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Before You Travel

Before You Travel


PASSPORTS :

A full passport valid beyond the duration of your holiday and for entry to all countries included in your holiday is essential. Names entered on your booking must agree with those on the passports you will be using. You will need a full 10-year passport, valid for at least 6 months beyond your planned return date.

VISAS :

are required in advance of travel for entry into India and Nepal. Tourists wishing to visit India will normally be granted tourist Visa, effective from the date of issue. Full visa details and further information may be obtained from Indian High Commission in your country. Further visa information can be obtained by visiting http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk/

All foreign nationals, except Indian Citizens, need visas to enter Nepal. The best way to apply for visa is from the Royal Nepalese diplomatic missions in your home country. The other choice is to get it from Immigration office at the entry points of Nepal. Further information about visa to Nepal can be obtained by visiting http://www.immi.gov.np/visa

This advice is valid only for British citizens. Any clients who hold non-British passports must contact the relevant Embassy/ Consulate. Since we do not arrange any travel visas, please contact your local consulate / High commission well ahead in time to arrange for your visa before your travel.

HEALTH AND VACCINATIONS :

You should familiarize yourself, before departure, with the up-to-date health precautions recommended for your holiday destination. You should seek professional advice from your medical practitioner. It is recommended that you be vaccinated for Tetanus and Polio, if you haven't had a booster in the last ten years. Food and waterborne diseases are more common, so we recommend vaccinations for Typhoid (valid 3 years) and Hepatitis A (validity varies). You are also advised to protect yourself against Malaria and Cholera. An inoculation against Yellow fever is required if you have visited any infected areas within 5 days prior to your arrival in India. We strongly recommend that you carry mosquito repellent lotions / cream. This information is only intended as a guide and recommendations can change regularly. We therefore advise you to consult your Doctor or allowing at least 4 weeks before the date of travel for all medical advices.

Some of our journeys (in particular North of India and Nepal) will be travelling at altitude. We therefore strongly recommend that anyone (regardless of age) should consult their doctor to ensure that they are fully fit and understand the effects of travelling at altitude. This is absolutely essential if you have any pre-existing heart conditions, anaemia or lung problems.

HOLIDAY INSURANCE :

Epic India clients are required to have adequate insurance protection against cancellation, medical and other expenses. You must ensure that you have taken out insurance and confirm this to us, with details, in writing at time of your booking. If undertaking activities considered by some insurers as 'hazardous' for example water sports or other adventure activities, you should ensure that your insurers include coverage. Please note that travel insurance offered by credit card companies rarely provides full and effective cover for cancellation/ curtailment risks.

YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES :

Passport, visa and health requirements can change at any time. It is your own responsibility to ensure that you seek advice from a professional source and comply with all requirements. Epic India will not be held responsible in any circumstances for the consequences - whether financial or otherwise - of any failure on the part of the client in this respect.

MOBILITY :

The touring nature of the arrangements by us means that they are not generally suitable for people with walking or mobility difficulties or for those requiring wheelchair assistance. It is important that you tell us in advance if you (or any of your group if appropriate) have any special requests, disability, or other condition/special need.

YOUR SAFETY :

At Epic India we pride ourselves on selecting the highest quality hotels and services available to make your holiday the best. However, because we travel to interesting destinations, often off the beaten track, it is not always possible to find standards that match those we take for granted in UK and Europe. The safety and regulations which apply overseas are those of the country you visit. General standards of safety and hygiene, fire precautions etc. can be a different to those which we expect in the UK. Do not let non-swimmers dive into swimming pools without first checking the depth and how to get out. Get to know the escape route from your room in case of fire. Any change to your diet may cause an upset stomach and local water, ice and salads may not help. You can reduce the risk of insect bites by using repellents and dressing in clothing that covers the skin especially when insects are most active - at dawn and dusk. Crime against people and property are a fact of life throughout the world and you have the same responsibility for your own safety and avoid attracting unwelcome attention by not wearing expensive jewellery and accessories.

CLIMATE :

India is such vast a country that the climate conditions in the far north bear little relation to those in the extreme south. Indeed, the country is divided into no less than seven climate regions. However, in simple terms, India has a three-season year known as the hot, the wet and the cool. The coolest time to visit is late- September through April. Temperatures during this time are ideal for sightseeing. Following this period is the hot season that runs from around April through July. Conditions are perfect for sightseeing and photography, though Rajasthan can become very hot and dry. July Signals the start of the monsoon or wet season that continues until around the end September. Although the weather is humid, the days are punctuated by intermittent rainfall. Monsoon rains are nowhere near as miserable as the cold and rainy days experienced in downtown Europe, though!

In Nepal, June to September is monsoon season, during these months it is very hot and rains almost every day. October to November is much drier with pleasant temperatures in the daytime and good visibility - perfect for trekking. Winter - December to February tends to be mild in the daytime but can become very cold at night especially in the mountains. January is the coldest month of the year. March to May is very warm, with occasional showers. The annual temperatures peak in May just before Monsoon begins.

Fog usually comes to North India and remains active until late January commonly disrupting flight and train schedules and sometimes impacting on the enjoyment of sightseeing.

