Rajasthan Adventure

Trip Code: HHSR

Why we love it

The Taj Mahal is one of the most recognisable buildings in the world, with its poetic history and beauty having the power to surprise even the most jaded travellers., Discover the rich history and architecture of the Amber Fort, with the expertise of a local guide. The kaleidoscopic magic of the Hall of Mirrors is unforgettable, India is famous for its great sleeper trains and you'll be tucked up nicely in your own padded bunk, The Thar Desert is a vast space, but the locals treat it as their own back garden. Relax watching the sunset and sleep under the stars, A hot air balloon experience above Jaipur is extraordinary. Float high over the spectacular palaces and forts with the ultimate bird's eye view, By travelling on this trip, you’ll directly support our Intrepid Foundation partner, Positive Change for Marine Life. Donations help them to nurture ocean health with community-led conservation initiatives that inspire coastal restoration, sustainable fishing practices and waste-management.

Is this trip right for me?

This trip involves some long train journeys and an overnight train, which can be tiresome. Entertaining chaiwallahs (tea vendors), food vendors, and conversations with the locals make this a rewarding experience. For your own security, take a lock for your hand luggage on the sleeper train journey.

If you decide to spend the night camping in the desert, be aware that there are no structured toilet or shower facilities. Please bring along water, face wipes, hand sanitizer, or other essentials you feel you may need.

It’s important to prepare for hot sticky temperatures during the day and cooler climates in the evening, particularly in the desert. Layers are the best way to tackle this disparity in weather.

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

Long-distance and overnight trains can often be delayed and occasionally cancelled due to heavy fog between Dec-Feb. Please see the transport section of the essential trip information.

Important information

1. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement exclude 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 from September 1st to April 30th and last approximately 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 availability and weather conditions (tickets are fully refundable in case of bad weather).
3. Itinerary change alert:
There's no overnight train from Delhi to Jaisalmer at the moment so you'll take an early Day train from Delhi at around 4:30am on Day 2 which will arrive in Jaisalmer around 10:30 pm. After arrival, you'll check into your hotel for the night. All the included activities on Day 2 in Delhi will be moved to the afternoon of Day 10 once you arrive back in Delhi.
We'll resume to the original itinerary with the overnight train on Day 2 once the original train schedule is reinstated.

4. Please provide your full name exactly as it appears on your passport at the time of booking (including any middle names listed on your passport. Fees may apply for adding or amending details within 45 days of departure, and in some cases, you will be required to cover the cost of issuing a new ticket.

What to bring/pack

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list, MAIN LUGGAGE
What you need to bring will vary according to 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 including up and down stairs and in busy train stations. Our travellers usually find the smaller their luggage is, the more they enjoy the trip not having to worry about carrying heavy bags! Aim to keep your main luggage under 15kg.

Small, wheeled suitcases that can also easily be picked up and carried are the best for travel in this part of the world, although if you prefer, a backpack is also fine. If you are taking overnight trains, or primarily using public transport then the smaller your luggage the easier it will be to store under or above bunks.

DAY PACK
A day pack for carrying essentials when exploring destinations as well as for short overnight stays will be useful. On overnight trains packing this with the essentials you need to access during the trip will also be very useful.

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

ESSENTIALS:
- Lightweight clothing. A mixture of lightweight clothing and warm layers. Clothes should be easy to wash and dry. Maybe bring a change in smart clothes for dinner in bigger cities. Clothing that covers arms and pants/skirts that go past the knee for entry into local temples.
- Closed-in shoes (to protect from cuts/scratches/insect bites on city and countryside walks)
- Sun protection - hat, sunscreen, sunglasses

RECOMMENDED:
- Parts of India can get very cold (ie. below zero!) during winter (Dec to Feb) and northern regions of India are typically cool in the evenings throughout the year. Many hotels in India do not have central heating. We recommend checking local weather advisory websites before departing to get a better understanding of what to expect and how best to pack. Bringing extra layers and a beanie could improve your overall experience.
- Personal medical kit, we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes, Band-Aids and insect repellent.
- Water bottle. At least 1.5litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. 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 are handy to keep your luggage safe and secure.

OPTIONAL:
- Sleeping bag. Useful for camping, overnight trains and poorly heated hotels, during the winter months of Dec - Feb
- Sleep sheet.
- Earplugs/eye mask 
- A good book, a journal and music player
- Binoculars for spotting wildlife

OTHER USEFUL THINGS TO TAKE
- reusable shopping bag for buying supplies for long journeys
- slippers or flip flops
- torch/flashlight
- travel wipes
- small towel
- head scarf for women (for when entering temples or mosques)

OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER
- check weather in destinations you are travelling to online a few days before you go to make sure you pack appropriate clothing
- laundry facilities may not be available in all destinations, so make sure you have a few cycles of clothes to tide you over until your next chance to wash

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/scan all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals.

MORE!
If you need some further tips for packing, you can always check out our ultimate packing list, or read this advice here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/what-to-take-to-india/

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.

Alternate Joining Point


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

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.

Alternate Finish Point


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: 1

Lunches included: 

Dinners included: 2

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader or local representative 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 group leader or local representative. See our guide to eating vegan in India here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/india-vegan-food-guide/

Your group leader or local representative 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 group leader or local representative 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)
2023 7-8 March
2024 24-25 March

DIWALI (Festival of Light)
2023 12 November
2024 01 November

RAMADAN (Muslim Holy Month)
2023 22 March – 20 April
2024 10 March – 8 April

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 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 or local representative may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the group leader or local representative 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 numbers below:

Intrepid local operator : Available for phone call on +30 697 800 6335 

Available for phone call or WhatsApp call on +91 999 900 5019

Accommodations

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline only and may change. On some occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our preferred accommodation. In these cases, we will use a similar standard of accommodation.

Throughout the trip, we request that our properties prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However, this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination or on some trips, have use of shared day rooms until all rooms are available.

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.