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If India and Nepal are calling your name, this is your sign. On this 20-day adventure, you'll eat your weight in delicious street food, witness the majesty of one of the Seven Wonders of the World (the Taj Mahal of course) and cruise down the holy Ganges in Varanasi. Hang in Buddha's hometown (Lumbini), search for sloth bears and rhinos at Chitwan National Park and traverse colourful Kathmandu. Pull on your adventure boots and dive into a rafting experience in Pokhara, camp on the beach and enjoy dinner beneath the stars by the Trisuli River, then trek the Annapurna Circuit. Enjoy the chance to stay with local families along the way, including in a remote village in Hemjakot where you might choose to tuck into a home-cooked dinner with your newfound crew. End it all back in Nepal's capital and take your newfound spirituality, cooking skills, adventurous spirit or all three back home!
DelhiNamaste! Welcome to India. This Himalayan adventure kicks off in Delhi – the capital territory of India’s north. Meet your trip leader and new travel buddies at a 6 pm welcome meeting tonight. If you arrive early, there's plenty to do in this wonderfully chaotic city. Maybe wander the streets, sip on your first chai or practice haggling in one of the many markets. Tonight, ask your leader for the best nightlife spots and perhaps grab a drink with your group.
TordiYour next destination takes a bit of work to get to, but that’s because it’s a secret, tucked away haven away from the prying eyes of the everyday tourist. You’ll journey through?picturesque countryside by train to a unique stay in Tordi – this remote and rarely visited village offers a fantastic glimpse into the real Rajasthan. Tonight, sleep in an 18th-century palace with its owner as your host. There's a ruined temple and fortress nearby that you can explore, and then you can settle in and savour the delicious local flavours with a home-cooked dinner.
JaipurKick on to Jaipur – India's super pretty Pink City. You'll have plenty of free time here to?haggle to your heart's content at the bazaars and backstreets, where vendors sell a variety of textiles, precious and semi-precious gems and stunning blue pottery. Drop by one of India’s finest palaces – the Royal City Palace – where the guards’ moustaches are almost as impressive as the building itself. Foodies will want to hit the streets for raj kachori chaat (a big fluffy chaat served with chutney, yoghurt, chilli and potato). Then, maybe cool off with a lassi from Lassiwala on MI road – Jaipur's oldest and most famous lassi shop. Tonight, cinema buffs won’t want to miss a Bollywood blockbuster at the spectacular Raj Mandir Cinema.
JaipurIf you're keen on a different view of the Pink City, an optional early morning hot air balloon ride is a trip highlight for many visitors. Later in the?morning, you’ll drop by Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) – the impressive five-storey facade with pink and honeycombed windows is the most photographed building in the country after the Taj?Mahal. After, it’s out to the old capital of Amber where you’ll explore?the hilltop fort complex known as the Amber Fort. The rest of the?day is free for you to use as you like – maybe ask your leader for the best spot for dinner and pick up a biryani or a tasty plate of chicken tikka masala.
AgraTake advantage of the chance to rub shoulders with the locals today on a five-hour public bus ride to Agra – this might not be the prettiest city in the world, but the minute you see the Taj Mahal, all other worries will fade away. You’ve made it to one of the Seven Wonders of the World – India's most enduring symbol and an epic monument to love and loss. For some reason, local families find it more interesting to take photos of you than the actual Taj Mahal! But you'll be too busy standing there with your mouth gaping open to notice. Take your time taking in the delight of this gorgeous monument and make sure you grab an epic Instagram – you won’t want to forget this!
Agra - Overnight trainToday is free to explore at your leisure. Agra Fort is a spectacular option where you can stroll the palatial gardens of this red sandstone stronghold and get some great views of the Taj Mahal from afar. For a meal that makes a difference while in Agra, consider visiting Sheroes Hangout, a remarkable social enterprise that supports survivors of acid attacks. Then, it's on to the next stop – Varanasi. Tonight, it’s time for a unique slice of Indian life aboard an overnight train.
VaranasiArrive in one of the holiest cities in the country this morning. Varanasi is the ultimate destination for Hindu pilgrims who travel far and wide to experience the spirituality of this city. Overflowing with temples, shrines and devotees, this is a super interesting place to explore. Maybe take the chance to perfect your yoga in one of the epic chakra-balancing spots. Or just chill out and soak in the meditative surroundings, ready for your early start tomorrow.
