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Frequently Asked Questions - India

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ARE FLIGHTS INCLUDED?

Yes, (if you are booking from the UK) all flights, international and domestic are included in the price of your tour.

 

CAN I BOOK FROM OUTSIDE THE UK?

Yes. If you are booking from outside the UK, please check the 'Schedules Page' of this site and click on the 'Exclude Flight Price' link. Any problems: contact us.

 

CAN I TAKE A DIFFERENT FLIGHT?

You can. Please contact us for details.

 

How do I book?

The tours can be booked online, by email, or over the phone on: +44 (0)5603 666788. To secure a place you will be asked to put down a deposit of £700.00 and payment can be made by card, cheque, or bank transfer.

 

DO I NEED INSURANCE?

Yes, you need travel insurance to cover you for the period of the tour. This insurance must cover you to ride a bike of the capacity offered on your tour. Recommended by past guests are The Post Office and Tesco, both of whom do reasonably priced policies with the requisite cover. The bikes are insured, so bike insurance need not concern you.

 

How & Where do I get a visa?

To visit India you will need a passport (valid for six months from date of entry) and a valid tourist visa. For visits of up to a month's duration it is possible for British citizens (and those of many other countries) to obtain an 'E Tourist Visa' online, HERE. You will need to provide a PDF scan of your passport's first page with a file size between 10 and 300kb. You will also need to provide a scan of a passport picture (as a J-Peg, 10kb-1mb). This picture must be square, on a plain, light-coloured background and without borders. Applicants must submit online between 30 and four days before travelling and the visa will be issued on arrival - on production of an emailed confirmation document. The visa will be valid for 30 days from entry. The fee for an E Tourist visa is currently USD $60 (which is GBP £0).

 

If visiting India for more than 30 days, your passport must also have at least six months validity remaining at time of application. Visas are obtained from the VFS Global (the official agent of the Indian High Commission) offices in either London, Hayes, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Glasgow, or Edinburgh. All current information on longer Indian visa applications is available on the web at: http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk/. It is possible to apply over-the-counter, or by post. We would recommend the latter and suggest you apply in plenty of time. A tourist visa is usually valid for a maximum of six months from date of issue.

 

Visas for entry to Nepal are available at borders, at a cost of $30 (which is GBP £0), or at the Nepali Consulate in London prior to travelling.

 

The visa application asks for two Indian addresses, what should I put?

1. Blazing Trails, 276/1 Livrament Vado, Sangolda, Bardez, Goa 403511. Tel: +91 832 2409865.

2. Journey Masters Holidays, 264/1 Gulmohar Avenue, Okhla, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi 110025. Tel: +91 11 26329751.

 

What other paperwork do I need?

You will need a valid certificate of travel insurance and an International Driving Permit.

 

Where do I get an International Driving Permit?

Obtain one through the Post Office service, at major branches. All you need is your UK Driving Licence and some six of Her Imperial Majesty's Pounds.

 

Where should I change money?

We would advise that you have some idea of the Rupee exchange rate before you leave, to avoid getting ripped-off at airports. Sites like this should help. In many major towns, there are cash-points that will accept major credit and debit cards. Arrivals in Cochin for the Kerala Tour will be able to change money in town if the airport rate is not competitive. Goa Airport is rapidly getting a reputation as a den of rip-off merchants and we would advise you not to change money there at present. Money can easily be changed at banks, agencies and be withdrawn from cash-points close to your hotel before we set off. Further advice to this will be given in the tour briefing. Generally if arriving at Delhi, for Himalayan and Rajasthani tours, airport rates should be reasonable and we would advise you to change at least £50. Money can be easily changed in Manali and Leh on the Himalayan tours.

 

Can a lady with a wooden leg change a pound note?

No, she's only got half a knicker.

 

How much spending money will I need?

About £250 should cover food, drink, petrol and sundries.

 

Will I have to share a room?

Yes, unless you pay a supplement. Even then, single rooms may not be available at some stops as the hotels we use are popular, or in some cases small, and we have to book our accommodation some time in advance.

 

What standard is the accommodation?

It varies widely, but is always clean and the best we can find in the area for a reasonable price. In some places you may be staying in comfortable tented camps, in others luxury huts or hotel rooms. In Kerala and Rajasthan the accommodation is of a higher standard. There may be nights on the beach or under the desert stars in more remote areas - it's all part of the adventure experience.

 

Will we have electricity?

It can't be guaranteed. In some places there's no power; in all power cuts are possible. Thus, if it's vital you need electrical power every night, please speak to us before booking. Don't forget a travel adaptor if you need to recharge your electricals.

 

what is the difference between tarka dhal and regular dhal?

They are very similar, but Tarka dhal is a bit 'otter.

 

How much riding experience do I need?

We would recommend only booking a tour with us if you have a full licence (compulsory) and have at least two years' recent riding experience. The main criterion, however, is confidence. If you're happy to zip through a London rush hour, then you'll be capable of dealing with road life in India.

 

Is riding in India dangerous?

