South East Asia between Kunming and Bangkok via Burma, (EKB)

Kunming to Bangkok 1 days, departing 05 Sep 2015
The phenomenal 1000-year-old temples of Bagan, Burma A beautiful lake and karst formation in the Grand Park in Kunming, China Cherry Blossom tree at the Cuihu Green Lake Park in Kunming The incredible temple of Wat Pho at night, Bangkok

Trip Overview

Trip Style: Overlanding
Route: Kunming to Bangkok
Duration: 1 days
Transport: Overland expedition vehicle, Local passenger truck, Boat, Canoe
Physical Rating:

EASY HARD


You will travel through areas that may be physically challenging.
Accommodation:

10%95%

Hotels, Hostels, Wild Camps, Monastery Camping

Route Map

Countries Visited

Burma

Sandwiched between India and Thailand, Burma encompasses aspects of the Indian Subcontinent and South East Asia. You'll find yourself sipping hot sweet tea and munching on cauliflower pakora at lunch (much as you would in India), but in the afternoon heading to a peaceful Buddhist temple to chat with monks in the same way that you would in Thailand or Cambodia. This is a country that has only recently opened up to tourism and NOW is the time to go, before it gets swamped with the kinds of tourist numbers that you find in the neighbouring countries. The sites are incredible - Bagan is truly one of the most remarkable sites in Asia, the people are extraordinarily welcoming and friendly and the scenery is stunning.

 

Join us on one of the worlds first Overland tours to EVER run through Burma! 

China

As one of the world's largest countries and the most populous there is so much to discover in China.

Understanding the history of China is key to understanding modern China. The people are proud of it's past, and keen to share it's heritage with the world. In a country that defies superlatives the words 'vast', 'astonishing' and 'variation' don't really seem to cover it - China really does have it all. Jungle in the south, mountains in the west, desert in the north and 21st century cities.. well... almost everywhere.

Beijiing is the hub of political and international focus. With the 2008 Olympic games providing funds to modernise huge ares of the city, it is a truly modern city. However most visitors are most struck by it's old elements from celebrated site such as the Forbidden Palace to simple, traditional hutongs.

There's a lot of China to see and most of it is changing rapidly, so what are you waiting for? Get out there are discover it for yourself.

Thailand

A papaya seller on the floating markets of Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand lies deep in the heart of South East Asia, and it is a country brimming with Asian culture. Flowing with beautiful national parks Thailand has long been a favorite destinations for travellers.

The capital, Bangkok has an amazing skyline of glorious buildings. Don't be alarmed by the busy backdrop to this city, as there are many treasures hidden all over. Watch the sunset in a rooftop bar. Take a trip to the Amulet Market and protect yourself from evil spirits by the goods sold. Or visit the huge Buhadda at Wat Po.

Thai cuisine is popular throughout the world and concentrates on including five tastes. Spicy, sweet, sour, salty and bitter. The blend of these are important and many dishes concentrate on the right balance to make the perfect meal. A traditional dish of Pad Thai consists of chili spices and lime juices infused with chicken, peanuts and garlic on a bed of stir fry styled noodles.

There is a welcoming feel to this country, and with so many activities to try, there is something for everyone in the wonderful country of Thailand.

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Daily Itinerary

The phenomenal 1000-year-old temples of Bagan, Burma
The incredible Golden Rock in Mt Kyaikhto, Burma
The phenomenal Kyauk Kalap Pagoda in Hpa An, Burma
The incredible temple of Wat Pho at night, Bangkok
The Royal Palace in the Thai capital of Bangkok
A papaya seller on the floating markets of Bangkok, Thailand
A stunning vista of the Three Pagodas in Dali, southern China
The main gate of Dali, Yunnan province, China
The South gate of Dali, Yunnan province, China
A beautiful lake and karst formation in the Grand Park in Kunming, China
Cherry Blossom tree at the Cuihu Green Lake Park in Kunming
The beautiful Yuantong Temple, Kunming, China
The infamous Bridge over the River Kwai, Kanchanaburi, Thailand
The Thai-Burma railway near Kanchanaburi
Exploring the courtyard around the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Burma
Young monks in Yangon, Burma
Yangon City Hall, Burma
The incredible views of the Shwedagon Pagoda at sunset, Yangon, Burma
The phenomenal Shwedagon Pagoda at night, Yangon, Burma
Our truck at the ancient city of Bagan, Burma
In Bagan, Burma
The incredible ancient temples of Bagan lit up at dusk
The spectacular view from a sunrise balloon flight over Bagan, Burma
Relaxing on a boat trip down the Ayeyarwady River, Burma
Walking across the U Bein bridge, Mandalay
The white pagodas of Sandamuni Paya, Mandalay
The Kuthodaw Pagoda in Mandalay, Burma
Cauliflowers for sale in Kalaw
Taking a day walk out of Kalaw, Burma
Some pagodas on the shore of Inle Lake
Local woman steers the boat on Inle Lake, Burma
Local women at the markets of Dawei, southern Burma
The Maungmagan beaches near Dawei, Burma
A local ox and cart near Hsipaw in the Hill State of Burma
Buffalos taking a refreshing dip near Hsipaw
The old colonial Candacraig Hotel in Pyin U Lwin, Burma
The tranquil Botanical Gardens in Pyin U Lwin, Burma
One of the colossal Buddha statues of Laykyun Sekkya, Monywa
The beautiful vista at the top of Mt Kyaikhto
On the Ayeyarwady River near Pakkoku, Burma
Crossing the Chinese-Burmese border at Ruili
A view out over the lagoons of Hpa An
The wide, empty streets of the bizarre Burmese capital of Naypyidaw
The beautiful vista over Mawyalmine, Burma
Up close with a Buddha statue in Mawlyamine, Burma
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Day 1: Kunming

( Sat 05 Sep )

Border information: if joining in Kunming, you will most likely enter China at Kunming Changshui International Airport.

Today will be a free day to explore the city of Kunming until the evening. There will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm - your leader will leave a note at reception telling you where this important meeting will take place.

In Kunming we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Hotel for the night: HongHe Hotel

HongHe Hotel 

(Also know as the Red River Hotel in English but this name is not widely known or used)

204 Chuncheng Road,

Guandu District,

Kunming, 650041,

Yunnan Province,

China 

Tel: 0871-66265666

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the historic Yuantong and Tanhua Buddhist temples in Kunming

CNY 6
Visit the Yunnan University Wu Mayao Museum of Anthropology in Kunming, and learn all about the history of the province CNY
Learn all about the area's minorities at the Yunnan Provincial Museum, and visit the nearby markets CNY
About Kunming:

Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province is known in China as "the city of eternal spring" due to its temperate climate. It's a thoroughly modern city, home to a population of about 6 million - but despite its size it's actually pretty laid-back and is an enjoyable place to while away an afternoon. The Yuantong temple is definitely worth a visit, at over 1000 years old it is the largest Buddhist temple complex in Kunming, or treat yourself to a hair cut from one of the outdoor barbers who offer their services around the Tang Pagodas.

