Mountains & Tigers - Family Holiday Trip Notes
Trip code: FFFH
Trip length: 13 days
- Camp on the banks of the River Ganges
- Go on tiger safaris in Corbett National Park
- Visit an old British hill station in the foothills of the Himalaya
A well paced trip full of contrasts; historic cities, wonderful mountain retreats and an abundance of wildlife! Following your arrival in Delhi, you can marvel at the unequalled beauty of the Taj Mahal in Agra. The emphasis of the trip changes as you head north into the foothills of the Himalayas and to Naini Tal, the old lakeside hill station of the British. Upon descent you seek wildlife in the countryside around Betalghat and explore Corbett National Park, going on jeep safaris in search of wild elephant and the elusive Bengal tiger! You conclude your journey with a trip to the Ganges to explore the holy city of Rishikesh, where you’ll stay by the river. You’ll round off your trip back in Delhi, where there’s further time to explore this historic and fascinating city.
Arrive at your hotel and check in. You'll have free time today, giving you the chance to take in the sights and sounds of bustling Delhi. The present metropolis of Delhi is at least the eighth city to have been founded on this site; its predecessors have been largely razed to the ground.
Swati Deluxe – 1 night
You set off early today by train to Bharatpur, a journey of nearly three hours. Upon arrival you will have a birding tour of Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary. Created by the ruling Maharaja in the middle of the 18th century, the sanctuary is now India’s most spectacular bird reserve, having slowly but surely attracted a growing number of migrating species. From early October the first migrants arrive from Central Asia; nest building and egg laying carry on right through until March. Annual visitors include the painted stork, osprey, Siberian crane, night heron and sarus crane. Using cycle rickshaws, you can make your way almost silently across the tree-lined bunds (embankments) - built to allow people to view the birds. The park also supports a variety of mammals, so your time here will undoubtedly prove to be rewarding.
Following your visit you’ll take the road leading to Fatehpur Sikri, some 20km (approx. 30 minutes) away. Along the way are the remains of the Kos Minars; wayside markers which survive only as crumbled towers, pointing the way to this city built of rich red sandstone. Akbar the Great built Fatehpur Sikri (the ‘City of Victory’), outside Agra as a tribute to a sage who foretold the birth of his three sons. He duly moved his court to this new capital, only to abandon it after 15 short years because the water supply deteriorated. Today its rose-coloured walls provide the visitor with an unforgettable impression of the majesty of a 16th century royal court.
Finally you will make the 35km (approx. 90 minute) drive to Agra, arriving early evening ready for your visit to one of the world’s most famous monuments tomorrow.
Siris 18 - 1 night (B)
Agra - Delhi - train to Kathgodam
Agra stands on the bank of the River Yamuna and was once the capital of the Moghul Empire. Agra flourished under Akbar and Shah Jahan added many of the buildings in and around Agra Fort including the Taj Mahal, built as a mausoleum for Shah Jahan’s beloved wife Mumtaz, after she died giving birth to their fourteenth child. This morning it is possible to rise early and watch the sunrise over this exquisite monument, but it is a beautiful building to admire at any time of day. This must surely be the world’s greatest monument to love. Architects from as far afield as Europe were commissioned to take part in its construction. Its staggering architecture of white marble inlaid with thousands of pieces of coloured and semi-precious stone makes the Taj Mahal one of the world’s most beautiful buildings.
Construction of the nearby Agra Fort was started by Akbar in 1565 and was finally completed four generations later by Aurangzeb. Here you find a fusion of Hindu and Islamic architectural styles, which led to the emergence of a distinctive Indian style.
This afternoon you'll drive back up to Delhi (approx 6hrs) where you'll board the overnight train to Kathgodam, the railhead for Naini Tal.
Berth on overnight train (B)
Nb. During peak seasons, this train journey becomes extremely popular. On rare occasions it is not always possible to obtain seats for the train for the whole group. In these instances, we will charter an overnight sleeper coach to transfer the group from Delhi straight to Naini Tal.
