India: Women's Expedition

Trip Code: HHSL

Why we love it

Get to know northern India through the lives of the women who live there as you explore with a female leader, ride in women-only carriages on the metro and meet inspiring local women throughout your journey., Head to the rural desert village of Chandelao Garh, where a local project provides female artisans with employment and education while preserving traditional craft practices. Check out their handicrafts and hear their stories., Take a jeep safari into the Thar Desert and enjoy an exclusive Kalbeliya dance performed by local women at a desert camp. Enjoy some quality one-on-one time with the dancers while the gentlemen prepare dinner., Visit a local woman's home and select a saree and accessories to wear on your visit to the Taj Mahal, one of the most beautiful buildings in the world inspired by the extraordinary love of an exceptional woman., See the highlights of Jaipur and get to know your female driver on a tour with the eco-friendly Pink City Rickshaw Company, a non-profit providing employment and economic independence to women from low-income households.

Is this trip right for me?

This trip involves some long train journeys and an overnight train, but entertaining chaiwalas, food vendors and conversations with local travellers make these unforgettable experiences. For your own security, we recommend you take a lock for your hand luggage on the overnight train.

While beautiful and atmospheric, our Thar Desert camp is very simple, with cots set up under the stars and with very basic bathroom facilities. More details can be found on Day 3 of the itinerary.

Don’t underestimate the weather at any time of year in India. In the summer months, heat can be extreme. In winter months, some travellers have been surprised at the cool of the evenings. A hat, sunscreen, and clothing that can be layered will serve you well year-round.

We visit several temples on this trip, which require a level of modesty. Please bring clothes that cover the arms and pants or skirts that go past the knees. A light scarf is a good idea for covering shoulders and arms when it’s hot.

In extreme cases, long drives or overnight trains can be delayed and occasionally cancelled due to heavy fog, but alternative arrangements will be made. Please see the transport section of the Essential Trip Information for details.

Important information

1. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Day 2 (Overnight Train) and Day 3 (Camping) where you will be in shared accommodation and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2. Hot air balloon flights are operated by Sky Waltz in Jaipur. Flights operate mornings from September to June and morning and evening from September to March. Morning flights depart around sunrise and evening flights late afternoon and last 60 mins. Return transfers, tea and coffee plus light refreshments and a certificate of flight are included in the cost. You can register your interest and pay your tour leader at your joining meeting on day 1 of your trip. Payment must be made by cash in either INR/AUD/USD/GBP only and is USD$260pp (subject to change). Flights are subject to ticket availability and weather conditions. Tickets are fully refundable in case of poor weather.

What to bring/pack

What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances.

Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. A lockable bag or small padlock is useful.
You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water, camera, and jacket etc. when you’re exploring during the day.

Below are some ideas and helpful tips on what you specifically need for this trip.

ESSENTIALS:
- Lightweight clothing. You will need to bring a mixture of lightweight clothing and warm layers. Long shirts and pants for protection against mosquitoes are useful. Clothes should be easy to wash and dry. Maybe bring a change of smart clothes for dinner in bigger cities. Please also bring clothing that covers arms and pants/skirts that go past the knee for entry into local temples. For women, a light scarf is also a good idea for covering shoulders and arms when hot.
- Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through cities as well as bush/grass-lands, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings.
- Sun protection - hat, sunscreen, sunglasses

RECOMMENDED:
- It comes as a surprise to many travellers that India can be cold (ie. below zero!) during winter (particularly Dec to Feb), even in some cities and even when not at high altitudes. Make sure you are prepared for the weather during these months by bringing adequately warm clothes with you, including thermal underclothes and an appropriate jacket. Many hotels in India do not have central heating, so a warmer set of clothes to sleep in has also been recommended by our past travellers.
- Personal medical kit. A larger kit will be on hand with your leader, but we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes, Band-Aids and insect repellent.
- Water bottle. We recommend at least a 1.5litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.
- Camera with spare batteries. Our trips have access to power to recharge batteries for phones and cameras most days but we recommend you take a spare battery for your camera.
- A small chain and padlock for overnight trains is handy to keep your luggage safe and secure.