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Day 2 to 3: Dali

( Sun 06 Sep to Mon 07 Sep )

This morning we start out journey with a drive to the beautiful lakeside town of Dali. We will have a free afternoon to explore on arrival.

Drive time - 5-6 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

On the following day we will have a free day in Dali to enjoy the many optional activities available in the area, including taking a boat ride out on Lake Er Hai or taking the cable car up Cangtang Mountain.

In Dali we will stay in an excellent hostel in private or shared rooms.

Activity Approximate Cost

Hike on the scenic mountain of Cangshan and explore the walkways, forests and temples in the area

CNY 40

Learn how to make dumplings and traditional Yunnanese cuisine at one of Dali's fantastic cooking classes

CNY 150

Discover the ornate 9th-century Three Pagodas of Chongsheng, some of the tallest pagodas in China's history and the symbol of Dali

CNY 120

Head out by bicycle to explore the region in depth and visit various Bai villages and Qing Dynasty bridges en route

CNY 50
Experience the incredible ancient art of cormorant fishing with the fishermen of Xizhou on Lake Erhai CNY 100
About Dali:

Everybody loves Dali. Aside from the beautiful setting with its stunning mountain backdrop, the town is home to the minority Bai people, which makes for some colourful history and culture, not to mention its traveller friendly western style beer gardens and restaurants. With its temperate climate and beauitful natural setting it's the perfect place for some rest and relaxation - be it Cormorant fishing on lake Erhai Hu or enjoying a tradtional Chinese massage.

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Day 4: Ruili

( Tue 08 Sep )

Today we wil travel throuh Baoshan Country and reach the border town of Ruili. 

In Ruili we aim to stay in a local guesthouse.

Drive time - 8-9 hours.

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Day 5 to 6: Hsipaw

( Wed 09 Sep to Thu 10 Sep )

Border information: exit China at Ruili, enter Myanmar at Muse.

Today we will cross the border into Myanmar and make our way to the laid-back Shan village of Hsipaw.

Drive time - 6-7 hours.

On the following day we will have a free day for exploration of the area, and will hopefully have the opportunity to take a boat trip on the lake or head out on a day trek to the hill-tribes of the area.

In Hsipaw we will stay in a hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost
Trek out to remote hill tribe villages around Hsipaw in Burma's Shan State Included in Kitty

Take a boat trip from Hsipaw to explore the nearby Shan villages

MMK 10000
Visit the Sawbwa Palace, once the seat of local authority in the Shan State MMK
About Hsipaw:

Hsipaw sits in the valley surrounded by hills which makes it a popular place for trekking. It was once the centre of a small, Shan state of its own but is probably one of the most well known, wealthy and powerful 'saopha' states. The Saophas were important in regional and national politics from the 11th century until the 1960's. The old Shan palace where the princes of Hsipaw once lived is in the north of town, although it is closed to the public you may be able to view it from the road or river.

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Day 7: Pyin U Lwin

( Fri 11 Sep )

Today we will continue to the scenic hill town of Pyin U Lwin in the Shan highlands above Mandalay, where we will have a chance to explore the town and the beautiful botanical gardens.

In Pyin U Lwin we will camp overnight near the town.

Drive time - 4 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore the old hill station town and the botanical gardens at Pyin U Lwin

MMK 5000
Take a train along the famous railway between Hsipaw and Pyin U Lwin, a remarkable piece of engineering that brought trade and control to the region during the colonial era USD 2
Trek out to the nearby Anisakan waterfalls (if time allows) MMK 10000
About Pyin U Lwin:

The scenic town of Pyin U Lwin is located about an hour from Mandalay and began as a British military outpost. Later, because of its cool and temperate climate it became a hill station and was the summer capital of Burma, where many people (particularly wives and children) would go to escape the summer heat. There are many attractive colonial buildings and an impressive botanical gardens.

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Day 8 to 10: Mandalay

( Sat 12 Sep to Mon 14 Sep )

Today we will have a free morning to further explore Pyin U Lwin, before our short drive to the enchanting and evocative former royal capital of Mandalay.

Drive time -2 hours.

On our first full day here we will have a guided tour that includes a morning visit to Mandalay Hill, the world's largest book, the Golden Palace and the Mahamuni Pagoda, before finishing the day at the beautiful U Bin bridge in time for sunset.

On the following day we will have a second full day in Mandalay to freely explore the incredible city.

In Mandalay we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Take a boat trip to see the colossal uncompleted stupa at the Mingun archaeological site near Mandalay

MMK 5000

Head out on a day trip to some of the main sights of Mandalay, including Mandalay Hill, the Kuthodaw and Mahamuni Pagodas, the Shwenandaw Kyaung Golden Monastery and U Bein bridge

Included in Kitty

See the famous anti-government comedy show from the Moustache Brothers

MMK 8000

Freely explore the area surrounding Mandalay, particularly the beautiful monasteries and temples in the villages of Sagaing and Old Ava

MMK 16000
Visit the Gold Pounders' district and the famous Jade Market in Mandalay to shop for local handicrafts and learn about their manufacturing techniques MMK
Freely explore the huge complex of the Mandalay Royal Palace, and visit the many fascinating buildings within MMK
Head out for an colourful evening performance of traditional Burmese music and dance at Mandalay's Mitha Theatre MMK 8000
About Mandalay:

In 1857 King Mindo founded a new royal capital at the foot of Mandalay Hill, from where the city took its name. On the death of the King the monastery in which he died was dismantled and removed from the Royal Palace as it was thought it would bring bad fortune. It was rebuilt outside the palace walls, so when The Royal Palace was destroyed by fire at the end of the 2nd World War the Monastery with its intricate wooden carvings were saved.

The city itself is relatively modern, a hub of economic trading as well as being considered the cultural and religious centre of Burma.

Mandalay is famous for its hill with its abundance of monasteries and pagodas and is a major site for Buddhist pilgrimages. For those that wish to climb be prepared for the 1,729 steps to the top. The climb up takes you past many historic stupas and Buddhas of great significance to the pilgrims. There are many stalls that line the route to the top of the hill and the views from the top are incredible, with far reaching views across the plains of Mandalay and the Irawaddy River.

At the foot of Mandalay Hill is found the world's largest book; 729 white stupas house the text of the Tripitaka, Theravada Buddhism's most sacred text. The world's largest iron Buddha is also found here. 

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Day 11: Monywa

( Tue 15 Sep )

This morning we will continue our journey to the town of Monywa, stopping en route to visit the Thanboddhay Pagoda and the Hpo Win Daung cave temples. 

In Monywa we will stay in a local hotel.

Drive time - 6-7 hours (depending on the length of our visit to the pagoda and temples).

