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The Rickshaw Run Guide

Glorified lawnmowers vs the World

All the other things you might want to know about the Rickshaw Run

This here marvel is the Rickshaw Run guide. Proper adventure is only possible when you walk off the edge of the map with as little preparation as possible.  But you may want to know more about just how excellent the Run is so, this exists.

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1. What the teams say

"Feel like I’ve been chewed up and shat back out. But it's the best way to see and experience parts of India you never would..." Abigail, August 2019 Run
"It was absolutely amazing, hands down one of the best experiences I have ever had." Maddie Hickman, August 2019 Run

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2. How it works

The Rickshaw Run is the stage upon which chaos can strut and fret, delivering adventure unto yourself in giant golden spades of sparkling disaster.

But none of that makes any sense. So we decided to explain it as a list of things that happen. But you will notice the main bit. The bit you are actually coming for - the adventure. Is just a single entry, when in reality the meat in the sandwich is unlistable, unpredictable and different for every single person who tackles the beast.
  • Test Driving & Rickshaw Pimping

    Plus mechanical know-how lessons

    Two days to nail two essential jobs. Learn how to drive engineering's highest life form. And almost as important - make sure you look the part with the final flourishes to your rickshaw pimp job. At the mechanical briefing you can listen to all the things you'll probably forget about how to fix your chariot when it inevitably breaks down.

  • Launch Party

    Remove superfluous brain cells

    No adventure should launch without a suitably enormous party. Fancy dress is recommended to enjoy an Indian banquet, live music, performers, ridiculous dancing and a beer or 7. Always drink irresponsibly.

  • Launch Ceremony

    Pomp & drums to set you off

    Drive over the launch stage to the very loud and appropriately grand soundtrack of a local marching band. Savour the moment before chaos beckons.

  • The Adventure

    You're on your own, just as you should be

    This is an adventure, not a holiday. You decide your own route, where you stay, how lost you get and how much trouble to get into. There's no back up. Just you, your team mates, your rolling cake tin and the chaos of India ready to slap you about the face with old school adventure.

  • Finish Line

    Glory awaits

    Drive on to the finish stage to mark your glorious achievement. Take a photo your grandchildren will gawp at in awe as they realise you were once a (smelly, dusty) adventure legend. It's a bit like the Olympics closing ceremony, but with your new Rickshaw Run convoy mates sharing a podium of idiocy and tales of glorious stupidity from the road.

  • Finish Party

    See off any remaining brain cells

    Having completed a legendary adventure we’ve found folks like to indulge in some legendary partying; sort of like patting yourself on the back, while feasting, drinking and making merry. And by jove does two weeks risking life and limb in a tiny rickshaw make folks eager to party. Like a pack of wolves chasing down and devouring a tin of wolf food the Rickshaw Runners tear down the dance floor and devour the banquet leaving no shortage of hangovers in their wake.

Learning how to drive a rickshaw is easy. Mostly.

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3. The Rules

The concept of rules and the Rickshaw Run might not seem like natural bedfellows. But in fact they blend together like arseholes and shit - to help ensure that the chaos flows forth in all its 3 wheeled glory.
  • 1: The art of ignorance

    You can prepare a bit by repeating the mantra "I will not over-prepare, I will not over-prepare" until you believe you can genuinely cope with setting off into the unknown with only your shit-mobile, a map of India scribbled on some scrap paper and maybe a stick on moustache for if you need to escape. But it won't be an adventure if you know where you're staying every night. So don't.

  • 2: Totally inappropriate steed

    You're signing up to drive a 3-wheeled rickshaw almost the entire length of India. The more your mates tell you it's impossible, the more you must rise to take up the gauntlet. You can't do it in a 4x4 because you won't get stuck, break down or find yourself sleeping above a tiny chocolate factory because your rickshaw drove so slowly that day you didn't make it even a quarter of the distance you'd planned...

  • 3: No back up

    This is an unsupported adventure. We'll see you off in style, but once you're on the road you're on your own with no set route and without a team of spanner wielding roadies to assist. It's supposed to be a true adventure - so we'd encourage you to embrace this rule with all your adventury might.

  • 4: Raise money for charity

    We ask teams to raise £500 for our charity partner Cool Earth. Above that, you can raise money for your own cause or carry on sending it to Cool Earth to keep the world's rainforests standing. That's up to you.

  • 5: Turn up to test driving

    Most people haven't drive a 3 wheeled disaster. We want to teach you to marginally increase your chances of surviving before you hit the 3000km of roads (and not-roads). So you need to come to test driving.

  • 6: Don't be a Dick

    Nuff said.

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4. The Rickshaw

Technically speaking they're glorified lawnmowers designed for short trips on sealed roads. Millions of them ply the towns and cities of India as urban taxis. Sensible people will tell you they're totally unsuitable for long distance adventures. Those people are right. And so wrong.

