Three wheels. Open sides. One epic ride.
Our India Rickshaw Challenge does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s in India. It’s challenging. You drive rickshaws. And an Indian adventure is pretty much guaranteed. But really, there’s so much more in the tin than that: there’s Jungle with tigers in it, impossibly hot curry, getting lost and the occasional monsoon rain cloud . If that sounds like your particular brand of fun, read on.
This page is designed to give you a bit more info about what to expect during your Indian Rickshaw Adventure. To kick it off: accommodation. Getting dirty when you have a nice bed to look forward to is fun; getting dirty when all you have to look forward to is more dirt is no fun at all. That’s why we like to look after you after a hard day on the open road: a few nights in some lovely urban Indian hotels and a few nights in some pretty awesome boutique hotels tucked away in the hills. We’ll also chuck in delicious breakfasts and dinners during the challenge.
So start your engines, people. This is going to be one hell of a ride.
The Tuk Tuk
Ah, the humble Indian rickshaw, or “Auto” as they’re sometimes known as, is the original tin can on wheels. These are standard issue, Indian-made rickshaws. And they’re freak’n awesome!
They’ve got three wheels (don’t ask us why), an open frame, a canvas roof with drop down sides, a cabin for the driver and two seats in the back. Oh, and an engine: a 4-stroke beast that is probably slightly more powerful than a horse.
Rickshaws have a few advantages: they’re durable, easy to use and very forgiving. They’ll happily handle almost any surface, climate or level of abuse. Their cruising speed is a tasty 35kph (22mph). Their cruising altitude is about one foot.
- Engine: 4 stroke engine – 205 cc
- Petrol tank: 6 litre normal capacity plus 1 litre of reserve
- Average petrol consumption: 1 litre approx 20 to 25 Km’s
- Top speed: 55 kmph
How does it work?
For a comprehensive answer, go and Google ‘internal combustion engine’. But here are the cliffnotes.
- The accelerator is found on the right.
- The clutch and gears are located on the left.
- The main break is actioned by your right foot.
On the first day of the event, everyone is required to attend a mandatory rickshaw driving induction and safety training session (this means you). You’ll get lots of time to practice before hitting the road. A rickshaw is a cross between a car and a scooter, so clutch control is key. If you´ve driven a scooter or motorbike before, it’ll be a breeze.
It’s worth remembering that the Indian Rickshaw Challenge is just that – a challenge. It’s not a race. It’s not like Cake’s seminal 90s hit The Distance. Speed should not be your priority. If anything should be, it’s probably fun.
Legs and Challenges
The Challenge is broken up into various driving legs. Each team gets a road map and a daily navigational sheet, which they’ll use to get from A to B each day. The winning team isn’t the team that finishes first, it’s the one that accumulates the most Challenge points. How do you get points? By nailing various challenges, we set you along the way.
That means that racing is not encouraged. In fact it’s actively discouraged. There’s no need to set a new Indian ground-speed record (very difficult to do on a 200cc Rickshaw, but still…) We’ll provide mechanical support when you need it, but essentially you’re hiring a Rickshaw and driving it independently each day. By yourself. Han solo.
How many people per team?
A team is made up of either 2 or 3 people. Apparently there is no ‘I’ in it. You get one Rickshaw per team.
Can I book my own accommodation?
Unfortunately, no. Only because each leg will start from the hotel / over-night stop and the idea is to share our challenging travel experience together. Most importantly you wouldn’t want to miss out on each night’s social gatherings…
Is there an age limit?
Yes, you’ve got to be at least 18 years old in order to participate. We don’t have a maximum age, but if you’re over 65 we definitely recommend checking with your insurer to make sure you qualify for the medical insurance you’ll need to take part. The Challenge is physically tough, but by no means extreme – we won’t sugar-coat it. You should really only take part if you’re in decent physical shape and your health is A-Okay.
What should I bring along?
Probably not your ski jacket. Or that set of golf clubs. South India is as tropical as it gets, so pack accordingly. The nights can get a little chilly in the hills, so a windbreaker jacket and a few light layers wouldn’t go amiss. Other than that, bring all your travel essentials, some good quality suncream and anything you think will make the long driving days more fun (we recommend honing you I-Spy skills beforehand). Oh, and did we mention it might rain?
How about luggage?
Don’t worry, you don’t have to strap suitcases to the roof of your tuk tuk. We’ve got a luggage truck that will follow us around. Each morning you’ll load it up with your heavy bags, and each night we’ll hand it back at our hotel. Job done. Simples.
How on earth am I going to drive an Indian Rickshaw?
Don’t stress, they’re very friendly. If you can ride a bicycle that has a clutch and an engine, you can ride a rickshaw. Besides, on the first day everyone gets mandatory rickshaw driving instructions and safety training. You’ll have plenty of practice before hitting the open road.
Is it going to be dangerous?
