Is my departure guaranteed?
Please note there is a minimum of two participants required in order to guarantee each departure. Please wait until you've received confirmation from Encounters Travel before making any travel arrangements.
What is the best way to get to the trip start location?
Fly into Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, where you'll be met by one of the local staff who will transfer you to your hotel.
What are the accommodations like?
You'll stay in 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 one of the highlights of the trip.
The specific hotels listed below are the preferred hotels for the 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.
Almondz Hotel - Delhi, India
Khandela Haveli - Jaipur, India
Tordi Garh - Tordi, India
Kadamb Kunj - Bharatpur, India
Seven Hills Tower Hotel - Agra, India
Can solo travelers get their own room? Is there a single supplement fee?
Single travelers may choose to pay a single room supplement of $349 to guarantee themselves a single room throughout the tour. Alternatively, you may choose to share a room with another traveler of the same sex. If there are no other single travelers available for you to pair up with at the time of your booking, the supplement will be due for payment but will be refunded if a share becomes available later.
How large is each travel group?
The maximum group size is 12 (minimum 2).
What meals are included? What is the food like?
Eight breakfasts are included, plus one dinner in Tordi Garh.
Meals included in the itinerary will be served in the various accommodations and are generally prepared buffet style. Options vary from day to day and typically include assorted local Indian and international dishes.
Do I need a visa?
Yes, US citizens need to obtain an Indian visa before leaving home. This can be done online here.
How much extra money should I bring?
While in India you'll need sufficient funds to cover meals not included in the itinerary, drinks, snacks, souvenirs, tips and personal expenses such as laundry. It is difficult to recommend a level of personal spending money which will suit everyone as this can differ greatly, but as a guideline, please allow $15-25 USD per person per day as a minimum. Allow more if you plan on doing lots of shopping, or buying many alcoholic drinks.
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 localmarkets. You must also present your passport whenever you change currency or travelers checks. Commission for foreign exchange is becoming increasingly rare; if it is charged, the fee is nominal.
Credit cards: In major cities, the full range of bank cards are generally accepted including debitcards, American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, and Visa. However, in smaller towns andvillages, 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 among the most commonly accepted cards.
Travelers checks: These are gradually getting less accepted but may still be changed at larger banksand some larger hotels. The most widely accepted currencies include US Dollars and PoundsSterling. Some banks may refuse to change certain brands of travelers checks while others mayexchange quite happily.
What is the weather like?
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.
What should I pack?
Luggage & luggage allowances:
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 and you won't need to carry it far. Porters are almost always available to assist.
Most international airlines restrict you to between 45 lbs and 50 lbs per person of luggage to go in the hold of the plane. Domestic flights often have smaller allowances, around 30 lbs. Most airlines allow between 10 lbs and 20 lbs for hand luggage so it is suggested that you take no more than 10 lbs unless you have confirmed that your airline(s) will allow more than this.
Men: Lightweight trousers, shorts, light shirts and t-shirts, swimwear
Women: Light cotton skirts/dresses, loose-fitting trousers, light shirts or t-shirts, loose shorts, swimwear
Men & women: Sweater/sweatshirt/fleece, long sleeved shirt(s) (for cool nights, protection from the sun and mosquitoes, and visits to religious sites etc), handkerchiefs, socks and underwear, comfortable sneakers/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 head)
Comfortable, affordable clothing is also readily available in India and laundry is inexpensive. It is also worth packing some smarter clothes for going out. Towels are provided and laundry services are available in all the hotels on the trip.
Note: India is very traditional. As such, short tops, short skirts/shorts, and tight or body revealing clothes should be avoided as you might invite unwanted attention.
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 and aftersun, insect repellent/relief, antiseptic cream/spray, plasters and a bandage, Lomotil or Imodium for diarrhea, anti-nausea pills, aspirin for heat-stroke (or hangovers). Your kit should also include your brief medical history, including allergies, blood type, drug vaccinations, etc. You might want to bring copies of prescriptions if you'll be carrying medicines on board your flight.