Foothills of the Himalaya
Leaving the train, you drive for 36km (approx. 1hr 15mins) along twisting mountain roads and into the hills passing through forests and small villages to the town of Naini Tal, nestling alongside its tal (lake).You spend the rest of the morning in and around this pleasant hill station. Once the summer capital of British India’s United Provinces (now mostly Uttar Pradesh) it is just as popular today as it was then; a wonderful escape from the summer heat of the Indian plains. If time allows (the train can be delayed) you can make a leisurely climb up Naina (Cheena) Peak (2610m) for stunning views of the Himalaya including Nanda Devi (7816m), which was India’s highest peak until Kanchenjunga in the east was absorbed into the country. For the less energetic, time can be passed boating on the lake or strolling The Mall.
Leaving Naini Tal you continue your journey through stunning mountain scenery to the sleepy village of Katami Gajar situated on the banks of the Kosi River. Your lodge sits on the steep mountainside, close to the jungles in which Jim Corbett found his calling. Though comfortable, the lodge is surrounded by nature and, in many ways, is distant from modern technology. The area is renowned for its beauty and a pair of binoculars is really essential as there are many birds to see on your guided nature walk. There are large mahseer fish in the river and in the surrounding forests it is said there are wild boar, leopard, Himalayan black bear, barking deer, sambar and even the elusive tiger, though one would be lucky to have a sighting of any of these animals. Rather, this is a place to relax, walk and enjoy the surroundings in what is a little-visited area of northern India.
Call of the Wild Safari Lodge (AAA) - 2 nights - Swimming Pool - (Bx2, Lx1, Dx2)
Corbett National Park
Set beneath the Himalayas, the jeep ride to Corbett National Park today takes about 2 ½ hours, journeying along winding mountain roads before you gradually head down towards the River Ramganga at the Gangetic plain. Corbett was the first national park to be established in India and remains one of the finest, abounding in flora and fauna. Originally called Hailey National Park, in 1936 it was renamed after Jim Corbett, a man who did much to conserve the wildlife of India. Although seeing tigers can never be guaranteed, the chances here are relatively high. Even if you do not spot a tiger, you may see wild elephant, sambar, chital, hog deer, barking deer and maybe even leopard.
Upon arrival on day seven, you’ll have a guided nature walk for your first chance to spot these animals before taking to jeeps the following day; an excellent way to see wildlife. Rising early you set off into the towering hardwood forest in search of wildlife. Your guides are experienced trackers; they easily spot animals amongst the tall elephant grass and birds hiding in the trees. Whatever the time of year, come prepared for a chilly start to the morning; these are generally cold and misty! Daytime temperatures rise quickly and you rest when it is hottest. As the sun gets lower you enter the park again. The tiger population is static (approx. 120 in 1994) and a sighting is not uncommon though, as ever, a degree of luck is needed.
Claridges Corbett Hideaway Lodge (AAA) - 2 nights - Swimming Pool (Bx2, Lx2, Dx2)
Today the long drive of around seven hours skirts fields of sugar cane and cotton, with villages and a variety of people lining the roadside - rural India at its best. At Haridwar, one of the seven holy towns of India you cross the Ganges, one of seven Indian rivers holy to Hinduism. Known as the ‘Gateway to the Gods’, Haridwar lies at the point where the Ganges passes through its last gorge before its journey across the plains and onwards across the vast landscapes of India. Many pilgrims come here to bathe in the water and you’ll have a chance to wander along the riverbank and maybe visit the main ghat, Hari ki Pairi, where Vishnu is believed to have left a footprint. We’ve also included a visit to the Har Ki Podi Temple and a traditional aarti ceremony.
Hari Ganga Haveli Hotel (AAA) - 1 night (B)
Today you continue north for 2 ½ hours, following the Ganges to Rishikesh, famous as a centre for yoga, meditation and relaxation. Rishikesh is considered a sacred place, it is believed that meditation here leads to attainment of salvation. Your accommodation for the next two nights is at Shivpuri, 18km from Rishikesh, where you’ll stay on the banks of the River Ganges on the beach. You will camp in good quality tents with twin beds, shower and toilets on the campsite. This location is especially good for children as there’s plenty of space to run around, play games and swim, and for the adults to kick back and relax. It’s also a great base from which to start your Himalayan walk tomorrow. NB – in some months, particularly December and January, the river may be too cold for swimming.
