India has shared so much of its wonderful culture with the rest of the world, so a visit to this diverse country is a chance to experience where it all began. India has so much to offer: from the beautiful landscapes of the Himalayas, to the amazing temples and coastlines, rich culture, not to mention the food!
Although India might be famous for it's flavours, often the wildlife is forgotten about. India is home to the Asian elephant, Bengal tiger and the Indian rhinoceros. It is also a hot spot for smaller beasts such as the praying mantis.
India's music scene is beautifully crafted, and the range is quite incredible. The range of folk music spreads across the country and it is also the genre which Bangra music falls into. This is possibly the most famous music to come out of the country. Although regions have their own style of music, there are types that bring the country together as a whole. The national anthem of "Jana Gana Mana" translates as "Thou art the ruler of the minds of all people".
New Delhi, the capital is a lively place and hosts many festivals throughout the year, including the idiosyncratic International Mango Festival - where over 500 different types of mangoes are found. Mangoes are only the start of the wonderful taste India has to offer. The blend of herbs, spices and other vegetables can create the aromas known all over the world. Across the country there are different assortments that are associated with each region. In the north, milk is the main ingredient which creates the wonderful bread, and the samosa is popular here. Deep in the south is where rice dictates the main proportion of a meal. Into the east you will find the places where popular Indian desserts are from. Finally, in the west of the country, rice and coconuts are just two of the ingredients that make their dishes so distinct.
Foremost a visit to India is probably best remember by the welcome you are likely to receive this combined with the seemingly endless variety is what brings travellers returning time and time again.
Border Information: If joining the trip in Delhi you will enter India at Delhi Airport. Today is a free day until the group meeting at 18:00hrs. We stay overnight in a local hotel.
15 A/6 WEA
Ajmal Khan Road
Near Karol Bagh Metro Station
Opposite Puja Park
Please note: There is a sister hotel in Delhi called the Hotel Florence. This is a different hotel a few blocks away. Please make sure you go to the Florence Inn.
Experience the hustle and bustle of Delhi
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New Delhi is the India's intriguing capital and is the country's third largest city. Perhaps the best way to get your bearings is by starting with a city tour of Delhi's many historic sites and buildings. The Lok Sabha (parliament building), President’s Palace, India Gate and the Rajpath are a good place to start, impressive reminders of the splendour of the old British Indian Empire. Other sites of interest include Qutab Minar, a soaring tower and fine example of Afghan architecture and Humayan's tomb, an example of Mogul building style and allegedly a forerunner of the Taj Mahal. If you have the time, you may also want to consider visiting the magnificent Red Fort and Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India.
Bustling and lively Delhi is also a great place to indulge in shopping and people watching. In the old town you'll find Chandni Chowk, a colourful shopping bazaar and fascinating market. The market is one of the most popular in India, taking it's name from the words meaning "moonlight square". Finally, if you're interested in learning more about India's history, The Gandhi Museum is an absolute must, dedicated to the life and work of Mahatma Ghandi.
After breakfast we leave Delhi for the journey 400Kms to Bikaner. The drive will take us most of the day, stopping en route for lunch. In Bikaner we will either stay in a local hotel, or at an eco-lodge a short distance outside the city.
Overland into the Thar Desert via the colourful city of Bikaner
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Witness the holy rats in the Karni Mata rat temple near Bikaner
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Bikaner is a desert town in north west Rajastahn, protected from the encroaching sands by it's high city walls and gates. The atmospheric old town is built out of the same pinky-red sandstone as many of the buildings in nearby Jaipur. A royal city, Bikaner is home to Junagarh Fort and Lalgarh Palace, still home to the Bikaner royal family, although part of the palace is now also used as a hotel. Close to Bikaner you will find the bizarre temple of Karni Mata, where holy rats are worshipped. Thousands and thousands of holy rats (they look very much like unholy rats) known as kabas, scurry around the temple, over your feet, between your legs, up the walls and on the furniture. If you choose to visit it is important you observe the sacred rituals and eat some of the holy food offerings spat upon by the holy rats. This will bring you immense good luck (and probably a few interesting medical conditions).
Morning drive of 385Kms from Bikaner to the ancient Rajasthani city of Jaisalmer, arriving early afternoon stopping at the Karni Mata (Rat Temple) en-route. We base ourselves in Jaisalmer for the next 3 nights, staying in a comfortable local hotel.