OPTIONAL:
- Sleeping bag. Useful for camping, overnight trains and poorly heated hotels, particularly during the winter months of Dec - Feb when temperatures are low.
- Sleep sheet. If you are travelling during the hot season you may wish to pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter what the weather.
- Ear plugs to guard against street noise and snorers.
- A good book, a journal and music player for overnight train rides and longer drives.
- Binocular's for bird spotting in Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary

LUGGAGE LIMIT:
Please keep your luggage to a minimum. One small soft-sided bag plus a day pack (no more than 15-20kgs in total per person) is essential. We recommend against bringing hard/externally framed suitcases as they are difficult to store and can damage equipment and other travellers' belongings. If your trip is beginning and ending at the same location, excess luggage can usually be stored at your arrival/departure hotel and can be collected after your trip.

VALUABLES:
Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your hotel safe. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden. We strongly recommend that you photocopy all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.

BATTERIES/POWER:
Most of our trips have access to power to recharge batteries for phones and cameras every days with the exception of overnight desert safaris. We recommend that you carry an extra battery for your camera just in case.

MORE!
If you need some further tips for packing, you can always check out our ultimate packing list., https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list

Physical rating

 
2

Joining your group

Hotel Pooja Palace, 15A/11 W.E.A. Puja Park, Karol Bagh, Delhi, 110005, INDIA, Phone: +91 9810014574

Hotel Pooja Palace is small family run hotel in Karol Bagh, New Delhi. The hotel has 30 rooms with A/C, T.V. and modern amenities, 24 hrs room service and free wi-fi. It is a few minutes walk from Karol Bagh Metro Station. The hotel has a cafe on the ground floor and a terrace garden.

Joining instructions

Delhi's Indira Gandhi's International Airport is approximately 25km from Karol Bagh. One of the biggest airports in the world, it can be quite chaotic and can take some time to process your visa and collect your luggage.

Intrepid offer a pre-arranged transfer service option. Enquire with your agent and advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your trip departure. If you have purchased an arrival transfer you will be met in the arrivals hall after clearing customs, your representative with sign board will be standing near the Costa Coffee next to gate no 5. Please ask them to confirm your name.

Please do not exit the gates, Costa coffee is just before the exit gate no.5.
If you have any problems and cannot locate our representative, or if your flight is delayed please call the following 24 hour number:

+91-9911 97 2636

If you do not have a mobile phone, there are public phones next to Costa Coffee. Calls cost 1 rupee per minute

Failing the above please take a taxi to the hotel (using the instructions below) and advise your group leader. When you walk out of the exit door, you will easily be able to spot popular metered taxi counters such as Meru Cabs/Mega Cabs or Easy Cabs, show them your drop location and pay them as per the meter once you get to your hotel.

Taxi's from the airport to our starting point hotel take approx 1 hour and costs between INR 500 - 600 (prepaid traffic police booths).

IMPORTANT: Please avoid taxi touts who tell you that they have a metered taxi parked outside the airport. Previous passengers have complained that they have been charged hefty amount for the transfers.

The Delhi metro is another option from the airport. Trains depart between approx 5am and 11:30pm, the trip takes approx. 45 mins and costs around INR100. Please refer to the metro map for lines, changes and directions to Karol Bagh where most of our hotels are located. http://delhimetrorail.info/delhi-metro-map

Check in time at hotel is 12 midday.

Finishing your trip

Hotel Pooja Palace, 15A/11 W.E.A. Puja Park, Karol Bagh, Delhi, 110005, INDIA, Phone: +91 9810014574

A pre-booked departure transfer to the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 15 days prior to your trip start date. If you plan to stay longer, this departure transfer can only be offered in conjunction with post-tour accommodation booked through Intrepid.

Delhi's Indira Gandhi's International Airport is approximately 25km from Karol Bagh. One of the biggest airports in the world, it can be quite chaotic.