They don't go very fast. They don't go round corners very well. They're not renowned for their ability to go uphill. But by golly gosh driving a rickshaw brings a smile to the face. Point your 'shaw at mountains, deserts, off-road tracks and hectic highways and experience overland adventuring so good it'll make you do a happy wee.

With a tailwind, heading downhill and with the Gods of adventure on your side you can reach speeds rivalling a very brisk walk. They have a foot brake and a twist grip accelerator and gear change so it's not like driving a car or a motorbike. You would be hard pushed to say they protect you from the elements (because they don't).

The rickshaw is the ultimate three-wheeled adventure machine. Any doubts about this fact will be immediately squashed by this educational video 'Rickshaws Explained: Quite Badly, by an Idiot.'

Rickshaw Statistics

Let's break down the stats on these pimp-ass-bad-boys for you.

*It's worth bearing in mind that rickshaws of the same model will probably all be different to each other and words like "power" are in used in the more general sense of there not being any.

  • Engine: 2 stroke, single cylinder, forced air cooled hamster.
  • Power: 7 HP at 5000 rpm  (equiv. 1 family dog).
  • Transmission: 4 forward, and a reverse lever so you get 4 backwards. Handy.
  • Fuel Capacity: 8 ltr + 1.4 reserve. Just less than you need.
  • Top Speed: 55kmph downhill.
  • Engine Size: 145.453cc roughly.
  • System Voltage: 12V , DC until the battery falls out.
  • Passenger Seats: 1 bench seat with room for 2 or 14 passengers.
  • Drivers Seat: 1 seat for up to 3 drivers.
Rickshaw with bus and animal powered cart
The rickshaw is not the King of the road, more like 15th in line to the throne..

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5. The Un-routes

The best way to let Adventure into our lives is to keep things simple. A start line and a finish line - the bits in between are where the magical ad venture fairies can knit you a new tank top. You can make it as difficult and stupid as you like. Dodge trucks and cows at speed in the dark like an avatar from a 1980s video game, or waddle inland to get lost and broken in the jungles, mountains, deserts, back roads and remote villages of rural India. Making up your route as you go is the whole point of the Rickshaw Run. Steam rolling face first into what-ever-the-fuck unexpected shit show lies in wait next is the sheer genius of it all. And then coupled with the fact that what ever plan you do make will probably be ruined by breaking down, falling over or crashing make for an adventure cake of quite stupendous exquisiteness.
And so now you know the concept of the un-route we can divulge the scant details that define of very different flavours of Rickshaw Run you life needs. And so to further aid such understanding we have created this currently empty table

Original India Himalayan Sri Lankan North Eastern
16 days 13 days 9 days 10 days (probably)

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6. Test Driving and Pimping

Test Driving

The first two days of the Run are spent test driving, this enables you to learn to drive the vehicle in the relative safety of the test driving arena. By the end you will be able to start, turn and stop your rickshaw with relative ease; the more proficient amongst you will even be able to change from one gear to another smoothly and without stalling, almost every time.

We also give mechanical demonstrations of what the most likely things are to go wrong and how best to right those wrongs. Once you’ve got the hang of your trusty ride - or decided you will leave all the driving to your team-mate, you can also finish customisation of your vehicle by adding things you really need like air-horns, flower garlands and glitterballs, and things you don’t need like roof-racks (which actually are there on each vehicle already - but are so crap we recommend you don’t use them).

Pimp your Rickshaw

A few weeks before you set off for India you submit a paint job to our team of rickshaw pimpers. These guys are actual real artists when they're not painting rickshaws. But when they are painting rickshaws they turn your 2D vision into a life-sized custom masterpiece.

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.

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7. The Entry Fee & What You Get

The entry fee is per team and you can squeeze up to 3 people in a rickshaw.

Usually £1,895 per rickshaw, now £1,745.

£150 early bird discount now available across all editions until 31st July

“Absolutely incredible experience. The parties were great, the staff were amazing. 100% would encourage everyone to do it.”
Kayla Waterhouse, August 2019

Pay by instalments - from £205 per month each

Choose 'Monthly by card' to pay by instalments. You can

January 2021 Instalments Example
Entry fee: £1,795
Split over 5 months: £359
Cost each per month for a team of three: £120

What is included in the entry fee?

Shedloads is the short answer.

The less short answer is that you get to go on a massive adventure with over 200 likeminded idiots from all over the world. Threading your way across the subcontinent like a drop of moisture running down the side of a glass of ice cold beer, only a bit dirtier and more prone to going the wrong way.

The slightly longer answer is that it includes your very own rickshaw for two weeks, two days of test driving, distance paintjob pimping to your own design by real artists before you arrive, massive parties at the start and finish, plenty of pre launch shenanigans including mechanical lessons and a bunch of other stuff that made this sentence really really long so we made a proper list with everything on it instead...

