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Journey Snapshot

Activity level: Level 2 Requires moderate physical activity. You need to be able to participate in physical activities such as longer walking tours, walking over uneven terrain, climbing steps and be comfortable with some periods of standing. Not suitable if you have limited mobility.
Destination: Nepal Extension following Classic Northern India tour
Duration: 14 days, 13 nights
Flight information: Depart UK to fly overnight and arrive into into Delhi airport [DEL] on Day 1 and returning from Kathmandu airport [KTM] on Day 14.
Pickup location: New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport, India [DEL] on Day 1

Overview

19 Oct - 22 Oct, 2019

The Taj Mahal is the "jewel in the crown" of our tour of Rajasthan in India and the Himalayas is sure to leave you feeling at the top of the world on this tour extension to Nepal!

Tour Rajasthan and experience India at its colourful and exotic best, before visiting Nepal and the spectacular Himalayas.

It is difficult to match Nepal for dramatic scenery: home to the world-famous, 8,848m high Mount Everest, it is completely dominated by the Himalayan range. There are seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Kathmandu Valley alone; most of them ancient temple or palace complexes that display extraordinary craftsmanship. The Nepalis' complex blend of religious beliefs and traditions is reflected in the exquisite thangkas, gold-painted stupas and intricate carvings seen at every turn. After your travels in India, Nepal is the best place for the picture perfect ending to your holidays.

Itinerary

Itinerary summary:

Day 1 - Welcome to India
Day 2 - Delhi City Tour
Day 3 - Delhi to Agra
Day 4 - Agra & Taj Mahal
Day 5 - Tiger spotting in Ranthambore National Park
Day 6 - Ranthambore to "The Pink City" Jaipur
Day 7 - Jaipur City Tour
Day 8 - Jaipur - Amber Fort
Day 9 - Jaipur to Varanasi
Day 10 - Varanasi 
Day 11 - Nepal Extension begins - depart Delhi to Kathmandu, Nepal
Day 12 - Kathmandu to Patan
Day 13 - Kathmandu to Bhaktapur
Day 14 - Departure flights from Kathmandu

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Full Itinerary

Day 1 - Welcome to India

Upon arrival at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport by you will be met from your flight and transferred to your hotel where a traditional welcome will await you! Once you have checked in, enjoy some free time before meeting up with the group for dinner.

Included Meals: Dinner

Day 2 - Delhi

This morning you will enjoy a guided tour of Delhi. The city consists of two parts - Old & New Delhi. Old Delhi was the capital of Muslim India between 17th and 19th century and has many mosques, monuments and forts. New Delhi, the imperial city was created by the British as the capital of India and has a number of impressive monuments related to its conquests by the Mughals, Turks, Persians and the British. New Delhi also has lovely broad avenues lined with stately residences and lavish neoclassical creations that lead up to the magnificent Presidential Palace and Parliament buildings.

We'll begin the day exploring Old Delhi, visiting Jama Masjid, the royal mosque built by the Mughul Emperor, Shah Jahan in 1656. It is one of the largest mosques in the world and is constructed in red sandstone and white marble. We'll get a great view of life in Old Delhi whilst on a cycle rickshaw ride through the narrow lanes of Chandni Chowk, the spine of Old Delhi. In stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of Old Delhi, we'll continue on to New Delhi where we drive through the wide boulevards and past The Rashtrapati Bhawan (Presidential Palace) where the Viceroy once lived and now is the official residence of the President of India. It is an imposing structure with 340 rooms, constructed high up on Raisina Hill. Here we also get a good view India Gate, a war memorial arch built in honor of 90,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives in World War I.

Lunch will be served today in a local Indian restaurant - time to taste some great local dishes.

This afternoon we visit Humayun’s Tomb, the first great example of Mughal architecture in India, it developed to become the hallmark of the Mughal Dynasty and is generally regarded as a prototype of the famed Taj Mahal of Agra. Our final stop today is a visit the Sikh temple, Bangla Sahib. A magnificent and spacious bungalow in Delhi that was once owned by Raja Jai Singh. It stands as a significant pilgrimage site for Sikh devotees and has a kitchen which serves langar (food) to all people, regardless of race or religion. At least 8,000 people eat langar here daily.