3 nights at Jaisalmer to explore the medieval streets, the fort and the desert
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The city of Jaisalmer is one of the old Rajasthan capitals and dates back to 1156 AD. The city is dominated by the old fort, built on a hill which gives it a commanding view over the Thar Desert, and has been the scene of many battles. Built of beautiful yellow sandstone, the fort's walls are a tawny beige colour during the day, fading to honey-gold as the sun sets. The moumental walls are ornately designed with imposing parapets and towers at every turn, covered in intricate stonework - and in the old town the havelis (houses of once important Jaisalmer families) look like small palaces with facades covered in fine carvings and highly decorated balconies.
This morning is free for you to explore more of Jaisalmer, before we head out on a camel safari into the Thar Desert in the late afternoon. Exploring the desert with local Rajasthani camel drivers is the most authentic way to experience the area. Tonight we camp out in the desert, sleeping under the stars.
Trek into the Thar Desert on an overnight camel safari with Rajasthani camel drivers
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Returning from our camel safari in the morning, we have the rest of today to relax or explore more of Jaisalmer and the surrounding area. Overnight in comfortable hotel.
This morning we drive approx. 285Kms from Jaisalmer to another famous Rajasthani city, Jodphur. En route to Jodphur we will make our visit to the Sambhali Trust project where we will learn abou the efforts of the project and make a group donation from the kitty.
After our visit we will make our way to our local guest house in Jodphur where will spend the night.
Jodhpur, situated on the edge of the Thar Desert is affectionately known as "the blue city" because of the many indigo coloured houses in the old town. These are best seen from the ramparts of the mighty Meherangarth Fortress, which looms above the bustling city. Built in the 1400's, Meherangarth is the largest fort in the whole of Rajasthan and has never been taken by force. The fort complex itself is huge, housing the Maharaja's palace a number of temples and extensive gardens.
Elsewhere in the city, Nai Sadak is the place to head for shopping, lined with shoe and sari shops, or check out Sardar Market, a riot of sights, sounds and smells that's a baffling assault on the senses. Close nearby are the historical sites of Jaswant Thada, built at the end of the 19th century and constructed entirely out of sheets of marble; and Mandore, the ancient capital of Marwar.
Today we will be in and around Jodphur. In the morning we visit the Meherangarh Fort & Palace, before splitting up into small groups of twos or threes for our community homestay. Overnight in local family homes.
Explore the blue city of Jodhpur and the mighty Meherangarh fort
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Community homestay to experience true Indian hospitality
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Visit & donation to the Sambhali Trust, Jodphur
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Short morning drive of 215Kms from Jodphur to the holy town of Pushkar. Afternoon free to explore. Overnight in local hotel.
Overnight in one of Indias oldest cities, Pushkar
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The small town of Pushkar is perhaps most famous for its huge camel fair held in October or November every year. It is also an important pilgrimage site for Hindu's as it's considered a very holy place, and there are a lot of temples here, including one of the few Brahman temples in all of India. Situated around a lake, most of the buildings are low and white-washed and the streets are small and narrow, giving the town a wonderfully mellow atmosphere. This is a great place to kick-back and take it easy for a while. Wander the streets, relax with a drink while you watch the sunset over the lake and indulge in a spot of souvenir shopping.
After breakfast we set off from Pushkar for a 300Kms drive to Udaipur, arriving mid-afternoon. We will have 2 nights here, giving us plenty of time to discover this amazing, romantic Rajasthani city. Overnight in comfortable hotel.
2 nights to discover the stunning white city of Udaipur
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Udaipur is arguably the most romantic city in all of Rajasthan, an evocative and magical place on the shores of Lake Pichola. The city boats several royal palaces, the most spectacular of which is probably the floating Lake Palace, made famous in the Bond film "Octopussy". This palace is now home to a luxury hotel and it's sometimes possible to take a short boat trip out onto the lake to see it. Back in the city itself, the huge City Palace towers over the rest of the buildings here, not surprising seeing as this is the largest palace complex in Rajasthan. Its many balconies, towers and cupolas offer fine views over the lake and city. Now a museum, the City Palace is home to the "Mor Chowk" with its beautiful mosaics of peacocks - a sacred bird not only to the people of Udaipur but also to all Rajasthanis.
Free day to explore the sites of Udaipur or relax on one of the many roof-top terraces. Second night in comfortable hotel.
Leaving Udaipur we have a local cook join us on board who will accompany us over the next few days whilst we are wild camping.
Today will mostly be spent travelling approx 220Kms on the backroads of rural Rajasthan. We are well off the tourist trail here and tonight we will wildcamp, perhaps on the edge of a local village.
