Rickshaw Run India
Rickshaw Run India: Full Details
This is the original rickshaw flavoured slap in the gonads of an adventure. Launched way back in 2006 when 34 pioneer teams traversed the length of India from the tropical tributaries of Kochi to the tea plantations of Darjeeling.
Here is all the information you need to round up a couple of mates and drive a 3-wheeled shit box with almost no safety features across the length and breadth of India. 3000km of ridiculousness await you…
1. The New Un-Route
The new route will see our foolhardy teams wibble their way from Fort Kochi in southern India all the way to Gangtok in the far north on a sneaky jaunt into Sikkim and the foothills of the Himalayas.
The January 2022 teams will be the first to re-trace these epic steps. And the hardy fools of the September 2022 Run will re-trace them back the other way...
START: Kochi, Kerala. (0m)
FINISH: Gangtok, Sikkim (1650m)
DISTANCE: 3000km (ish)
TIME: 2 days test driving, 15 days on the road (ish)
A nod to the glories of Rickshaw Runs past, this route will tempt teams with all its jungly, beachy, foot-hilly goodness. If we were them we'd head East to the delights of Pondicherry before turning left up the rest of India towards the hilly bit near the top.
"A unique way to see a country, coupled with the constant fear of breaking down in the middle of nowhere, was very exhilarating."
Christie S, August 2019.
You'll start out at at a nice flat, sea-level-like altitude of no altitude whatsoever; excellent for beaches and getting up to slight speeds in a rickshaw. Post launch, you'll head eastward, cruising over the Western Ghats and the tea stations of Kerala then Tamil Nadu as you point your trusty steed in the general direction of the Coromandel Coast and the Bay of Bengal.
Then it's northwards across the rolling hills of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal where you can hone your incredible prowess as an endurance rickshaw driver before you hit the more wiggly, hilly bits just before the finish line.
"Feel like I’ve been chewed up and shat back out."Anonymous Poet & Endurance Rickshaw Driver, August 2019.
2. The Dates
2022 is sold out - 2023 editions open now
January 2022: Kochi to Gangtok
31st December 2021: Test Driving & Launch Party
1st January 2022: Test Driving & Team Briefing
2nd January 2022: Launch Day
15th January 2022: Finish Line & Party
September 2022: Gangtok to Kochi
10th September: Test Driving & Launch Party
11th September: Test Driving & Team Briefing
12th September: Launch Day
25th September: Finish Line & Party
January 2023 - Kochi to Gangtok
31st December 2022: Test Driving & Launch Party
1st January 2023: Test Driving & Team Briefing
2nd January 2023: Launch Day
15th January 2023: Finish Line & Party
September 2023 - Gangtok to Kochi
9th September: Test Driving & Launch Party
10th September: Test Driving & Team Briefing
11th September: Launch Day
24th September: Finish Line & Party
3. Entry Fee & What's Included
That makes it £698 each for a team of three.
You can pay in instalments too, chopping the fee up into monthly chunks.
What you get for your money
A 3-wheeled, 2-stroke air-cooled rickshaw, pimped to your own design with insurance and all the other necessary paperwork
Pimp your rickshaw
Submit your design from home and our team of artists will paint anything you want on your vehicle, including your charities or sponsors logos. We recommend matching your adventuring attire with your pimp job for maximum impact.
Designed so you can learn to be master of your 3-wheeled destiny. It also includes how to switch your rickshaw on, how not to stall it more than you actually drive it and how not to let it fall over when taking on things like corners or potholes. Our mechanics are on hand to assist and answer all those pesky questions like "how does it go forward?"
Rickshaw Repair Lessons
We have a team of most excellent auto-rickshaw mechanics who will give you the basics of how to tinker with your chariot when it inevitably breaks down.
Sports match & Q&A
No adventure across India can begin without a starter of cricket. We'll pit you against a talented local team and watch how you fare. And if after a trouncing you feel you have questions about what on this fine earth you are about to commit to doing, then the Q&A with our splendid crew should cover it all off.
We like to give you some stuff along the way. So each team member will ceremoniously receive...
- A Rickshaw Run patch to prove your metal
- An Adventurists water bottle - made of metal - so you don't need to buy plastic
- A Rickshaw Run T-shirt in case you forget spare clothes.
- An Adventurists Buff - useful for driving through dusty or smelly bits
- A miniature model of your rickshaw painted in your exact pimp design that you can stick on your wall or keep awkwardly upon your person at all times in the afterlife of the Rickshaw Run.
