Tour type: Small Group
Group size: Min: 2 | Max: 12
Accommodation: 3 to 4-star hotels and heritage properties
Transport: A/C minivan/minibus
Highlights: Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar, Wagah Border ceremony, Buddhist sites at Dharamsala, Pragpur and Garli heritage villages, Toy train to Shimla, Himalayan Foothills, Old and New Delhi
This 10-day tour of northern India and the foothills of the Himalayas combines the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar and the Buddhist enclave in Mcleodganj with little visited heritage villages, a mountain railway journey and beautiful Himalayan scenery. We start our journey in Amritsar, which many international airlines fly into now. We visit the Golden Temple here twice, once in the morning when we tour the temple and take part in 'langar sevar' in the community kitchen, and again in the evening. The temple is the heart of the Sikh religion and truly one of the world's most special places. We'll also see the ceremony at the Wagah border with Pakistan before heading north into the hills to the small town of Mcleodganj, which is home to the Tibetan Government in Exile. The town is home to many Buddhist temples and monasteries and sits amongst lovely mountain scenery which we take some time to explore.
We drop back down to the plains next to visit two villages right off the main tourist trail, Pragpur and Garli. These are both full of buildings showing old colonial influences and are fascinating to walk through. We'll then climb back up into the mountains towards Shimla, making the last few hours of the journey on the Himalayan Queen 'toy train'. One of India's famous mountain narrow gauge railways, this is a World Heritage Site, and provides great views around each bend as it winds up into the hills, crossing numerous bridges and tunnels along the way.
Once in Shimla we have time for hikes and cable cars rides up to some hilltop temples, and to tour the town itself before we drop back down out of the hills to catch the fast train to Delhi. A tour of Old and New Delhi then completes the trip.
Our Foothills and Faiths tour extends this trip to visit the important Hindu pilgrimage sites of Haridwar and Rishikesh, while our North Indian Highlights tour adds time visiting Jaipur, Agra and other sites in the famous 'Golden Triangle'.
After arriving in the holy city of Amritsar, one of our staff members will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel, where we'll brief you on the itinerary for the next few days. We'll also arrange a time to collect you tomorrow.
Single room supplement (INSGGF)
Our morning starts with a visit to the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of the Sikh religion. The entire top of the temple is made of pure gold and its interior is beautifully inlaid with jewels and covered with gold leaf. There's a serene and peaceful atmosphere and regardless of what faith or none you may have, it really feels like one of the world's special places. We then spend an hour at the temple's free community kitchen which feeds up to 100,000 people every day. We will eat here and also spend an hour doing Langar Seva - helping serve or prepare food, clear or wash up; a small gift of our time and effort in thanks and support.
In the afternoon we head through the farmland of rural Punjab, stopping to see what is growing and in season, to experience the Wagah Border ceremony, which takes place every day before sunset. This is a daily military practice that the security forces of India and Pakistan have done since 1959. We'll watch the colourful, rapid dance-like manoeuvres of the security forces, which serves as a signal of brotherhood and cooperation between the two nations.
We'll head back to Amritsar and you have an option to head back to your hotel, have dinner at a local restaurant or head back to the Golden Temple for the evening Palki Sahib ceremony - which sees the Holy Book, the Guru Granth Saab carried from the main shrine in Hari Mandir to the sanctum, where it rests for a few hours until the opening ceremony the following morning. This is also a great time to explore the inside of the Golden Temple in detail if it has been very busy with pilgrims during the day.
Today we'll drive up into the foothills of the Himalayas to Dharamshala and McLeod Ganj. Once we arrive, you have the day free to do some exploring. Mcleodganj is known for its Buddhist monasteries, museums, temples, waterfalls, lakes, and Tibetan settlements and is home to the Tibetan Government in Exile and the Dalai Lama's residence. It's a lovely small place to walk around, with beautiful scenery and good local markets with exotic sculptures, souvenirs and Thangka paintings in abundance.
