Tiger Trails & Taj Mahal Trip Notes
Trip code: FFNI
Trip length: 10 days
- Go on safari in search of tigers
- Live like a Maharaja at a restored fortified palace
- Marvel at the famous Taj Mahal
From a cultural point of view, perhaps no other country on earth has as much to offer as India. During the imperial days of the British Raj, first-time visitors were staggered by the beauty of buildings such as the Taj Mahal in Agra and the Palace of the Winds in Jaipur. Today’s traveller – young or old - can expect to experience a similar sense of wonder on visiting these monuments, which still retain their classic elegance. This great family trip not only includes visits to the great Moghul sights, you’ll also spend time in the remote area of Shekhawati with its highly decorated houses, go on a tiger safari in Ranthambore National Park and experience the hustle, bustle, noise and colour of day to day Indian life by using local transport such as rickshaws and trains. A perfect introduction to incredible India!
Arrive at your first night’s accommodation in Delhi and check in. Hotel (AAA) - 1 night
You will receive full details of exactly where to meet your Group Leader on the Joining Instructions which will be sent to you 2-3 weeks before your trip starts. For information on when the trip ends please refer to the itinerary as described below.
Agra & The Taj Mahal
This morning, you’ll make a very early start for your train journey to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal! Alternating with Delhi as the capital of the Moghul Empire, the city’s past is inextricably linked with the most famous of India’s rulers. Today it is best known as the home of the Taj Mahal but also boasts a fort, a Friday Mosque and the royal tombs on the opposite bank of the river.
You will have plenty of time to explore the Taj Mahal, the masterpiece which shelters the tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. Many people believe it to be the most perfectly proportioned building ever constructed; at first glance it appears to be simply white marble, but closer inspection reveals that the surface is inlaid with a profusion of semi-precious stones which form stylised flowers and bowers. Words fail to do it justice; only by visiting it can you appreciate its exquisite beauty. Further along the banks of the river Yamuna, you visit Agra Fort. It was from here that the Moghul Empire was ruled and you spend some time exploring the nooks and crannies within. The afternoon is left free for you to wander at leisure, or relax.
Hotel (AAA) - 1 night (Swimming Pool – may be closed in winter) (B)
Fatehpur Sikri & Swai Mansingh Park, near Ranthambore
You set off early today to take the road leading to Fatehpur Sikri, some 38km (about two hours) 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 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.
You continue by road to Bharatpur and then take a train journey of just over two hours to Sawai Madhopur and Swai Mansingh Park, near Ranthambore National Park, arriving tired, but rewarded. Hotel (AAA) - 2 nights (Swimming Pool) (BD)
Swai Mansingh Park
During the hot summer months, Ranthambore National Park is closed. Therefore during July and August we alter our itinerary and take the opportunity to visit the nearby Swai Mansingh Sanctuary instead. A wide variety of interesting wildlife is resident here, including hyena, sloth bear, wild boar, panther and cheetah. While there is the rare chance to spot a tiger, this should not be expected. An exciting wildlife walk and a game drive will be included here.
Please see the climate section of this dossier which outlines expected temperatures in northern India during the hot, and often wet, monsoon months of July and August. (BLD)
After a leisurely start, you travel the three hours by train north-west to the famous ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur. Travelling on an Indian train is an experience in itself; it’s like being in a town on wheels with a complete cross-section of life aboard. Jaipur, like Delhi, has both old and new parts, and this trip concentrates on the old. Kids will be goggle-eyed as the streets are busy with camels and bullock-carts; above it all monkeys make their home in the old city walls. During your stay you visit the City Palace, once the home of the Maharaja, before seeing the 18th century Jantar Mantar, an astronomical observatory built by the city’s founder Jai Singh. You’ll also see the famous Palace of the Winds; here royal maidens once watched the streets below through the fabulous jali (lattice screens) which hid them from prying male eyes. Today snake charmers and fortune-tellers ply their trade below the same hideaway. The afternoon of day seven is left free for you to explore at leisure. Hotel (AAA) - 2 nights (Swimming Pool – may be closed in winter) (Bx2)
Perched on a hill some 11km from Jaipur and nestling among the Aravalli Hills is the historic fort-palace of Amber. You reach the palace along a twisting road that passes Maota Lake before turning uphill, past the elephant stables, to Jai Pol ‘Victory Gate’. This is the ancient capital of the Kachhawaha Rajputs who gave their loyalty to Moghul overlords. From the spoils of war they gradually built a fabulous complex of royal rooms. Today these rooms remain lavishly decorated with murals, jali-work and scalloped niches that once held candles to reflect the soft light from tiny mirrors, embedded in eggshell plaster.
You can thoroughly explore the site and village opposite before travelling into the ‘Land of Princes’ – Rajasthan. As you take a four-hour drive through the princely state of Rajasthan you will catch glimpses of life in the most colourful of India’s regions. Most notable are the elegant women, who carry terracotta pots of water from the village well, dressed in saris in a myriad of colours, their bangles tinkling as they walk. There may be an opportunity to walk around the village and meet or even have a game of cricket, with the locals! Hotel (AAA) - swimming pool (may be closed in winter) – 1 night (BLD)
The Shekhawati region was home to many rich merchants and their wealth is evident from their finely built havelis (mansions). Surrounded by large walls, with many internal courtyards, the havelis provided security, privacy and shade. They were painted with floral designs of Moghul influence, scenes from Hindu mythology and - since the arrival of Europeans - modern inventions such as trains, bicycles and cars. These paintings document the changes that took place in India during the nineteenth century. Nawalgarh, founded in 1737, is a typical Shekhawati town. The temples and town walls still survive today and the old fort has some fine examples of painted frescoes. Perhaps one of the best examples is the Poddar haveli, with paintings of trains, cars, processions, and a game of chequers. It has now been converted into a school and must surely be the most decorated and ornate one in India!
