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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Customizing Your Trip
General Trip Information
Payment and Cancellation Policy
Personal Clothing, Equipment and Gear
Physical Abilities or Skills Pricing Information
Traveler’s Tips and Information
Trekking and Camping
Q: What are the typical accommodations?
A: Depending on the trip you choose, accommodations will vary accordingly. For instance, we typically stay in hotels, lodges, guest houses, cabins or home-stays depending on the trip you select. For most trekking itineraries or multi-sport activities, you may reside in tents for the majority of your trip with hotel accommodations provided at either end of the trek. Again, depending on the trip, you may also stay in a hotel one night, camp the next few nights and stay in a local home stay or guest house the next evening, so it really depends.
Typical hotels and lodges on our trips offer western style conveniences and amenities as well as boutique-style features. While we try to accommodate any specific room requests, we cannot guarantee changes or modifications to accommodations. For more information on our accommodations, please contact our travel team.
Q: Can I book a single room?
A: Rooms are designated and organized on a two-person or twin share basis. If you would like a single room, please notify our travel team and we will try to accommodate your request. However, we cannot guarantee special changes or modifications to the room assignment and additional charges, taxes and fees will apply.
Q: What type of accommodation is available while on trekking on camping trips?
A: Please visit the Trekking & Camping section of the FAQs.
Q: How do I check the departure dates and determine if there is availability on a trip?
A: We provide the list of upcoming departure dates and the number of spaces available on each trip. As a general rule, we don’t overbook trips, but if there is an increased level of interest, we may run the same trip during the same time frame plus or minus a day or two. If you require more specific details on a trip, please contact our travel team.
Q: How do I go about making a booking?
A: If you have selected your trip, simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and indicate the trip and date that you are interested and our team will assist you with your reservation and booking. Alternatively, you can call us at +91 98058-52030 and our travel specialists would be happy to reserve your place on the program.
Upon receipt of your payment, you will receive a confirmation from our travel department as well as a booking number as your receipt. One week prior to your trip date, we will send an email reminder and notification of your itinerary including a list of items that you may want to pack as well as any relevant details.
Q: How do I manage my existing booking?
A: For existing reservation or current bookings, please email our reservations team at email@example.com or call +91 98163-54380 and we can assist you with your reservation.
Q: When should I book my trip?Currency Information
A: We highly suggest that you book early. Most of our trips fill quickly so you should contact us as soon as you are prepared to book. If you have questions, our travel team can give you first hand information about our active adventures. Call or email us to check the latest availability and most recently updated trip information.
Q: What is the currency in my destination? Can I use my credit card during my trip?
A: The currency of India is the Rupee, issued by Reserve Bank of India. The most commonly used symbol for the rupee is Rs, but you may also see it referred to as INR. For exchange rates and more detailed and up-to-date information, please visit gocurrency.com or any other currency conversion site.
There are convenient ATM locations in Manali, Himachal Pradesh; our most frequent starting point for tours and treks in the area. In Manali, most high-end shops or retailers will accept MasterCard or Visa. However, it is more likely that you will need cash for most transactions. We generally suggest that you have cash available as most of the areas we travel are considered remote and less likely to accept any credit cards.
Customizing Your Trip
Q: Can I add or opt out of certain activities on the program?
A: Most of our itineraries are flexible enough so that our guests have an opportunity to travel the way they prefer. We recommend that you contact us prior to booking your trip so that we can better serve your needs and plan to make alternative arrangements that are suitable to your preferences. It is important to note, however, that there are times that we cannot make exceptions to this rule and any modifications will be priced accordingly at a cost to you. This includes times when we are trekking or traveling from one destination to another.
We welcome your ideas on destinations, events or travel preferences as we constantly are seeking ways to improve our programs. Our travel specialists are happy to make alternative plans or you may want to consider a custom trip and itinerary. Please visit the custom trips section on our website for more information on this.
Q: While on my group trip can I add in an extra day or stopover en route?
A: Unfortunately, we cannot make special allowances for additional days or layovers due to our strict schedule and our group itineraries. If you would like to arrange a special or custom tour, please contact our travel team.
Q: Is it possible to make any changes to the itinerary of my group trip?
A. No, it is not possible to make changes to group itineraries. However, we attempt to accommodate for special requirements and/or needs or if you are looking for alternate activities or adventures, please contact our travel specialists to discuss customized trip options for you and your group. Please note that exclusively custom trips require a group of eight or more.
