Spirit of the Himalayas: Ladakh, Dharamsala & Shimla

May 21, 2014 - June 7, 2014

Please pay close attention to the following sections: Passport and Visa Requirements, Health Information, and Baggage Allowance.

Activity Level

This program requires a moderately high degree of physical fitness. For most activities a relatively low level of exertion is required, however, simply walking can become quite strenuous at some of the higher altitudes. Participants should be in good general health, able to hike one or two miles over sometimes uneven and rough terrain, and stand during excursions. Should you have any physical limitations, please notify us in advance of your departure.

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Arrivals and Departures

Departure / Airport Check‐In Procedures

Please arrive at the airport for your international flight at least two hours prior to departure and have access to your passport and airline E‐ticket confirmation. Do not pack your passport or other travel documents in your checked luggage. Be certain the check‐in agent properly tags your bags through to the final destination allowed, and that you have all baggage and E‐ticket receipts.

Arrival / Departure Transfers

Transfers and assistance between airports and group hotels are arranged for participants arriving and departing on group dates only.

If you are handling your own travel arrangements, please forward a copy of your itinerary to Zegrahm Expeditions as well as contact information where you can be reached prior to and after the program.

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Baggage Allowanceimportant

Because of limitations on flights within the Spirit of the Himalayas expedition, baggage on this program is restricted to one checked bag, maximum weight 20 kilograms (44 pounds), plus one small carry‐on not to exceed five kilograms (11 pounds).

PLEASE NOTE: Most airlines strictly enforce their baggage regulations. Excess baggage charges, which can be substantial, are the personal responsibility of each participant.

We recommend the use of soft‐sided luggage, as it is easier to store. Your carry‐on bag should include anything you may need in transit. We recommend that you carry with you essential toiletries, prescription medications, and a change of clothing appropriate for the initial activities of our itinerary, so that you will be more comfortable in the unlikely event that your baggage is delayed in transit or is slow to be delivered to your room upon arrival.

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Climate

Delhi is typically very hot in May and June, with temperatures ranging from 92‐103ºF (33 – 39ºC). Rain showers occur at all times of the year in this region, so prepare accordingly.

We will be at high elevations during portions of our expedition. High altitudes in India are arid due to minimal cloud-cover and a thin atmosphere. It is essential to bring warm clothing and items that will protect you from overexposure to the sun. This is an area of extremes and temperatures can fluctuate widely within one day; dressing in layers is essential.

If you wish to do your own research on the region’s climate, you may want to check local weather conditions on the Internet, the Weather Channel, or Accuweather shortly before departure.

The following are average high/low temperatures in May and June for selected locations on our itinerary:

 

High

Low

Delhi

103º

81º

Leh 68º 41º
Amritsar 100º 76º
Shimla 74º 59º

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Currency

As of December 2013, the exchange rate is as follows:

$1 US dollar = 62.35 Indian rupees

ATMs are a good option for obtaining local currency in Delhi, but are uncommon in the small communities we will visit. Most of your expenses have been prepaid; therefore, we recommend that you carry most of your spending money in local currency. We suggest that you obtain enough local currency for the entire trip upon arrival in Delhi. Please make sure you have a four‐digit PIN for your debit or credit card if you wish to use ATMs.

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Documentation

You will receive your Pre‐Departure Packet—including a Personal Information Form that will need to be returned to Zegrahm, a complete packing list, reading list, gift certificates, and visa kit—approximately five months prior to departure. Final documents—including a final itinerary, contact list and staff biographies—will be sent approximately one month prior.

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Electricity

Electricity in India operates at 230 V/50hz. If you plan on bringing standard, North American, 110v appliances, you will also need an electrical converter to run them, unless they have a dual‐voltage switch, and the appropriate plug adapters. Outlets fit either flat or round three‐prong plugs. Occasionally, round, two prong, European style outlets are also found. 

PLEASE NOTE: Some appliances, such as video camera battery packs, require heavy‐duty converters rather than the normal travel type. Please check your equipment to be sure you bring what is necessary for your personal needs.

