India Travel Information
What to Wear
When travelling to foreign destinations it is always respectful to dress modestly and we suggest the emphasis is on comfortable clothing for your travels in India. The hotels are smart but not hugely formal and the smart casual label is the best description for a suggested dress code. In general, only lightweight clothing is needed for the daytime but it is wise to bring a warm sweater for early morning starts and especially for any train journeys, as the onboard air-conditioning can be very severe! Local people may be offended by some western styles of dress; steer clear of sleeveless tops, shorts, miniskirts (ankle-length skirts are recommended) and any other skimpy, see-through or tight-fitting clothing should be avoided by both men and women. Baggy clothing that hides the contours of your body is the way to go.
In National Parks & Tiger Reserves
Whilst on safari in any National Park or Tiger Reserve, loose fitting and relaxed clothing is most appropriate and these should be muted earthy colours. You may also like to carry a sun hat and sunglasses with you. Basically, avoid bright colours and tight fitting clothing. We also suggest taking a fleece or jumper for early morning game drives. It can be surprisingly cool! Please note that from mid-November until end February (particularly Dec-Jan), the early morning and evening game drives can be very cold – this is attributed largely to the wind factor of the ‘open air’ jeep. We highly recommend you to carry fleeces, jackets, hats, gloves and scarves. By about 8/9am, the sun is out and you will begin ‘de-layering’ and be comfortable in a t-shirt for the majority of the day.
On the Beach
We suggest dressing modestly when away from the resort beaches. Clothing such as swimwear or brief shorts is not acceptable in towns and villages away from the main tourist beaches. Away from the main tourist areas in Goa and Mumbai, take your cue from local women. Most Indian women wear saris, salwar kameez, or long shorts and a T-shirt whenever swimming in public view. When returning from the beach, use a sarong to avoid stares on the way back to your hotel.
Most hotels and lodges have laundry services, so an excessive amount of clothing should be unnecessary. Please note that most hotels, lodges and camps hand wash clothing.
A Few Suggested Items
Packing for India is like preparing for any holiday destination; you’ll need comfortable clothes, swimwear, good shoes, and casual evening wear. Below are a few suggestions and guidelines to use when packing.
- T-shirts, lightweight trousers, short & long sleeved shirts in bush colours, fleece/jumper, jacket, hat gloves & scarf if you’re coming out in the cooler months from November-February. Also a light rain jacket can be useful.
- If walking a good sturdy but lightweight pair of walking boots/shoes are a must. Long-sleeved shirts and trousers are best if you know you'l be heading into the jungle. Day packs are also a good idea for carrying water and other items with you.
- Flip-flops or sandals are perfect for walking around lodges and on the beach.
- On the beach there are water activities: snorkelling, boating, fishing, and swimming so don’t forget swimwear and sarongs.
- Cameras are a must, and we’d definitely recommend bringing a good telephoto lens for wildlife photography. Please refrain from using flash photography whilst on safari as this can scare the wildlife.
- Binoculars are great for bird and wildlife watching.
- Most camps provide shampoo, conditioner and bio-degradable soap in the rooms, but please bring any other cosmetic or medical items that you might require.
- You will often find insect repellent in the rooms but if you have a preferred brand we’d recommend you bring it, as not all brands are available in India.
- Don’t forget waterproof sunscreen, lip balm, sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat.
- A torch in case of power cuts!
Please limit baggage to two items per person and always use soft bags rather than suitcases. More information about luggage is available in your journey essentials document post-booking.
Getting There & Away
If Natural World Safaris has arranged your international flights you will be sent your flight itinerary separately. Please note that once your flights have been booked these will be subject to their respective terms and conditions. If you have not booked your flights with Natural World Safaris you will need to make your own arrangements to arrive and leave in accordance with your itinerary. We can arrange flights for you if needed, please ask for further details.
On arrival in India at the international airport you will first pass through immigration control, then collect your baggage and pass through customs before you are met by our local representative. He/she will hold a ‘welcome board’ with your name on it. This procedure will be followed for domestic flights, albeit without the customs & immigration.
Once you have exited customs you will find a large amount of people including taxi touts. Please move very slowly so that you can spot our representative. In the rare event that our representative is not to be found please call our local representative’s emergency number (found on Contact Details).
When you disembark the aircraft please move promptly to the immigration counter as large queues can build up at this point.
We have provided local contact details in the accompanying information but if you have any problems please call our 24-hour Emergency UK telephone number on +44 (0)7887 637 628.