Q: Are there any opportunities to work with Into Wild Himalaya?
A: We are a dynamic group of adventurers that value our time in nature and want to share our passion and enthusiasm for the outdoors with others. We are always looking for outdoor adventure enthusiasts and like-minded individuals to join our team. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, latest job postings and descriptions.
General Trip Information
Q. How do I find the trip that’s most suitable for me?
A: The best means for you to find the right trip is to call or email your expectations and trip requirements and we would be happy to make a suggestion on a trip that might best fit your needs. If looking at a particular trek or program, let us know your preferences and we will try to work out a trip that’s right for you.
Q: Why should I travel with Into Wild Himalaya and what skills do I need?
A: Into Wild Himalaya are for travelers who yearn for excitement and yet want to get off the beaten track. Whether traveling solo or with friends and family of all ages, there is a Into Wild Himalaya to suit your needs. And there are no special skills that are required. We simply provide the means for you to experience adventure in a way that’s safe, fun and enjoyable. So whatever your adventure and whether camping and trekking or river rafting, mountain biking or rock climbing, no previous experience is required. We only ask that you be adventurous and bring along a smile.
Q: Who will be my leader/guide?
A: Leaders depend on the trip and the group. Our guides are local to the community and have intimate knowledge of the region and country. Leaders are mostly selected based on whoever works best for that destination and trip. We understand that group dynamics play a role in your experience, and we strive to fit the right guides with the right trip based on the demographics of each group. Furthermore, we appropriate guides based on factors such as more familiarity with certain areas or specific aspects of a trip, fluency in English and overall field experience and seniority.
Payment and Cancellation Policy
Q: What is your payment and cancellation policy?
A: Payment in full is required to reserve your place in any of our programs and payment is non-transferable. The fee covers all necessary gear and equipment as well as transportation and food and lodging during the program dates. A full refund will be provided if we are forced to cancel due to any unforeseen circumstance such as inclement weather and relative safety concerns.
Please note the following cancellation and refund policy as it relates to our programs.
If you decide to cancel a program:
(For all the above sectors any domestic airfares will be refundable depending on the type of ticket purchased as some are non refundable tickets. Refundable tickets with a cancellation fee will be charged according to filght company. )
Q: How do I pay for my trip?
A: We accept personal checks, money orders and bank wire transfers. We also accept all major credit cards. All credit card payments will incur an added 3% credit card processing fee. If you wish to avoid the processing fee, we suggest that you select another form of payment. Should you choose to pay by credit card, please do NOT send your credit card details by email. For your security, we ask that you call us to provide any credit card information. Most of our trips come with a number of outdoor activities. However, some of trips will include extra activities that are usually specific and appropriate to the venue and which incur extra charges.
Personal Clothing, Equipment and Gear
Q: What type of clothing should I wear or pack?
A: The type of clothing you should pack or wear depends on the program you select. However, we primarily operate in mountainous regions. Therefore, we typically advise all guests to pack for our trips accordingly. We recommend that you bring several layers as days can be warm with nights significantly cooler. You should be prepared for cooler temperatures by packing wool socks, a fleece-type jacket or coat and long pants. A hat and/or gloves may be necessary as well. We would also suggest that you bring sunglasses and a shaded hat for warm weather and sunny afternoons.
Q: Should I bring a suitcase or utilize a backpack?
A: We strongly recommend that you use a backpack for your trip. Suitcases tend to be cumbersome and unwieldy. While your trip may not involve carrying bags for any great distance, we recommend that you use a backpack or soft duffle bag. In addition, porters or attendants are not always available to carry luggage on your behalf.
Q: Is it possible to store excess luggage at the hotel?
A: Most hotels can store excess luggage with a nominal charge assessed for the service. Please keep in mind that bags are typically stored at your own risk and responsibility and should only be considered if your trip returns to the same hotel accommodation.
Q: What are some of the basic items that I should bring while traveling on holiday?Physical Ability or Skills
A: While not all items are essential, you may want to consider bringing the following items while traveling.
Q: Should I be in shape for your treks or adventure tours?
A: We offer adventure for all fitness levels. Anyone that is considered somewhat active and in good health, can join our tours. Some itineraries are more physically demanding than others so if you are considering a trekking trip for instance, please note the level of difficulty scale and select something that may be right for you. Or simply call or email us and our travel specialists can suggest a trip that’s right for you.
