Trip Duration: 09 Nights / 10 Days (Ex Delhi)
Trip Style: Offbeat Trips
Adventure Level: EasyA moderate level of fitness is required and a flexible, open-minded approach is essential. These trips have easy hikes ranging from 2-3 hours . Maximum Altitude we reach is around 2500 m.
Highest Alt: 2311 m
Area: Kumaon, Uttarakhand
Best Season: October – April
A well paced holiday full of contrasts; historic cities, wonderful mountain retreats and an abundance of wildlife! Following your arrival in Delhi, you can marvel at the unequalled beauty of the Taj Mahal in Agra. The emphasis of the trip changes as you head north into the foothills of the Himalayas and to Pangot, the old hill station of the British. Upon descent you seek wildlife in the countryside around Nainital – the lake town and explore Corbett National Park, going on jeep safaris in search of wild elephant and the elusive Bengal tiger! You conclude your journey with a trip to the Ganges to explore the holy city of Rishikesh, where you’ll stay by the river and have time to relax. You’ll round off your holiday back in Delhi, where there’s further time to explore this historic and fascinating city.
Highlights & Itinerary
- Go on tiger safaris in Corbett National Park
- 180 degree view of the great Himalayan peaks.
- Camp on the banks of the Holy River Ganges.
- Visit an old British hill station in the foothills of the Himalaya
- Taj Mahal – The monument of love !
- Pangot – Paradise for bird watching.
DAY 01: DELHI / AGRA, TRAIN / DRIVE
You set off early today by train to Bharatpur, a journey of nearly three hours. Upon arrival you will have a birding tour of Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary. Created by the ruling Maharaja in the middle of the 18th century, the sanctuary is now India’s most spectacular bird reserve, having slowly but surely attracted a growing number of migrating species. From early October the first migrants arrive from Central Asia; nest building and egg laying carry on right through until March. Annual visitors include the painted stork, osprey, night heron and sarus crane. Using cycle rickshaws, you can make your way almost silently across the tree-lined bunds (embankments) – built to allow people to view the birds. The park also supports a variety of mammals, so your time here will undoubtedly prove to be rewarding.
Following your visit you’ll take the road leading to Fatehpur Sikri, some 20km (approx. 30 minutes) away. Along the way are the remains of the Kos Minars; wayside markers which survive only as crumbled towers, pointing the way to this city built of rich red sandstone. Akbar the Great Mughal Emperor built Fatehpur Sikri (the ‘City of Victory’), outside Agra as a tribute to a sage who foretold the birth of his three sons. He duly moved his court to this new capital, only to abandon it after 15 short years because the water supply deteriorated. Today its rose-coloured walls provide the visitor with an unforgettable impression of the majesty of a 16th century royal court.
Finally you will make the 35km (approx. 90 minute) drive to Agra, arriving early evening ready for your visit to one of the world’s most famous monuments tomorrow.
Mela Plan: B/fast only
DAY 02: AGRA / KATHGODAM, DRIVE & OVERNIGHT TRAIN
Agra stands on the bank of the River Yamuna and was once the capital of the Mughal Empire. Agra flourished under Akbar and Shah Jahan added many of the buildings in and around Agra Fort including the Taj Mahal, built as a mausoleum for Shah Jahan’s beloved wife Mumtaz, after she died giving birth to their fourteenth child. This morning it is possible to rise early and watch the sunrise over this exquisite monument, but it is a beautiful building to admire at any time of day. This must surely be the world’s greatest monument to love. Architects from as far afield as Europe were commissioned to take part in its construction. Its staggering architecture of white marble inlaid with thousands of pieces of coloured and semi-precious stone makes the Taj Mahal one of the world’s most beautiful buildings.
Construction of the nearby Agra Fort was started by Akbar in 1565 and was finally completed four generations later by Aurangzeb. Here you find a fusion of Hindu and Islamic architectural styles, which led to the emergence of a distinctive Indian style.
This afternoon you’ll drive back up to Delhi (approx 6hrs) where you’ll board the overnight train to Kathgodam, the railhead for Pangot / Nainital. Berth on overnight train (B)
PS: During peak seasons, this train journey becomes extremely popular. On rare occasions it is not always possible to obtain seats for the train for the whole group. In these instances, we will charter an overnight sleeper coach to transfer the group from Delhi straight to Pangot .