We'll return to our hotel for some time at leisure and dinner.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 3 - Delhi to Agra

This morning we will drive from Delhi to Agra (approx 4 hours drive with comfort stops).

The city of Agra sits on the banks of the River Yamuna and is a famous destination for travellers to India because of its many Mughal-era buildings, most notably the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This afternoon we will be guided around Agra Fort, an imposing structure with its walls of red sandstone, Islamic and Hindu architectural styles, and almost two miles long containing palaces, audience halls and mosques.

We'll return to our hotel this evening for dinner.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 4 - Agra & Taj Mahal

It is said that the world can be divided in half into those who have seen the Taj Mahal and those who haven't yet seen it - this morning at sunrise is your chance to join the other half! The 17th century Taj Mahal is often called a poem in stone. If so, the mausoleum is a love poem - created by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal. It took 22 years to be completed and was designed and planned by a Persian architect Ustad Isa. Apart from its stunning design balance and perfect symmetry, the Taj is also noted for its elegant domes, intricately carved screens and some of the best inlay work ever seen. After our visit to the Taj Mahal, we'll return the hotel for breakfast and then check out. Today we will be travelling to Ranthambore National Park, and en-route we'll visit Fatehpur Sikri, a deserted red sandstone city built by Emporeror Akbar as his capital and palace in the late 16th century. We'll have a short lunch stop in Bharatpur before being transerred to Bharatpur railway station to board a train to Sawai Madhopur (approx 2hrs), and on to Khem Villas in Ranthambore (approx 45 minutes).

We'll check into our luxury tents on arrival. You may want to enjoy the peace and tranquility with a nightcap around the campfire after dinner.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 5 - Tiger Spotting in Ranthambore National Park

Today we will do two game viewing drives in open 4X4 jeeps. The best times to view animals are sunrise and sunset so that is when we will head out and hope for some good animal sightings.

Ranthambore is a 400sq-km park situated in an area of rocky hill country, clothed in dry, deciduous forest, grassland, and scrub, and dotted with several small lakes that can be alive with birds. Seven years ago, the tigers of Ranthambore were decimated by poaching; fortunately the situation is improving and we once again stand a good chance of encountering this largest and most powerful cat. Seeing tiger will be a priority, and it requires covering much ground every morning and afternoon (the roads are not covered in tarmac and so the drives are bumpy and can be dusty).

Besides tigers, large mammals are particularly well represented at Ranthambore and among the species we might see are Sambar, Spotted Deer, Nilgai, Dorcas Gazelle (Chinkara), the ubiquitous Northern Palm Squirrel, Hanuman Langur, Small Indian and Ruddy mongoose, Wild Boar, and Indian Flying Fox. Leopard and Sloth Bear are also present in the park, though both are seen infrequently. Ranthambore also boasts an exciting array of birds and a naturalist is always on hand to discuss the wildlife with you.

We have some time at leisure between the game viewing drives to enjoy the hotel facilities, or take a walk with the resident naturalist around the property.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 6 - Ranthambore to "The Pink City" Jaipur

This morning we have one last chance to spot the infamous Bengal tiger on an early morning game viewing drive. We'll return to the hotel for breakfast before setting out for Jaipur (approx 4 hrs).

Jaipur, "The City of Victory", was first intended to be "Sawai Jaipur", named after the boy Prince who commissioned it - Maharaja Jai Singh II - a warrior, astronomer and politician who reigned over the Mughals from 1699 to 1743. Today's Jaipur is pink, visually described as the city shaded with the autumn colors of a sunset. Although originally the walls were render set and pigmented the color of red sandstone, Jaipur's universal coat of pink only came in 1876 to coincide with the visit of the Prince of Wales (King Edward VII). Almost the entire city was given a coat of pink paint, thus giving it the name "The Pink City".