VaranasiToday’s an early start, but it’s completely worth it – you’ll take a sunrise boat ride?along the sacred Ganges, a true revelation. Even if you're not spiritual, you can't help but get goosebumps during this experience. Pass the many ghats (stairs leading?to the water) and temples along the river and watch thousands of?Hindu pilgrims cleanse their sins in the holy water as the sun bathes the surrounds in glorious shades of amber and orange. After, maybe hop on an auto rickshaw to the oldest part of the city to explore its maze of?narrow alleyways packed full of small shops, stalls and lumbering cows. See pilgrims performing rituals unchanged for hundreds of years and pass chiming temples as wafts of incense fill the air.
India/Nepal border crossing - LumbiniWave goodbye to India as you travel to the border (Sunauli border crossing) and enter Nepal. Make sure to charge up your music and fish out your book, as it's a long day of travel today. Arrive in Lumbini. No ordinary border town, this is the birthplace of Gautama Buddha – the founder of Buddhism and one of his four holy places of pilgrimage. Check out the beautiful Ashoka Pillars and hop on cycle rickshaws to the Maya Devi Temple – the actual site where Buddha is thought to have been born.
Chitwan National ParkPut on your safari hat this morning, as you’ll drive to Chitwan National Park – UNESCO declared this park a World Heritage Site in 1984 and it offers some of the best wildlife viewing in Asia. Think the Jungle Book coming to life with rhinos, deer, monkeys and a wide array of birds, including Nepalese wild chickens. Tonight, you’ll stay in a lodge near the park, listening out for the roars of tigers as you fall asleep to the sounds of nature
Chitwan National ParkThis morning you’ll hop aboard a jeep, meet your local guide and take a fun safari drive through Chitwan National Park. Look out for elephants and rhinos and if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of one of the 100-or-so Bengal Tigers that call the park home. There are also a number of optional activities available through your accommodation this afternoon, including biking, bird watching, cultural performances, canoe rides and village tours. Whatever you choose, whether it’s an active cycle through the park or a leisurely float along the river, you’re sure to have a gorgeous afternoon.
KathmanduToday, you’ll travel to your final destination – the Nepalese patchouli–scented capital of Kathmandu. Maybe book in for a massage or a yoga session when you arrive to ease those body kinks and settle into a meditative state. With the rest of your free time, you can visit the giant Buddhist Stupa at Bodnath or head out into the narrow streets – home to holy men, monks, bicycles and sacred cows. Got a sweet tooth? Take one soft, fluffy ball of buffalo milk dough, deep fried until it's the texture of a doughnut, dropped into sugar syrup flavoured with cardamom powder, rose essence and saffron and eat! Your leader will know where to grab these delicacies. If you like, just chill out with a cool drink or grab some dinner with your group tonight. Kathmandu has some great spots for nightlife too, so you might want to say cheers to an epic trip and celebrate your last night together.
KathmanduToday is a free day in Kathmandu – maybe visit the most important Buddhist shrine, Swayambhunath Stupa and the nearby ‘City of Devotees’ Bhaktapur. If you want to delve deeper into ancient architecture and rich cultural heritage, there are some Urban Adventures day tours that can help you out (just see www.urbanadventures.com). You’ll have another meeting tonight at 6 pm to meet your new group members. After, why not go out for dinner or hit up one of the nearby bars? Your leader will have a tonne of recommendations for a great place for a cocktail (or two).?
Trisuli RiverTake a morning drive over the rim of the Kathmandu Valley and soak up the views of the Ganesh and Lantang ranges. Then hit the waters for some whitewater rafting on the Trisuli River – this is the most popular river for rafting in all of Nepal. Soak up the thrill of the rapids, aptly named Ladies Delight, Rock Garden and Snell's Nose, among the beauty of the nearby gorges. Explore the magnificent scenery from the rapids, and then tonight, camp on the beach and enjoy a local meal under the stars.
Trisuli River - PokharaThis morning is for some more fun on the river, including negotiating the Monsoon and Upset rapids. In Kurintar, refuel your energy with a light lunch with your group and then drive to Pokhara. When you arrive, take an afternoon walk around the city with your leader, who will point out some of the best sights and sounds in the area including the gorgeous Phewa Lake. This evening is free for you to chill out at one of the many lakeside restaurants or bars. Maybe get yourself a plate of momos (dumplings) or a nourishing bowl of dal bhat (thick lentil or bean soup) for dinner tonight.