A taxi to the airport takes about 1 hour and should cost between 450 -500INR. Hotel reception or your leader can help you arrange a taxi.

Please have a copy of your e-ticket on your phone/tablet or a printed copy to enter the airport.
Before check in you must have your check in luggage x-rayed and sealed. Also ensure at check in that your hand luggage is tagged. (This is a mandatory in order to clear security.)

Check-out time from the hotel is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.

Meals & dietary information

Breakfasts included: 3

Lunches included: 

Dinners included: 5

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. If you have dietary requirements and/or food allergies, please let your booking agent know prior to departure.

FOOD IN INDIA:
Food is a way of life in India. You can snack for a bargain or dine in the finest Indian restaurants. Generally, you can eat very cheaply in India. There is a huge choice of restaurants and street stalls serving traditional and local Indian food. In bigger restaurants in areas frequented by more tourists, there is a choice between Indian, Chinese and Western-style food. Here are some ideas of what to try: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/best-food-in-india/
https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/foodies-guide-south-india/

Please note that service in restaurants (especially with a group) can be quite slow so patience is a must.

India caters very well towards vegetarians and vegans with almost all restaurants having a veg and pure veg section of the menu. If in doubt please check with your tour leader. See our guide to eating vegan in India here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/india-vegan-food-guide/

Your tour leader will be able to direct you towards restaurants that are known to have better hygiene, especially in tourist areas where they are travelling with our groups regularly. For some more advice on avoiding "Delhi belly", see our article here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/how-to-avoid-delhi-belly-in-india/

Climate & seasonal information

WEATHER IN INDIA
Due to India's size and topography, there's a huge amount of variation in its climate. We recommend you consider both the season and the part of India you intend to visit, so that you can best pack for your adventure.

One of the most beneficial times to visit India is from September to March when temperatures are at their best, with warm days and cool nights.

During winter (December to January), temperatures can get quite cold in Delhi and the north, especially at night. Hotels in some regions may not have adequate heating. In these months you may like to bring thermals for sleeping and a warm jacket for mornings and evenings. Fog can delay trains travelling throughout this region.

Monsoon is from May to October and offers hot and humid conditions. It is not unusual for trains to be delayed, and for activities in towns near rivers and lakes (ie Varanasi) to require amendment at this time of year. Your leader will be able to advise you locally on any changes.

FESTIVALS & HOLIDAYS
As a country of many cultures and religions, India has many festivals and public holidays. Here are some of the key dates and events:

HOLI (Festival of Colours)
2021 28-29 March
2022 17-18 March

DIWALI (Festival of Light)
2021 4 November
2022 24 October

RAMADAN (Muslim Holy Month)
2021 12 April-11 May
2022 01 April-02 May

In case of emergency

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time.

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local office on the number below.

Intrepid's local Operator: +91 9999 005 019

Accommodations

ACCOMMODATION:
Some of the accommodation along the way is basic or simple, staying in local guesthouses and homestays. Some may have shared bathroom facilities with cold water only. We use a mixture of air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned rooms. Some areas of India experience daily load shedding. This is where the power may be turned off at certain times of the day and usually occurs for a few hours in the early afternoon. Most hotel properties have a restaurant or cafe serving local meals. Many restaurants and hotels do not serve alcohol for religious reasons or due to local laws. 

SHOWERS:
Showers at some hotels only have hot water at peak times (usually morning and evening). Outside of these times, you may need to speak to reception to obtain hot water.

ROOM ISSUES:
If you have any issues with your room, please speak to the hotel and your tour leader right away rather than your travel agent so that the problem can be addressed without delay.

SLEEPER TRAINS IN INDIA:
Sleeper trains are clean and air-conditioned (fan-cooled at times), a great way to travel long distances and still get maximum time in each place. Depending on the route, we travel 2AC or 3AC class as not all classes are available on all routes. Due to the complexity of the ticket purchasing system and high demand for tickets, we are unable to offer upgrades to other classes.