McLeod Ganj hotel
Today, we'll visit the Dalai Lama Monastery, where we'll attend a puja, a prayer session, that includes chanting mantras, bowing and making offerings. We'll offer lamps and Khagat religious cloth, made of silk and worn around our necks as a show of respect.
We'll also visit the 20 metre Bhagsunag Waterfall and Shiva Temple. It's a walk of around 1km from the temple to the main waterfall, which is surrounded by cliffs and trees with great views. If you're brave enough, you can even have a swim in its chilly waters. The freshwater spring beneath the temple produces waters believed to have healing powers and are channelled into large tanks which devotees may bathe to in cleanse their ailments.
We'll also visit the Naddi View Point, which always provides spectacular views of the Dhauladhar mountain ranges and the pristine Dal Lake below.
McLeod Ganj hotel
Our day starts with a visit to the Norbulingka Institute, which is dedicated to the preservation of the Tibetan culture in its literary and artistic forms.
We'll then drive to the little visited Heritage Village of Pragpur, which was founded in the late 16th century by the Kuthiala Soods in memory of Princess Prag Dei of the Jaswan royal family. Pragpur is famous for its winding cobbled lanes, mud-plastered walls and slate-roofed houses.
If there's time before lunch, we'll visit the nearby Dada Siba Temple, famous for its Kangra mural and miniature wall paintings. After lunch, we'll explore the village before heading to Garli and checking in at our accommodation for the night.
Garli is another heritage village in the Kangra Valley which displays a huge range of colonial and regional architectural styles in its mansions, temples and sarais. A local guide will walk us through the village and tell us stories about its history
Today we'll drive to Dharampur Himanchal to board the 'toy' train to Shimla - the capital of the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, in the Himalayan foothills. Shimla was once the summer capital of British India, and it remains the terminus of the Kalka-Shimla Railway, completed in 1903. This narrow gauge railway is one of the world's most famous train journeys, now a World Heritage Site, and is a highlight of the tour.
The train travels slowly up through the hills, passing over more than a hundred bridges, and through more than a hundred tunnels along the way, with beautiful views around every bend. We catch the Himalayan Queen service, missing the lowest section from Kalka, which shortens the journey to around 3 hours and concentrates on what we feel is the best scenery. The train stops regularly and you can hop off at the many tiny stations and buy some snacks from one of the local vendors plying the platforms.
We arrive in Shimla in the afternoon and have time to settle in and look around. Shimla is also known for its craft shops, a pedestrian avenue, as well as the Lakkar Bazaar, a market specializing in wooden toys and crafts.
Today, you have the morning free to explore Shimla, but as an option, you can also choose to trek towards the Tara Devi Temple which is positioned amongst a thick forest of oak and rhododendron and offers scenic views of the lofty Himalayas surrounding the town.
This afternoon, we'll go on a walking tour of Shimla, visiting its main attractions such as the Vice Regal Lodge, the Christ Church, the Gaeity Theatre and we'll also take a cable car ride to Jakhu Temple, Shimla's most famous temple, dedicated to the monkey god Hanuman. It's situated on the highest peak in Shimla at a height of 2,455 metres.
Your morning is free to explore Shimla further, and we'll depart just before midday, driving down out of the hills to Kalka where we board an evening fast train to Delhi. Once you arrive, we'll transfer you to your hotel for the night.
Our day starts with a morning tour of India's capital, New Delhi. Built on the banks of the Yamuna river, New Delhi is a beautiful blend of a historical past and a vibrant present.
We start at India Gate in the centre of New Delhi, a 42-metre high "Arc-de-Triomphe" like archway, a war memorial built to commemorate the 82,000 soldiers who partook in the undivided Indian Army. We'll drive past various government buildings such as the President's Palace and the Parliament of India, before passing Humayun's Tomb - a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Bangla Sahab Gurudwara Sikh Temple.