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the incredible Hpo Win Daung cave temples and explore their Buddha staues and painted murals

Included in Kitty
Visit the stunning 14th-century Thanboddhya Pagoda and see its colossal golden stupa and incredible 580,000 Buddha statues Included in Kitty
See the Laykyun Sekkya Buddha statue near Monywa, which at 116m is the second tallest statue in the world (if time allows) MMK
About Monywa:

Monywa is found on the banks of the River Chidwin and is home to the Buddhist temple of Mohnyin Thambuddhei Paya, an incredible site thought to contain over 500,000 images of Buddha.  

The area is also a hub of agricultural production with the surrounding valley producing a wide range of crops, particularly beans and palm sugar. It is also a centre for the production of cotton and the local patterned longyi/sarongs are reknowned for the strength and quality of their material – 80% of Burma's cotton production is from Monywa.

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Day 12: Pakkoku, Ayeyarwady River, Bagan

( Wed 16 Sep )

Today we make our way to the ancient town of Pakhan Gyi and the attractive town of Pakokku , where we board a boat to take us on a journey down the Ayeyarwaddy River to Bagan.

In Bagan we will stay in a local hotel.

Drive time - 4 hours to Pakokku.

Activity Approximate Cost

Take a boat trip down the mighty Ayeyarwady River to arrive in Bagan

Included in Kitty
About Bagan:

Bagan is one of Asia's greatest attractions, easily rivalling the Great Wall of China or Angkor Wat, yet it is very little known. The site consists of a huge plain that is covered with literally thousands of temples that stretch as far as the eye can see, set amidst an attractive landscape of fields, small villages and sandy tracks.

The temples were built from the 9th - 13th century and are ornately covered in beautiful carvings whilst the interiors are decorated with extensive frescoes.

 

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Day 13 to 14: Bagan

( Thu 17 Sep to Fri 18 Sep )

Bagan is situated on the banks of the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River and is home to the largest cluster of pagodas, Buddhist temples, stupas and ruins in the world - a place that has to be seen to be believed.

We will have 2 full days in Bagan, in which time we have a guided tour of the temple complexes and visit the 10th century old town of Bagan, including a visit to a local handicraft workshop. There will also be plenty of time for free exploration of the area.

Activity Approximate Cost

Take a day tour around the multitude of historical sites in and around the ancient capital of Bagan

Included in Kitty

See the sunrise over Bagan from an unforgettable morning balloon flight (weather-dependent)

USD 330

Take a day trip out of Bagan to see the phenomenal Taung Kalat monastery, constructed on the summit of the near-vertical Mount Popa

MMK 40000

Further explore the ancient city of Bagan independently by bicycle or horse-drawn cart

MMK 8000
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Day 15: Kalaw

( Sat 19 Sep )

Today we will drive to the hill station town of Kalaw, where we will hopefully catch the lively market and explore the town.

In Kalaw we will camp outside the village.

Drive time - 6-7 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost

Head out for a day of hiking in the stunning hills surrounding Kalaw

MMK 5
Visit the fascinating Pindaya Caves near Kalaw and marvel at the array of statues within MMK 10000
About Kalaw:

As a former British hill station, Kalaw provides much needed relief from the heat of the lower lying areas while the surrounding hills are the home to various ethnic minority groups, including the Palaung, Danu and Pa-O. The town is situated up in the hills, surrounded by pine forest, and has many attractive colonial buildings. There is also a lively market which is well worth a visit.

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Day 16 to 18: Inle Lake

( Sun 20 Sep to Tue 22 Sep )

Today we have the opportunity for a day walk in the hills surrounding Kalaw, before returning in the afternoon for the short drive to the beautiful Inle Lake, a real highlight of a visit to Myanmar. The area is full of amazing floating gardens and can be explored by bike or on a long-tail boat.

Drive time - 2 hours.

On the following day we will have a full day tour around Inle Lake by long-tail boat to the floating farms and markets.

On the following day we will have a free day to explore the area by bike, hike in the surrounding hills, or visit the local wineries and hot springs.

In Inle Lake we will stay in a local guesthouse.

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore the famous floating markets of Inle Lake by long-tail boat

Included in Kitty

Explore the area by foot and head out on a day hike in the beautiful hills around Inle Lake

MMK 10000

Hire a bike to explore the wineries and hot springs near Inle Lake

MMK 4000
Learn how to prepare a variety of local Shan specialities at a cooking class near Inle Lake MMK 15000

Head out on a bird-watching tour along the less-frequently visited areas on the shores of Inle Lake

MMK 12000
About Inle Lake:

Inle Lake is stunning, surrounded by distant hills which make for a beautiful back drop to the hustle and bustle of lake life. The area is home to the Intha people, who live both in towns around the lake and on the lake itself. Many local houses and temples are built on stilts in the shallow waters of the lake and floating islands are built from water hyacinth and water weeds. These gardens allow the farmers to grow fruit and vegetables – the sight of floating apple orchards are certainly something different!

The produce from the gardens, with rice from the paddy fields around the lake and lake fish means that the people are pretty self sufficient. The local food reflects this self sufficiency and a popular local dish is htamin gyin - rice kneaded with fish and/or potato into round balls, served with hnapyan gyaw - twice fried - Shan tofu, fermented bean cakes, fried onions, tomato, chilli and tamarind.

The local fishermen are renowned for their distinctive rowing style, where they stand at the stern of the boat on one leg whilst the other leg is wrapped around the oar. This style of rowing developed so the fishermen could get a better view and allow them to navigate through the shallow and plant-dense water – something that is far harder to do whilst more traditionally seated. This leg rowing style is however only practiced by the men; women are seated cross legged to row.

Small boats provide the easiest way to get around the lake and lakeside settlements and it can get quite busy at times as people get on with their daily lives.

Tourism has become an important part of the local economy and traditional crafts such as the weaving of Shan–bags, silk longyi (sarongs) as well as cheroot rolling, carvings and work from black and silver smiths are now produced for the tourist trade as well as local use. 

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Day 19: Naypyidaw

( Wed 23 Sep )

Today we will drive to the unique, bizarre and half-empty Myanmar capital of Naypyidaw, a city constructed in secret during the early 2000s. Here we will have the opportunity to explore the city in the truck.

In Naypyidaw we aim to stay in a local hotel.

Drive time - 6 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost
See the bizarre capital of Naypyidaw, suddenly built between 2002 and 2006 by Myanmar's military government Included in Kitty
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Day 20: Yangon

( Thu 24 Sep )

Today we will complete our drive to Yangon, where we will have a free afternoon to explore or visit the Scott market.

Drive time - 6-7 hours.

In Yangon we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

About Yangon:

Although not the capital of Burma, Yangon is its largest and most important city, a bustling and lively place that throngs with people, temples and markets.

Chief of its many attractions is the Shwedagon Paya, an exquisite temple that is covered in gold leaf and which is always full of pilgrims paying their respects. This is the perfect place for people watching and you can spend a wonderful afternoon hear, chatting to monks and local people as you watch the sun set over the city.