Camp (CC) - 2 nights - Swimming opportunity (BLD)
Nb. On occasions where the weather is unsuitable for camping, you will be accommodated in a nearby hotel.
Rishikesh; Himalayan Walk
Today you’ll head into the Himalaya for a full day trek beneath these towering peaks. The route takes you gradually uphill, and generally the group will be able to complete the 12km walk in about five or six hours. On a clear day, the views will be amazing. There are a number of different routes; some go through forest, others by the River Ganges; the trek will be tailored to the group by your leader. If you don’t want to join the walk you can stay at the camp and simply relax. (BLD)
Rishikesh; Train to Delhi
You spend the day at leisure, either in or around Rishikesh. As it flows through the town, the Ganges is slow moving - very different from upstream, where it is well known for its strong currents and fierce behaviour. A wander between the pilgrimage centres or ashrams to the north of the main town provides a relaxing day. The town is connected by suspension bridges; the pedestrian bridge at Lakshaman Jhula is said to be where Rama’s brother Lakshmana crossed the river on a jute rope. This area is very picturesque, buzzing with life, and provides a pleasant walk back towards the main town. After the activities of the day you drive the short distance to Haridwar and board the evening train back to Delhi; it’ll take about 4 ½ hours and you’ll arrive shortly before 11pm. Dinner is included on the train, so it will be a tray of Indian food – try to buy some snacks before-hand if you don’t fancy this!
Swati Deluxe - 2 nights (BD)
This morning you’ll take a half-day tour exploring the sights of Old and New Delhi. The present metropolis of Delhi is at least the eighth city to have been founded on this site; its predecessors have been largely razed to the ground. Old Delhi is bustling and vibrant; a network of narrow streets and alleys teeming with people. Mosques and temples are squeezed into unlikely places between shops and market stalls. You’ll visit the Jami Masjid, Delhi’s largest mosque. This is not only a place of religious worship, but also a lively meeting place for the city’s Muslims. A fascinating contrast awaits as you head into New Delhi. Its wide boulevards and imposing buildings conjure up images of the British Empire at its zenith.
There may be free time to further explore this fascinating city this afternoon. After a busy day you’ll meet up in the evening for a ‘last supper’ together. You can recount your journey and swap stories about a great trip. (B)
The trip ends at your hotel in Delhi. (B)
About The Imaginative Traveller
Our aim has always been to provide exceptional travel experiences. We believe that adventure travel should be stimulating, and that it should give you an authentic experience of a place. We want our travellers to relish the amazing diversity of countries and cultures the world has to offer. Our focus is on innovation, not imitation.
Obsessed with quality
One of our strengths has been our obsession with quality. We've always believed that our commitment to you doesn't end as soon as you've paid for your holiday. On the contrary, it is just beginning. Whilst most operators simply get a local company to handle the day to day operation of their tours, we do it all ourselves. We have managers for each of our key destinations around the world and all our small groups are escorted by our own leaders. Our local teams include guides, drivers, administration staff and contacts in the local community who help us ensure that our adventures are active and involving.
For comparability, all prices in this dossier are quoted in one currency. We use the US Dollar since that is familiar to most. However, once on tour you will need to pay for all goods and services in the local currency. See your Country Dossier for details of exchange rates.
Souks / Markets
This non-strenuous trip is suitable for anyone in reasonable health. There is no physical difficulty involved and all walks are optional. India is a developing country with a very different culture and approach to life, so be prepared to leave Western expectations behind! Rail journeys can be delayed, so a little patience and a sense of humour are essential. The journey to Hardiwar on day nine is a full day’s drive. The Ganges may be too cold for swimming at the camp at certain times of year. Fog can occasionally cause delays and affect sightseeing in winter months.
Minimum age: 7 years.
Transport - Minibus, sleeper train, rickshaw, on foot, jeep.
Accommodation - Hotels (5nts), lodge (4nts), camp (2nts), overnight train (1nt).
Meals - 12 breakfasts, 5 lunches & 7 dinners.
Single room supplementA single supplement is available for this trip priced from 235 GBP. This does not guarantee a single room for all accommodation. please contact us to discuss this.