We'll stop at Connaught Place Station and join the locals on the metro to Old Delhi where we'll walk through one of the oldest and busiest markets in Old Delhi, Chandni Chowk, before exploring the narrow streets of Chawri Bazar which specialises in selling brass, copper and paper products. Throughout the afternoon our guide will also introduce you to the wide range of street food snacks and delicacies so you can get a final taste of the delicious and varied Indian cuisine. Our walking tour will also take in a rickshaw ride and the Jama Masjid mosque, one of the largest in India.
After breakfast, you'll say your final goodbyes before we transfer you to the airport, where you'll board your flight back home. If you'd like to see more of India, then extensions are available to visit the Holy City of Varanasi, head to the beaches of Goa, or go on safari looking for tigers at Ranthambore National Park. Our North Indian Highlights tour also extends this trip to the Golden Triangle centres of Jaipur and Agra.
Restoration of the Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal, one of India's most iconic structures, is getting a much need facelift. The almost-four-century-old Taj Mahal is finally showing signs of ageing. Air pollution is unfortunately turning its ivory-white complexion - yellow. Adding to the colouration problems, the Yamuna River, with which the Taj Mahal shares a river bank, is contaminated and the insects that breed in its waters are leaving patches of green residue on its marble. In order to restore the Taj Mahal's glistening white marble, mud-pack therapy is being used. If you're worried that it might affect your India tour, this handy Taj restoration guide will tell you everything you need to know.
This tour is also available for booking privately for travel anytime through the year, and we can also customise the itinerary to fit your personal requirements. Please contact us for details and prices.
The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we most often on this tour. From time to time we may exchange these for similar properties at the same level. In general, specific hotels cannot be guaranteed on our group tours, but you may select your preferred options if you are booking a tailor-made trip.
This 4-star hotel is one of the best known in Amritsar and has 69 rooms with free WiFI, a sauna, steam room and swimming pool. The location is good with several cafes and restaurants within easy walking distance.
This 4-star hotel is one of the best known in Amritsar and has 69 rooms with free WiFI, a sauna, steam room and swimming pool. The location is good with several cafes and restaurants within easy walking distance.
This comfortable hotel is located in the heart of Mcleodganj, less than 100m from the main square and 10 minutes walk from the Dalai Lama Monastery. Many restaurants, cafes and shops are within easy walking distance.
This comfortable hotel is located in the heart of Mcleodganj, less than 100m from the main square and 10 minutes walk from the Dalai Lama Monastery. Many restaurants, cafes and shops are within easy walking distance. Rooms are decorated in traditional Tibetan style and feature beautiful pieces including carved wooden lamps, organic cotton bedcovers, and cushion covers handmade at the Norbulingka Institute which the hotel belongs to. Services include complimentary hot water thermos and herbal tea bags, free WiFi and LCD TVs with cable.
The Chateau Garli
Chateau Garli is a lovely heritage hotel with architectural influences from Colonial, Portuguese, Mughal, Rajasthani and Kangri styles, much like the heritage villages of Garli and Pragpur around it.
Chateau Garli is a lovely heritage hotel with architectural influences from Colonial, Portuguese, Mughal, Rajasthani and Kangri styles, much like the heritage villages of Garli and Pragpur around it. It is one of the finest buildings in the area, and offers panoramic views of the Dhauladhar mountain range. Decorations include stain glass windows, Belgian glass chandeliers and antique wooden furniture. Staff are friendly and helpful and assist with tours of the village.
Hotel Willow Banks
The 4-star Willow Banks Hotel has a great location right on the Mall Road in Shimla with many shops and restaurants close by.
The 4-star Willow Banks Hotel has a great location right on the Mall Road in Shimla with many shops and restaurants close by. It is a colonial style building, established in 1871, with great views of the Shimla Valley and surrounding mountains. The hotel features the Akasa Spa providing a range of Ayurvedic, Balinese, or traditional European massages, a beauty salon, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi. A games room has billiard, pool, carrom and table tennis facilities. Free WiFi is provided. Rooms all have tea/coffee making facilities and a mini-fridge. Two popular restaurants are on site, the Café Simla Times and Eighteen71 Cookhouse & Bar.
