Wild Western India
Before You Go
This is a journey for experienced travelers only. Participants should be aware that the infrastructure is poorly developed in some areas, and occasional delays and amendments to the program can occur. Some days will be long, with bus rides over bumpy roads that require sitting for long periods. Accommodations will range from five-star elegance to “bright, cheerful, and rustic” in the more remote areas. During our time at Siana Camp, you will stay in basic tents, and though all have en suite facilities, please note that hot running water is not always available.
Trip Preparation: Gear Up!
Into the wilds of western India you’ll go, secure in the knowledge that your binoculars are not only waterproof, but extremely lightweight and compact—easily tucked into the smallest backpack pocket. Fog proof, with a 8x magnification and an open-hinge design, these amphibian binoculars are a top choice of travel experts everywhere.
Please pay close attention to the following sections: Passport and Visa Requirements, Health Information, and Baggage Allowance.
Activity Level & Accommodations
This program will offer a unique approach to wildlife and less-traveled areas in India. Zegrahm Expeditions endeavors to secure the best transportation and accommodations in all locations for its participants. However, passengers should be aware that although the accommodations are en suite, when away from major towns, the hotels and lodges are sometimes below three-star Western standards. Participants should also be aware that some days of the program entail traveling for extended periods by air and motorcoach, which can be quite strenuous and bumpy.
A trip to India is an active one that calls for good health. You should be able to walk without assistive devices or the help of others, for a minimum of two hours at a somewhat brisk pace in order to participate in this expedition. The activities involve a great deal of walking on uneven terrain such as salt flats, and standing, all of which will be in hot weather. You will occasionally have to climb/descend stairs and negotiate places where the footing is uncertain, often times without handrails. If you are in any doubt that you will be able to participate then check with us, and we will be happy to discuss it further.
Arrivals & Departures
Departure / Airport Check-In Procedures
Please arrive at the airport for your international flight at least 2.5 hours prior to departure and have access to your passport (with previously arranged India visa) 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.
Please contact Zegrahm at 1.800.628.8747, 206.285.4000, or 206. 219.1641, should you encounter significant delays or problems en route. Proceed to your airline’s ticket counter or flight gate for immediate assistance. Advise Zegrahm of all changes to your arrival into Mumbai so that we may inform our expedition staff.
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 arriving prior to the group day and Zegrahm Expeditions has booked additional night(s) at our group hotel, an airport transfer will be provided.
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.
Our expedition includes two internal flights within India. The flights from Mumbai to Diu and Jodhpur to Mumbai allow for 44 pounds of total checked luggage and one carry-on, maximum weight 20 pounds.
Overweight baggage is subject to fees by the airlines. Fees for excess luggage can be paid in US dollars. All luggage fees are subject to change without prior notice and are the responsibility of the passenger and must be paid during the check-in process at the airport.
No piece of luggage may weigh more than 70 pounds. You are responsible for overweight luggage.
PLEASE NOTE: International carriers for your flights to/from Mumbai have different baggage allowances and will charge accordingly. You may be charged excess baggage rates based on rules of the airline.
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 your baggage is delayed in transit or is slow to be delivered to your room upon arrival.
Below are average temperatures in January for areas we will be visiting:
Most of your expenses have been paid for; therefore, we recommend that you carry most of your money in smaller denominations of hard currency, such as US dollars or British pounds. Cash can be exchanged for local currency at banks and major shops in the city during regular business hours. It is recommended that you exchange most of your cash in Mumbai.
As of August 2015, the exchange rate for $1 US dollar (USD) is 65.22 Indian rupees (INR).
Credit cards are accepted at certain locations in India for purchases, although not as commonly as they are in North America. When in local villages, you will want to have cash available.
Items of a personal nature such as phone calls, laundry and some drinks are not included.
Note that gratuities to airport porters, hotel bellmen, and wait staff at group meals are included in the price of your trip. Tipping for your national guide and driver are also included.
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, and gift certificates—approximately five months prior to departure. Final documents—including a final itinerary, contact list, and staff biographies—will be sent approximately one month prior to your departure.
Electricity runs at 220 – 240 volts in India with round sockets taking either three-prong or two-prong standard, European plugs. An electrical converter will be necessary to run small, 110-volt, North American appliances unless they have a dual voltage switch. If you don’t need a converter, you will still need a set of adapter plugs that will fit in these types of outlets.
For questions and/or assistance in obtaining converters and adapters, contact Walkabout Travel Gear. They can be reached toll free at 800.852.7085 or their website at www.walkabouttravelgear.com.
Please note: Temporary power outages are not uncommon in India. The electrical output in some hotels is powered by generators. We are not responsible for damage to appliances as a result of power surges. It is best to leave appliances plugged in only when in use or during the minimum time required for recharging.
Domestic air transportation within India is included in the cost of the expedition.
You will need to purchase airfare from your home city/Mumbai and Mumbai/home city. For more detailed information, please contact our in-house Air Department for fare quotes, reservations, or other air-related questions. You can reach us at 206.285.4000.
