Current as of: July 24, 2024 - 00:09

Highlights of Northern India

Highlights of Northern India Trip Notes

  • Ways to Travel: Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
  • Destination: India
  • Programmes: Culture
  • Activity Level:

    2 out of 7 - Easy & Moderate

  • 10 Days: Flight Inclusive
  • 9 Days: Land Only
  • Ages: 16+
  • Trip Code: AIC
  • Carbon Footprint: 40kg CO2e

Trip Overview

From the Taj Mahal to the Bengal tigers of Ranthambore, explore a land packed with culture and excitement

Discover the best of northern India on this highlight-packed adventure. Led by an expert tour leader, we marvel at the always-impressive Taj Mahal, a New Wonder of the World, and explore the Pink City of Jaipur. We also have an early morning boat ride along the mist-shrouded ghats of Varanasi, an experience only equalled by spotting one of the elusive tigers in Ranthambore National Park. Add to that the everyday wonders – smiling locals, whizzing rickshaws and flavoursome curries – and you will see why North India is such a favourite with our groups.

For departures in July 2024 and July 2025, visit Highlights of Northern India – Summer Itinerary.

Highlights of Northern India

Join us to celebrate Exodus’ 50th anniversary! Select departures of this trip feature extra inclusions to mark the occasion: a cooking experience and dinner with a royal family in Jaipur, a local birthday celebration and a special edition Exodus kitbag. The selected departures on this trip start in Delhi on 20 October 2024 and 1 December 2024.

At a Glance

  • Seven hotel nights and one night in an air-conditioned sleeper train
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader. Minimum age: 16
  • Travel by air-conditioned private bus and train
  • Support TOFTigers’ campaign to protect biodiversity and restore habitat

Highlights

  • See the unforgettable Taj Mahal, one of the New Wonders of the World
  • Search for the elusive tiger in Ranthambore National Park
  • Take a boat ride along the mystical Ganges at Varanasi
  • Explore the major landmarks in the Pink City of Jaipur

Is This Trip for You?

This trip is rated Activity Level 2 (Easy & Moderate). For more information on our trip gradings please visit the Activity Level Guidelines page. If you have any queries about the difficulty of the trip please do not hesitate to contact us.  

It is ideal for culturally curious travellers eager to explore and experience as much as possible. We cover the highlights of northern India in a short time, which means the itinerary is generally fast paced – prepare for some long days and early starts.

India can be challenging, while the heat and bustle of some cities can be a little overwhelming. That said, there are peaceful spots and you will undoubtedly return with memories to last a lifetime.

Journey times: The times stated in the day-to-day itinerary are driving times and do not include photo, tea, comfort or lunch breaks. Journeys can sometimes take longer due to traffic or road damage.

Additionally, fog is common in December and January, which can sometimes slow us down. Departures in these months may also experience severe train delays or cancellations. If a severe delay occurs, the group travels overnight on a private comfortable bus instead. In the rare event we can’t travel by bus or fly, we have an alternative itinerary, in which we visit Bharatpur, Deeg Palace and Mathura instead of Varanasi.

Monuments: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is responsible for the conservation of many monuments in India, including the Taj Mahal, and very occasionally this may mean that work is taking place at sites visited on this trip. The ASI schedule is never published, so it is not possible to warn you when work will be taking place.

Festivals: Holi and Diwali

Some departures coincide with Holi and Diwali, both fascinating times to visit India. We will seek opportunities to see the festivities, though we cannot guarantee what will be happening locally during our trip – the festivals are celebrated in different ways throughout the country.

Holi typically involves people throwing coloured powders and water at each other and smearing powder on each other’s faces. This tends to be done in local communities and families, so it is not always possible to be involved (though you may see the colourful results of this boisterous festival on the streets). During Holi, local monuments and markets close, so departures over Holi have a slight adjustment to the itinerary. In Jaipur, sightseeing is limited, so where necessary we include a cultural day to see local musicians and dancers perform; there may also be an opportunity to join in: playing with colours, dancing, and enjoying food and drinks. You can also purchase the traditional white kurta outfit to look the part and avoid getting your clothes covered in the coloured powders.

During Diwali, the festival of lights to mark the start of the Hindu New Year, people may light up their houses and shops and sometimes celebrate on the streets with fireworks. It lasts up to five days, though it is difficult for us to predict what will be happening in the areas we visit. Where something is happening, we will endeavour to see how we can witness the festivities.

