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India

Activity
Cycle
Duration
10 days
Grade
Grade 1

About the challenge

We cycle through National Parks, home to tigers and a huge diversity of other wildlife, and finish at India’s most iconic monument, the Taj Mahal. This is a tough, hot but ultimately unforgettable challenge through an historic and beautiful area known for its characteristic old palaces, forts and painted houses.

India offers a broad diversity of landscapes, people and wildlife, with an incredible mix of colourful cultures and a sense of history at every turn. From the most peaceful, serene landscapes to noisy, vibrant, bustling cities – an unforgettable experience!

 

 

Dates & prices

   
Departs Days Charity Availability Registration fee   Fundraising target   Payment option  
06 Mar 2015 10 Open challenge Spaces £299 + £3600 Or £1600 Book now
06 Nov 2015 10 Open challenge Spaces £299 + £3600 £1600 Book now

The itinerary

Day 1: Fly London to Delhi

Day 2: Arrive Delhi

Make our way to our hotel, where we can check in and relax. In the afternoon we’ll meet up again for a trip briefing before dinner.

Day 3: Train Delhi – Jaipur 
Train journey approx 4.5 hrs

An early transfer to the railway station sees us on board our train to Jaipur in time for breakfast! Travelling by train is a wonderful introduction to Indian life and it’s exciting to watch the world go by as we whizz through the colourful countryside, which gradually becomes more arid as we near Jaipur. Rajasthan’s capital was the setting for ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ and is known as the Pink City because of the terracotta colour of many of its buildings. After checking in to our hotel and preparing our bikes ready for the challenge ahead, we’ll meet our local support team and then head off to explore the city. There should be time to visit the famous Observatory, or Jantar Mantar – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – as well as the City Palace and the striking Hawa Mahal, or ‘Palace of the Winds’. Night hotel.

Day 4: Jaipur – Bhanderej
Cycle approx 80km / 5 – 6 hrs

Our cycle challenge begins! Our destination today is the 11th-century village of Bhanderej, but first we make time to visit the magnificent Amber Fort, a hill-top fort perched above the city. It’s possible to ride elephants through the narrow cobbled streets to the entrance gate, and you may see monkeys playing on the fort walls. We then head east to Bhanderej. Cycling through the streets of Jaipur is an unforgettable experience, as we join rickshaws, bicycles, motorcycles and camels pulling carts laden with all manner of produce! Heading out into the countryside, we are able to appreciate the scenery around us: beautiful green-brown hills surround us, dotted with small trees and scrub, hill-top forts silhouetted against the sky. The roads are quite quiet now as we head east, passing small villages and plots of farmland. Our route is predominantly flat, but it’s a long, hot day and we’ll be glad to reach our destination, where we stay in a Maharaja’s palace. Night hotel.

Day 5: Bhanderej – Ranthambore National Park
Cycle approx 70km / 5 – 6 hrs

Our route today follows trails made by the many pilgrims, traders and armies whose journeys reflect the rich cultural history of this region. We pass Hindu settlements, temples and shepherd encampments, and start to gain a real insight into the way of local life. Vibrantly-clad children wave to us as we pass their houses, sacred cows dot the roadside and brightly-coloured truck-buses pass us, passengers riding on the roofs. Cycling through a variety of terrain we head towards Ranthambore National Park – famous for its magnificent tigers and its conservation projects. There are also many other species living here, including samba, cheetah, wild boar, leopard, sloth bear, jackal and hyena. We stay in a hotel just outside the Park. Night hotel.

Day 6: Ranthambore National Park – Karauli
Cycle approx 105km / 7 – 8 hrs

An early start for our sunrise safari into Ranthambore National Park, where we can spot wildlife from canters (open minibuses). Formerly a hunting ground for Maharajas, the National Park is one of Rajasthan’s few areas of lush jungle and grassland and forms a great contrast to the landscapes we have seen so far. The terrain is diverse with open bush, dense forest, grassland and jungle, and we can enjoy the views of the surrounding steep craggy hills while keeping alert for signs of wildlife. Back on our bikes, our route then takes us past small villages to Karauli, an ancient holy city dotted with bright blue buildings and home to an impressive palace. Night hotel.

