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 Varanasi 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
Destination
India
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
HHSYC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • Tick off the big ticket items like the Taj Mahal and Varanasi and spend plenty of time away from the bustle of big cities in lesser visited towns and villages like Alipura, Orchha and Chanderi.

  • Our time in Chanderi is our travellers’ favourite on this itinerary - share a meal at home with our local friends who are passionate about sharing their culture and town with you.

  • Witness religious ceremonies, visit temples and monuments, stay in heritage properties and explore with local guides and your expert leader. There is so much variety packed into this trip to show you as many facets of this unforgettable country as we can.

  • Enjoy cooking demonstrations, home cooked meals and chow down on the best of local street food like roti, chaat, samosas and poori.

  • Hear the story of how the tigers of Panna National Park came back from the brink of extinction to the thriving population that lives there today.

  • The Hindu and Jain temples of Khajuraho are stunning in the scale and detail and are sure to leave a lasting impression.

  • 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

Is this trip right for you?

  • With patience, resilience and understanding that things won't always go 100% to plan, travelling in India is ultimately a rewarding experience. Some of the challenges travelers regularly feed back to us are things like air quality, hygiene standards, sporadic hot water and wifi, crowds and travel delays.

  • The big cities on this trip, especially Delhi, can be very busy and crowded with both locals and tourists. It's exciting but often exhausting!

  • 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.

  • Be prepared for some long (and often delayed, especially by heavy fog in Dec - Feb) overland journeys on this trip. We travel by overnight train in 3AC class and while we aim to purchase tickets to have the whole group bunking near each other, the highly complex booking system and huge demand for tickets may mean that this isn't always possible.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2019 to 31 December 2019. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2018 - 31 December 2018

Namaste! 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 in this trip. Perhaps visit the palatial Humayun's Tomb, the towering and intricately carved 12th-century Qutub Minar or the historic Red Fort.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Delhi - Humayun's Tomb - INR500
  • Delhi - Qutub Minar - INR500
  • Delhi - Red Fort - INR500
  • Delhi - Gandhi's Delhi Urban Adventure - INR2700
  • Delhi - City Food Crawl Urban Adventure - INR3500
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Ah, 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 practises. 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.
Accommodation
  • Overnight Sleeper Train (1 night) (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.
You’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.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Jaisalmer - Camel safari & overnight desert camp
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information
During the winter months (December and January), temperatures in the desert can drop below zero. Your leader will monitor the weather forecast to decide whether this activity will be able to go ahead. If not, you’ll take a day trip to the Thar Desert instead of the overnight stay. Some travellers also like to bring a sleeping bag and base layers for camping in the colder months.
Mount 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.
Accommodation
  • Heritage Property (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Jaisalmer - City tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Answer 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.
Accommodation
  • Heritage Property (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Jodhpur - City walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
India 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.
Accommodation
  • Heritage Property (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Hit the road and make tracks for Jaipur. Arrive and jump on an auto-rickshaw to the hotel, dump 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.
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 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Jaipur - Amber Fort
Optional Activities
  • Jaipur - City Palace - INR500
  • Jaipur - Jantar Mantar Observatory - INR200
  • Jaipur - Balloon Safari - USD260
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Head east to Agra in a private 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.
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 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.
Special Information
Read more about food and cooking in Orchha here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/cooking-demo-connections-india/
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 the drive to Panna National Park (approx. 90 mins). Panna Tiger Reserve is one India's success stories in reintroducing tigers to the wild. In 2009 there were no tigers left in the region due to poaching. Currently there are thought to be around 35 tigers roaming the park. There is also a chance of seeing sloth bears, spotted deer, mongoose, leopards and jungle cats. Keep your eyes peeled and your camera ready as we head out on an evening safari.
Accommodation
  • Resort (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Panna 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 Satna (approx 2 hours.) This evening we 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.
Accommodation
  • Overnight Sleeper Train (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Panna 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.
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. In the evening perhaps enjoy an optional final diner with your fellow travellers.
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.
There 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.
Optional Activities
  • Delhi - Gandhi's Delhi Urban Adventure - INR2700
  • Delhi - City Food Crawl Urban Adventure - INR3500
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

3 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 4 dinners

Transport

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

Accommodation

Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night), Permanent tent (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)
  • Jaisalmer - Camel safari & overnight desert camp
  • Jaisalmer - City tour
  • Jodhpur - City walk
  • Jaipur - Walking tour
  • Jaipur - Amber Fort
  • 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
  • Panna NP - Evening wildlife safari
  • Panna NP - Morning wildlife safari
  • Varanasi - Sunset candle ceremony
  • Varanasi - Sunrise boat trip

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. E-visas are only available for entry of up to 30 days.This is a 22 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 to have your own room is bookable on this trip, subject to availability, excluding nights camping and on overnight trains.
3. As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change on Day 9.
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 22. 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