When we arrive into Jaipur, we'll have lunch and check into the hotel before some time at leisure and later buffet dinner at your leisure.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 7 - Jaipur

This morning after breakfast we'll have a guided half day city tour. We'll visit City Palace and the museum - it has a superb collection of Rajasthani costumes, and armory of Mughals and Rajputs including swords, antiques and artifacts. Today's lunch will be served at teh City Palace Cafe. After lunch we'll proceed to Jantar Mantar - a stone astrological and astronomical observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh in the 18th century. Next we'll take you to Hawa Mahal or the "Palace of the Winds" with its beautiful façade which is probably the most photographed site in Jaipur, with its ornately carved windows designed for the ladies of the palace could look out of onto the streets without being unobserved.

Buffet dinner is at the hotel.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 8 - Jaipur - Amber Fort

This morning we'll enjoy an excursion to the magnificent Amber Fort. Tour the chambers and hallways of the palace, famous for the excellence of its design and decoration. Within the complex is Ganesh Pol, an imposing gateway painted with the images of the elephant-headed god, Ganesh. The merging of Rajput and Mughal architectural styles is captured in the Sukh Niwas and Jas Mandir apartments, and the Charbagh garden with its perfectly proportioned landscaping. Pierced screen windows offer views from different vantage points, and shimmering mirrors encrust the walls of Sheesh Mahal. Buffet lunch is at a local restaurant and the remainder of the afternoon will be at leisure for relaxation or shopping.

Buffet dinner is at the hotel’s coffee shop/main restaurant.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 9 - Jaipur to Varanasi

Varanasi stands on the banks of the holy river Ganges, a city of more than a thousand temples and shrines. It is here that millions of Hindus come to wash away their sins; where the great Gautam Buddha first preached 25 centuries ago; where Asia's largest residential university was founded and is still a center for art and learning. Varanasi’s principle attraction is a long string of bathing Ghats which line the river. Pilgrims belonging to all religions/castes come to this sacred place to wash away their sins. Renowned for its silk saree and carpets, Varanasi draws huge crowds of people who throng the shops to buy the famous Benarasi sarees.

This morning you will be transferred to Jaipur airport to board a flight to Varanasi -

Dep Jaipur : 06:25 hrs
Arr Varanasi: 07:45 hrs
Note - The check in baggage allowance in flight is 15 Kg per person and cabin baggage 7 Kg.

We will have breakfast at the hotel and store our luggage until the afternoon check in.

We'll visit Sarnath where Lord Buddha had preached his first sermon and which is now a spiritual place of mainly stupas, shrines and temples. We'll also visit the museum which houses a collection of valuable ancient scriptures & artifacts related to Buddhism. Returning to the hotel to check in and some time at leisure, before heading out to witness a Hindu prayer ceremony 'Aarthi' on the Ganges River. We'll be escorted to Dhaswashmedh Ghat from where you embark on a boat to witness the Aarti for approx 20-30 minutes. The river banks ‘ghats’ and temples are lit with oil-lamps and candles which create a magical effect. Devotees float the oil lamps in the water as an offering to the holy river.

Afterwards we'll return to the hotel for dinner.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 10 - Varanasi to Delhi

Early this morning, we'll enjoy a boat cruise on the River Ganges (subject to weather conditions). The ghats - hundreds of stone steps flanking the riverbank - are an incredible sight, particularly at sunrise when thousands of pilgrim’s bathe in the spiritually cleansing waters. Funeral pyres smoke on the riverbank, which is lined with colorful temples.

We'll return to the hotel for breakfast and to check out of the hotel before our flight back to Delhi.

Dep Varanasi: 13:45hrs
Arr Delhi: 15:20hrs
Note - The check in baggage allowance in flight is 15 Kg per person and cabin baggage 7 Kg.

We'll enjoy our farewell meal together this evening.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 11 - Flight from Delhi to Kathmandu

This early morning a local representative will escort you to Delhi Airport for your flight to Kathmandu. If you haven’t arranged your Visa prior to departure you can gain your Visa on arrival although it can be a lengthy process.