Group

Our Indian team of leaders has proved very popular with their incredible knowledge, passion and hospitality adding greatly to the experience. There is no better way to experience Indian culture than letting an Indian guide show you around their country.

During game drives, each vehicle is joined by a Forest Guard, a requirement by the local authorities. The Forest Guards are part of a national park initiative to generate employment for the nearby villages. They are skilled spotters and trackers so, though their English is sometimes very limited, they greatly improve the experience.

Adult min age: 16

Min group size: 4

Max group size: 16

Itinerary

Map AIC

Land Only

  • Start City: Delhi
  • End City: Delhi

Land Only Itinerary

Day 1
Delhi; transfer to Jaipur
Highlights of Northern India

Our adventure begins in Delhi, a thrumming city chock full of architectural masterpieces. Meet the group either at a named meeting point (normally the Florence Inn) or Delhi Airport – see the Joining Instructions for more information.

Once everyone has arrived, we depart for Jaipur, which may take between five and seven hours, depending on traffic conditions. There’s a lunch and toilet stop along the way and we have a welcome briefing at the hotel just before dinner.

If you don’t want to do this journey straight after your flight, we recommend spending a pre-tour night in Delhi – speak to your sales representative to book.

Accommodation: Fort Chandragupt (or similar)

Day 2
City tour of the Jaipur landmarks, including the City Palace, Hawa Mahal and Amber Fort; free time to explore

Built in the late 18th century, Jaipur is a planned city of broad avenues constructed of sandstone and later painted pink. On our city tour led by a local guide, we visit the City Palace in the centre of Jaipur, formerly the residence of the Maharaja, now a fine museum containing rare manuscripts, paintings, royal garments and weapons. Close to the palace is one of the most intriguing sights in India, the observatory of Jai Singh. This is an assembly of immense astronomical instruments made of marble and brass set in a pleasant garden. We also see the impressive landmark, the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds). We then visit the hilltop Amber Fort, which sits above a lake a few miles from the main city. The grand 16th-century palace complex combines Hindu and Muslim design and is made from pale yellow and pink sandstone.

After, the tour leader generally takes the group to a large shop, where a co-operative of local families sells their wares. Jaipur is a centre of many handicrafts, including durries (woven rugs), carpets, printed cloth, semi-precious stones and leatherwear. It will be difficult to leave a workshop without buying anything!

Accommodation: Fort Chandragupt (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 3
To Ranthambore; afternoon game drive in search of the elusive tiger
Highlights of Northern India

We wind through the villages of rural India to Ranthambore Tiger Reserve (approximately a five hour drive); staying in a hotel not far from the park entrance, we’re well located for our two game drives in the park; one in the late afternoon and one the following morning.

Ranthambore is one of the reserves set up by Project Tiger, a government-backed conservation programme launched in 1973. There was initial success, but poaching has drastically reduced the tiger population here and the chance of spotting one is small; however, many of our groups have seen tigers over the last few years. Additionally, the latest census, the results of which were announced in late 2023, saw a 25 percent increase in tiger numbers: up to 88 from 69 in 2022.

As we search for tigers, we also hope to see the other wildlife living here: several deer species, crocodiles, and bird life including purple herons, kingfishers, cormorants, parakeets and partridges.

Accommodation: Raj Palace Resort (or similar)

Please note, occasionally the game drive timings or zones may be adjusted depending on government restrictions and changes in national park zonal opening/closing times.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 4
Morning game drive; drive to Agra via Fatehpur Sikri

We have an early start this morning, heading out before breakfast for our second game drive. Returning to the hotel in time for breakfast and a chance to freshen up before check out. We next continue our journey on to Agra via Fatehpur Sikri, Emperor Akbar’s deserted royal city.

This impressive and well-preserved citadel became his capital in 1571, after the blessing of a local Moslem holy man correctly predicted the birth of a longed-for son: his successor, the emperor Jehangir. The mosque, designed to hold 10,000 worshippers, the palaces, residences, and halls of audience, are all made of decorative red sandstone. But this magnificence only lasted 14 years. In 1584, Akbar left Fatehpur Sikri to secure his outlying territories, leaving this city much as we see it today – in perfect condition.

We arrive in Agra early evening, this is another very full but rewarding day. The total driving time is approximately seven hours.

