Tour type: Private
Group size: Min: 1 | Max: Any
Accommodation: 5-star hotels, guesthouse, wildlife lodge & heritage hotels
Transport: AC car/minibus
Highlights: Old & new Delhi, the Taj Mahal at sunrise, lost city of Fatehpur Sikri, wildlife of Ranthambore, Shekhawati Havellis, the 'Pink City' of Jaipur, fabulous heritage hotels, experiences of Indian culture, food and traditions
This timeless cultural odyssey takes you back in time to grandeur of India's Raj. Our classic tour of Northern India, takes in the Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur and adds the colourful Shekhawati region in Rajasthan. Marvel at the beauty of the Taj Mahal, lose yourself in the bustling streets of Old Delhi, wonder and the grand folly of Fatehpur Sikri and enjoy the endless pink walls of Jaipur.
We start this tour in the teeming capital, Delhi where there is plenty of time to explore this commercial and cultural hub on Northern India. We take you on an interesting tour of Old and New Delhi visiting the Jama Masjid mosque and parliament buildings and then there is time to explore the bustling streets of Old Delhi.
We next make our way to Agra, home of the famous Taj Mahal. This beautiful monument stands as a testament to one man love and the serene setting is sure to make even the most cynical wonder. After plenty of time to enjoy this and other sites in Agra we head out towards Jaipur stopping en route at the deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri. This amazing city was constructed by the Mughal Emporer Akbar in 1569 and then just a few years later abandoned. It is today still wonderfully preserved well worth a few hours exploring. We also take some time to visit Ranthambore National Park where you and your guide search for the elusive Bengal Tiger, and see plenty of other wildlife.
Arriving in Jaipur we take a tour of the 'Pink City', including a tour of the nearby Amber Palace, a visit to the Hawa Mahal 'Palace of the Winds' and a tour of the Jantar Mantar 'Observatory'. From Jaipur we next visit the Shekhawati region made famous by its colourful outdoor frescos. We'll stay in a wonderful heritage hotel and have plenty of time to enjoy the unique art of this less visited region of India, before heading back to Delhi where the tour ends.
We greet you at Delhi airport and provide a private transfer to your hotel or guesthouse. Our local manager will ensure you get settled in comfortably, introduce you to your driver and guide, and discuss the plans for the rest of your tour. Depending on your arrival time, we may include a short introductory sightseeing tour this afternoon.
Extra day in Delhi - pre-tour
Single room supplement (INTMGT)
Your tour of India's capital begins with a visit through the mediaeval streets around Old Delhi, taking in the world's second largest mosque, Jama Masjid, the Red Fort and the burial ghat of Mohatma Ghandi.
We can either drop you back at your accommodation after lunch, or you can remain in Old Delhi to explore some more in the afternoon. This tour will be adjusted based on what you may have visited on your arrival day.
This morning you leave Delhi and drive to Agra, stopping at Akbar's Mausoleum at Sikandra on the edge of Agra before checking into your hotel. In the afternoon you visit the Red Fort, and enjoy your first sight of the Taj Mahal from its ramparts. You may visit the Taj Mahal at sunset this evening if you wish (entry not included).
Early this morning you head out to the majestic Taj Mahal and after a guided tour, you are free to explore Shah Jahan's monument to love at leisure, watching the light change as the sun rises.
After breakfast back at the hotel, you check out and drive to Ranthmbore, with a stop off at Fatehpur Sikri - the deserted but wonderfully preserved former capital city of Akbar's Moghul empire.
Next we drive to Ranthambore National Park which will be your base for several safaris into the park over the next two days. These are early in the morning to try and view the wildlife in the Park before it gets too hot, and later in the afternoon as it cools down and the wildlife becomes more active again. As well as its famous tigers, the park is home to many species of deer, Marsh Crocodiles, Hyenas, Jungle Cats, Chital, Nilgai, Chinkara and Sloth Bears. There is also a sizeable bird population present throughout the year.
You enjoy two safaris into the park today, one of them by 'canter' and one by jeep.