Q: I am over 50, am I too old for your trips?
A: The answer is no. In fact, if you’re 70 you’re not too old for our trips. Into Wild Himalaya are designed for travelers of all ages and we offer everything from day treks to multi-day adventures, rafting trips, village walks and tours to bird watching and fishing retreats. While some trips may be more rigorous and demanding, tours are designed for anyone that’s somewhat fit and healthy. So join Into Wild Himalaya and be in Himalaya whatever your age.
Q: Why are your prices so low?
A: We recognize that travelers likely have alternate activities in mind when visiting an area and many people prefer to build their own holiday while still following a basic itinerary. With that in mind, we offer a mix of organized activities and a little free time to do your own thing. We prefer to keep our prices low while at the same time we do not skimp on prices or the overall quality of your overall experience. In fact, we like to consider ourselves the leader in challenging individuals, not their wallets. We offer packed itineraries, but we also provide many extras and value-added services so that you are receiving a boutique style holiday at budget prices. Furthermore, we also understand that travel including flights, visas and other necessary expenses can be cost prohibitive and we prefer to make our trips something that most anyone can afford. So whether you are just passing through, looking for that perfect weekend getaway or planning a year in advance, we have the right trips at the right price.
Q: What is included in the trip price?
A: Our standard trip packages include the following:
Q: What is a Kitty and how is it used?
A: Oftentimes, we use a kitty on our trips as a means to provide a small cash contribution to a central fund overseen by the group and the trip leader. This fund helps with any small or incremental tips in terms of transport and baggage handling, accommodation, camp meals or activities for the entire group. Contribution to the kitty is equally distributed and done on a voluntary basis. However, we request that you be considerate of the overall group when making your donation.
Q: Are airport transfers included in the trip price? If not, how much will a taxi or other means of transport cost from the airport?
A: Airport transfers are not included in the price of our trips. However, we can arrange transfers for you at an additional cost. We ask that you contact our travel team for more information regarding transfer fees or transportation costs. We are happy to provide our services or give you some general guidelines on fees for taxis, buses or trains.
Q: Are flights included in your pricing?
A: The prices for our trips include 'land only' transport. We recognize that everybody has different airline preferences and affiliations and may choose to book any domestic or international flight with their travel agent, an airline or via an online site service provider.
Q: How safe are your programs?
A: Into Wild Himalaya team leaders and guides are experienced professionals who are responsible for the safety and risk management of our guests. Our field experts are responsible for ensuring the highest standards of safety and security procedures are followed from double- and triple-checking equipment and gear to ensuring your safety during each activity or program. In addition, the team is accountable for your safety and well-being, both physical and emotional throughout the program. They are also responsible for assessing potential risks and managing their team accordingly.
Our Program Director closely collaborates with team leaders to ensure that they are effectively managing risk and safety concerns. In addition, safety protocols including a risk management and emergency and evacuation process are all active procedures employed by the Program Director, team leaders, guides and field staff.
All team members are also familiar with certified first aid (CFA) principles including CPR with some holding advanced certification in Wilderness First Responder (WFR). We also require that each leader carry a standard first aid kit at all times.
Clear instruction is provided to each participant to ensure that they are aware of any safety concerns as well as the proper placement of gear and equipment such as harnesses and helmets. When trekking, guides are dispersed along the trail with typically a lead guide in front, one in the middle and a third holding the rear position.
In addition, all participants are apprised of any known risks prior to commencement of our programs. As we frequently operate in high altitudes, we ensure that guests are appropriately acclimatized prior to gaining further elevations. In addition, guests are regularly reminded to drink plenty of fluids to mitigate possible dehydration or illness associated with gains in elevation.
For more information on our safety procedures, please email us or call +91 9816354380.
Q: Do you offer any regular or ongoing specials?
A: Our success is a direct result of you, our guest. We work primarily on referral and repeat clientele. If you have previously traveled with us, we provide repeat guests with a 5% discount off any of our standard trips. In order for you to receive your discount, you must notify of us of your previous trip including your name, date of program and relevant details. For more information on specials or discounts, please contact our travel team.
Q: Can I earn a FREE trip?
A: Yes, we offer a free trip to anyone who can put together a group with a minimum of 10 guests. Restrictions apply. Contact our travel team for more details.
Q: Is tipping common or necessary?
A: Yes, tipping is generally a common principle. You may wish to read the section Traveler’s Tips for more information regarding tipping and common practices.
