When preparing or considering a ride like this you're bound to have some questions. Because we may not be able to answer them as quickly as you might like, we have made up this list of as much important info, questions from past riders and random stuff to help you prepare.
If you don't see the answer to your questions here, just drop us a line and we will get back to you ASAP. As long as we are not off on a ride we normally don't take long to respond.
Who actually owns Dtour?
Dtour is owned and operated in partnership by Eugene George and Clifton Shipway. Both are Board Members of The Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission, the orphanage we support. The Dtour ride team is made up almost exclusively of GSAM employees and senior children.
Will there be sightseeing along the way?
Seriously? You are seriously asking this? Oooh yes, you better believe there will be sightseeing along the way! Just take a look at the photos on our site and you will get somewhat of an idea what to expect.
What is the accommodation like on the way?
We make every effort to stay in the most comfortable accommodation options available, that said, we are up in the Himalayas and sometimes options are a little bit limited. Rooms are on a twin sharing basis, self-contained (i.e. their own bathrooms) and generally are quite comfortable. Expect to have hot water, showers, room service, pillows, blankets and perhaps even a TV -but really who is going to watch TV! Some places should have WIFI but we generally encourage everyone to bring prepaid SIM cards should they “need” connectivity.
What type of riding experience do I need?
You definitely don’t need to be a motocross champion to come on most of our rides. Generally anyone with a few thousand kilometers under their boots, in a couple of different conditions (rain, rough, tarmac), will be fine. The hardest (roughest) part of the ride will be done at the slowest possible speeds to help keep everyone safe. Most days we will be riding between 2-6 hours at maximum (including plenty of stops for selfies, lunch, snacks and perhaps a dip in the freezing river waters for those who are keen). If you have any concerns about your riding ability just reach out to us.
Can I get a local prepaid phone SIM card / data plan?
You bet your sweet mustache you can! SIM cards are super cheap and you can grab one in the airport on your way through (or we’ll try to help arrange one on the way). As long as your phone is not network locked you can just shove it in and go. Everything is pre-paid and data is super cheap. Expect to pay somewhere like $5 total for around 2GB of data per day (for 28 days). Speeds are not amazing in the mountains… but they will certainly allow you to stay connected, even video call!
We recommend the following network providers (no specific order), nothing else really works in the mountains:
Do I need any vaccinations or medications?
Other than personal medication you really don’t need anything else. You are welcome to consult a Doctor but outside of perhaps a typhoid shot you really don’t need to worry. Some people ask if anti-malarial medication is needed, it is not. There are almost no mosquitoes in the mountains and even on the orphanage malaria has not raised it’s ugly head for more than a few decades. Your call of course, some people want to be extra careful.
Where do I apply for my visa?
We recommend that you apply online for an E-Tourist Visa via the official Indian website: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html
We recommend applying at least a month before the trip, though some people have received their visa in less than a week. There are also plenty of other agents and third party companies/websites out there… but we have no experience with them and LOADS of them are scammers.
What about money? Are there ATMs on the way?
We advise that everyone carry some petty cash, a good number would be 10,000 rupees which is about $200. You can use your regular ATM card at one of the many ATMs in the airport, Delhi or on the way to the orphanage on Day 1.
Please make sure you tell your bank you are going to India. If you don’t do this they might lock your credit card when they see a transaction in Delhi.
What about food and water quality on the road?
Don’t worry, we will make sure you get the best possible quality food and filtered drinking water at all times. There may be some spice in the food from time to time but it will not be crazy hot. If you have any allergies or dietary requirements just let us know and we will do everything we can to make your meals awesome!
Do I need a motorbike license in my home country?
Yes. All DTour riders must have a valid motorcycle license either in India or their home country. Pillion riders obviously don’t need to worry about this.
Do I need an International Drivers Permit?
Technically you do need an International Drivers Permit to drive in India, but a regular motorcycle license is more than sufficient for local police. That said we recommend that everyone purchase an IDP (as they are generally super cheap). Also, if anything bad happens your insurance company may object if you do not have one.
How do I pay for the tour?
When your registration is confirmed with us we will send you the banking information. To book your slot you will need to give a $500 deposit with the remainder payable 45 days before the tour. If you book within 45 days of the tour you will need to pay the full amount.
So Dtour is a non-profit ride?
Not exactly. All of our staff receive a salary but the majority of money raised by each tour is donated to The Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission, the orphanage we support.
How do the rides actually work?
Each day we have a quick briefing to discuss the route ahead. We travel together with a Dtour staff member as lead bike and another staff member as tail bike (or sweep). Everyone else rides in the convoy in between. Our support vehicle and luggage van travels behind the pack just in case anyone has an issue.
Are pillion passengers allowed?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is a little more technical though; we want to make sure you are safe, so before a pillion rider is approved we will want to find out more about your riding experience.
What happens if there is an accident?
While small prangs do happen from time to time, we've never had a major incident. That said, if something were to happen, our team will be there in full force to help. We carry multiple first aid kits and our team members have all undergone first aid training. In the case of a serious injury patients will be taken to a local hospital either by helicopter, ambulance or our evac vehicle and your emergency contacts will be informed. Medical insurance with helicopter evacuation is mandatory on our tours.
What about the altitude? Is AMS an issue?
Above about 8000ft AMS is something we all need to be aware of. Altitude sickness can effect anyone, it does not matter if you are physically fit or not. We take AMS seriously on our rides and are prepared to deal with it should the rare case happen. At our highest point in India we only travel to 7500ft so the chances of one of our riders having an issue is extremely rare.
Diamox or acetazolamide is carried by our crew and you are welcome to carry your own but the most important thing is to keep hydrated. We recommend that our riders drink 4-6L of water per day (not beer). The leading symptoms of AMS are nausea, headaches, disorientation and disrupted sleep. The ultimate fix for anyone struggling with AMS is to go to a lower altitude as soon as possible, this is something that we can do easily at any time.
What is the best time of year to ride?
We get some great weather in India. It is impossible to say which time of year is the best, each season has it's own positives and negatives. Our post-monsoon rides in September and October have some of the clearest skies but January and February have the highest chance of snow. The summer months of April and May are their own type of challenge in the plains but the mountains are a glorious relief from the heat!
Is there an option to sit in a car?
If you want to participate in a Dtour but don't know how to ride a motorbike just get in contact. We are able to arrange a 4WD to travel along with the pack so you can be a part of the tour.
What about the in between ride arrangements?
After a solid days ride most of our riders and crew enjoy a cold beer or two, sit around a fire, go for walks through the local markets or just relax in their rooms. Different places along the way have activities that riders can undertake in between rides. An example of this is Patal Bhuvneshwar where brave souls can climb deep into the limestone cave temples and learn more about the mystic Hindu culture of the Himalayan people. On other days there might be a bush walk, paragliding or even white water rafting... there is always plenty to do.