Meals: Breakfast Dinner
Ghandruk (1950m / 6397ft)Today, you’ll make the drive from Pokhara to Shyauli Bazaar – this is where the trekking adventure begins! Your hike is mostly uphill today on some pretty diverse terrain. There’s a dirt track leading to Birethanti and Shyauli villages, then you’ll reach a stone staircase up to Kimche, where you’ll stop for lunch. There are gorgeous views of snowcapped mountains and expansive fields below, so make sure you’ve got your camera. From here, you’ll follow the stone flags that lead you through fields of wheat to Ghandruk. Tonight, you'll stay in your first Nepalese teahouse.
Tolkha (1700m / 5577ft)Look east this morning – that’s Landruk, the next village on your route.?Look down – that’s the Modi Kola River 600 m below. Your breakfast this morning will be a refreshing start, with a mountain view so you can take it all in. When you’ve refuelled, start the trek towards Tolkha – where you’ll be staying for the night. Along the way, take in the diverse scenery of the river below, the mountain above and the wild landscape on every side. The Annapurna range makes for a pretty great photo subject (and she’s not shy, either).
Hemjakot (1530m / 5019ft)This morning after some breakfast, you’ll continue your trek from Tolkha to Hemjakot – the best spot to connect with some locals. As you start today’s walk, you’ll notice you’re surrounded by pink and purple rhododendrons. Do you know what you won’t see much of? Other people – this trail from Dhampus to Hemjakot is pretty remote, giving you the chance to really switch off and enjoy the scenery. Tonight, you’ll stay with a local family. The homes in Hemjakot reflect the traditional style of this part of the Himalayas and are made from natural stones from this region. This displays a domestic style of architecture that has largely been overshadowed in Nepal's big cities. When you arrive, you’ll experience the rural way of life in the mountains, gaining insight into the local culture of the Gurung population, who migrated here from Tibet.
PokharaSay goodbye to your new friends in Hemjakot and head out again – this morning’s trek is a short descent to Phedi. When you arrive, you’ll take a transfer to Pokhara and arrive in time for lunch. Enjoy some free time in the afternoon to do all the things you didn’t do the first time around in Pokhara – a popular choice is taking a rowboat (doonga) out on Phewa Lake. If there are blue skies today, you’ll have mountain views for miles! After, maybe check out the Tal Barahi Temple and the Shree Bindhyabasini Temple, which are both free to explore.
KathmanduIt’s a long bus ride back to Kathmandu (so bring some snacks, road trip games and a good book). When you arrive, maybe grab a banana lassi to soak away the bus ride and say goodbye to your fellow travellers – with no further activities planned, your trip comes to an end this afternoon. If you’d like to stay longer and explore Kathmandu’s nightlife further (what better way to celebrate a good trek?), just speak to your booking agent.
- Tordi - Home-cooked Dinner
- Jaipur - Leader-led walking & market tour
- Jaipur - Amber Fort
- Jaipur - Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Wind) Photo Stop
- Agra - Taj Mahal
- Varanasi - Sunrise Ganges boat trip
- Varanasi - Leader-led Old City walking tour
- Lumbini - Heritage Park
- Lumbini - Maya Devi Temple
- Chitwan National Park - Park Entry
- Chitwan National Park – Jeep Safari
- Trisuli River - White Water Rafting (Grade 3)
- Trisuli River – Riverside Camping
- Trisuli River - White Water Rafting (Grade 3)
- Annapurna Region – 3 Night / 4 Days Trekking
- Hemjakot - Community Homestay
- Pokhara - Orientation Walk
1 Breakfast(s) Included
2 Lunch(es) Included
2 Dinner(s) Included
Health and Safety Protocols for Intrepid Tours
Protection against COVID-19 as well as other transmissible diseases requires enhanced protocols in hygiene and sanitation. We will put in place additional measures, in line with government health advice and with global health authorities (including the WHO and CDC) to ensure that we maintain the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene.
Handwashing is one of the most important safety measures to prevent the spread of disease. Intrepid will actively reinforce its importance by:
- Implementing a handwashing policy that dictates when, how often and for how long all staff, leaders and crew must wash their hands on-trip.
- Promote the importance of hand hygiene to customers through signage and online customer material.
- Contract suppliers that have hand hygiene protocols in place
- Contract suppliers that provide hand sanitizer in public places (where applicable)
- Educate staff, leaders, crew and suppliers on the importance of hand hygiene via training.
Practicing good respiratory hygiene prevents the spread of disease by reducing the number of droplets in the air when you sneeze or cough. Intrepid will:
- Actively reinforce its importance to customers through signage and online customer material.
- Educate staff, leaders, crew and suppliers on the importance of respiratory hygiene via training.
- Contract suppliers who have respiratory hygiene protocols in place.