Morning driving of 200Kms, continuing our route through rural villages and towns. Our destination is Mandu - an extensive and mainly deserted hill-top fort. In the afternoon we will have time to explore the palace and tomb. Tonight we will either stay in a local guesthouse, or camp.
Visit to the deserted hilltop ghost city of Mandu
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Mandu was founded as a fortress and retreat in the 10th century by Raja Bhoj. It was conquered by the Muslim rulers of Delhi in 1304. After the victory of Mughals in the early 16th century on Delhi, Mandu came under the administration of Afghan Dilawar Khan, the Governor of Malwa. Hoshang Shah, son of Dilawar Khan, transferred his capital to Mandu. Until 1561, it remained under the Afghans when Akbar defeated Baz Bahadur, one of the Afghan chieftains ruling a part of central India. Baz Bahadur fled Mandu instead of facing the Mughal army. During the administration of Marathas, the capital of Malwa was shifted back to Dhar and Mandu became a ghost city for some time.
An extensive deserted hilltop fort on the edge of the Vindhya hill ranges, the town was once known as "the city of joy". Today the atmosphere is one of mystery and romance. The views from the fort are quite stunning, it's a great spot to take in the vast plains below - and if you find Echo Point, when you clap you'll be able to hear the sound you make echoing all the way down the valley. It's interesting to wander around and explore the old buildings, in particular the royal enclave, which includes some charming palaces built by the sultan for the ladies of his hareem. You can also see the Hindola Mahal, or "Swinging Palace", which takes it's name from it's sloping sided walls that look like a swing.
From Mandu we take and early morning drive of approx. 250Kms to Ajanta.
Over the next couple of days we will have a guided tour of both the Ajanta and Ellora Caves.
Both nights will be spent camping.
Guided visit to the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain rock-cut temples and monasteries of Ellora
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Journey to the Buddhist and Hindu caves and temples of Ajanta and Ellora
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Guided visit to the buddhist rock caves and paintings of Ajanta
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Hidden in a rocky escarpment, the caves at Ajanta were discovered in 1819 by a British hunting party that stumbled upon them. Their isolation has contributed to the fine state of preservation we find them in today. In all there are twenty nine caves nestling in the curve of a stunning deep gorge, all dating from around 200 BC to 650 AD. The caves are beautifully decorated with paintings and sculptures telling the story of Buddha and illustrating tales from Buddhist fables and jatakas. The frescos are amazingly colourful and considered by many as amongst the finest examples of Buddhist art in India.
Ellora is known for it's remarkable sculptures. The 34 cave temples at Ellora are mainly Hindu and Jain. The Hindu caves are the most dramatic and the sheer size of the Kailasa Temple is overwhelming. It covers twice the area of the Parthenon in Athens and is 1 and a half times as high. It was carved out of solid rock from the top down, and it is estimated that it entailed removing 200,000 tonnes of rock.
Setting off early we say good bye to our local cook and we have approx. 400Kms Drive from Ajanta and Ellora to Mumbai arriving mid to late afternoon.
Tonight we stay in a comfortable hotel.
Overnight in one of Indias' most cosmopolitan cities
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Mumbai is on the west coast of India and is probably the most cosmopolitan city in the country. It's also home to the largest film industry in the world, Bollywood. So if you've never seen an Indian movie before, this is the place for it. Full of high-drama, romance, suspense, music and dancing, Bollywood films are all-singing, all-dancing extravaganzas. It's pure, straightforward and unadulterated entertainment and escapism, so even if you can't understand the language, they still make an interesting spectacle. Combine India's version of LA with a hefty dose of traffic, busy streets, lively bazaars, briefcase clutching businessmen cutting international deals in soaring skyscrapers and some impressive colonial architecture, and there you have Mumbai. The city is a mad mixture of horrific poverty standing side-by-side with prolific consumerism; this is the financial capital of the sub-continent and it has the shopping centres, bars and restaurants to match - but more than half the inhabitants live in the slums.
Mumbai can be a bit of a shock to the sytem and an assault on the senses. But once you get your head around it, you'll begin to appreciate all the city has to offer. There's tons to do here, wander the streets and discover some of the beautiful old colonial architecture and Art Deco buildings, treat yourself to a meal in one of the country's best restaurants, and shop until you drop in the bazaars. In the evening, you can visit Chowpatty beach where colourful crowds of people mill about in the cooler evening air. Palmists, balloon sellers, magicians and acrobats all compete for your attention, vying to show you the magic of Mumbai.
