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Rose-hued cities, time-worn desert forts, and holy rivers - discover North India on this 22-day tour. From ancient ruins that punctuate peaceful countryside and everyday city life that swirls with colour and noise, India's energy will leave you giddy with excitement and sporting a smile that's wider than the Ganges. Deeply spiritual yet never dull or somber - the sites of North India are as alive as a crowded laneway, as vast as the Thar Desert sands, as humbling as a Varanasi dawn and as intricate as the Amber Fort. Give your senses a well-earned kick and delve into a North Indian adventure that ticks all the boxes.
DelhiNamaste! Welcome to Delhi. India's capital is an exciting city with abundant historical sites, museums, and bazaars. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place, and make sure you’ve got your insurance info and next of kin details to pass on to your leader. If you arrive with time to spare, rejoice! There’s so much to do in Delhi and we won’t have time to cover it all on this trip. Perhaps visit the palatial Humayun's Tomb, the towering and intricately carved 12th-century Qutub Minar or the historic Red Fort.
Delhi - Overnight TrainAh, Delhi in the morning. It’s chaotic, sure, but the energy is invigorating. Set off on the city’s modern metro system to explore the sights and sounds of Old Delhi on a guided walking tour. They really don’t make traffic jams like this anywhere else, and you’ll see what it’s like as you inch your way through the streets around Chandni Chowk marketplace in a traditional cycle rickshaw. Visit Jama Masjid, Delhi's oldest and India’s largest mosque, and then stop by the Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) to learn about the Sikh beliefs and practices. Tonight, transfer to the train station and mentally prepare yourself for the 19-hour, overnight journey ahead. Local vendors will board with various goods along the way, but it’s a good idea to bring some of your own food for the journey too. Riding the rails in India is an experience you’ll never forget.
JaisalmerYou’re scheduled to arrive in Jaisalmer at around midday, depending on any delays. Dump your luggage at the hotel and pack a small overnight bag – it’s safari time. Head into the dunes of the Thar Desert in a jeep. Meet your guides and your ride for the rest of the journey – a camel. Set off on a three-hour ride to your basic campsite, where your guides will get a fire going to cook a traditional Rajasthani dinner while you relax and watch the sunset. You’ll be able to buy bottled water and soft drinks tonight, but there are no facilities like running water. Because of this, we recommend you bring hand sanitiser and other toiletries. Toilets are a simple long-drop style. Stretch out under a star-studded sky and spot constellations as you drift to sleep.
JaisalmerMount your camel for the return journey to Jaisalmer this morning. Take a walking tour of the city and learn the history of the ornate sandstone buildings. Later, explore at your own pace. Perhaps wander among the intricately carved statues of the Jain Temples or visit the Folklore Museum to learn more about Rajasthani culture. With its imposing parapets and towers, the Old Town is full of steep stonewalls that lead to your accommodation for the evening – the havelis. These private mansions once homed Jaisalmer’s nobility and resemble small palaces. They make a very comfortable base after a long day of sightseeing.
JodhpurAnswer the call of (arguably) the nation’s best lassi and most striking vistas today and head to Jodhpur. It’s a six-hour train ride away, but it’s worth it once you see the ancient fort towering over thousands of cobalt-blue buildings. Get your bearings on a walking tour around the Old City and visit Sadar Bazaar, one of the oldest markets in India. Stroll through spice and vegetable stalls, past juice sellers, and sari peddlers and maybe give your haggling skills a road test. The rest of the day is free, so perhaps grab one of the lassis we mentioned and pound the pavement in search of a dal baati. This dal and bread dish doesn’t sound too exciting, but this delicious meal is a Rajasthani classic for a reason.
NimajIndia be can be an intense place to travel. Seek a little peace and quiet today in rural Rajasthan. Take a two-hour drive to the tiny town of Nimaj. A relaxed and quiet place, Nimaj is the opposite of a tourist trap and the perfect place to spend a day unwinding. Take a walking tour of the town with your leader, then spend the afternoon and evening as you please. Perhaps chat with the locals and learn more about their day to day life, take a stroll or relax with a book under the shade of a tree.
