Namaste! Welcome to Nepal. This Himalayan adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm. Look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, maybe arrive a day early so you're able to attend. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. At the meeting have your insurance details and next of kin information ready for collection. If you arrive early there are a number of optional activities for you to take advantage of in this city. Kathmandu’s most important Buddhist shrine Swayambhunath Stupa, the nearby ‘City of Devotees’ Bhaktapur, a panoramic scenic flight, or a number of Urban Adventures will help you discover this city of ancient architecture and modern development, whose rich artistic and cultural heritage means it remains the legendary destination it has been for decades.
Travel by private bus to Chitwan National Park at the base of the Himalayas (125km, approx 6 hours). Declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1984, Chitwan National Park is one of Nepal's premier destinations. The National Park offers some of the best wildlife viewing in Asia with rhinos, deer, monkeys and a wide array of birdlife including Nepalese wild chickens.
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.
Leaving Chitwan, travel by private vehicle to the Nepalese border town of Lumbini (168km, approx 5 hrs). The birthplace of Gautama Buddha, Lumbini is the Mecca of Buddhism, being one of its four holy places. It's said in the Parinibbana Sutta that Buddha himself identified four places of future pilgrimage: the sites of his birth, enlightenment, first discourse and death. Travel on cycle rickshaws to the Maya Devi Temple, the site where Lord Buddha is believed to have been born.
This is a long travelling day as we make our way into India, crossing the border at Sunauli and continuing on to Varanasi (approx 8-10 hrs including stops). The ultimate destination for all Hindu pilgrims, Varanasi is full of temples, shrines and devotees.Life is drawn to the sacred river Ganges here. Varanasi is one of the worlds oldest continually inhabited cities and one of its most amazing
Today’s an early start, but it’s totally worth it as you take a boat ride on the Ganges at sunrise. You’ll 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. Then you’ll set off by cycle rickshaw to visit the oldest part of the city, with its maze of narrow alleyways packed full of small shops, stalls and huge, lumbering cows. See pilgrims performing rituals and ceremonies unchanged for hundreds of years and pass temples full of bell chimes and the smell of incense.
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 this most chakra-balancing of places.
Agra might not be the prettiest city in the world, but the minute you check out its top-notch sites that won’t matter one bit. Enjoy a free day exploring Agras alternative highlights. 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. Join an optional trip and jump on a motorised rickshaw to pick out the rest of the city’s 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.
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 tiny Rajasthani village of Tordi. We stumbled across this tiny village years ago, and everyone loved it so much we put it on the itinerary. The kids will adore you, the locals will feed you and you'll sleep in a 16th century palace with its owner as your host. Take a walk around the village or visit the fortress and ruined temples that lie a bit further away. Enjoy an included dinner tonight.
Continue omwards in our private transport until we reach Jaipur (121km, approx 3 hours). A friendly, busy town crammed with palaces and bazaars full of jewellery, textiles and folk-based arts, Jaipur is a firm favourite with travellers. In your free time here you could: Take a walk to the city's crowded and colourful bazaars, which sell a wide variety of artisan goods. Semi-precious stones are the local speciality - be sure to wander by the stalls at least once. Go to Jaipur's Royal City Palace - one of India's finest - and spend time exploring the various rooms and apartments. Discover the extravagance of a Bollywood blockbuster, with all the Hollywood-style elements of action, romance, drama and music (sometimes all rolled into one), at the spectacular Raj Mandir Cinema.
This morning, take an optional hot air balloon ride. Floating across the skyline of Jaipur in a hot air balloon can be a highlight of the trip. Ballooning can be done over the city on the morning of day 11 between September and June. For additional information, please see the important notes section of the Essential Trip Information. Make photo stops at Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds), the most photographed building in the country after Taj Mahal, before travelling out to the old capital of Amber and explore the hilltop fort complex known as the Amber Fort.
Take a day train (260km, approx 5 hours) 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! Watch one of the world's greatest shows unfold as people, traffic, cows and kids all work together in a kind of organised chaos. Grab a chai, put your feet up and let it all soak in. After arrival we take the modern metro to to Old Delhi and visit the old city's market area by foot including Chandni Chowk as well as Connaught Place. Enjoy an optional dinner tonight with your group to say goodbye to this fine country
Your whizz-bang tour finishes up in Delhi. Watch one of the world's greatest shows unfold as people, traffic, cows and kids all work together in a kind of organised chaos. Grab a chai, put your feet up and let it all soak in. If you've got an extra day or two, don't forget to check out the great range of Urban Adventures on offer.