Darjeeling Tea Tour 2015

A Once In A Lifetime Experience

April 7 – 13, 2015

Know Before You Go

Introduction Darjeeling Tour Highlights
Know Before You GoRequired Forms for Registrants

Reservations Close on March 1, 2015

darjeeling2The best time to visit India is between September and April when temperatures are cooler and therefore ideal for sightseeing. In the summer months of May to July it is less crowded and conditions are perfect for sightseeing and photography, although parts of India are extremely hot. July signals the start of the monsoon or wet season that continues until early September. Although the weather is humid, the days are punctuated by intermittent rainfall and the monsoon in India is actually quite spectacular and quite refreshing.

Health Requirements: 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 take anti-Malarial medication.

Currency:  The Indian Rupees (INR) is non-exportable and only available in India. Pounds Sterling, US Dollars and Euros are easily exchanged upon arrival at any major bank or your hotel. ATM’s are also available in all major towns and cities. If planning on using your ATM card while in India, please let your bank know of your travel plans prior to departure to avoid your bank assuming that the transaction is fraudulent and blocking your card. Exchange rates are subject to fluctuation.

Voltage:  Standard voltage is 230-240V (usually 240V). 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.

Essential Packing: 

  • A  daypack for your day-to-day essentials.
  • Photocopy of your passport data pages.
  • Insect repellant to guard against mosquitos
  • Spare camera batteries/memory card.
  • Pencils, pens, and paper.
  • Buy some Indian Rupees at the airport on arrival.

Domestic Flights

If you have independently booked domestic flights separate to that of your international flights, please be mindful that free baggage allowance for Economy Class travel on all flights within India is 15kg with 7kg of hand luggage. Business Class travel offers considerably more. Additional weight is charged at INR250 per kilo.

Please have your tour voucher handy and make it available to our representative who will be waiting for you in the arrivals hall, holding a prominent On The Go Tours logo signboard, ready to escort you to our awaiting transportation and onward to your hotel. If, for any reason you have trouble locating our representative (after waiting 20 minutes in the arrival hall) or your flight to India is delayed,  please call the emergency contact number as stated on your tour voucher. Please do not leave the airport or go to the hotel on your own. Call our emergency contact number and follow the advice given by our local team.

Language:  English enjoys associate status but is the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication; Hindi is the national language and primary tongue of 30% of the people; there are 14 other official languages.  Hindustani is a popular variant of Hindi/Urdu spoken widely throughout northern India, but is not an official language.

Visas: All foreign nationals must obtain a visa for a visit to India and it is essential the visa be procured prior to travel.  A 6-month single entry visa (valid from the date of issue) is issued for most nationals planning to visit India. If you are planning to visit a neighboring country such as Nepal, Bhutan or Sri Lanka and return to India you will require a multiple entry visa which must be procured in advance of travel. In order to obtain this, you will need to provide the embassy with a detailed itinerary and full flight information, showing the dates and ports of exit and re-entry to India. Visa requirements are subject to change and visa procurement prior to departure is solely the responsibility of the traveler and not of On The Go Tours. Please also ensure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months from your planned date of return from India.

ATMs & Credit Cards:  Exchange facilities are available at various bureau de changes, banks and at most hotels. Bring clean, unmarked cash in US Dollars (not USD 100 bills as these are hard to change), Euro or Pound Sterling. Commission charges vary from place to place and bank to bank. ATMs are available in all major towns and cities. We recommend you take a mixture of cash and credit/debit cards (for ATM usage). Please avoid bringing Travellers Cheques as they can sometimes be difficult to change. Credit cards are an acceptable means of payment in most major tourist centers, including larger shops and businesses.

Before leaving home inform your bank that you will be travelling to India, as otherwise your bank may think that your transaction made in India is fraudulent and withhold funds until you contact them

Taxis & Rickshaws:  Taxis are cheap and readily available in most of the bigger towns in India. Most of them possess meters, although taxi drivers who actually use their meter are rare! Try and get an idea of the likely fare before you leave your hotel. The front desk staff or your tour guide should be able to assist you. Then negotiate with the driver before departure. Motorized three-wheel rickshaws are available for hire throughout the country. Powered by a 2-stroke motorcycle engine with a driver upfront and seating for 2 – 3 at the rear, with no doors and a canvas roof, these kamikaze rickshaws weave their way speedily through oncoming traffic. The ride will be fast, efficient and certainly an experience! Always negotiate the price you want to pay before setting off. Offering around 50% of the asking price is the general rule of thumb, though you’ll always pay more than the going rate for a local.