Meal Plan: B/fast Only
DAY 03: KATHGODAM / PANGOT, DRIVE
De-board the train early in the morning, drive for 50km (approx. 1hr 15mins) along twisting mountain roads and into the hills passing through forests and small villages, through the delightful lake city of Nainital and through the forested area of China Peak Range via Snow View Point and Kilbury, the main habitats for excellent flora and fauna.
Overnight at the quaint and idyllic Jungle Lodge.
Meal Plan: B/fast + Lunch + Dinner
DAY 04: PANGOT
Today we will go for an exciting half-day trek to China Peak with a picnic lunch. We take you to a local house to see a magnificent view of Corbett National Park area and villages (where Jim Corbett killed 10ft long tiger called ‘Bachelor of Pawalgarh’). Admiring unique local architecture on the way, we stop in between the trek to spot various woodpecker species, Kalij Pheasants, Common Kestrel, Grey Winged Blackbird, Black Red Start, Bar-Tailed Tree Creeper etc. Along the trek we also find a lot of diverse landscapes, flora and fauna. There are deep ravines and small spring water streams created in the monsoon season. Reaching Naina Peak (2311m) you can enjoy a stunning panoramic view of the Himalayas and get a chance to see close up of the peaks. On the downward journey, we get lovely views of the lake city ‘Nainital’. We then head back to Pangot via Kilbury forest which is full of oak and rhododendron trees. Trekking through the forests, you can see lovely sights of traditionally dressed villagers collecting fodder and firewood.
A campfire is the perfect end to the evening, around which the experiences of the trek can be shared.
Overnight in Jungle Lodge.
Meal Plan: B/fast + Lunch (packed) + Dinner
DAY 05 & 06: PANGOT / JIM CORBETT NP.
Set beneath the Himalayas, the drive to Corbett National Park today takes about 3 hours, journeying along winding mountain roads before you gradually head down towards the River Ramganga at the Gangetic plain. Corbett was the first national park to be established in India and remains one of the finest, abounding in flora and fauna. Originally called Hailey National Park, in 1936 it was renamed after Jim Corbett, a man who did much to conserve the wildlife of India. Although seeing tigers can never be guaranteed, the chances here are relatively high. Even if you do not spot a tiger, you may see wild elephant, sambar, chital, hog deer, barking deer and maybe even leopard.
Upon arrival on day six, you’ll have a guided nature walk for your first chance to spot these animals before taking to jeeps the following day; an excellent way to see wildlife. Rising early you set off into the towering hardwood forest in search of wildlife. Your guides are experienced trackers; they easily spot animals amongst the tall elephant grass and birds hiding in the trees. Whatever the time of year, come prepared for a chilly start to the morning; these are generally cold and misty! Daytime temperatures rise quickly and you rest when it is hottest. As the sun gets lower you enter the park again. The tiger population is static (approx. 120 in 2008) and a sighting is not uncommon though, as ever, a degree of luck is needed.
Meal Plan: B/fast X 02 + Lunch X 02 + Dinner X 02
DAY 07: JIM CORBETT NP. / HARIDWAR
Today the long drive of around seven hours skirts fields of sugar cane and cotton, with villages and a variety of people lining the roadside – rural India at its best. At Haridwar, one of the seven holy towns of India you cross the Ganges, one of seven Indian rivers holy to Hinduism. Known as the ‘Gateway to the Gods’, Haridwar lies at the point where the Ganges passes through its last gorge before its journey across the plains and onwards across the vast landscapes of India. Many pilgrims come here to bathe in the water and you’ll have a chance to wander along the riverbank and maybe visit the main ghat, Hari ki Pairi, where Vishnu is believed to have left a footprint. We’ve also included a visit to the Har Ki Podi Temple and a traditional aarti ceremony ( evening prayers)
Overnight stay at a Heritage hotel along the Ganges.
Meal Plan: B/fast + Dinner Only
DAY 08: HARIDWAR / RISHIKESH ( SHIVPURI)
Today you continue north for 2 ½ hours, following the Ganges to Rishikesh, famous as a centre for yoga, meditation and relaxation. Rishikesh is considered a sacred place, it is believed that meditation here leads to attainment of salvation. Your accommodation for the next two nights is at Shivpuri, 18km from Rishikesh, where you’ll stay on the banks of the River Ganges on the beach. You will camp in good quality tents with twin beds, shower and toilets on the campsite. This location is ideal to relax, take a yoga class, swim in Ganges. It’s also a great base from which to start your Himalayan walk tomorrow.
