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17 day tour from £3495
group (no more than 12 people) or private tour
There are approximately 70 Indian Rupees to a pound and 45 to a US Dollar. The notes in regular circulation are in denominations of Rupees 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 & 1000. There are 100 Paise in a Rupee and there are coins of Rupees 5 or less, going down to 10 Paise. Most people do not wait for change of less than one Rupee or so; even beggars may refuse smaller coins.
Being a partially controlled currency Rupees are not readily available outside India. All ports of entry in the country, however, have a 24-hour bank exchange counter immediately after Customs and Immigration, which will offer you the opportunity to buy some Rupees. These can also be bought in most hotels. Buying from a bank is time consuming and is best avoided unless converting a significant amount. We suggest you buy some at your port of arrival, £100 or so should get you started. It is quite common to pay for goods and services in cash.
It is advisable to keep the receipts (encashment certificates) issued by hotels/banks when you convert foreign currency into Rupees. Tourists are required to pay local bills in foreign currencies and your Rupees, when supported by the encashment certificates, are deemed to be foreign exchange (in actual practice no one really checks). These are more useful when reconverting any leftover currency on your return. Re-conversion is best done during at the departure airport.
Cash withdrawals on credit cards and from dispensing machines should not be relied on for funds though this facility is constantly improving.
We presume you have already taken the recommended health precautions for your trip including the vaccinations and malaria prophylactics.
During the tour please avoid drinking tap water. Stick to bottled water (or boiled/ UVtreated water available at the hotel) and ensure that the seal is opened by you/in your presence. Aerated waters (bottled soft drinks) are fine. When taking ice in drinks, check that it is made with “filtered” water.
Eat moderately for the first few days. Allow your system to get used to the changes. Yoghurt (locally called "curd") is advisable for weak constitutions or after a hot curry.
Indian beer, gin and rum are fine. You may not find some of the local whisky very good. Wine, if available, would generally be expensive. Check the price before ordering. Imported liquor is available but expensive.
We recommend you carry with you a small supply of basic health care medication such as travel sickness tablets, anti-diarrhoea tablets, insect repellent, sun creams and a general purpose antibiotic. Although most of these items are available in India, the security provided by brands one is used to, is reassuring.
We strongly recommend that all travellers are properly insured for the holiday. While taking insurance, please check that it includes repatriation costs.
Most hotels, including the more exclusive ones, do not insist on formal wear in restaurants and smart casuals are acceptable.
During the day it is best to wear light, comfortable cottons with a pair of good ventilated walking shoes (Open-toed sandals let in dust and pebbles) and cotton socks.
For the sightseeing sessions you may find a good pair of sunglasses and a sun-hat handy.
At some of the monuments/temples/mosques, it is advisable to avoid sleeveless tops and short skirts. You may also be asked to remove your shoes; in such cases airline socks are useful as the stone peripheries of some monuments tend to get uncomfortably hot by mid afternoon.
Early morning and night temperatures in Northern India, especially from December through February can be quite low, often touching freezing point, adequate warm clothing should be carried.
Most mid-range heritage hotels and forest lodges do not have central heating and snug sleeping clothes are recommended. Also the floors may not be carpeted, and slippers are advised indoors.
The hills are cold and it usually snows in mid-winter in many of the hill stations including Shimla, Mussoorie, Darjeeling and Manali.
In wildlife parks neutral clothes are recommended. Early morning game drives in open vehicles can be very cold – mittens, mufflers and layers of clothing are recommended. As the day progresses some layers can come off.
Most hotels and resorts offer same day laundry service though it is generally quite expensive. A portable iron can be handy when pressed for time. In remote areas laundry service may not be available and even when available may not be reliable.
There is a fee for carrying cameras into monuments and wildlife parks. Video cameras have a higher fee. This is not included in your price and you have to pay directly at the point of entry. Our guides will facilitate the payment.
Drivers & Road travel
Our drivers are careful, considerate and trustworthy. They are trained to drive sensibly and desist from constant hooting, an unhappy local practice.
Most carry a mobile phone, and will be happy to connect you to our local offices or representatives, should you wish to speak to any of them. It is however rare for drivers in India to know sufficient English to hold a regular conversation with you. They generally have just a smattering of English, adequate only to assist you with basic requirements such as comfort stops, meals or a spot of shopping or impromptu photography stops. Drivers are not a substitute for guides or representatives.
Outside of major cities, roads in India are poorly signposted, if at all. Added to this, many regions, particularly remote regions or those under development do not have road maps. It is therefore not uncommon for our drivers to stop and seek verification of the route. This does not indicate a lack of preparation and is both practical and the cultural norm.
For out of station travel, your driver is available to you for short local excursions during your time at leisure. If you require his assistance please make sure you give him adequate warning so he can make himself available. Drivers are given a daily allowance for board and lodging for each night of their journey. While some choose to pay and stay in accommodation provided by ‘your’ hotel, close at hand, others may find alternative accommodation more suitable and may need time to reach you.
At some airports our representatives will go in with you till the checking in stage; this may not happen at all airports and you should not come to expect this everywhere.
Our representatives tend to take you early for check-ins, just to be on the safe side, and some reading material or a crossword may help as you wait for your flight.
For reasons of security you may be asked to remove batteries from your camera.
Most airlines do not permit the carrying of sharp objects in the cabin and items like scissors, nail cutters, pen knives, etc., are best carried in the checked-in baggage.
Batteries and any sharp objects, if asked to be surrendered, are seldom returned back.
India provides splendid opportunities for the shopper especially for silks and cotton, gemstones, carpets, bed linen, handicrafts in all types of medium, miniature paintings and much more. If asked, our local agents will advise on where best to buy particular items.
When purchasing an expensive item, always check the level of duty payable in the UK on your import. Please remember VAT is payable on all goods above the value of £340 per person, even if an item is exempt from other import duties.
At some places our agents may give you a list of recommended shops. These are reputed establishments offering quality products. The advantage of buying in these is that any issues arising after purchase, such as delayed delivery or a flaw in the product, can be sorted out with our assistance. The downside is that these tend to be more expensive, as they cater mostly to tourists.
The electric voltage in India is 220 volts. Most English electric appliances work well in India but a universal adapter is needed. This can be bought in Boots and should also be available at the airport you fly from. Many deluxe hotels provide hair dryers but it is advisable to carry your own, if you use one regularly.
Talk to local people. No one is much bothered about "intrusion of privacy", a concept, somewhat, alien to the local culture. Be prepared in turn for being asked personal questions.
If you encounter any problem please have faith in our local associates and bring it to their attention.
And do retain your sense of humour.