Riding anywhere carries with it a degree of risk, as does Indian riding. For more information on the riding side of things see 'Riding' in the 'About India ' section of this site. If any rider joining us rides in a manner we suspect will endanger themselves, or others, or indeed displays antisocial behaviour, they will receive one warning. If they continue to display a threat to the safety or enjoyment of others on the tour, they will be excluded from the remainder (with no refund given, see terms and conditions).

 

How fast will we be riding?

Due to road conditions and other traffic, vehicles tend to move a lot slower in India than they do in the West. We will do likewise. There are also constraints on speed enforced by the bikes. These are not high-revving sports bikes and so we will lead the tour at a maximum speed of around 70kph.

 

Can I use the bike in the evenings?

No, you can't ride independently of the tour group, sorry.

 

How fit do I need to be?

Reasonably so, especially for the Himalayas, where roads can be very rough and there is also the matter of altitude to deal with. What's 'reasonably fit'? If you can't jog up stairs without panting, then Indian bike tours probably aren't for you. 

 

Can I take a pillion?

Yes , but please be sure they know what they're letting themselves in for: some long days in the saddle, bumpy roads and, in the mountains, some pretty shocking drop-offs. We have limited space in our support vehicles, so pillions may not be able to hop off on a whim. Likewise, if riders have any doubt over handling the extra weight, then we'd advise they ride solo. It is possible to book a place in a support vehicle for those who want to join the tour, but not to ride or travel as a pillion passenger.

 

How much luggage can I bring?

You are limited to 20kg by most airlines. However, we suggest you pack as lightly and in as compact a form as possible. As support vehicle space is tight, we insist you bring soft luggage if you turn up with a suitcase we will ask you to buy a soft bag and repack.

 

How much luggage should I bring?

Keep it minimal. One set of riding kit for the tour and a couple of sets of clothes for the evening. You can always pick up cheap clothing locally. 

 

Isn't India full of snakes?

Yes it's full of snakes. Don't bring any snakes. It's full.

 

Do I need a towel?

If you're wet, yes. One small travel towel for Goa, Nepal and the Himalayas only. Although most of our hotels provide towels, there may be the occasional night you need your own.

 

Is food included in the price?

Only breakfast. You will pay for lunch and dinner, because we prefer that you make your own choices on where you eat and you will find Indian food substantially cheaper than meals at home.

 

I don't like curry, what can I eat?

We would firstly suggest that you avoid too much curry, purely on the grounds that you don't like it. Indian cuisine has much more to offer than what we in the West are offered in most 'Indian' restaurants. In many destinations, Western-style food is available and where it is not, less spicy food can be arranged. As an alternative, it is possible to bring your own pre-packed camping meals and add hot water. 

 

Is it possible to milk shrews in order to make shrew's cheese?

Yes, but it's a very tricky procedure requiring specialist equipment and best left to the experts.

 

Are laundry facilities available on-tour?

They are, but not every night. Check the itineraries of Tours you will be able to get clothes cleaned at two-night stops, so consider this when packing.

 

Do I require a pollution mask?

Not specifically. Pollution is not a problem except in the major cities, but some roads are dusty so a facemask, snood, or scarf can be useful.

 

Do I need waterproofs?

Yes. If your riding kit isn't waterproof, then bring some light waterproofs.

 

Do I need to bring a sleeping bag?

For the Himalayan tours a light, compact bag will add to your comfort.

 

What medication should I bring & what inoculations are required?

Consult your GP/travel clinic for immunisation and malaria advice. Bring enough of any prescribed medication you take regularly. A basic first aid kit is useful (plasters, antiseptic cream, bite/sting relief, plus insect repellent). Any serious medical problems will be dealt with by the tour medic.

 

Should I bring a seat pad?

Gel or air pads add comfort on long days in the saddle, but are not necessary.

 

Should I bring a sports bra?

If you like. We don't really know you that well yet and so consider your underwear requirements to be your own business.

 

Should I bring a water carrier?

As air-fares are so high these days, better to hire one locally, or carry your own water. Packaged drinking water is readily available throughout our routes, which you may wish to transfer into a CamelBak, or similar device.

 

Do I need gloves?

Proper bike gloves are essential. Check this site's information on Clothing Advice for a comprehensive guide to what you'll need.

 

I've read that on your southern tours there will be the opportunity to spot wild 'bison'. Surely the only bison sub-species reside in European and North American populations. Are we being taken for fools?

Yes, unfortunately guidebooks and indeed most guides themselves can be short on taxonomical understanding. The 'Indian bison' is properly known as a 'gaur' and is the largest bovine (cow) species.

 

How do I tell the difference between a buffalo and a bison?

You can't wash your hands in a buffalo.

 

Should I bring anything else out from England?

Oh yes, there are cravings we struggle to meet. We overworked staff, bereft of the comforts of our native environs, have predilections for fine wines and tawny port. To accompany the above we require, nay beg the solace of, fine French cheeses and cured meats, possibly including saucisson (or Italian/Spanish near-equivalents). Actually we're really not that fussy and any decent booze will do, for off-duty amusements only, you understand. Bring such treats and you will be treated as a minor deity (being elevated to a god-like status is not compulsory; omnipotence subject to germs and contritions).

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