India, Ancient Orissa Adventure

India Orissa

Overview

Length: 11 Days

Group Dates:
Nov 19 – 29, 2016
Feb 19 – Mar 01, 2017

Group Size: 4 – 10

Private Departures for 4 or more

Level: Easy-Moderate. Walking

Price: From $2,695

Day 1– Bhubaneswar to Puri
Days 2-3– Puri
Day 4– Chilka Lake – Gopalpur
Days 5-6– New Hope NGO
Days 7-8– Chandori Sai
Day 9– Train to Bhubaneswar
Day 10– Bhubaneswar
Day 11– Depart


Summary

Come explore India ’s best kept secret – Orissa! Step into old world India; discover ancient temples, lively markets and indigenous ways of life. Marvel at temples spanning the centuries including one of the most renowned temples in all of India – the 13th century Konark Sun Temple – a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Watch fishermen tend their nets beside brilliantly painted boats. Traverse the rural countryside and tap into the simple pleasures of village life. Stay in the most comfortable hotels as well as some basic accommodations among the friendliest people on the planet!

Responsible Travel – Make it Meaningful

Your efforts help provide medical, education, economic and agricultural support and opportunities to some of India’s most marginalized communities.

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Itinerary

Note: Trip begins in Bhubaneswar, India on Day 1. Some US flights into India’s gateway cities might arrive late and some travelers may need a hotel the night prior to meeting the group on Day 1. As there are no international flights into Bhubaneswar, a short domestic flight from a major gateway will be needed. (We can help ticket this segment).
Note: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

Day 1 – Bhubaneswar – Puri
You will be met upon arrival, meet fellow travelers and enjoy lunch. Orissa boasts settlements stretching back 2000 years. Ancient religions here pre-date Buddhism and Hinduism by almost a thousand years. Bhubaneswar once had over 7000 temples… today, there are still about 500. Bhubaneswar, Puri and Konark form East India’s holy Swarna Tribhuja (Golden Triangle). Take a heritage walk through temples (and through time), as you visit structures from 9th, 10th, 11th centuries.

The arrival and evolution of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism during different periods of Orissa’s long spiritual journey is exemplified by Mukteswar, Parsurameswar and Lingaraj temples. Drive 1 1/2 hours to the coastal city of Puri. Check in to your luxurious, tranquil oasis facing the Bay of Bengal. Stroll the beach, photograph colorfully decorated camels and say hello to the incredibly friendly people of India… many from Puri, and many from other areas of India, also visiting the beach on their holiday.
L, D

Day 2 – Puri
Tour the old city in a most unique fashion… by bicycle rickshaw! Soak up the traditional temple culture of Puri, one of India’s Char Dham’s (four holy spots of India). In the afternoon we will visit the famous UNESCO World Heritage Sun Temple at Konark… one of India’s most sublime monuments. The temple is designed in the shape of a colossal chariot to carry the mythical Sun God and has seven galloping horses and 12 pairs of giant wheels, each 10-foot high, fixed on either side. Examine the intricate carving, blush at the erotic imagery, and wonder at the flawless execution.

* February departures feature a special evening at the annual Konark Festival, where classical dancers from all across India dazzle audiences with brilliant performances.
B, L, D

Day 3 – Puri
Venture into a unique heritage village where traditional art & craft continues as it has for centuries. Meet village craftsmen and craftswomen skilled in traditional painting and more. Wander through medieval by-lanes in the old city, stroll along the beach, relax poolside or pick up local souvenirs at the lively night market.
B

Day 4 – Chilika Lake – Gopalpur
Up at 6 am and depart at 6:30 am… yeah, yeah that’s early! However, we’ll have a special picnic breakfast aboard our private, traditional pole boat on the tranquil waters of Chilika Lake. Chilika is Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon and a designated Wetland of International Importance. It’s the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian sub-continent. In winter, over 150 species of birds can be seen, many are migratory birds that arrive from Russia, Mongolia, Central and Southeast Asia and the Himalayas.