The morning safari is by 'canter'. These are open backed trucks that can carry up to around 16 people. While they can't get as far into the park, and you are sharing with several other people, the extra height means you can see better into the long grass.
After returning to the hotel, in the afternoon, you do a jeep safari. There are only a restricted number of jeeps allowed into the park, so we need to book these well in advance for you. They do allow for a more flexible, and exploratory trip into the park and you have a more personal relationship with your guide.
If you have time available, then adding extra days and safaris here will give you a better chance to see both the tigers and other wildlife.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
You leave Ranthambore this morning and drive to Jaipur. Your next two nights are spent in the wonderfully opulent and charaterful Samode Haveli. A wide range of other fascinating heritage hotels are also available to suit lower budgets.
Jaipur heritage hotel
During a full day tour in the state of Rajasthan's 'Pink city' today, you visit the beautiful Amber Palace, and also tour the City Palace, Wind Palace and world famous Jantar Mantar Observatory. We also recommend a visit to the well known lassi-wallah. Jaipur is full of different markets and makes a great place to do some independent exploring and souvenir shopping.
Jaipur heritage hotel
You have a little free time in Jaipur this morning when you can try some optional tours including kite flying, craft markets and food shopping and tasting. Late in the morning we head into the rural semi-desert Shekhawati region whose colourfully painted Havellis with frescoes showing animals and mythology, together with more modern interpretations, led to its reputation as the 'open art gallery of Rajasthan'. We spend the night in another heritage hotel, full of character, faded grandeur and history. These hotels are a real highlight of this tour and travelling through Rajasthan.
Shekhawati heritage hotel
Today we leave rural Rajasthan and drive back to Delhi. En-route we'll stop at Cyber Hub or Ambience Mall at Gurgaon on the outskirts of Delhi for lunch and a taste of modern India. The rest of the afternoon and evening is free for you to explore Delhi and do some final sightseeing or shopping.
Single room supplement (INSGTV)
You have some free time in Delhi today before we transfer you to the airport for your departure. Extensions are available to the hill stations of northern India, the holy city of Varanasi or the coastal states of Goa and Kerala.
Goa beach extension
Extra day in Delhi - post-tour
Single room supplement (INTMGT)
Seasonal prices for this tour are given below. We can also customise the itinerary to fit your personal requirements. Please contact us for details and prices.
The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we most often use on this tour. From time to time we may exchange these for similar properties at the same level. In general, specific hotels cannot be guaranteed on our group tours, but you may select your preferred options if you are booking a tailor-made trip.
Our tours are designed to include all that you need to enjoy a really special time in the destination youre visiting. However, we do also offer some extra options to complement the tour and add some additional sightseeing or activities, or some extra time at either end of the tour.
All accommodation based options (e.g. Single supplements, extra nights, cruise upgrades) should be booked and paid for in advance so that we can make the appropriate arrangements. Other options may either be booked and paid for in advance or while you are on the tour, though we recommend booking in advance to ensure there are no issues with availability.
Many options are priced the same throughout the year, but some may incur single or high season supplements - full details are given on the tour reservation form or on request.
The detailed Tour Notes below have been written to give you some more detailed information about how the tour runs, what to expect, and how to prepare for your holiday. We recommend downloading an up to date copy of these shortly before you travel in case of any changes.
We use a mix of good quality hotels, guest houses and wildlife lodges on this tour rated at the Indian 4-star and 5-star level on this tour and try to include some heritage properties where possible. These heritage hotels are often converted from former palaces or merchant houses and are full of historical character, though they may feel a little dated. They are often a highlight of your stay.
Accommodation is based on twin, triple or double en-suite rooms with air conditioning. Please visit the accommodation tab of this tour for examples of the hotels normally used on this tour. If you have any specific accommodation requests please let us know and we'll be happy to provide you with a customised quotation.
Our trips feature a mix of different transport options. We want you to feel like you're really experiencing the country you're travelling through, but at the same time finish journeys refreshed enough to enjoy the next stage of the tour. Due to the somewhat chaotic nature of Indian roads, we only use private vehicles for all road journeys. Some fun train journeys may also be included.
