India hill stations cycling holiday

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07 Apr 2017
£ 2099
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05 May 2017
£ 1999
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08 Sep 2017
£ 1999
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13 Oct 2017
£ 2099
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10 Nov 2017
£ 2099
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30 Mar 2018
£ 2149
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04 May 2018
£ 2129
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07 Sep 2018
£ 2129
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12 Oct 2018
£ 2199
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09 Nov 2018
£ 2199
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Holiday type

Small group holiday

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: India hill stations cycling holiday

Local Craft & Culture:
We are keen to encourage guests to engage with the culture of Himachal Pradesh and to purchase local crafts and services where possible. Your local guide will be able to recommend the best of the area’s colourful and vibrant markets and small businesses and through our commerce, tourist wealth is more evenly distributed. The local industries are directly benefited as clients generally buy local souvenirs in the small towns en route, such as Mandi, Pragpur and Shimla, where most of the shops have local handicraft items for sale.Your leader will be able to advise you on which crafts to buy and which to avoid; Ivory and Shahtoosh for example. Shahtoosh is the name given to a specific kind of shawl, which is woven with the down hair of the Tibetan antelope (chiru), made by master craftsmen and the women of Kashmir. The shahtoosh trade poses a threat to the existence of the Tibetan antelope and has been banned for more than a decade, in accordance with the central government's policy on wildlife protection.

Accommodation & Meals:
This trip runs through the remote villages settled in the foothills of the Western Himalayas and most of the accommodations used are either owned or run by local people, providing employment and a source of income for people living in these areas. The hotels and rest houses are waste and energy conscious and have their own policies like asking guests to turn off the power when leaving a room in order to save electricity. Hotel Judges Court in Pragpur for example, has been rated on trip advisor as being professionally run with a major focus on hygiene and ecology. Hotels on this trip also make an effort to use local produce.

Where meals are not supplied, our group leaders always encourage people to try local restaurants and street food vendors. They can make recommendations which will help boost small businesses and celebrate local specialties. There are also ample opportunities for visiting road side dhabas (roadside open restaurants) where food is made in front of you. Clients can witness the whole preparation and cooking process. Leaders make a point to stop at some of the cleanest dhabaen route for a tea and snack break.

Charity:
For years we have been involved in campaigning for tiger conservation in Bandhavgarh, India (unfortunately not visited on this trip). In late summer 2014 we teamed up with The Corbett Foundation, an Indian charity dedicated to conservation-oriented research. They have proved instrumental in enabling us to get the funds to where they are needed. Through this we have now completed the building of a community hall at Tala Village, solar pumps in the park for wildlife and staff in the dry season, bio gas plants and smart stoves for villagers and provided the salary for 2 full time teachers at the government school. Our work in India continues to be of great significance and most recently we have been able to purchase a 4 wheel drive medical vehicle and pay for outreach medical support.

Activity:
Few holidays have as little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as a cycling trip. Erosion on and adjacent to popular paths is a growing problem in certain places and therefore our trip leaders encourage clients to stick to advised routes in order to minimise this. We do believe in leaving no more than footprints (or tyre tracks!). However, this tour does actively encourage clients to make a positive impact by helping guests to talk to local people, visit local cafes and restaurants, use markets to purchase traditional gifts and crafts and get a real impression of India.

Local guides
We use local guides for all sightseeing, local naturalists, local drivers and local staff to provide employment.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people.

UK office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

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