Free for you to explore Mumbai at your leisure.
Guided tour of the Dhavari Slum, Mumbai
We intend following the planned route but exact night stops cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our basic planned itinerary. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, road or bureaucratic conditions may demand it. By their very nature overland itineraries need to be flexible and the regions that we are travelling through are often unpredictable. We run adventure journeys in off the beaten track areas, often in areas without western infrastructure. You should expect that some these areas do not adhere to western safety standards.
Physical preparation for Asia Itineraries
In Asia you will need to be healthy enough to cope with extremes of climates from the hot deserts through to the colds of the high mountains. Overland travelling can be demanding - long, rough travel days, dusty conditions can be challenging to some. You will need to be fit enough to help every day with the camp chores (cooking, washing up, general camp set up) as well as putting up and taking down your own tent. There are some long driving days and some early morning starts. The step up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high can become tiring and you need to judge yourself to be physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down the step at least 8-10 times a day. By and large our Asia trips have a good range of hotel accommodation mixed up with camping so that life is not too rough.
Most countries we visit on our travels will require visas. Some are best obtained before you leave home and others can be obtained en-route. Whilst the ultimate responsibility for obtaining visas is yours, we will endeavour to assist you wherever possible.
The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. The information provided is given in good faith and we do try to keep the visa information as up to date as possible. Please be aware though that rules do change, often without prior warning, which is why it is important that you check for yourself.
For visas that are needed in advance, you can choose to submit the applications directly to the relevant embassy or consulate. However, our recommendation is that you use a visa agent to assist you with your applications. While this does increase the cost, it will make the process much easier for you. Dragoman have teamed up with ‘The Visa Machine’ to create a safe, secure, hassle-free way of obtaining visas and visa advice. Our unique link within their website is designed to make the visa process as straightforward as possible. Simply go to https://dragoman.thevisamachine.com and click on your region of travel followed by your trip route and ‘The Visa Machine’ will advise you about not only the required visas but also the dates by which you should apply. ‘The Visa Machine’ can then assist you in the actual visa application, thus taking all the worry and hassle out of the process. This should apply for ALL nationalities and countries of residence.
As you will need to submit your passport together with your applications, we recommend that you avoid making any travel plans in the weeks leading up to your departure. However if you do need to travel in this period please let us know as soon as possible so that we can help you work out the options for your visa application process.
All foreign nationals require a tourist visa to enter India. You CANNOT obtain a visa on arrival in India - visas MUST be obtained in advance.
Indian visas can be obtained either through Travcour UK or by going directly to http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk issued in the UK are valid for 6 months from the date of issue.
You must provide either a travel itinerary or flight tickets to obtain more than a single entry visa. Your photos MUST be 50mm x 50mm or your application will be rejected. The photos must be in colour and have a plain white background. Computer generated photos will be rejected. Please paste one photo to the front of your application and leave the other loose. You must sign under the photo on page one and the declaration on page two.
Unless visiting neighbouring countries (see paragraph below), tourists leaving India will receive a stamp in their passports indicating that they may not re-enter India for two months, regardless of their length of stay prior to departure. Tourists wishing to return to India before the two month period has passed will now have to visit the Indian High Commission or Consulate in the country to which they travelled and present their case for re-entry.
The authorities in all Indian Immigration Check Posts have, however, been authorised to allow tourists to make two or three entries, based on production of an itinerary and documentation (ticket bookings) substantiating the need for tourism related travel to neighbouring countries.
You must have a passport valid for at least 6 months from date of travel and with at least two blank pages. Tourist visas cannot be extended in India.
Referees in India:-
436 Barkat Nagar
Tel: +91 (0)141 2594205
Accommodation in India:-
4 Panday Road
Tel +91 22 2218 5608
If travelling to Sikkim your permits will be arranged in Darjeeling with your tour leader.
Please bring 10 photocopies of your passport and Indian Visa (on the same page). These will be used for hotel check-in. Please also bring 2 passport photos.
If you are travelling on the Chennai-Kolkata leg - please note that all permits for the Odisha region will be arranged on trip. In order for permits to be issued, each person will need to provide an additional 2 passport photos as well as a copy of your passport and Indian visa no later than 10 days before the trips starts.
If you are travelling to Bhutan - please send Dragoman a scan of your passport photo page when you book and a scan of your India visa as soon as you obtain it, as this is important for arranging the Bhutan group visa.