Meet & greet by our local guide in Kathmandu who will escort us to our hotel. The check-in time at the hotel is 14:00 hrs. You can arrange to have your lunch at the hotel or venture out – the local guide will be able to assist with restaurant/café recommendations. This afternoon we’ll enjoy a sightseeing tour of Kathmandu city. The highlights include the courtyards of the Royal Palace, Durbar Square with its highly-detailed wooden temples. Sadly due to earthquake damage we are unable to visit the chambers of the Royal Palace or Kasthamandap. There are various interesting sights in the outlying area around Kathmandu such as Swayambhunath, a 2,000 year old Buddhist stupa supporting a lofty conical spire capped by a copper-gilded pinnacle and Bhaktapur, an enchanting ancient city with winding alleyways and a stunning palatial complex brimming with architectural gems. We'll continue to Durbar Square which is the historic seat of Royalties. "Durbar" means the Palace - This Durbar Square with its old temples and a palace epitomizes the religious and cultural life of the people. It is the same place where Kings of Nepal are crowned and their coronations solemnized. Stop at Kumari Temple, the home to the world’s only living Goddess. Kumari is also known as Virgin Goddess. Next visit Swayambhunath Stupa, the oldest Buddhist shrine. It is said to be 2,000 years old. Painted on the four sides of the spire’s base is the all- seeing eyes of Lord Buddha. It is situated on a hillock about 77m above Kathmandu and commands an excellent view of the valley. This Stupa is the oldest of its kind in Nepal. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Monument. Dinner will be served at the hotel.

Included Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
Accomodation: Hyatt Regency Kathmandu

Day 12 - Kathmandu to Patan

Optional Extra Excursion payable locally: Early morning mountain flight to view Mt. Everest (NOTE: The flight operation is subject to weather conditions). Today’s optional one hour mountain flight over Everest takes you within camera range of some of the highest peaks in the world, and cruising this close to the awe-inspiring massifs of rock and ice, is an out-of-this-world experience. The aircraft takes off and heads eastward and almost immediately, the peaks come into view. The first peak that appears on your horizon is the majestic Gosaithan, standing 8,013m tall. To its right, appears DorjeLhakpa (6,966m), looking like a massive figure of 8, lying prone and covered in snow. To its right is PhurbiChyachu, which looms over the Kathmandu Valley.

After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll visit Boudhnath stupa and Pashupatinath temple on the bank of the sacred Bagmati River. Foreign tourists and non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple. Boudhanath Stupa is one of the oldest and the biggest Buddhist monuments ever built in Nepal, Boudhanath is an imposing structure standing some 36 meters tall. Listed in the UNESCO World Heritage list this site is similar to Mecca for Buddhists. Every year tens of thousands of pilgrims from all over the Himalayan region visit the stupa.

This afternoon we visit the famous city of Patan. Patan, known as the “City of Grace and Fine Arts” is situated on the elevated tract of land on the south side of the Baghmati River 5 km south-east of Kathmandu. The city of Patan is also known as Lalitpur. Initially designed in the shape of the Buddhist Dharma-Chakra (Wheel of Righteousness), the city is full of Hindu temples and Buddhist monuments with bronze gateways, guardian deities and wonderful carvings. Finally we’ll visit the interesting and beautiful pieces of art and architecture, particularly Patan Durbar Square, which has been listed by UNESCO as one of seven Monument Zones that make up the Kathmandu Valley a World Heritage Site. The tour consists of a visit to the Durbar square representing the heart of the city. This square is full of ancient palaces, temples and shrines noted for their exquisite carvingments of various shapes and sizes scattered in and around the city. The main attraction of the Patan Durbar Square is the ancient Royal Palace established in the 16th century. This palace has 3 main Chowks or courtyards. They are known as Mul Chowk, Sundari Chowk and Mani Keshab Narayan Chowk. In the north-eastern corner of the courtyard is the triple-roofed Octagonal tower of Taleju Bhawani temple built by King Shree Niwas Malla in 1667 AD.