  • Two weeks of your very own three-wheeled glory machine.
  • Two days of Test Driving with the Rickshaw Run crew. We'll teach you how to drive your 'shaw
  • Mechanical briefing and lessons on how to fix your rickshaw when it inevitably breaks down
  • Pre-launch team briefing and Q&A
  • Distance rickshaw pimping - send us your paintjob design and an actual artist will make your creative genius a reality before you even arrive
  • Vehicle insurance and registration paperwork so you can take selfies with the Police instead of being arrested
  • Adventure tracking map and team profile on the Rickshaw Run website
  • A massive launch party including a banquet dinner
  • Launch day ceremony - the perfect photo opportunity to make Mum proud. And a bit scared.
  • Halfway pit stop party (on the Kochi-Jaisalmer route)
  • Finish line arrival stage - for capturing proof of your now legendary status
  • Finish party - a banquet dinner and barnstorming shindig to properly celebrate the end of a massive adventure
  • Sports match against the locals. This is a Rickshaw Run tradition that gives us a chance to meet the locals. And get absolutely spanked at football or cricket.


While you’re preparing for the Run we also have a team of Rickshaw Run veterans and experts at Adventurist HQ who can help with all sorts of advice. From tips on fundraising and rickshaw customisation to cures for Delhi Belly and recommendations on what to do when the wet-wipes run out.

You also get the joy of being a Rickshaw Runner, making hundreds of new chums for life of the type you only get from sharing in the agony and ecstasy of 3,000 kilometres of mountains and deserts over some of the worst roads in the world. On top of all of this you’ll get an official Rickshaw Run t-shirt, and not even Ranulph Fiennes can boast that.

Refundable Vehicle Deposit

To make sure we can have another Rickshaw Run in four months we take a fully refundable vehicle deposit of £500. This is just a bit of motivation to help persuade you to give it back in something resembling the condition we gave it to you in.

The deposit is fully refundable and deductions will only be made if you fail to return the vehicle, if it's seriously damaged or if there are big bits missing. If your vehicle doesn’t reach the finish line we will need to make deductions to recover it, which will not only reduce your returned deposit, but might delay its return (best to get it to the finish line yourself).

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8. How much will I spend on the road?

Exactly how much the Rickshaw Run costs depends a bit on what your budget is and how clever you are with how you spend it. There are however some unavoidable costs. Some previous teams have been double sneaky and got sponsors to pay for their adventuring, so if you’re short of cash you might want to look into this.

TRAVEL INSURANCE
£50-£100

You need insurance and it needs to be good. This is not a very clever place to try to save money. When you book your insurance you need to explain exactly what you are doing and where. For Rickshaw Runners from Europe we recommend Campbell Irvine; they have been helping reckless fools on our adventures for as long as we’ve had reckless fools on our adventures. They are not the only insurer available and remember that it is your responsibility to ensure that the company you use understands what the Rickshaw Run entails and the risks involved. The Adventurists is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Campbell Irvine Ltd who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

FUEL
About £250

Fuel costs can vary according to how much you choose to go sightseeing or get lost. It also depends on how much petrol your little beastie will glug. Some tend to sip on the petrol and oil mix like an elegant lady enjoying her afternoon tea, and some tend to knock it back like a boisterous, fairly annoying rugby team at a student night in Leeds. Petrol prices in India tend to fluctuate rather wildly too, with increases and decreases (but mainly increases) happening often. It also varies hugely from state to state just to keep you on your toes. The final thing you have to consider is how much you’ll get ripped off. Buying it from a petrol station is the cheapest - but if it’s 2am and you’re in the middle of nowhere and have to wake up an old sleeping gentleman, who then has to go and syphon some out of his nephew’s bike, then it’ll cost you more.

FOOD TO EAT
£50-£500

Food will depend on how much luxury you afford yourself and how brave you are with the street vendors. The local roadside dhabas and truck stops are highly recommended and will give you some of the best and cheapest food around - and is very often safe enough - especially if it’s busy and the food is hot. However if you want to splash out on regal fare you should expect to pay for the privilege.

A PLACE TO REST YOUR WEARY HEAD
£50-£3000

Again you can splash out on some real luxury and find a palatial five star hotel to stay at. As part of their service they will kindly relieve you of the burden of a load of that money you’ve been carting around. The cheaper option of hotels and backpacker type establishments mean that not only can you save your money for important things like beer and scale models of the Taj Mahal, but also you get to experience the joy of a budget hotel in India. Ah, the memories (and the scars).