The tour price includes a 24-hour airport meet & assist service in New Delhi airport, your arrival and departure airport-hotel transfers and all other transfers.
We want to give you as much flexibility as possible when it comes to booking your holiday with us. So, to take account of people with varying travel plans, we don’t include your international flights in the main tour price. We are however very happy to suggest flights to go with the tour. Please contact us with your preferred dates and departure airport and we’ll give you a selection of airlines, times and fares to choose from.
Your airport arrival & departure transfers are included on the first and last days of the tour. Most of our Indian tours start and finish at Delhi airport (DEL).
We do also sometimes advertise flight inclusive packages from selected airports. Where these are shown on our website, prices are correct at the time of quoting, but are subject to continued availability of the fare used. Prices will be reconfirmed at the time of booking, and we will also provide the flight times and airline details before tickets are issued.
Flight inclusive prices are based on the cheapest Economy ticket class available which is generally non-refundable and non-changeable unless the flight is cancelled for reasons such as Covid-19, in which case the airlines are more flexible. More flexible ticket options, as well as Premium Economy and Business Class tickets are available on request for an additional supplement. Any changes made to flight inclusive bookings will be subject to the airline rules on your ticket.
As we don't offer guaranteed group departures on this tour we can run the itinerary for however many people you happen to be travelling with, starting from 1 upwards. The prices given for this tour are based on a minimum of 2 passengers travelling, so if you have a different number of passengers in your group please contact us for a customised quotation.
In India we provide a fully trained, local English-speaking tour leader/driver to accompany you through the tour. Specialist local guides are used for all of the sightseeing tours and national park activities.
At Encounters Travel we have a policy of only using local Indian guides and reps. We feel this gives you the best experience of the country and the sites you are seeing. Please check our website for more details and profiles of some of our most famous local guides.
The tour price includes entrance fees to all the tourist sites mentioned in the itinerary. If you visit any sites not mentioned in the itinerary then you will need to cover the entrance fee costs.
Rupee (INR; symbol Rs) = 100 paise. Notes are in denominations of Rs 2,000, 1000, 500, 200, 50, 20, 10 and 1 Coins are in denominations of Rs 10, 5, 2 and 1, and 50 paise (Rs 0.5). Note: The import and export of local currency is prohibited. Sometimes smaller vendors will not take bills larger than Rs 500. It is best to carry a range of rupee notes if you are shopping at bazaars and local markets.
Note: You must present your passport whenever you change currency or travellers cheques. Commission for foreign exchange is becoming increasingly rare; if it is charged, the fee is nominal.
Credit cards: In major cities, the full cadre of banks cards are generally accepted including debit cards, American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa. However, in smaller towns and villages, choice is generally narrowed to cash or MasterCard and Visa.
ATM: 24 hour ATM machines can be found in all the major cities and most large towns. Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus, Maestro and Plus are amongst the most commonly accepted cards.
Travellers cheques: These are gradually getting less accepted but may still be changed at larger banks and some larger hotels. The most widely accepted currencies include US Dollars and Pounds Sterling. Some banks may refuse to change certain brands of traveller's cheques whilst others may exchange quite happily.
Haggling is a traditional necessity, so its wise not to pay too much regard to initial prices. Instead fix an items value in your mind then negotiate towards it unhurriedly and don't be afraid to simply walk away if the price isn't right. Once you have offered a price though, you should be prepared to pay it as you may cause offence if you then back out.
While an accepted part of the culture and customs in India, tipping is always optional, and the amounts paid should reflect excellent service. We are often asked for advice on common amounts, and for assistance with tipping. Some suggested guidelines are given below.
Restaurants and taxis: Local markets and basic restaurants - leave the loose change. More up-market restaurants we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour guide. We suggest USD 5-10 per person per day for local guides.
Drivers: You may have a range of private drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, for example if you don't have an extra accompanying guide. However USD 3-6 per person per day is generally appropriate.