The Jaypee Siddharth Hotel is a good, modern style hotel in central Delhi with good access to both transport hubs and the attractions of Old and New Delhi. Rooms are well appointed and there are extensive dining and leisure options including an outdoor pool and a spa.
The Jaypee Siddharth Hotel is a comfortable, modern hotel with a good location balanced between good access to the sites of Old and New Delhi, and for transfers to the international airport (18km) and New Delhi Railway Station (5km).
There are 102 well appointed rooms, including 24 Club Royal Rooms, 68 Deluxe Rooms, 8 Executive Rooms and 2 Suites. All rooms feature central AC, safety deposit lockers, mini fridge, tea & coffee makers, hair dryers, ironing board & iron and complimentary toileteries, slippers & bathrobes.
The hotel features several dining options, including the Paatra restaurant serving North Indian cuisine, the Cafe Resto, providing a 24-hour service, the Tapas lounge bar, and an on-site patisserie. The terrace Metro Grill offers an extensive international menu plus a fun DIY BBQ option.
Leisure facilities include an outdoor pool, a well equipped gym, and the Tamaya Spa, Salon & Wellness Centre, which offers a wide range of treatments.
Our tours are designed to include all that you need to enjoy a really special time in the destination youre visiting. However, we do also offer some extra options to complement the tour and add some additional sightseeing or activities, or some extra time at either end of the tour.
All accommodation based options (e.g. Single supplements, extra nights, cruise upgrades) should be booked and paid for in advance so that we can make the appropriate arrangements. Other options may either be booked and paid for in advance or while you are on the tour, though we recommend booking in advance to ensure there are no issues with availability.
Many options are priced the same throughout the year, but some may incur single or high season supplements - full details are given on the tour reservation form or on request.
The detailed Tour Notes below have been written to give you some more detailed information about how the tour runs, what to expect, and how to prepare for your holiday. We recommend downloading an up to date copy of these shortly before you travel in case of any changes.
We use good quality hotels rated at the Indian 3-star and 4-star level on this tour as well as some heritage properties. These heritage hotels are often converted from former palaces or merchant houses and are full of historical character, though they may feel a little dated. They are often a highlight of your stay.
The specific hotels listed on our website are our preferred hotels for our small-group tours. However, these may be changed from time to time based on current availability and other logistics. In this event alternative hotels of a similar standard will be used. If you would like to guarantee any particular hotels for your trip, please contact us to request a tailor-made otur.
Accommodation is based on twin or double en-suite rooms with air conditioning. All couples will receive a private double room.Please check the Single Room Supplement option for details on room sharing options and charges for solo travellers on this tour.
Our trips feature a mix of different transport options. We want you to feel like you're really experiencing the country you're travelling through, but at the same time finish journeys refreshed enough to enjoy the next stage of the tour. Due to the somewhat chaotic nature of Indian roads, we only use private vehicles for all road journeys on this tour.
The tour also features twojourneys on India's famous railway network, on the narrow guage 'toy train' to Shimla, and a fast train from Chandigarh to Delhi (~4hrs).
On the toy train journey we book chair seats on the Himalayan Queen service. The full journey from Kalka to Shimla takes around 5 hours, but we join the train about half way into the journey once it has started getting into the hills properly. We feel this provides a better experience all round. Your luggage will continue to Shimla with the tour vehicle, so you do not need to worry about carrying or storing it on the train.
For the fast train journeys we aim to always book seats in the AC2 chair class (2nd class air-conditioned carriage). This is relatively clean, comfortable and not overcrowded. Due to the huge distances some trains cover, Indian trains are subject to delays. These can be longer in the winter months if the weather is foggy.
