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India

Himalayan Cycle to Shimla

Activity
Cycle
Duration
n/a days
Grade
Grade 4

About the challenge

Our exciting and adventurous challenge takes us to the famed Golden Temple of Amritsar, in Northern India, before heading into the beautiful mountainous state of Himachal Pradesh.  Our route follows the contours of the western Himalayas, passing through scenic tea plantations, dense forest, remote villages and colonial hill stations, with a spectacular backdrop of snowcapped mountains. There are some demanding climbs and thrilling descents as we ride through this mountainous country.  Our route also takes in Mcleod Ganj, the mountain-top home of the exiled Dalai Lama, and ends in Shimla, the former summer capital of British India. We celebrate our achievements with a ride on Shimla’s scenic narrow-gauge railway that winds its way through the mountains.

 Become a Discover Adventure Pioneer - be the first to experience this challenge!

PLEASE NOTE: The 2017 registration fee in the brochure is incorrect and this should be £349 as shown below.

The itinerary

Concise Itinerary

Days 1-2: Fly to Amritsar, visit Golden Palace

Days 3-4: Cycle through beautiful valleys to home of Dalai Lama, time to explore

Days 5-7: Ride rolling foothills through tea plantations, wild forest and small villages

Days 8-10: More dramatic mountain landscapes and deep valleys to Shimla

Days 11-12: Narrow-gauge railway through mountains; return to Delhi and fly home

Download full challenge details

 

What it's really like

Varied cycling over foothills and high passes
Some sections on dirt roads
Exceptionally diverse scenery
Longest day 90km
Stay in hotels and simple guest houses

Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.

 

For details of our extension trip to the famous Golden Triangle of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra (adds 3 extra days) please contact us

Detailed information

What's Included?

The tour cost includes flights, all accommodation, transport and food other than 3 meals as specified in itinerary.  A 21-speed mountain bike is also included. It also includes full trip support of experienced Discover Adventure leaders/mechanics, as well as local guides, drivers and cooks. 

What's Excluded?

It does not include personal travel insurance, airline fuel supplement charged by the airline (capped by Discover Adventure), meals as specified, entry visas, tip for local support crew, and entry to any optional tourist sites you may wish to visit.

We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency

Flight Information

Group flights leave from London Heathrow or Gatwick, (we regret that we are unable to book connecting flights), and are booked through Discover Adventure Ltd under ATOL licence 5636. By travelling with Discover Adventure you are protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are most likely to fly with Jet Airways, however, we don’t always fly with the same airline so this is a guideline only. You will usually receive confirmed flight details several months before departure. Our itineraries are always based on current flight schedules and are therefore subject to change by the airline. If you prefer to book your own flights please ask us for a land-only cost.

Accommodation

Accommodation is on a twin-share basis, in a mix of hotels, simple local guesthouses and for one night a permanent tented camp. Expect some variation! In cities our hotels are generally more Western-style and 2-3* standard. 

Food

All meals are included other than 3 meals as detailed. The food is good and there is plenty of it; most meals are local-style not western. Lunches are sometimes packed lunches but mainly cooked. 

Dietary Requirements

Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Please do not expect as much variety as you would have access to at home – we will be in rural areas and among people of a different culture who may not understand your requirements, however willing they are to help. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in towns or cities and you are free to explore and try other culinary experiences! There is always something to suit every budget.

Trip Support

Discover Adventure Crew

Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. They are also trained in expedition first-aid. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.

All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. Although our leaders are trained in expedition first-aid, they are accompanied by an expedition doctor or medic (dependent on group size) – who is there to look after the well-being of the whole group and deal with any incidents. They help the leaders to ensure the trip runs smoothly and encourage you when things get tough.

Local Support Crew

Our local support crew is made up of local guides, drivers and cooks. Your local guide knows the local area well, and is a great source of knowledge about local customs and lifestyles. Drivers and cooks do not always speak English but are very friendly and approachable. The Discover Adventure crew work closely with the local crew to ensure your trip runs smoothly and safely. Your leader will arrange a collection of tips for the local support crew at the end of your ride. Tipping is not obligatory, but once you see how hard they work on your behalf you will be happy to donate something! All our local crew are paid wages, but bear in mind that the average wage in this country is far below what you would spend on a normal night out.

Luggage

Support vehicles are with the group all the time. All luggage, spares, food and water is carried by them. Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should also bring a small daypack or large waist-pack for items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening.

Trip Safety

Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency satellite phones, mobile extensive medical kit, first-aid kits and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate.
Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance is all done with your safety in mind.

Preparing for the challenge

Cycling Information

Terrain

On full cycling days the distance averages about 70km, though there are some shorter days. Cycling is on a mix of tarmac roads – some smooth, some more worn and uneven – and some dirt tracks. The cycling is varied, with some days undulating along valleys and other days with very strenuous climbs and long descents through the mountains; there is very little flat. Our highest point is the Jalori Pass at 3130m; some effects of being at altitude may be felt, although there is plenty of opportunity to acclimatise. Traffic is usually light and we will cycle at our own pace, but we may re-group at times for busy sections. Even small villages can be very chaotic, and you must be vigilant. We are travelling through remote areas and weather may have an impact on road conditions.

Bikes

We will be using 21-speed mountain bikes fitted with semi slick tyres. If you are unsure whether to take your own bike or use one of ours, please just contact us.
It is imperative that you supply your own helmet and wear it at all times while cycling, with straps done up.

Bike Repairs

There will be a range of spares in the vehicle along with a full tool kit; however, it is impossible for us to carry spares for every eventuality. It is vital that if you bring your own bike it is in excellent working order before departure.

Clothing & Equipment

We are travelling through remote areas where we could be exposed to difficult conditions at any time. The information above gives you an idea of the climate, but be prepared for all weathers and temperatures. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.

Weather

We ride from low to high elevations; it can therefore be hot or quite cold – especially early mornings and evenings. Rain is probable, and conditions can change quickly. We should be prepared for anything! Average temperatures for Shimla range between 7-22°C.

Fitness Levels

Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.

Passport & Visa

A valid ten-year passport is essential; it should be valid for at least six months after departure from India. There is also a visa requirement for UK citizens; other nationalities should check entry requirements. For UK nationals, India has outsourced its visa application services to VF Services (http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk) and applications at the embassy in London are no longer accepted. There are also Indian Visa Application Centres in London, Hayes, Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Vaccinations

We strongly recommend protection against Tetanus, Polio, Hepatitis A and Typhoid. Malaria is graded low-risk in this region, though you should check for the most up-to-date advice.

Cultural Differences

For most people, the main attraction of travelling to a different country is to see new sights and enjoy new experiences. Sometimes those new experiences can make life harder or more inconvenient than you may like, such as toilet hygiene or different food, or simply a different attitude to solving problems. This is all part of the challenge you are signing up for! We are very privileged to live in a country with a high standard of living, and travelling exposes us to different challenges – all of which help broaden our horizons. We can guarantee that coming face-to-face with experiences outside your normal ‘comfort zone’ will help you bond with your fellow cyclists and provide you with plenty of things to laugh about! A sense of humour and sense of adventure are two of the most important things to bring with you!

Worldwide Sustainable Tourism

Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through. AITO, our Trade Association, has recognised the work we do in this area and has awarded us 5 stars as a Responsible Tour Operator.

Discover Adventure Projects

We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up.

Carbon Offsetting

We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with TCV and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org or call 01302 388883.