Second Class or 2 Tier AC (2AC) carriages have 4 berths in the compartment section and 2 berths in the aisle bay and individual reading lights. Third Class or 3 Tier AC (3AC) has 6 berths in the compartment and 2 in the aisle bay. Both have curtains for privacy. There are no sinks or charging points in these classes. During the day, bunks are folded away and serve as seats. Toilet facilities are located at either end of the carriage. There is usually an Indian style squat toilet at one end and a western-style toilet at the other. You will need your own toilet paper or tissues and cleanliness will depend on the number of people using them. 

Beds are padded bunks, with sheets, pillow and blanket provided. Some people prefer to bring and use their own sleeping sheet. Your luggage travels with you on the train, so packing light will make your journey more comfortable.

Many trains have a dining carriage or a food/snack cart that is brought through the carriages. There are also plenty of vendors selling tea, coffee, water and snacks during the journey, although the hygiene may not be up to standards you are used to at home.

Please note you may be sharing with other members of your group or locals on a mixed gender basis. Tickets are booked on a real-name basis using your passport details. We book for all members of the group at the same time, but unfortunately, this is no guarantee that we will be accommodated all together on the train. Your leader will do their best to swap with other travellers to allow people who booked together to travel together, but please be aware that this is not always possible. We may at times ask male travellers to swap with solo female travellers for safety considerations.

DESERT CAMPING
Bedding, blankets and pillows are provided and we sleep on a camp style cot in the open air. Sleeping bags are recommended as it can get very cold at night. The camp is very simple with a windbreak, and set up against a sand dune. It’s a great experience to wake up under the stars in the desert. Simple vegetarian meals will be prepared by our local team for dinner and breakfast (included). Water and soft drinks are available for purchase. Toilets are a very basic long drop style. There is no shower and many travellers recommend bringing hand sanitizer, a small hand towel or some wet wipes (don't forget to carry them and any other rubbish out again).

Transportation

TRANSPORT IN INDIA:
Main roads in India are usually very busy with an assortment of vehicles from the biggest trucks (who always have right of way) down to bikes (and animals!). Overtaking on blind corners at speed is common as is the total use of the horn as a form of communication. Our leaders have complete authority to remove groups from local transport if the driver is not driving safely. Drivers of our private vehicles are experienced and well trained. if you are uncomfortable with your driver, please always let your tour leader know immediately. Please ensure you wear your seat belt at all times.

TRAVEL TIMES:
Distances in India do not reflect the driving time and to cover 100km may take much longer than you would expect at home, even if much of the route is on a highway.

TRAINS:
India has a massive network of trains and millions of people travel by rail every day. Trains often travel the length of the country over several days. Trains are a great way to see the countryside and get you away from the busy road system. Delays and cancellations are common on trains. Your tour leader will check the train status to see if there are delays and will do their best to keep you informed of any changes.

From December to February, delays are more common, especially in the north of the country due to fog. It’s not uncommon for trains to be delayed for up to 12 hours. On occasion, your trip will may to be rerouted to allow for these delays. Your tour leader in conjunction with our local office will advise any changes to the itinerary.

The Indian Railway system is one of the largest railway networks in the world and quite complex. Seat allocation is completely computerized on a centralized reservation system and we do not have control over seat allocations. Despite booking tickets months in advance of a departure your group's seats, or sleeping berths on overnight trains, maybe spread out within one carriage or multiple carriages of the same class. There’s a chance you’ll be sharing a compartment with local travelers of either gender.

For a detailed look into the experience of travelling by overnight trains read more here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/india-trains-guide/

AUTO RICKSHAWS:
On this trip, we travel on the local style of transport called an auto-rickshaw. These small, motorised three-wheeled vehicles are a common form of transport in India and do not have seatbelts.

FLIGHTS:
Airlines in India are of excellent quality. Airports are becoming more modern (especially in the major and tourist cities). To enter the airport, you must have a copy of your flight ticket and passport. Schedule changes and delays do occur, especially when weather conditions make visibility poor.


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