From November to March the days are cool and clear and visibility is at its best in the mountains. Nights can be cold in midwinter (December to February) - sometimes as low as 5C in higher areas. April and May are warmer months with hazy conditions, building in humidity until the monsoon arrives in late June. The rain lasts until September, making travel to the more remote villages in Kumaon difficult.
NB, please do not rely solely on this information for your travel planning.
UTTARAKHAND: BY AIR
There are no international flights to Uttarakhand; most visitors fly to Delhi and catch a domestic flight or a train from there.
From the UK: British Airways, Air India, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, Gulf Air, Qatar Airways.
Within Europe: Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, Finnair, Alitalia and Swiss International Airlines.
From the USA: Air India.
Domestic flights from Delhi: see Air India and SpiceJet.
By train: Uttarakhand has good rail links with Delhi and elsewhere in India - see below or visit Seat 61 for a beginner's guide.
By train: Uttarakhand has good rail links with Delhi and elsewhere in India - see below or visit Seat 61 for a beginner's guide. See Indian Rail for schedules.
BY CAR & DRIVER: We would recommend hiring a car with a driver as the best way to see the country. It's cheaper than hiring a self-drive car, and the drivers usually arrange their own accommodation and food.
BY BUS: Travelling by bus is a cheap way to get around, but they can be very overcrowded and uncomfortable.
BY TAXI: There are taxi-cars, with or without air conditioning, and a large number of auto-rickshaws on the roads. Fares are cheap with various small extras. Some drivers try to stop off at shops where they get commissions on your purchases, while others fend off all touts and take you straight to your destination.
Almost every non-Indian needs a tourist visa from their embassy or consulate. There are 3- and 6-month multiple-entry and single-entry visas (the cost is the same), and they can no longer be issued the same day - so plan ahead! You will also need a valid passport. For access to certain protected areas (e.g. national parks), you will need a special permit and, often, a guide; these are available locally.
Diarrhoea strikes many visitors - be aware of what, and where, you are eating. Choose fruits that you can peel and avoid tap water (as well as ice made from tap water and fruit and vegetables washed in tap water). If you experience diarrhoea it's very important to replace lost fluids and, in the case of severe diarrhoea, lost minerals and salts (it’s a good idea to go prepared with some oral rehydration salts). If you become ill your hotel should be able to recommend a good local doctor or clinic. You may want to consider carrying an emergency treatment pack including needles and syringes.
It's important to seek medical advice at least 6 weeks before departure as some vaccinations may require more than one injection. Make sure you're up to date with vaccinations for diphtheria, tetanus and polio. Vaccinations for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid are also advisable (note that the current vaccine against cholera offers very low protection and isn't usually recommended). Consider vaccinations against rabies and Japanese B encephalitis if you're planning to stay longer than a couple of weeks. Malaria is present in areas beneath 2000m - your doctor will be able to advise you on appropriate medication. Insect repellent is essential; use one containing DEET.
If you're walking from village to village, make sure you have any medication you need in your hand luggage, as your main luggage will be transported ahead by porters.
Many staff are paid very low salaries and expect to be tipped. In hotels and restaurants, 10% is normal. In other situations, where there is no bill, a few rupees will suffice.