Razor, soap and box, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush and 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 flashlight, 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, as you might block the pipes).
Important:It can get extremely hot in India and the sun can burn very quickly, so it is very important to ensure you are protected from the sun with sunscreen and sun hats, and do not allow yourself to get dehydrated.
Are there additional activities that customers can purchase? If so, what is the fee for each?
Ranthambore National Park Safari - $759 per person
This 5-day extension takes you from Delhi by train to Ranthambore National Park for two full days of wildlife safaris in search of tigers and other wildlife. Ranthambore is one of northern India's largest parks and part of the Project Tiger scheme.
Note: This option is available between October and June. Pricing shown is based on a minimum of two people traveling. Solo traveler and single room supplements apply. The extension can also be added to the start of the tour with the night in Delhi being spent at the beginning and Day 5 becoming the first day of the main tour. Please contact Encounters Travel if you would like to arrange it this way.
Cook with a Hindu Family in Agra - $39 per person
In this optional activity, you'll learn the art of making a few authentic Indian dishes before settling down for a Vegetarian Thali meal with a Hindu family. You'll be given a tour of the kitchen, which whips up strictly vegetarian Indian cuisine, before enjoying a meal which incorporates dishes from the North Indian, South Indian, Punjabi, Gujarati, Rajasthani and Mughal cuisines. You'll be mesmerized by the aromas of the homemade spices before going on a journey of rich Indian cultural heritage, leaving you with a feeling of love, family, and warmth of an Indian home.
Hot Air Balloon Ride in Jaipur - $279 per person
Capture the spectacular views of Rajasthan's forts with an early morning hot air balloon ride over Jaipur for a different perspective of this vibrant capital. Float high above the pink painted rooftops and enjoy a bird's eye view of Jaipur. This option runs from September 1st to May 10th each year.
Salam Balak Trust Walk - $59 per person
This two hour tour operated by a respected local NGO through the city of Delhi is guided by adolescents who grew up living and working on the streets, but have since been trained as travel guides with the aim of helping them improve their communication skills and opportunities. Listen to the stories of these kids as they take you through the busy streets of Delhi, exploring Paharganj and the area around the New Delhi Railway Station. The tour provides a fascinating and different insight into the daily lives of the locals that live here than most typical city tours. The tour normally starts at 10am, though earlier or later starts can be arranged, and it can also be arranged on your final day in Delhi or if additional days are added. The tour can be run on any day of the week though Sundays are not ideal as the streets are much quieter. Transfers to and from your hotel are included.
Spinmonkey cycling tour - $59 per person
The Spinmonkey cycling tours which run through Old and New Delhi are led by a group of young cyclists who want to change the way that people explore Delhi, promoting healthy interaction and fun along the way. It's the perfect introduction into the history, culture, food, architecture and spirit of Delhi. During the Old Delhi cycle tour, you'll visit the Turukman Gate, the Chawri Bazar, the Jama Masjid Mosque, Chandni Chowk, and a spice market before being treated to an authentic Indian breakfast. The New Delhi cycle tour explores Connaught Place, the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, Rashtrapati Bhawan, India Gate, Agrasen Ki Baoli, and Dhobi Ghat before enjoying breakfast at the Bengali Market. This cycling tour normally starts early at 6 or 6:30am during summer or winter to avoid the busy traffic later in the day, and lasts around four hours. The cycling tour can be arranged on your final day in Delhi (subject to your flight departure time) or if additional days are added. It can be run onany day of the week, and transfers to and from your hotel are included.
Should I purchase travel insurance? If so, do you have a recommended provider?
Travel insurance is required for this adventure. It allows you to seek reimbursement if you are forced to cancel your trip for unforeseeable reasons, or if you need to cover medical help, emergency transport, and/or theft or accidental damage while traveling. We recommend World Nomads as a provider.
Can I cancel the trip?
Book confidently with free cancellations within 72 hours of booking. After 72 hours, cancellation fees will apply. Cancellations are subject to the full discretion of Encounters Travel. For more information on our Travel Cancellation Policy please Click Here.