Adventure through the heart of North India and Rajasthan

Rose-hued cities, time-worn desert forts and holy rivers – North India is the subcontintent’s showpiece, a place where ancient ruins punctuate peaceful countryside and everyday life is a riot of colour and noise. From the gleaming walls of the Taj Mahal to Delhi’s chaotic streets, India’s energy will leave you giddy with excitement and sporting a smile that’s wider than the Ganges. Spiritual, yet never afraid to entertain – the sites of North India are as alive as a crowded laneway, as vast as the Thar Desert sands, as humbling as a Varanesi dawn and as intricate as the Amber Fort. So give your senses a well-earned kick and delve into a North Indian adventure that ticks all the boxes.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Delhi, India
Finish
Delhi, India
Country
India
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
HHSYC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • A chance to float among the clouds over Jaipur and watch an Indian sunrise from the basket of a hot air balloon as an optional activity

  • The Taj Mahal is not only an sumptuous masterpiece of Indian architecture, but also a truly meaningful stop on any traveller’s journey

  • Old and New Delhi fuse to create a city that pays homage to past empires, while wrestling with its modern identity

  • Experience the wonder of camping on the banks of the Ganges near Varanasi.

  • India is famous for its great sleeper trains and you’ll be tucked up nicely in your own padded bunk

  • Have the chance to take a guided camel ride into the sunset and sleep under the stars

Is this trip right for you?

  • From April 2017, the main dome of the Taj Mahal will undergo mud pack therapy to restore its original colour. It is expected the dome will be covered in iron scaffolding during the process which is expected to last a year.

  • Old Delhi can be very busy and crowded. While it’s an exciting place to see local life moving around you, be aware that on the walking tour you’ll need to navigate through people, tight spaces and walkways.

  • Rajasthan can reach extremely high temperatures in the summer. While we aim to do our walking tours early in the morning when it’s cooler, remember to keep hydrated and to bring a hat, sunscreen, a long-sleeved shirt and anything else that will protect you from the sun.

  • We visit a number of temples on this trip, which requires a certain level of modesty. Please bring clothes that cover the arms and pants/skirts that go past the knees

  • This trip involves some long train journeys and an overnight train, which can be tiresome. Entertaining chaiwalas (tea vendors), food vendors and conversations with the locals make this a rewarding experience. For your own security, take a lock for your hand luggage on the sleeper train journey.

  • The local train between Bikaner and Jaisalmer is a quintessential Indian adventure (don’t be surprised to share a samosa with a local), but conditions are basic with no air conditioning or reserved seats. The overnight train from Jodhpur to Delhi is long, but should allow you to catch up on some sleep at the end of your trip.