If you are travelling on the Mumbai-Chennai leg or the Kolkata-Kathmandu leg, please send Dragoman a scan of your passport photo page when you book, as this is important for arranging train tickets on these legs.
Based on the range that previous travellers have spent on this trip, we recommend you allow between a minimum of US$15 and a maximum of US$30 per day for Central Asia, China and Burma and between a minimum of US$10 and a maximum of US$20 for India, Nepal and South East Asia.
This will cover individual expenses such as drinks, meals whilst out and also when staying in hotels, souvenirs, tips and personal permits.
Please note: For trips in Southern India that occur over Christmas and New Year please allow approximately $160USD extra on the kitty for seasonal increases in accommodation costs
It is not really worth trying to buy local currencies before you travel. Do also bear in mind that many countries have strict regulations about the amount of their own local currency you are allowed to import - if you are found with amounts in excess of the allowed amounts, it may well be confiscated!
For trips in Turkey, South East Asia, India and Nepal, a sensible mix of cash and ATM cards is best. However, most of our past passengers have said they wished they had been told to bring more cash. Apart from the convenience of being able to change money in many more places, you will sometimes get a much better exchange rate for cash.
For trips in Central Asia, China, Burma and Mongolia please refer to the money exchange notes.
You should take a mixture of denomination notes. Banks and moneychangers in most countries will now only accept bills with a metallic strip running top to bottom of the bill and which are dated from 2003 or later. You should not take worn or damaged notes, or any that have been written on. Cash machines are readily available in most areas but are not always reliable therefore we recommend that you do not rely on them as your only source of cash. Credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express are the most commonly accepted, but be prepared for very high commission charges. Please do not rely on cards for daily use, as they are not always accepted outside of larger towns and cities. Please bring a mixture of small and large denominations as in more remote areas it can be hard to change amounts over USD50.
At Dragoman we believe you should make the most of the places you visit, so if you would like to see more of your joining or finishing point cities, why not book additional accommodation to extend your stay. Dragoman can take away the hassle of time zones and language barriers by making the booking for you. This accommodation is only available at the joining or finishing city of your trip, immediately before or after the trip you are travelling on.
While Dragoman is happy to assist with booking your pre and post trip accommodation, it is important that you understand you may be able to book your own room at a cheaper rate directly through the hotel or on the internet. Our additional accommodation prices are based on the hotel’s rate plus an administration fee. Please note our rates do not reflect last minute walk in rates or internet specials.
We can also book arrival airport transfers for you as long as we have your flight arrival details. These are normally payable in cash upon arrival, however we do have pre paid transfers in a few destinations.
Please contact our reservations team for details of the accommodation and transfers that we can offer as not all hotels offer this service.
Dragoman overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying in hotels and therefore do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers will share with people of the same sex for the duration of the trip, in accommodation ranging from twin to multi-share. The type and variety of accommodation is determined by conditions on each of our routes. The campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses. One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we will wild camp. This allows us to get far away from the tourist crowds to some beautiful, secluded spots. On some of our trips we are able to stay in villages or local homestays, this allows us to get close to indigenous populations and ensures our money stays within local communities.
The maximum group size we take on our overland journeys ranges from 19 to 22 depending on the geographical location, however the average number of passengers is more likely to be around 16.
Please note that there is an overlap of 2 trips in Zanzibar. This means a group starting a trip in Nairobi for example will visit Zanzibar at the same time as groups starting their trips in Dar es Salaam. In practical terms this means there could be up to 44 group members in Zanzibar at the same time.
Our passengers come from around the world and are always an interesting mix of nationalities and ages. On average there is a pretty even split, males to females and between solo travellers, couples and small groups of friends. We believe that overlanding should be open to as many people as possible and so although we have a minimum age limit of 18, as long as you are fit, healthy and passionate about travel, we are happy to take you, whatever your age is. One of the beauties of group travel is the camaraderie and friendships that are formed along the way and as well as the variety of people that you will meet.
At any time before or after you book you can join our community - Dragoland. This is a great place to ask questions before you travel and catch up with your fellow travellers once your trip has finished. You can share photos, videos and stories You can also download a selection of free travel apps. See the home page to sign in, it's free and easy.