PS: in some months, particularly December and January, the river may be too cold for swimming.
Overnight stay in Tents.
Meal Plan: B/fast + Lunch + Dinner
DAY 09: RISHIKESH (SHIVPURI)
Today you’ll head into the Himalaya for a half day trek beneath these towering peaks. The route takes you gradually uphill, and generally the group will be able to complete the 10km walk in about five or six hours. On a clear day, the views will be amazing. There are a number of different routes; some go through forest, others by the River Ganges; the trek will be tailored to the group by your leader. If you don’t want to join the walk you can stay at the camp and simply relax.
Meal Plan: B/fast + Lunch + Dinner
DAY 10: RISHIKESH / DELHI, TRAIN
You spend the day at leisure, either in or around Rishikesh. As it flows through the town, the Ganges is slow moving – very different from upstream, where it is well known for its strong currents and fierce behaviour. A wander between the pilgrimage centres or ashrams to the north of the main town provides a relaxing day. The town is connected by suspension bridges; the pedestrian bridge at Lakshaman Jhula is said to be where Rama’s brother Lakshmana crossed the river on a jute rope. This area is very picturesque, buzzing with life, and provides a pleasant walk back towards the main town.
OR morning after breakfast take a White rafting trip from the campsite down to Rishikesh, which will finish by noon. Change into dry clothes and explore Rishikesh market as mentioned above.
After the activities of the day you drive the short distance to Haridwar and board the evening train back to Delhi; it’ll take about 4 ½ hours and you’ll arrive shortly before 11pm. Dinner is included on the train, so it will be a tray of Indian food – try to buy some snacks before-hand if you don’t fancy this!
Meal Plan: B/fast + Dinner (on-board)
This non-strenuous trip is suitable for anyone in reasonable health. There is no physical difficulty involved and all walks are optional. India is a developing country with a very different culture and approach to life, so be prepared to leave Western expectations behind! Rail journeys can be delayed, so a little patience and a sense of humour are essential. The journey to Hardiwar on day eight is a full day’s drive. The Ganges may be too cold for swimming at the camp at certain times of year. Fog can occasionally cause delays and affect sightseeing in winter months.
DELAYS & UNEXPECTED HINDRANCE
Although it is our intention to operate the itinerary as printed in the brochure and detailed below, it may be necessary to make some changes as a result of alterations to flight schedules, climatic conditions, limitations of infrastructure or other operational factors. As a consequence, the order or location of overnight stops may vary from those outlined.
While on the trip the temperatures expected during the day are as high as 18º to 20º Celsius ( on the mountains ) & 20 – 30 degree in Plains and average night temperatures expected are 4º to 6º Celsius ( on the mountains) & 15- 20 in plains.
MEDICAL & FIRST AID
At the start of the trip till you are in plains there are plenty of hospitals & Medical help available. But as the tour reaches the foothills, the available hospitals will be only government hospital. Your trip leader though not qualified medically, has done first aid course from NOLS (national outdoor leadership school), UK and is competent to give first-aid if and when required. In case you have an existing medical condition, like heart problem or disability you must consult your doctor before making a booking with us. On the mountains very basic professional medical help will be available. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in good health and physically & mentally fit to join the trip.
WHEN TO GO?
October to March is the classic ‘mountain season’, with the best visibility of snow covered peaks . Nights can be cold in midwinter (December to February) – sometimes as low as 5C – but daytime temperatures are a comfortable 25C and provide perfect conditions.
Mid March to May is warmer but is still a wonderful time to visit: the rhododendron bushes are in full flower along the tracks, their red blooms providing a stunning contrast to the lush green terraces and blue skies. In mid-May visibility begins to get hazy and daytime temperatures reach 30-35C, bringing pre-monsoon downpours.
Most trips prices are based on sharing a twin room. Therefore, if you’re a solo traveller you’ll be paired with someone from the group, unless you decide to pay a single room supplement. Details of this
Children above the age of 8 with strong sense of adventure are accepted on this trip. These trips encourage children to understand the interconnectedness between humans and nature.
Children under 12 sharing their parents’ room receive a discounted price. There are no babysitting facilities along the route, but extra bedding and special dishes can be arranged with advance notice.
Best for: 08 Years and above
Family friendly accommodation: Extra Beds Available