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Railfan Tours

India Darjeeling steam photocharter Tanago railfan tours

India:
Nilgiri Gear Steam

15th - 20th February 2020

India: Nilgiri Gear Steam

We know the best photo spots on the line from numerous visits to Nilgiri, and guide you to the best locations. Experience meter gauge trains with steam and diesel traction between Mettupalayam, Coonoor, and Ooty.

The Riggenbach SLM rack steam locomotives will be phased out in the near future as Southern Railways' central administration has placed an order to build 3 new rack steam locomotives! Anyone who knows the Indian philosophy of steam locomotive construction knows that no consideration is given to aesthetics and performance, the main thing being that minimal specifications are met!

On this journey you can enjoy the famous Nilgiri Railway again in authentic and traditional surroundings. Book this tour as a stand-alone tour or connect it with our Darjeeling outing!

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No. of participants Min. 15
Duration 7 days
Meals mostly halfboard
Price from 1.780 €
Open for bookings Tickets left.
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February 14, 2020, Friday
If you are joining the India program today, you will have departed Europe the day before and will arrive at Coimbatore airport during the day, where you will meet the group in the evening and motor to the hotel in Mettupalayam (about 3 hours drive). If you need a hotel room for the transit night from Thursday to Friday due to the flight connections in Delhi or Mumbai, we will be happy to book it for you.

If you were in Darjeeling with us before, you will fly from Bagdogra to Coimbatore today and arrive there in the early evening. We meet our local tour guide and motor to our very good hotel in Mettupalayam (3 hours drive).
Overnight at Black Thunder Resort.
Meals: Dinner.

15 February 2020, Saturday - 18 February 2020, Tuesday
We will guide you to the best photo locations along the Nilgiri line. In these 4 days we follow the scheduled steam train on the cog-section from Mettupalayam to Coonoor, where the train changes to diesel traction and continues to Ooty. The diesel trains are also very photogenic!

On the rack-sections below Coonoor, the trains are pushed up the mountain by meter-gauge steam locomotives of the Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works SLM, fighting gradients up to 120‰).
Between Coonoor and Ooty (Udagamandalam), the classic YDM4 diesel locomotives are used. On this section the locomotive is always coupled to the valley side of the train. The gradient of 40 ‰ is not that strong that a rack would be necessary. The diesel locomotives can only be used in the upper section. In total, the trains travel 46 km, passing 208 curves, 16 tunnels and 250 bridges.

Some parts of the track are inaccessible for us in the jungle, but the other part of the track is open to the public and here we will get very good pictures. We don't take a big bus, but two or three of us are travelling in a very spacious and comfortable "Sedan" car each. This also allows a lot of flexibility!

We have already tried several times to get the authorisation for a steam charter from the Southern Railways as the responsible railway administration. We renewed our request for this tour but our file didn´t make it through the offices of the administration entirely. We don't want to leave the whole journey open by not being able to confirm our charter, but on the other hand we don't want to write it off either. Therefore, our tour price does not include a charter train currently. Should it be confirmed, we will charge the charter train additionally.

We shall also visit the major railway depot at Coonoor (steam and diesel locomotives are being hosted there) during say and night hours. Here the diesel locomotives are maintained and minor repairs to the steam locomotives are carried out.
Overnight stay at the Black Thunder Resort in Mettupalayam.
Meals: Breakfast (packed), dinner.

February 19, 2020, Wednesday
Until our departure in the late afternoon, we spend another day along the route, then take the road back to Coimbatore Airport. There the tour ends with your return flights home via Mumbai or Delhi. We are happy to book your long-haul tickets from/to your desired airport.
Meals: Breakfast (packed).

20 February 2020, Thursday
In the early morning, most airlines leave India for Europe. Those who have booked a departure around noon can book an optional transit hotel from Wednesday to Thursday through us. Arrival in Europe in the afternoon or evening of the same day.

