To minimise the footprint our tours leave - both on the environment and the local culture - we keep our group sizes limited to between 6 and 14 people.
Tour Guides and Chefs
We have gone to great length in trying to secure the best guides and chefs available. The group will be designated a fixed driver throughout the tour, and for the sightseeing aspects of the trip, we will use local guides. The use of local guides on this itinerary helps keep the overall tour costs down.
We use well-maintained vehicles and good drivers wherever road travel is involved. There are only a few long days travelling. The tour is not too demanding, but some days can be busy, where travelling is combined with sightseeing and there some early morning starts.
Style of Travel
This trip combines food and culture. There are cooking classes as well as other activities planned on most days. You can opt in or out of any activities as you please. These tours are for independent people, so we try to be flexible where we can, and give you time to explore on your own too.
In terms of physical activity, this is not a demanding trip. A basic level of fitness and decent health is assumed.
From time to time other activities may be possible to arrange. Costs for such additional activities will not be covered in the standard tour package. Contact us in advance of your trip for more information.
Travelling in a group is very rewarding and is a great way to meet new people. There may be large variations in age and nationality. This is most often a good thing, but can occasionally cause some teething problems, so we ask you to be patient with your fellow passengers and realise that everyone likes to travel a little differently. Please consider your fellow passengers too, and try to respect meeting times.
Electricity in India is 240 volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second. You will require a voltage converter if you are carrying a device that does not accept 240 volts at 50 hertz. To adjust your device according to the power and voltage in India, the following three types of voltage converters may be used:
- Resistor-network converters
This type of converter usually supports approximately 50 -1600 Watts. They are lightweight. You can easily use this converter for high-wattage electrical appliances like hair dryers and irons. But, you can use them for short periods only and they are not ideal for digital devices.
Transformers support low watt rating, around 50–100 watts. Generally, you can use them continuously. Also, they provide better electricity for low wattage appliances like battery chargers, radios, laptop computers, cameras, mp3 players and camcorders. Their drawback is the low wattage and heavy weight.
- Combination converters
Combination converters are a combination of a resistor network and a transformer in the same package. You can easily switch between the two modes. If you need both types of converters, then it is better to buy this combination converter.
Outlets in India generally accept the following types of plug:
• Two round pins (continental European plugs & adapters will suffice)
• Three round pins arranged in a triangle
Internet access is now available in most Indian cities and you should have access at the places you will be staying, but connection speeds can be unreliable. There are also plenty of internet cafes in most towns. It is possible to make international calls from most call shops, and your mobile phone should pick up signal in most places on this itinerary.
TIP: If you think you will need to make or receive a lot of calls, then it would be worth investing in a prepaid SIM card on arrival at the airport. We can arrange this for you.
India is 5½ hours ahead of GMT.
Laundry facilities are available at our hotels for a charge. However, we advise you not to leave laundry to the last minute as sometimes drying times may be required and laundry will not be available at all stops.
You need to be in good physical health in order to participate fullyin the group travel experience. If, in the opinion of our groundhandler, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without unduerisk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Key To India reservesthe right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.Please read the itinerary for this tour thoroughly and thenrealistically self-assess your physical ability to complete the trip asdescribed. Please consult with your doctor if you have any doubts orgive us a call with any queries you may have.
We recommend that you consult either your doctor or your local travelclinic for up-to-date medical travel information before departure. Youshould also carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medicalrequirements. For legal reasons our leaders are prohibited fromadministering any type of drugs including headache tablets, antibiotics,etc.
NOTE: Do not leave it to the last minute to see youdoctor as you may have to get immunised or start taking tablets sometime prior to departure. You should see your doctor or visit a travelclinic at least 45 days before your departure.
At the time of writing the following vaccinations were recommendedfor travel to India: Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Rabies, Tetanus, Typhoid.
As such, malaria tablets are not required for this tour. If you planto travel elsewhere in India, check with your doctor if malaria tabletswill be required.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some people spend a lot of money on drinks, whereas others may spend more on souvenir or present shopping. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities and tipping.
Tipping is a very difficult and often emotive subject. Although wholly at your discretion (and only if you are provided with good service) it is generally expected that tips are paid to your local guides, hotel staff, drivers and porters. We would suggest you set aside approximately R50 per person per day for all your tipping needs. Some suggestions on tipping are below.
Bellboy/porters at hotels INR 20 per bag (R4)
Local guides INR 100 half day / INR 150 full day (R20-R30)
Hotel staff INR 50-75 per day (R10 – R15)
INR 100 per day for long journeys (R20)
Please also make sure you have access to an additional R3500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, or political strife) necessitate a change to our intended itinerary. This is not a common occurrence but it is better to be prepared.
Currency exchange rates often fluctuate. For the most up to date rates please refer to the following website: www.xe.com.
There are many ATM machines throughout India, though they are usually limited to major cities. Nevertheless, we do recommend that you carry some money in the form of cash- American Dollars can be exchanged in most hotels for Indian Rupees, but most traders take Dollars and Credit cards. Slightly torn, faded or badly marked banknotes may be difficult to exchange. Coins are typically not exchangeable.
As regular travellers, one thing that never ceases to amaze and inspire us while travelling is the kindness and generosity of people, who often have very little to their name. We firmly believe that the people who make these places special should also benefit from them. Therefore as first preference we use local guides and locally-owned lodges, shops and eateries. We do our best to ensure that the benefits of our tours reach as widely as possible into the communities where they operate and also invest a significant amount of our profits in development projects within those communities.
We also ask you to be vigilant about disposing of your waste. Dispose of all rubbish correctly and do not leave litter or cigarette butts in natural environments.
India is a country which may be very different to anything you may have experienced before. It is not always the easiest place to travel. Pollution, poverty and the swirling crowds can result in initial culture shock, but take a deep breath and go for it, and you will understand what makes this land so enchanting. Leave your Western concepts and ideas at home, and come prepared to soak up the Indian culture.
When packing, be aware that dress standards are conservative throughout India. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in the predominantly hot Indian climate. Clothing should cover shoulders and be on or below the knee. Women especially should always dress conservatively to avoid unwanted attention and not to cause offence. Vests, tight-fitting trousers, short skirts and shorts are not recommended.
The places visited on this itinerary experience similar weather throughout the year, i.e. scorching summers and pleasant winters and spring. June to August is the monsoon season, where rain can cause havoc with localised flooding causing traffic chaos. Rainfall tends to be lower at other times of the year.
Typical daytime temperatures between November and January are 20-25 degrees celsius, with night temperatures dropping to 15 degrees celsius. Temperatures start to reach the low 30s by the end of March/beginning of April.
Irrespective of the time of the year travelling, you should take precaution against the sun.