Accommodation: Hotel Avalon Palms (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5
Visit the incredible Taj Mahal and Agra Fort; overnight train to Varanasi
Highlights of Northern India

Today we wake early to visit the Taj Mahal at sunrise, which was built by the Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1631. The Taj is serenely beautiful and never fails to amaze a first-time visitor; the white marble exterior changes colour according to the position of the sun and is matched by the rich interior detail. Within striking distance is the imposing Red Fort of Akbar, whose mighty sandstone walls enclose the beautiful white marble Pearl Mosque and the palaces, halls, courtyards and fountains of Emperor Akbar’s sons and successors: Jehangir and Shah Jahan. It is here that the latter spent his last years, imprisoned by his own son Aurangzeb. Later in the day, we transfer to Agra train station and join the overnight sleeper train to Varanasi.

Accommodation: Sleeper train

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 6
Relax and enjoy the wonders of Varanasi

We arrive in Varanasi in the morning and transfer to our hotel. For information about hotel check-in times please see our “Worth Knowing” section within the Trip Notes.

On the river Ganges, Varanasi is one of the holiest cities in India and stands at the centre of the Hindu universe. As such, the city lives and breathes Hinduism: there are thousands of pilgrims, wandering holy men (Sadhus), religious elders and casual visitors. It is a city to immerse yourself in: explore the maze of narrow lanes and many temples and watch the Hindu ceremonies that take place around the clock. There is time to visit emporiums specialising in silks and brocades or maybe take a massage by the riverbanks.

In the afternoon, we can take an optional visit to nearby Sarnath Temple. Sarnath is as sacred to Buddhists as Varanasi is to Hindus. The main monument at Sarnath is the Dhamekh Stupa, the very spot where Buddha is believed to have given his first sermon. There’s also an archaeology museum, which exhibits Buddhist artefacts and houses the findings of excavations from the Sarnath site.

Your tour leader can organise various optional sightseeing trips during your two days here.

Accommodation: Hotel Surya (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 7
Dawn boat ride on the Ganges visiting the bathing ghats; afternoon train to Delhi
Highlights of Northern India

Just before dawn, we take a boat ride on the Ganges to witness the extraordinary spectacle on the ghats, the steps leading down to the river. Every day, thousands of Hindu pilgrims come to this 3mi (5km) stretch of riverbank to soak in the holy waters.

This afternoon, we board the Vande Bharat Express train back to Delhi, a great opportunity to see and experience more of India as you pass through rural villages, towns and cities. A light snack dinner is provided, which usually includes a soup and light meal with rice and vegetables. You may wish to pick up some additional snacks/fruit prior to boarding.

We arrive in Delhi late evening and transfer to the hotel.

Accommodation: Florence Inn (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8
Delhi free day or optional sightseeing

Today you are free to relax or explore the sites of New and Old Delhi (an optional sightseeing trip will be organised if you wish). Recommended sites include the Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb, India Gate, Jama Masjid (the largest mosque in India), Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) and Raj Ghat.

For last-minute shopping, visit the market area of Chandni Chowk or Karol Bagh.

Accommodation: Florence Inn (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 9
End Delhi

Our adventure through northern India ends today. If you’ve still a few pages left in your travel diary, speak to your sales representative about extending your stay in Delhi. Alternatively, catch your free transfer to the airport and begin your return journey home – remember to provide your details at least two weeks prior to arrival to secure your seat.

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation

City and jungle hotels plus sleeper train

Highlights of Northern India

We stay in centrally located city hotels (two- or three-star, local rating) that mix heritage and modern styles, plus a jungle hotel in Ranthambore National Park and the overnight sleeper train from Agra to Varanasi.

The accommodations typically used can be found on the day-to-day itinerary. However, below are a few of the notable accommodations on this trip.

Jaipur: Fort Chandragupt (nights 1-2)

Highlights of Northern India

In central Jaipur, Fort Chandragupt is a combination of classic heritage with contemporary services and amenities. From the rooftop terrace, take in the view of the Pink City and the Aravalli mountain range where, on a clear day, the Nahargarh Fort can be seen. Staying close to several attractions and transport hubs, we step into the hustle of local people and tourists busily going about their day. Hotel facilities include a swimming pool, several restaurants and a lounge-bar.