Tour Guides: To answer your next question. . . as a guideline for tour guides who accompany you on the entire tour, we suggest you allow around USD 5-10 per person per day, but ultimately, as with all the tipping descrbed above, its up to your satisfaction with their service and your personal budget. You should not feel pressured to tip any particular amount.
You should ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including emergency evacuation and repatriation.
Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to the country you are visiting and where you are travelling from. We recommend you contact your GP/medical practitioner or a travel clinic for current information on vaccinations needed for your destination. You should ensure that you are up to date with vaccines and boosters recommended for your normal life at home, including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions. In addition, additional courses or boosters normally recommended for the countries in this region are:
India: Additional vaccinations: Diptheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Yellow fever rules for India are quite complicated and lengthy. Please read the WHO guidance.
Malaria: Vaccinations are not available against Malaria, which is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes that can be very serious and sometimes fatal. You should avoid mosquito bites by covering up bare skin with clothing such as long sleeves and long trousers and applying insect repellents to exposed skin. When necessary, sleep under a mosquito net. Mosquitoes are most active during and after sunset. You should consult with your GP/medical practitioner/travel clinic about the most appropriate malaria prophylactic medication to take for the regions you are visiting. In general the north eastern regions of India including Assam and Orissa are considered high risk,while the rest of India is generally considered low enough risk that anti-malarial tablets are not necessary for most travellers doing relatively short tours.
Yellow Fever: This disease is spread by infected mosquitoes that bite during the day. A Yellow Fever Certificate of vacinnation may be required as a condition of entry depending on which country you are arriving from, or that you have travelled or transitted through recently (including connecting flights with stopovers of over 12 hours). You can view this US CDC information about where the virus is present and follow the links to further information detailing which countries need you to have a Yellow Fever vaccination as part of their entry requirements. Please ensure you have this certificate with you and to hand if necessary.
Please inform us of any pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or asthma and any prescription medicine you may be taking. We also need to know about any food allergies or physical disabilities that you may have.
Your passport expiry date must be at least 6 months after your time in India finishes. Do not bring a full or almost expired passport. You must also have a machine-readable passport or you may be denied entry. If you have an old-style manually issued passport you will need to replace this with a new machine-readable passport before you travel.
Most nationalities (including UK, USA, European, Australian, Canadian) will need to arrange their Indian tourist visa in advance. A new online e-visa system is available which makes the process more straightforward than before. You can make your application online at indiavisaonline.
Visa requirements for India can and do change regularly and we suggest that you arrange your Indian visa early and re-check your specific visa requirements prior to travel for any changes.
The time in India and Sri Lanka is GMT plus 5 1/2 hours.
The time in Nepal is GMT plus 5 3/4 hours.
The time in Bhutan is GMT plus 6 hours.
The time in Tibet is GMT plus 8 hours.
Daylight saving adjustments are not applied.
In Nepal, India and Sri Lanka, sockets are mainly two round pronged and 230 volts (Type C,D,M). In Bhutan a range of different sockets can be found, including two and three round pronged and three flat pronged (Type D,F,G).
Universal adaptors are available in most airport shops if you don't have one already. Standard UK-European adapters will work fine, though sometimes they may feel a little loose in the sockets. All hotel rooms have electrical sockets where you can re-charge cameras, phones etc. Hair dryers are sometimes available on request from the hotel reception if not in your room already but cannot be guaranteed.
If you have US appliances (110 volts) you will need a voltage converter as well as a plug adapter.
This tour is designed as a sample tailor-made tour itinerary. As such we do not offer set group departure dates that you can join. Rather, the tour is available for you to do privately starting on any date of the year. Guideline seasonal prices are given below, based on 2 people travelling. If you would like to adjust the tour itinerary, or there will be more or less people travelling, please contact us and we will customise a price for you. We can operate most of our India tours throughout the year, however you should take the hot monsoon months of May to September into consideration when choosing your travel date.