We give each team a basic tool kit for fixing up your steed once released into the wild.
Launch Party & Launch Day Ceremony
A ruddy great big knees up including dinner, some free drinks and awesome local live music. Plus an official send off ceremony on launch day.
Finish Line & Finish Party
We set the stage for your finish line photo and round things off with another bloody great big knees up to swap tales from the road. Much back slapping and quite a bit of falling over is likely.
Two weeks of being slapped about the chops with everything India can throw at you and your glorified lawnmower. Adventuring stupidity at its very finest.
We'll be on hand by phone and email to answer your questions before the adventure. Our team of experts can advise you how to get to the start line, the best outfits for the parties and our recommended blend of Darjeeling tea.
Plus the team handbook packed with pre-adventure info and updates on your Run.
A community of likeminded idiots
And we'll introduce you to Rickshaw Run India veterans if you want a chat. Most importantly you get the company of fellow Adventurists, a collective of genius-idiots drawn to the call of overland stupidity.
5. Pimp My Rickshaw
The more absurd and original the design the faster and more reliable your rickshaw becomes. This might not actually be true, but you are probably 2% more likely to be helped when you break down if you’ve got a giant smiling Ganesh painted on your trusty steed.
Not only does this mean your ride looks shit-hot, but the layers of paint accumulated over the years give the Rickshaws almost 0.5% extra structural durability, which is almost entirely useless.
6. How much will I spend on the road?
The best people to explain are the veteran teams (all prices in USD).
“We spent roughly $50 per person per day, without scrimping on food or lodging. We only had one breakdown which was just overheating so we cooled it down and replaced the spark plug which cost less than $1. And we crashed into another team's rickshaw so we paid for their replacement headlight ~$5."
Kira Niccum-Pritzl, August 2017
“I didn't stay in fancy places, but I would estimate $30 USD per day for lodging, and another $10 for food.
Robi Holmes, January 2019
"I think our [accommodation] budget was about $75USD per night max and preferred option was triple share rooms or family rooms if possible. Remember we were 3 strangers, haha, so 2 of us shared a bed most nights in sleeping bags of course.
“$20 USD per day per person [for food]. If you’re happy to eat street food it's 5 to 10 cents for Chai, 50 cents for Vada Pav (deep fried potato dumpling placed inside a bread bun), 50 cents for sugar cane juice, couple dollars for dosa.”
Tim Dinte, January 2018
“Chai and samosas for brekky $0.70, street food $2, fancy restaurant $14 each. Tyre repair $2.50, full grease and reattach exhaust $2. Head gaskets 35 cents, changed ourselves.
“Initial set up with a heap of spares, 2 jerry cans etc <$30. Antibiotics to fix Delhi belly $1.40.
Laura Sewell, August 2019
“$3 - $9 USD per night sleeping (I know, I would have appreciated fancier hotels). Food at about the same.”
Nik de Jong, January 2016
“Our average daily cost per person including food and lodging and petrol was probably about $30-$50... and we ate well. A couple days were higher due to fancy lodging decisions."
Zac Boswell, August 2018
Matthew Boesch, August 2019
“Our run costs are 200 to 250 USD per day staying in 4-5 star hotels and buying 2 rooms per night. Roughly 70 USD per person per day. Kingfisher costs - 500 USD.”
Mike Elhard, January 2020 & April 2017
How much will I spend on rickshaw repairs?
“We rolled our rickshaw in the mountains of goa, cost about 5 quid to bash out the panels, straighten the steering and rub brake fluid in our team mate’s wound. Most of our repairs were actually done for free by lovely random people.”
Timothy Entwistle, January 2016
*We did end up charging Tim £90 to fix it again after the Run but that’s excellent value for money considering he tried to bounce the rickshaw along the road upside down instead of using the wheels like everyone else.
“We had to have our clutch rebuilt with all new plates, the mechanic came in on his day off and found it for us, for £10 inc parts. Insanity ... I also forgot to mention that the clutch failed ON A MOUNTAIN LION RESERVE AREA. Coincidentally also the worst place to do a nature poop."
Shane Abbott, January 2018
“Only major repair cost was having our clutch plates replaced because I stripped them riding the gears up hills. Don't do this. But the entire repair in a remote village in the hills was $10 and included an oil change so yeah.