Q: Do I need travel insurance?
A: Travel insurance is voluntary, but we recommend that guests consider purchasing a standard travel insurance policy. We cannot specifically recommend a policy or provider, but we suggest that any travel insurance that you wish to purchase cover you for unexpected events that may cause you to cancel or interrupt your holiday. This includes coverage against personal accident, medical assistance emergency repatriation and personal liability. You may also want to consider insurance that covers loss or damage to luggage and/or personal effects.
Trekking and Camping
Q: Are the treks difficult and how can I gauge my ability?
A: We have included a range of treks that are suitable for all ages and abilities. All treks are graded on a universal scale. Treks range from easy to moderate, moderate, strenuous and expeditionary or extremely challenging levels.
Easy to Moderate:Trek an average of 3 to 4 hours daily on generally gentle to moderate terrain. Distances may be from 5 – 13km or roughly 3 to 8 miles with elevation gains and/or losses range from 150m – 450m or 500 to 1,500 feet.
Moderate: Hike an average of 4 to 5 hours daily on varied terrain with distances from 8 to 15km or 5 to 9 miles. Elevation gains and losses generally vary from 450 – 760m or about 1,500 to 2,500 feet or about 2 hours.
Strenuous: Hike roughly 5 to 7 hours daily on varied to rough terrain, with consistent ascents and descents of 2 to 3 or more hours generally 760 - 1067m or 2,500 - 3,500 feet. Distances vary from 10 - 18km or 6 to 11 miles with some sections that may include steep uphill and downhill and possibly moderate to rough terrain.
Expeditionary/Extremely Challenging: Note: Basic mountaineering skills or experience may be necessary depending on the trek. Trekking involves 5 to 8 hours partly on rocky, challenging terrain with consistent steep ascents and/or descents of 2 to 3 or more hours generally 915 - 1520m or 3,000 - 5,000 feet. Distances may range from 10 - 24km or 6 to 15 miles per day. Though each day may not be as strenuous some sections may include rough terrain and open and exposed trails and may require off-trail navigation.
As we typically operate our treks at high elevations, we ensure that you have some time to acclimatize to any gain in elevation.
In terms of your ability, only you can adequately measure your fitness, strength, endurance and stamina. However, a good indication is to gauge your current lifestyle and if you’re moderately active, you should have no problem with any of our non-expedition treks. And while our treks can be challenging, we provide adequate rest breaks and reprieves and our leaders will pace themselves to the comfort level, endurance and speed of the overall group. If you have any concerns about your fitness level, please feel free to contact us and speak directly with one of our travel specialists who can best help you determine which program or trek is right for you.
Q. Where can I find the details relative to each trek?
A. If you are interested in trekking and would like to know more about a specific trek email us at email@example.com.
Q. Are meals included with the trek fees?
A. All meals are included in the program cost. If you have any special dietary requirements, please email us in advance and we will try to accommodate your request.
Q: What kind of food is served on the treks?
A: We attempt to provide guests with as much fresh, local and seasonal produce as possible. In addition, we strive to ensure a healthy diet and meal plan as treks may be challenging and it is always advantageous to maintain a healthy well-balanced diet. In order to provide guests with wholesome and nutritious options and depending on the trip length and location, we may plan a brief visit on our way through a nearby village to re-supply fresh fruits and vegetables.
A typical breakfast on the trail may include toast and jam, eggs, coffee or tea and biscuits as well as Indian fare. For lunch, you may enjoy a packed sandwich with cheese and vegetables including snacks such as fruit and nuts. You might typically find such dinner menu items as salad, rice and dal and Indian cuisine as well as other healthy menu options. We have a chef that prepares our menu items and we certainly don’t expect guests to cook your own meals. However, one of the most frequent comments that we receive is how much guests enjoy active participation and the experience of learning how to cook by camp stove or fire.
Q: Do you serve non-veg menu items on your treks or tours?
A: Whenever possible we include non-veg menu options.
Q. What kind of accommodation will be provided along the trekking route?
A. During the trek, all guests stay in all-weather tents that provide both adequate ventilation and warmth. We also provide guests with sleeping bags and extra blankets as needed for higher elevations and/or cooler temperatures.
Q: Do we carry our personal gear and or are there porters to help with transport of the shared or communal gear?