Tickets are issued 120 days in advance and are subject to full cancellation fees after you have arrived in India (US$10 up until that point). If you book within 120 days of departure we cannot guarantee that you will be allocated a seat next to other people in the group, though the carriage stewards are generally very helpful in arranging to swap you with another traveller.
We want to give you as much flexibility as possible when it comes to booking your holiday with us. So, to take account of people with varying travel plans, we don’t include your international flights in the main tour price. We are however very happy to suggest flights to go with the tour. Please contact us with your preferred dates and departure airport and we’ll give you a selection of airlines, times and fares to choose from.
Your airport arrival & departure transfers are included on the first and last days of the tour.Most of our Indian tours start and finish at Delhi airport (DEL).
We are committed to being a small group operator, as we feel this gives everyone in the group the best chance to get to know their fellow travellers and to hear and make the most of their guide. There's no point in us providing great guides if you've got to peer over 30-40 shoulders to see them! So, we won't ever put you in a 50-seater coach with 49 other people and just one guide. Instead, we set our India small-group departures to have a maximum of 12 travellers. The minimum group size is 2.
In India we provide a fully trained, local English-speaking tour leader/driver to accompany our groups. On this tour they will accompany you from Amritsar through to Chandigarh where you will be shown to your seat on the train. You will then be met on arrival in Delhi station by your guide for the stay there. Additional specialist local guides are used for some of the sightseeing tours and activities included in the tour.
At Encounters Travel we have a policy of aiming to use only local Indian guides and reps. We feel this gives you the best experience of the country and the sites you are seeing.
The tour price does not include entrance fees to the tourist sites mentioned in the itinerary. This allows for fluctuations in the prices set by the local authorities, which do change from time to time.
You should currently allow approx. US$40 per person to cover these entrance fees. You will also need to cover the cost of entrance to any other extra sites that you may wish to visit that are not listed in the main tour itinerary. Your guide will offer to collect the entrance fee cost from everyone at the start of the tour and pay on your behalf, or you can arrange them yourself as you go along.
Rupee (INR; symbol Rs) = 100 paise. Notes are in denominations of Rs 2,000, 1000, 500, 200, 50, 20, 10 and 1 Coins are in denominations of Rs 10, 5, 2 and 1, and 50 paise (Rs 0.5). Note: The import and export of local currency is prohibited. Sometimes smaller vendors will not take bills larger than Rs 500. It is best to carry a range of rupee notes if you are shopping at bazaars and local markets.
Note: You must present your passport whenever you change currency or travellers cheques. Commission for foreign exchange is becoming increasingly rare; if it is charged, the fee is nominal.
Credit cards: In major cities, the full cadre of banks cards are generally accepted including debit cards, American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa. However, in smaller towns and villages, choice is generally narrowed to cash or MasterCard and Visa.
ATM: 24 hour ATM machines can be found in all the major cities and most large towns. Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus, Maestro and Plus are amongst the most commonly accepted cards.
Travellers cheques: These are gradually getting less accepted but may still be changed at larger banks and some larger hotels. The most widely accepted currencies include US Dollars and Pounds Sterling. Some banks may refuse to change certain brands of traveller's cheques whilst others may exchange quite happily.
Haggling is a traditional necessity, so its wise not to pay too much regard to initial prices. Instead fix an items value in your mind then negotiate towards it unhurriedly and don't be afraid to simply walk away if the price isn't right. Once you have offered a price though, you should be prepared to pay it as you may cause offence if you then back out.
While an accepted part of the culture and customs in India, tipping is always optional, and the amounts paid should reflect excellent service. We are often asked for advice on common amounts, and for assistance with tipping. Some suggested guidelines are given below.
Restaurants and taxis: Local markets and basic restaurants - leave the loose change. More up-market restaurants we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour guide. We suggest USD 5-10 per person per day for local guides.
Drivers: You may have a range of private 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, for example if you don't have an extra accompanying guide. However USD 3-6 per person per day is generally appropriate.