In addition, in areas with high community transmission and/or places that are difficult to maintain physical distancing, we recommend the the following at-risk people also wear them. Intrepid follows the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO) that masks should only be used as part of a comprehensive prevention strategy and that the use of a mask alone is not sufficient to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Physical distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene must also form part of the strategy.
On our trips, regardless of destination, the following people must wear medical/surgical masks:
- Anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 regardless of whether or not they have been tested yet.
- People caring for people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases (outside of hospitals/clinics).
In addition, in areas with high community transmission and/or places that are difficult to maintain physical distancing, we recommend the following at-risk people also wear them.
- People over 60
- People with underlying health conditions
- Provide medical/surgical masks as part of the First Aid Kits carried by leaders.
- Educate leaders, crew, staff and customers on the correct method to wear, handle and dispose of a mask.
- Require all customers, leaders and staff to comply with any local regulations or requirements that require the use of a mask in public or in certain places
Intrepid follows the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO) that it is not necessary for the public to wear fabric masks generally.
However in certain circumstances, in places where community transmission of COVID-19 is high and/or physical distancing is not possible (e.g. on public transport, in shops or in other confined environments) then a fabric mask can be a useful barrier to prevent the spread of virus.
Fabric masks be purchased commercially or handmade and are generally not standardized like medical masks. Fabric masks should:
- Cover the nose, mouth, and chin
- Be secured with elastic loops or ties
- Include multiple layers
- Be washable and reusable.
Protection against COVID-19, as well as other transmissible diseases, requires enhanced sanitation processes. Intrepid will take the following measures:
- Require all suppliers to detail their cleaning and sanitation protocols
- Audit/monitor all suppliers on their cleanliness and sanitation.
- All cleaning and disinfecting products must be approved by health authorities (e.g. WHO).
- All rooms must be thoroughly cleaned between guests with all high touch surfaces in shared areas regularly cleaned and disinfected.
- Hand sanitizer should be available in public areas.
- There must be a process in place for customers to escalate any concerns regarding hygiene or sanitation.
- Staff must be trained and able to answer questions regarding safety protocols in place.
- All tents must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between use.
- If staying at a campground, ensure all bathrooms are well stocked with hand soap and paper towels. If the area is remote, with limited facilities and/or minimal staffing, then customers should be informed to bring their own hygiene equipment.
- All mini buses, transfers, charters, overland trucks must be thoroughly cleaned between guests with all high touch surfaces in shared areas regularly cleaned and disinfected.
- Hand sanitizer should be made available
- Close top bins with bin liners should be available on board and disposed of at every stop
- Must be thoroughly cleaned at the end of each day
- Tables and chairs must be disinfected after each guest use
- Avoid buffets where possible. If buffets are used, prevent customers from handling food and operating machines (e.g. self-serve coffee stations)
- Either disinfect shared use objects (e.g. table salt) between guest use. Where possible, Intrepid will try to source safe alternatives to single serve packaging.
- Staff must be trained and able to answer questions regarding safety protocols in place.
- Preferred: Provide hand sanitizer to guests at the door before entry
- All equipment must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between guest us
- Staff must be trained and able to answer questions regarding safety protocols in place.
- Limiting the number of surfaces touched by large numbers of people helps prevent the spread of disease. Therefore, it is important to proactively move towards contactless or low touch solutions for travel. Intrepid will:
- Prioritise contactless/low touch as a key feature when sourcing new tech or solutions.
- Remove any paperwork required on the ground (e.g. signing forms, feedback cards)
- If details must be entered using a shared device (e.g. insurance details), then it must be disinfected between each customer. Preference is to move entirely to digital solutions.
- Accommodation should provide online check in (no paperwork)
- Contactless keys (e.g. QR codes)
- Contactless tech (e.g. lights)
- Online ticketing for attractions and transport
- Online payment
Physical distancing is important in preventing the spread of COVID-19 as it can be transmitted via droplets sprayed when coughing, sneezing, singing, yelling etc…
Intrepid will take the following measures:
- Require all suppliers to detail their physical distancing protocols
- Follow local regulations and advice on the need for physical distancing.
- Intrepid operates product that is based on twin share accommodation and allows single travellers the chance to share accommodation with a stranger.
- We will continue to offer this as an option. Single supplements are available for single travellers who do not wish to share a room. We will work closely with accommodation suppliers to ensure increased availability of single rooms.
- Consider whether it is appropriate to offer single tents for solo travellers as customers will be much closer together than in a traditional room.
- Consider whether staggering meal times may reduce the number of people sharing a dining tent.