Hotels, Lodges & Camps
The accommodation available in India does vary considerably from the grand and luxurious Indian Palaces and Forts to the very simple but comfortable Forest Rest Houses. Generally lodging in cities and other towns is in conventional three to five star lodges, hotels or guesthouses. A variety of luxury lodges and tented camps surround national parks with some offering very high levels of comfort but standards do vary and some Government run Forest Rest Houses only have basic amenities with non-flushing, Indian style toilets (bucket water is provided). We use a wide range of accommodation, and since the beginning our philosophy has been to select accommodation to suit the itinerary - not the other way round. We do however always attempt to use environmentally friendly lodges which are committed to protecting the local environment and helping local communities.
If you have been on safari in destinations throughout Africa previously, please do not expect the same quality of accommodation and wildlife viewing. Please remember that India is a relatively new safari destination, parks may be busy and roads may be bumpy.
On the overnight trains we normally use 2nd class 2 -tier air conditioned berths. Berths are arranged in bays of four (two upper, two lower) on one side of the aisle and in bays of two on the other. Each bay is curtained off and bedding is provided. Shared toilets and washbasins are at the end of each carriage. Occasionally it may be necessary to use 3-tier berths.
Some of the safari lodges and camps we use in India are in prime wilderness areas where wild animals roam! At dawn and dusk some animals such as elephant, buffalo & deer may come and graze near these camps! Wild animals are dangerous and should not be approached on foot, unless accompanied by a guide.
Most lodges are able to offer laundry facilities but please note that the cost is not always included. Check with reception for current prices. Due to natural drying and variable climatic conditions your clothing might not always come back ‘bone dry’. As most laundry is hand washed please avoid handing in delicate clothing. Most lodges won’t wash underwear but will happily provide washing powder to use in your room.
Food & Water
India is a culinary delight with an amazing variety of food on offer. All the accommodation we use will serve freshly prepared meals including western style food along with Indian curries and snack food such as pakoras (deep-fried battered vegetables), dosas (paper-thin lentil-flour pancakes) and finger chips (seasoned potato chips); these are all delicious. As long as it is peeled or washed in purified water, please feel free to try fresh fruit which can offset the unhealthiness of lots of fried food! Bottled water, cartons of fruit juice and bottles of soft drink are generally safe to drink and you may want to drink the sweet milky Indian chai (tea). Do not be afraid to try local produce it is part of the experience, so long as you take sensible precautions! Please bear in mind that we try to use lodges/camps that use local produce which supports the local communities.
We recommend that you only drink bottled water but always ensure the lid seal is intact and check that the bottom of the bottle hasn’t been tampered with. Crush plastic bottles after use to prevent them being misused later, or better still, bring along water-purification tablets or a filtration system to avoid adding to India’s plastic-waste mountain.
International telephone communications are good from the major cities but more difficult from some remote areas. Mobile network coverage is reasonable in India but can be limited in rural areas, national parks and tiger reserves; although coverage is expanding all the time. Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies. Almost all hotels and lodges will have international phone facilities but please do check with reception what their latest call charges are, these can be expensive. If you need to make an international call just ask your guide for assistance.
The internet and e-mail is now widely available in India and can be accessed from an increasing number of hotels, lodges and from numerous internet cafes across the country, many now offer Wi-Fi. Many hotels and lodges do offer their guests internet and e-mail facilities but please check with reception what their latest charges are.
We are not able to provide contact details for individual hotels, lodges or camps, as many do not have the facilities to handle guest calls/communications. We will provide contact details for our ground agents, please see accompanying information.
India is five and a half hours (+5.5) ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
Sunrise is generally around 06:30 hours and sunset at about 19:00 hours. This does vary considerably, depending on the location within India and the time of year.
The electricity supply in India is 230-240 volts AC, 50Hz. Some areas have a DC supply. Plug sockets do vary and we advise visitors to take multi-adaptors to cope with 2 round pin sockets (European) or three-round pin varieties (old style British).
All the major hotels and lodges have good power supplies and most have in room electrical sockets. Some smaller establishments and jungle lodges may not have a socket in the room but will have charging facilities available at reception. Power supplies in India can at times be interrupted by power shortages, so it is wise to take a torch.
The local currency in India is the ‘Rupee’, abbreviated as ‘Rs’ (INR; symbol Rs). One Rupee is equal to 100 paise. Coins are in various small denominations of 10, 25, 50 Paise (these are rarely in circulation these days) & 1, 2, & 5, Rupees. Notes (Bills) are in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100 Rupees. Currency can be changed at banks, airports or authorized money changers. It is illegal to exchange money through unauthorized money changers. US Dollars and Pounds Sterling are the easiest currencies to exchange. For more information please see below.