Tour Guides: To answer your next question. . . as a guideline for tour guides who accompany you on the entire tour, we suggest you allow around USD 5-10 per person per day, but ultimately, as with all the tipping descrbed above, its up to your satisfaction with their service and your personal budget. You should not feel pressured to tip any particular amount.
You should ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including emergency evacuation and repatriation.
Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to the country you are visiting and where you are travelling from. We recommend you contact your GP/medical practitioner or a travel clinic for current information on vaccinations needed for your destination. You should ensure that you are up to date with vaccines and boosters recommended for your normal life at home, including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions. In addition, additional courses or boosters normally recommended for the countries in this region are:
India: Additional vaccinations: Diptheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Yellow fever rules for India are quite complicated and lengthy. Please read the WHO guidance.
Malaria: Vaccinations are not available against Malaria, which is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes that can be very serious and sometimes fatal. You should avoid mosquito bites by covering up bare skin with clothing such as long sleeves and long trousers and applying insect repellents to exposed skin. When necessary, sleep under a mosquito net. Mosquitoes are most active during and after sunset. You should consult with your GP/medical practitioner/travel clinic about the most appropriate malaria prophylactic medication to take for the regions you are visiting. In general the north eastern regions of India including Assam and Orissa are considered high risk,while the rest of India is generally considered low enough risk that anti-malarial tablets are not necessary for most travellers doing relatively short tours.
Yellow Fever: This disease is spread by infected mosquitoes that bite during the day. A Yellow Fever Certificate of vacinnation may be required as a condition of entry depending on which country you are arriving from, or that you have travelled or transitted through recently (including connecting flights with stopovers of over 12 hours). You can view a World Health Organisation map of areas where the virus is present in monkeys and therefore a potential risk to humans. Please ensure you have this certificate with you and to hand if necessary.
Please inform us of any pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or asthma and any prescription medicine you may be taking. We also need to know about any food allergies or physical disabilities that you may have.
Your passport expiry date must be at least 6 months after your time in India finishes. Do not bring a full or almost expired passport. You must also have a machine-readable passport or you may be denied entry. If you have an old-style manually issued passport you will need to replace this with a new machine-readable passport before you travel.
Most nationalities (including UK, USA, European, Australian, Canadian) will need to arrange their Indian tourist visa in advance. A new online e-visa system is available which makes the process more straightforward than before. You can make your application online here... https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html
Visa requirements for India can and do change regularly and we suggest that you arrange your Indian visa early and re-check your specific visa requirements prior to travel for any changes.
The time in India and Sri Lanka is GMT plus 5 1/2 hours.
The time in Nepal is GMT plus 5 3/4 hours.
The time in Bhutan is GMT plus 6 hours.
The time in Tibet is GMT plus 8 hours.
Daylight saving adjustments are not applied.
In Nepal, India and Sri Lanka, sockets are mainly two round pronged and 230 volts (Type C,D,M). In Bhutan a range of different sockets can be found, including two and three round pronged and three flat pronged (Type D,F,G).
Universal adaptors are available in most airport shops if you don't have one already. Standard UK-European adapters will work fine, though sometimes they may feel a little loose in the sockets. All hotel rooms have electrical sockets where you can re-charge cameras, phones etc. Hair dryers are sometimes available on request from the hotel reception if not in your room already but cannot be guaranteed.
If you have US appliances (110 volts) you will need a voltage converter as well as a plug adapter.
We run small-group departures on our Indian small-group tours throughout the year, with less frequent start dates during the hot monsoon months of May to September. All departures are guaranteed to run with a minimum of 2 travellers. Departure dates and prices are listed on our website (please check the website for up-to-date prices and special offers).
Private and tailor-made tours are available on any dates and may be adjusted to fit your personal requirements, available time and budget.