USEFUL TIPS :

Domestic flights and trains can be difficult to confirm on particularly popular routes

Whilst road conditions are improving all the time, so is the volume of traffic growing, slowing down journey times. On average, anticipate covering 40 miles in an hour.

Train travel in India tends to be convenient rather than 'romantic' or luxurious. Many of the major trains run on tight schedules leaving only a few minutes to embark or disembark - please try to plan your luggage requirements accordingly.

Accommodation and cuisine is simpler in remoter locations, on trains and in many parts of India.

It can be difficult to secure private game drives in National Parks as most of them are operated by local authorities. We recommend booking at least 2 months in advance. Most game viewing activities in National Parks are by shared vehicle.

There are many public holidays in the region and public monuments on these holidays can be busy with local visitors. The Holi festival (usually in March) is very colourful but it is recommended that you remain in your hotel on the morning of the holiday.

Some public monuments are closed as follows: Mondays - Ajanta, Ellora, Elephanta, Red Fort Delhi and most museums throughout India; Fridays - Taj Mahal, Seringapatnam (near Mysore).

WHAT TO WEAR :

If you want to keep yourself cool in the Indian sun, a good supply of cotton clothing is essential along with a comfortable pair of open sandals. An effective pair of sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat will protect you against the strong rays, and it is advisable to use a high factor sun cream. In the cooler months, you will require some warm clothes such as light sweaters, jackets or shawls for the evenings. If your tour takes you to the mountain regions, then you will require warmer clothes. As it can sometimes warm up during the days, layers are always a good option along with comfortable walking shoes. For visits to the Game Parks, we recommend wearing light woollens and a windcheater, as the early morning excursions can be quite chilly, with heavier clothing during the winter months of November to February.

VISITING TEMPLES :

When visiting places of worship and mausoleums there are certain religious customs to be observed. As a token of respect, it is customary to remove your footwear before entering all temples (a pair of light socks is useful if you prefer not to go barefoot), and dress should be fairly conservative, i.e. shorts are not really acceptable. In Jain and Hindu temples leather goods such as belts, shoes and bags will not be permitted.

THE CITIES :

Indian cities are bustling and exciting, and in most areas, quite safe. There is little danger of being mugged on the streets here, but don't be offended if the locals stare at you - the Indians are friendly and hospitable people and just curious. Almost all city-dwellers speak and understand English, and you will find all the street and shop signs in English as well. Should you get lost, the local people are so obliging that often you'll find they will not only give you directions, but walk you all the way to your destination!. India is a developing country with an enormous and growing population. Social and economic development continues apace, and tourism income undoubtedly has it's part to play, but you will certainly experience many of the inescapable symptoms of poverty during your visit, some of which can be shocking to western eyes. For obvious reasons, beggars will be attracted to tour parties, but we would ask that you do not give to them. Many of the beggars will be operating 'professionally', and regardless of this, giving to them simply perpetuates the practice. Alternatively, our ground staff, in all locations, will be happy to suggest a charitable institution should you wish to make a direct contribution.

PHOTOGRAPHY :

India is a kaleidoscope of colour just waiting to be photographed, so wherever you travel be sure to carry your camera and an ample supply of colour film. With the exception of inside the Taj Mahal, the airports, and other restricted areas, you may photograph to your heart's content although many popular sites will levy an additional charge for the use of your camera, or video camera which may cost a little more.

TRANSPORT :

Travelling by train is one of the great experiences in India and a good way to meet Indian people. Some of our group tours and tailor-made India itineraries include comfortable train journeys. According to the itinerary, these may be during the day or night. See the individual tour for details.The Indian Railway system is the world's 2nd largest, with over 108,706 km of track, connecting more than 7,000 stations. Every day, more than 7,000 trains run, carrying some 14 million passengers.

If travelling overnight, we accommodate passengers in the comfortable 2nd class sleeper air-conditioned category (unless otherwise indicated at a higher level). 2nd class sleeper air-conditioned cabins consist of 2 upper and 2 lower bunks (which are sat upon until retiring to bed), shared by you and other Indian travellers. Luggage can be stored underneath the lower bunks or on the floor. The carriage is manned by an attendant who will distribute linen.

Dependant upon the service, a variety of snacks and drinks or full dinner service can be ordered at additional cost. In addition, there are WC facilities (European and also 'squat-style') at each end of the carriage. Cleanliness varies, so be prepared and take your own anti-bacterial hand wipes and toilet paper.If travelling on a daytime journey, you will travel in an air-conditioned seated carriage (or 2nd class air-conditioned cabin), except to elevated destinations where due to local weather patterns air-conditioning is not necessary.

TRAVELLING BY ROAD :

Seat Belts: It is mandatory that all passengers/guides wear seat belts if driving in the front seat of a car.

CABS AND CARS :

The majority of hired cars are chauffeur-driven in India. Hiring a taxi is no problem and quite reliable. To avoid any confusion over cost, settle the fare before you set off.