If you would like to book a place on this tour, please complete the online reservation form on our website (via the Dates & Prices tab on the tour page). You may make a deposit or full payment online, or just hold a reservation if you prefer (full payments are due 8 weeks before departure). We will then contact you with more details about how to complete your booking. Payments may be made by debit or credit card (subject to a card processing fee), or by making a bank transfer, or posting us a cheque/bank draft. Full details will be provided in your booking confirmation email. Please contact us if you would like any more information or have any questions before making a booking.
Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and needs to cover personal accident & liability, medical expenses and repatriation, travel delay & abandonment. We also strongly recommend that you take out cover against cancellation and lost/stolen baggage. Personal medical insurance does not normally provide sufficient cover and is generally not suitable for travel on our tours. You will not be able to join your tour if you have not provided us with details of your insurance or if you arrive without cover in place (no refunds will be due in this event). More information...
You may arrange your own insurance, or you can take advantage of a comprehensive policy that we can arrange for you through Endsleigh Insurance which has been designed to be suitable for our tours. The policy is available to travellers of all nationalities and you do not need to live in the UK to take out the policy. For full details of cover provided, prices and to apply for one of our policies, please complete travel insurance application form.
Note: Any country that borders the Mediterranean is considered as 'Europe' for the purposes of travel insurance (including Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Morocco). If you are doing a tour that visits one country in 'Europe' and one that is 'Worldwide' (for example, an Egypt and Jordan tour), then you need a 'Worldwide' policy. When completing the form you should enter your travel dates including any extra days involved in overnight flights or connecting travel between your home and the tour. Our policies are not able to cover any extra time or activities other than your tour and options booked with us and your travel to & from home.
Note - to comply with insurance sales regulations, our travel insurance policies are only available to customers booking directly with us. If you have booked through a travel agent you will need to arrange your own insurance.
If your tour includes car hire, ior if you plan to arrange a hot air balloon flight locally or do some scuba diving during your tour, you should check the small print in your policy to make sure these are covered (these are covered in our policy). Please also check the maximum altitude that you will be reaching and that full cover including emergency evacuation is provided up to this altitude.
If you are taking expensive camera gear or other electronic equipment with you then please check the coverage and the fine print of your policy to ensure that you have sufficient cover.
IMPORTANT: We must have your travel insurance details (policy number and type of insurance) before you depart or you may not be allowed to join the tour. If you haven't told us already, please let us know the details when you can. You should take a paper copy of your insurance policy with you as you may be asked to show this at the start of the tour.
Before purchasing any travel insurance, please check the coverage provided for situations related to Covid-19, and for the rules about government travel advice. Your normal policy may not be suitable. Details about our own policies cover levels are given on our website.
We are a UK registered company and are committed to providing our customers with financial protection to provide peace of mind and to allow you to book with confidence.
We have therefore partnered with Trust My Travel Ltd., which provides financial protection services to over 2000 partners around the world. Funds paid to us by our customers are protected via an Insurance policy held by Trust My Travel. Each traveller and the description of services sold is declared against Trust My Travel’s insurance policy directly against our financial failure. In the event of our insolvency, you will be refunded for any unfulfilled products and/or repatriation to the UK (where applicable). Please see our website or booking conditions for more information.
It is impossible not to have an impact on the local environment, cultures and eco-systems when you travel. However, it is very possible to try and ensure that these impacts are as limited, or positive as possible. We are committed to ensuring that we try to leave our host countries in a better state than we found them and encourage and assist our travellers to help us with this.
The following are a few simple tips that require very little effort on your part but which will help ensure that any effect you have on the locations you visit is positive rather than negative.
All porters are employed and equipped following guidelines set by the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG).
You can stay in touch with us online by following us on Facebook and Twitter. We post updates on relevant travel news in our destination countries, special offers and discounts and other interesting travel related news and information.
www.twitter.com/encounterstravl (yes, without the 'e')
It is important when considering and preparing to travel anywhere in the world that you have a good understanding of the country you are visiting, its laws and customs, and the possible risks and situations that may occur. This includes specific risks related to your itinerary (eg. does it involve water & can you swim, are you fit enough for the activities included), as well as more general risks such as terrorism and natural disasters.