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Extending Your Stay

Interested in extending your stay? Speak with one of our Expedition Advisors to find out how easy it is for you to stay an extra night or two. Or, our Private Travel department is available to design customized extended stays for individuals, families, and groups of friends—the same horizon‐broadening adventures and life‐changing experiences as our group expedition, but on a flexible, intimate, and personalized scale. Call 800.628.8747 or 206.285.4000 for more information.

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Flight Information

Flights are not included in the cost of expeditions; however, Zegrahm has a fully‐staffed air department that can assist you with flight arrangements.

You will need to purchase airfare from your home city/Delhi and Delhi/home city. For more detailed information, please contact our in‐house Air Department for fare quotes, reservations, or other air-related questions.

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Health Informationimportant

Health Advice

A yellow fever vaccination is not required for anyone strictly following our group itinerary. If you are deviating from the group itinerary, please be advised that a yellow fever vaccination is required for entry into India if arriving within six days after leaving or transiting infected or endemic areas within Africa and South America. Please refer to the World Health Organization website for a list of yellow fever endemic countries.

Yellow fever vaccinations, valid for life, must be given at official centers designated by your state’s health departments. The International Certificate of Vaccination must be validated by the center that administers the vaccine and carried with you on your trip. Your local or state health department can provide information regarding the locations and hours of yellow fever vaccination centers.

No other vaccinations are required for this expedition at this time.

Leh is situated at 11,000 feet, and altitude sickness may occur. High‐altitude medication, such as Diamox, is highly recommended for this expedition. Travelers with heart conditions or high blood pressure should discuss with their doctors the precautions needed for travel at these elevations.

Be sure to bring a sufficient amount of your personal medications, as pharmacies are not found in the remote areas of this expedition.

Protect yourself against the heat and the strong sun. Drink plenty of fluids whenever you can, not just when you are thirsty. By preventing dehydration, you may prevent a range of medical problems associated with traveling. Take precautions to avoid overexposure to the sun. Bring a sun hat with a wide brim or scarf, sunglasses, and a high‐SPF sunscreen.

Insect bites can be a problem, and we urge you to bring an adequate supply of both insect bite relief products and insect repellent.

During our program, all food and drink taken as part of our itinerary and at our hotels are safe. However, tap water is best avoided. Bottled water will be provided.

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Internet and Phone

Contact information for our hotels and inns will be included in your final document package.

At some of our smaller inns, you will not be able to make international phone calls from your room; however, there are international phones in the lobbies of some of our accommodations.

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Local Time

Following are local times that apply to this expedition when it is 7:00a.m. on the North American west coast:

7:00a.m.

Seattle, Washington (PDT)

10:00a.m. New York, New York (EDT)
7:30p.m. India

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Meals

Should you have any dietary needs, please let us know on the Personal Information Form included with the Pre‐Departure packet, and we will do our best to prepare for them. Unfortunately kosher meals cannot be accommodated.

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Packing Suggestions

General Information

It is essential to maximize the versatility of your travel wardrobe by packing clothing that can be layered. Wash‐and wear, lightweight, natural fabrics are recommended. As you pack, consider your own internal thermostat and personal tastes and adjust accordingly. Laundry service is available, and by using it, you can limit yourself to just four or five outfits and not be inconvenienced by an overabundance of clothing.

Expedition Clothing

Bring loose, comfortable clothing appropriate for the variable conditions you will encounter. Bring adequate sun‐protective clothing and gear, including a hat or visor and sunblock, as we will be out for extended periods of time. At higher elevations it can be cold, so do bring a warm jacket, gloves, and a hat. For pants, it may be convenient to bring pants with zip‐off legs. You also need sturdy, non‐skid walking or hiking shoes for our daytime excursions. Please make sure your shoes are well broken‐in before you depart. The following tips should help you stay warm and comfortable in cool weather.

