“A month of Indian idylls, travelling in a small group with experts guide around Delhi, Rajasthan and Kerala, to name but a few.”
Delhi | Varanasi | River Ganges trip | Agra | Taj Mahal | Jaipur | Ranthambore National Park | Tiger safaris | Mumbai | Ellora cave temple complex | Ajanta caves | Bijapur | Hospet | ruined city of Hampi | Goa | Udupi | Mysor | Mudumalai National Park | Bandipur National Park | Niligiri Hills Ootacamund hill station | Cochin | Alleppey and boat trip on Kerala backwaters | Kovalam
Description of India grand tour
This really is one big gorgeous India grand tour. Travelling in a small group and following an itinerary created by experts with years of experience, you will travel around the country from north to south, following the west coast, by private minibus, sleeper train with one night on a houseboat on Kerala’s backwaters.
This is a well paced itinerary, with a few days of rest at strategic points for your own independent exploration, be it on a tropical beach in Kovalam in Kerala, to visit the temples in Varanasi, discover the mega city that is Mumbai, or the littoral loveliness of Goa.
Starting in the capital city of Delhi and travelling through the states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and its capital Mumbai, Karnataka, Goa and finally Kerala, you will need more than two hands to count the cultural and architectural highlights along the way. From tourist classics on well trodden but must see trails, such as the Taj Mahal, Red Fort, the pink city of Jaipur and Fort Cochin to many other lesser known classical beauties. Such as the stunning ruined city of Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in northern Karnataka, the Krishna Temple in Udupi and the royal palaces of Mysore.
It’s not all cities and buildings on this India Grand Tour, however, with coastal life and wildlife also major highlights en route. In Goa, you can enjoy the Portuguese colonial influences in the old city, but also some of the beaches that lie well off the tourist trail. In Kerala, you get time on the beach at Kovalam as well as plenty of time to enjoy the rest of this green and luscious state.
The highlight for many on this trip, however, is the time spent in Ranthambore National Park, when you put your culture vulture mindset on hold and fully embrace the jewels of India’s natural crown. Its wildlife and, in particular, the elusive Bengal tiger. A land of tropical forest and ruined temples, you will get a chance to go on three game drives, morning and evening, to keep an eye not only on the tiger but also on the park’s other residents such as sloth bears, nilgai, sambar and jungle cats and crocodiles.
Most of the accommodation on this trip is in hotels (25 nights) as well as three nights on sleeper trains, and one night on the Kerala houseboat.
Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.
The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.
We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!
Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.
Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.
Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.
“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.
“The accommodation will be basic” Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.
“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.
“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson
Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando
Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.
Responsible tourism: India grand tour
Charity For years we have been involved in campaigning for tiger conservation in Bandhavgarh. In late summer 2014 we teamed up with The Corbett Foundation, an Indian charity dedicated to conservation-oriented research. They have proved instrumental in enabling us to get the funds to where they are needed. Through this we have now completed the building of a community hall at Tala Village, solar pumps in the park for wildlife and staff in the dry season, bio gas plants and smart stoves for villagers and provided the salary for 2 full time teachers at the government school. Our work in India continues to be of great significance and most recently we have been able to purchase a 4 wheel drive medical vehicle and pay for outreach medical support.
Wildlife This tour includes the wonderful chance to visit Ranthambore National Park for 3 game drives. Ranthambore is a tiger reserve under Project Tiger- a conservation effort which has now been running with progressing success for over 40 years. Tigers have been targeted for centuries by poachers for their fur and various body parts for Chinese medicine, but with increasing tourist numbers investing in a mutually safe form of tiger tourism, population numbers are on the rise. By paying National Park fees at Ranthambore, this tour contributes to the upkeep of this vital habitat for the tigers, deer, crocodiles, bird and plant life etc.
UK Office: It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.
Local Craft & Culture We are keen to encourage guests to engage with the culture of Northern India and to purchase local crafts and services where possible. Your local guide will be able to recommend the best of the area’s colourful and vibrant markets and small businesses and through our commerce, tourist wealth is more evenly distributed. You might pick up some street food in Delhi or in Varanasi take the opportunity to explore the emporiums specialising in silks and brocades, have a massage by the banks of the Ganges or buy block printed material and pottery in Jaipur. There are locally crafted gifts and souvenirs available by most of the landmarks we visit, and your guides will be able to advise you on which to buy and which to avoid. For example, some bangles and other decorative items in Jaipur claim to be made of ivory and, although this is mostly fake, we are against the popularisation of this kind of product and make a point of including a warning in the briefing.
Accommodation & Meals This trip sees you spend most nights in standard city tourist hotels with en suite facilities, three nights in an overnight train and one night in a traditional houseboat. You will notice that our hotels employ locally and use local produce from markets in the area wherever possible. The hotels are waste and energy conscious and have their own policies like asking guests to turn off the power when leaving a room in order to save electricity. Where meals are not supplied, our group leaders always encourage people to try local restaurants and street food vendors. They can make recommendations which will help boost small businesses and celebrate local specialties. In Jaipur, Varanasi and Delhi, clients can even see how the food is made e.g. Masala Chai (Tea), Samosa (Mashed Potato Snacks), Jalebe (Indian Donuts), Lassi (Yoghurt Drink), etc.
Group Size: This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.