Ranthambore: Raj Palace (night 3)

Highlights of Northern India

Within Ranthambore National Park, the Raj Palace is conveniently located so we don’t have far to go in search of tigers and other wildlife. When not in the forest, relax in the pool or just sit in the gardens giving your senses a break, away from the city noise and heat.

Agra to Varanasi: Sleeper train (night 5)

Highlights of Northern India

Experience an icon of travel: the Indian sleeper train! Our journey takes us from Agra to Varanasi, skipping the long drive, while also allowing us to interact with the local people and sample the snacks often sold on board. The accommodation is basic: we normally stay in two-tier sleepers, the compartments sectioned off from the aisle by privacy curtains. Seats are allocated at the time the tickets are issued, so the whole group isn’t always together; however, our tour leader is an expert at making the journey as hassle-free as possible and will regularly check in with you.

Worth knowing

  • Please note for Varanasi, standard check-in time at the hotel is 2pm. Early check-in is unfortunately not available to pre-book in advance due to high room occupancy. However, we have a good partnership with the hotel, and they will always endeavour to prioritise rooms for Exodus customers as early as possible on the check-in day.
  • Prior to check-in at Varanasi, the hotel communal areas are available and you may leave your luggage in the hotel until your room is available.
  • Hotels in India usually do not have heating as there are only a couple of months when the weather can get cold. You can, however, request more blankets if needed or the hotel may be able to provide a standing heater for your room. Please talk to your tour leader if you need help in this matter.
  • It’s common for hotels in India to have limited times in the day for hot water use to save energy. If you find your shower is cold, please let your leader or reception know so they can make sure the water heater is on.
  • Sleeper trains are not enclosed compartments, bed bunks are set up within a carriage with curtains for some privacy.
  • Within the sleeper train, you may be sharing a compartment of four beds with members of the public depending on how the seats are allocated.
  • Single accommodation excludes sleeper trains

Single supplement from £ 225

Food & Drink

All breakfasts, one lunch and a light snack dinner are included in this trip.

India is famous for its food and there is ample opportunity to try various curries such as the familiar tandoori, biriyani and rogan josh. If you are a vegetarian, India is a great destination. There are wonderful desserts and excellent beers, soft drinks and Indian specialities such as lassi, a refreshing yoghurt drink.

You should allow at least 1,400-2,400 rupees (US$16-US$28) per day for lunch and dinner. In most towns we visit, there is a good selection of restaurants and a choice between Indian and Western food. Please note, service in restaurants can be quite slow. Tea and soft drinks are very cheap. A (large!) bottle of beer is approximately 300 rupees (approximately US$4).

Mineral water is widely available, but drinking water is provided in a large container in the bus to reduce our use of plastic, so please bring your own refillable water bottle.

Transport

We use a combination of private minibus and trains for our journey.

  • Road journeys: Air-conditioned private minibus.
  • Train journeys: The overnight train from Agra to Varanasi is booked in two-tier (or three-tier depending on availability) air-conditioned sleeper (see Accommodation section for further information).
  • The train from Varanasi to Delhi is the Vande Bharat Express booked in the A/C Chair Car, Executive Class.
  • Game drives: In Ranthambore National Park, due to local restrictions enforced to limit the number of visitors to the park, tiger spotting is from a 22-seater open truck called a canter. These are licensed and usually allocated by the national park authorities; while our local contacts do their best to secure the most appropriate vehicles, we are unable to guarantee vehicle standards and maintenance and there may not be seatbelts available.

Please note: Fog is common in December and January. Departures in these months may experience severe train delays or cancellations. If a severe delay occurs, the group will travel overnight on a private comfortable bus instead. In the rare event we can’t travel by bus or fly to arrive in Varanasi, we have an alternative itinerary in which we visit Bharatpur, Deeg Palace and Mathura.

Weather & Seasonality

During October/November and from March to April, the days are normally hot (around 30C-35C/86F-95F) and nights slightly cooler (18C-24C/65F-75F) but humidity is very low and little or no rain falls so it’s a great time of year to travel to this part of India.

From December to early February, it gets very cold in the early mornings and evenings (sometimes dropping to 6C/43F) and warm clothes are essential. During this time, nightly temperatures in Delhi can be very cold and only a little above freezing. The evenings and early mornings (particularly at Ranthambore National Park) can be surprisingly cool and damp too, so come prepared for both cold and warm temperatures during winter.

