Voluntourism frequently asked questions

    While volunteering and travelling abroad there are tens of question creeping into ones mind like food and accommodation, transport, people, custom, belief, cultural sensibilities etc. This page aims to answer all of your queries.

  1. What does the volunteering involve?

    Have a look at our programs page to see the different kind of volunteering opportunities we offer. You can specify which you’d like to do when you register to be a volunteer.

  2. How much will I need to work each day?

    Your volunteering hours shall depend on the project site. For example, at our school there are two timings which we follow, that is one in summer time(7:30-12:30 p.m.) and another in winter time(10:00-3:30 p.m.). At our youth center we have classes from 10:00 am in the morning till 5:00 pm. At our computer literacy center we have timing from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.

  3. Where will I stay?

    The accommodation at project sites shall either be provided at home stays, hotels or camp sites, depending on the availability. The accommodation is simple but has all the basic facilities. The toilets will be Indian squat and there will be bucket showers, although in hotel and camp sites sometimes have western toilets as well. At maximum we will accommodate 3 volunteers in a room at one time. Remember to bring your toiletries and towel. You can also buy them at cheap price in the local market. Mosquitoes are not a problem in the Himalayas. The rooms are generally river facing so have delightful views.

    Home stays are generally with the families in and around our project sites that is schools, youth center or computer literacy center and you can experience Indian way of living. Hotels also are owned by local community members so do you get a chance to experience the lifestyle. The camp sites are near project sites only and you get a personalized feeling to stay in camps helping along the people in cooking so that you get a chance to learn how Indian cooking is done. The people at these places are extremely hospitable, welcoming and respectful. All of our previous volunteers have sweet memories of staying with us

    You can also opt for a luxurious stay on an additional cost, just let us know when you register.

  4. What will I eat?

    Experience Garhwali cuisine which is not found in other parts of India. The traditional cuisine of Uttrakhand is simple yet highly nutritious, simple to prepare and at the same time appealing to the palate. You’ll also have the added bonus of pure mountain water to drink.

    Even welcoming the guest is done by preparing a special dish called ‘Jhangorey ki kheer’, sweet dish made of a particular millet grown only in Garhwal Himalayas. Various dishes and snacks are prepared from locally grown pulses, millet, cereals, vegetables and many more. To name few are arsa, puri, choley, shyali, aalo gutke, chaisunu, and innumerable others. One of the main characteristic of Garhwali cuisine is inclusion of green leafy vegetables for a healthy meal. Various sauces, jams(apple), curry are prepared in most of household. Usually the timing of meals is breakfast at 8:00 am, lunch at 1:00 pm and dinner at 7:00 pm.
    Chai is an integral part of the culture in the Himalayan region. Chai( Tea) is prepared from local herbs, cardamom, ginger and other. Chai is very famous and is something which is served at least 5/6 times in a day.
    The water in the Himalayas is one of the purest you can find anywhere. Its easy to digest, nice to taste and mineral enriched. The great part is that once you are with us you don’t need to spend on water bottles unlike other parts of Indian subcontinent.

  5. Can you accommodate vegetarians or other special dietary requirements?

    As the area is used for holy pilgrimages, you’ll be served vegetarian food by default. If you are a vegan, or would prefer to eat meat, or you are allergic to something please inform us in advance so that we can make arrangements accordingly.

  6. What kind of visa do I need?

    You need a tourist visa as your visit is about cultural exchange. The visa is issued at your local Indian consulate and is valid for 6 months and can be reviewed. You must get your visa in advance. For detailed information you can log onto site of Indian ministries for external affairs, www.mah.nic.in or you can just Google “Indian tourist visa.”

  7. What immunization and medication do I need?

    It’s very important to get yourself vaccinated or immunized as per travelling advice in your country. The most common recommended immunization for the Indian Garhwal Himalayas are Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Polio and Tetanus. Usually in the Himalayas diseases relating to mosquito bites are not a problem but you can google the topic for detailed information if you wish.

  8. Is medical help available if I need it?

    There are private clinics and government hospital in the area for minor issues but for any major/critical issues, we would arrange travel to Rishikesh or Dehradun which have more modern facilities. We do not provide any medical cover/assistance for the program. Please make sure that you come with travel/health insurance.

