Highlights of Gujarat

13 days
from
£1,379
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Leisurely
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Trip code: 
AIG
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailor Made Adventures
Activity:
Cultural Wonders
Group size:
4–16
Min age:
16

Superb Jain, Hindu and Islamic architecture, Asiatic lions and tribal villages

A visit to Gujarat is off the well-trodden tourist tracks of northern India and yet it is still a state as richly endowed as its well-known neighbour Rajasthan. The Asiatic lion used to roam from east of the Indus River into central India and as far away as eastern Turkey, Iran and Mesopotamia. Today however the Gir National Park in Gujarat is the last refuge of this endangered big cat.  Our trip includes two safaris in search of this distinct species of lion. We also open up the door to unique tribal villages in Bhuj, the unusual salt marshes of the Great Rann of Kutch, exploration of a marine national park with a naturalist and superb Jain, Hindu and Islamic architecture.  

 

Highlights

  • Search for the rare Asiatic Lion
  • Superb Jain, Hindu and Islamic architecture
  • Exquisite crafts on tribal village tour

Key information

  • 8 nights standard hotels, 3 nights lodges, 1 night sleeper train
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Travel by air-conditioned bus and sleeper train
  • Countries visited: India

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 1 lunch and 4 dinners included
  • All accommodation
  • Transfer for group flights

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visas & vaccinations
  • Single supplement
Call for general departures:
+91 80 4213 6106
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

Mumbai
to
Ahmedabad
  • Day 1

    Start Mumbai

    For those on our group flight we will arrive in Mumbai in the morning and transfer to our hotel. Later this afternoon we will take a drive to Chowpatty Beach, stroll along the promenade and enjoy the beautiful sunset over the Arabian Sea.  The beach is a favourite meeting place for locals and visitors alike.  A variety of entertainers will draw our attention and there is a feast of local delicacies to sample.  Your leader will introduce you to freshly prepared local street food including coconut water, pao-bhaji, bada-pao and bhelpuri.  From Chowpatty we head to Kamla Nehru Park – a beautiful garden on the Malabar Hill where the Mumbai Skyline sparkles below. Called the 'Queen’s Necklace', this is one of the sights in Mumbai not to be missed. From here we will head to the Kala Ghoda or Colaba area to have dinner. After dinner we head back to the hotel. 

     Godwin hotel or similar

  • Day 2

    Mumbai city tour; train to Ahmedabad

    After a leisurely breakfast we will start our city sightseeing visiting the Gateway of India and the Mani Bhawan.  This afternoon is free to explore the city independently and your tour leader will be on hand to suggest activities. In the evening we head to Mumbai Central Railway station to catch our overnight train to Ahmedabad in Gujarat.  On the way to our train we will pass the iconic Gothic-styled Victoria Terminus station which is brightly lit up at night.  There will be time before boarding the train to have dinner.  Snacks can then be purchased on the train during the journey. 

    Overnight sleeper train

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Arrive Ahmedabad

    This morning we arrive in Ahmedabad and transfer to the hotel.  Our rooms may not be ready however we can freshen up using the hotel lobby facilities and then have breakfast.  We will start our exploration of old Ahmedabad with a guided Heritage walk. This is a city of contrasts with centuries old mosques and cutting-edge contemporary architectural design. Our walk focuses on the old city which was originally surrounded by an imposing 10km long wall of which little remains except 15 gates.  We will wander through a maze of bazaars, see equisitely carved building façades, temples and mosques. There is so much to see on this unique and fascinating walk through history.  After the walk we will return to the hotel for check in and take time for lunch and relaxation.  Later in the afternoon we will enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of the Sabarmati Ashram - built by Mahatma Gandhi on the banks of the river of the same name.  This served as his place of residence for nearly 13 years and a memorial musuem houses a sizeable collection of Gandhi's writing during his time here.  From here we drive for around an hour to the home of our local hosts where we enjoy a cooking demonstration of Gujarati cuisine then share the delicious results. 

