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TRAVEL TIPS


Tips

  • This trip is for people who enjoy the outdoors and are well aware of the limitations of the outdoors & remote areas.
  • Medical Insurance is recommended. Essential Vaccinations advised for Hepatitis A, Polio, Typhoid,Tetanus etc..(Please consult your local Doctor). A course of anti-malaria tablets is recommended. Do not touch stray dogs, cats, monkeys, etc.
  • First aid kit: While medicines and aid is readily available, it is good to have an emergency kit of Band-Aids, antiseptic ointment, diarrhea tablets, anti-allergy tablets, sterile syringes, sutures and needles.
  • Mineral / bottled water is recommended for consumption.
  • Carry casual and comfortable and adequate clothing for travelling. Sun hat, sun protection lotions, and other cosmetics as per personal needs. Extra camera film should be carried along with an X-ray- proof bag.
  • One can convert the foreign exchange upon arrival at the airport or in a bank in any of the major cities. Please insist on encashment certificate as this will be helpful in converting Indian currency back to foreign currency.
  • As trade of all species is banned in India, purchase of items such as peacock feathers and any other animal products is forbidden. Similarly, please discourage snake charmers, monkey and bear shows.
  • Use minimum non-bio-degradable material, such as plastics, cans, etc.
  • Tips may be given collectively to ensure fair distribution.

Kumaon Himalayan Holidays’ Top Tips for Travellers

We hope this list of top tips will help you on your journey. 

Don’t forget to take with you…

This document
Insurance documents
Alarm clock
A copy of your final itinerary
Passport (with tourist visa included)
Toilet paper/anti bacterial wipes etc.
Lonely Plant Guide (or equivalent)
Checklists & field guides.
Torch

Emergency numbers are as follows: -

Mohit Aggarwal mobile           +91 9811 124 222 (Kumaon Himalayan Holidays)
Mayank Gupta mobile                         +91 9818 644 050 (Kumaon Himalayan Holidays)
Kumaon Himalayan Holidays Office No.       +91 11 47603625

In the unlikely event that you cannot get through to Mohit, Mayank or the Kumaon Himalayan Holidays Office, call Subroto Roy on +91 9810261791.

Your driver may well have a mobile (though this is not guaranteed).   If you need to clarify anything ask to speak to Mohit or Mayank on the mobile.  Or alternatively in all towns and most small villages you will see places with the initials ISD / STD outside; and from here you can make a phone call.  Check the phone is on a meter, ask how much the phone call will cost and/or confirm that you will pay rupees as per the cost on a meter. If viable purchase a local mobile phone number (GSM SIM Card) of known brands like Airtel, Reliance (recommended for Rural areas).

Please take these phone numbers to India – there shouldn’t be any problems, but if you need to contact someone, for whatever reason, these people will be able to help.

 Kumaon Himalayan Holidays responsibilities

A representative from Kumaon Himalayan Holidays will meet you at the airport arrivals area.  Look out for a placard which carries your name.  Ask the person who meets you their name and who they work for.  REMEMBER THEY SHOULD SAY THEY WORK FOR Kumaon Himalayan Holidays (they won’t take your agent’s name).

You might want to cash some traveller’s cheques at the airport to avoid any unnecessary delays changing currency in Delhi or elsewhere.  Check the exchange rate before you travel and before you agree to exchange ask how much extra they charge for commission.  When you do this ASK FOR A SELECTION OF SMALL NOTES (5, 10, 20 and 50 rupee notes) as these are useful for giving tips.

Should your itinerary include any internal train journeys or flights, these tickets will be handed to you at the start of your trip. 

Your responsibilities

As independent travellers, you are responsible for managing your itinerary and as part of this you will need to….

  • Check the details on any internal train of flight tickets given to you at the start of your trip (if applicable); and keep them in a safe place.
  • Liaise with your driver and/or nature guide – each day agree what time you would like to set out the following morning etc.     
  • Liaise with your nature guide (if different to your driver) over your itinerary on arrival at each different location and on a day-to-day basis.    Book a packed breakfast or packed lunch the night before you require them – this will avoid delays in setting off the next morning.  CHECK EACH DAY HOW MUCH WATER YOU WILL NEED WHILE YOU ARE OUT AND TAKE SUFFICIENT WITH YOU.
  • At each location confirm the time of meals and jeep safaris (these vary according to the time of year).  NB.  Jeep safaris can start very early in the morning to maximise on the best time of day for wildlife watching.      
  • Take responsibility for arriving at train stations or airports well in advance of your departure times.  Kumaon Himalayan Holidays can estimate the length of time required for the journey to the airport and it is recommended you allow extra time to be on the safe side.  Kumaon Himalayan Holidays cannot be held responsible for delays (for whatever reason) that might result in missing a scheduled train or flight and any extra costs associated. 
  • REMEMBER TO RE-CONFIRM YOUR FLIGHTS AND ARRIVE EARLY AT THE AIRPORT.  A lot of flights are over-subscribed, so it is important that you arrive at the airport early to be sure that you acquire a seat on the flight. 