Malaria prophylaxis is strongly recommended as malaria exists in India in areas below 6,500 feet and chloroquine-resistant P. falciparum has been reported. With a few basic precautions, however, it can easily be avoided.
Insect bites can be a problem, and we urge you to bring an adequate supply of both insect bite relief products and insect repellent.
Protect yourself against 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.
Be sure to bring a sufficient amount of your personal medications in your carry-on baggage.
In case of serious injury or illness while traveling, it is important to understand that satisfactory medical facilities may not exist immediately nearby. The cost of your expedition includes $100,000 in emergency evacuation and $25,000 in medical expense. Details of this policy are available online at www.travelguard.com/zegrahm.
The information herein is a guideline and is subject to change without notice. Contact your physician or local health center for current and other information concerning health precautions, immunizations, and prescriptions based on your physical condition and medical history.
Internet & Phone
Your final documentation will include contact information for our hotels, including phone and fax numbers as well as email addresses.
Wi-Fi will be available at our hotel in Mumbai, and a few of the accommodations throughout our expedition. Cell phone service is widely available in India and an international plan will have service in many, but not all, of the regions we are visiting.
Following are local times that apply to this expedition when it is 7:00 a.m. on the North American west coast:
|7:00 a.m.||Seattle, WA (PDT)|
|10:00 a.m.||New York, NY (EDT)|
|7:30 p.m.||Mumbai, India (GMT +5:30)|
A variety of Indian dishes, including many delicious vegetarian dishes, will be offered throughout the program. Lamb, chicken, vegetables, and potatoes will provide the staples of many meals. Note that no beef or pork will be served.
Bottled water will be available at all locations as the tap water is unfit to drink. Diet soda drinks are usually not available. Beer and soft drinks are readily available at the lodges and hotels, but wine, spirits, and other alcoholic beverages are very difficult to obtain. The state of Gujarat, where we spend much of our time is a dry state and alcohol is prohibited for Indians to consume or sell. You should not expect to purchase alcohol outside of lodges and hotels within Gujarat.
Should you have any special dietary needs, please let us know on the Personal Information Form included with the Pre-Departure Notes, and we will do our best to prepare for them.
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.
For maximum comfort on flights, wear relaxed, loose-fitting clothes suited to long stretches of sitting. Drink generous amounts of non-alcoholic liquids during the flight to avoid dehydration caused by the dry cabin air. Those who can sleep en route should consider an inflatable neck pillow, ear plugs, and an eye-mask.
The nights and early mornings can be quite chilly and a warm sweater and jacket, hat, scarf, and warm gloves (preferably polypropylene) are strongly advised. It is always a good idea to bring a light raincoat in case you are caught in a shower or for misty mornings. A fleece, bipolar hooded jacket is perfect for the diverse weather conditions you may experience. Note that the lodges are not heated and dining is often outdoors.
In the city hotels, it is recommended that you wear a smart, casual outfit. Men will want to wear a comfortable dress shirt and slacks in the cities. Women may wear slacks and should have shoulders covered.
On tour and in the park lodges, more relaxed clothing can be worn by all. For game viewing, we recommend your clothes be in muted colors such as tan, khaki, and green. Navy blue can attract insects, and bright colors should be avoided, as there may be times when we are on foot safari. We ask that you not wear colors such as white or red, as it can disturb the animals and spoil your viewing. Remember, your hat should be neutral colored as well. Bring light cotton or light synthetic materials, (denims are discouraged).
Nonskid, sturdy hiking shoes are fine for our wildlife treks and walks. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants will help protect you from insect bites, as well as from the sun. Other sun-protective items you may want are a high-SPF sun block, sunglasses, and a visor, sun hat, or scarf.
A pashmina-style scarf you don’t mind getting dusty is a great addition to everyone’s wardrobe in India. You can use this to shield from sun and wind, to stay warm in the mornings and evenings, and to provide extra coverage at any time.
Passport & Visa Requirements
A valid passport is required for participation in this program. It must be valid for six (6) months after you return home, through July 20, 2016. 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 one blank page available for entry/exit stamps in your passport for every country visited. As of January 1, 2016, the US State Department has eliminated the application to insert additional pages into your passport; if you require additional pages, a new passport must be obtained. We suggest that you carry extra passport photos and a photocopy of your passport’s information page when you travel.
Visas are required of US and Canadian citizens for entry into India and must be obtained in advance. Visas can be obtained through a visa service for a fee, or through the appropriate consulates. A visa kit from Pinnacle Travel Document Services is included with your pre-departure packet to assist you in obtaining your visas. Please read the information carefully and complete and forward the requested documents. It is each passenger’s responsibility to ensure that the proper visas are stamped in their passport prior to departure.
You should plan to be without your passport for up to 8 weeks while your visa is being processed.
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 other countries 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.
Payments & Cancellations
A deposit totaling 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 US dollars and must be paid in US 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:
• 180 days or more prior to departure: $750 per person
• 120 through 179 days prior to departure: 25% of expedition fare
• 1 through 119 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.
If you are interested in purchasing cancellation and interruption insurance for this expedition, please call us at 206.285.4000, or visit www.travelguard.com/zegrahm.
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 purchase 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.