Day 7: Karauli to Keoladeo Ghana National Park C
ycle approx 120km / 7 – 8hrs

We continue our Indian adventure, heading north over hillier terrain through more villages and towns. We’ll be more used to the sights around us now, but will still enjoy seeing colourfully-clothed children waving to us from their houses, cows in the road and people on the roofs of the local brightly-coloured truck-buses. We gain a greater insight into the lives of the local people with every mile that we pedal! This diverse state is the home of the Rajputs, a group of warrior clans and tribes who have controlled this part of India for thousands of years. Today’s destination is Keoladeo National Park, where we’ll see plenty of other people cycling as in order to preserve the park and wildlife, bicycles are the only vehicle permitted. Home to hundreds of bird species, the water marshes attract thousands of water birds, which create an impressive sight. It is also home to the peacock, which is India’s national bird. We may also see mammals such as the sambhar, blackbuck, chital, nilgai, fishing cat, otter and mongoose. Night hotel.

Day 8: Keoladeo Ghana National Park – Fatehpur Sikri – Agra
Cycle 80km approx / 6 – 7 hrs

We leave the National Park behind us and head for the impressive ‘ghost’ city of Fatehpur Sikri. Capital of the Mughal Empire, it was built in the 16th century and abandoned little more than 10 years afterwards. Now its almost perfectly-preserved sandstone buildings, which include mosques, palaces and living areas, allow an unique glimpse into the civilisation. From the rocky ridge the city sits upon we cycle our last section, to Agra and the Taj Mahal. We leave picturesque rural India behind us, with its fascinating villages and waving children, and enter the frenetic streets of this famous city. Reaching our hotel, we can wash off the dust and celebrate our amazing achievement! Night hotel.
(Dinner not included)

Day 9: Taj Mahal; Train Agra – Delhi
Train journey approx 5 hrs

Taj Mahal at sunrise is an unmissable experience and a wonderful finale to our Indian challenge. This incredible monument – built by the Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his wife in the 17th century – changes hue as the sun grows stronger and the shadows recede. We have plenty of time to explore and soak up the peaceful atmosphere. We then make our way back to Delhi by train and transfer to our hotel.

Day 10: Fly Delhi to London

Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.

The route

Detailed information

What's Included?

The cost includes all accommodation as well as all flights and transport; internal air tax; all meals except one as specified in the itinerary, and entrance to any sites visited as part of the itinerary. A bike is also included. Experienced Discover Adventure leaders/mechanics and doctor (depending on final group size) are also included, along with a local support crew of guides, cooks and drivers.

What's Excluded?

It does not include personal travel insurance, airline fuel supplement if charged by the airline, one meal as specified, tip for local crew, or international departure tax. It also does not include any entrance fees to any optional sites or attractions. Remember to allow extra for drinks, souvenirs and other personal expenses. Please note that costs may fluctuate and we have no control over any changes. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.

Flight Information

Group flights leave from London Heathrow or Gatwick, (we regret that we are unable to book connecting flights), and are booked through Discover Adventure Ltd under ATOL licence 5636. By travelling with Discover Adventure you are protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are most likely to fly with Jet Airways, however, we don’t always fly with the same airline so this is a guideline only. You will usually receive confirmed flight details several months before departure. Our itineraries are always based on current flight schedules and are therefore subject to change by the airline. If you prefer to book your own flights please ask us for a land-only cost.

Accommodation

Hotels are comfortable and clean with private facilities, and vary from simple city hotels to former maharaja’s palaces! Please do not expect the same standards as you would in the UK!

Food

The food is great and there is plenty of it. One meal as detailed in itinerary are not included.

Dietary Requirements

Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Please do not expect as much variety as you would have access to at home – we will be in rural areas and among people of a different culture who may not understand your requirements, however willing they are to help. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in towns or cities and you are free to explore and try other culinary experiences! There is always something to suit every budget.

Trip Support

Discover Adventure Crew

Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. They are also trained in expedition first-aid. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.