For your comfort we recommend you travel as light as possible; many airlines impose a maximum weight limit of 20kg – we advise you to take 10kg as you will be on the move a good deal! For domestic flights using light aircraft the usual weight limit is 15 kg.
One main piece (a soft bag or rucksack, not a hard suitcase).
A daypack (25-30 litres), large enough to carry what you need for the day including camera, water, etc.
India must be one of the most photogenic countries in the world but take care before you start snapping away. Taking pictures at airports and railway stations is usually prohibited and although many people may like having their photograph taken, others may not; ask with a smile and you’re more likely to get results.
SOME INTERESTING READING:
Your Child’s Health Abroad - Matthew Ellis and Jane Wilson-Howarth
Travel with Children – Maureen Wheeler
India in Slow Motion – Mark Tully
A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
A Passage to India – E. M. Forster
Chasing the Monsoon: A Modern Pilgrimage Through India – Alexander Frater
The Far Pavilions – M. M. Kaye
Plain Tales from the Hills – Rudyard Kipling
FOR YOUNGER READERS:
Seasons of Splendour: Tales, Myths & Legends of India – Madhur Jaffrey
The Puffin Book of Classic Indian Tales – Meera Uberoi
Tales of Kalila and Dimna: Classic Fables from India - Ramsey Wood
The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling
SOME USEFUL HINDI PHRASES:
Namaste – hello, greetings
Danyavad – thank you
Atcha – okay or good
Aap ka naam kya hai? – What is your name?
Mera nam Chris hay – my name is Chris
Local Costs - India
Approx. costs are given for guidance only, and may vary widely according to location and establishment.
- 1ltr mineral water £0.40 (INR 25)
- Tea/Coffee £1.00 (INR 65)
- Soft drink £0.80 (INR 55)
- Medium beer £3.00 (INR 200)
- Local snack lunch £5.00 (INR 400)
- 3-course dinner* £10.00 (INR 700)
*reasonable mid-range tourist class restaurant.
Visas & Permits - India
Travellers from the UK MUST get a visa for India before travelling. If you do not have a valid visa before departure you will not be allowed to enter the country. Nationals of all other countries should contact their local embassy or consulate. Information can also be found at www.travcour.com.
This information is given in good faith, but may be subject to change without warning. Please note that where appropriate, obtaining a valid visa is ultimately your responsibility. Please consult a visa agency or the consular authorities 4-6 weeks before departure for the most up-to-date information.
Your passport must have two blank pages for your visa and must be valid for a minimum of 180 days at the time of your visa application.
Important information for passengers travelling on the XSK, 'Darjeeling, Sikkim & Kanchenjunga' trip: Please do not mention Sikkim on your application form. If you do so your application will be rejected. A Sikkim permit application form will be sent to you on booking. This needs to be filled in and returned to us at least 5 weeks before departure along with 2 passport photographs. Please also send us a photocopy of your passport details page and the Indian visa at least 5 weeks before departure, as these are required for the permit.
Further important information for passengers: Please note that if you are applying for a double entry tourist visa you now need to complete an additional form (it’s a very short form asking you to confirm the need for the double entry visa).
Vaccinations - India
The following are recommended:
† Hepatitis A † Malaria † Tetanus † Typhoid † Polio
† Diphtheria † NB: Yellow Fever vaccination is required if travelling via an infected country.
For detailed information and advice concerning vaccinations go to:www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk
Vaccination requirements change periodically so we advise that you check with your nearest specialist travel clinic 4-6 weeks before departure to get up-to-date information.
International rules for carrying medicines vary. Some countries do not allow certain medicines to be imported, or require official documents, such as a doctor’s letter, to prove drugs have been prescribed by a doctor and obtained legally. It is sensible to contact the relevant embassy or high commission of your destination to check what their drug transportation rules are before you travel.
The itinerary and supplementary information has been compiled with care and provided in good faith. However it may be subject to change, and does not form part of a contract between the client and The Imaginative Traveller.
Responsible Travel - Travellers' Guidelines
At Imaginative Traveller we love helping our clients experience the beauty and cultures of the destinations we visit. However, hand in hand with this we have always been aware that we have a responsibility to minimise any negative impacts that tourism can bring.