  • If you decide to spend the night camping in the desert, be aware that there are no structured toilet or shower facilities. Please bring along water, face wipes, hand sanitizer or other essentials you feel you may need.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2018 to 31 December 2018. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Join 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Delhi - Humayun's Tomb - INR500
  • Delhi - Qutub Minar - INR500
  • Delhi - Red Fort - INR500
  • Delhi - Home-Cooked Experience Urban Adventure - INR4000
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Namaste! Welcome to India. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you're 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 these details 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Delhi - Old Delhi walking tour
  • Delhi - Jama Masjid
  • Delhi - Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Leave Delhi early to catch the Shatabi Express to Agra (departs approx 6am - 3 hrs). This comfortable train is one of India's fastest. Visit the Taj Mahal - a masterpiece of shimmering white marble set amid beautiful formal gardens. Built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his wife Mumtaz, this 'teardrop on the face of eternity' (as it was described by writer Rabindranath Tagore) lives up to all expectations. Built in 1565 by Emperor Akbar, Agra Fort was originally designed to be a military structure. It was converted to a palace in Emperor Shah Jahan's time with mighty sandstone walls enclosing the beautiful white marble pearl mosque, palaces, halls, courtyards and fountains. The fort eventually became the emperor's prison after he lost power in 1658.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Agra - Agra Fort
  • Agra - Taj Mahal
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Catch 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.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Chanderi - Home cooked dinner & family visit
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Visit Chanderi Museum which boasts objects dating from the 10th to 12th centuries. Join our guide for a look around Chanderi's temples and mosques, and walk out to ruins beautifully situated in the fields. Enjoy a picnic lunch together and spend the rest of the day as you wish.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Chanderi - Village Walk
  • Chanderi - Museum
  • Chanderi - Traditional music performance
Meals Included
  • Lunch
Drive to Orchha (approx 5 hours/173 km). 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 any town of this size deserves. Experience an evening puja ceremony at the Ram Raja Temple.
Accommodation
  • Permanent tent (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Orchha - Orientation walk
  • Orchha - Ram Raja Temple ceremony
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
See the stunning Orchha Palace, built by Bir Sing Deo for his friend Jehangir, the great Mughal ruler. Visit Taragram, one of Intrepid's Responsible Tourism projects. This unique papermaking plant was set up to give tribal women from the area a chance to work outside the traditional areas normally afforded to them. All the paper is made from recycled clothing and wood pulp. Take the chance to experience the local flavours at a cooking demonstration by our local friends.
Accommodation
  • Permanent tent (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Orchha - Taragram visit
  • Orchha - Orchha Palace
Optional Activities
  • Orchha - Cooking demonstration - INR400
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
We depart Orchha around 9am for a 3 hour drive to Alipura. We arrive around midday and after checking in and a freshen up its time for a guided village walk. This evening we enjoy a group dinner at Alipura Palace.
Accommodation
  • Heritage Property (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Alipura - Village walk & Palace dinner
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Drive to Khajuraho (approx. 3 hours). Far from any major population centres, modern or historical, Khajuraho's remote location saved its stunning 1,000-year-old temples - infamous for their explicit carvings depicting the entire Kama Sutra - from destruction by foreign invaders. Khajuraho's 'Kama Sutra' Temples were all built during the Chandela Dynasty 1,000 years ago, most within a 100 to 150-year time frame. These temples have baffled foreigners and Indians alike since their rediscovery by the British in the late 19th century. What they were built for and what the delicate and erotic carvings mean is open to wide interpretation. Some believe that these intricate designs, all located on the exterior of the temple, were meant to symbolise the leaving of sexual desires before entering the holy sanctuary within. Others argue that these carvings were a way of teaching young boys in the hermitage about life outside of religion. We take a tour of the western temple complex. Visit a local Hindu family for a home-cooked vegetarian meal and gain an insight into the life of middle-class Indians. There's the chance to view a classical dance performance tonight.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Khajuraho - Kama Sutra temples
  • Khajuraho - Home-cooked lunch & family visit
Optional Activities
  • Khajuraho - Traditional dance performance - INR600
  • Khajuraho - Sound & light show - INR500
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
An early start this morning for a long drive to Bandhavgarh National Park (approx. 7 hours). There are no established toilet stops on this route, so we need to make do with bush toilets. Make sure your music player is charged, you have lots of water and your favourite book at hand. Bandhavgarh National Park is truly one of India's most magnificent wildernesses with a relative abundance of tigers compared to other national parks, so our chances of spotting some are high. This evening head into the park and enjoy a jeep safari. As well as tigers, this fine park also boasts leopard, jungle cats and sloth bears. Keep your eyes peeled and your camera ready.
Accommodation
  • Resort (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Bandhavgarh NP - Evening wildlife safari
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Another early morning, but this time to head back into the National Park on a jeep safari to search out more wildlife. Afterwards drive to Katni (approx 5 hours.) This evening we board our overnight train for the 15 hour journey to Varanasi. Your tour leader will help you purchase snacks at the station and ensure you stock up on water. Its never a bad idea to stock up on toilet paper for long train trips.
Accommodation
  • Overnight Sleeper Train (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Bandhavgarh NP - Morning wildlife safari
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
We arrive around 5am this morning (barring train delays - more common in the winter months of Jan-Feb). We have day use rooms available to freshen up, shower and get ready to head out for the day. The ultimate destination for all Hindu pilgrims, Varanasi is full of temples, shrines and devotees. It is truly one of the world's most amazing cities. Perhaps visit the Ram Nagar Fort which lies about 14 km from Varanasi on the opposite bank of River Ganga. Built by Maharaja Balwant Singh in the 18th century, it's the ancestral home of the Maharaja of Banaras. Spend the evening soaking up the magical atmosphere of a candle flower ceremony, serenaded by traditional musicians on a Ganges river cruise as the sun sets.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Varanasi - Sunset candle ceremony
Optional Activities
  • Varanasi - Ram Nagar Fort - INR150
