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Travel in the Indian Subcontinent

At Cox & Kings, we believe that a good holiday is not luck, but judgment. We have compiled the following information to outline the nature of travel in the Indian Subcontinent, and to help you prepare for your holiday. However, even with the most meticulous planning, minor problems can occur and, while our local representatives are always on hand to rectify such occurrences, we do request that you have a patient and broadminded approach to travelling in the Subcontinent.

British Foreign & Commonwealth Advice:

Cox & Kings supports the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) Travel Aware campaign to help you stay safe and healthy overseas. Find out more at FCO Travel Aware. The FCO website provides travel information for many countries around the world which includes advice on safety and security, entry requirements and health, as well as general information. Cox & Kings strongly recommends that you, and everyone on your booking, visit the FCO website and read the advice about the country you are planning to visit prior to booking. You should also revisit the advice regularly prior to your departure as it may change frequently. It is also possible to sign-up to receive FCO e-mail updates for your destination so you are aware of any changes to advice they issue and we recommend you do this. There are different levels of advice, and sometimes this includes advice against travelling to certain areas or countries. To check the current travel advice, visit gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice and follow @FCOTravel on Twitter and Facebook.com/fcotravel.

Flights

International flights: Our itineraries use a number of reputable airlines and our costs are based on Economy Class unless otherwise stated. Upgrading to Premium Economy on some routes and Business or First Class is normally possible, subject to availability. Some flight routings involve a change of plane en route to your destination, so please take note of the flight details on your confirmation invoice, as these will show the amount of scheduled transit time in the stop-off city. Please also note that ‘non-stop’ flights have no scheduled touchdowns en route, while ‘direct’ flights mean there is no change of aircraft but stops are possible, and indeed probable, as per the airlines’ timetables. Unfortunately, airlines change their schedules regularly and, although we will advise you of any stops or plane changes at the time of booking, we cannot be held responsible for any changes made after this date. However, if you specifically require a non-stop flight please ensure that you request this at the time of booking.

Internal flights: For internal flights in India, we generally use Jet Airways or Indian Airlines, whose fleets of aircraft principally feature Boeing 737s, Airbuses and ATRs. Indian Airlines in particular, has acquired a reputation for unpunctuality, with many flights suffering delays, over-flying cities or last-minute cancellations. In-flight catering on all airlines is basic, and normally consists of sandwiches and Indian snacks served with tea or coffee. Impromptu strikes are often called and this may mean delays to your departure, an extra night’s accommodation at your board point or travel by an alternative airline or transportation method. Although these arrangements are at the discretion of the airline, Cox & Kings will do everything possible to minimise the inconvenience. Many flights in India are ‘hopping’ flights, stopping at several cities before reaching their final destination. When you board these flights after the city of origin, there is no allocated seating and the flight will be on a free-seating basis. When departing India from Mumbai (Bombay), it is necessary to leave several hours before your flight departs, on account of traffic congestion and because flights from Mumbai are often heavily overbooked and the last passengers to check in are often bumped off.

Flight delays & insurance: Unfortunately, due to the increase in air traffic, government restrictions and changing weather conditions, flight delays have become more commonplace. These delays can cause problems with onward connections and / or hotel and holiday arrangements and, while the airline will sometimes make alternative arrangements to get you to your next destination at no extra cost, additional costs may be involved for accommodation in the event of an overnight cancellation and also after your arrival at your next destination. These may be in the form of additional accommodation costs, transfers and onward travel. It is important that your insurance covers you against the costs incurred as a result of cancellation or delay to your flight. Unfortunately, since most services are paid for in advance, any services missed due to delays are non-refundable. The insurance policy offered by Cox & Kings is designed to mitigate the costs and effects of such delays in certain circumstances and we strongly recommend that you are insured against such eventualities.

Flight amendments: Most tours use special airline fares, which normally restrict changes of date, route and airline. Any such changes made after a ticket has been issued will normally necessitate the purchase of a new ticket at the passenger’s expense.

Special requests: Cox & Kings will endeavour to request any specific meals or services, on the condition that we are told at the time of booking. Specific seat requests with most major airlines can now only be requested if travelling in one of the premium classes. We are able to request general seating preferences for Economy Class passengers. However, with all special requests, please remember that they are ‘requests’ and as such are at the discretion of the airline and cannot be guaranteed.

Airport departure taxes: International UK and India departure taxes are included in the cost of your holiday (unless otherwise stated). In other countries these may need to be paid locally in local currency. Please note that these taxes are subject to change.

Road travel

Driving in India can seem hazardous to westerners due to complicated codes of conduct that apply. All our drivers, however, are carefully trained and experienced. Unfortunately, roads in India are not like those in the west and are frequently narrow, bumpy, pot-holed and have stretches which are not sealed or which are under reconstruction. Livestock is often seen wandering the roads and always has the right of way, which can cause drivers to swerve to avoid it. Road conditions in India change throughout the year, due to monsoon rains and extreme weather patterns, and journey times can vary enormously at all times of year, which is beyond the control of Cox & Kings.