  • In wet weather, wear water‐repellent outer garments that will keep you dry on the outside and still “breathe” enough so that moisture from your body can escape.
  • Dress in layers. Air is a very good insulator. It is better to trap air in several layers of light, loose clothing than in one or two heavy layers. Wool, silk, polar fleece, and other synthetic fabrics are much more effective in trapping air than cotton. When damp or wet, polyester down is a better insulator than goose or duck down.
  • Body heat is most likely to be lost from parts that have a lot of surface area in comparison to total mass—namely, hands and feet. Keep them warm and dry. For hands, mittens are better than gloves; for feet, thermal socks are a must.

You will be visiting Buddhist, Hindu, and Sikh temples, so sensitivity is necessary regarding dress. Your guides will advise you further, but in consideration of local norms, please observe the following courtesies.

  • Women—It is considered improper for women to expose their upper arms or legs, so neither sleeveless shirts and blouses nor shorts are to be worn while in cities or towns. When visiting temples and religious sites, shoes may need to be removed.
  • Men—Men should also dress modestly. In general, conservative dress is recommended. Shorts are unacceptable for men in urban areas, but allowed during nature hikes. As is the custom, men also will be expected to remove their shoes when visiting temples.

You will receive a complete Packing List with your Pre‐Departure Packet, approximately five months prior to departure.

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Payments and Cancellations

Reservations

25% of the expedition fare will reserve a place for you on this Zegrahm program. The balance of the expedition fare is due 120 days prior to departure. Air fare is due at the time tickets are issued. All prices are quoted in U.S. dollars and must be paid in U.S. dollars.

Cancellation & Refund Policy

Notification of cancellation must be received in writing by Zegrahm. At the time we receive your written cancellation, the following penalties will apply:

  • 120 days or more prior to departure: $750 per person
  • 60 through 119 days prior to departure: 50% of expedition fare
  • 1 through 59 days prior to departure: 100% of expedition fare

Please note, fees associated with cancelled airline tickets are in addition to this and will be clearly outlined for you on your flight itinerary.

Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance

We strongly advise that all travelers purchase trip cancellation and interruption insurance to protect themselves from an unforeseen emergency that may force you to cancel or leave an expedition while it is in progress. Information describing coverage will be sent to you upon receipt of your deposit for the expedition.

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Passport and Visa Requirementsimportant

Passport

A valid passport is required for participation in this program. It must be valid for at least six (6) months after you return home, December 7, 2014. If you do not have a passport, or if it is not valid for the correct length of time, you should apply for one as soon as possible. You need to have a minimum of four blank pages available for entry/exit stamps in your passport and secure additional pages if necessary. We suggest that you carry a photocopy of your passport’s information page when you travel.

Visas

Visas are required for U.S. citizens to enter India. A visa kit is included with the Pre‐Departure Notes to assist you. Please read the instructions carefully, and complete and forward the requested documents in the enclosed envelope. It is each passenger’s responsibility to ensure that the proper visas are stamped in their passport prior to departure. If you are traveling independently of the group or to any other countries prior to or after the voyage, check the entry and visa requirements with the local consulates of each country you plan on visiting.

PLEASE NOTE: Citizens of countries other than the USA should check with the nearest consulates for specific visa and entry requirements for their entire itinerary, including both the group arrangements and any travel prior to or after the program.

The process for obtaining visas from India is determined by the government of India and their designated consular agents in the U.S. While the visa service will do everything possible to ensure smooth and timely processing, please understand that application rules, turnaround times, and fees are determined by the government of India and can change with no notice.

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Photo and Video Restrictions

Video cameras must be declared upon arrival in India and entered into passports. A certificate will then be given to the owner, which must be kept and presented upon departure. There are several guidelines that must be followed in regards to photographing in India. Your guide will advise you about specific photography restrictions at each site. Many monuments have a photography/recording fee, which is charged per camera.

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With Our Compliments

We are pleased to offer complimentary amenities to our explorers so they can be fully prepared before departing on one of our expeditions. Gift certificates to our Zegrahm Store and Longitude Books will offer you the opportunity to choose one of several specially selected items from our store along with books or maps suggested in the highly recommended titles sent. The certificates will be sent in your Pre‐Departure Packet approximately five months prior to departure. Please refer to the gift certificates for more details.

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