“The repair included the mechanic taking a tuk tuk up the mountain to us at a bus stop, looking at the engine with 20+ people, then coasting it down the hill.”
Zac Boswell, August 2018
“Our most costly repair (taking apart the engine and replacing a blown piston) came out to roughly $8 USD if I remember correctly. The mechanic was so nervous to tell us thinking it might be too steep.”
Sean Dobbe, January 2017
Weld roof rack - 5 USD
Replace exhaust system - 17 USD
Replace head gasket - 10 USD
Repair brakes - 2 USD”
Mike Elhard, January 2020
"We didn't break down other than needing to replace a spark plug, but we did have to have a roof rack welded which cost us less than the equivalent of $1.”
Robi Holmes, January 2019
“One breakdown for entire engine replacement and 12 hours of manual labour = $100
“This is easily the cheapest and funnest adventure of all time!”
Tammy MacKenzie, August 2016
7. Driving License & Insurance
Driving LicenceTo drive any vehicle in India as a foreigner it’s a legal requirement to have an International Driving Permit (IDP). So make sure you have this. The IDP is an extension of your driving license showing the vehicles you're licensed to drive and translating the information into multiple languages.
Auto rickshaws are classed as ‘light motor vehicles’ in India which means a Category A or B Stamp in your IDP normally means you're all set.
It might be legal for you to drive a rickshaw in India using your legit IDP but not quite as legal to drive a rickshaw in your home country because of the way rickshaws are classified differently around the world. If you're legal in India you shouldn't have any problems but travel insurance providers are quite good at finding excuses to invalidate policies if you become an expensive problem so double check your license set up with them. Any questions give us a shout at Rickshaw Run HQ.
Vehicle insuranceYour rickshaw comes with the legally required third party vehicle insurance and the registration documents you need to drive in India. But be aware the cover is limited and rarely used in practise. Claims are often settled at the time on the roadside, in cash. If you damage a vehicle or injure an animal or person it's likely you'll be asked to pay up in paper money there and then. Insurance claims have been known to take years.
Travel & Medical InsuranceYou'll need travel insurance that covers you for exactly what you're doing and exactly where you're going. We wouldn't scrimp on this one. We might make the odd joke about how dangerous this all is, but when the shit really hits the fan you'll want decent medical and legal cover as an absolute minimum. Imagine how proud your family will be when they get a $50,000 hospital bill because you were too lazy to do a bit of boring paperwork for your adventure, then go do and sort the boring paperwork instead.
Don't be a dick. Get travel insurance.
9. Saving the world
Anything above this can be raised for any other registered charity of your choice.
If you raise £1000 or more for Cool Earth you could win a money-can't-buy trip deep into the Peruvian Amazon to see their work first hand. All Adventurists teams who raise at least a grand are automatically entered into an annual raffle. The prize trip includes flights and expenses for up to three team members and it isn't just educational. We're talking vine-swinging, jungle trekking, river wading and hanging out with the Ashaninka tribe deep in the jungle.
WHY?We need to save every rainforest in the world so future generations have somewhere to get stuck. Not because we’re tree hugging sandal weavers, but because the world would be shit without them. It’s not about the carbon off twatting, the point is rainforests are indescribably excellent.
HOW DO WE RAISE THE CASH?The best way to raise these funds is through your friends and families, people you work with or anyone who's got a dirty little secret only you know about. We've found that the best way to collect these funds is to set up a fundraising page on the Cool Earth website. Your donors can chuck cash their way via your page and it saves on fees. You can also use other fundraising platforms such as Justgiving.
WHEN?You've got until 4 weeks after the end of your adventure to raise the minimum amount of £500. Teams often raise the most cash while they're on the road and just after they get back, but it's wise to start your campaign early.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I MISS THE TARGET?If you don't raise £500 by the deadline, unfortunately you will go to hell. Together with Cool Earth we give you tips and resources to help you fundraise. Then 4 weeks after the finish line party we will pester you for your final total. But don't panic, we won’t set any dogs on you, or force you to sell your children. We will be very, very disappointed though and do a sad face at you.
10. The Warning
Your chances of being seriously injured or dying as a result of taking part are high. Individuals who have taken part in past Adventurists' adventures have been permanently disfigured, seriously disabled and even lost their life.
This is not a glorified holiday, it's an unsupported adventure and so by its very nature extremely risky. You really are on your own and you really are putting both your health and life at risk. This is what makes them adventures.