    Lemon Tree Premier Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 4

    To Bajana via Patan

    After breakfast we leave Ahmedabad and drive (approx. 3.5 hours) to Patan where we visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Rani-Ka-Vav or the Queen’s step-well.  Built in the 11th century this is one of the largest step-wells in India and is an architectural marvel.  Next we visit the Patola Heritage Museum run by the award-winning Salvi family.  This museum showcases the unique embroidery technique of Patola Silk weaving which has been practised since the 11th century.  We will see silk weaving in action, the elaborate craft of paper carving and displays of textiles from around the world .  From here we drive for around 2.5 hours to Bajana where we check into our lodge. 

    Royal Safari Camp Lodge or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 5

    Drive to Bhuj

    Our drive to Bhuj takes around 5 hours and on arrival we will check into our hotel.  This afternoon we visit the Aina Mahal or the 'palace of mirrors'. Built in 1752 it was damaged during the earthquake of 2001 but has been extensively restored.  After our visit the rest of the day is free to explore the area and its market. 

    Kutch Safari Lodge or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 6

    Excursion to Banni tribal villages

    A full day excursion takes us to the fascinating Banni tribal lands.  We will visit villages well-known for their traditional handicrafts. For the rural people these handicrafts are not only their livelihood but also a creative expression of each area's cultural identity. The villages we visit may vary due to the availability of craftspeople however, they include Hodko, Bhirandiara, Sumrasar and Nirona or similar.  We also stop at the white desert of the vast  salt flats of the Great Rann of Kutch. Permits are issued to visit the salt flats and a photocopy of your passport is required.  If possible, the leader will queue up to receive the permits for the whole group however the officials may require that each individual queue to receive their permit.  We will try our best to avoid this if we can.  After an eventful day we will return to our hotel where our chef provides an optional cooking demonstration of local delicacies followed by dinner. 

    Kutch Safari Lodge or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 7

    Drive to Jamnagar

    Today we will drive around 6 hours through the countryside to the historic town of Jamnagar.  On arrival we will check into our hotel and then stretch our legs with a leisurely late afternoon walk along the banks of Lakhota (also called Ranmal).  Here we will visit the Bala Hanuman Temple the scene of continuous chanting since 1964 of the prayer Shri Ram, Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram.  This has earned the temple a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.  We continue on to Adinath Jain Temple in the bustling Chandi Bazaar area.  Walking through these atmospheric old streets and market area is a great way to experience the local life of the town. 

    Aram Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    To the colonial town of Junagadh

    Today we drive to the colonial town of Junagadh.  On route, depending on the time of low tide, we may visit the first national marine park in India in the Gulf of Kutch.  Accompanied by a local naturalist we walk over the exposed beach to explore rock pools and learn about the local marine life including octopus, anemones, puffer fish, sea horses, lobsters, crabs and the various species of migratory birds which visit the area. It is advisable to wear sturdy shoes with decent soles as the surface underfoot is sharp.  The visit to the marine park is subject to low tide occurring early enough in the day for us to then travel the distance to Jundgadh.  We hope on most departures this will be possible however if not we will drive directly to Jundgadh.  On arrival in Junagadh we will check into our hotel.  Junagadh, which means old fort, takes its name from Uparkot fort which was built in the 4th century.  This evening we take a stroll through the old alleys of this colonial town and visit the Mahabat Maqbara – an ancient mausoleum showcasing Indo-Euro-Islamic architecture. If we have visited the marine park, we may move the mausoleum to tomorrow morning before our drive to Gir National Park. During tonight's walk your leader will introduce you to various tasty snacks like gathiya, pakodas, bhel,  and dhokla. 

    Click by Suba or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    To Gir National Park via Uperkot Fort

    Our day starts with a visit to the Uperkot Fort with its great views of the Girnar Hills.  Major attractions inside are the 15th century Jama Masjid, 2nd century pillared Buddhist caves and two beautifully carved 15th century step-wells.  From the fort we drive on to Gir National Park where we will take an exclusive jeep safari in search of the elusive Asiatic lion.  Until the early 1900s this species of lion roamed in vast areas of India.  The National Park is their only remaining habitat in the country.  This evening enjoy the atmosphere back at our forest resort. 