 Note:  Your guide will be a good naturalist and should speak reasonable English – some will not be able to read English.   Due to the Indian Cast system your nature guide will not be best-placed to negotiate on your behalf for certain things.  For example, if you are unhappy with a room or service you would need to take this up yourself with a member of the Hotel/Lodge staff.  Should you be unhappy with the response, then please call Mohit or Mayank who (at management level) will be able to take up the issue with the Hotel/Lodge staff].

Remember that the time of breakfast and travel can be flexible most of the time [except for elephant rides and for some of the visits to National Parks.  To make the most of looking for wildlife it is advisable to get up early in the mornings – you can at least compensate for this by going to bed early – but the choice is yours!  

 Staying safe outdoors

National Parks are home to many potentially dangerous animals.  Tigers, Indian Elephants and Leopards are at the top of a long list and there are also Cobras and other poisonous snakes.  Whether inside or outside of National Parks (often they don’t have fenced boundaries) you should follow instructions from your nature guide, National Park staff and use your own common sense.  Should you hear deer, monkeys or birds alarm calling, don’t be tempted to disappear in the vegetation in search of the cause of all the commotion and don’t let photographing wildlife cloud your judgement!  Clients embark on their tour at their own risk and with the understanding that it is the client’s responsibility to take out suitable travel insurance to cover the activities on their itinerary.  The likelihood of being injured by a wild animal is small, but the risk is still present.

Avoid eating fruit and biscuits anywhere near monkeys – it might attract them [and they also like flower garlands!]  If they are attracted to food, let them have it. Rabies is present in India in dogs, monkeys and other animals, but you shouldn’t be alarmed by this – just stay alert.  If you are bitten, seek urgent medical attention – just to be on the safe side.  You are unlikely to come across any animal showing signs of the illness.  Also, keep your room doors shut and locked to avoid a visit by local monkeys. 

Staying healthy

Buy bottled water from reputable sources – never have ice, ice cream, raw vegetables and salad (which might be washed in local water).  Always check the seal on the bottles and if in doubt don’t drink it.  Use bottled water to clean your teeth. 

Avoid fruits that are not freshly cut – preferably eat fruit that you peel yourself.  Also avoid any foods that contain yoghurt and other milk products unless made from pasturised milk.  Indian tea where the tea is boiled thoroughly with the milk is usually fine.

Remember to take your malaria tablets, and most important, complete the course of treatment on your return.

Take mosquito repellent.  It is advisable to cover up in the evenings, especially if you are susceptible to being bitten by mosquitoes – ask for a mosquito coil (most hotels have them) if there isn’t one in your room. 

Take Imodium tablets, just in case.

Extra tips

Try and avoid rush hour in major cities.  In Delhi the rush hour starts around 08.30 – 08.45 and again around 15.00 – 15.30 when it is best to avoid travelling for a couple of hours.

At some lodges rooms have an outside switch to turn on the electricity.  Some places have another switch to turn on the hot water heater.  If you are uncertain, please ask.  Also in remote places you might experience timed power-off periods or intermittent power cuts.

At each hotel or lodge, please ask about the availability of hot water and what time of day it is available.  In more remote locations hot water can be limited, so use it wisely if more than one person requires a shower and allow time in between for the water to heat up again. 

Always ask questions that require an answer other than yes or no.  Some Indian people don’t want to disappoint and hate saying no.  Quite often they say yes when they mean the opposite!  If your question is an important one, ask more than one person so you can compare the answers. 

Always agree a price before accepting anything.

If you want to buy gifts, it is normal in India to negotiate on the price, especially at tourist destinations like the Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri.  Someone could ask you to purchase a necklace for 20 US $ and be prepared to drop to 100 rupees (just under £1.50).  Beware, as you can easily be ripped off!

If you have a dedicated car and someone other than your driver gets in, feel free to ask who they are. Touts might try and take you to gift emporiums.  If you have any concerns stop the car and phone Kumaon Himalayan Holidays. 

Early morning jeep drives can be exceptionally chilly.  I would recommend wearing a water proof jacket (to keep out the wind), fleece and sweatshirt underneath.   If you wear several layers of clothing you can peel them off as the day warms up. You might want to take gloves and a hat (especially from October – February).  Many hotels discourage you from taking blankets off your beds out in the jeeps. 