General details and links to more information about health risks, visa requirements, money, and travel insurance are given in these tour notes. We recommend that you re-read all these before your departure as well as the small print of your travel insurance policy so you know exactly what is covered and what is not.
You should take copies of your important travel documents with you and ideally also store them online securely as a backup. Make sure that you have given us your emergency contact details and told that person where and when you are travelling. Ensure you take enough money with you and that you have access to emergency funds.
Finally, you should read through and stay updated with the current official government travel advice for your destination. We are registered partners with the UK Foreign Office's 'Travel Aware' campaign which provides further useful and invaluable information.
Luggage: Suitcases are fine, though you may find rucksacks or large bags are more practical. You should also bring a small daypack/bag to take out during the day. Your main luggage will be left in the hotel during your sightseeing trips - you will not need to carry it far, and there are nearly always porters to assist.
Luggage allowances: Most international airlines restrict you to between 20kg and 23kg per person of luggage to go in the hold of the plane. Domestic flights often have smaller allowances around 15kg. As airline rules vary we recommend that you take no more than 20kg of luggage if your tour just includes international flights, and no more than 15kg if there are any domestic flights included in your itinerary. Please ask us for details if you are unsure about luggage allowances on your tour. Any excess baggage fees will be your responsibility to cover. Most airlines allow between 5kg and 10kg for hand luggage so we suggest that you take no more than 5kg unless you have confirmed that your airline(s) will allow more than this.
Clothing: The weather is mainly hot most of the year with significant variations from region to region. The coolest weather lasts from around the end of November to the beginning of March, with fresh mornings and evenings, and mostly sunny days. The really hot weather, when it is dry, dusty and unpleasant, is between March and June. Monsoon rains occur in most regions in summer anywhere between June and early October.
NOTE: India is very traditional and some heads will turn if you dress provocatively in public. Short tops, short skirts / shorts, tight or body revealing clothes etc should be avoided. You might invite unwanted attention from certain men who stare and pass comments at women to amuse themselves. More detailed climate information is available on the India Country Guide page on our website.
Suggested List: This is a guide only - there's no problem if you bring more or less with you. Cheap comfortable clothing is also readily available in India and laundry is inexpensive. It is also worth having some smarter clothes for going out. Towels are provided and laundry services are available in all the hotels we use.
Men: Lightweight trousers, shorts, light shirts & t-shirts, Swimwear
Women: Light cotton skirts/dressers, loose-fitting trousers, light shirts or t-shirts, loose shorts, Swimwear
Men & Women: Jumper/sweatshirt/fleece, Long sleeved shirt(s) (for cool nights, protection from the sun & mosquitoes, and visits to religious sites etc), Handkerchiefs, socks & underwear, Comfortable trainers/sandals for daily wear, Other shoes/sandals for evening wear, Sunhat or headscarf (headscarfs come in handy for some sights which require women to cover their heard)
First Aid: Although First Aid and medication is readily available in India, it may be very different to what you are used to so individuals should consider bringing along their own personal kit. Your personal kit might include: Sunscreen, sunblock & aftersun, Insect repellent/relief, Antiseptic cream/spray, Plasters and a bandage, Lomotil or Imodium against diarrhea, Pills against nausea, Aspirin for heat-stroke (or hangovers) Your kit should also include your brief medical history, including allergies, blood group, drug vaccinations etc. We suggest bringing copies of prescriptions if you will be carrying medicines on board your flight.
Toiletries: Razor, soap & box, shampoo, Toothpaste, toothbrush & container, Sanitary items
Note: If you wear contact lenses, you should consider taking or wearing glasses instead, as lenses can be uncomfortable and/or cause infections in hot and humid climates.
Other useful items: Sunglasses, Small Torch, Money belt, Camera and equipment, Toilet paper (this is not always provided in public toilets so it is a good idea to carry some spare tissues in your bag. It should be placed in the basket beside the toilet, not flushed away, for you might block the pipes).
IMPORTANT: As it can get extremely hot in India, and the sun can burn very quickly, it is very important to ensure you are protected from the sun with sun-cream & sun-hats, and do not get dehydrated.