For bird nuts (you know who you are!) expect to see: Asian Pied Starling, Ruddy Shelduck, Pintail Godwit, Broadwing Jacana and a host of other Ibis, stilts, egrets, herons, gulls, kingfishers, wagtails and harriers. What is ‘Meaningful Birding’?… well, our birding guides are a rare community of ex-poachers turned local conservationists. Drive to Gopalpur, watch fishermen tend their nets in front of brilliantly-colored boats, climb the lighthouse or just relax. Perhaps enjoy fresh-caught seafood tonight for dinner.
B, L, D

Days 5 & 6 – Muniguda, New Hope
We start with a long driving day (7 hours) as we enter tribal territory and meet an active local social development organization. The mountains and hillsides are home to the Dongria Kondh, Paroja and Kondh tribes. Adivasis, or literally “original inhabitants,” are the indigenous population of India.

Nestled in the remote hills of the Eastern Ghats they constitute 25% of Orissa’s population – the most populous Adivasi region of all India. Approximately 400 tribal villages compromise 62 diverse ethnicities and although co-dependent, they protect their own distinct traditions. Development and aluminum industry threatens a way of life relatively unchanged through the centuries.

Our NGO partner is New Hope, a non-profit organization that brings opportunities to some of India’s most marginalized communities. Working in Orissa since 1985, New Hope cared for and provided operations for persons with leprosy. Now, New Hope performs monthly cataract surgeries, runs a school for children of various abilities, has an HIV and an elder-care facility, trains community leaders in mother/child health, distributes birthing kits to reduce infant mortality, teaches microfinance, savings and literacy, provides a self-sustaining agricultural plan and has built a safe home-base for tribes-persons who travel over the mountains with their market goods.

We spend two days learning about New Hope, meeting the administrators, interacting with the students, visiting local markets and more. There are basic but comfortable lodging facilities for our use. Included in our trip costs is a donation earmarked for projects and resources that New Hope has prioritized.
B, L, D

Day 7 – Chandoori Sai
After a scenic 3-hour drive through the rolling hills patch worked by fields, we arrive at Chandoori Sai Tribal Village Resort – a luxurious, wonderful, tranquil place to unwind. Chandoori Sai is in Goudaguda, a pottery producing village near Kakiriguma in Orissa’s Koraput district. The Chandoori Sai guesthouse has introduced a unique form of luxury eco-tourism to the world that gives you a taste of a time long past and a glimpse of village life not much changed since time before.

Experience and participate in the relaxed rural life in the heart of the tribal district of Orissa, while indirectly bringing much needed attention and opportunities to these indigenous people (Adivasi). Stepping out to explore the surrounding village, we meet the local Paroja and Kondh indigenous communities. One of the most remarkable features of this village is the ‘Kumbh Sai’ – or potters’ street – where entire families are engaged in crafting terracotta pots for domestic use. Try your hand at the potter’s wheel!
B, L, D

Day 8 – Chandoori Sai
Take an early morning walk to the weekly tribal market, known as a ‘haat’. The market is a melting pot of indigenous tribal communities from the surrounding hills. This market is as much the economic mainstay of the tribal communities as it is a social gathering. Help select delicious fresh local produce for tonight’s dinner.
B, L, D

Day 9 – Chandoori Sai, and overnight train
Enjoy a relaxing morning. Visit and learn about the local, organic coffee plantation. We may offer an impromptu cooking class. No visit to India would be complete without including a train journey, so tonight we board an overnight sleeper train back to Bhubaneswar.
B, L, D

Day 10 – Bhubaneswar
Upon arrival, transfer to our luxurious hotel in Bhubaneswar. Visit local handicraft market and, time-permitting, the Tribal Museum. Say fond farewells at our final dinner.
B, L, D

Day 11 – Transfer to the airport. Tour concludes.
B

Although we do our best to adhere to the schedule listed above, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control.

Trip Details

Dates:
Nov 19 – 29, 2016
Feb 19 – Mar 01, 2017 special Konark Festival departure

Group Size: 4 – 10 persons
Minimum Age: 15 (see below)

Trip Cost:
3 – 4 persons: $2,895
5 – 10 persons: $2,695

Airfare not included. Per Person, Double occupancy
Own Room: $300 (see below)

What’s Included

  • Airport transfers on first and last day
  • Expert leadership
  • Accommodations, meals, sights, entrance fees as noted in itinerary
  • Ground transportation
  • In-country support team
  • Contribution to New Hope NGO in India.
  • Contribution to Global Giving. (Meaningful Trips is proud to partner with nonprofit, Global Giving specifically to support hunger and poverty needs in the USA.)

