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Embrace your inner hippy in Kathmandu, search for wildlife in Chitwan, check out Buddha's hometown, fall in love with Varanasi, ogle at the Taj, hang in a palace at Tordi Garh, go bazaar mad in Jaipur and finish up in Delhi.TRIP CHANGES FOR 2020We are adding two days in Pokhara to the itinerary. The trip will change from 13 days to 15 days and will depart on a Wednesday in order to combo with 'One Week in Nepal' (trip code HNYU) in Pokhara.
Day 1: Kathmandu
Namaste! Welcome to Nepal. This Himalayan adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you'll meet your tour guide and new travel pals. Look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place.If you arrive early, there's plenty to do in this vibrant city. Kathmandu’s most important Buddhist shrine, Swayambhunath Stupa and the nearby ‘City of Devotees’ Bhaktapur are well worth a visit. For some more structure, there are a number of Urban Adventures day tours that can help you delve deeper into Kathmandu's ancient architecture and rich cultural heritage.
Day 2: Chitwan National Park
Pop on your safari hat as you drive to Chitwan National Park by private vehicle (approximately 5 hours). UNESCO (who know at thing or two about this kind of stuff) declared it a World Heritage site in 1984, and it offers some of the best wildlife viewing in Asia. Think the Jungle Book come to life with rhinos, deer, monkeys and a wide array of birds, including Nepalese wild chickens, all found here.
Day 3: Chitwan National Park
This morning you’ll hop aboard a jeep, meet your local guide and take a safari drive through Chitwan National Park. Maybe you might catch a glimpse of one of the 100-or-so Bengal Tigers that call the park home. There are also a number of optional activities available through your accommodation, including biking, bird watching, cultural performances, canoe rides and village tours.
Day 4: Lumbini
Leaving Chitwan, travel by private vehicle to the Nepalese border town of Lumbini (about 5 hours). No ordinary border town, Lumbini is the birthplace of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, and one of his four holy places of pilgrimage. Check out the beautiful Ashoka Pillars and hop on cycle rickshaws to the Maya Devi Temple, the actual site where Lord Buddha is thought to have been born.
Day 5: Nepal/India border crossing - Varanasi
This is a long travelling day as we make our way into India, crossing the border at Sunauli and continuing on to Varanasi (about 8-10 hours including stops). One of holiest cities around, Varanasi is the ultimate destination for Hindu pilgrims who travel from far and wide to experience this spiritual city. Overflowing with temples, shrines and devotees, it might not be one of the world's cleanest cities but there’s no doubt it’s one of the most amazing.
Day 6: Varanasi
Today’s an early start, but it’s completely worth it - a sunrise boat ride along the sacred Ganges is a revelation. Even if you're not the spiritual sort, you can't help but get goosebumps. Pass the many ghats (stairs leading to the water) and temples along the river, and watch thousands of Hindu pilgrims cleanse their sins in the holy water as the sun bathes the surrounds in glorious shades of amber and orange. Afterwards, set off by auto rickshaw to the oldest part of the city, to explore its maze of narrow alleyways packed full of small shops, stalls and lumbering cows. See pilgrims performing rituals unchanged for hundreds of years and pass chiming temples as wafts of incense fill the air.
Day 7: Varanasi - Overnight train
Today there’s lots of free time to explore more of Varanasi before you get a unique slice of Indian life aboard an overnight sleeper train bound for Agra (approximately 10 hours). You could take a trip to nearby Sarnath, one of the four main Buddhist pilgrimage destinations. The site is where Buddha preached his message of the path to enlightenment and features a number of stupas and museums to explore. There’s also the crumbling 17th-century fort and palace on the eastern bank of the Ganges, Ram Nagar Fort. Otherwise, take the chance to perfect your yoga in the ultimate chakra-balancing place.
Day 8: Agra
Agra might not be the prettiest city in the world, but the minute you check out its top-notch site that won’t matter one bit (of course, we're talking about the glorious Taj Mahal). We arrive on a Friday so the Taj is closed to visitors, but there are outstanding views from almost every hotel rooftop in the area. Enjoy a free day to explore Agra's alternative highlights. An optional trip on a motorised rickshaw takes you to some of the city’s best monuments. If you’ve got the energy, head out to Agra Fort and stroll the palatial gardens of this red sandstone stronghold (with cheeky monkeys in tow) or check out Akbar's Mausoleum, a beautiful sandstone and marble tomb built for the greatest of the Mughal emperors.
Day 9: Agra - Tordi
It doesn’t matter who you are, the Taj Mahal will explode all your expectations with the morning light shimmering off its white marble surface. After our visit, jump into private transport and head off to the village of Tordi. This remote and rarely visited village offers a fantastic glimpse of the real Rajasthan. We stumbled across it years ago, and everyone loved it so much we put it on the itinerary. The locals will feed you and you'll sleep in a 16th-century palace with its owner as your host. And there's a ruined temple and fortress nearby. Settle in, then savour delicious local flavours at an included dinner of tonight
Day 10: Jaipur
Kick on in a private vehicle to Jaipur (about 3 hours), India's oh-so-pretty 'Pink City'. You'll have plenty of free time here to haggle to your heart's content at the bazaars and backstreets where vendors sell a variety of textiles, precious and semi-precious gems and stunning blue pottery. Drop by one of India’s finest palaces, the Royal City Palace, where the guards’ moustaches are almost as impressive as the building itself. Foodies will want to hit the streets for raj kachori chaat, a big fluffy chaat served with chutney, yoghurt, chilli and potato. Then cool off with a lassi from Lassiwala on MI road, Jaipur's oldest and most famous lassi shop. Cinema buffs won't want to miss the chance to take in a Bollywood blockbuster at the spectacular Raj Mandir Cinema.
Day 11: Jaipur
If you're keen for a different view of the Pink City, an optional early morning hot air balloon ride is a trip highlight for many visitors. For more information please see the 'Important Notes' section of your trip notes. Later in the morning, you’ll drop by Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds), the impressive five-storey facade with pink and honeycombed windows is it the most photographed building in the country after Taj Mahal. Then it’s out to the old capital of Amber and an exploration of the hilltop fort complex known as the Amber Fort. The rest of the day is free for you to use as you like.
Day 12: Delhi
Take a five-hour train ride to India's capital. This exciting city is overflowing with incredible historic sites, museums and galleries, shops and endless bazaars. Watch one of the world's greatest shows unfold as people, cars, rickshaws and cows all work together in a kind of organised chaos. Sit back with a chai and let it all soak in. Later on, take the modern metro to to Old Delhi and visit the old city's market area by foot, exploring Chandni Chowk and Connaught Place. Enjoy an optional dinner tonight with your group to say goodbye to this fine country.
Day 13: Delhi
Your adventure comes to an end today. There are no planned activities for the day.
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