If you would like to book a place on this tour, please complete the online reservation form on our website (via the Dates & Prices tab on the tour page). You may make a deposit or full payment online, or just hold a reservation if you prefer (full payments are due 8 weeks before departure). We will then contact you with more details about how to complete your booking. Payments may be made by debit or credit card (subject to a card processing fee), or by making a bank transfer, or posting us a cheque/bank draft. Full details will be provided in your booking confirmation email. Please contact us if you would like any more information or have any questions before making a booking.
Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and needs to cover personal accident & liability, medical expenses and repatriation, travel delay & abandonment. We also strongly recommend that you take out cover against cancellation and lost/stolen baggage. Personal medical insurance does not normally provide sufficient cover and is generally not suitable for travel on our tours. You will not be able to join your tour if you have not provided us with details of your insurance or if you arrive without cover in place (no refunds will be due in this event). More information...
You may arrange your own insurance, or you can take advantage of a comprehensive policy that we can arrange for you through Endsleigh Insurance which has been designed to be suitable for our tours. The policy is available to travellers of all nationalities and you do not need to live in the UK to take out the policy. For full details of cover provided, prices and to apply for one of our policies, please complete travel insurance application form.
Note: Any country that borders the Mediterranean is considered as 'Europe' for the purposes of travel insurance (including Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Morocco). If you are doing a tour that visits one country in 'Europe' and one that is 'Worldwide' (for example, an Egypt and Jordan tour), then you need a 'Worldwide' policy. When completing the form you should enter your travel dates including any extra days involved in overnight flights or connecting travel between your home and the tour. Our policies are not able to cover any extra time or activities other than your tour and options booked with us and your travel to & from home.
Note - to comply with insurance sales regulations, our travel insurance policies are only available to customers booking directly with us. If you have booked through a travel agent you will need to arrange your own insurance.
If your tour includes car hire, ior if you plan to arrange a hot air balloon flight locally or do some scuba diving during your tour, you should check the small print in your policy to make sure these are covered (these are covered in our policy). Please also check the maximum altitude that you will be reaching and that full cover including emergency evacuation is provided up to this altitude.
If you are taking expensive camera gear or other electronic equipment with you then please check the coverage and the fine print of your policy to ensure that you have sufficient cover.
IMPORTANT: We must have your travel insurance details (policy number and type of insurance) before you depart or you may not be allowed to join the tour. If you haven't told us already, please let us know the details when you can. You should take a paper copy of your insurance policy with you as you may be asked to show this at the start of the tour.
Before purchasing any travel insurance, please check the coverage provided for situations related to Covid-19, and for the rules about government travel advice. Your normal policy may not be suitable. Details about our own policies cover levels are given on our website.
We are a UK registered company and an ABTA Member (Y4447) and you can be confident when booking with us that your money is safe and protected.
Financial failure insurance is also provided through Affirma to protect all customers for the land portion of your tour.
Please see our website or booking conditions for more information.
It is impossible not to have an impact on the local environment, cultures and eco-systems when you travel. However, it is very possible to try and ensure that these impacts are as limited, or positive as possible. We are committed to ensuring that we try to leave our host countries in a better state than we found them and encourage and assist our travellers to help us with this.
The following are a few simple tips that require very little effort on your part but which will help ensure that any effect you have on the locations you visit is positive rather than negative.
All porters are employed and equipped following guidelines set by the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG).
You can stay in touch with us online by following us on Facebook and Twitter. We post updates on relevant travel news in our destination countries, special offers and discounts and other interesting travel related news and information.
www.twitter.com/encounterstravl (yes, without the 'e')
It is important when considering and preparing to travel anywhere in the world that you have a good understanding of the country you are visiting, its laws and customs, and the possible risks and situations that may occur. This includes specific risks related to your itinerary (eg. does it involve water & can you swim, are you fit enough for the activities included), as well as more general risks such as terrorism and natural disasters.
General details and links to more information about health risks, visa requirements, money, and travel insurance are given in these tour notes. We recommend that you re-read all these before your departure as well as the small print of your travel insurance policy so you know exactly what is covered and what is not.