A: The answer to this question depends on each particular trek. For smaller groups and fewer days, you should be prepared to carry your own gear. On longer, more difficult treks, we will most likely use porters and mules to carry communal gear. It is important to note that our staff is always at hand and available to assist you if you are having issues with gear. If you have concerns about carrying your own gear or sharing the weight of communal gear, please contact us and we can recommend a trek or trip that might be more suitable to your needs.
A typical rule of thumb is that you should not carry more than 1/3 of your body weight. But that doesn’t mean you should carry that much weight as even a third of body weight is usually far too heavy. Quite simply, the weight that a trekker can carry, without straining for the full duration of the trip is the right weight.
There’s a fine line between not carrying enough gear and having so much that its weight significantly reduces the pleasure of the trip (or worse, becomes downright impossible to carry). First-time backpackers should acquire the lightest and least bulky options of everything they need that will do the job sufficiently well not to cause undue discomfort.
Q: Do you offer family treks or day treks?
A. Yes. We offer day treks in and around the Manali area. Treks may include village and walking tours or short hikes to visit nearby waterfalls and scenic peaks. These treks lead you over gentle, gradual slopes and through some of the most beautiful terrains without being overly difficult or strenuous. Please note the grades on all treks. Please contact us for more specific details and we would be happy to make a suggestion for you and your family.
Q. Is there a minimum age requirement for children on your Easy to Moderate treks?
A. We do not recommend Easy to Moderate treks for children under the age of 12 as most of our treks. For all other treks we recommend a minimum age of 18 years old. If you are unsure as to whether children should join our treks, simply call or email us and we can discuss some age appropriate options.
Q. What about safety and any medical needs?
A. All guides follow strict guidelines regarding the safety and security of our guests. Furthermore, leaders are familiar with the terrain along the trekking route, and will take all necessary precautions to ensure your safety for the duration of the trek and/or program. Guides are trained and certified in First Aid processes with some of our leaders holding certification in Wilderness First Responder (WFR) from the Wilderness Medical Institute.
If you have any dietary needs, restrictions, allergies, or are taking daily medication, please advise us prior to your trip. We ask that you apprise us of any pre-conditions, medical history or previous issues with higher altitudes, high blood pressure or allergens so that we can address any medical concerns prior to your departure.
Q. Who is in charge of the treks?
A. We have a two-fold approach to the management of our trips. During the trek, one of our team leaders will lead and guide you on your trip. He or she will be responsible for your overall safety and trekking experience. Team leaders are supported by other guides or team members who will help coordinate your trek and provide support to the team. All of our team members are highly qualified and experienced in the outdoors with numerous certifications and long hours in the field.
Team leaders are also supported by our base camp office team. These individuals are responsible for ensuring that any requirements of your trek or travel plans are managed accordingly. They are also responsible for all transportation and coordination of logistics, meals, etc. for the duration of your program.
The group will be accompanied by other support staff including additional guides, chefs, assistants and porters as needed and dependent upon group size, trip duration and difficulty level.
Q: Do I need to bring a sleeping bag?
A: We provide all camping equipment including tents, sleeping bags and extra blankets. However, some of our trips require an overnight stay in home-stays in which case, you may prefer to bring your own sheet or personal sleeping bag.
Q: While camping or trekking what do you do when nature calls?
A: And we are not talking about the urge to smell the flowers or hug a tree. We are referring to a more primal urge, the need to “go.” Whenever trekking or in the outdoors, cat holes provide an easy to make, one-time use outdoor toilet that are commonly used when camping or hiking. Beyond being easy to dig, the benefit of a cat hole is that they help prevent and reduce water pollution, minimize the spread of disease and decrease the chances of someone else encountering your waste and attracting unwanted animals and pests.
Q: So, can you tell me how to make a cat hole?
A: We thought you would never ask. Actually, cat holes are easy to make. Simply use a small trowel, stick or rock to dig a hole that’s roughly 6-8 inches deep and 4-6 inches in diameter. After using the cathole, simply fill and cover it thickly with the original dirt and other natural materials so that it’s completely buried. Cat holes should be spread out widely to prevent attracting unwanted wildlife and a concentration of fecal-borne pathogens. If using toilet paper, it should be packed in a plastic bag, packed out and disposed of properly at home. Women should also pack out personal hygiene products of any kind. Your health and that of fellow travelers and the aesthetics of the wilderness and keeping places wild and untouched are key to your overall outdoor experience and personal hygiene and health should be a priority.
Q: What all do I need to bring along for treks?