Tour Price Nilgiri (per person)

1.780 € in a shared double room
   370 € single room supplement
   160 € domestic flight Calcutta-Coimbatore
(if you have also booked the Darjeeling programme)

Our services

  • Visit of the railway shed (steam and diesel) at Coonoor;
  • Linesiding the steam and diesel trains on the Nilgiri railway;
  • All necessary transfers from/to airport or train station according to program;
  • Visitor and photo permits, transfers, entrance and visit fees;
  • ComfortableSedan-style cars with local drivers;
  • Night shots;
  • Accommodation in 3* deluxe or 4* hotels in double rooms with ensuite facilities;
  • Meals according to programme;
  • Tanago tour brochure;
  • Experienced Tanago tour guide (German + English speaking) plus local tour guides.

Tips, personal expenses, flights, visa fees are not included.

This trip is charged to us by our partners in foreign currencies. Since the exchange rate of foreign currencies to the Euro (our invoice currency) has become very unjustifiable, and we do not want to burden the tour price with fictitious currency reserves, the published price represents the exchange rate as of 1. December 2019. We therefore expressly reserve the right to price deviations due to international currency fluctuations and any unforeseen price increases by our partners.

If you are travelling alone, you can also book a "shared" double room. We will do our best to allocate another "shared" double room booker. However, if this is not possible, we will charge the single room supplement.

This trip is organised and carried out by Tanago. The minimum number of participants is 10, the maximum 22. Please book by 5 January 2020 at the latest.

Flight options to and from India, as well as domestic flights
Air India: Air India is a member of the Star Alliance and uses modern Boeing Dreamliner (B787) between Frankfurt and Delhi. Rail&Fly in 2nd class is also offered at a discount. The great advantage of the AI flights is the seamless transition in India without having to spend the night on arrival.

Lufthansa/Swiss/KLM/Air France/LOT: many airlines offer very good connections to India, domestic flights are operated with partner airlines. If you book European airlines, you will arrive late in the evening in Delhi or Mumbai and may need a transit hotel until the next morning flight. The accommodation option in a very good hotel at the airport costs 80 € per person in a shared double room and 140 € in a single room. The same applies to a possibly booked transit hotel on the way back.

Our prices do not include international or domestic flights.

Remarks
India is a fascinating travel country, in which "beautiful" and "terrible" often lie directly next to each other. While we visitors are always inspired by the unbelievable tradition of the country, the wonderful architecture, the colorful customs, and the friendliness of the people, some families live in the gutter, there is unbelievable poverty, the caste system restrains the people.

We will not be able to avoid this conflict, because there is no isolated 5-star luxury bubble in which we move through the country. We do not want that either. It has always been a characteristic of our tours that we have encounters with the "normal" people. India is a great and beautiful country. The genius of its historical builders, the incredible spirituality of the Hindus, and the unlimited variety of photo opportunities in daily life are simply wonderful.

At the same time, India is a big country in which the distribution of wealth is very extreme. Moreover, India has completely different cultural rules of living together. If you have a problem with the fact that along our morning railway line from Siliguri to the mountains some Indians sit at the railway embankment with their trousers down and do their morning business, then you should rather stay at home.

The railway administrations in India are tightly organized, nothing happens without written permission. On the other hand, the country's railway bureaucracy has a notorious life of its own, and even changes to the plan 24 hours before the departure of a charter train are not uncommon. We have obtained all the papers and normally our trip should not deviate significantly from the original plan. However, the refurbishment of steam locomotives is often limited to intensive repainting, and the mechanical aspects are often less important. Therefore, neither we nor the railways involved can guarantee the use of a particular locomotive or train.

Please note that the infrastructure of the country cannot be compared to Central Europe. There are other rules and cultural peculiarities that we must respect if we are to achieve the best possible photographic results.

Temperatures & Other stuff
Beside its Southern Indian location, the "hill resorts" in the mountains (Ooty) has a cool, sometimes even cold climate but even in the very good hotels of the mountain regions there are often no heaters in the rooms! Mobile electric heaters are used, if the electric power does not fail...a pair of long underpants and an extra sweater will help you through cold nights ...

For India you need a world travel plug (adapter). Read the health and travel information about India on the homepage of your governments foreign office pages.

Immigration
A tourist visa is mandatory. A passport valid for at least 6 months with at least 2 free pages is required!

Namaste!