Included Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
Accommodation: Hyatt Regency Kathmandu

Day 13 - Kathmandu to Bhaktapur

This morning visit Bhaktapur which is also known as Bhadgaon. Situated at an altitude of 1,401m, Bhaktapur covers an area of four square miles. Bhaktapur still retains a medieval charm and visitors to this ancient town are treated to myriad wonders of cultural and artistic achievements. The past glory of the Malla rulers continues to be reflected at the Durbar Square. Pottery and weaving are its traditional industries. Bhaktapur is famous for woodcarving and the Bhadgaolentopi or cap. Next we’ll visit the Golden Gate is the entrance to the main courtyard of the palace of 55 windows. Built by King RanjitMalla, the gate is one of the most beautiful and richly carved specimens of its kind in the entire world. This gate is embellished with deities and monsters with marvelous intricacy. Your guide can recommend some local restaurants/coffee shops for your lunch. The afternoon is kept free - with the local guide and vehicle at the group’s disposal.

Included Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
Accommodation: Hyatt Regency Kathmandu

Day 14 - Departure flights from Kathmandu

Breakfast is at the hotel. Our local representative will escort you to Kathmandu airport to catch your departure flights.

Included Meals: Breakfast

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More information

What's includedWhat's not includedImportant information

What's included

  • International flights into New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, India [DEL] on Day 1 and departing from Kathmandu, Nepal [KTM] on Day 14.
  • Internal flights as detailed in the itinerary including from Delhi to Kathmandu
  • Meet & Greet at the airport on arrival and transfer to the hotel.
  • Transfer from the hotel to the airport on the final day.
  • Transport in an air-conditioned deluxe vehicle.
  • 4* and 5* Accommodation.
  • Meals as detailed in the itinerary.
  • English speaking tour guide.
  • Tour Director from The Big Journey Company as well as the local tour guide (subject to minimum group size being reached.)
  • All activities, visits and excursions as detailed in the itinerary.

What's not included

  • Drinks.
  • Gratuities to drivers, guides or rangers etc. Our local travel service providers are paid well and fairly for their work. However, it is usual for groups to tip guides and drivers and it would be reasonable for each group member to factor in a contribution of around USD16 per day.
  • Visas, travel and medical insurance.
  • Any personal items and anything not mentioned under included in price above.
  • Any meals not mentioned in itinerary.
  • Any optional activities offered.

Important information

  • The altitude of Kathmandu is 1,370m and some guests may be adversely affected by the high altitude - please discuss this with your doctor before departure.
  • Please let The Big Journey Company know prior to travelling if you have any medical needs or take any medication that we need to be made aware of to ensure that you have a safe and pleasant tour.
  • Check in is after 2 - 3pm and check out is before 10am unless otherwise specified in the itinerary.
  • Cancellation 90 – 0 days prior to departure cancellation fee is 100%. It is your responsibility to ensure the correct travel insurance in place to protect you against the need to cancel your holiday. Deposits are non-refundable.
  • Further terms and conditions apply and will be provided upon request or at the time of booking. The Big Journey Company reserves the right to withdraw any offer prior to accepting a reservation request. This does not affect your statutory rights. This offer is subject to availability and space is limited.
  • Please consult your doctor for advice on vaccinations and innoculations before travel.

The big journey promise

The big journey company was set up with one goal in mind, to share our passion for inspirational cultures, destinations and experiences. Over the last 10 years we have had the privilege to escort thousands of travellers on awe inspiring and sometimes life changing journeys. Our promise to every guest who joins us is that we will do everything possible to make sure your journey not only exceeds expectations but delivers at least one moment of true amazement.

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© The Big Journey Company 2016 - 2019. All rights reserved.
Holiday tours are operated by The Big Journey Company Limited. Registered in England. Registered office: Marron Bank, Branthwaite, Cumbria, CA14 4SZ. Registered number: 6532140. VAT number: 290797457. The Big Journey Company Limited is a member of The Travel Trust Association member number U5675 and holds an Air Travel Organiser’s License number T7282.

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