As of November 9, 2016, existing 500 and 1,000 rupee banknotes are no longer legal tender in India, with new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes being issued to replace them. You will be able to exchange foreign money and old notes up to a value of 5000 rupees into legal tender at the bank or airport.
As most meals, park fees, guiding fees etc are covered in the cost of your safari we generally recommend allowing approximately £10/ USD$15 per person per day for spending money on drinks, souvenirs and crafts items.
You may wish to take extra funds to make contributions or donations to organisations that we encourage clients to visit. Donations and contributions are entirely voluntary.
You can exchange money at international airports where 24-hour exchange facilities are available, at national or international banks such as Standard Chartered, Citibank, Bank of America, Hong Kong Bank, through approved money changers or at the big city hotels. Most banks have 24-hour ATMs. American Express and Thomas Cook offices may be found in major metros and tourist cities.
Bank timings are usually from 1000 hrs to 1700 hrs on weekdays and 1000hrs to 1400 hrs on Saturdays. Please remember that not all banks will exchange foreign currency or travellers cheques particularly in small towns.
Exchange money only through authorized banks or Money Changers. Insist on a receipt/encashment certificate when changing money. Retain all receipts to facilitate re-conversion of unspent money on departure from India.
Major currencies such as US dollars, UK pounds and Euros are easy to change throughout India, though some bank branches insist on travellers cheques only. When travelling off the beaten track, always carry a decent stock of rupees.
Whenever changing money, check every note. Banks staple bills together into bricks, which puts a lot of wear and tear on the currency. Do not accept any filthy, ripped or disintegrating notes, as these may not be accepted as payment. If you get lumbered with such notes, change them to new bills at branches of the Reserve Bank of India in major cities. Nobody in India ever seems to have change, so it’s a good idea to maintain a stock of smaller currency. Try to stockpile Rs 10, 20 and 50 notes; change bigger bills into these denominations every time you change money.
Officially, you cannot take rupees out India, but this is laxly enforced. However, you can change any leftover rupees back into foreign currency; most easily at the airport (some banks have a Rs 1000 minimum). Note that some airport banks will only change a minimum of Rs 1000. You may require encashment certificates or a credit-card receipt, and you may also have to show your passport and airline ticket.
Never keep all of your cash in the same place, keep it in different pockets and split it up between different bags.
If you are carrying USD$, please take bills dated 2006 or later as earlier dated bills can be very difficult to change and may not be accepted (as well as torn and dirty bills – the crisper the better!).
Credit Cards & Travellers Cheques
Credit cards are accepted at growing numbers of shops, upmarket restaurants, and midrange and top-end hotels. However, be wary of scams – see below. Cash advances on major credit cards are also possible at some banks without ATMs. MasterCard and Visa are the most widely accepted cards and many places will also accept Diners Club and American Express; for details about whether you can access home accounts in India, inquire at your bank before leaving.
Most major brands of Travellers Cheques are accepted in India, but some banks may only accept cheques from Amex and Thomas Cook (these are the most widely accepted). Pounds sterling and US dollars are the safest currencies, especially in smaller towns. Charges for changing travellers cheques vary from place to place and bank to bank.
ATMs linked to international networks are common in most towns and cities in India. However, carry cash or travellers cheques as backup in case the power goes down, the ATM is out of order, or you lose or break your plastic. Remember, you must present your passport whenever you change currency or travellers cheques. We recommend that you contact your bank before leaving and inform them that you will be using your cards abroad, this will avoid any ‘security blocks’ being put on your account.
Additional Hotel Payments
All foreign nationals must pay their hotel bills in foreign currency (cash, Travellers Cheques or even by credit card). This can be paid in Rupees if the visitor has a receipt to show as a proof of currency exchange.
Please check online or with the Indian Embassy for the most up-to-date visa information well in advance of travel to ensure you have the correct documentation.
As of 2015, India have introduced an e-Tourist Visa which you much apply for before travel. To check eligibility for the e-TV please go to: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html
Please note obtaining the correct entry visas are your responsibility.
All foreign nationals arriving in India from now on MUST have a machine-readable passport. Foreign nationals who arrive with non-machine readable passports will be denied entry. A valid passport with a minimum of 6 months validity on arrival in India and at least two blank pages is mandatory. Make sure you check your passport validity well in advance of travel.