What’s Not Included

  • International airfare
  • Domestic flights to/from Bhubaneswar
  • Any hotel costs while en route prior to Day 1
  • Meals not noted on itinerary
  • Insurance
  • Tip for your leader/driver (optional)
  • Excess baggage charges; airport taxes
  • Cost of medical immunizations
  • Cost of obtaining a passport or visa (India: $63)
  • Items of a personal nature (sodas, alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.)

Visa Information

U.S. citizens traveling to India DO need a visa. A 6-month tourist visa costs $63.  In the United States, Indian visas are issued by Travisa Outsourcing.  You must have a passport. Passport must be valid for 90 days after trip conclusion.  Stay up to date by checking US Department of State website:  www.travel.state.gov

Air Travel

International airfare is not included. Please always check with us before purchasing your airline tickets to verify your arrival and departure schedule and to ensure your trip has the necessary minimum number of participants required to operate. Contact your local travel agent, airline, or preferred on-line booking service for airfare needs. Domestic flights to/from Bhubaneswar are not included. However, our India Team will be able to book and e-ticket these segments for you.

Tier Pricing

Meaningful travel works best with a small group of people and some trips have tier pricing. Our minimum is set at four persons. It may be possible to operate the tour with less than four persons by charging a small group surcharge. Note: trips are priced according to the number of full-price passengers on the trip. (Meaningful Trips staff, travel writers and other discounted travelers are excluded from the count for this purpose.)

Single Travelers

If you specifically request single accommodations, you will be asked to pay the full single supplement noted above. Single accommodations are only available for 5 nights:

Puri (3), Golpapur (1) and Bhubaneswar (1)

If you wish to share accommodations, we will assign you a same-gender roommate if one is available. If a roommate cannot be found, you will be asked to pay a reduced single fee which is half of the full single supplement. There are only a limited number of single rooms available on most departures.

Choose your own Departure

Small groups of four or more can pick their own desired departure dates, based on availability. So grab your family, your neighbors, or your best friends and call us.

Customized Private Groups

Family reunions, corporate groups, wedding parties, student groups, church groups, and any groups interested in a customized departure are welcome to contact us.

Go to India for FREE!

For private groups with 9 full-paying passengers, the 10th person goes FREE! (Almost free! International and domestic airfare not included and there is a $300 cost which is needed to cover the train journey and contribution to New Hope).

Payment & Cancellation Policy

Payment
Deposit of $500 due at time of reservation.
Final balance due 90 days prior to trip departure.

Cancellation
If you cancel prior to departure (we need written notice), cancellation fees are:

91 or more days… $0
61 to 90 days… $500
31 to 60 days… 50% of Trip Cost
0 to 30 days… 100% of Trip Cost

Insurance

Meaningful Trip strongly recommends travel insurance. Our preferred travel insurance provider is World Nomads.  Their ‘Standard’ policy starts at $69 and covers Medical, Trip Cancellation, Baggage, and Emergency Evacuation.   Links can be found on our Deposit, Sign-up, and ‘Travel Resources’ pages.

Trip Level and Qualifications

Easy – Moderate
All welcome. Travel at a relaxed pace. Will include driving of three to four hours on a couple of days. Activity: easy walking and light hiking, one to three hours, at low elevation. May include less demanding, activities such as bicycling, but these activities are optional. Travel to India requires a certain flexibility and sense of adventure… While Orissa is gorgeous, in major gateway cities such as Delhi and large towns such as Bhubaneswar, it is typical to encounter pollution, traffic noise and delays.

Minimum Age

As most all of our travelers are adults, our minimum age on this trip is 15 years old (unless on specifically-designated ‘Family Trips’ or ‘Private Trips’). Ages 15 – 20, must be accompanied by an adult.

Weather

Winter (October-February) is the ideal time to visit Orissa. Lying just South of the Tropic of Cancer, and hugging the Bay of Bengal, it has a tropical climate. Winter is pleasant. Days are typically sunny and clear with warm daytime temperatures (80’s) and pleasant evenings (60’s). When we travel inland toward the Western Ghats the temperatures will be cooler and evenings will be surprisingly cold (45–50’s). Early November may bring one or two days of low rainfall, the rest of the winter is quite dry. (FYI: If 80-degrees isn’t warm enough, you could visit in June when temperatures can hit 115-degrees).

Lodging

Our hotels were carefully selected for their uniqueness, comfort, service, staff friendliness and commitment to sustainability. Puri’s Hans Coco Palm is a well-appointed resort that used to be a retreat for Orissan royalty. Chandoori Sai is a luxury guesthouse in the middle of tribal Orissa. In contrast, our lodging while at New Hope is simple, shared rooms with few amenities.