During the middle of a typical day from November to February inclusive you are likely to be walking around in a sweatshirt and sometimes just a t-shirt.  March – April will be much warmer during the day.

Take an alarm clock – most hotels offer early morning wake-up calls, but you can’t beat having your own alarm clock!

Watch your valuables – there are thieves out there and some are very cunning at getting you to part company from your possessions on trains etc.

Also, remember that using items out of the hotel room fridge can delay checkout times.  If you do want to make use of this facility, pay for the items in advance of you checking out – say the night before.

How much to tip guides etc.

We hope the following will provide you with some guidance on amounts to tip people who have provided a good service.

Note:  Tips are per group (2-4 persons) and not per traveller.

Nature Guide (full day)

200 RS

Jeep Guide  (3 – 5 hours)

100 – 150 RS

Driver  

200 – 300 RS/day

Hotel porters

10 RS / bag / porter (extra if lots of heavy bags)

 

Hotel staff  (2 – 3 night duration of stay)

Usually 200 RS per room per night as consolidated amount to be put into the box or handed to the hotel manager to share among his staff

 

Hotel greeting staff

20 RS for car door opening at plush hotels

Railway porters (pay them once they have shown you to your seat and carried your bags into the carriage)

Expect around 40 - 50 RS / bag but agree the price in advance.  Price to include showing you to your seats and getting bags on the train

Rickshaw guides (Bharatpur)

 

50 RS on top of the 50 RS/hour rate for their service.  Agree cost of hourly rate before you accept their services.

Finally…..

Remember that the Indian pace of life is a bit slower than yours, so sometimes you might have to exercise a little bit of patience!

That said, Indian roads are an exception to the rule.  For those of you who haven’t experienced India, you will find the experience of Indian roads difficult to forget.  This will be partly due to the quality of the roads (lots of potholes and bumps), haphazard driving, lack of rules, little use of indicators made up for by the regular blast of horns, and the numerous people and domestic animals sharing the roads.  If you feel your driver is driving too fast, then feel free to ask him to slow down until such a time as you are happy with the speed.  Driving through Indian towns and countryside is an eye-opening experience in itself.

And last of all; don’t let this long list worry you.  Have a fantastic time and let us know how your trip went.

Pre – Travel Tips

Have you…

  • Arranged your travel insurance?
  • Got a valid passport?
  • Acquired your tourist visa?
  • Had your vaccinations following advice from your doctor.  Useful information can be found on the MASTA website http://www.masta.org/travel-vaccinations.aspx?page_id=1 where  you can order a Health Brief
  • Made a diary note to start taking your malaria tablets – you need to start before you go and continue the course as directed by your doctor upon your return.
  • Ordered your travellers cheques – £ sterling travellers cheques are accepted at banks across India  [Note:  You cannot obtain local currency (rupees) to take in to India.  The bureau de change should be open at the airport.  Also, you are not allowed to take rupees out of the country.  NB. Delhi duty free does not accept payment in rupees]

Things to take….

  • A copy of your final itinerary.
  • A copy of your Kumaon Himalayan Holidays’ Top Tips for Travellers, which includes emergency contact details
  • Insurance documents.
  • Passport (with tourist visa included).
  • Flight tickets.
  • Travellers cheques (and you might want to consider taking a bit of £ sterling and/or your Visa card).
  • Malaria tablets for the duration of your trip.
  • Insect repellent.
  • Toilet paper (and you might want to pack anti-bacterial wipes for your hands and disposable bags).
  • Imodium (just in case!) and any other medication.
  • First aid kit.
  • Alarm clock.
  • Small torch.
  • Warm clothing for early morning jeep drives.  (Gloves, a hat and either two pairs of trousers or thermals are advisable Nov – Feb/March).

Other useful tips

If you are going to pay the balance outstanding on your holiday by a bank wire transfer you might be asked for two forms of identification, including one with photo ID.

Buy a Lonely Planet guide to India (or equivalent) if you haven’t done so already and take it with you.  It is packed full of useful information about local tourist places and helpful tips – it also makes a good read on long journeys.

There are lots of good bird identification field guides around.  These include: -

Birds of Northern India    Richard Grimmett and Tim Inskipp

Birds of South Asia:  The Ripley Guide Volumes 1 and 2.   Pamela C. Rasmussen and John C Anderton      Approx.
Volume 1 is a field guide with180 plates illustrating over 3400 plumages with ID notes and distribution maps.  Volume 2 provides more detailed information on distribution, morphology and taxonomy. 

 

 



 

 

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