Prepare for your retreat to India

PREPARE FOR YOUR RETREAT TO INDIA

1. GUIDELINES ON BOOKING INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS
  • FLIGHTS:
    • Recommended airline is Emirates Airlines from South Africa and Virgin Atlantic or British Airways from UK.
    • If you would like further recommendations for your routing please email through the options you’re considering to Retreat Coordinator who will revert with feedback. Other airlines which work well are Jet Airways, Etihad, Air Kenya, Air Mauritius and Turkish Airlines which past participants have used.
  • ARRIVAL INTO NEW DELHI - INDIRA GANDHI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
    • If you are arriving on the 1st day of the Retreat, book a flight to arrive into New Delhi - Indira Gandhi International Airport latest by 12.30pm
    • Ideal flight time of arrival would land between 9am-12pm
    • 1st Retreat Activity: 6.00pm
    • Address for Arrivals Form: THE ROYAL PLAZA | 19 Ashoka Road | Janpath Lane, Connaught Place New Delhi 110001 | Phone: + 91 11 43555555 Include a colour copy of your granted eTourist Visa
  • DEPARTURE FROM GOA AIRPORT
    • The Retreat ends in Goa. You may need to connect to an International airport within India depending on which airline you use.  The official Retreat end time is 12pm on the last day, which is the checkout time from our Hotel. 
    • If you are leaving on the last day, ideal flight time for departure from Goa is between 2 - 11pm. Please ensure you leave sufficient travel and transfer time between your flight out of Goa and your connecting International flight, if you are flying out the same day.
    • You may wish to add a couple of days to your travel experience outside of the Retreat. While this is done at your own cost, contact Retreat Coordinator who will assist you with guidelines for your travel. 
2. PASSPORT
  • Check the validity of your passport by ensuring that it is valid for a further 6-9 months from day of arrival.
  • WHAT WE NEED:
    • Clear Copy/Scan /Photograph of your passport
    • Please ensure that the relevant page is fully visible and includes your full name, date of birth, nationality and passport number, date of issue and date of expiry.
    • Passport copies are required to secure bookings and provide pre-checkin for properties we will be staying at for the whole group.
    • Please make sure you send a copy of the same passport you are going to travel on i.e. - If you have 2 or more passports/different nationality passports, then send a copy for the one you will actually use to travel to India.
      Email to: rupali@brettshuttleworth.com
      Or send by WhatsApp straight from your phone: +91 80064 63717
3. TOURIST VISA
  • eTourist Visa - Official Visa Application Website / E-Tourist Visas or Visa Applications at Embassy or Consulate
  • Citizens of 150 Countries including South Africa can now apply online for an E-Tourist Visa for travel to India. The visa is valid for a stay of 60 Days for a double entry into India.
  • Guidelines for on-line applications: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html
    PLEASE ONLY APPLY ON THIS WEBSITE AS THIS IS THE OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT WEBSITE
  • It generally takes between 2 to 4 days to receive a visa when you apply online. If you do not receive a ‘Visa Granted’ approval email within 5-7 days of applying, or have not received an email within 24 hours of applying with a confirmation that your application has been submitted, get in touch with me. You may need to start process again or consult your local Indian Consulate or High Commission.
  • Have handy on your computer for your application:
    1. Digital ‘passport type’ photograph to be uploaded along with the Visa application. It should meet the following requirements:
      • Format - JPEG
      • Size - Minimum 10 KB and Maximum 1 MB
      • The height and width of the Photo must be equal
      • Photo should present full face, front view, eyes open and without spectacles
      • Centre head within frame and present full head from top of hair to bottom of chin
      • Background should be plain light coloured or white background
      • No shadows on the face or on the background
      • The photograph should be without borders
    2. Scanned Bio Page of the passport showing the Photograph and Details:
      • Format: PDF
      • Size: Minimum 10 KB and Maximum 300 KB
    3. Below are details for purposes of applying for your e-Tourist Visa: The places we will be visiting are:
      • Delhi, Agra, Rishikesh, Goa & Mumbai
  • Field on Visa Form for Reference in India - for eTourist Visa Purposes -
    You can use the following as your reference in India when applying: Mr. Arpit Jain, Satguru Travel.
    6th Floor, Pentagon P5, Magarpatta City, Pune, Maharashtra 411013 Phone: 020 4914 2300
  • Field on Visa Form for Reference in Home Country for eTourist Visa Purposes -
    You can use anyone that is close to you such as a partner, friend, family member or colleague.