Most cars used will be Indigos, which are comfortable and ideally suited to local roads. The famous Ambassador cars, based on the old Morris Oxford but constructed locally, are also available in most areas on request. We can provide larger or 4×4 vehicles if requested, subject to availability and at an additional premium. Coaches are also locally custom-made on truck chassis and are not comparable with European coach standards, but they are comfortable and maintained to a high local standard. Please bear in mind that if sitting at the back of a coach, the journey may be less comfortable due to coach design.

Car hire

Cox & Kings does not organise self-drive car hire on behalf of its clients anywhere in the Indian Subcontinent and advises against self-driving as, in our opinion, it is unsafe. The safety of our clients is of the utmost importance to Cox & Kings and this advice is offered with our clients’ interests in mind. In the event that you do wish to book an independent self-drive, please be aware that this does not form part of your package holiday with Cox & Kings and, as such, Cox & Kings is not liable in any way for this part of your holiday. Please ensure that, if you do make such a booking, your insurance policy covers you.

Train travel

Train travel in India can be a very rewarding and enjoyable experience. New train routes and updated equipment are continually released and there are many good express trains. Train travel is often more convenient than flying or driving, but trains cannot be compared with those in Europe. In many cases, carriages can seem quite basic and visibility from the windows may be restricted. Where possible, we try to reserve First Class or air-conditioned carriages, but these cannot always be reserved and do not exist on all routes. Please contact your travel consultant to discuss the facilities on a particular route. Please note that, in general, most trains do not take reservations until 60 days prior to departure, so your patience in this regard is much appreciated.

Many flights to, from and within the Subcontinent depart and arrive very late at night or early in the morning. Although Cox & Kings will endeavour to book you on a flight that departs / arrives at a reasonable time, often there is little or no choice and some very early check-in / check-out times may be required. Sometimes it is necessary to leave your hotel before 6am in order to maximise the opportunities for sightseeing during your holiday.

Accommodation

Accommodation standards vary dramatically throughout the Subcontinent. In larger cities such as Delhi and Mumbai, the hotels we use are fully modernised with excellent facilities, while in other cities and towns, the hotels are usually smaller, but quite often still have good facilities. In the desert cities of Rajasthan, areas of southern India, small hill towns and recently opened areas, many hotels we use are small privately owned properties or converted palaces, retaining much of their original ambience, but the room size, shape and design can vary enormously (even within the same price bracket). Although palace hotels often have simple facilities and service can be slow, we ask for your patience as this is more than compensated for by their atmosphere and charm. Hotels in India continually try to upgrade their services and many can suffer from building works throughout the year. Cox & Kings will endeavour to obtain rooms as far away from any construction work as possible, but please bear in mind that hotels run on full capacity during peak season and specific rooms can rarely be pre-booked.

Check-in & check-out times: If a flight arrives very early in the morning, you may be taken for breakfast or sightseeing before being allocated your room, as the check-in / check-out time in India is usually 12 noon. Cox & Kings will endeavour to make your room available as early as possible in these instances.

Game parks & remote areas: Even when you travel off the beaten track with Cox & Kings, you can be sure that your accommodation in game lodges, smaller hotels and tented camps is the best available. Sometimes the best hotel may be the only hotel, which may be very modest. In these cases we feel that the simplicity of such accommodation is outweighed by the experience of these more remote areas. Game park accommodation cannot generally be compared to that available in parts of Africa and the Far East and is often reached down narrow, makeshift roads, far from other civilisation. Accommodation will often be in tents or lodges that, although they feature private facilities, should not in most cases be compared to those available in other parts of the world.

Single supplements: Generally in India, single and double rooms carry the same price, which means that single supplements for certain itineraries can seem high. Single rooms cannot always be guaranteed at all hotels and lodges, especially in peak season.

Often, the location and standard of single rooms may not be as good as that of doubles. If you are in doubt, we suggest you request a double room in advance, at an additional supplement. If you are unhappy with your room while on holiday, please query this with a Cox & Kings representative at the time.

Itinerary changes

From time to time, our ground agents may have to amend your itinerary. This could include changes to the order of activities and, in some extreme cases, have to exclude a visit to a particular site. This is largely due to the need to accommodate local conditions, such as increased security around places of interest such as forts, temples, museums, palaces and markets, among others. Where this information is made available to us in good time, we will advise you prior to your departure. However, the security arrangements and closure of monuments around important public holidays such as Republic Day or festivals such as Holi do vary from one season to another and the details are only made available at short notice. Equally, if your holiday to a city or a town coincides with the visit of a head of state of another country, please do expect changes such as additional security around the airport. Any changes to your itinerary will be advised by the local ground agent. However, on arrival, if you are either unable to locate the airport representative or are unhappy with the changes, we strongly recommend that you contact our local representatives in the first instance. The contact details of our local offices can be found alongside the documents dispatched with the final itinerary.