- Intrepid will consider the following factors when designing or amending transport options on trips.
- Local laws or requirements regarding physical distancing on transport
- Hygiene protocols of the transport provider
- Level of active community transmission in the destination
- Using designated seating on transport. Customers have assigned seats throughout the trip.
- If trip is longer than 15 minutes and air conditioning is available, it must be set to external airflow rather than to recirculation or windows should be opened for the duration of the trip.
- Designing or amending itineraries to reduce the duration of travel.
- Increasing the size of the vehicle, using multiple vehicles.
- Educate all leaders, crew, staff and customers to maintain a 1.5m distance wherever practical in public (e.g. queueing at a museum).
- Proactively design product to avoid crowds by visiting attractions at off-peak times.
- Proactively design product to avoid crowds on public transport or at airports where practical.
- Follow local regulations on table spacing and guest seating in restaurants. Wherever possible, try to ensure groups are sitting at their own table without strangers in restaurants.
- Proactively design product that focuses on experiences that assist with physical distancing (e.g. picnics over crowded marketplaces) if relevant for that destination.
Screening for COVID-19 helps isolate anyone with COVID-19 symptoms and stops the spread of disease. It is likely to become more common for future travellers.
Pre-Departure (Brand Material)
Customers should be informed as part of ‘Essential Trip Information (ETIs) or other similar trip notes if their trip is likely to include any of the following:
- Testing for COVID-19 before being able to pass through immigration and/or board planes.
- Negative test results to be uploaded for visa purposes.
- Thermal temperature checks in airports, train or bus stations, major hotels or attractions.
Pre-departure, all customers are required to fill out an online questionnaire (“self- declaration/assessment” form) to identify any high-risk customers before travel.
Extra qualifiers will be included to address customers with symptoms that can be contributed to pre-existing conditions (e.g. breathlessness to asthma).
Customers answering YES to any question should be removed from the departure and appropriate arrangements made.
Intrepid will not require a negative COVID-19 test as proof of health from customers or leaders at this stage unless it is required by local law or regulations.
This is partially due to the lack of availability of testing for people with no symptoms in many parts of the world and may change in due course.
- Ask customers, leaders, crew and staff to monitor their own health
- Display appropriate signage on COVID-19 symptoms
- Educate leaders, crew and staff on how to identify COVID-19 symptoms
- Describe COVID-19 symptoms in group meetings
If customers, leaders or crew show symptoms of COVID-19 and are either unable to or unwilling to be tested, Intrepid reserves the right to remove them from our trips to prevent any risk to others.
Flexible Booking Conditions
Customers will be supported by flexible booking conditions to stay home if unwell or displaying symptoms
Flexible Work Conditions
Intrepid will support leaders and crew to stay home rather than lead a trip if they are unwell or displaying symptoms. Schedules will need to be created with back up availability of leaders/crew.
Data Collection & Health Tracking
Intrepid will assist government health departments in tracking and tracing any customers, staff, leaders, crew or suppliers at risk of contracting COVID-19 via exposure to a known case and/or outbreak by providing relevant details in line with privacy laws and regulations.
COVID Tracking apps
Intrepid strongly recommends that customers and staff download COVID tracking apps (e.g. COVIDSafe in Australia, StayHomeSafe in Hong Kong) to assist in reducing the spread of disease within their communities.
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Question: Is Airfare Included in the Price?
Intrepid is awesome. Our guide was superb. Everything went smoothly!
Our tour guide was wonderful. She was knowledgeable, fun, energetic, and made our week run very smoothly. The trip itself was fantastic! We saw a lot and the islands are absolutely beautiful. Great food, great new friends made on the tour, and would absolutely book with Intrepid again.
Intrepid tour is great company. Will use this company again.
The trip was both both educational and exciting. I very much enjoyed the sights and culture.
The itinerary was just as I expected! The guide was very good as were the accomodations
Intrepid did such a great job. I never had to worry about where I was supposed to be and it felt so good not to worry about a thing but just to enjoy myself. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about culture and history.
Taiwan people very friendly. Accommodation were centrally located and easily accessible. Did extra activities then in brochure which was greatly.
Larus our tour guide did an excellent job and was very attentive to our needs. He is very knowledgeable and has a great sense of humor.
Our guide Tarang chandola was exceptional. Courteous, knowledgeable, organized, polite, professional and went above and beyond taking care of our needs and requests offen anticipating what that might be. He made sure we all had the best possible time and offered suggestions to meet the needs of everyone on the tour. This made the trip even more enjoyable.
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