There are also a number of beautiful colonial buildings, a lively Indiatown and Chinatown and a great market that is full of many stalls that sell just about anything you could wish for.

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Day 21: Yangon

( Fri 25 Sep )

Today we will have a guided tour of old Yangon, the Kandawgyi Lake, the Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda and the famous Shwedagon Pagoda. You are then free to explore the city on your own.

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore Yangon's famous Bogyoke (Scott's) Market

USD

Enjoy a tour of Yangon, including the Kandawgyi Lake and the famous Shwedagon Paya temple

Included in Kitty
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Day 22: Yangon

( Sat 26 Sep )

 Border information: if leaving in Yangon, you will most likely exit Myanmar at Yangon International Airport.

Today is the final day of the trip - if you are leaving in Yangon, please note there is no accommodation included tonight. If are continuing to Bangkok, today you will move on to the town of Kyaikhto.

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Day 23: Yangon

( Sun 27 Sep )

Border information: if joining in Yangon, you will most likely enter Myanmar at Yangon International Airport.

Today will be a free day to explore the city of Yangon and the Scott Market until the evening. There will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm - please do not be alarmed if there is no welcome note from your leader when you arrive as this is often a travel day for the crew, and they are likely to arrive during the afternoon.

In Yangon we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Hotel for the night: Asia Plaza Hotel

No. 277 Bogyoke Aung San Road,

Kyauktada Township,

Yangon

Tel - +95 1 391071 or +95 1 391070

Email - hotelasiaplaza@gmail.com

Web - www.asiaplazahotel.com

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Day 24: Yangon

( Mon 28 Sep )

Today we will have a guided tour of old Yangon, the Kandawgyi Lake, the Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda and the famous Shwedagon Pagoda.

 

Activity Approximate Cost

Enjoy a tour of Yangon, including the Kandawgyi Lake and the famous Shwedagon Paya temple

Included in Kitty

Explore Yangon's famous Bogyoke (Scott's) Market

USD
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Day 25: Mt Kyaiktiyo

( Tue 29 Sep )

This morning our journey from Yangon begins with a drive to one of Myanmar’s most important Buddhist pilgrimage shrines at the spectacular Mt Kyaiktiyo.

We take a local pick-up truck up the first two-thirds of the mountain, and then continue the final part of the ascent on foot along a steep and winding path. We end up on the top, next to the Golden Rock.

In Mt Kyaiktiyo we will stay in a local hotel.

Drive time - 4 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

Activity Approximate Cost

Take a local passenger truck up to the incredible Golden Rock, one of Myanmar's holiest shrines

Included in Kitty
About Mt Kyaiktiyo:

The Golden Rock and Pagoda are an inspiring Buddist Pilgrimage site. The Pagoda is perched on top of the huge granite boulder painted gold by the many pilgrims. The boulder is said to be held in place by a strand of the Buddha's hair that stops this huge boulder from tumbling down the sheer cliffs below.

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Day 26: Hpa An, Mawlyamine

( Wed 30 Sep )

Today we will aim to visit the mushroom-shaped temple rock at Kyauk Kalap and the beautiful Kawt Ka Taung caves near Hpa-an, before moving on to the city of Mawlamyine for the night.

In Mawlamyine we will stay in a local hotel.

Drive time - 6-7 hours (depending on the length of our visits to the sites near Hpa-an).

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the beautiful tiled temples inside the caves of Kawt Ka Taung

Included in Kitty

Visit the seemingly impossible Kyauk Kalap rock near Hpa-an

Included in Kitty
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Day 27: Dawei

( Thu 01 Oct )

Today we will head south following the beautiful Andaman coast, to the southern city of Dawei. If we have time we will visit the Thanbyuzayat Allied War Cemetery en route.

We will stay at a beachfront hotel on Maungmagan Beach (approx 12 Kms away from Dawei).

Drive time - 8-9 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the Allied War Cemetery at Thanbyuzayat en route to Dawei

Included in Kitty
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Day 28: Dawei

( Fri 02 Oct )

Today we will have a free day at the the stunning Maungmagan beaches.

Sencond night at a beachfront hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Relax and explore the beautiful Maungmagan Beach on the Andaman coast of southern Buma

Included in Kitty
See the amazing 75m-long reclining Buddha at the Lawka Tharaphu Pagoda in Dawei MMK
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Day 29: Kanchanaburi

( Sat 03 Oct )

Border Information: exit Myanmar at Htee Kee, enter Thailand at Ban Nam Pu Ron.

Today we will cross into Thailand via the brand new border at Htee Kee, and drive to the town of Kanchanaburi.

In Kanchanaburi we will stay in a local guesthouse.

Drive time - 6-10 hours (please note that this is a very new border to open up and we are likely to be one of the first foreign vehicles to use it, so there may be delays here hence the wide range for the estimated drive time).

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Day 30: Kanchanaburi, Bangkok

( Sun 04 Oct )

We spend this morning exploring the Thailand-Burma Railway centre and the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi. This afternoon we drive to Thailand's bustling capital of Bangkok, where we will have free time to explore and enjoy our final meal together!

In Bangkok we will stay in a comfortable, centrally-located hotel.

Drive time - 3-4 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the notorious Bridge over the River Kwai and the Thailand-Burma Railway centre, and learn all about the history of the Japanese occupation during the Second World War

Included in Kitty
About Bangkok:

The chaotic headlong pace of Bangkok doesn't match up with many people's idealised vision of the exotic capital of Siam. Scattered with high-rise buildings of concrete and glass, the city is a sprawling plain that's home to a population of at least nine million, and it often feels even bigger. But under the shadow of the skyscrapers you'll find a heady mix of frenetic markets, noisy traffic, hushed golden temples and early-morning alms-giving ceremonies. One way or another, the place will probably get under your skin - and if you don't enjoy the challenge of slogging through jams of buses and tuk-tuks, which fill the air with a chainsaw drone and clouds of pollution, you can spend time exploring the impressive temples and museums or shopping 'til you drop.

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Day 31: Bangkok

( Mon 05 Oct )

Border information: if leaving in Bangkok, you will most likey exit Thailand from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Today is the final day of the trip and a free day to explore the fascinating city of Bangkok. Please note that if you are leaving the trip in Bangkok there is no accommodation included tonight.

Activity Approximate Cost

Get a traditional Thai massage at Bangkok's oldiest massage school in the temple of Wat Pho

THB 500

See Bangkok from a different perspective on a canal boat tour

THB 1500

Explore the vast royal complex of the Grand Palace, including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (the most sacred temple in Thailand)

THB 250
Explore Bangkok's incredible Wat Arun temple, one of Thailand's most picturesque temples THB

Take a cycling tour of Bangkok or the surrounding countryside

THB 1000
Discover the many interesting exhibits from all over Thailand at Jim Thompson's House, the museum at the former home of the famous American ex-pat THB 100
Learn all about Thai history and culture at the Bangkok National Museum, the largest and most comprehensive museum in South East Asia THB 40
Climb the steps of the Golden Mount to see the panoramic view of Bangkok from the Wat Saket temple THB
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Important Notes

The routes, activities and places visited described in these trip notes are intentions and are meant as a rough guide only.