  9. What do I need to bring?

    It’s advisable to bring appropriate clothes, a towl, toileteries,toilet papers, photos of your family and home, sun cream, camera, mosquito repellent, medication for minor issues such as ‘delhi belly’, daily use vitamins and others. However this is just a precaution as the water is a natural source water, the food is hygenically cooked and the air is pure. Do not bring weapons of any kind, satellite phone, or any illegal substances as it could lead to trouble for everyone.

  10. Is the area safe for women/girls?

    Usually the people in the Himalayas are very respectful and welcoming and all of our previous female volunteers had a wonderful time, without encountering any safety-related issues. But you will need to be sensible as far as involvement with men is concerned. Avoid talking to drunken men and don’t accept invitations from people you don’t know. Wear clothes which cover your body. You may be invited to visit other local villages and this is absolutely fine as long as you know the people.

  11. How should I behave in the area?

    There are many things which could be written down but with common sense and an open mind you will instinctively know how to behave in this new culture. Please understand the sensibility of the local people, custom, belief, their way of doing things and living life in general. Try not to come with pre-concieved notions or prejudices. Your clothes should cover your body. You can buy suitable clothes cheaply in Barkot.

  12. What support from staff is available?

    The co-ordinator of all these programs is Naveen Godiyal. To assist him there are other coordinators, who have in depth knowledge of local community. The coordinators are based at the project site only and available 24/7, in person or by phone.

  13. How do I reach Barkot?

    Dehradun the state capital is the starting point for your journey. You can get there by bus, train or airplane. From Dehradun you can take local government transport bus to our place Barkot. The buses run from Musoorie bus stand which is located within the premises of Dehradun railway station itself. If you wish we can arrange private transport also on an additional cost. For more advise on getting to Dehradun kindly mail us on godiyal83@gmail.com

  14. When is the best time in the year to come?

    Your decision may be influenced by two factors, weather and project sites. Our programs are organized whole year around. For Schools there are vacation in the month of June(summer vacation) and month of december(winter vacation). The youth center has holidays also. Periodically, we can inform you about these nearer the time. The computer literacy center is open throughout the year. As far as the season is concerned it depends on you as Mid-march to June is high season for spiritual tourism, October to December are cold at night but warm and sunny during the day and January and Febrauary are the coldest months however there is good amount of sunlight in the afternoon time.

  15. How do I pay the contribution costs?

    The participant fees vary depending on your travelling requirements. please see the cost details by clicking the link. Since we don’t have high program fees (unlike other volunteer organizations) we prefer cash on arrival, for the whole duration you intend to stay with us. There is no advance payment or cancellation fees. Please mail us on godiyal83@gmail.com in case you have questions regarding payments or cancellations.

  16. What will be provided?

    Orientation on arrival, 3 meals a day, your accommodation for entire period you are volunteering, in-house staff help and support, local transport, material needed while participating in the program, limited internet access facility.

  17. How much Internet access is there?

    You can access internet at our project sites if you get an Indian sim card. There is 3G coverage and 4G is on the way. For wi-fi access, you can come to our computer literacy center in Barkot.

  18. What’s not provided?

    Air tickets/airfare or transportation to reach to our place,
    Mineral water bottle, toilet rolls, local dress, meals at any outer eateries/restaurants,
    any medical expenses incurred for any minor or major ailment/treatment,
    alcohol, beverages of any kind, snacks purchased from outside, cookies or any other eatables like fruits,
    Any personal buying gadgets, sim cards, pen, pencil, notebook, diary, books, guides, maps and others,
    Drugs in any form, intoxicants of any nature.

  19. Can I come and visit you?

    Our office which is located in the computer center itself in Barkot, is open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. Best to contact us first, but if you’re in the area you are very welcome to come and visit us.

  20. Other legalities and formalities

    On arrival you will be required to complete a c-form, which we will provide for you. We also request that you sign a general code of conduct and agree to abide the rules and regulations.

  21. Any other queries

    If you have any question which are not answered above please don’t hesitate to ask us on godiyal83@gmail.com We want you to have a happy, satisfying and meaningful visit.