas through which we travel. Bottled Water is widely available and most travellers prefer to drink this. Your guide can assist you in regards to the relative safety of tap water and the availability of bottled water on each tour. When walking, or in hot conditions, you must make a conscious effort to maintain your hydration, drinking as much water/tea as possible to offset fluid loss.
The offical currency of Nepal (NPR).
The official currency of India is the Indian Rupee (INR).
Check out www.xe.com for current exchange rates.
ATMs can only be found in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Bhaktapur. Money exchange facilities are available in Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan (only outside the park) and Bhaktapur.
The Government of Nepal has banned the import, export and use of 500 and 1000 Indian rupee notes in Nepal. You should ensure you are not carrying these notes on arrival in Nepal as they will be confiscated and you may be fined.
While travellers' cheques have security advantages exchanging them can be a lengthy process, commissions can be high (up to 10%) and they can be difficult to change in rural areas, on weekends and public holidays. If you choose to bring travellers' cheques, make sure they are a major brand and major currency.
Please note that most establishments in Asia will not accept foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded and they can be very difficult to exchange or extra fees added when exchanging at banks. Please ensure that you have new, clean notes.
The most convenient and cheapest way to obtain local currency in from 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.
You will need to take money with you to cover those meals not included in the tour cost. You will also need to budget for bottled drinking water plus such things as tips, laundry, other drinks, souvenirs and other shopping, additional sightseeing tours and activities, and possible delays. In this regard, most of our trip notes contain information about the likely cost or some of the optional tours and activities that should be available at the places you will visit during your tour. It is much better to come with more than you would expect to spend and to end the trip with a surplus, rather than being caught short! It is always useful to carry an additional amount for emergencies which could happen en route. If there is a medical emergency you are sometimes required to pay at the source and reimbursement will be made later by your insurance company (providing your claim falls within the scope of your policy). This is the situation where having a credit card may be useful.
How much money? It is impossible to determine exactly how much money you will need. We survey all our customers and the amounts vary enormously. Please take this information in the spirit in which it is given. We recommend you try to take more rather than less, as you can always take the remainder home. In our brochure we have suggested an appropriate allowance for additional meals. This is for FOOD ONLY and does not include drinks and snacks. As a result of customer feedback we recommend you allow a figure of between US$380 and US$450 for your additional food AND DRINK/SNACK requirements. Use a higher figure particularly if you are traveling during the hot season, as you will certainly require more fluids. In addition you should carry sufficient funds for extra sightseeing and optional activities. On average people spend approximately US$100 including the entrance fee for any additional visits to the Taj Mahal. If you decide to take optional excursions using the services of a local guide and a private vehicle, you will need to budget for more. Shopping is a personal thing that, again, varies enormously. On average, people spend between US$120 and US$175 on clothing, jewellery and other souvenirs.
A departure tax of up to NPR200 each way for domestic flights in Nepal is NOT included. Most international departure taxes should be included in your flight ticket - your leader can advise you on the current situation.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
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 per day is generally appropriate.
Local transport: For a city tour we suggest INR50 per day.
Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline $US 2-4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
Please refer to your itinerary for the joining hotel name and address. If you have not pre-booked an arrival transfer you will find taxis available on arrival at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan Airport. Make sure you agree to the price before you set off into town. You can expect to pay between US$12 and US$15, depending on the time you arrive.
If you have booked an airport transfer with us, please meet your transfer guide in the arrivals area as you exit from the customs hall. Your transfer guide will be holding a Gecko’s sign or your name on a board.
There will be a pre-departure briefing with your tour leader at the hotel later today. Please check the noticeboard in the foyer of the joining hotel for details of this meeting and for any further messages. Please bring your passport and travel insurance documents to the briefing.
Generally, your room will be available on Day 1 from around midday. Sometimes it may be available mid-morning but this is in no way guaranteed. If your flight is scheduled to arrive in the early morning you may have to wait until your room becomes available. Alternatively you can book one night's 'pre-tour accommodation' which will ensure that your room is ready whenever you arrive. Rooms must generally be vacated by 12 noon on your final day unless you have made prior arrangements with the hotel Reception. If you want to keep your room for longer you may have to pay an additional charge. Most hotels have a store-room should you wish to store your luggage after check-out.
Please ask first if you want to take someone's photograph. This is just a normal courtesy and if you are refused permission please abide by that person's wishes. At certain ancient sites, and in most museums, photography (video or still) may be forbidden, or may incur an extra charge for camera-use. Do not take photos of buildings, structures and personnel of potential military significance (including airports, bridges, and police stations).
Travelling with us can provide you with some really rewarding travel experiences. Our tours visit countries where travel modes and lifestyles are often not as sophisticated as our own. There is also a laid-back attitude amongst workers and there will often seem to be huge amounts of red tape and bureaucracy when doing the simplest things. You will enjoy your trip much more if you slip into the rhythm of local life and are prepared to take things as they come.
In most countries even the smallest quantity of an illegal substance is considered a very serious offence and can carry lengthy jail terms. Avoid any contact with illegal drugs. Don’t put yourself and others at risk and never carry bags or luggage for other people. Any person found to be carrying or using illegal drugs will be asked to leave the trip immediately without the right to any refund.