  • Note: All the information provided for this step is for Visa Application purposes. Plans can change depending on several factors. You will be appropriately notified should there be any changes though these will not affect your Visa Application process.
  • If you are having problems with uploading any files, do the following:
    1. Log off and log back on using the reference number for your process. If this doesn’t work, get in touch with Retreat Coordinator.
  • You will receive a notification by email once your eTourist Visa is granted. That email is NOT the actual visa.
  • Please follow through on the next steps
    1. Follow the link from your email to the official website.
      (https:// indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html)
    2. Click the tab on top which says: “CHECK VISA STATUS”
    3. Enter your reference number stated on your ‘Visa Granted’ email plus your passport number within the fields provided and click.
    4. Scroll to the bottom of the page you are taken to - where you will see your Visa Status which should day ‘Granted’.
    5. You will see a place at the bottom which allows you to download the actual document - the eTourist Visa, which is in colour and will have your photograph on it. Download the actual document.
    6. Print a colour copy and keep with your passport. You will need to present at your airline counter and upon arrival into Delhi.
  • Email a copy of the granted eTourist visa to rupali@brettshuttleworth.com
4. VACCINATIONS AND INOCULATIONS
  • Vaccinations for Hepatitis A and Typhoid are recommended for all travellers going to India, as is a Tetanus Single-booster & Diphtheria Single-booster recommended if none in the previous 10 years.
  • W.H.O. report malaria transmission throughout the country however none of the places which we visit during the retreat are considered to be high risk for Malaria. Prophylaxis recommended for all which includes taking precaution as to covering yourself adequately, using mosquito repellant on skin which is effective and spraying your room in the evening, keeping windows and doors closed.
  • Side note: If you have been travelling in a malarious area and develop a fever seek medical attention promptly. Remember malaria can develop even up to one year after exposure.
  • Other vaccines to consider - Cholera; Hepatitis B; Japanese Encephalitis; Rabies.
  • Nationals of Yellow Fever affected countries or those who will have travelled to a Yellow Fever Zone must carry YELLOW FEVER VACCINATION CARD at the time of arrival in India. If not, you will be quarantined for 6 days upon arrival.
  • NB: If in doubt please consult your local Travel Clinic and request the advise of a specialist who will guide you with your choices.
5. TRAVEL INSURANCE
  • We highly recommend taking out travel insurance with your travel agent or while booking your air ticket online. You may also be covered by a policy you hold. Contact us if you would like a recommendation.
  • This is to cover things like medical emergency evacuation, hospitalisation and treatment, missed or cancelled flights, lost or stolen luggage and items, electronics damage, activities like white water rafting and parasailing (white-water rafting adventure rapids are Grades I, II, III and Grade IV), and anything else you would like covered and anything else you would like covered.
6. TRANSFERS
  • Transfers on the Retreat start and end dates are included as part of the package, but if you would like to arrive a few days earlier or leave a few days later, we will happily assist with that planning which will be at your own at your own expense.
  • WHAT WE NEED:
    • Final flight details/itinerary sent to rupali@brettshuttleworth.com to arrange your transfers.
  • Two days prior to the Retreat start date you will receive an email which will inform you:
    • Who else from our Retreat participants will be on your flight
    • Contact details for the person fetching you at the airport
7. CHECK-IN & CHECK-OUT
  • Arrival at our Hotel at the start of Retreat
    • The Hotel Rooms at the beginning of the Retreat are generally available from 2pm which is the official check-in time on Day 1 of the Retreat.
    • Depending on hotel occupancy, earlier check-in may be provided (not guaranteed).
    • There is plenty of space where you can relax should this be the case.
    • Your luggage can be stored at the concierge for safe-keeping.
    • Please take responsibility for your valuables at all points, such as currency, wallet/cards and expensive items.
  • Check-out at the end of the Retreat
    • Hotel check-out time on the last day of the Retreat will be at 12pm (midday).
    • Thereafter you can store your luggage at the Hotel Concierge till you transfer to the airport. 
    • Transfer vehicles will be arranged to leave from the Hotel to the Airport on the last day of the Retreat. 
    • Please keep your valuable items with you during this time after we have checked out from the hotel rooms.
8. ARRIVAL AT DELHI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Welcome to Incredible India - your Smiling Soul Retreat Experience has begun! Being fetched at the airport upon arrival

