India is a country located in South Asia with name that begins with letter I. India is a world of its own. The country, in which Germany could fit almost ten times, is an elemental force, a seething cosmos and one of the most important cultural areas in the world. In the multiethnic state with its 29 federal states and seven union territories live 1.3 billion people who communicate in over 100 different languages. 21 of them are recognized as official languages, especially Hindi and English. Almost 65 million people live in the three largest cities of Mumbay, Dehli and Calcutta alone.
The country’s animal wealth is just as overwhelming: elephants, lions, leopards, numerous reptiles and countless birds find a home in the varied landscapes of the subcontinent. The tiger is heraldic animal, but the cows enjoy the highest respect.
A visa is required to enter India. You can apply for this electronically. Corresponding instructions are available on the websites of the Indian embassies in Berlin, Vienna and Bern.
The monsoons determine the climate in most regions of the country. From June to September or October, this air current, coming from the southwest, brings most of the precipitation into the country. West coast and Himalayan areas are hardest hit. The Indian subcontinent has a subtropical to tropical climate with constantly warm temperatures. In the lowlands at the foot of the Himalayas, the temperature fluctuations between summer and winter can be very large.
Food and drink
Indian cuisine is a worldwide export article and as diverse as the country itself. Only beef is taboo for the Hindus and pork for the Indian Muslims. Apart from that, the cuisine is incredibly diverse and colorful, for which the spices and spice mixtures do their part. Particularly popular: curry dishes, fried specialties such as pakora and samosa, oven dishes called tandori, sauces made from legumes (dal) and the omnipresent flatbread chapati or Indian rice. The yoghurt drink Lassi and the products of the famous tea-growing regions Darjeeling and Assam are widespread.
No vaccinations are required when entering India, only when entering via a yellow fever infection area. Which vaccinations are recommended depends on the current risk of infection on site, the type and duration of the planned trip, the state of health, and any vaccination protection the traveler may still have. A wide variety of aspects must be taken into account in individual cases; it is always advisable to seek personal travel health advice from a doctor or pharmacist with experience in travel medicine in good time (about 8 weeks) before the trip.
On our tours you will always get freshly prepared food of high quality and with low risk to your health. The water from the pipes is not suitable for drinking. To be on the safe side, you should refrain from brushing your teeth. Only drink water from purchased bottles (with the original cap!), Boiled or filtered water!
What can happen is slight traveler’s diarrhea due to the change. Often there are also blockages as a result of the change of location. A rule of conduct that applies to all long-haul trips: “Cook it, peel it or leave it” (boil, peel or leave it)
A personal first-aid kit with your own medication is essential and makes it easier to deal with illness. In addition to your personal medication, it should also include basic medication for abdominal pain, headache, mosquito bites, etc.
Adequate protection against mosquitoes is recommended. It includes:
- Long, light-colored clothing outdoors, impregnated against insects,
- Rub all skin surfaces with a suitable repellent (e.g. Nobite)
- Impregnated mosquito nets during the night or
- Stay in rooms protected from mosquitoes (fly screens, air conditioning)
Climate and travel time
In southern India there is a tropical monsoon climate with sometimes heavy rain from June to September (southeast: October to December). However, it does not rain continuously, the sun breaks out again and again by the hour or by the day. On the coast, temperatures can reach up to approx. 32 °C (but at least approx. 22 °C), whereas it is cooler in the mountains.
All about money
Currency exchange and means of payment
It is forbidden to import local currency, and there is no limit to the amount of foreign currency that you can bring with you, but you must declare it if the amount is equivalent to USD 5,000 in travelers’ checks and cash. Debit and credit cards are accepted in the ATMs of most major banks, as well as in the upscale hotels and shopping centers of the larger cities. It is advisable to take US dollars or euros with you in cash (exchange in official exchange offices at airports or in larger banks is recommended). The export of the national currency is prohibited, foreign currency is allowed up to the amount declared upon entry.
Tipping is always welcomed and common in India. In restaurants and bars, around 10% of the invoice amount is expected. Porters in hotels and airports should also receive a small tip.
It is customary to tip the guide and driver at the end of a tour for good service. Appropriate payment for our local guides and partner agencies is part of our sustainability guidelines. So please be aware that tips do not replace wages. It is therefore not an absolute must, but an (expected) recognition for good service.
Porters, jeep drivers, cooks, launderers and other service providers also expect tips. Tipping is much more common in India than here.
Other essential information
Indian rupee (INR). For 1 EUR you currently get around 80 INR (as of Sep 2018)
Malayalam (Kerala), Tamil (Tamil Nadu), Kannada (Karnataka), Marathi (Maharashtra), English, Hindi
time difference to CET + 4.5 hours, time difference to CET + 3.5 hours
220 volts / 50 Hertz alternating current. The flat Euro plugs usually fit in the hotels. Nevertheless, it is helpful to have a universal adapter with you, as sockets are usually three-pole.
Alcohol and drugs
The possession – even the smallest amounts – of drugs is forbidden and is punished with long prison sentences. In the individual Indian states different regulations apply to the purchase and consumption of alcohol. For example, the minimum age for alcohol consumption varies between 18 and 25 years. Some Indian states only allow alcohol for medical purposes, while others require a special permit to buy, transport, or consume alcohol. The penalties for violating the respective regulations can be very severe. Your guide will be happy to inform you about the current regulations on alcohol consumption in the respective state.
India is without a doubt rich in photo opportunities and people like to be photographed. The Indians also love to take “selfies” with foreigners with their cell phones. Cautious restraint is advisable when photographing religious sites and actions, slums and military facilities (including bridges and airports).