You should take copies of your important travel documents with you and ideally also store them online securely as a backup. Make sure that you have given us your emergency contact details and told that person where and when you are travelling. Ensure you take enough money with you and that you have access to emergency funds.
Finally, you should read through and stay updated with the current official government travel advice for your destination. We are registered partners with the UK Foreign Office's 'Travel Aware' campaign which provides further useful and invaluable information.
Luggage: Suitcases are fine, though you may find rucksacks or large bags are more practical. You should also bring a small daypack/bag to take out during the day. Your main luggage will be left in the hotel during your sightseeing trips - you will not need to carry it far, and there are nearly always porters to assist.
Luggage allowances: Most international airlines restrict you to between 20kg and 23kg per person of luggage to go in the hold of the plane. Domestic flights often have smaller allowances around 15kg. As airline rules vary we recommend that you take no more than 20kg of luggage if your tour just includes international flights, and no more than 15kg if there are any domestic flights included in your itinerary. Please ask us for details if you are unsure about luggage allowances on your tour. Any excess baggage fees will be your responsibility to cover. Most airlines allow between 5kg and 10kg for hand luggage so we suggest that you take no more than 5kg unless you have confirmed that your airline(s) will allow more than this.
Clothing: The weather is mainly hot most of the year with significant variations from region to region. The coolest weather lasts from around the end of November to the beginning of March, with fresh mornings and evenings, and mostly sunny days. The really hot weather, when it is dry, dusty and unpleasant, is between March and June. Monsoon rains occur in most regions in summer anywhere between June and early October.
NOTE: India is very traditional and some heads will turn if you dress provocatively in public. Short tops, short skirts / shorts, tight or body revealing clothes etc should be avoided. You might invite unwanted attention from certain men who stare and pass comments at women to amuse themselves. More detailed climate information is available on the India Country Guide page on our website.
Suggested List: This is a guide only - there's no problem if you bring more or less with you. Cheap comfortable clothing is also readily available in India and laundry is inexpensive. It is also worth having some smarter clothes for going out. Towels are provided and laundry services are available in all the hotels we use.
Men: Lightweight trousers, shorts, light shirts & t-shirts, Swimwear
Women: Light cotton skirts/dressers, loose-fitting trousers, light shirts or t-shirts, loose shorts, Swimwear
Men & Women: Jumper/sweatshirt/fleece, Long sleeved shirt(s) (for cool nights, protection from the sun & mosquitoes, and visits to religious sites etc), Handkerchiefs, socks & underwear, Comfortable trainers/sandals for daily wear, Other shoes/sandals for evening wear, Sunhat or headscarf (headscarfs come in handy for some sights which require women to cover their heard)
First Aid: Although First Aid and medication is readily available in India, it may be very different to what you are used to so individuals should consider bringing along their own personal kit. Your personal kit might include: Sunscreen, sunblock & aftersun, Insect repellent/relief, Antiseptic cream/spray, Plasters and a bandage, Lomotil or Imodium against diarrhea, Pills against nausea, Aspirin for heat-stroke (or hangovers) Your kit should also include your brief medical history, including allergies, blood group, drug vaccinations etc. We suggest bringing copies of prescriptions if you will be carrying medicines on board your flight.
Toiletries: Razor, soap & box, shampoo, Toothpaste, toothbrush & container, Sanitary items
Note: If you wear contact lenses, you should consider taking or wearing glasses instead, as lenses can be uncomfortable and/or cause infections in hot and humid climates.
Other useful items: Sunglasses, Small Torch, Money belt, Camera and equipment, Toilet paper (this is not always provided in public toilets so it is a good idea to carry some spare tissues in your bag. It should be placed in the basket beside the toilet, not flushed away, for you might block the pipes).
IMPORTANT: As it can get extremely hot in India, and the sun can burn very quickly, it is very important to ensure you are protected from the sun with sun-cream & sun-hats, and do not get dehydrated.