Once you have cleared immigration and customs, here is a first glance at next steps:

  • The travel representative will hold up a sign with your name at Delhi International Airport in the arrival area.
  • In case you need to get in touch with the Travel Representative or the Retreat Coordinator, if you have activated roaming please use that. If not, people in India are equally very hospitable and if you request courteously a fellow traveller will allow you to use their phone: Just let them know you’re calling a local cell number or ask them to dial.
  • If it takes you extra time to clear immigration, please don’t panic, your pick-up won’t leave without you and do look out for your name on the sign board.
  • It takes an average of 1-2 hours to get to the hotel once you have landed, depending on how quickly the immigration queues move.
9. EXTENDED STAY BEFORE AND AFTER RETREAT
  • Arriving before or leaving after the Retreat Start and/or End Dates & Costs for extra hotel nights, transfers & excursions.

If you are coming in early or would like to extend your stay after the retreat our Preferred Travel Partner who have offices in India, South Africa, UK and other parts of the world will assist with your arrangements.

  • As a starting point please email Mr. Pankaj from Satguru Travels with your enquiry or requirements. Once you have a quote you can decide to proceed or not. You can make payment in Rands if you are in South Africa, British Pounds in UK, or to their local office in India via Bank Transfer. A current currency conversation rate will be provided once all details are finalised. Please mention you are a participant of India Smiling Soul Retreat and which dates you are attending.
  • Email for Satguru Travels (Attn. Mr. Pankaj):
    Email: indiainbound@satgurutravel.com
    WhatsApp: +91 9650496700
    CC: rupali@brettshuttleworth.com 
  • The cost for an airport pick-up with a Travel Representative (highly recommended) outside of the Retreat start date is approximately USD25 from Delhi airport to the Hotel.
  • The average price per night per room at the property where we start our Retreat is approximately USD100-USD115.
10. COMMUNICATION
  • Languages Spoken
    • There are 26 official languages in India. Hindi and English are typically used as an official language.
  • Communication
    • Local SIM cards can be purchased in India and the Internet facilities are excellent throughout which means you can catch up with folks from each stop that we make!
    • You will need two passport sized photographs to purchase a SIM Card.
    • Please be aware that it may take up to 24 hours for your SIM card to be activated which must be applied for in person due to Government regulations.
  • WhatsApp Group
    • Five Days prior to the Retreat start date we will kick off our WhatsApp group which will be used for comments, questions and planning concerning the retreat.
    • You can post questions relevant to the retreat on the WhatsApp group chat. Any individual questions or needs should be directly addressed with the Retreat Coordinator.
11. CURRENCY
  • The local currency is the Indian Rupee or simply Rupee (Rs or INR)
  • Ensure that you are equipped to handle any electronic transfers you may wish to do online if your bank relies on you receiving a verification code on your phone and via sms
  • All major world currencies are accepted for exchange in India. South African Rands are generally not accepted nor exchanged.
  • There are plenty of ATM machines from which you can draw local currency directly from your account, with no need of conversion (there is a bank fee for such withdrawals) and facilities to swipe your credit card for payments. You will need some local cash for day to day items.
  • Remember to increase your daily limits on your cards if you plan to shop etc. and let your bank know.

SUGGESTED PACKING LIST

  • Loose comfortable clothing
  • Light Scarf / Shawl
  • Swimming costume & flip flops
  • Closed walking shoes or sneakers
  • Small Day Bag or Backpack
  • Slip-on Mesh Water Shoes (optional)
  • Camera (and memory card)
  • Small Padlock
  • Yoga Gear (optional)
  • Sun Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Light Warm Jacket + Light Sweater
  • Party Outfit
  • Travel Insurance for India
  • Mosquito Repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Pack of tissues, hand sanitizer / Wet wipes
  • Personal toiletries
  • Hand torch
  • Chargers & International Adaptors that fit round
    two-pin plug points
  • Activated Charcoal or Imodium, Basic meds &
    Electrolyte sachets
  • Traveling First Aid Kit
  • Cash or Card
  • Passport
  • Drivers Licence (optional)
  • If on medication, please inform the Retreat Coordinator. 
    Also ensure it is clearly marked and kept by your bedside table. We strongly suggest you share this information with your room mate as well, as an extra safety precaution.
  • We strongly advise that you do not bring with you any expensive jewellery and other valuables which are not secured by your insurance.

TRAVEL CHECK LIST

  • Confirmed travel tickets
  • Colour Copy E-Tourist Visa / Correct Stamped Visa in Passport
  • 2x Colour Passport Photos for India Immigration
  • Leave a copy of your full itinerary and flight details, plus a copy of your passport with a trusted friend/ family member / person fetching you on your return, where it is easily accessible

GOOD TO KNOW...

Let’s talk about the weather!
  • Delhi and surroundings: High temperatures of 35ºC and low of 20ºC
  • Agra: High temperatures 32ºC and low of 20ºC
  • Rishikesh: High temperatures of 30ºC and low of 15ºC
  • Goa: High temperatures of 28ºC and low of 34ºC
Packing & Pre-travel Guidelines:
  • Check-in luggage for all sectors of the Retreat is max. 15 Kgs.
  • Hand luggage allowance is 7 Kgs.
  • The excess charge is generally is generally Indian Rupees (INR) 300 p/kg.
  • Remember to travel light - hair dryers are easily available.
  • If you plan on carrying cash, carry it in a currency which is easy to exchange (USD, Euros, Pounds Sterling).
  • If necessary, increase your limit for daily cash withdrawal on debit / credit card.
  • Let your bank know that you are travelling internationally before your departure so they don’t suspect unusual activity and suspend your card. Note: ATMs are easily found all over India.
  • So many of our participants have shared they wish they had come with a close to empty suitcase (other than bare essentials and meds) and just purchased items in India... If you are willing to do that - it absolutely pays to shop as you go along.
  • For bulky purchases shops generally have their own courier service which they will assist in organising.
  • Casual wear is perfect for most of the trip and we invite you to bring one celebration item (dress / semi-smart trousers and shirt) / or a night out at a night club in Goa which is huge amounts of fun!
  • In Rishikesh - a Holy Town, we request everyone to wear items which are conservative for the times when we attend official outings such as the evening fire ceremony.

Please also note that all activities and the way the retreat is facilitated can change in the belly of India as we adjust to ensure everyone’s best interests. If this happens we invite you to let go into the infinite wisdom of the Universe and trust that what’s lined up is equally inspiring if you stay open to each experience!