Be dazzled by the sights, sounds and spirit of Rajasthan

Prepare to be dazzled by the most colourful part of India - Rajasthan. Everywhere you go you'll encounter the whole kaleidoscope: orange turbans, purple saris, mounds of scarlet spices in the markets and golden sand dunes beneath a deep blue sky. Explore the white lakeside city of Udaipur, the blue city of Jodhpur and the bright lights of Mumbai. Travel though the Thar Desert on a camel train heading into the sunset, discover remote caves at Ajanta, visit decadent palaces, and head into the backstreets of Pushkar to soak up the atmosphere. Lose the rose-tinted glasses and experience the true colours of India on this revealing trip.

New Delhi, India
Mumbai, India
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Min 18
Group size
Min 4 Max 21
Carbon offset
490kg pp per trip



This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2012 to 31 December 2017. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2014 - 31 December 2016

Namaste! Welcome to India.
The trip starts with a group meeting at 6pm.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If your flight arrives too late, we recommend that you consider arriving a day early and book a night's accommodation prior to the trip so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting so please ensure you have all details on hand to provide to your leader.
India's capital is an exciting, busy, and often chaotic city but it's also one of the most interesting in the world with historical sites from different eras, museums and galleries, shops and endless bazaars!
There are plenty of things to see and do in free time. Visit the World Heritage-listed Mughal masterpiece of Humayun's Tomb. This was the first garden tomb in India, built way back in 1570. Wonder at the tall brick minaret of Qutub Minar, which was started back in the 1100s. Explore the mighty Red Fort of Delhi. Part palace and part fort, it plays an integral part in the history of the city with former residents ranging from royal families to British soldiers.
After breakfast we leave Delhi for the journey 400 km to Bikaner. The drive will take us most of the day, stopping en route for lunch. In Bikaner we will either stay in a local hotel, or at an eco-lodge a short distance outside the city.
Once an important staging post on the great caravan routes, Bikaner still contains many bazaars within its impressive walls, as well as a superb fort and palace.
Morning drive of 385 km from Bikaner to the ancient Rajasthani city of Jaisalmer, arriving early afternoon stopping at the Karni Mata (Rat Temple) en route.
Travel out to the 600-year-old Karni Mata temple, full of rats considered to be the reincarnation of followers of the Hindu goddess Durga. Locals believe that it's particularly auspicious if one of these holy rats runs over your bare feet - so if you're squeamish, you might have to stay outside!
We base ourselves in Jaisalmer for the next 3 nights, staying in a comfortable local hotel.
The city of Jaisalmer is one of the old Rajasthan capitals and dates back to 1156 AD. The city is dominated by the old fort, built on a hill which gives it a commanding view over the Thar Desert, and has been the scene of many battles. Built of beautiful yellow sandstone, the fort's walls are a tawny beige colour during the day, fading to honey-gold as the sun sets. The monumental walls are ornately designed with imposing parapets and towers at every turn, covered in intricate stonework - and in the old town the havelis (houses of once important Jaisalmer families) look like small palaces with façades covered in fine carvings and highly decorated balconies.
The next morning is free for you to explore more of Jaisalmer, before we head out on a camel safari into the Thar Desert in the late afternoon. Exploring the desert with local Rajasthani camel drivers is the most authentic way to experience the area. Tonight we camp out in the desert, sleeping under the stars.
Returning from our camel safari the following morning, we have the rest of today to relax or explore more of Jaisalmer and the surrounding area.
This morning we drive 285 km from Jaisalmer to another famous Rajasthani city, Jodphur. We should arrive in the early afternoon, leaving the afternoon free for you to do as you please. Tonight we stay in a comfortable local guesthouse.

En route to Jodphur we will make our visit to the Sambhali Trust project where we will learn about the efforts of the project and make a group donation from the kitty.
Jodhpur, situated on the edge of the Thar Desert is affectionately known as "the blue city" because of the many indigo coloured houses in the old town. These are best seen from the ramparts of the mighty Meherangarth Fortress, which looms above the bustling city.

