Our Tour in Focus blogs take an in-depth look at our best and most popular trips, highlighting what makes them unique and answering anything you may like to know.
India is one of our key destinations and we run more trips here than anywhere else. Full of colour, exquisite architecture and an endless array of sights India never fails to fascinate and charm. Our Taj, Temples and Tigers group tour visits a number of classic destinations, including Agra, Jaipur and Ranthambore National Park, as well as getting off the beaten path into rural Rajasthan.
"Each day brought new experiences of the contrasts and complexities of this remarkable country, from the stunning riches of palaces, shrines and temples, to the simplicity of rural life. A wonderful itinerary", said one traveller about the tour.
If there’s anything you’d still like to find out, please don’t hesitate to see the tour itinerary in the lik below or call the office for a chat.
What route does it take?
Delhi – Agra – Ranthambore NP – Jaipur – Pushkar – Jodhpur – Bhenswara – Jojawar – Castle Bijaipur – Chittorgarh – Udaipur.
What's the number one highlight?
Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur is simply spectacular and its setting is incredible. Jodhpur itself has been named in Trip Advisor's Top Destinations on the Rise for 2017.
If you're lucky enough to spot tigers in Ranthambore, it's certainly an experience you'll never forget. However, Ranthambore isn't just about wildlife; it's a visual treat with impressive hunting lodges and atmospheric trees dominating the spectacular scenery, along with a host of other wildlife including a huge variety of mammals and birds.
The Kipling train, made famous by Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale, ‘The Man Who Would Be King’, is a wonderful two hour train journey through the spectacular Khamli Ghats and onto the central Aravalli plateau. This charming train ride offers fantastic views and the opportunity to meet the local people. Our 'village safari' whilst in Bhenswara with the Rabari tribe is also a real treat, giving us a great insight into their way of life.
What does this tour do differently to everyone else?
This tour combines perfectly the urban highlights of Rajasthan with the rural soul of the state. Whilst we visit the wonderful cities of Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur and Jodhpur, we also get to experience the beautiful countryside and stay in palaces of former royalty, from where we can enjoy birdlife, walking and stunning scenery such as turquoise lakes and rolling hills. Whilst the tour follows a classic route we stay in heritage properties and old havelis, rather than conventional mainstream hotels. Whilst these aren't all about opulent luxury they offer charm, character and authenticity.
Who leads it?
All of our Taj, Temples and Tigers group tours are led by an Indian leader, who knows the route well.
Who is the tour suitable for?
This tour is perfect for first-timers for India. It's not at all challenging, making it suitable for everyone. In terms of temperature during the time of year when we go it's warm and dry during the daytime (around 25°), although it starts getting hotter around March. Mornings can be fresher so it's worth bringing layers.
What's the accommodation like?
In Agra and Delhi we stay in 4*/5* luxury; in Delhi we're lucky enough enough to stay in the beautiful colonial era Claridges, whilst in Agra we always stay in a modern business class hotel. Outside of these places we stay in classic heritage hotels and havelis, including wonderful Castle Bijaipur (above), which has become our spiritual home, especially as we've been travelling there since our first trips to India 15 years ago. We find these hotels offer the most authentic India experience.
How fit do I need to be? Is there much walking involved?
This is definitely one of our gentler group tours - it's not a physically active trip or one that involves large amounts of exertion. It's worth noting that in places like Agra Fort you're on your feet for at least two hours between viewpoints, whilst visiting the sights of Jaipur (including the Royal Observatory and Amber Fort) involves quite a full day of walking. At some of the forts and palaces there can be quite a few uneven steps, but on the whole this trip just involves lots of city walking. Expect to be on your feet a lot, but never covering huge distances!
What's the food like?
The food is of course predominantly curry based, but on the whole it's not especially spicy. There are plenty of options available for vegetarians as most of the dishes are vegetable based. Breakfasts tend to be quite western, offering fruit, cereals and toast. Lunches and dinners focus on Indian food, with lunches varying between a sit down buffet and a visit to local markets for a delectable mix of bhajis and other fresh food. The whole trip offers a great balance between eating in restaurants, hotels and other places; one of the major highlights is eating at an outdoor restaurant in Udaipur overlooking the lake.
Do I need a visa?
Yes, although visitors can now apply for an e-visa, making the process far simpler. E-visas can be applied for online, so there is no need to send your passport off or book a face-to-face appointment at the embassy. The whole process typically takes approximately 48 hours, from applying to receiving your visa, and you can't apply more than 30 days before entering the country. It's also worth noting that visitors are only allowed to apply for two visas per year.
Are there many long journeys involved?
The number of journeys on the trip varies, mainly due to the quality of the roads. During the first week we drive along a number of highways, whilst the second week is predominantly more rural, meaning the journey times increase as the roads deteriorate. The longest journey takes approximately 7 hours (between Ranthambore and Jaipur), with the average drive lasting around five hours. On any journey we always make plenty of stops for loo breaks, chai and lunch, making the whole experience well-paced.
Any hygiene issues?
This tour doesn't involve any hygiene concerns, beyond the usual considerations when travelling in India. All of the hotels we stay in have western toilets, although some of the roadside stops may involve squatting. We always provide bottled water to our travellers and eat in tried and tested restaurants.