After lunch you leave Shekhawati and begin your journey eastwards back to Delhi, by charter bus. To make this journey non-stop would make for a very tiring and arduous day, therefore after just a couple of hours driving you’ll make an overnight stop at another Shekhawati town - Surajgarh. Your hotel is a former fortified palace, and makes for both an unusual and memorable night’s stay. Hotel (AAA) - swimming pool (may be closed in winter) – 1 night (B)
After breakfast this morning, you leave the Shekhawati region and continue your onward journey to Delhi, where you’ll arrive by midday.
Delhi is a city of contrasts. The present metropolis is the eighth city to have been founded on this site; its predecessors have been largely razed to the ground. After a chance to freshen up and have some lunch, this afternoon you’ll take a guided sightseeing tour of Old and New Delhi. 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 (Friday mosque), Delhi’s largest mosque. Not only is it a place of religious worship, but also a lively meeting place for the city’s Muslims and a fascinating insight into Delhi’s way of life. In Old Delhi you travel by local transport, the rickshaw (own expense), to ply your way through the crowds and down to the impressive Red Fort. 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 peak. You visit the main sights - Parliament House, President House and India Gate before returning to your hotel.
If you have any free time remaining you may choose some final sightseeing or shopping. Ghandi’s house in New Delhi tells the life story of one of India’s most renowned figures, whilst there are bargains galore to be found in the shops and markets around Connaught Place. No doubt your Group Leader will arrange a ‘last supper’ where you can look back over the trip of a lifetime. Hotel (AAA) - 1 night (B)
Trip ends Delhi
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.
Trip gradesIconic Destinations
This non-strenuous trip is suitable for anyone in reasonable health. India is a developing country, so be prepared to leave Western expectations behind; not everywhere has air conditioning and rail journeys can be delayed; a little patience and a sense of humour are essential. Fog can occasionally cause delays and affect sightseeing in winter months.
Minimum age: 7 years.
Transport - Minibus, 4WD safari canter, train, cycle-rickshaw (optional)
Accommodation - Hotels (7nts), Lodge (2nts).
Meals - 9 breakfasts, 2 lunches & 3 dinners.
Single room supplementA single supplement is available for this trip priced from 220.00 GBP. This does not guarantee a single room for all accommodation. please contact us to discuss this.
Clothing and Footwear
Please remember, India is a conservative country, and local sensibilities should be respected - halter neck or sleeveless tops or brief shorts are not acceptable for adults – though you will see some tourists wearing them. Below is a suggestion of what you might find useful to take on this trip. It is not an exhaustive packing list. If you need further advice, please call us or consult your nearest specialist outdoor clothing and equipment store.
- Lightweight, cotton clothing is most suitable
- Lightweight windproof/waterproof outer shell – for cold early mornings
- Warm mid-layer (fleece or wool), hat, gloves and a scarf are essential – game drives in the morning are cold!
- Comfortable shoes
- Trainers/sandals for relaxing
- Swim wear
For departures between 1 November and 28 February only:
- Warm mid-layer (heavy fleece / woollen sweater)
- Lightweight windproof/waterproof outer shell
- Hat, gloves and scarf
- Thermal underwear
- Sunglasses, high-factor sunscreen and lipsalve
- Personal first aid kit
- Insect repellent
A laundry service may be available, but we recommend you take biodegradable detergent so you can wash clothes as you choose
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:
Travel with Children – Maureen Wheeler
A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
A Passage to India – E. M. Forster
FOR YOUNGER READERS:
Seasons of Splendour: Tales, Myths & Legends of India – Madhur Jaffrey
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.
- 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.
Approximate costs are given for guidance only and may depend on the number of participants. They are accurate as per time of writing. Your Group Leader should be able to assist you in arranging them, however, please note that some may not be available at the time of travelling and are advisable to be pre-booked (see extensions and extras section on our website for pre-bookable activities. An admin fee may apply to these activities).
Delhi Light and Sound Show & return transfers £18.00
Mohabbat the Taj play in Agra & return transfers £23.00
Castle Mandawa camel ride £13.50
Elephant ride to Amber Fort £13.00
Jaipur hot air balloon flight* - £143.00 (must be pre-booked)
*Usually available September - February. Weather dependant.
Some sites make a small charge if you wish to use a camera, please allow £4-£5 for this plus video camera charge (£3-£4 for each site – Taj Mahal (limited use), national park & City Palace).
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 iultimately your responsibility. Please consult a visa agency or the consular authorities 4-6 weeks before departure for the most up-to-date information.
Please note that passports must have at least six months validity on the date of arrival or you may be refused entry.
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.
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.
For better or worse, tipping is an accepted part of everyday life, and - although it is always at your discretion - you will be expected to tip to reward service. Your Group Leader will give you an indication of when and how much is appropriate. This can vary, but please calculate on the basis of £20 per person (including children) for this trip. Also, if you wish to tip your Group Leader (in recognition of their contribution towards your overall enjoyment of the holiday) a suggested guideline would be approximately £1 to £2 per person, per day.
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 email@example.comThe 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.