Discovery tours are all about exploring & experiencing the world with like-minded people, dipping your toe beneath the usual tourist surface & discovering the real essence of a region. They are genuinely innovative, exciting & imaginative tours that offer that little bit more to travellers.
Our Plus tours allow you to immerse yourself within a destination or culture whilst travelling and sleeping in comfort. They are packed with highlights to ensure you get the most out of your valuable time away yet are also slower paced allowing you time to savour the culture, traditions and sights of your destination – the perfect balance. All accommodation is based on twin share. If you are a solo traveller you will share with another solo traveller of the same sex. Single supplements are available on some trips. If you are interested in booking a single supplement please contact us to check availability.
Namaste! Welcome to India.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 1pm on Day 1.
Please 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, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). 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.
An airport arrival transfer is included. This transfer is only valid if arriving on day 1 or if you have booked pre-trip accommodation through Intrepid. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 15 days prior to travel (note - we may not be able confirm request made within 15 days of travel). Once you have provided your details a transfer representative will be booked to meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel.
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.
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 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.
Accommodation: Jivitesh Hotel or similar (1 nt)
Take one of India's faster air-conditioned trains to the Mughal city of Agra (approx. 3 hours)
Agra is home to one of the world's most recognisable monuments, the Taj Mahal.
Hop on to your motorised rickshaw for a tour of the city - a truly fun and Intrepid way to see the monuments of Agra.
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.
Visit Agra Fort on the banks of the Yamuna River. Built in 1565 by Emperor Akbar, the fort was originally designed to be a military structure. It was converted to a palace in Emperor Shah Jahan's time and eventually became his prison after he lost power in 1658.
Accommodation: Howard Plaza Hotel or similar (1 nt)
Leave early on private vehicles to Jaipur. Our first stop is the deserted Mughal kingdom of Fatehpur Sikri (approx 1.5 hrs).
The magnificent deserted Mughal city of Fatehpur Sikri was built by Emperor Akbar in 1569, but was abandoned after 15 years due to the scarcity of water. A highlight of the settlement is Jama Masjid, a striking mosque featuring elements of both Persian and Hindu design. The main entrance of the mosque is the impressive 54-metre high Buland Darwaza, the Gate of Victory, constructed to commemorate Akbar's military victory in Gujarat.
Stop for a traditional thali lunch en route to Jaipur.
A friendly, busy town crammed with palaces and bazaars full of jewellery, textiles and folk-based arts, Jaipur is a firm favourite with travellers.
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.
Travel out to the old capital of Amber and explore the hilltop fort complex known as the Amber Fort.
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.
Visit one of the five astronomical observatories built by Maharaja Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur.
Accommodation: Hotel Devraj Niwas or similar (2 nts)
Drive from Jaipur to Shekhawati (approx 5 hrs).
A remote town in the centre of the Shekhawati region, Mandawa was a trading outpost for the ancient caravan routes that stopped here from China and the Middle East. Thakur Nawal Singh, the Rajput ruler of Nawalgarh and Mandawa, built a fort to protect this outpost in 1755.
Explore Mandawa's ornate havelis (private residences), some crumbling in decay and some wonderfully restored and preserved, making the town a fascinating outdoor museum.
While in Mandawa we pay a visit to one of our Responsible Travel Projects - Asha Ka Jharna. This wonderful organisation provides services to children and adults with disabilities and the most vulnerable in society. We visit one of their three schools where special and vocational education, guidance and counselling are provided to around 160 children, helping them to become self-dependent rather than their disability causing a burden on their families. We have a chance to meet and chat with some of their teachers to hear about the fantastic work they do in providing opportunities for the children to learn and develop and ultimately become valued members of society.
Accommodation: Desert Resort Hotel or similar (2 nts)
Travel by private bus deeper into the Thar Desert to the fortified town of Bikaner (approx 5 hrs).
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.
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!
Visit Junagarh Fort, which was built by Raja Rai Singhji, the sixth ruler of Bikaner (1571 to 1612 AD).