These trip notes have been compiled to help you prepare for your journey once you have booked. They include the full itinerary and dates, and information about kit lists, meeting hotels, insurance, vaccinations, visas, and other information that will help you get ready for your trip.

We update these notes regularly, so please ensure you have an up-to-date version of these trip notes.

We intend to follow the planned route but exact night stops and inclusions cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our 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, which often have poor infrastructure. You should expect that some of these areas do not adhere to 'Western' safety standards.

Exploratory Trip Warning - this is a new trip for us!

Please note that this is either a brand new trip for Dragoman, or has undergone significant changes to the itinerary recently. While we have thoroughly researched this area to put together this trip, it still must be remembered that this is a relatively new trip for us. This means you'll be a pioneer on this route, making the trip even more exciting! However, this does mean that your leader will be finding a lot of information out on the ground and playing things by ear, re-jigging the itinerary here and there whenever it's necessary. To be frank, we expect some things to go wrong. When we head to new destinations, we usually find there are more pleasant surprises in store than unpleasant ones, but the warning is sincere. If it concerns you then we recommend that you wait for a year or two until we get any bugs ironed out.

Physical Preparation

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. There are some high altitudes in places and many places where walking around for several hours is the only way to explore (e.g. The Great Wall of China, walking tours in Uzbekistan, exploring the historical sites of India, etc.).

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.

Visa Information

Many countries that we visit on our travels will require visas to enter. 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 read the information very carefully to make sure everything is clear and you aware of what you need to do. Please also be aware that rules surrounding visas do change, often suddenly, and without prior warning. This is why it is important that you also double-check the information we provide for yourself.

For visas that are needed in advance, you may wish to submit the applications directly to the relevant embassy or consulate. If you require any supporting documentation for your visa applications, please complete the ‘Visa Support Form’ available at this link: http://dragoman-visa-support.thevisamachine.com/visa-support.

However, for trips that involve multiple visas, 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. The visa service is not always available for all nationalities or non-UK residents, depending on the requirements of each specific embassy. The Visa Machine will advise you what they can and cannot provide for your specific circumstances.

As you will often 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.

Most countries require that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your entry into the country.

For trips that are not yet guaranteed, you may find yourself in the position whereby you will need to start the visa application process prior to your trip being guaranteed - in this situation we still advise you not to purchase flights until your trip is guaranteed. However, you can start your visa application process, ensuring that when applying for your visas or letters of invitation that you allow several days before and after your entry into the country to allow for delays, availability of flights, etc. 

China 

VERY IMPORTANT - Dragoman will require a scan of your passport photo page as soon as possible after booking for all trips in China, please send this to us as soon as you can. 

Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and all EU countries will need a visa to enter China as a tourist for up to 90 days. You will need a Letter of Invitation from a Chinese agent in order to make the visa application, and you must obtain the visa in advance. You cannot obtain the visa at the border in any circumstance.

Firstly you will need to apply for the Letter of Invitation through the online visa support documents application form at The Visa Machine – please make this application at the link http://dragoman-visa-support.thevisamachine.com/ as soon as possible after booking or at least 4 months before your trip departs. This form is used to apply for any Letters of Invitation that are needed for a visa application – the service is completely free of charge. These can take several weeks to issue, and will be emailed to you once they are ready.

After your Letter of Invitation has been issued, you can use this to apply for the visa in advance at any Chinese Embassy. You can either apply yourself directly to the embassy, or hire The Visa Machine to make the application on your behalf (which is recommended, especially if you are applying for several visas). Dragoman will also provide a letter confirming your participation in the trip and a list of our hotels, which you may need for the application – in some cases the Chinese Embassy may ask for a day-by-day itinerary with the hotels listed, which we can provide when needed.

It is recommended to apply at the Chinese Embassy in your home country, as your application is far more likely to be approved. Although there is no official reason why you should not be issued a visa at any Chinese embassy, their consular officials are notorious for constantly changing their minds about whether they will approve a visa for ‘non-resident’ applicants, and it depends heavily on the political climate of the time.

IMPORTANT NOTE - Please NEVER mention Kashgar, Urumqi, Turpan, Lhasa, Xinjiang or Tibet anywhere on your Chinese visa application form – this will almost certainly result in your application being rejected. When filling out your Chinese visa form, please only declare the places that are listed on your Chinese Letter of Invitation once it is issued.

If you are asked to provide a host in China on your visa form, please use the details of the Chinese agent that issued your Letter of Invitation (this will be printed on the letter).

You will not need a China visa if you are entering Tibet from Nepal (Northbound Tibet trip), but you will need a China visa if you are going to Tibet from Xi’an (Southbound Tibet trip). Please see the Tibet note for details on the visa requirements for travelling through Tibet.

Burma (Myanmar)

VERY IMPORTANT - Dragoman will require a scan of your passport photo page as soon as possible after booking, and a scan of your Myanmar visa as soon as it is issued - please send this to us as soon as you can, or 3 weeks before travel at the absolute latest.

Citizens of all countries (except some South-East Asian countries) will need a visa to enter Myanmar for up to 28 days, and you must obtain the visa in advance. You cannot obtain the visa at the border in any circumstance. You will not normally need a Letter of Invitation from a Burmese agent in order to make the visa application, but if your nearest consulate needs one then Dragoman can provide one for you - please contact us if you require this for your application.

You can either apply yourself directly to the embassy, or hire The Visa Machine to make the application on your behalf (which is recommended, especially if you are applying for several visas).

Please note that we will need a scan of your passport and your Myanmar visa as soon as possible to enable us to arrange pre-arrival paperwork for the group.

As of November 2014, there is an option to obtain an e-visa to enter as a tourist for up to 28 days. This option is only available to those arriving at Yangon or Mandalay airports, and certain land borders from Thailand – please note that the e-visa option is not available for those on our Kunming-Yangon section, as the e-visas are not yet accepted at the Ruili-Muse border with China that we use. If the e-visa is an appropriate option, you will need to apply for an e-visa online and in advance – please go to http://evisa.moip.gov.mm/ to apply for a single-entry visa; it should take at least 5 days to be approved, then they will send a visa approval confirmation to your email address which you must print out to present at the border – the costs vary depending on nationality. Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and all EU countries are eligible to apply for an e-visa - citizens of other countries should check as to whether they are able to use the e-visa option.

If you are asked to provide an address in Myanmar on your visa form, please use the address below:

Asia Plaza Hotel,
277 Bogyoke Aung San Road,

Kyauktada Township,

Yangon,

Myanmar
Tel: +95 1 391071

Thailand 

Citizens of the UK, USA, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia will not require a visa to enter Thailand as a tourist for up to 30 days. Citizens of Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and most ‘western’ EU countries will not require a visa to enter as a tourist for up to 30 days if arriving by air, or up to 15 days if arriving through a land border. In all cases, this may be extended for 30 days at the immigration department in Bangkok once in the country.

Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required. Please note that certain Eastern European nationalities (whether members if the EU or not) will need a visa, but some nationalities can obtain the visa on arrival while others will need to obtain it in advance – please check carefully what the situation is for your nationality. If you are travelling on our Yangon-Bangkok section and you do need a visa, you will have to obtain it in advance, as they don’t yet issue visas on arrival at the Htee Khee border with Myanmar that we use.

Personal Spending

Personal Spending - Asia

Based on the range that previous travellers have spent on this trip, we recommend you allow between USD15-30 per day for Central Asia, China and Burma and between USD10-USD20 per day 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.

For trips in Southern India that occur over Christmas and New Year please allow approximately USD160 extra on the kitty for seasonal increases in accommodation costs.

Asia Currencies and Cash

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!

Bringing a sensible mix of cash and ATM cards is the best way to bring money out, but it's always a good idea to bring plenty of cash that you can change (USD and EUR are commonly changed throughout Asia) rather than relying on cards. 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. ATMs are available in most areas but are not always reliable. Credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard are accepted in some major cities, but be prepared for very high commission charges

Banks and moneychangers in most countries in Asia will now only accept bills with a metallic strip running top to bottom of the bill and which are no more than 8 years old. You should not take worn or damaged notes, or any that have been written on. Please also bring a mixture of small and large denominations - you may get a better rate for changing larger denomination bills, but in more remote areas it can be difficult to change amounts over USD50.

Please note that due to restrictions on currency conversion for foreigners in many Asian countries, it may not be possible to change leftover local currency back into USD after your trip, so please plan your budget well by withdrawing/exchanging what you need as you go.

What else you need to know

Overland Lifestyle and Trip Suitability

Dragoman has 32 years experience of leading overland trips across 4 continents. Overlanding is all about sharing a great travelling experience with like-minded people. On your trip you’ll travel in one of Dragoman’s purpose built iconic expedition vehicles on an off the beaten track adventure along rugged roads, experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of the world up close. Your journey will be overland across vast distances so some long days spent driving are inevitable - but these will be interspersed with breaks of a day or two at a destination or activity. On an overland journey you are more than just a passenger and everyone gets involved setting up camp - we supply the tent but it’s up to you to pitch it! As part of your trip you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting firewood or water, luggage loading, organising food, stores etc.

Like all great adventures, the more you put in the more you'll get out!

We are looking forward to welcoming you on one of our overland journeys but before we do there are a few things we would like to draw to your attention:

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Who Travels with Dragoman?

Our groups are made up of people 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 (or 7 on our Family Trips), 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.

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Group Size

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 group starting a trip in Dar es Salaam. In practical terms this means there could be up to 44 group members in Zanzibar at the same time.

Please also note that on some departures there may be more than one truck doing the same route. This means that you will be in the same hotel or campsite as another Dragoman group on some days. To ensure that you are not always at the same place at the same time as another group, your itinerary will most likely be slightly altered from the itinerary advertised in these trip notes.

Our Crew and Guides

Our crew are passionate about travel and are always up for adventure. It takes someone special to become a Dragoman leader. Our crew undergo the most intensive training program of all the 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, we usually have 2 western crew. The crew are responsible for the group and the overall organisation of the trip. On our trips in East and Southern Africa we either have 2 western crew or 1 western crew and 1 local driver. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and for them 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 the entire 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 crew have a duty of care to all members of the group and therefore they have the authority to ask you to leave the trip if you require serious medical assistance, you 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.

Accommodation on Tour

Dragoman's overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying 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 and whilst our crew will do their best to accommodate couples travelling together in twin rooms, all our travellers should expect to stay in multi-share accommodation from time to time.

The type, variety and standard of accommodation will vary depending on what options are available in each of the areas we travel through and the nightstops on 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.

Equally, the type and standard of hotel accommodation will vary greatly depending on what is available in the area; hotels can vary from very basic multi-share rooms without electricity or running water all the way to high standard hotels with good facilities!

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. Occasionally 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.

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The Kitty

In addition to the trip price on our overlanding trips, you will also be required to pay a kitty specified for your trip (please note that there is no kitty on our Family Trips). The kitty is payable in installments 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 and the kitty accounts can be viewed by all throughout the trip.

The kitty covers all things that the whole group does, such as:

• Hotel accommodation and campsite fees

• Meals whilst camping (not in hotels)

• Activities listed as included (e.g. National Park entrances, excursions and local guides).

The kitty system is very unique to overlanding and we believe it allows us to have flexibility and 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 and 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.

The kitty is payable in full at the start of your trip (in installments at the start of each individual trip on combination trips) or via our new scheme where you can pay in advance 3-4 weeks before the start of your trip (please see http://www.dragoman.com/files/Kitty_doc_v1.pdf for more details - this letter will also be sent in your booking confirmation upon booking a trip). 

If you are bringing the kitty out in cash, please try to pay in the specified currency on the website (US Dollars, or Euros in West Africa). Your tour leader will be able to accept some of the kitty in local currency if needed, and they will let you know the exchange rate locally - in most destinations you can withdraw local currencies from ATM machines, using either a cash passport or a credit/debit card. Please bear in mind that most cards have a maximum withdrawal amount per day, local ATMs may run out of cash, and your bank could block the card despite you warning them of your travel plans, so it could be impractical to try to get the entire kitty out from an ATM.

Traveller's cheques are becoming increasingly difficult to change around the world with passengers and our leaders are experiencing frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept TCs on our trips. As an alternative, in most destinations you can withdraw local currencies from ATM machines and use either a cash passport or a debit card.

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Meals and Group Participation

On an overland journey you are more than just an individual passenger - you're part of the team. 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).

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.

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Dietary Requirements

If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting. Our crew will try to cater for any particular dietary requirement or food intolerance whenever possible. However, it must be remembered that it may not always be possible and the variety of dishes may be severely limited in comparison to those available to others.  If there is anything in particular you require in your diet, or would miss from home, or because of an allergy would miss out on, it would be best to bring these with you.  Depending on your particular requirements, you may need to allow yourself some extra spending money to allow you to purchase extra food items.

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Itineraries

Our itineraries are our intention but travel in more remote areas of the world is unpredictable – borders can close, there can be extreme adverse weather, strikes or maybe mechanical issues that affect the running of your trip but equally due to the nature of our trips we can often spontaneously include a local festival or event into the itinerary. This being said, the safety of our passengers, leaders and operators is a priority for 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 33 years of experience

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British Foreign Office Travel Advice and Warnings

Dragoman follows the British Foreign Office Travel advise when deciding where and where we are unable to travel. We will base our decisions on itineraries and alterations to published routes based on their advise rather than the advise of other governments.