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Start early with a sunrise boat ride on the Ganges, passing the many ghats and temples along the river. This boat ride is one of the highlights of any trip to Varanasi. Watching the sun rise over the Ghats is a spectacular sight and one not to be missed. the rest of the day is free to wander the laneways and ghats. find a sunny spot and watch lifer and death along with cricket games, haircuts, religious lessons and the comings and goings of life along the Ganges.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Varanasi - Sunrise boat trip
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Enjoy a free day in Varanasi. We will have shared day use rooms until our departure tonight. We depart Varanasi this evening around 7pm on the overnight train to Delhi. This is another long journey (approx. 12 hours). We travel in 3 AC class, where each bunk is made up with a sheet, blanket and pillow.
Accommodation
  • Overnight Sleeper Train (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
We arrive into New Delhi Station at approximately 9am and farewell those who aren't travelling onwards. Then transfer to a private vehicle and make the 5 hour drive to Jaipur to begin the second part of our adventure. As this is a combination trip, the composition of your group as well as your tour leader will change today. Meet your new travel companions in Jaipur this afternoon and join in some optional activities.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Jaipur - Walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Jaipur - Bollywood Movie at Raj Mandir Cinema - INR400
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
For many travellers, a hot air balloon experience is one of the highlights of Jaipur. Ballooning can be done over the city on the morning of day six between September and June. For additional information, please see the important notes section of the Essential Trip Information. Visit Jaipur's Royal City Palace and/or one of the five astronomical observatories built by Maharaja Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur. Later this afternoon, we’ll visit the Amber Fort. Set on a hilltop overlooking Maota Lake, the fort is a superb example of Rajput architecture. Entering the Sheesh Mahal (Hall of Mirrors) is also a particularly memorable experience.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Jaipur - Amber Fort
Optional Activities
  • Jaipur - City Palace - INR400
  • Jaipur - Jantar Mantar Observatory - INR200
  • Jaipur - Balloon Safari - USD250
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
In the morning, head to Fatehpur by local bus (approximately 3.5 hours). We then travel further by private vehicle to Mandawa (2 hours) A remote town in the centre of the Shekhawati region, this was once a trading outpost on the ancient caravan routes from China and the Middle East. Enjoy a guided tour of Mandawa's ornate havelis (private residences), with some of them crumbling at the foundations and others well preserved. There’s plenty of time to explore this thriving market town and its surrounds before spending the night in a beautifully restored haveli.
Accommodation
  • Heritage Property (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mandawa - Haveli tour
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Take the four-hour journey to Bikaner via a combination of private jeeps and buses. Once an important staging post on the great caravan routes, the city still contains many bazaars, palaces and a historic fort within its impressive walls. Visit Junagarh Fort, which was built by Raja Rai Singh, the sixth ruler of Bikaner (AD1571 to 1612). In the evening, there's the option to travel to a nearby farmhouse and enjoy an evening of traditional Rajasthani food, music and dance.
Accommodation
  • Heritage Property (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Bikaner - Junagarh Fort
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
After an early morning walking tour of Bikaner, spend free time exploring bazaars before visiting the city’s famous ‘Rat Temple’. Travel out to the 600-year-old rat kingdom of Karni Mata Temple, which is believed to be home to the reincarnated followers of the Hindu goddess, Durga. Locals believe that it's particularly favourable if one of these rats takes a shine to you and scurries over your bare feet. For the squeamish, just stand still or view from afar.
Accommodation
  • Heritage Property (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Bikaner - Karni Mata Rat Temple
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Catch an early morning local train from Bikaner to Jaisalmer, which may take up to six hours. We travel in general class, where seating is unallocated and carriages are fan-cooled only. Stock up on plenty of food and water beforehand, as temperatures can get fairly warm on this long trip. The standard of the train is pretty basic, but it can be a fantastic way of meeting the locals and like-minded travellers. Once there perhaps explore the markets, ornately carved houses and museum before the sun goes down.
Accommodation
  • Heritage Property (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Jaisalmer - City tour
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
To get a taste of nomadic life, take a three-hour camel ride into the desert to watch the sunset behind sand dunes. While here we visit a Hindu Temple, a Jain temple, step wells, a small rural market and the sand dunes. In the evening local musicians will join us at the campsite for a performance. Dinner & breakfast are included during our stay here.
Accommodation
  • Camping (basic facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Jaisalmer - Camel safari & overnight desert camp
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information
During the winter, this experience may be changed due to weather conditions; however, we’ll still ride camels into the desert, but will ride back to Jaisalmer to sleep.
Head back into Jaisalmer by camel in the morning and enjoy a free day. The city is one of the oldest Rajasthan capitals and dates as far back as AD1156, so it’s teeming with history. Perhaps explore the Jain Temple, the Jaisalmer havelis or Folklore Museum. With imposing parapets and towers at every turn, the Old Town is full of intricate stonewalls that lead to the havelis. These private mansions once homed Jaisalmer’s nobility and resemble small palaces. Tonight we sleep in a haveli-converted hotel; a comfortable base after a long day.
Accommodation
  • Heritage Property (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Jaisalmer - Folklore Museum - INR10
  • Jaisalmer - Jain Temple - INR30
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In the morning, travel to Jodhpur byrail (approximately 6 hours). The city is known for its antique shops and the best lassi in India. Enjoy an orientation walking tour around the ‘Old City’ and visit Sadar Bazaar, one of the oldest markets in India. It’s built around a clock tower amid spice and vegetable markets, juice sellers and sari materials. This is a great place to test your haggling skills. The evening is then free to do as you wish.
Accommodation
  • Heritage Property (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Jodhpur - City walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning explore the colossal Mehrangarh Fort and take in the views from its ramparts, which dominate the city's skyline. Afterwards, possibly visit the nearby Bishnoi villages where you’ll find a welcoming, nature-loving community. Perhaps take a village safari tour, where you’ll come across wildlife and learn why the Bishnoi are so protective of their land. This evening, board an overnight train to Delhi for a comfortable trip of around 11 hours.