All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. Although our leaders are trained in expedition first-aid, they are accompanied by an expedition doctor or medic (dependent on group size) – who is there to look after the well-being of the whole group and deal with any incidents. They help the leaders to ensure the trip runs smoothly and encourage you when things get tough.

Local Support Crew

Our local support crew is made up of local guides, drivers and cooks. Your local guide knows the local area well, and is a great source of knowledge about local customs and lifestyles. Drivers and cooks do not always speak English but are very friendly and approachable. The Discover Adventure crew work closely with the local crew to ensure your trip runs smoothly and safely. Your leader will arrange a collection of tips for the local support crew at the end of your ride. Tipping is not obligatory, but once you see how hard they work on your behalf you will be happy to donate something! All our local crew are paid wages, but bear in mind that the average wage in this country is far below what you would spend on a normal night out.

Luggage

Support vehicles are with the group all the time. All luggage, spares, food and water is carried by them. Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should also bring a small daypack or large waist-pack for items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening.

Trip Safety

Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency satellite phones, mobile extensive medical kit, first-aid kits and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate.
Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance is all done with your safety in mind.

Preparing for the challenge

Cycling Information

Terrain

Distances vary from 70-120km per day. Cycling is predominantly on tarmac roads – surfaces are generally uneven, worn and pot-holed. There are some dirt tracks. The cycling is varied, with some days predominantly flat and some with gradual climbs, which can be very demanding in the heat. Although the off-road sections are non-technical, we recommend you have some experience of cycling on tracks so you know what to expect. We are travelling through remote areas and weather may have an impact on road conditions. Traffic is usually light and we will cycle at our own pace, but when we pass through a large town we go through as a group. We will always take safety into consideration and reserve the right to change the itinerary on that basis.

Bikes

We will be using 21-speed mountain bikes fitted with semi slick tyres. If you are unsure whether to take your own bike or use one of ours, please just contact us.
It is imperative that you supply your own helmet and wear it at all times while cycling, with straps done up.

Bike Repairs

There will be a range of spares in the vehicle along with a full tool kit; however, it is impossible for us to carry spares for every eventuality. It is vital that if you bring your own bike it is in excellent working order before departure.

Clothing & Equipment

We are travelling through remote areas where we could be exposed to difficult conditions at any time. The information above gives you an idea of the climate, but be prepared for all weathers and temperatures. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.

Weather

Temperatures range from pleasantly mild to hot! Rain is unlikely outside the monsoon season, though we should be prepared for anything! It can be windy, and there are occasional cold spells. Humidity is generally very low.

Fitness Levels

Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.

Passport & Visa

A valid ten-year passport is essential; it should be valid for at least six months after departure from India. There is also a visa requirement for UK citizens; other nationalities should check entry requirements. For UK nationals, India has outsourced its visa application services to VF Services (http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk) and applications at the embassy in London are no longer accepted. There are also Indian Visa Application Centres in London, Hayes, Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Vaccinations

We insist that you have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years, and highly recommend protection against Polio, Hepatitis A and Typhoid. There is a risk of malaria in some regions, so check for the most up-to-date advice. You should always check with your GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.

Cultural Differences

For most people, the main attraction of travelling to a different country is to see new sights and enjoy new experiences. Sometimes those new experiences can make life harder or more inconvenient than you may like, such as toilet hygiene or different food, or simply a different attitude to solving problems. This is all part of the challenge you are signing up for! We are very privileged to live in a country with a high standard of living, and travelling exposes us to different challenges – all of which help broaden our horizons. We can guarantee that coming face-to-face with experiences outside your normal ‘comfort zone’ will help you bond with your fellow cyclists and provide you with plenty of things to laugh about! A sense of humour and sense of adventure are two of the most important things to bring with you!

Worldwide Sustainable Tourism

Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through.  AITO, our Trade Association, has recognised the work we do in this area and has awarded us 5 stars as a Responsible Tour Operator.

Discover Adventure Projects

We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up.

Carbon Offsetting

We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with TCV and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org or call 01302 388883.

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