We also have a Facebook page where travellers regularly swap info with each other - you can join here
Our crew are passionate about travel and always up for adventure. It takes someone special to become a Dragoman leader. Our crew undergo the most intensive training program of all overland companies, spending 10 weeks learning the ropes at our base in Suffolk, UK and then up to six months on the road as a trainee. On all Dragoman overlanding trips two western crew who are responsible for the group and the overall organisation will accompany you. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and to offer suggestions of things to do and see. On trips South of Nairobi in East and Southern Africa we will also have an African camp master/cook who is in charge of running the camp and organising all of the meals. Their knowledge of the local produce makes shopping at the markets great fun and you will learn how to prepare and cook some unusual dishes. In the rest of Africa, South America and the majority of Central Asia and China we use local guides who may stay with us for just a few hours or will actually travel with us for some or all of the journey. In these cases they become a third crew member and are able to offer their local knowledge as well as a real insight into the lives of the local people.
Dragoman endeavours to provide the services of experienced crew however, due to the seasonality of travel, situations may arise where your crew is new to a particular region or training other crew.
Your tour leader has a duty of care to all of their passengers and therefore they have the authority to ask passengers to leave the trip if they require medical assistance, are behaving in an anti-social manner or refuse to comply with local laws and customs. In all matters relating to the trip, the leader's decision will be final and we appreciate your respect of this.
All Dragoman travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully in our trips. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our leader, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Dragoman reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of the trip without a refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information prior to travel, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition. We also advise you to declare any pre-existing medical conditions to your travel insurers upon purchase.
For trips that travel to areas of high altitude we also require all travellers to complete an altitude questionnaire. The ratings for each trip are a good indication of how challenging they are and in some cases customers should be prepared for some long driving days and possibly limited facilities. We are always happy to give extra advice if you have additional concerns.
Recommended vaccinations and other health protection vary according to regions and recent bulletins issued by health authorities. It is essential to get the latest advice on the region(s) you are planning to travel in. It is essential that you check with either your doctor or travel clinic in good time before you travel.
In the UK we have been working with Nomad travel for many years and their website has comprehensive, up to date vaccination and health information. Dragoman customers will receive a 10% discount off all vaccinations given at Nomad Travel clinics.
A good source of up to date information is the world Health Organisation - http://www.who.int/en/
Get expert advice before travelling about types of malaria pills and take them as instructed. Recommended types do change from time to time and from area to area. Consult your vaccination centre for the most up-to-date requirements
The mosquito usually bites between the hours of dusk and dawn and so covering up by wear long-legged and long-sleeved clothing, preferably light coloured and buttoned at the wrists can help. Do not sleep without closing windows, tent doors or, if sleeping out, use a mosquito net. Wear repellent applied directly to the skin or soaked into clothing.
Treating clothes and mosquito nets with a Permetherin solution provides significant protection. It should be available at most travel stores. Mosquito coils are useful on still nights, in hotel rooms but cannot be used inside the tents.
On an overland journey you are more than just a passenger - you're part of the crew. You are expected to pitch in to set up camp, shop for food, cook and generally help out. As part of your trip you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting water and firewood, sweeping out the truck, loading the back locker, etc.
While camping on overland journeys, all meals are included in the kitty. This means that you will have to work together to cook for everyone in your group. You will be divided into smaller units of 3-4 people and take it in turns to cook for the whole group according to a rota system. When it is your turn to cook you will have to plan the meal, shop for the ingredients in local markets or supermarkets and then prepare the meal for the whole group. The secret to cooking for 20+ people in a basic camping kitchen is to keep it simple! (On trips south of Nairobi we have a cook on board the truck; however you will still be required to help prepare meals).
If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting. An example of a typical camp breakfast might be toast with spreads, fruit and cereal as well as tea and coffee. When time allows it will also be possible to serve something hot such as eggs or pancakes. Lunch is almost always a sandwich heaped high with healthy salad and assorted fillings, with fruit to follow. Dinner might be a BBQ, risotto or pasta dish and there is always the chance to try some local cooking. Generally our passengers find the more they put into a trip, the more they benefit from it.
Dragoman is committed to ensuring that we have a positive impact on local communities and that we implement policies to minimise any negative impact on the local environment. We are dedicated to making sure that we adopt a responsible attitude to the areas through which we travel and believe that our trips should benefit the local people and their environment. Dragoman recognises that we are guests of local communities and strive to make these communities our partners, so that they benefit directly from our visit. You can find full details of Dragoman’s responsible tourism policy linked from the home page.
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs is not only against the law, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Dragoman customers. It is one of our core values to treat all people we encounter with respect which of course includes all the local people who make our destinations so special. The exploitation of prostitutes or children is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes or abuse children. Equally Dragoman will not tolerate any violence or threat of violence towards local people, other group members or any member of our staff.