In the evening, travel to a nearby farm and enjoy an evening of traditional Rajasthani food, music and dance.
Accommodation: Karni Bhawan Hotel or similar (1 nt)
Travel along a remote desert road to the yellow sandstone citadel of Jaisalmer (approx 7 hrs).
Looking like a scene from The Thousand and One Nights as it rises from flat desert surrounds, Jaisalmer is a centre for nomadic tribespeople who come to trade in the narrow twisting alleys full of markets and ornately carved houses.
Discover Jaisalmer's narrow twisted alleys, which are full of markets and ornately carved houses.
Visit the Jaisalmer Folklore Museum. Located on the banks of Garsisar Lake in the Mehar Bagh Garden, its wide variety of exhibits offer a great experience for visitors.
Experience one of the main highlights of our adventure on a camel safari (approx. 2.5 hours) out to the pristine sand dunes of the Thar Desert and spend a night camping out under the stars in tents.
Accommodation: Mandir Palace Hotel or similar (2 nts), Camping (1 nt)
Take a ride across the desert to Rajasthan's second-largest city, the busy and chaotic Jodhpur (approx 6 hrs).
Jodhpur is known for its antique shops and the best lassi in India. And yes, it is where those famous trousers come from.
Explore the colossal Mehrangarh Fort and take in the great views from its ramparts, which dominate the city's skyline.
Visit India's last great palace, the Umaid Bhawan Palace, which was constructed between 1929 and 1944. Named after the late Maharaja Umaid Singhji, the palace is still the residence of his successors.
Accommodation: Mandore Guest House or similar (1 nt)
Leaving Jodhpur, travel through the beautiful hamlet of Ranakpur (approx 3 hrs), home to a host of intricately carved white marble Jain temples. Then continue on to Udaipur (approx 5 hrs).
Explore the incredible complex of Jain temples - the main reason why Ranakpur is one of the most important pilgrim destinations for Jains in India.
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.
On arrival in Udaipur, take a walk around town to help gather your bearings. Explore Udaipur's twisting alleys filled with silver, shoes, bags, leather goods and miniature paintings.
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 a 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).
Be part of a musical concert combining seven traditional Rajasthani folk dances.
Join the famous Spice Box cooking school and spend a half day learning the secrets of Indian cuisine. With lessons on preparation and cooking, you'll be able to whip up a full Indian meal in no time.
Accommodation: Lake Pichola Hotel or similar (2 nts)
Take a flight to Delhi (approx 1.5 hrs).
Travel by private vehicle to our comfortable hotel to spend the final night.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Accommodation: Jivitesh Hotel or similar (1 nt)
International flights, departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, all other meals, all optional tours or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.
Our Plus tours allow you to immerse yourself within a destination or culture whilst travelling and sleeping in comfort. They are packed with highlights to ensure you get the most out of your valuable time away yet are also slower paced allowing you time to savour the culture, traditions and sights of your destination – the perfect balance.
On some trips we’ll push you out of your comfort zone to ensure an authentic experience, on other trips you will stay in amazing places where there is no ‘roughing it’ involved. There is plenty of choice so you can select a trip with as much activity or as little as you wish. Our small groups ensure a more intimate experience and that the impact on the local environment and community is kept to a minimum. Extra Comfort tours offer rich and rewarding adventures and are stress-free, safe and, most importantly, fun!
FESTIVALS IN INDIA
Please note travelling during major festivals such as Holi and Diwali can, at times, cause disruption the the published itinerary. Please see the 'Safety' section for more details.
CAMPING IN THE THAR DESERT:
fixed tents are used on the camel safari. Tents have an attached bathroom, generally with cold water only. Tents contain beds and all bedding. No need for a sleeping bag on this trip.
At Imaginative Traveller we always aim to provide accurate information for our travellers. Unfortunately information such as the price of optional activities is occasionally subject to change, and this means that we are constantly revising our trip notes. In order to ensure that you have the most up to date information for your trip we suggest that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure.
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