However we recommend you check the latest travel advisories from your own government for the country you are travelling to before you book and prior to departure. Check to ensure that no travel warning is invalidating your travel insurance Here are a few useful addresses:

UK  www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Australia. http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

New Zealand. http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

United States. http://travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html

Canada. http://www.voyage.gc.ca/countries_pays/menu-eng.asp

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. We recommend you check this out before you travel. We will advise you of any significant changes in advice before travel or whilst you are overseas.

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Health

You 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 assessed your ability to cope with our style of travel. To help you assess if this trip is suitable, please refer to the physical rating. The ratings for each trip are a good indication of how challenging they are and in some cases you 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. Please note that if, in the opinion of our leader, you are unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to yourself and/or the rest of the group, Dragoman reserves the right to exclude you 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.

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Altitude

Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude; please discuss these options with your doctor. For trips that travel to areas of high altitude, the tour leader will issue you with a self assessment altitude questionnaire which allows you to monitor how you are coping with the altitude and informs you of danger signals so that you can reports these as soon as possible, either to the tour leader or a medical professional.

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Yellow Fever

A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.

It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.

Malaria & other mosquito-borne diseases

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 GP / travel clinic for the most up-to-date requirements.

Other mosquito-borne diseases such as Dengue Fever and Chikungunya are continuing to spread and becoming a bigger problem around the world. Bite prevention is vital to avoid contracting any of these diseases as there are no vaccines or specific treatments available.

The mosquito usually bites between the hours of dusk and dawn and so covering up by wearing 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 outside, use a mosquito net. Use mosquito repellent applied directly to your skin or soaked into your 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 and in hotel rooms but cannot be used inside the tents.

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Vaccinations

Recommended vaccinations and other health protection vary according to different 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 so please check with either your doctor or travel clinic in good time before you travel.

We also recommend you check out any specific health advice for the country you are travelling to either via your GP or the following websites: www.nathnac.org or www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk

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. You will receive a 10% discount off all vaccinations given at Nomad Travel clinics.

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Safety & Security

At Dragoman your safety is of paramount importance and we will do our best to ensure that your travel with us is safe and trouble-free but we do ask that you take that little bit of extra care whilst you are away and to understand about the nature of this style of travel.

We want you to have an enjoyable time but you must also remember that part of the enjoyment of travel is experiencing a different way of life and cultures. This may also mean experiencing different safety and hygiene standards than those you are normally used to.

Therefore, please take note of the following safety tips and follow any local safety advice or briefings delivered by our crew or any third party suppliers we use during your trip.

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Transport Safety

• Our own vehicles have fully fitted seat belts; make sure you always belt up.

• If you find a safety belt inoperable or missing on one of our vehicles, please inform the crew immediately.

• Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that other vehicles we may use or recommend in some countries will be fitted with seat belts on every seat as it is not a legal requirement in much of the world.

• Please remain seated on board vehicles at all times when the vehicle is in motion

• Never place luggage in the aisles or foot wells

• Ensure you know where your nearest Emergency exit is; this may be a designated emergency exit, a window or a roof hatch.

• Check the location of the fire extinguisher and first aid kit.

• Follow any safety instructions provided by the crew/driver

• Our vehicles are fitted with roof seats which can be used in certain conditions, such as when driving at low speeds, off main tarmac roads, etc. They can only be used with the express permission of the crew and you must never sit in them without seat belts.

Road Safety

• Traffic in some countries travels on the opposite side of the road to what you may be used to, so ensure you look both ways before crossing the road.

• In many countries vehicles do not automatically stop at crossings.

• Crash Helmets are often not provided with mopeds and motorbikes overseas – we do not recommend you hire these vehicles.

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Fire & Other Safety – Hostels/Hotels/Homestays

• Ensure you know where your nearest fire exit is and check to ensure that it is operative.

• Check the location of the nearest fire extinguisher.

• Study the fire instructions in your room if available.

• Identify how to raise the alarm if a fire occurs.

• If a fire occurs, leave immediately; do not stop to collect your effects.

• Proceed to an assembly point well away from the building.

• Electrics in hotels in many of the places that we visit will not be up to the same standards as at home. Please ensure that you check rooms, especially bathrooms and are aware of any issues that look unsafe. If in doubt inform the crew who will endeavour to sort the situation out.

• Staircases and stairwells are often built to a very different design than under Western building standards. There may be no guard rails, be excessively steep, etc. At all times be aware and take appropriate and prudent care.

• We often stay in homestays and farmstays. These may range from a traditional yurt through to a tree house or a town house. As these are traditional homes they may well not adhere to our western standards of safety and so it is important that you make yourself aware of potential risks.

• If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with the hotels/hostels or homestays

Fire Safety – Campsites

• Ensure you know where the nearest source of water or fire extinguisher is.

• Know how to raise the alarm.

• Extinguish all camping fires fully before retiring to bed.

• Observe any regulations regarding fires and bushfires in dry conditions.

• Proceed to an assembly point away from the tented accommodation/affected campsite.

Other Campsite Safety & Security

• Familiarise yourself with the campsite and any known hazards.

• Group tents around our vehicle wherever possible.

• No open flames, smoking or flammable liquids in or near the tents.

• Ensure cooking area is well away from the tents.

• Ensure all water for cooking and drinking is purified first.

• Ensure any soil toilets are min 50m away from tents & cooking area.

• All food waste should be burnt or buried – min 100m away from the site.

• Ensure local advice is followed concerning any wildlife.

• Keep valuables locked in the vehicle.

• Be aware of any local security issues that might be important.

• Do not set out tents close to perimeter fences which may be a security risk.

• Be aware of the security arrangements and local guards for campsite and if in doubt ask them where and where not to pitch tents.

• If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with campsite.

• When wild camping, ensure that you do not wander away from the camp alone. If you do leave camp ensure that you have notified the leader or other members of the group. Food Safety We prepare many meals during the tour and our crew are hygiene trained; however, some general tips can help in order to avoid the possibility of stomach upsets;

• Make sure your food has been thoroughly cooked.

• Hot food should be hot, cold food should be cold.

• Avoid any uncooked food, except fruit and vegetables, (notably those you can peel or shell yourself).

• In many countries you should only drink bottled water or purified water and ensure any seal is intact when purchasing bottles.

• On the Dragoman vehicles we have a tank of drinking water that is kept purified by the crew.

• Avoid ice in drinks as this can cause upset stomachs in hot climates.

• Make sure you wash your hands in antibacterial product when preparing and/or eating food.

• Restaurant Food: This is grassroots travel and many of the restaurants that you will eat in, either as a group or as individuals, will NOT have the same standards of food hygiene as we have in the Western World. Unfortunately this is part of travel in these regions. Therefore think carefully about what food you order and be aware of the risks.

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Personal Safety

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 you 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. We have come up with a few pointers that we recommend you follow:

• Follow the crew’s specific safety advice in each destination.

• Be aware, stay away from situations where you do not feel comfortable.

