To ensure that you have the best possible holiday experience, we ask you to read the following information carefully. If you have any questions, please discuss them with us before you depart.
Hand Luggage – pack essential items for a day or two in your hand luggage, in case your bags go astray and take a few days to catch up with you, especially if you have any tight connecting flights.
Baggage – if your itinerary includes a domestic flight, your luggage is often restricted to 15 kg after which excess baggage charges apply.
Documents – take a copy of your travel insurance policy with you, and leave a copy of your passport with a reliable contact at home, in case the originals are lost or stolen.
Electronic Devices – ensure these are all fully charge before travel, as you may be required to switch them on at airport security. Any device that does not switch on cannot be checked in and must be surrendered.
Mobile Phones – make sure they are set up for international calls and turn off data roaming to avoid nasty bills. Most hotels offer free Wi-Fi but some rural regions may not have good cell phone coverage.
Credit Cards – remember to inform your bank when travelling abroad. Credit cards are widely accepted by tourist hotels, but always ensure you have cash when shopping in cities and travelling in the countryside.
Clothing – light clothing is the most comfortable, although in winter the temperature can drop sharply when warm clothing is essential. Take good walking shoes, a day pack, T-shirts, shorts, jeans, sunhat, swimming costume, sunglasses and sunscreen. To visit temples pack long sleeved tops or pashmina to cover your shoulders, long skirts or trousers to cover your knees and easily removed flip flops. Leather items (eg belts & handbags) are not permitted in Jain temples. On safari take insect repellent and pack a warm fleece, hat & gloves for evening game drives, which can get cold even in summer. Rain gear is needed during the monsoon season. Sanitising hand cleaner/wet wipes and eye drops can be handy, especially if you wear contact lenses.
Accessories – pack your phone (with charger and a spare battery pack), camera (with spare memory cards and batteries – a 200 mm zoom lens is good for wildlife photography), torch and binoculars (large 8x40 is best). If you are a keen birder we suggest one pair per person, as it can be frustrating to share.
Plugs – type D (small round 3-pin).
Books – pack a good travel guide, with information on the wildlife and birds of the region. Also a good supply of reading material for quiet evenings and when waiting for flights.
Water – be fastidious and only drink bottled water. Avoid washed salads, local yoghurt, ice cream and ice cubes outside your hotel, as tap water is not safe to drink. Peel all fruit before eating it and remember to brush your teeth with bottled water. Pack diarrhoea tablets and rehydration sachets for emergencies.
Food – India is world renowned for its delicious curries. The cow is sacred so beef is not found on any menu, but chicken, lamb and fish are widely available, with menus being divided into Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian. Food allergies are well catered for.
Alcohol - taxes on alcohol in hotels are high, so it is common practice to ask your driver to buy your favourite drink to enjoy in the privacy of your room before dinner. Be aware that both Gujarat and Kerala are “dry” states, with alcohol only sold in 5* hotels.
Taxis – in cities only use regulated taxis, best arranged by your hotel.
Self-Drive – driving is on the left, although we do not recommend self-driving in India.
Shopping – it is customary to negotiate prices aggressively. Be aware that your guide will earn a commission on any purchases you make. You need to tell him very firmly if you don’t want to be taken to any more shops, as he will continue to do this until you make it very clear this is not what you want.
Safety – as this is a third-world country take all sensible precautions. Leave valuable jewellery/watches at home, wear a money belt and be alert when outside your hotel. In particular, avoid taking out large wads of cash in public view and keep your spare cash in your hotel safe.
Respect Local Customs – this is a Hindu, Jain and Buddhist country, so respect religious images and dress modestly away from your hotel. Always cover your shoulders and knees when visiting temples.
Wild Animals – attacks by wild animals are rare, but we cannot guarantee that attacks will not occur so observe all sensible precautions. We cannot be held responsible for injuries caused during an incident with a wild animal.
Tipping – this is voluntary and should depend on the level of service, with "small but often” being a useful guide to tipping in India. We suggest the local currency equivalent of the following USD per couple, but this can be reduced for longer stays:
- overland driver: $10 per day
- city guides: $10 per day ($5 for half day)
- game ranger/tracker: $5/$2 per game drive
- houseboat staff: $20 for the trip
- mahouts $1.50 per person
- temple shoe minders: $1
- tipping box for hotel staff: $2 per day
- waiters: 10% of base cost excluding vat/taxes, but check the bill first as service charges (not to be confused with service tax) is often already included
- porters: $1 per bag.