Arrive into Delhi, India today. International flights typically arrive in the late evening or very early morning hours of Day 2. Guests are met at the airport and transferred about 30 minutes to our hotel in Gurgaon. No meals included.
We visit one of the most magnanimous monuments in Delhi, the Sikh temple of Gurudwara Bangla Sahib. Built on the ethos of servitude, food is provided every day for thousands of people from the temple?s kitchens. We stop for a moment of reflection before departing for Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. Upon arrival, choose to relax at our hotel or go for a short stroll to the nearby water palace of Jal Mahal. Enjoy some delicious flavors at our first group dinner. We overnight in Jaipur. All meals included.
Driving: 4 hours.
Jaipur, the Pink City, is a beautiful mix of modern ingenuity and historic edifices. This morning we visit Amber Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its related bastions, Jaigarh Fort and Nahargarh Fort. Winding our way along stone staircases and gigantic fortifications, we marvel at the impenetrable design and sheer power these strongholds once asserted. The interior of the Amber Palace is adorned with intricate designs and craftsmanship. Hiking down from Nahargarh Fort, we enjoy views of the vast modern city of Jaipur, which has engulfed the ancient palatial promontory. A tuk-tuk ride through the streets of Jaipur returns us to our hotel. This afternoon we walk through historic Pink City before dinner. All meals included.
Walking: 3 miles, 3 hours, elevation gain/loss +915'/-885' on cobble streets and steps.
Just a short drive away, the din of Jaipur quickly fades into bucolic bliss. Our first stop, and where our ride begins, is Galta Ji Temple, also known as Monkey Temple. Before getting on our bikes, we walk through this unique Hindu site nestled in the hills where people come to worship in the holy water pools. It's also home to a large colony of monkeys beaming with playfulness and curiosity. Following a bike fitting and briefing, we ride past farmlands and through villages. In the afternoon, we enjoy a picnic lunch before continuing our ride through the picturesque countryside. We return to our hotel by mid-afternoon with the remainder of the day on your own. Breakfast and lunch included.
Cycling: up to 21 miles, 3 hours; on mostly flat paved roads; Driving: 1 hour.
Today we travel deeper into Rajasthan. Away from the castles and forts, we venture into welcoming villages and farmlands which have supported the royalty of Jaipur throughout the millennia. We begin with a walk through a small town, visiting with merchants and artisans and gaining insight into the traditional lifestyle of the region. We lunch at our host?s 17th-century garh (small castle), and learn stories of the Rajput warriors and this incredible living time capsule. Next, we lace up our boots for a hike over a small ridge with views out across the separate valleys. Nestled amongst fields of mustard, millet, and other sundry crops, our private camp awaits. Spacious pitched canvas tents, each with full beds and ensuite facilities, have us feeling like royalty in no time. This evening, we have a special dinner celebration under a sparkling blanket of stars. We overnight in a deluxe tented camp. All meals included.
Hiking: 2.6 miles, 2 hours, elevation gain/loss +195'/-180' on a rocky footpath; Driving: 2.5 hours.
Bidding farewell to our quiet camp, we depart for the famed Mughal city of Agra. In the afternoon, we have a special activity. It?s so special, we?re keeping it a surprise. In the evening we sit down for a Bollywood-style act portraying the history of the Taj Mahal. This fun theater performance is the perfect warm-up to our sunrise walk tomorrow morning. Dinner is on your own tonight. We overnight in Agra. Breakfast and lunch included.
Optional activity: 1 hour; Driving: 5 hours.
We rise early for a sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal with our exceptional local guide. A mausoleum and an icon of love, there is a reason this monument still stands. Perhaps it was the forethought to include elements from many of the major religions or perhaps it?s due to the sheer beauty and state of the art design. Either way, it is breathtaking to behold. After walking the grounds, we return to our hotel for breakfast and free time. This afternoon we have an optional walking tour of the bustling streets of Agra. We deftly navigate back alley spice markets, descend into ancient temples, and hop in a rickshaw for a ride. We overnight in Agra. Breakfast included.
Walking: 3 hours; Optional city tour: 2 hours.
For years the town of Rishikesh has been a conduit for deeper introspection and spiritual education for all sects of Hinduism and Buddhism. It's here the Ganges River emerges from the Himalayas, a sacred confluence of elements held in spiritual reverence by the major religions and people of India. In recent years the area has become a magnet for active adventurers looking to hike the mountains and raft the famous river. We drive to Delhi, and then fly north for the final leg of our adventure in India. We overnight at a hotel overlooking the Ganges River. All meals included.
Driving: 3 hours; Flight: 1 hour.
Today?s hike in the lower Himalayas follows the Ganges River before cutting up into terraced farm plots. Circling back to the river we have wonderful views of the mountains plunging into aquamarine river water. Next, we set out for an exhilarating rafting trip on the Ganges. A series of Class 2 and 3 rapids deliver a roller coaster ride of fun back into town. This evening we walk to one of the many vegetarian establishments for dinner; by law the city is entirely meat and alcohol free. We overnight in Rishikesh. All meals included.
Hiking: 5 miles, 3?4 hours, elevation gain/loss +800'/-800? on rocky trails with moderate incline/decline; River Rafting: 2?3 hours; Transfer: 1.5 hours.
We begin our day by stretching our bodies and relaxing our minds with a skilled instructor to guide us through yoga poses. After we've limbered up, we set out to explore Rishikesh, starting at the the Chaurasi Kutia Ashram where the Beatles spent time dreaming up the famous White Album. On our way to lunch, our guide leads us through the bustling markets and shops along the narrow streets. Before returning to the hotel for a midday break, we visit another local ashram to learn about an historic pilgrimage location. In the evening, we witness priests performing the Aarti fire ceremony. Each night in the three holy cities of Haridwar, Varanasi and Rishikesh, a fire offering is made to the river Goddess Ganga. Afterwards, we enjoy a farewell dinner to celebrate our time in India. We overnight in Rishikesh. All meals included.
Yoga: 1 hour; Walking: 3 hours.
Departing Rishikesh, we fly to Delhi and check into our hotel near the Indira Gandhi International Airport. We say our final goodbyes to our guides, with the rest of the day free until your flight to your next destination. Flights can be planned for this evening, or for tomorrow morning. Breakfast included.
Driving: 1 hour; Flight: 1 hour.
Most international flights depart Delhi in the early morning hours. An airport transfer is provided at any time this morning or the previous evening (Day 11). No meals included.