• Avoid carrying too much money.

• Use of a money belt / neck wallet or is encouraged at all times while travelling for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items.

• Avoid walking in poorly lit areas.

• Ensure your valuables are left secure when you go out.

• In any hostels/hotels, place all valuables in a safety deposit box, where available or with reception or locked away by the crew.

• Do not take any valuable jewellery/watches etc. away with you.

• If possible avoid walking around on your own; it is always safer to explore with others.

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Activity Safety & Optional Activities

You will have the opportunity to take part in many exciting activities and excursions, some of which are included, whilst others are optional (i.e. hiking The Inca Trail, trekking to see Mountain Gorillas). These require a certain level of fitness, so it’s important that you read through the trip notes thoroughly and make your own conclusions as to whether you feel that you are fit and healthy enough to enjoy this trip to its fullest.

Some activities may have higher risks than you are used to and you must judge whether or not you wish to, or have the physical ability to take part.

Optional activities mentioned by Dragoman are not included in the trip price or kitty and do not form part of your contract with Dragoman. As such you accept that any assistance given by Dragoman crew members or local representatives in arranging optional activities does not render us liable for them in any way. The Dragoman crew are assisting you in arranging these activities for your added enjoyment whilst on your trip. The operators of these services and optional extras are local suppliers who contract directly with the Client ‘on the road’ subject to and in accordance with their own terms and conditions. Dragoman accepts no liability for any action or activity undertaken by the Client which is arranged independently of Dragoman while on tour. Crew may take part in an optional activity but do so as private individuals and not as company representatives.

Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time.

Ensure that you use the appropriate equipment on optional activities, including life jackets, helmets, etc. This is especially important on activities such as horse riding, white-water rafting, etc.

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Included Activities

Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not necessarily be refunded; this is something you will need to check with your leader.

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Optional Activities

A selection of optional activities is listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This is not an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and do not include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities are not necessarily endorsed or recommended by Dragoman nor included in the price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and does not form part of your contract with Dragoman. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or optional activity form for some optional activities.

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Insurance

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.

We recommend that any policy has a minimum medical (including repatriation) cover of £5,000,000. We recommend that any policy also has a minimum level of cover for Personal Liability of £5,000,000 and for Cancellation and Curtailment of £5,000. Cover for loss of baggage, personal effects, money and other inclusions are down to personal choice although please bear in mind that personal effects are more likely to go missing whilst travelling and you should ensure that your policy is adequate to cover the value of your personal effects e.g. cameras, I pads, phones etc. Please note that Dragoman is not responsible for your personal effects and is not insured for their loss.

Whatever policy you choose, you must ensure that it is designed for adventure/overland travel and make sure it covers any activity you intend to undertake. 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, that they have the ability to arrange repatriation from remote areas such as the Sahara or if you were trekking in the Andes. On activities or side trips that are not recommended by us please ensure you are happy with the safety of the activity before participating.

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.

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Our Liability Insurance

Dragoman has comprehensive passenger vehicle liability protection and tour operator insurance. These policies have total indemnities of £5,000,000 and £10,000,000 per incident respectively. This is in addition to local vehicle insurance and your personal travel insurance.

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Emergency Contact

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 these 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

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Luggage & Kit List

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. Please be aware that due to the constant dust and vibrations your luggage bag will be subject to extreme wear and tear.

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 a maximum of 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 that 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:

• Sleeping bag* - Check the expected climate en route. Nights in desert and mountain regions can be very cold in winter months.

• Sleeping bag liner* (or sheet folded and sewn up on 2 sides). It will help keep your sleeping bag clean, and can be used on its own on warm nights.

• Ground mat or compressed foam*

• A day pack is useful for short hikes in the countryside, wandering around cities, etc and also for keeping inside the vehicle for items used during the day

• 2 sets of comfortable travelling clothes (light, easily washable cotton clothes are best)

• 1 set of casual but smart clothes for evenings out. Women should bring a skirt that covers their knees and a scarf for visiting places of worship

• 2 pairs of shorts

• Sun hat or warm hat if trekking

• 1 pair of sunglasses

• Warm sweater/fleeces

• 1 waterproof jacket with hood

• 1 pair of comfortable walking shoes/boots (or ankle height canvas jungle boots)

• 1 pair of sandals or flip-flops

• Underwear and socks (thermals are also a good idea if you are travelling to altitude or to the desert as it can get very cold at night)

• Swimwear

• 2 small towels

• Washing kit, including a small mirror

• Clothes washing detergent, small scrubbing brush & washing line (just a length of cord)

• Head torch/flashlight with spare batteries & bulbs (only the 3 standard sizes of round 1.5v batteries are widely available en route)

• Passport photos (average of 2 per country for which visas will be applied for en route)

• Good water bottle at least 1 litre

• A pouch or money belt worn inside your clothing, or unobtrusive pocket sewn into the inside of a pair of loose fitting trousers, is a must.

• Alarm clock

• Pocket calculator (useful when exchanging money)

• Writing materials & notebook/diary

• Multi purpose knife.

• Mosquito net - The tents supplied by us have mosquito netting and you will only need a net if you think you will sleep out under the stars a lot of the time.

• "Wet Ones" (moistened tissues) and hand gel

• Toilet paper – this can be purchased almost everywhere en-route but one roll is worth packing

• Assorted sized plastic bags - protects clothing and equipment from dust and damp

• Extra batteries for your camera / phone etc as there are only limited opportunities to recharge. For a comprehensive kit list take a look at the Dragoman kit list that Nomad Travel has created. You will receive a 10% discount on all equipment purchased either online or in store. Click to see the kit lists http://www.nomadtravel.co.uk/c/381/Overland

 

*For trips with camping nights

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Personal Medical Kit

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:

http://www.nomadtravel.co.uk/pharmacy

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Passports

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.

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Pre and Post Trip Accommodation and Connecting Flights

At Dragoman we believe you should make the most of the places you visit, so if you would like to see more of the 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 that 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.

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Continuing Your Trip

Having an amazing trip and met a great group of people? Having too much fun to go home yet? If on your trip you decide that you would like to continue, then why not speak to your trip leader who can advise you of the cost and availability of continuing your journey.

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Contingency Emergency Fund

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 will be required to contribute the additional costs involved 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.

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Responsible Tourism

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.

www.dragoman.co.uk/about-us/responsible-travel/our-commitment

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Water

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 sterilised 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 pocket!

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Electrical Equipment

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.

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A Few Rules

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 groups. 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. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession, if they use prostitutes, abuse children, use violence or threaten violence, without a refund of the trip price.

We expect you 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.

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Issues on the Trip

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

customer-relations@dragoman.co.uk.

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.

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Tipping

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 USD $1 to USD $4 per person per day, but check with your crew for an appropriate amount.

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Our Community

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 to catch up with your fellow travellers once your trip has finished. You can share photos, videos and stories and 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

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Feedback

After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us to understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better, and it allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

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