Food

Foods from this area are rich, varied, and sourced from local ingredients. The flavors are usually subtle and delicately spiced, compared with more fiery curries typically associated with Indian cuisine. As Orissa has a long Bay of Bengal coast as well as massive lakes, fish, shrimp and other seafood are also very popular. Mustard, cumin, fennel, fenugreek are widely used in vegetarian dishes, while turmeric is commonly used for non-vegetarian curries

General Information

This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the Meaningful Trip Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully. Additional pre-departure information including a Packing List, Medical Form and Liability Release Form is emailed upon sign-up.

Signing up is Easy!

A no risk $500 deposit reserves your spot and is 100% fully refundable if you change your mind for any reason at all, more than 90-days out! Call or click today. Reserve your spot. Then leave the rest to us.

Your meaningful trip awaits. Space is limited. Reserve today.

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Make Orissa meaningful

What We Believe

At our core, we believe that meaningful and responsible tourism is a conduit for peace and global understanding. Way beyond tourism… we gain insight, discover new perspectives, develop lifelong memories, we become change agents for creating a better world.

New Hope NGO, Maniguda

In Puri, we take a short tour using a team of dedicated cycle rickshaw drivers. Being a cycle rickshaw driver is fraught with insecurity and harassment… from the municipal authorities to the average passenger haggling over the last five rupees! We handpick our support crew by recognizing committed workers and encouraging their services. This tour provides a basic framework for cycle rickshaw drivers to provide their service with dignity.

At Chilika Lake, poaching of birds/water fowl had been going on for hundreds of years, causing irreparable damage to the avi-fauna of this fragile eco-system. Wild Orissa is an award-winning wildlife and nature conservation group. Their unique bird protection committee involved the local fishermen – converting poachers into die-hard conservationists. These men are oftentimes your naturalist guide during our time on the lake.

The mountains and hillsides near Maniguda are home to the Dongria Kondh, Paroja and Kondh tribes. Adivasis, or literally “original inhabitants,” are the indigenous population of India. Nestled in the remote hills of the Eastern Ghats they constitute 25% of Orissa’s population – the most populous Adivasi region of all India. Approximately 400 tribal villages compromise 62 diverse ethnicities and although co-dependent, fiercely guard their own distinct traditions. Development and aluminum industry threatens a way of life relatively unchanged through the centuries.

Our NGO partner is New Hope, a non-profit organization that brings opportunities to some of India’s most marginalized communities. Working in Orissa since 1985, New Hope cared for and provided operations for persons with leprosy. Now, New Hope performs monthly cataract surgeries, runs a school for children of various abilities, has an HIV and an elder-care facility, trains community leaders in mother/child health, distributes birthing kits to reduce infant mortality, teaches microfinance, savings and literacy, provides a self-sustaining agricultural plan and has built a safe home-base for tribes-persons who travel over the mountains with their market goods.

We spend two days learning about New Hope, meeting the administrators, interacting with the students, visiting local markets and more. There are basic but comfortable lodging facilities for our use. Included in our trip costs is a donation earmarked for projects and resources that New Hope has prioritized.

Our Pledge

All our tours support environmental, economic and social endeavors in the areas we visit. We hire locally. We choose hotels based on their efforts toward sustainability. We promote women’s employment, education and empowerment with all our partners. We support local livelihoods on every element of our tours.

Meaningful Trips’s Triple Give

In addition to all of the above, we:

  • Make contributions to selected global projects, NGO’s, or causes in countries we visit.
  • Make a contribution to Global Giving, a non-profit that connects donors with grassroots projects around the world. Meaningful Tripss is proud to partner with Global Giving and we will specifically target projects that support hunger and poverty needs in the USA.
  • Pledge 1% of our end-of-year net profits to a Meaningful Trips Trust.

Lodging & Amenities

Lodging in Orissa

Embassies

US embassies abroad
Foreign embassies located in USA

Passports

US State Department (passports) – Everything you need to know about passports.

Visas Link

US State Department (visas) – Visa and entry & exit requirements

Visa Services

Zierer Visa Services – ZVS has offices in San Francisco, New York, Houston, Miami, Washington DC, and Florida

Destination Information

Geographia – This site contains concise profiles of major countries in Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Europe, and Latin America. Provides information on: geography, climate, culture, people, history.