Elsewhere in the city, Nai Sadak is the place to head for shopping, lined with shoe and sari shops, or check out Sardar Market, a riot of sights, sounds and smells that's a baffling assault on the senses. Close nearby are the historical sites of Jaswant Thada, built at the end of the 19th century and constructed entirely out of sheets of marble; and Mandore, the ancient capital of Marwar.
The next day we will be in and around Jodphur. In the morning we visit the Meherangarh Fort & Palace, before splitting up into small groups of twos or threes for our community homestay. Overnight in local family homes.
Built in the 1400s, Meherangarth is the largest fort in the whole of Rajasthan and has never been taken by force. The fort complex itself is huge, housing the Maharaja's palace a number of temples and extensive gardens.
Short morning drive of 215 km from Jodhpur to the holy town of Pushkar. Afternoon free to explore. Overnight in local hotel.
The small town of Pushkar is perhaps most famous for its huge camel fair held in October or November every year. It is also an important pilgrimage site for Hindus as it is considered a very holy place, and there are a lot of temples here, including one of the few Brahman temples in all of India. Situated around a lake, most of the buildings are low and whitewashed and the streets are small and narrow, giving the town a wonderfully mellow atmosphere. This is a great place to kick-back and take it easy for a while. Wander the streets, relax with a drink while you watch the sunset over the lake and indulge in a spot of souvenir shopping.
After breakfast we set off from Pushkar for a 300 km drive to Udaipur, arriving mid-afternoon. We will have 2 nights here, giving us plenty of time to discover this amazing, romantic Rajasthani city. Overnight in comfortable hotel.
Udaipur undoubtedly lives up to its reputation as India's most romantic city. Rolling hills, white marble palaces and lakes come together appealingly and it's a centre for artists, dancers and musicians. The shopping is also superb, with miniature paintings being the speciality.
Free day to explore the sites of Udaipur or relax on one of the many roof-top terraces.
If time, visit City Palace, one of the largest royal palaces in India, and check out the unbelievable treasures within - from vivid murals to antiques and royal utensils.
Enjoy an optional half hour boat ride on the famous Lake Pichola and see marvels like Lake Palace and Jag Mandir Island (seasonal depending on the water level in the lake).
Leaving Udaipur we have a local cook join us on board who will accompany us over the next few days whilst we are bush camping.
Today will mostly be spent travelling approx 220 km on the backroads of rural Rajasthan. We are well off the tourist trail here and tonight we will bush camp, perhaps on the edge of a local village.
Morning driving of 200 km, continuing our route through rural villages and towns. Our destination is Mandu - an extensive and mainly deserted hill-top fort. In the afternoon we will have time to explore the palace and tomb.
Mandu is home to great monuments built by the leisure-loving Afghan royals who ruled this region in the 15th century.
Visit the 'Ship Palace' - Jahaz Mahal - a beautiful structure built between two lakes. Within it is a phenomenal 4-storey structure with a 7 ft-deep pool fed by a Persian wheel on the first floor. An ingenious filtration system slows the flow of water through a spiral that looks like a coiled snake and the entire effect is simply breathtaking.
Tonight we will either stay in a local guesthouse, or camp.
From Mandu we take an early morning drive of approx. 250 km to Ajanta.
Over the next couple of days we will have a guided tour of both the Ajanta and Ellora Caves.
Hidden in a rocky escarpment, the caves at Ajanta were discovered in 1819 by a British hunting party that stumbled upon them. Their isolation has contributed to the fine state of preservation we find them in today. In all there are twenty nine caves nestling in the curve of a stunning deep gorge, all dating from around 200 BC to 650 AD. The caves are beautifully decorated with paintings and sculptures telling the story of Buddha and illustrating tales from Buddhist fables and jatakas. The frescos are amazingly colourful and considered by many as amongst the finest examples of Buddhist art in India.
Ellora is known for its remarkable sculptures. The 34 cave temples at Ellora are mainly Hindu and Jain. The Hindu caves are the most dramatic and the sheer size of the Kailasa Temple is overwhelming. It covers twice the area of the Parthenon in Athens and is 1 and a half times as high. It was carved out of solid rock from the top down, and it is estimated that it entailed removing 200,000 tonnes of rock.
Setting off early we say goodbye to our local cook and we have approx. 400 km drive from Ajanta and Ellora to Mumbai arriving mid to late afternoon.
Mumbai is probably the most cosmopolitan city in India. It's also home to the largest film industry in the world, Bollywood. So if you've never seen an Indian movie before, this is the place for it. Full of high-drama, romance, suspense, music and dancing, Bollywood films are all-singing, all-dancing extravaganzas. It's pure, unadulterated entertainment and escapism, so even if you can't understand the language, they still make an interesting spectacle.

Combine India's version of LA with a hefty dose of traffic, busy streets, lively bazaars, briefcase-clutching businessmen cutting international deals in soaring skyscrapers and some impressive colonial architecture, and there you have Mumbai. The city is a mad mixture of horrific poverty standing side-by-side with prolific consumerism; this is the financial capital of the subcontinent and it has the shopping centres, bars and restaurants to match - but more than half the inhabitants live in the slums. Mumbai can be a bit of a shock to the system and an assault on the senses. But once you get your head around it, you'll begin to appreciate all the city has to offer. Wander the streets and discover some of the beautiful old colonial and art deco buildings, treat yourself to a meal in one of the country's best restaurants, or shop until you drop in the bazaars. In the evening, visit Chowpatty beach where colourful crowds of people mill about in the cooler evening air. Palmists, balloon sellers, magicians and acrobats all compete for your attention, vying to show you the magic of Mumbai.
View trip notes to read full itinerary


Camel, Overland vehicle
Bush camp (no facilities) (2 nights), Camping (with facilities) (3 nights), Homestay (1 night), Hotel (9 nights)
Included activities
  • Bikaner - Karni Mata Rat Temple
  • Jaisalmer - Overnight Camel Safari
  • Jodhpur - Megerangarh Fort & Palace
  • Jodhpur - Sambhali Trust visit
  • Ajanta - Guided Buddhist Caves visit
  • Ellora - Guided Caves & Rock Temples visit


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