JaipurHit the road and make tracks for Jaipur. Arrive and jump on an auto-rickshaw to the hotel, drop off your luggage, and set out on a short tour of Jaipur. A city bathed in pink, Jaipur is full of elegant buildings and delightful bazaars. The honeycomb-esque Palace of the Winds, constructed from red and pink sandstone, is a highlight of the guided walk today. After the tour, maybe follow the crowds to the markets and shop for artisan goods and semi-precious stones. Tonight, visit yet another opulent pink building, this time in the form of a cinema. The iconic Raj Mandir Cinema plays Bollywood blockbusters and tonight you’ll get to see one of these great tales unfold before your eyes.
JaipurFor many travellers, a hot air balloon ride over the ‘Pink City’ is one of the highlights of their trip. Ballooning can be done on the morning of Day six between September and June. For additional information, please see the important notes section of Essential Trip Information. If you’re afraid of heights, or just don’t fancy a float, maybe check out the Royal City Palace or one of the five quirky astronomical observatories built by Jaipur’s founder. Later this afternoon, visit the Amber Fort. Set on a hilltop overlooking Maota Lake, the fort is a superb example of Rajput architecture. Entering the glittering Sheesh Mahal (Hall of Mirrors) is also something you won’t soon forget.
AgraHead east to Agra in a public vehicle, stopping en route to see the breathtaking imperial gate of Fatehpur Sikri. Rich in Mughal heritage, Agra is a city of gardens, temples, and open rooftops. Even if you’ve never heard of it, you’ll probably recognise its most famous attraction – the Taj Mahal. See this awesome monument upon arrival, taking in the splendour of the white marble mausoleum built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his wife Mumtaz. The rest of the day is free to explore the city. An amazing local social enterprise, Sheroes Hangout, is located about 10-minutes from the Taj Mahal and is an excellent place to stop for a cold drink, coffee, or light meal while you are here. The initiative is part of the Stop Acid Attacks campaign and staffed by survivors.
ChanderiCatch a morning train from Agra to Lalitpur (approx. 4 hours) followed by private jeeps from Lalitpur to Chanderi (approx. 2 hours). Chanderi is a small medieval town - home to Muslims, Hindus and Jains. Still off the beaten track, Chanderi is a place where you can experience the life of a movie star - the moment you stroll into town, you instantly become the centre of attention. Enjoy dinner in at the home of our local guide, a great chance to meet his large family.
ChanderiVisit Chanderi Museum, which boasts objects dating from between the tenth and 12th century. Join your guide for a look around Chanderi's temples and mosques. Continue to the ruins of the 15th-century Badal Mahal Darwaza. Enjoy a picnic lunch together at the site of the ruins and spend the rest of the day as you wish.
OrchhaDrive to Orchha (approximately 5 hours). Situated on the banks of the Betwa River, Orchha has changed little over the centuries. Originally a hunting area, it became the capital of the Bundela rajas and, as a result, Orchha has more temples and palaces than you would expect of such a small town. Experience an evening puja ceremony at the Ram Raja Temple.
OrchhaVisit the stunning Orchha Palace, built by Bir Sing Deo for his friend and Mughal ruler Jehangir. Visit Taragram, a unique responsible tourism project. This recycled papermaking plant was set up to give women in the area a chance to work outside traditional roles normally afforded to them. Afterwards, choose whether you would like to relax on your own or participate in an optional cooking demonstration (and meal) at the home of a local family.
AlipuraDepart Orchha around 9 am for a 3-hour drive to Alipura. Arrive around midday and head out on a guided village walk. This evening, enjoy a group dinner at Alipura Palace.
KhajurahoDrive to Khajuraho (approximately 3 hours), home to the 'Kama Sutra' Temples built during the Chandela Dynasty 1000 years ago. Embark on a tour of the western temple complex. The purpose of the delicate, erotic carvings is open to interpretation. Later, visit a local Hindu family for a home-cooked vegetarian meal in a welcoming setting. Tonight you can choose to chill out or catch a optional classical dance performance.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Panna National ParkRise and shine for an early morning drive to Panna National Park (approximately 90 mins), the site of a wildlife regeneration success story. In 2009 there were no tigers left in the region due to poaching, but currently there are thought to be around 35 tigers roaming the park. Spend the day relaxing and then head out on an evening safari. Keep your eyes peeled and your camera ready and look out for sloth bears, spotted deer, mongoose, leopards and jungle cats, as well as tigers.