To put it bluntly – yes. There will be an element of danger, if only because you’re sitting behind the handlebars of a three-wheeled Rickshaw, on top of 200CC of raw power, and tackling unfamiliar roads in a foreign country. Lets face it, Indian roads can be diabolical in places and the driving standards might not be what you’re used to. That in itself is a bit risky. But don’t worry too much – if you’re sensible and cautious, you should be fine, and we have a fully trained crew to swing in if anything goes wrong. That includes an ambulance and paramedics on standby.
Warning: Auto Rickshaws can easily roll and flip if not handled correctly. We take safety really seriously on these challenges, and you should know there are inherent risks involved, including potentially life-threatening situations.
How about Rickshaw maintenance and repairs?
Your humble steed will be handed over in a good road worthy condition and from then onwards it is your responsibility to take care of any repair costs. Our team of mechanics will be at your disposal throughout the event and will assist you with this at a cost. Otherwise you can turn to the locals to help you out. But don’t worry spare parts are not that expensive!
The cost of repairs depends on how each teams looks after their vehicle. Naturally there is a small amount of wear and tear on these type of events, but you will only be charged for parts that are damaged or need to be replaced. There will be a full vehicle inspection prior to handing over your ride. On average, the cost of repairs ranges from £40-120 per team.
These wonderful machines are surprisingly fuel efficient, so unless you drive like a madman your wheels will do at least 30 km to the litre so you won’t really be spending more than £100 bucks for the whole Challenge.
How fast do Rickshaws go?
Whoa there, speed racer. These bad boys can’t really get over 50kph. The average speed should be around 35kph. Fast enough to get the blood racing, but not so fast you hit a cow. That’s the sweet spot.
What if I crash and write off my ride?
If possible, try not to do this. One of our registration requirements is to pay (or better block the amount off your credit card) a refundable deposit of £1,500 per team. This will (ideally) cover you for most touch ups and accidents, although if the rickshaw is a complete write-off the bill might increase. At the end of the Challenge we’ll inspect the vehicle, come to an agreement, and return any balance to you before you leave India. A pretty standard car-hire type system, really.
Do I need special insurance?
How about vehicle insurance?
Third party insurance is included under the hire of the rickshaw. Scratch as many Ferraris as you want (please don’t actually do this).
Do I need a special drivers license?
Everyone who competes has to provide us with a valid International Driving Permit with a Category A stamp. It’s your responsibility to have the correct DL.
Can my team entry be sponsored?
Definitely! We love to see teams going the extra mile to raise money for charity. Just be aware that the rickshaws we use have limited branding space (we take up some for our own branding purposes). If you need more info on this, just let us know.
How do I register?
Easy peasy. Here’s how:
- Sign up here.
- Pay your initial deposit.
Once you’ve done all that successfully, we’ll send you an email with lots of exclamation marks confirming your team’s availability.
Once I register what other docs do I need?
Once your registration is locked and loaded, we’ll email you and ask you to provide us with:
- A passport copy for each team member (we promise not to laugh at the photos).
- International Driving Permit with a category A stamp.
- Your arrival and departure details.
We’ll double check all these docs on the ground in India, so please bring copies with you.
When do registrations close?
30 days before the Challenge.
Do I need to bring my own camping gear?
Nope. If we camp we’ll provide the sleeping bags and the marshmallows as necessary. However it might be good to bring a torch.
Who needs a visa to India?
Ah visas, our old nemesis. You can find out how to apply, here.
Can the route change?
We try to stick to the original route and accommodation as much as possible, but they can be subject to change from time to time.
Is it expensive in India?
Not really. Some luxuries can be a little pricey (hence the ‘luxury’ bit), but for the most part it’s super reasonable. Lunch might be a few bucks and beers are generally around the same. It’s like travelling back in time to the 50s when the world was a much simpler place and children respected their elders.
Will there be internet connection throughout?
All our hotels will have internet connection, but the campsites not so much.
What’s the weather like?
If you like your weather warm, you’ll love the India Rickshaw Challenge. Warmth is kind of its thing. Even when it’s pouring with rain. There are plenty of more in-depth weather guides online, but generally the south-west monsoon brings rain to the western, southern and central regions from May to July, while the north-eastern monsoon is from December to January. Expect anything from 26 to 30 degrees Celsius.
Do I need to get vaccinated?
This is completely up to you (and your doc), but generally it’s a good idea to be up-to-date with standard vaccinations like Tetanus, Hap A and Polio. Other jabs to consider are Tuberculosis, Meningitis and Typhoid. Anti-malaria meds might also be a good idea. If in doubt, check with your GP.
What are the roads like in India?
India has a good road network linking all the major cities, towns and interesting places. But don’t go expecting pristine tarmac everywhere you ride. Some of the rural roads in particular can get pretty wild and bumpy.
Payment Method & Terms
- Only £399 deposit required to signup.
- Outstanding amount is required 90 days before the start of Challenge.
- Non-refundable deposit.
- 89 to 30 days prior to start of the Challenge – 50% cancellation charges apply.
- 29 days to start of the Challenge – 100% cancellation charges apply.
For more information please refer to our Booking Terms & Conditions.