    Fern Gir Forest Resort or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Morning safari then on to the Island of Dui

    An early start at 6am for our second jeep safari in the park.  We return to our resort at 9am in time for breakfast before our 2.5 hour drive to the small Island of Dui.  Once known as the 'Gibraltar of the East' the island was a flourishing Portuguese colony from the 16th century onwards.  It was ceded to India in 1961 and today it is a Union Territory.  As a Union Territory it is not subject to the laws of the rest of Gujarat where the serving of alcohol is restricted.  The rest of today is free for you to relax on the beach or by the hotel pool. 

    Radhika Beach Resort or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Travel to Bhavnagar

    For those who would like a very local experience and don't mind an early start there is the option to visit Vanakbara fishing village to see the catch of the day fresh from the sea. If you prefer a leisurely start or maybe a morning swim you can stay at the hotel until the other guests return from their adventure.  After breakfast we drive on to the town of Bhavnagar. This evening we will go on a walking tour of the old city including its colourful vegetable market.  Bhavnagar is known for its bazaar which is dotted with old merchants' havelis - elaborate wooden buildings leaning into the narrow laneways.  

    The Fern Iscon Club and Resort or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    Visit Champaner-Pavagadh; overnight Ahmedabad

    After breakfast an early start for the drive (approx. 5 hours) to the World Heritage site of Champaner-Pavagadh originally the seat of the Rajput Chauhan dynasty. In 1484 it was conquered by the Muslim ruler Mahmud Begada when he began a 23-year building program adding mosques, palaces and tombs within its massive walls.  As some of the sites take a 4 - 5 hour trek to reach it is impossible to see the whole site, so we will visit the most accessible ruins. Lunch will be a Gujarati Thali which your leader will arrange at a restaurant close to Champaner. Following our tour of Champaner we travel to the town of Ahmedabad (around 3.5 hours) where we will check in to our hotel. We anticipate arriving around 7pm depending on traffic.  This evening your leader will arrange a group dinner for final goodbyes.

    Lemon Tree Premier hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 13

    End Ahmedabad; group flight to London

    Trip ends after breakfast with a transfer to the airport for those guests travelling on our group flight back to London.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

India

Visas are required if you are British and for most other nationalities. For UK residents full details of the visa process can be found here. Other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies.

If your trip visits Ladakh, in the very north of India, or Sikkim in the northeast, do not mention this on your Indian visa application. This can sometimes slow down or even cause the embassy to reject your visa.

When you reach immigration, you are required to pick up an immigration form. If you have an e-visa, ensure you stand in the correct queue - please follow the signs to the e-visa booth (in Delhi this is at the back of the immigration hall). You will need to fill out an additional form at the booth - please make sure that you have the details of your start hotel ready (these details can be found on your Final Joining Instructions).

 

Vaccinations

India

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. Some of our India trips spend time at altitude. In regions over approx. 2000m, there is low to no risk of mosquito-borne diseases. For trips going to altitudes of over 3000m there is a risk of being affected by Acute Mountain Sickness. Our itineraries are designed to enable everyone to acclimatise to these altitudes, but you should be aware that it is still possible for you to be affected. Please see the TRIP NOTES for further information.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 1 lunch and 5 dinners are included in this trip.

India is famous for its food and there is ample chance to try various curries and Gujarati snacks such as gathiya, pakodas, bhel and dhokla. If you are a vegetarian, India is a perfect destination for you. At least 90% of the population of Gujarat are vegetarians so most of the restaurants do not serve chicken, meat, fish or egg based dishes.  Hotels may sometimes cater for non-vegetarians and your leader will do their best to try and balance the choice of meals for everyone.  However please be prepared to try the numerous delicious vegetarian options on offer.  In more remote areas there are few if any suitable restaurants available and, in these cases,  dinner will be at the hotel.

Please note that Gujarat is a 'dry state' which means the serving of alcohol is banned and you should not expect to see bars or liquor shops except on the island of Dui  which is a union territory and not subject to such limitations, so you will find bars here.  You cannot take alcohol into the state and there are heavy penalties is you are found carrying it at airports or railway stations. There is the option to purchase alcohol with a permit however this cannot be consumed in public or in the restaurants of hotels.  It can only be consumed in your room.  If you wish to arrange a permit and purchase alcohol your leader can assist you to do this.  There will be a quantity limit attached to the permit. You will need a photocopy of your passport and around 350-400 INR for the permit. This is valid for 10 days. 