Embassy Contact Details
In the UK the Indian High Commission is located at:
India House, Aldwych, London WC2B 4NA, UK
Tel: 020 7836 8484 or 7632 3149/52/53 (visa enquiries)
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 0915-1730.
In the USA the Indian Consulate is located at:
Chancery: 2107 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008, USA
Consulate: 2536 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008, USA
Tel: (202) 939 7000 / (202) 9397000.
All of our local operators conform to local safety regulations. If you at any time feel that this is not the case please do not hesitate to contact us.
Know Before You Go is an ongoing campaign from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to help Brits stay safe abroad, however in our opinion it has useful information for all nationalities. The campaign was launched in 2001 to promote these key messages:
- Get adequate travel insurance
- Check the FCO’s country travel advise
- Visit your GP as soon as possible before travelling
- Check your passport is in good condition and valid and you have all necessary visas
- Make copies of important documents and/or store them online using a secure data storage site.
- Tell someone where you are going and leave emergency contact details with them
- Take enough money and have access to emergency funds.
We suggest that you go to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website to get up to date information on your specific destination and important travel tips before you travel.
Go to: https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/ for relevant and important travel tips to plan your trip abroad.
Security & Scams
Clients should take the usual precautions when travelling abroad in unfamiliar surroundings and we recommend that clients take a taxi rather than walk at night. Please use your common sense and do not draw attention to cameras, video equipment, jewellery, etc. Do not flaunt money and always use safes when provided at hotels/lodges.
India has a reputation for scams designed to separate travellers from their money, often with the promise of a chance to get rich quick. Don’t be fooled – any deal that sounds too good to be true invariably is. Precious stones and carpets are favourites for this con. It also pays to be cautious if sending goods home. Shops have been known to swap high-value items for junk when posting goods to home addresses. If you have any doubts, send the package yourself from the post office. Be very careful when paying for souvenirs with a credit card. Government shops are usually legitimate; some private souvenir shops have a reputation for secretly running off extra copies of the credit-card imprint slip, which will be used for phoney transactions after you have left the shop. Insist that the trader carries out any credit-card transaction on the counter in front of you. Alternatively, take out cash from an ATM and avoid the risk.
While it’s only a minority of traders who are involved in dishonest schemes, many souvenir vendors are involved in giving commission to taxi drivers who insist on taking you to a ‘relatives shop who will give you a good price’. Most problems can be avoided with a bit of common sense and an appropriate amount of caution. If you are at all worried please seek advice from your guide.
For latest travel advice please contact us, at our UK office, or alternatively use the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.
The import of prohibited articles such as dangerous drugs, live plants, gold/silver bullion and coins, not in current use, is either totally prohibited or restricted. The law provides heavy penalties for the infringement of this restriction, and in some cases punishment can extend to the death sentence. Also, by law, visitors are banned from taking antiques and wildlife products out of the country – any infringement is punishable by fines and imprisonment.
The Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act bans all forms of wildlife trade. Violations of the provisions of the Act are punishable with heavy fines and imprisonment up to 7 years. Foreigners are, therefore, advised not to buy any wildlife or wildlife products or derivatives especially ivory articles, fur and skin articles derived from wild animals such as Shahtoosh.
Health & Medical
Always seek medical advice before travelling; please consult your GP or Doctor who will be able to advise you on required vaccinations and anti-malarial prophylaxis.
In the UK, we recommended visiting the ‘Fit for Travel’ website.
In the USA, we suggest consulting CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) - http://www.cdc.gov/
Please bring any personal medication required. Anti-malaria tablets and mosquito repellents are essential. Travel from some countries requires a Yellow Fever inoculation and certificate. Drink bottled or boiled water only.
Medical services, especially in rural areas, are basic so it is essential you have appropriate travel insurance with adequate medical cover, air repatriation with a 24-hours contact telephone number for emergencies. Securing the necessary travel insurance for your safari is your own responsibility.
It is a condition of booking that all clients must have, and must demonstrate to the company prior to their departure, adequate insurance for the duration of the tour.
Proof of the following items of insurance is required on booking; cancellation or curtailment of your trip, medical expenses, repatriation, loss of luggage, personal injury, adventure activities such as white-water rafting, tracking wild animals, theft of personal belongings.
Please report any theft, trip disruption immediately to your guide during your trip and also in writing to Natural World Safaris immediately on return to your home country.
We strongly believe that smoking in national parks should be avoided and is often not permitted.