In July, August and September, expect very hot days and warm nights (28C-40C/82F-104F). Rain is also likely at any time from the end of June until September and can be very heavy. However, it moderates the temperatures and humidity.

Joining Instructions

Key information

Start hotel: Fort Chandragupt, near Central Bus Stand, Station Road, Jaipur, Rajasthan
Phone: 91-141-2206302 / 2206304
Airport: Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL)

Getting to the start hotel

The start hotel is approximately five to seven hours’ drive from the airport. Your options for this journey are:

Meet at the airport

Your easiest option is to join the group at Indira Gandhi International Airport. The meet time aligns with a flight from London, UK.

Meet at the Florence Inn (address: 15A/6 WEA, Karol Bagh, New Delhi, 110005)

You should be at the Florence Inn by 9am, where you are met by a local representative and transferred to the airport to join the rest of the group. Please note, this time may change and are confirmed in your pre-travel joining instructions.

Catching your return flight

Exodus provides free departure transfers from the end hotel to Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) for all customers. If you would like further information on joining a transfer, we will require all flight details two weeks prior to departure to secure the transfer. Please speak to your sales representative to arrange.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start: Delhi
Location end: Delhi

What To Take

Essential Equipment

It doesn’t matter what type of bag or case you use on this trip although it is preferable to use a soft holdall (with wheels if necessary) or backpack as they tend to be easier to manage on the overnight trains. However, we do recommend packing only one piece of checked baggage, as you are expected to carry your own luggage at times.

Additionally, out of respect to tradition, we recommend you pack clothes that cover the shoulders and go on or below the knee. This is particularly important when visiting temples and holy places.

Other essential items include:

  • Small backpack for your valuables
  • Sunhat and sunglasses
  • Sunscreen and lip salve with sun protection
  • Light casual clothing
  • Warm sweater/fleece
  • Torch (flashlight)
  • Comfortable shoes for walking
  • Sandals
  • Anti-bacterial hand gel
  • Insect repellent
  • Small first-aid kit
  • Cable lock or small chain and padlock to lock your bag up on the train
  • Water bottle

For December to early February departures, warm clothes are essential. Evenings and early mornings (particularly at Ranthambore Tiger Reserve) can be surprisingly cool, so come prepared for both cold and warm temperatures (6C-20C/43F-68F) during winter.

Electronic devices, power packs and batteries should be packed in hand luggage as these are not permitted in your hold/main luggage.

Please note: The Indian government has banned e-cigarettes and related products. You can’t buy e-cigarettes in India or bring them into the country. Please ensure you do not pack these in your luggage.

Optional Equipment

  • Light waterproof
  • Earplugs
  • Money belt
  • Travel pillow

Practical Information

Passport

Remember to check the expiration date of your passport if travelling internationally. Many countries require your passport to be valid for at least six months after the date of your scheduled return.

Visa

India

To avoid possible problems at immigration, make sure your passport is valid for a minimum of 180 days at the time of entry into India.

Travellers from the UK, US, CA and EU normally need a visa to enter India. Please note, visa requirements often change and it is your responsibility to obtain any required visas for this trip. Therefore, we recommend that you check with the nearest embassy or consulate of your chosen destination(s), including any countries you may be transiting or transferring through.
Some local governments provide guidance on what visas their citizens need. To help, we’ve gathered a selection of useful links below.

• Australia: www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/asia/india
• Canada: www.travel.gc.ca/destinations/india
• United Kingdom: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/india/entry-requirements
• USA: www.travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/India.html

Travellers eligible for an e-visa, which includes those from the UK, US, CA and EU, can apply at www.indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html.

For more information on applying for your Indian Visa, including details required for your start hotel and local reference contacts, please click on this link: Indian Visa Information

Vaccinations and Health

India

There are no required vaccinations. However, you may want to consider vaccinations for tetanus, hepatitis A, typhoid, cholera, hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis, rabies and tuberculosis. The risk of malaria is slight, but you may wish to consult your doctor or travel clinic for further advice.

You will also require a yellow fever vaccination certificate if arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission. Proof of a polio vaccination may also be required by some travellers. Please confirm all requirements and recommendations with your doctor or travel clinic.