We expect all our customers to obey all the laws of the countries through which we pass. This particularly applies to the smuggling of contraband and possession of narcotic drugs (as above), firearms, antiquities and ivory.
Any customer found contravening such laws or customs will be required to leave the trip immediately with no refund of the trip price.
One of the real advantages of overland travel is that the vehicle provides a very real level of security when travelling. There is no doubt that a properly equipped overland vehicle, with safes, fully lockable doors and windows is an obvious advantage when travelling in much of the world. We recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt whilst travelling for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items (although most of these can be locked in the safe whilst you are on the trip) and advise passengers to leave any valuable jewellery, watches etc at home. Generally speaking, you will not be travelling on local public transport and will have the added security of travelling in a group with experienced crew on hand to offer advice.
Please note: Any personal effects that are left on the truck, even if they are stored in the safe, are left at your own risk and Dragoman cannot be held responsible for any damage or theft that may occur.
The safety of our passengers, leaders and operators is a major priority of Dragoman. With this in mind we monitor world events very closely. By the very nature of the adventure travel that we take, there are risks and hazards that are inherent in our itineraries. Dragoman makes operational decisions based on informed advice from a number of sources:
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice
Reports from other travel companies and local suppliers
Leaders reports from off the road
Local contacts we have built up over 31 years of experience
Dragoman has also teamed up with the UK Foreign and commonwealth office (FCO) in their 'Know before you go campaign' www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo. This website offers straightforward travel advice, top tips, and up to date country information to help you plan a safe trip.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. You should always make yourself aware of the travel advice before you book and again before you travel. Below are links to some of the websites
New Zealand. http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/
United States. http://travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html
Dragoman has comprehensive passenger liability protection and tour operator insurance. These policies have total indemnities of £3,000,000 and £10,000,000 respectively. This is in addition to local vehicle insurance and your personal travel insurance.
We have a dedicated 24 hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left the UK and in the event of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours.
If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in theses trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked and the crew informed if necessary.
Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564.
It is a condition of booking that you have comprehensive travel insurance. Without evidence of valid travel insurance you will not be allowed to start the trip.
Whatever policy you choose, you must ensure that it is designed for adventure/overland travel. As such it must cover you for adventure activities such as white water rafting, trekking, horse-riding and that the 24 Hour Emergency Assistance Company must be experienced in handling situations in developing countries – for example they have the ability to arrange repatriation from remote areas such as the Sahara or if you were trekking in the Andes. Please double check if you have annual travel and/or credit card policies to ensure they have the cover you require, as many of these policies are not able to cope with adventure travel to remote areas. We recommend that any policy has the following minimum levels of cover: Medical (incl. repatriation) £5,000,000 Personal Liability £5,000,000 Cancellation and Curtailment £5,000 Loss of Baggage, personal effects, money and other inclusions are down to personal choice.
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local partner straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction. If this is the case please contact our customer relations department on firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also choose to provide details in your feedback questionnaire which we ask you to complete at the end of your trip but we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
Check that your passport will still be valid for 6 months after the end of the trip - this is important as some countries WILL refuse entry to anyone whose passport is due to expire. A temporary or "visitor's” passport is not valid on our trips. You will need to provide us with your passport details prior to departing for you trip. If you change your passport please remember to inform us.
Although you will not have to carry your main bag long distances you will need to help load and unload them onto the truck. For this reason we recommend that you use a backpack or soft bag rather than a heavy suitcase. During your trip your main luggage will be kept in the back locker so you will also need a small daypack. This can be used to carry your camera, water bottle and other personal effects for daily use.
The size of baggage that can be brought on this tour is limited by the locker space on the truck. Different trucks have different-sized lockers however to be safe we recommend that your bag be no larger than 66cm deep, 30cm wide, and 30cm high. The weight limit for luggage on all trucks is maximum 20kg. Backpacks should not have an external frame unless it can be easily removed and stored separately to avoid damaging other people's luggage.
Your clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in. On overland trips Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats (except on routes between Nairobi and Cape Town where ground mats are provided).
The clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in, which will vary depending on which part of the world you're heading to. On overland trips Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats*, so you'll need to bring those with you. Think about the climate and altitude of the areas you'll be travelling to, there's nothing worse than being cold at night so it's worth investing in a decent sleeping bag if it's likely to get cold. And remember even when it's warm during the day, it can often get cold at night, particularly in desert regions.
IMPORTANT: Ground mats are provided on all of our overland trips that run in South and East Africa, between Nairobi and Cape Town. This includes our Family trips between Nairobi and Cape Town.