Notes: Sleeper trains are clean and air-conditioned, and are a great way to travel long distances so maximum time can be spent in each place. Beds are padded berths and sheets, pillow and a blanket are provided, but you may prefer to bring your own sleeping sheet. Please be aware that you may be sharing with locals in a same gender/mixed gender situation.
Accommodation
  • Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Jodhpur - Meherangarh Fort
Optional Activities
  • Jodhpur - Bishnoi villages day trip - INR750
  • Jodhpur - Jaswanthada - INR30
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Arrive at the Delhi train station early in the morning. There are no activities planned for today and you’re free to depart once we’ve arrived. Train delays can occur so please don’t be surprised if we’re late. Due to potential delays, we recommend booking any international flights for after 2 pm today.
Optional Activities
  • Delhi - Home-Cooked Experience Urban Adventure - INR4000
  • Delhi - Culture Vulture Urban Adventure - INR2500
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

3 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 3 dinners

Transport

Auto rickshaw, Bus, Camel, Car, Cycle rickshaw, Jeep, Metro, Overnight sleeper train, Private vehicle, Shuttle Bus, Train, Van

Accommodation

Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night), Permanent tent (2 nights), Guesthouse (2 nights), Heritage Property (4 nights), Hotel (10 nights), Overnight sleeper train (3 nights), Resort (1 night)

Included activities

  • Delhi - Old Delhi walking tour
  • Delhi - Jama Masjid
  • Delhi - Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple)
  • Agra - Agra Fort
  • Agra - Taj Mahal
  • Chanderi - Home cooked dinner & family visit
  • Chanderi - Village Walk
  • Chanderi - Museum
  • Chanderi - Traditional music performance
  • Orchha - Orientation walk
  • 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
  • Bandhavgarh NP - Evening wildlife safari
  • Bandhavgarh NP - Morning wildlife safari
  • Varanasi - Sunset candle ceremony
  • Varanasi - Sunrise boat trip
  • Jaipur - Walking tour
  • Jaipur - Amber Fort
  • Mandawa - Haveli tour
  • Bikaner - Junagarh Fort
  • Bikaner - Karni Mata Rat Temple
  • Jaisalmer - City tour
  • Jaisalmer - Camel safari & overnight desert camp
  • Jodhpur - City walk
  • Jodhpur - Meherangarh Fort

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. E-visas are only available for entry of up to 30 days.This is a 25 day trip. If you are planning on spending much longer in India you will need to pre purchase your Indian visa prior to departure from your home country and will not be able to travel on an e-visa.
2. A single supplement is available on this trip and is valid for all nights with the exception of the nights camping and on overnight sleeper trains.
3. As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change on Day 15.
4. Passport details are required at time of booking in order to book train tickets and national park permits.
5. This trip finishes on arrival in Delhi in the morning of Day 25. No accommodation is included on this day.
6. Hot air balloon flights are operated by Sky Waltz in Jaipur. Flights operate mornings from September to June and morning and evening from September to March. Morning flights depart around sunrise and evening flights late afternoon and last 60 mins. Return transfers, tea and coffee plus light refreshments and a certificate of flight are included in the cost. You can register your interest and pay your tour leader at your joining meeting on day 1 of your trip. Payment must be made by cash in either INR/AUD/USD/GBP only and is USD$250pp (subject to change). Flights are subject to weather conditions and tickets are fully refundable in case of poor weather.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

Reviews

Our North India Adventure trips score an average of 4.25 out of 5 based on 4 reviews in the last year.

North India Adventure, September 2017

Leonie Clough

North India Adventure, October 2016

Jackie Hawkins