In India you may use a variety of modes of transport including internal flights as well as car and rail journeys. As such travel times can vary considerably in India. The railways can be busy and crowded (although we normally use 2nd class 2 -tier air conditioned berths) but the Indian rail network is generally well run and efficient. Main roads are generally good but travel is much slower than on European or American roads.
Most roads in rural areas are often dusty or muddy and bumpy due to poor local maintenance and weather conditions. Journeys overland can on occasions take most of the day, however we always try to break these up with refreshment stops and there is always a lot to look at as you travel by!
We also use properly equipped 4x4’s for many safaris in the national parks and tiger reserves and these vehicles have been especially converted for wildlife watching.
There is considerable variation between regions in India but, in general, the climate is tropical. Summer temperatures on the plains are very hot, but cooled by the South-West Monsoon which lasts from June to Sept. The coolest weather lasts from around December to February, with fresh mornings and evenings and mostly sunny days. The really hot weather, when it is dry, dusty and unpleasant, is between March and June. Monsoon rains occur in most regions in summer anywhere between June and early October.
Visitors to India find varied subjects for photography including people, monuments, wildlife, festivities, and landscapes. Note, however, these formalities, in respect of photography:
Special permission of the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi, is required for use of tripod and artificial light on monuments.
Special permission of Government of India is required for any photography for the purpose of publicity and commercial use.
Photography is prohibited in tribal areas.
Taking photographs of airports, railway stations, bridges, military installations, and from the air is prohibited.
Always ask for permission when taking photos of local people or alternatively ask your guide for advice.
It is worth ensuring you have sufficient films, including fast films (400-1600 ASA). Please bring extra batteries as it may not always be possible to re-charge them at the lodges. In addition it might be useful to bring a car charger (cigarette lighter variety).
Please note flash photography of any wildlife usually causes disturbance and should be avoided.
Visiting Places of Worship
Removing one’s shoes before entering temples, mosques or Gurudwaras (Sikh Temple) is essential. Avoid taking leather goods of any kinds (bag, belt etc) and cigarettes into places of worship, as these are often not permitted. Do not wear shorts or sleeveless tops in places of public worship.
Prices include airport transfers; accommodation; meals and drinks as stated; an English speaking driver / guide and a safari vehicle; porterage of two items of baggage per person on the trip (subject to weight restrictions); boat trips; park fees; and permits where appropriate.
Prices exclude all items of a personal nature: entry visas, international flights, tips, telephone calls, drinks (unless otherwise stated), laundry and airport taxes. Back to Top
Tips & Gratuities
During your time in India, tipping is entirely at your discretion. There is no obligation to pay a tip to your drivers, hotel staff or your guides. Although ‘gratuities’ are at the discretion of each individual, we are aware it can also be an area of concern for some visitors to India. In this regard, we have listed some guidelines, in order to assist, although the decision is freely left with you.
Above all, it is to be remembered that tipping is a sign of gratification for good service, and therefore please view the below guidelines as the middle ground, which can be adjusted depending on the level of service you feel you have received.
The following may be used as a guideline:
Rs 300-800 per guide, per day
Rs 200-300 per porter per day (snow leopard safaris)
Rs 300-500 per guide, half day
Rs 800-1000 per tour escort, per day
Rs 200-400 per driver, per day
Rs 0-100 per government guide, per game drive
Rs 20-50 per hotel bell boy/member of staff
We recommend around 10% of the total restaurant bill.
Charitable Giving & Community Projects
We recommend as part of our responsible travel policy that you do not give money or gifts directly to local people. We have links with local projects/schools that would appreciate your support. Please ask your guide for further details. If you would like to contribute to these donations of clothing, pens and pencils are greatly appreciated.
When you buy an ATOL protected flight or flight inclusive holiday from us you will receive an ATOL Certificate. This lists the flight, accommodation, car hire and/or other services that are financially protected, where you can get information on what this means for you and who to contact if things go wrong. Company Name: Natural World Safaris Ltd. ATOL Number 9826. For more information please visit their website: http://www.caa.co.uk/atol-protection/
As a member of the Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT), Natural World Safaris Ltd has provided a bond to meet the requirements of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992.
In the event of insolvency, protection is provided for non-flight packages commencing in and returning to the UK and other non-flight packages excluding pre arranged travel to and from your destination. Please note that packages booked outside the UK are only protected when purchased directly with Natural World Safaris Ltd.
In the above circumstances, if you have not yet travelled you may claim a refund, or if you have already travelled, you may claim repatriation to the starting point of your non-flight package.
The ABTOT number is 5127.