World Time

TheTimeNow.com – Find out what time it is, anywhere in the world.

Money Matters

Currency Converter

Health Information

Information on vaccines and advice on how to stay healthy while traveling.

Center for Disease Control – Travel health information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Includes reference material and recommendations by geographic region.

High Altitude Issues

ISMM, International Society for Mountain Medicine – Comprehensive information on Acclimatization and Acute Mountain Sickness, including prevention, recognition, and treatment of altitude illness.

Weather

Intellicast Weather Site – This site gives current weather all over the world, as well as historic average temperatures and rainfall, and sunrise/sunset, moonrise/moonset, and the phases of the moon.

Clothing & Gear

Meaningful Trip’s recommended outdoor retailers specializing in adventure and responsible travel.

Altrec – The number one source for all your favorite outdoor adventure brands including Mountain Hardwear, Arc’Teryx, Mountainsmith, Oakley, Marmot and many more! A true leader in online shopping.

Columbia Sportswear – “Trying stuff takes us to places we never imagined”

Dana Design – At Dana Design, we seek comfort for those who travel far. It’s why serious trekkers aren’t just partial to Dana Design. They’re devoted.

EagleCreek – Eagle Creek offers the most comprehensive selection of packs, wheeled luggage, duffels, packing, and travel accessories.

ExOfficio – Ex Officio’s adventure travel and urban travel clothing collections are designed to play an active role in your comfort when traveling. The perfect blend of function, low maintenance and multi-climate comfort for everything from hiking, rafting, safaris and cultural tours.

Kelty – Manufacturer of quality outdoor apparel, backpacks, tents, sleeping bags, travel gear and child carriers.

The NorthFace – The North Face provides an extensive line of performance clothing, equipment and footwear.

Patagonia – Patagonia is world famous for its quality clothing and gear. Meaningful Trips loves Patagonia for their environmentalism and their 1% for the planet program.

Salomon – Find out why their boots are the best in the business.

Teva Footwear – Teva Footwear. Buy your Tevas direct from Teva.com. Select from over 100 models.

Books & Maps

Lonely Planet – With content sections labeled The Thorn Tree, World Guide, On the Road, and The Scoop, you know Lonely Planet’s site is much more than just their terrific guidebooks.

Maps – An online World Atlas which covers 7 continents, 12 regions, 190 countries, and 50 US States.
Activity Levels and Qualifications

Activity Levels

Easy
All welcome. Travel at a relaxed pace. May include driving of 3 – 4 hours on some days. Activity: easy walking and light hiking, 1 – 3 hours, at low elevation. May include less demanding, half-day trips that may include: bicycling, sea kayaking, or rafting (Class I-II rapids), and these activities are optional. Minimum Age: 16* (see note below).

Moderate
Recommended for fit travelers with a spirit of adventure. Travel at a moderate pace. Activity: moderate walking and hiking, 3 – 4 hours daily, at elevations which may range from 5,000 – 10,000 feet. May include less demanding half-day or day-trips that may include: bicycling, sea kayaking, or rafting (Class I-II rapids), and these activities are optional. May include driving of 3 – 4 hours on some days.

Minimum Age: 16* (see below).

Vigorous
Recommended for fit travelers. Moderate hiking experience and conditioning are required. Activity: 5 – 8 hours trekking daily at high elevation, while carrying your own small daypack (water, essentials and warm layers). Surfaces: mountainous, exposed terrain with steep ascents/descents and uneven trails. Elevations: will range from 6,000 – 14,000 feet. It is important that you read our information about Altitude Mountain Sickness. A doctor’s release is required for persons age 60 or older. Minimum Age: 16 (see below).

Strenuous
Designed for very fit travelers. Typically, for extended high-altitude trekking or mountaineering. Activity: 8+ hours/day. Distances: Trek 10 – 12 miles most days. Elevation change: up to 4,000 ft/day. Altitude: may exceed 15,000 ft. Surfaces: remote, mountainous, exposed terrain with steep ascents/descents, uneven trails with loose features. Experience and conditioning required. A doctor’s release is required for all participants. Minimum age: 18.

Minimum Age

As most of our travelers are adults, our minimum age on all trips is 16 years old (unless on a specifically-designated ‘Private Group Departure’ or ‘Family Departure’). Ages 16 – 20, must be accompanied by an adult.

Map of Orissa