It’s an unfamiliar vehicle in unfamiliar territory, so it’s reasonable to expect you will not always make blinding progress. The good news is that the routes are simple enough that it will be quite difficult to get completely lost, and given the slow speed of the bulls you can never go too far in the wrong direction.
Additionally, help is available in all sorts of ways. There are your fellow participants who in the spirit of the event will always lend a helping hand. Moreover, there are always friendly locals to point the way. Savvy wagon teams know that the best way to get back on track is during a chat while sampling the wares of a local coconut or tea seller. Even if you manage to get hopelessly lost you have the backup of the Bullathon Support Team. In your support pack, there is a pre-paid mobile phone which you can utilize to call the team for help.
Technology is a splendid tool, but before you consider coming armed with GPS and sophisticated mapping equipment just remember that your gizmo doesn’t know if a road was washed away during the last monsoon, or if its shut down for a wedding, festival, or herd of cows!
Once your registration and deposit has been processed by us, you will know your place is confirmed and can set about planning for the trip. You will need all the usual documentation you would expect for a holiday, including passport (with visa where applicable), travel insurance, and driving licence. We strongly suggest you to make copies of all your essential documents.
Administration of the Bullathon is a full time, year-round job for organizers and the additional support staff in multiple offices internationally. We work hard to make things as easy as possible for participants to sign up and have a great time. Your fees enable us to carry out all the route planning, research, logistics and administration whilst keeping the lights on for our hard working staff and providing security to the local participating farmers.
In addition to the back-office work, your fee also covers the inclusive features of your trip package such as:
Permit and documents
Support crew and vehicle
Organizer and veterinarian assistance through the event
The deadline for the entrance fee is 30 days before the start of the event. We encourage you to book early to guarantee your place in the event. We try to be as flexible as possible but please be aware that if full payment is not received on time we reserve the right to reallocate your place to another participant.
Teams consist of up to three people. This provides ample room for both you and any additional gear you may wish to carry such as cameras, water etc… A wagon can easily take three people and this is also a common team format but your space is then limited.
Many of our adventures feature some hardy solo competitors. It’s all up to you, but doing all the driving alone can make it tiring and restrict your ability to take in the views and soak up the experience. Plus, then the bulls outnumber you and you might feel ignored.
If you cannot persuade a friend to join you then we are happy to assist pairing you up with another lone traveller. You never know, you might just end up with the person of your dreams!
On the first and last night of the event there are some fantastic resort hotels booked for all particpants. On all other days hotels are provided for participants who purchased Deluxe packages, managed camping is provided for Standard package owners, and Basic package participants will need to make their own arrangements. All participants will be provided with local hotel/hostel lists and as much information as possible as a part of the events Roadbook.
The Bullathon organizers have researched and planned the route based on roads marked on common maps easily navigable by bull wagon, however this is a big cultural shift from developed highways. Expect dirt roads, potholes within potholes, landslides, and the possibility of roads not existing anymore!
Worry not. The organizers of the Bullathon will provide a crash course (ahem) in handling for all participants. We are certain that you will find the bulls friendly and the wagons easy and fun to drive.
As a part of the support staff, there will be a trained veterinarian as well as experienced animal handlers who will routinely check on the wagons and the bull teams. They will expertly monitor the health and well being of the animals, as well as direct and assist with their feeding and care.
Stabling will be provided for the bulls at the end of every stage, and additional feed will be provided in the wagons for daytime snacking. Feeding the bulls yourself is fun, informative, and a great way to make the best of friends with your bovine buddies.
Not all participants in the team are required to drive. If you’re not interested in being a driver in the event, you can still enjoy the journey from the back and take on the important role of being the official filmmaker, the photographer or the navigator for your team.
Your basic vehicle insurance is automatically covered once you enter the event however we strongly encourage all participants to have appropriate travel insurance to deal with medical and other costs.
The cost of the wagon and bull team will be included in the entrance fee. However, you are responsible for paying a €1000 deposit upon registration to cover any damage to the vehicle. This deposit also covers a pre-pay mobile phone for the event. The deposit will be returned to you in full if the condition of your wagon and bull team at the end of the event is very similar to its condition at the beginning. If you’d like to make any customizations to your wagon, our ‘Pimp Your Wagon’ team will be excited to add your requested features to your vehicle. This is priced separately, please see Pimp Your Wagon for details and a price list.
Yes! Keep in mind that these wagons are the property of the farmers, who rely on them for their working livelihood. If after the trip you just can’t bear to part with your trusty wagon we can make the owners a fair offer. You will be responsible for all costs associated with the purchase beyond the sticker price including taxes, shipping, customizations, rush and service fees. We will be glad to assist.
We also offer a search and buy service for both participants and non-participants so if you want to return home with a very unusual garden ornament, just say the word!
Sure! Remember the wagons have to be returned to the farmers who rely on them, so if you want customizations so extremely that they no longer belong on a working farm then we can arrange its purchase and the Extreme Makover can begin. You can do anything that’s legal and considered roadworthy in India… so basically pretty much anything goes! We’ve adapted vehicles to be mobile discos, giant rabbits, and with luxuries like flat screen TV’s and on-board fridges! You dream it, we’ll Pimp it!
A tourist visa is sufficient. Contact your local embassy for more information and any needed application process. We encourage you to apply early (30 days before departure) in case of delays.
GPS units are not a requirement for this event, it’s completely optional, and each stage will not be particularly long. The route can easily be followed and accomplished by the use of the paper maps and navigational guides we will provide.
We highly suggest contacting a traveller’s clinic in your home country or your personal doctor to find out what kind of vaccinations you might need or medical precautions you should consider before traveling to India. Though our support vehicle will be prepared to deal with minor emergencies, we highly recommend you to bring a medical kit with you, which should include the following:
Ointments for insect bites
High SPF sunscreen (You’ll be in India, so good chance that it will be sunny. Then rainy. Then sunny.)
Tweezers and needles
Please remember, you will be responsible for bringing your own prescription medication as needed.
That is entirely up to you. You will have time to tour in India, which also means you will have time to gather a few souvenirs should you choose to do so. You’ll want to bring enough money to cover your food and drink costs, nightly housing costs if not on an Adventure Package, etc. for a week as well as some coverage in case of an emergency. After many years of great challenges with international participants we have found that most people are easily happy with €50 per day. Your preferences may be more or less expensive.
There will be a safety deposit box in the support vehicle of the event. If there is anything you do not wish to carry with you in your wagon for any reason, you can trust your possessions with our team. You will be given a detailed receipt of items placed in our possession. It will be your responsibility to hang on to this receipt in order to have your belongings returned to you.
By Travel Scientist standards, this is a grand and relaxing cruise, but you can’t go on an exotic and life-changing vacation without there being some real danger. India is a country like no other and you’re driving a vehicle designed well before the concept of ‘driver safety’ existed. The good news is that because wagons have such low maximum speeds, they’re not likely to get into major crashes. Furthermore, Indians are enormously respectful of their bovine friends – possibly even more than of their drivers. We train you about how to drive safely and what to look out for on the specific roads you’ll be on. However your personal danger quotient is directly relational to the choices you make. In the history of the Travel Scientists we have only had two accidents, both of which were the direct results of participants not obeying our rules or the local laws.
Always remember that you’re in a foreign country with different rules and ideas about what’s acceptable (don’t interrupt weddings or other cows, even if they’re sunning themselves in the middle of the road).
If you have any further or specific questions about the Bullathon, please feel free to contact us.