Additionally, dengue, a viral disease spread by mosquitoes, is a known risk in India. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, so we strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Some of our India trips spend time at altitude. In regions over approximately 6,560ft (2,000m), there is little risk of mosquito-borne diseases. For trips above 9,840ft (3,000m), 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.

The risk of malaria on this trip is slight, but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Dengue fever and/or Chikungunya are known risks in places visited on this trip. Both are tropical viral diseases spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for either, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Local Time

India's time zone: Asia/Kolkata (UTC +05:30)

Electricity

India's electricity: Plug types C (two round pins), D (three round pins) and M (three round pins) – 230V, 50Hz

Highlights of Northern India

Money

India's currency: Indian rupee (INR). Please note, it is illegal to import or export rupees. Do not accept torn or very dirty Indian banknotes from banks or in change as they will almost certainly not be accepted as legal tender in India. You can normally change money back from rupees into US dollars or British pounds at the departure airport, but you must produce an exchange receipt showing that you changed money in India.

ATM Availability

ATMs are widely available throughout the trip (Visa and Mastercard are best). You can also pay with credit cards in bigger shops.

Please inform your bank before departure that you are travelling to India and carry the relevant telephone number with you in case they put a block on your card.

Please note, you should not rely on cards all the time, so bring US dollars or British pounds with you too. Money exchange facilities are available on arrival at Delhi Airport, though exchange rates may be better in central Delhi. You can also change US dollars and pounds in Jaipur, Agra and Varanasi.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

Many sites now charge a small fee for video cameras (handy cams) and you should allow another 665 rupees (approximately US$9) for these. Also allow at least 570 rupees (approximately US$8) per day for personal expenditures, such as soft drinks. There are endless shopping opportunities throughout this tour and we suggest you take money for souvenirs; even the most shop-shy travellers often succumb to the tempting selection of handicrafts available.

During your trip, it is likely your local guides will take you to emporiums and handicraft workshops. Guides often assume visitors want to shop, it is very much part of the culture, but if you do not wish to go, please make this clear to your guide and Exodus leader at the time. Many people find this a great opportunity to buy local handicrafts, silk, jewellery and carpets.

Optional excursions

There are plenty of opportunities for local excursions and cultural experiences throughout this trip, some of which are detailed in the daily itinerary. For an overview of the optional extras, please see below:

Delhi (start or end of trip):

  • Half-day city tour: approximately 1,500-5,500 rupees (US$18-US$53) per person (depending on the group size)

Tour includes: visit to old Delhi, drive past Red Fort, visit Gandhi memorial and drive past colonial buildings and visit India Gate. Price includes transportation, local guide and tipping. Monument entrances are not included, the sightseeing is for unpaid monuments.

  • Morning Old Delhi city walk with Salaam Baalak Trust: approximately 3,500-5,500 rupees (US$42-US$53) per person (depending on the group size)

Led by ex-street kids of Delhi, this insightful walk starts from Jama Masjid and takes you through the narrow alleys in the heart of the old city. Price includes transportation, local guide and tipping. Entrance to Jama Masjid monument is not included. Tour is subject to availability at time of request.

Jaipur:

  • Cooking class (Day 2): approximately 2,500 rupees (US$30) per person

Visit a local home where your host guides you through traditional dishes, such as vegetable pakora, vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes such as chicken or mutton curry, matter paneer and chapattis. After devouring your home-cooked meal, finish by preparing a Rajasthani sweet dish called laapsi. Price includes: cookery class with a four-dish meal, rice, rotis and tea/coffee and transportation to/from the home.

Varanasi:

  • Visit to Sarnath: approximately 1,000-3,800 rupees (US$12-US$46) per person (depending on the group size)

Price includes monument entrances, local guide, transportation and tipping.

  • Evening ceremony at Ganges ghats: approximately 1,500- 4,000 rupees (US$18-US$48) per person (depending on the group size)

Price includes boat fees, auto ride/rickshaw fees and tipping.

Tipping

Tipping is a part of Indian culture and usually expected. It can often be an awkward affair, especially when in an unfamiliar country where you are not sure when or how much to tip. As such, your tour leader will offer to arrange and look after a group tipping kitty, which will be used to tip hotel staff, sightseeing guides, bus drivers and other support staff used throughout your trip. Your leader will suggest how much to contribute, but it is usually in the region of 2,200 rupees (approximately US$30) per person based on the maximum group size of 16 passengers. For smaller groups, the leader may ask to collect more than the suggested amount relative to the group size, this is to assist with covering the standard tipping expectations for things like the local guides, drivers, and hotel staff (which, are generally fixed amounts no matter the group size).