For a general idea of what you need this list provides a guide:
For a comprehensive kit lists take a look at the Dragoman kit list that Nomad Travel have created. Dragoman customers will receive a 10% discount on all equipment purchased either online or in store. Click to see the kit lists www.nomadtravel.co.uk/kitlist/overlanders-kit-list
The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.
Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilized water stored in the purpose built storage tank or in water jerry cans in your Overland vehicle. You are free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like. You are helping the environment and your hip pocket!
All of our trucks have a fully stocked medical kit onboard for use in emergency situations only. Therefore in addition to this we recommend that you purchase your own personal medical kit. In the UK we have teamed up with Nomad Travel Stores and Clinics to produce the Dragoman Travel Medical Kit. It has been designed in conjunction with the truck kits and contains everything you would need for any minor accidents. For more details please visit their website:
Your vehicle will be equipped with a 12 volt socket so to charge your iPod, MP3 player, camera, laptop and mobile phone you will need a DC 12 volt adapter - the type that can be used from a cigarette lighter in your car. Please be aware that only one piece of equipment can be charged at a time and it will not be allowed if there is a risk of running the vehicle’s batteries low. Batteries may also be recharged from hotel room wall sockets and the majority of the campsites we stay at have electricity points so please bring along your normal charging adapters as well. You will need to ensure that you have the correct country adaptor for your specific charger.
For mobile phones, please note that most countries in the Americas operate at 850MHz and 1900 MHz which is not the same frequencies used in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Most modern tri-band and quad-band mobile phones will be able to operate on these frequencies but please check your mobile phone specifications before travelling to ensure that you'll be able to use your phone in the Americas.
In addition to the trip price on our overlanding trips you will also be required to pay a kitty specified for your trip. The kitty is payable in instalments at the start of each section of the trip for combination trips, and in full at the start of the trip for individual trips. Each customer joining a trip pays their kitty into a central fund. The fund is managed by the Dragoman crew & kitty accounts can be viewed by all throughout the trip.
The Kitty covers all things that the whole group does, such as:
The kitty system is very unique to overlanding and we believe it allows us to have flexibility & transparency on our trips. You can see exactly how your money is being spent and ensure that you are getting the best value by buying locally. It also helps to keep the costs competitive & save on administration costs so that we can pass the saving on to you. Dragoman makes NO PROFIT on kitties as they are the group's fund.
We constantly update the kitty prices on our website and the kitty advertised in the brochure is an estimate at the time of printing. Prices can go up or down with no notice and exchange rate fluctuations will affect costs. If there is money left in the kitty at the end of your trip then this is divided between the group and you receive a refund. Once you book your trip it is very important that you check our website on a regular basis and just before departure for any changes to the kitty amount.
At least half of your kitty should be paid in cash in the specified currency on the website (US Dollars or Euros in West Africa). The outstanding amount can be paid in local currency during your trip; your leader will give you the exchange rate. Most of our travellers choose to bring a cash passport with them for withdrawing local currency (you can visit www.cashpassport.com for further information on these). This is a very secure way of carrying your money whilst travelling. You treat them exactly like an ATM card and draw out local currency from an ATM to give to your leader within each country.
Travellers cheques have become increasingly difficult to change around the world with passengers and our leaders experiencing huge frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept them on our trips.
Sometimes, civil or political unrest, or reasons beyond Dragoman's control (e.g. a natural disaster), can mean that an itinerary is disrupted and we have to make a contingency plan. This may involve hiring alternate transport or even the whole group flying over an area. Although Dragoman will help organise travel arrangements, in circumstances outside Dragoman's control you should be prepared to contribute towards the costs and therefore we ask you to bring along a 'Contingency Fund' of USD400. In almost all cases trips run smoothly and this fund is therefore never used. We also recommend that you take along an internationally recognised credit or charge card with a decent limit in case of emergencies, such as medical treatment en route, or even the need to be repatriated; though these occurrences are rare. Remember that travel insurance policies usually only refund you for expenses after you have already paid out.
Tipping is entirely voluntary. The Dragoman crew may be travelling with you for many weeks and usually they become good friends with most members of the group. It is sometimes easy to forget that they do work hard to ensure that you do have a great trip. If you feel you would like to tip them, they certainly would appreciate it. On a number of our trips, we also use a local guide as well as our own Dragoman crew. These guides live and travel with you through their home country and it is usual to tip them when they leave. We recommend USD10 to USD15 per person.