A: Into Wild Himalaya supplies the tents and ground cloth, sleeping bags and mats as well as all food items and kitchen gear such as utensils, plates and bowls, camp stove and fuel. We suggest that you bring a rain poncho or jacket along with cold weather gear to create a layered hiking clothing system. This would include insulating long-johns, wool socks, thin wicking sock liners, gloves and hat, a lightweight jacket or pullover, and two sets of hiking clothes (usually shorts, hiking pants and t-shirts). You may also want to consider the addition of light weight camp shoes such as a pair of flip flops or floaters.
Although not all items are essential, here are some items that may be found in experienced trekkers’ packs.
Q: How much trekking will our group do in one day?
A: You can generally expect to trek approximately four to six hours a day. The day to day time on the trail will vary depending on the terrain, daily elevation gain, rigor of the trail, etc. Trip leaders and guides will assess the group’s pace and plan rest breaks, stopovers and short reprieves as needed.
Q: What is the best time of year to travel?
A: The best time to travel primarily depends on what trip or adventure activity you are interested in joining. Most treks begin in mid-May and run through early to mid-October. However, the season primarily depends on the location and the elevation including possible snow at higher altitudes.
Please note that the best travel time is mostly relative to your preferences. The early season may be cold with a chance of isolated snow, alternatively the summer months can be hot with the rain or monsoon season not arriving until late July or August. Fall also presents an opportune time to travel as crowds more often disperse and temperatures remain relatively mild. Our winter season launches in mid-January as snowfall amounts and accumulation are greater and offer more favorable skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing conditions.
If you are interested in determining the best time for a specific trip or activity, please contact our travel team and they can offer some suggestions. For more general weather information we suggest you visit http://www.worldweather.org.
Q: What kind of footwear will I need for skiing and snowboarding?
A: Into Wild Himalaya provides our guests with all gear and equipment during our skiing and snowboarding programs including skis or snowboard, ski poles and boots.
Q: What is snowboarding and is it difficult to learn?
A: Snowboarding is a sport that involves descending a snow-covered slope on a snowboard attached to your feet using a special boot set into a flexible mounted binding. Snowboarding was developed in the US in the 1960s and 1970s and was inspired by skateboarding, surfing and skiing. Snowboarding, like any sport, takes practice. It can be a bit frustrating in the beginning to learn to balance and turn, but if you are adventurous and want to try something new, then snowboarding is the sport for you.
Q: What is snowshoeing?
A: Snowshoes, sometimes referred to as webs, are footwear for walking over snow. Snowshoes work by distributing the weight of the person over a larger area so that the person's foot does not sink completely into the snow, a quality called "flotation".
Today they are mainly used for recreation, primarily by hikers and runners who like to continue their hobby in wintertime, but in the past they were essential tools for fur traders, trappers and anyone whose life or living depended on the ability to get around in areas of deep and frequent snowfall.
Q: What all do I need to pack for the winter programs?
A: Winter programs require cold weather gear. We suggest that you wear layers as it’s typically cold in the morning, but usually warms up during the day. We would recommend an insulating base layer, ideally made of moisture wicking material. Your base layer would be followed by another warm layer or two as well as winter jacket. While we provide guests with essential ski clothing, we suggest that you bring along a warm hat, gloves or mittens and sunglasses. You should also wear wool socks as they dry quicker and absorb moisture.
Traveler’s Tips and Information
People and Religion
Medical and Health Information
India, the world's fastest growing free-market democracy, is located in South Asia. While the seventh largest country in geographical area, it is the world’s second-most populous country with 1.1 billion inhabitants. Stretching from the mountainous barrier of the Himalayas in the north, the Indian Ocean in the south, the Arabian Sea on the west and the Bay of Bengal on the east, India’s coastline is roughly 7,500 kilometers, more than 4,500 miles. The northern parts of India are mostly snow covered mountain ranges while the southern and eastern regions of the country consist mostly of hills and plains. The wildlife of India is almost as varied as the country itself. India's diversity of wildlife includes lions, tigers, leopards, panthers, elephants and rhinoceros.