You should allow at least £15-25 (approx. US$20 - US$35) per day for lunch and dinner where meals are not included. You can eat out very cheaply in India, but if you go to the more expensive restaurants most of the time, you will spend more than the suggested amount. Please note that service in restaurants may be slow at times. Tea and soft drinks are very cheap. 

Mineral water is widely available, but drinking water is provided in a large container on our bus in order to reduce our use of plastic, so please bring your own water bottle with you to refill.

Weather

Gujarat summer is hot and dry while winters are warm to mild with daytime temperatures in the low to high 20s celsuis with mostly sunny days and clear nights.  Usually the lowest it goes in winter is around 12°C.  We plan our departures to avoid the very hottest times of year however be prepared to experience temperatures above European summer averages. The monsoon season starts around mid June and end ends in September and we do not run any trips during this time of the year. 

Is this trip for you?

Activity Level: 1 (Leisurely)

This holiday is designed so that you can see the main highlights of Gujarat.  This means there are some distances to travel however the longest trip is around 6 hours while the shortest is around 2.5 hours.  We have attempted to see as much as possible of this fascinating part of India while also providing some leisure time along the way. 

You should be prepared for some long days and some early starts. The times stated in the trip notes are actual driving times and do not include photo, tea, comfort or lunch breaks.  At times journeys may take a little longer than estimated due to local traffic conditions. 

There is a lot to see in the time you are in India, but everything is scheduled so that it doesn't feel too rushed. You should come prepared for an experience: India can be hard work at times and the heat and the bustle of some of the cities can be a little overwhelming. That said, there are places where you can find peace and this is one of the few places in the world from where you will return with great stories and memories to last a lifetime.

Please note that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is responsible for the conservation of many monuments in India, and very occasionally this may mean that work is taking place at sites visited on this trip. The ASI’s schedule is never published so it is not possible to forewarn our clients of when work will be taking place.

Holi and Diwali Festivals

Some departures will be in India during the festivals of Holi and Diwali. They are great festivals to witness and some very minor itinerary alterations may be made locally in order to make the most of these occasions. Holi celebrations typically involve people throwing coloured water at each other and smearing powder on each other's faces. This is accompanied by dancing, music and traditional Holi sweets such as Ghujiya and Bhanng. It's a riot of colours as the powder bursts into the sky. During Diwali, the festival of lights, people typically light up their houses, shops and streets, and celebrate on the streets with fireworks.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
+91 80 4213 6106
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels and Overnight Train

8 nights standard hotels, 3 nights lodges, 1 night air-conditioned sleeper train.

The hotels used are standard city tourist hotels (2 or 3-star, local rating). All rooms have en suite facilities. Service and amenities are generally adequate.

Single accommodation excludes sleeper trains.

Overnight trains

These are booked in 2-tier (or 3-tier if 2-tier is not available) sleeper A/C. There are many excellent trains in India but the standard of seating and sleeping is not in line with European standards. All seats are pre-allocated at the time the tickets are issued, meaning that we cannot guarantee the whole group are together on the train. Your leader will manage this situation as best as possible and will always check on you during the journey. Indian trains are safe to travel on but we recommend that you keep valuables with you at all times. Snacks are often offered on board (at an additional cost). Whilst some trains have western-style facilities, the majority of services are equipped with squat toilets. Please note trains are sometimes delayed for reasons beyond our control, particularly in December and January when fog is common, but we endeavour to minimise the impact of these delays on the overall journey.

Call for general departures:
+91 80 4213 6106
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

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Dates & Prices

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An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

Private Adventures 

Not found the date you’re looking for? We can organise this itinerary as a Private Adventure – just click on the tab above the list of dates and prices, let us know your preferred dates of travel and how many people are travelling, and we’ll do the rest!

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Call us on +91 80 4213 6106