GRATUITIES & TIPPING :

This is entirely at your discretion. However, the following may be helpful. If service is not included in the bill, 10% is usually the accepted amount. Hotel and railway porters will expect about 50 rupees for one piece of luggage and about 200 rupees for a trolley full. At the end of your stay if you wish to tip your sightseeing guide and driver, an acceptable amount for the guide would be approximately between 400 - 500 rupees per day; and for the driver, it would be approximately between 200 - 400 rupees per day.

CURRENCY :

There are no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency or travellers cheques you may bring into India, provided a declaration is made in the currency declaration form given to arriving passengers. For safety and convenience we would advise that you take the majority of your money in travellers cheques. It is advisable to change your money through authorized banks and hotels. Hotels are probably the most convenient option, as their rates are usually only a little poorer than the banks. Always keep your receipts, as you will need them at the end of your trip if you wish to convert your rupees back to your own currency. The units of Indian currency are the rupee and the paise. There are 100 paise in the rupee. Paper money comes in the denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 rupees and coins are available in 50 paise and in rupee coins of 1, 2 and 5. All major credit cards are accepted in most hotels and restaurants and government shops, as are travellers' cheques in US dollars or Sterling. All major credit card companies have a strong presence in India and payments can be made through their cards (Visa, Master Card, Americn Express, Diner Club) please check the exchange rates with your local travel agent or websites such as Oanda or XE for an indicative quote

BANK AND ATM'S :

All major banks have branches and ATM;s in cities around India and definitely in or close to cities of tourist interest. A list of all these could be found on your banks official website.

TRADING HOURS :

Banks are open from 1000hrs - 1400hrs Monday to Friday and 1000hrs-1200 on Saturday. Variations occur, so please check locally. In some tourist centres, there may be Bureaux de Changes that remains open later.

Shops are open 0930hrs - 1800hrs Monday through to Saturday. In established markets, shopping hours usually stretch on until night falls. Market trading days and business hours vary, check before locally.

SHOPPING :

India is a shopper's paradise with the promise of some excellent buys! However, as a measure of precaution, always check on the levels of import duty levied for items that you wish to purchase. Please try and carry back all the goods that you purchase with you to avoid storage charges. If you are planning major shopping, please seek information and advice from customs authorities before departing on your tour. When shopping for expensive items such as precious stones, carpets etc, the shopkeepers may guarantee the authenticity of the item, but expert knowledge is essential to ascertain their true value. For general shopping we recommend the Government Emporiums, and the shops in the hotels where quality and price are a little more reliable. You will find a huge choice of goods, from fashion bags and shoes, to Indian silks and handicrafts. Do not forget that any item that is more than 100 years old is banned from export out of the country, as is ivory, crocodile skin and other wildlife products. We pride ourselves on the quality of our sightseeing guides. However, if at any time you feel pressured by the guides to purchase any goods, we would be grateful if you would bring it to our attention. Please note that bargaining is common in India at most of the establishments except at the Government Emporiums where prices are generally fixed.

ELECTRICITY :

The electric current in India is 230-240V and electricity is widely available in the main towns, cities and tourist destinations. Sockets are the three round-pinned variety, similar (but not identical) to European sockets. European round pin plugs will go into the sockets, but as the pins on Indian plugs are somewhat thicker, the fit is loose and a connection not always guaranteed.

Pack a universal travel adaptor that will allow you to use a hairdryer, electric shaver, charge a mobile phone and other electrical items. Take care with your choice of adaptor. Be sure that it is suitable for India, as Indian sockets accept round 3 pin plugs that are similar but not identical to European plugs.

FOOD & DRINK :

Where dinner is not included please budget for minimum $35/£20 per person for an evening meal without alcohol. You will in general find meals very good value for money with a broad choice of cuisine in most hotels (Western and Asian). In remote and outlying areas you will find mainly local cuisine. It is suggested that at these times you order vegetarian food, as it tends to reduce the risk of upset stomachs! Avoid eating highly spiced foods when you first arrive in India, however tempting. Instead, allow your system at least a day or two to get used to them, introducing one Indian dish with each meal for the first couple of days. After that it is best to stick with cooked foods, and remember to peel fruit before eating it.

The best drinks to enjoy with your meals or to quench your thirst are the bottled mineral waters, other bottled drinks, coffee and tea. Indian beer is very good, along with Indian gin and vodka. Indian wine is growing in reputation and can be most palatable, especially in the hotel restaurants. We recommend both the 'Grover' and 'Sula' vineyards. Local whiskey needs an acquired taste, and the imported scotch whiskey is very expensive, as is imported wine. Avoid drinking tap water at all costs!! The jugs of water supplied in hotel rooms is purified, but not guaranteed to be safe. Mineral water is very cheap and a far safer option for drinking and even cleaning your teeth, although do check the seal on the bottle is intact.

TIME :

India is 5 hours 30 mins ahead of GMT. India does not observe Daylight Saving. During British Summer Time (end of March through to end of October), India is 4.5 hours ahead of GMT.

NOTES :

The above information is correct to the best of our knowledge and belief. It is current at the time of publication. We regret we cannot accept any responsibility for any changes on advice or information given. The advice given is a genuine effort on our part to make your stay as pleasant as possible.