The amount you spend largely depends on souvenir purchases. Your essential expenses are relatively small, as the majority of costs are included in the tour price. You will need money to cover departure taxes, meals not included in the itinerary, drinks, small purchases on the program such as sweets and chocolate. Please also allow for tipping of trekking, restaurant, and hotel staff, and for souvenirs, and for emergency funds in case of delays. It is better to come with more than you would expect to spend, and to end the trip with a surplus, rather than to be caught short. Kathmandu and other Gateway City Expenses You will need money to cover departure taxes, those meals not included in the itinerary (a good three-course meal, excluding drinks, will cost anything from $US8 to $US15), drinks, perhaps the occasional taxi or rickshaw fare, plus small purchases such as soft drinks, mineral water, sweets, beer, chocolate, and you should also allow for tips to restaurant and hotel staff, plus souvenirs, and emergency funds in case of unforeseen circumstances. Trekking Expenses On trek, all payments for drinks, chocolates, biscuits, souvenirs, showers on lodge trips, and tipping will need to be made in rupees - try to carry denomination notes of 5 to 500 rupees for this purpose. Your leader will advise on actual amounts to carry at the group briefing but do always take a little extra in case of emergencies. Most trekkers on camping treks will generally spend $US3 to $10 a day on extras such as sweets, biscuits, soft drinks and beer! In addition, on occasions, a local village may be keen to stage an evening concert for your group in return for a donation of 50 or 100 rupees per trekker for the local school. We also suggest you allow the equivalent of an extra $US3 per trekker per trekking day for tipping the trekking crew. Cash for Problems and Delays We suggest that you should have a special fund with additional amounts to deal with problems which occasionally occur - including delays in Everest flights (see also the section Flights in Nepal). We suggest that you carry US$100 to US$150 for this purpose.
As a guideline we suggest approximately US$15 per day if buying all three meals. This will vary greatly depending on where you choose to eat. Market stalls are extremely cheap and it is possible to eat very cheaply. Generally breakfast in the restaurant of your hotel will cost approximately US$3 and as a guideline lunch and dinner will cost you approximately US$5-US$7 in a sit down restaurant. During hot weather you should also make allowance in your budget for drinking water. A one litre bottle of water will cost you approximately US$1 per bottle.
INTERNAL FLIGHTS: EU clients please see our safety page for important information regarding internal flights in Nepal.
Local Emergency Contacts In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency Gecko’s India office can be reached on +91 1145 006 400 during business hours (9.30am to 6pm) or after hours on +91 9999 916 229. For Gecko’s Nepal office please contact +977 14371 927 during business hours or +977 9851 082 775
Train and bus travel in Nepal and India is not always easy. Buses and trains are often late and at times they can be overcrowded. A good deal of patience is required to get the most out of your journey. However travelling by road and rail is an excellent opportunity to meet the locals and can be a rewarding experience. Generally, overnight train travel is in air-conditioned sleeper class which offers three-tier sleeping berths. Two sheets a pillow and a blanket are provided but we recommend you bring along a sleeping bag liner for extra comfort and hygiene. Toilet facilities on Indian trains are also quite basic.
Travelling on the roads in Nepal and India is also quite an experience. Road rules are not always followed and traffic in some of the larger cities has to be experienced to be believed. Particular care should be taken when crossing roads.
Accommodation: Hotel Shakti or similar, Kathmandu
When it comes to whizzing around Kathmandu, auto rickshaws are the only way to go. See the giant Buddhist Stupa at Bodhnath and the city's most sacred Hindu site, Pashupatinath.
Accommodation: Riverview lodge or similar, Chitwan National Park
Cross the Rapti River to reach our lodge in the village of Sauraha. Take a jungle safari and hopefully spot rhino, tigers and leopards (oh my).
Accommodation: Lumbini Budha Garden or similar, Lumbini
Lumbini was the site of Buddha's birthplace way back in 563BC. See some temples and the Ashoka Pillar.
Accommodation: Hotel Surya or similar, Varanasi
One river, thousands of uses: bathing, praying, cremating the dead, laundromat, notorious hangout for The Beatles. You name it, and someone's done it in the Ganges.
Accommodation: Hotel Royal Residency or similar, Agra
Flowers, chocolates, diamonds, mini-breaks - all these gestures will seem lame once she's been to the Taj. You're going to need to think bigger.
Accommodation: Hotel Tordi Garh or similar, Tordi Garh
This is a little gem of a village. Explore nearby temples and forts and sleep in a 16th century castle. Warning: your hand will get tired from all the waving and your mouth will ache from all the smiling. The locals here are extremely friendly.
Accommodation: Hotel Mrignayani Palace or similar, Jaipur
The Maharajah's harem was not allowed to be seen, so The Palace of the Winds was built so they could see what was going on outside. It's a big honeycomb-shaped structure, with about 1000 tiny latticed windows for peeking through.
Travel to the crowded and colourful streets Jaipur
Accommodation: Nimaj Hotel Rawla Bagh or similar, Nimaj
This place has barely changed in centuries and it doesn't get many travellers. It's a real "off the beaten track" experience (slightly off topic, but has anyone actually seen this beaten track?)
Accommodation: Hotel Indrashan or similar, Jodhpur
Drive to the Blue City of Jodhpur, on the edge of the Thar Desert. Sadar Market is the place for fisherman's pants (handy in India, daggy at home), carpets, incense and tea.
Accommodation: Hotel Mahendra Prakash or similar, Udaipur
Udaipur is often referred to as the Venice of the East. Why? Well here's a hint - it's not because of all the roads. Then it's an overnight train to Delhi. Snorers, you will be named and shamed.
Accommodation: Hotel Perfect or similar, Delhi
By now you've had long enough to accept that in India, cows are more important than you. It's just one of the many weird and wonderful things you'll tell your friends when you get home.
The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please ensure that you have the most up-to-date information for your trip. We recommend that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!
Your feedback is important to us and to our tour guides and helps shape the quality of our trips. It tells us what we're doing right, what you believe could be done better and what improvements you feel could help future travellers choose and enjoy Imaginative Traveller.Just go to http://on.fb.me/16wYISa for our easy to fill out form. We’d love to hear what you have to say!
4th June 2014
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