REPAIRS & SPARES
£0-£250

Mechanics are cheap in India, some of them even know what they are doing too. Spare parts are also pretty cheap. Some teams are unfortunate enough to never break down on the Run, sadly this can’t be helped. Others have the joy of continual reliability issues to contend with. How much work your Rickshaw needs often depends on how well you treat her. You need to make sure you get the oil/fuel balance right and you need to stop every couple of hours for your rick’ to catch her breath (did we mention they weren’t designed for long distance travel?). Because this is India the cost of spares and repairs are directly linked to how rich you look and how bad you are at haggling. While not everyone in India will try to rip you off you should be prepared for it to happen at some point, much like it might at home.

VISAS
£100 (ish)

Visa costs depend a bit on what coat of arms is embossed on the front of your passport, but they seem to be about £90 at present. Expect to have to pay more if you leave it to the last minute. The cheapest thing to do is usually to go to the consulate and pick them up yourself, but it is a good idea to use a visa agent like The Visa Machine.

OTHER THINGS YOU PROBABLY NEED

Most things like spares and tools you can save yourself a few quid (and weight in your hand luggage) by buying in India. Every nut and bolt on nearly every rickshaw is a different size anyway, so just buy ones there that fit. You might find it prudent to see what vaccinations you need before you go, the cost of these depends on if you get them at a ‘travel clinic’ or at your GP and which ones you decide you need to pick up.

THINGS YOU THINK YOU NEED BUT PROBABLY DON’T

The beauty of the Rickshaw Run is that you need almost nothing to do it, all that expensive survival kit and camping supplies you should leave at home. All you need is a chicken suit and your passport. persuade your team-mate to take a camera so you don’t have to.

THE UNEXPECTED

It's really not an adventure if nothing goes wrong. Fortunately, no matter how well prepared you think you are, you won't be. Breakdowns and unseen potholes (figural and literal) are as certain as death and taxes, though if you pull out some cunning and some niceties it needn't cost you your first born or your grandmother. Unless you want it to of course. Maybe start with the mother-in-law and haggle up?

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9. Paperwork

Driving licence and IDP

To drive any vehicle in India as a foreigner it’s a legal requirement to have an International Driving Permit. So make sure you have this. We’ve also found that in India, rickshaws are classed as ‘light motor vehicles’ so legally you can drive them in India with a Category A or B Stamp in your IDP.
All travel insurance policies have an exclusion saying that if you break the law they have the right to deny the claim. This would usually refer to the local laws where the incident takes place, so you need to meet the licence requirements for the country you’re driving in in order to be covered by your travel insurance. Seems obvious enough but it’s always worth double checking with your insurance provider to make absolutely sure you’re covered. If your licence covers you under domestic law on your adventure, but wouldn’t cover you to drive that vehicle at home, your insurer could argue that you have a lack of experience driving that vehicle. It might be legal for you to whizz around in a Rickshaw in India on your licence - but maybe not in your country of origin, so it is entirely your responsibility to make sure your insurer will cover you with whatever licence you have.

Visa

There are several options now including an Electronic pre-approved visa and the traditional one where you need to hand in your passport to the local embassy. Each has different rules that are often changing. You can check your nationality's visa requirements through our visa partner The Visa Machine

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10. Saving the world

Not only is the Rickshaw Run an industrial dose of adventure, it’s also about Saving the World. We ask every team to make their best efforts to raise a minimum of £500 for the official charity Cool Earth Anything above this can be raised for any other registered charity of your choice.

If you raise £1000 or more for Cool Earth you’ll be entered into the raffle with all the teams on The Adventurists adventures for a chance to win a money can’t buy trip to the Peruvian rainforest to see the work they do first hand.

Cool Earth works alongside indigenous villages to halt rainforest destruction. Local people stand to lose the most from deforestation but the most to gain from its protection, that’s why they are the forest’s best possible custodians.

All Cool Earth partnerships are community-owned and led.

By developing local livelihoods, their mission is to end the cycle of deforestation entrenching villages into further poverty. Creating strong, self-determining communities.

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. We don't just want to have adventures across this here planet, we also want to save it a bit too. We're working with the lovely folks at Cool Earth trying to not just save a tiny piece of the world at a time, but by saving the whole thing in one go.

HOW?

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 through an online platform such as Virgin Money Giving as they make it easy for us to count the funds, the cash goes straight to the charities and also because it is possible for the charities to claim Gift Aid. Different charities can use different fundraising platforms in different countries so it's best to check with the charities which is best.

WHEN?

You've got until 6 weeks after the adventure to collect that cash, this means you get as long as possible to raise funds including the duration of the event and shortly after.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I MISS THE TARGET?

If you can't reach the target, unfortunately you will go to hell. Together with the charities we give you tips and resources to help and when the time to count up what everyone has raised comes about we will pester you somewhat, but 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.

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11. The Warning

These are genuinely dangerous things to do. The website is written in a light-hearted fashion but you cannot overestimate the risks involved in taking part in this adventure.

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.

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12. Contacts

THE ADVENTURISTS UK OFFICE:
+44(0)117 4224300

EMAIL:
[email protected]

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