It’s not often you can plan your vacation time around an event that is almost guaranteed to change how you look at the world. But getting to know India while driving a pimped out auto rickshaw, also known as a tuk tuk, isn’t on any travel agents’ roster and it isn’t for the faint of heart.
By racing in a rickshaw you have to slow down, after all the top vehicle speed is 60 km/h. (Way faster than any of the local wildlife, FYI.) This way you’re forced into enjoying the adventure: from the awesome views to the local people and fellow racers. Relax, we’ll be at a party soon.
The Rickshaw Challenge is a perfect match for individuals wanting to participate in their vacation rather than simply witness it. Starting in 2006, the Rickshaw Challenge stood out as the first response to the rising trend of adventure tourism in South India. Most ideas of travel in India for Westerners centered around Taj Mahal tours and the Himalayas. While those are also dynamic destinations, few Westerns realize just how incredible and vastly unique South India is, especially when viewed from the driver’s seat of an autorickshaw.
The Rickshaw Challenge is a bouquet of trips amounting to about five throughout the year. The Rickshaw Challenge started as the Indian Autorickshaw Challenge in 2006 with a route from Chennai to Kanniyakumari. Today, that route which started it all is called the Classic Run and it takes place at the very end of December through the first part of January.
Safety is our number one priority in every regard. That is the detail that receives the most attention, from tuk tuk functionality and safety features to hotel ratings and reviews. Ultimately, the safety of the participants relies on the participants, but organizers are diligent in providing daily information regarding road closures, advisories, danger zones, weather forecasts or alerts, and general “heads up” information. Before we set participants loose on Indian roads, they will receive a thorough driving training in their rickshaws and a detailed safety briefing.
Depending on where we are along the route, we encourage participants to ask locals for directions as it often deepens the experience of our tuk tuk challenges (though we do warn that everybody will want to give directions, even if they don’t know them, so ask five people and go the direction that the majority of them point to), but in case of an emergency we are there to guide you. We also provide a mechanic team along the route as well as a listing of the nearest hospitals.
Every individual participating in an event, including the organizers, is given a cell phone to use along the route, so help is never out of reach and emergency response is very quick. Participants are also equipped with a first aid kit and a small toolbox for easy body and rickshaw fixes.