Responsible Travel is twofold. It’s about taking people to the places they want to go in a safe and responsible manner but also about respecting and maintaining the natural and often delicate balance of the destination. Economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, but should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment.
- It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit.
- We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.
- Whilst it is our aim to show destinations and cultures in a positive light, we do not believe in papering over the cracks or shielding visitors from the realities of life. This does not mean, however, that we condone or endorse certain situations or regimes that may be in place.
Our guidelines are meant not as rigid instructions but rather as suggestions to make our holidays more enjoyable – for everybody. As cultural and environmental sensitivities vary from country to country more specific guidelines can be found in our individual country and trip dossiers.
Before you depart try to spend some time familiarising yourself with the destination you will be travelling to – their culture and customs. The country dossiers on our website offer detailed information about all the regions we visit. They also include some useful phrases in the local language for you to use on your trip! A few words of the local language can open up many more opportunities for you to interact with the people you will meet.
Although it is tempting to give out pens, sweets and money to people begging, and particularly tempting to give to children, we feel that this encourages a begging mentality and has a long-term negative impact on communities. If someone begging earns more than someone in the same community who works this can discourage local employment. If children regularly bring home money it may discourage their parents from sending them to school. It is of course your own personal choice but you could consider giving to registered charities or contributing to our Responsible Travel fund instead. Money donated through our fund to our worldwide projects is matched pound for pound by Imaginative Traveller and used to help local grassroots projects.
Always ask permission to photograph local people and respect their decision if they would prefer not to have their picture taken.
Respect local dress codes, especially at religious sites. Our tour leaders are always on hand to give you advice about this.
In many of the countries we visit you might see examples of animal cruelty (for example dancing bears, performing monkeys and snake charmers). Please do not take photographs of this or offer money as it encourages the activity.
Respect the environment you are in. It sounds obvious but do not throw litter, take it with you or use rubbish bins! You may see locals throwing rubbish on the street but do not follow their example!
When shopping in countries where haggling is the norm – enjoy it and only pay what you feel is a fair price for the goods you are purchasing. However, remember that the shopkeeper does have to make a living so do stop once you have reached a price you are happy with. Bargaining should be fun but always remember that a small amount can mean much more to the vendor than to you.
Endeavor to take home souvenirs made locally; the money you spend can be very important to the local communities. However, do use your common sense and don’t buy anything that you think might be made out of endangered animals or plants.
To help keep as much money as possible in the host country - try to eat in locally owned restaurants and order local drinks and produce rather than international brands.
In hotels do be conscious of how much water you are using. Many of the areas we visit regularly have shortages; try not to have hour long showers! Don’t leave lights, air conditioners or fans on when you leave the room – you wouldn’t at home!
Respect the environment you are in, especially when in national parks or reserves. Pay attention to rules about keeping on paths, keeping a distance from animals and not removing any of the natural habitat.
Relax and immerse yourself in the differences of the culture you are in – you’ll be back home in the familiar soon enough (and wishing you were still on holiday!). These cultural differences are part of what makes your experience special.
If you would like to offset the carbon dioxide that will be produced on your flights you can do this on our website (on our Responsible travel page). We work with climatecare, who will reduce the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide that you produce in another part of the World through their emission reduction projects. These projects are low carbon efficient technologies in developing countries and not only serve to reduce emissions but also help to spread the adoption of low carbon technologies and improve the quality of life for local communities. Details of climatecare’s projects can be found on their website.
If you would like to contribute to our Worldwide projects, helping communities all over the World, you can also do this on our website or with a sales consultant. Please refer to our responsible travel page on the website for details of our current projects. Any donation you make will be matched £ for £ by Imaginative Traveller (up to a maximum of £1000).
Have a great trip!
Please do let us know if you have any comments about responsible travel at firstname.lastname@example.orgThe Imaginative Traveller & The Adventure Company. This trip is operated by our partner company, The Adventure Company. They have more than 10 years experience in adventure travel and they share our ethos for offering unique holiday adventures. As this is a codeshared departure you can expect there to be both Imaginative Traveller and Adventure Company travellers on your trip.