Begging:  With more than 350 million people in India living on less than USD$2 per day, inevitably you will come across many people begging for money. Begging actually has a legitimate place in Indian society. Even poor people give to beggars or charities to earn religious merit. The Indian government, however, would like to regulate begging more stringently. Though begging is common, you are not under obligation to give money. If you choose to give money to beggars, we advise you to do this from the vehicle and not on the street.

Religion:  More than 80% Hinduism. The remaining 20% comprise followers of Islam (12%), Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism and other minority beliefs.

Government:  India is a constitutional democracy. There are 28 states and 7 union territories. Parliament is bicameral; the lower house is known as the Lok Sabha (House of the People) and the upper house is known as the Rajya Sabha (Council of States).

Water:  Do not drink the tap water in India, it is advisable for visitors to always drink bottled water. Bottled water in India comes in two types – packaged drinking water  and pure mineral water such as the Bisleri brand. There is a difference between them. Packaged drinking water is water that has been treated and made healthy for drinking, while mineral water has been obtained naturally at its underground source and hygienically bottled. Both are safe to drink, although mineral water is better as it is chemical free.

Food:  India’s vast range of climates, cultures and peoples has produced a very diverse culinary repertoire. Curry is the word that springs to mind when people think of Indian food. Believe it or not, there is no such thing as ‘curry’ in India. It is an English invention, an all-purpose term to cover the whole gamut of Indian spicing. Although all Indian food is certainly not curry, this is the basis of Indian cuisine. Curry does not have to be hot, although it can be made that way if you ask.  Rather, for the most part, Indian food is very aromatic, since the spices used by Indian chefs and cooks in India do not arrive in the cooking pot via a pre-packed tub of spice. Indian chefs and cooks have about 25 spices on their regular list and it is from these that they produce the curry flavor. Normally spices are freshly ground with a pestle and mortar, and blended in certain combinations to produce varying flavors and heat. It is the freshness of the spices that transform the dish. Curries can be vegetable, meat, lamb, mutton, or chicken in content, though never beef. The cow is sacred to the Hindu people and India in general, so it is extremely rare to see beef on any menu across the country. Lamb also substitutes beef at McDonalds in India. Ask for a Maharajah Mac.

Street food, although tasty and fabulous looking, cannot always be relied upon to have been safely and hygienically prepared, so to this end, we suggest you sample ‘street style’ food from an established restaurant or from somewhere recommended by your tour leader.

If Indian food becomes too much and you wish to escape to something familiar, Western-style food is available. Many menus in hotels and restaurants will feature dishes loosely based on Western recipes with perhaps just a hint of curry flavoring or spice. Indians like to experiment with other cuisine as well. Chinese cuisine in India is often very good. In the bigger cities, you will find restaurants specializing in international cuisine, not to mention American fast food chains.

Not Like Home:  Travel to far–flung corners of the earth involves lifestyles and conditions that are sometimes very different from what you are used to back home. You must come prepared to cope with unusual situations, local inadequacies, and unpredictable events as and when they occur. Foreign travel is definitely not suitable for people who expect or demand everything to go exactly as planned. Things can and do change in foreign countries. Experience India with an open mind; expect the unexpected and you’ll have a ball. India is a country of unparalleled contrasts, a destination where you will be afforded a unique encounter. Wherever the compass points in India, the people, their customs, creed, and language are different from one region to the next. India is as vast as it is crowded, and as opulent as it is squalid. India is exciting, intense and diverse-an all embracing experience, a veritable assault on the senses. Sometimes the poverty will get you down, Indian bureaucracy can test your patience and sometimes facing another traffic jam will seem almost too much to bear. Yet, it’s all worth it. India is far from the easiest country in the world to travel around, but your tour operator will take the sting out of it. Our holidays combine comfortable transportation, comprehensive sightseeing and good hotels, allowing you to concentrate on getting the most out of your stay. Despite some of the inevitable ‘ups and downs’ of traveling in India, you will generally be accorded great respect. In return, please demonstrate sensitivity and respect for local customs.

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Required Forms for Registrants