Full country name: Republic of India
Area: 3,287,590 sq km (1,229,737 sq miles)
Population: 1,129,866,154 (July 2007 estimate)
Capital City: New Delhi
Languages: Hindi, English
Religion: 80% Hindu, 14% Muslim, 2.4% Christian, 2% Sikh, 0.7% Buddhist, 0.5% Jains, 0.4% other
Government: Federal Republic
Industries: Textiles, chemicals, food processing, steel, transportation equipment, cement, mining, petroleum, machinery, rice, wheat, oilseed, cotton, jute, tea, sugarcane, potatoes, cattle, water buffalo, sheep, goats, poultry, fish
Major trading partners: US, Hong Kong, UK, Japan, Germany, Belgium, Saudi Arabia
People and Religion
Although India occupies only 2.4% of the world's land area it supports over 15% of the world's population, only China has a larger population. Nearly 70% of the population resides in more than 550,000 villages with the remainder in more than 200 towns and cities. Hindus dominate the religious population with eighty percent, followed by Muslims at thirteen percent and millions of Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains. With more than 20 major languages spoken and many other minor languages and dialects, Hindi is the most commonly spoken with English also widely spoken.
Medical and Health Information
Adequate to excellent medical care is available in major population centers, but is quite limited or non-existent in rural areas. Travellers should take precautions especially as it relates to food and water. It is recommended that travellers avoid drinking tap water, but bottled water can also have drawbacks and may include pesticides or other contaminants. The best solution is to filter, purify or sterilize water with chlorine or other treatments such as Aquamira.
Into Wild Himalaya especially vigilant about personal hygiene. Wash your hands frequently and be sure to clean cuts with iodine or antiseptics to avoid infection. Those planning to trek in the mountain areas of northern India should pay particular attention to the risk of high altitude related illnesses and take any necessary precautions including proper acclimatization.
In the event a doctor or medical facility is unavailable, it is important to note that most medicines can be obtained and purchased over the counter without a prescription.
India is a country with varying religions, traditions, culture, languages, beliefs, heritage and customs. Sensitivity and consideration to these factors including society, customs, and culture is recommended and appreciated by Indians. Having a flexible, relaxed and adaptive approach to travel should help you in gaining respect and help you in managing any situation that may arise.
India represents a conservative society with both men and women modestly dressed. Visitors should give consideration to this and dress moderately with respect to covering shoulders and knees. Women should dress conservatively at all times, whether swimming or visiting temples or tourist attractions. It is considered polite to remove your shoes prior to entering or visiting someone’s home.
Some temples do not allow foreign guests to enter, so it is advisable to inquire beforehand or ask permission before entering any temple. Removing your shoes is mandatory prior to entering temples. Visitors should be fully covered with long sleeves and trousers or long skirt. Temple deities should not be touched.
Generally speaking, open displays of affection are considered offensive in India and should be kept behind closed doors in the privacy of your own room. You may notice that it is customary for Indian men to hold hands and show affection toward each other. This friendly manner should not be mistaken for homosexuality.
Prior to eating meals, it is recommended that you wash your hands and always use your right hand when eating or for any exchanges or handshakes.
In some areas, locals seldom encounter tourists and are typically fascinated to the point of staring. This is mere curiosity and general inquisitiveness and should not be considered rude.
Personal questions should not be taken as offensive in any way as more often than not, people will inquire about marital status, traveling arrangements or income. Simply respond with whatever you are most comfortable with sharing.
Begging is fairly rampant in India, but giving money to beggars is discouraged as it will only further encourage the practice and you will continue to be harassed. If you want to give, it is better to give where you know it will be most effective and beneficial so you should instead seek worthy causes where you know your money will go to good use.
Tipping in India is fairly common, but not always necessary. Although tipping those that assist you sometimes helps to ensure that you receive good service. This would include your hotel or guest room staff, luggage carriers and restaurant employees, but again, it’s considered a personal decision. At Into Wild Himalaya, our groups also donate to a Kitty (reference FAQs), which is often used for group tipping and activities. You are welcome to tip above that if you deem the service and quality as deserving of more. If you don’t know whether to tip or not, you may ask one of your guides and they can advise you on when and how much you may want to tip.
Shopping and Bargaining
It is more often the case that you are expected to bargain, although sometimes you will find fixed pricing in some of the more established shops and outlets. As a rule of thumb, you may want to lowball the price to a quarter of the original price and work your way up from there. If you are willing to take somewhat of a gamble and are not obliged to purchase, you can always walk away as a tactic, in which case they may come down to your offering price. Keep in mind though that in most cases, this is the only way and means for these small sellers and vendors to make a decent living.
While items are not necessarily essential you may want to consider bringing the following items when traveling.