Panna National Park – Overnight trainEmbrace another early start to seek out more wildlife on a safari. Afterwards, drive to Satna (approximately 2 hours.) This evening, board our overnight train for the 10-hour journey to Varanasi. Your tour leader will help you purchase snacks at the station and ensure you stock up on water for the trip ahead.
VaranasiArrive around 5 am and make use of a day room to freshen up before heading out for the day to explore at your leisure. The ultimate destination for all Hindu pilgrims, Varanasi is full of temples, shrines and devotees. Perhaps visit the Ram Nagar Fort which lies about 14 kilometres from Varanasi on the opposite bank of Ganges. Built by Maharaja Balwant Singh in the 18th century, it's the ancestral home of the Maharaja of Banaras. This evening, soak up the magical atmosphere of a candle flower ceremony while you take an included cruise along the Ganges.
VaranasiStart your day with a sunrise boat ride on the Ganges, passing the many ghats and temples along the river. The rest of the day is free for you to wander the laneways and ghats of this holy city. Maybe find a sunny spot and watch cricket games, haircuts, religious lessons and the comings and goings of life along the Ganges.
Varanasi – Overnight trainEnjoy a free day in Varanasi. Make use of a shared day room to store your luggage while you explore. Depart Varanasi this evening around 7 pm on the 12-hour overnight train to Delhi. This is another long journey.
DelhiJoin your group leader on an excursion into the sights and sounds of Old Delhi! Set off on the city's modern metro system, then get a taste of India's famed public transport with an option for a cycle rickshaw ride through chaotic streets, such as the famous Chandni Chowk. Make a visit to the Jama Masjid, Delhi's oldest mosque and one of its most impressive buildings, then visit the Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) to learn about the Sikh religion. This afternoon is free for further exploration or jump on an Urban Adventure. In the evening perhaps enjoy an optional final diner with your fellow travellers.
DelhiThere are no activities planned for the final day and you're able to depart the accommodation at any time. Check out time from the hotel is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel. If you decide to stay an extra couple of days, there are plenty of activities in and around the city to enjoy. Airport transfers and additional accommodation are available to book in advance should you wish to plan your onward travel arrangements in advance.
- Delhi - Leader-led Old Delhi walking & rickshaw tour
- Delhi - Jama Masjid
- Delhi - Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple)
- Jaisalmer - Camel safari & overnight desert camp
- Jaisalmer - Leader-led walking tour
- Jodhpur - Leader-led walking tour
- Jaipur - Leader-led walking & market tour
- Jaipur - Amber Fort
- Agra - Taj Mahal
- Agra - Agra Fort
- Chanderi - Village Walk
- Chanderi - Museum
- Chanderi - Traditional music performance
- Orchha - Leader-led walking tour
- Orchha - Ram Raja Temple ceremony
- Orchha - Taragram visit
- Orchha - Orchha Palace
- Alipura - Village walk & Palace dinner
- Khajuraho - Kama Sutra temples
- Khajuraho - Home-cooked lunch & family visit
- Panna NP - Evening wildlife safari
- Panna NP - Morning wildlife safari
- Varanasi - Sunset candle flower ceremony
- Varanasi - Sunrise Ganges boat trip
- Delhi - Leader-led Old Delhi walking & rickshaw tour
- Delhi - Jama Masjid
- Delhi - Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple)
3 Breakfast(s) Included
2 Lunch(es) Included
4 Dinner(s) Included
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The trip was both both educational and exciting. I very much enjoyed the sights and culture.
The itinerary was just as I expected! The guide was very good as were the accomodations
Intrepid did such a great job. I never had to worry about where I was supposed to be and it felt so good not to worry about a thing but just to enjoy myself. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about culture and history.
Taiwan people very friendly. Accommodation were centrally located and easily accessible. Did extra activities then in brochure which was greatly.
Larus our tour guide did an excellent job and was very attentive to our needs. He is very knowledgeable and has a great sense of humor.
Our guide Tarang chandola was exceptional. Courteous, knowledgeable, organized, polite, professional and went above and beyond taking care of our needs and requests offen anticipating what that might be. He made sure we all had the best possible time and offered suggestions to meet the needs of everyone on the tour. This made the trip even more enjoyable.
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