For departures that travel during Holi Festival (25 March 2024 and 14 March 2025) your tour leader will look to arrange some activities for you to enjoy and join in with the festivities. There will be a supplement between 600-1,600 rupees (approximately US$7-US$20) per person which is usually deducted from the kitty. Price depends upon the location and festival inclusions for Holi celebration.

At any time during the trip, your leader will be happy to show you an account of how the kitty is being distributed. Please note, for smaller groups the leader may have to collect more than the above amount.

Tipping of leaders is not included in the kitty and is at your own discretion. If you wish to show your appreciation, a tip of around 475 rupees (US$6) per person per day would be appreciated.

People, Places & Planet

We work hard to create trips that improve life for the people and places we visit and look after the planet we explore. Find out more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here, and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here.

Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:

People

How this trip helps improve life for local communities.

  • The use of a local guide means our groups are well informed about local traditions and cultural-social sensitivities.
  • This trip brings income and opportunity to the destination community through the inclusion of locally owned hotels and restaurants, the emphasis on eating locally produced food, and by supporting other local enterprises.
  • The hotels we stay in are dedicated to hiring local staff, this benefits the surrounding community by providing employment opportunities and income alternatives where they may be otherwise hard to come by.
  • Our local partners share a commitment to projects that benefit their communities.
  • This tour encourages guests to visit local cafes and restaurants and use markets to purchase traditional crafts.

Places

How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.

  • Read about our commitment to nature protection and restoration here including our rewilding commitment for every customer who travels.
  • By travelling in a small group, led by a local guide, we ‘tread lightly’ to minimise our impact on local resources and the environment.
  • On this trip, we visit national heritage sites and the entrance fees included generates income, which is used for the upkeep and development of these important monuments and nature parks.
  • Our trips adhere to ABTA’s industry-leading animal welfare guidelines to ensure the best possible practices with regard to working animals and wildlife viewing. Our animal welfare policy can be found here.
  • We work with our partners on the ground to proactively eliminate or reduce waste, for example eliminating all single-use plastic water bottles and instead providing refills for reusable bottles.
  • Where possible on this trip, paper bags are used as an alternative to single-use plastics.
  • As part of our commitment to responsible tourism, Exodus supports the TOFTigers’ campaign to protect biodiversity and restore habitats across India’s national parks through the wise use of sustainable tourism.

Planet

How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.

  • Read about our climate action here, including our carbon reduction and compensation commitments.
  • Accommodation and restaurants in the itinerary use locally sourced food which has not been transported long distances.
  • In some restaurants there is the option to have plant-based meals.
  • This trip favours locally owned and run accommodation.

Tips for sustainable travel on this trip

  • Leave no trace: We do all we can to ensure we leave no rubbish behind in the wild and beautiful places we visit; we ask that you do the same. If there are no recycling facilities in-country, we’d ask you to consider bringing recyclable materials home with you.
  • Plastic waste reduction: Please bring your own re-usable water bottle on this trip; filtered water will be provided where tap water is not drinkable.

Cultural respect:

  • Best to ask before photographing people, ceremonies, or sacred sites.
  • It’s polite to use only your right hand when eating something without cutlery and when handing money and small objects to someone else.
  • Before entering a holy place, remove your shoes and give them to the shoe minder. When you collect your shoes again give the minder a few rupees. You’re permitted to wear socks in most places of worship.
  • Religious etiquette advises against touching the heads of local people or directing the soles of your feet at a person, shrine,or an image of a deity. You should not touch a carving of a deity.
  • When visiting religious sites, dress and behave respectfully, don’t wear shorts and sleeveless tops – this applies to both men and women. Head cover for women and sometimes men is required in some places of worship.
  • Generally, it is best to dress modestly throughout your time in India as a sign of respect.
  • Making the effort to fit in is invariably appreciated so being aware of these aspects of cultural respect will assist you during your travels in India.

Important Information

Your safe participation 

When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary. 

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity. 

By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred. 

How to Book

  1. Check availability: Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.
  2. Secure your place: You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.
  3. Complete your booking and payment

When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.

After booking

You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.

Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.

Trip Note validity

These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

Licensing

Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.