India highlights tour, North and South
Description of India highlights tour, North and South
Travelling from the Golden Triangle and the beaches and backwaters of Kerala in just two weeks, this India highlights tour digs below the surface. Each stop lines up activities that offer a deeper understanding of some of the most famous places in India.
The first couple of days are dedicated to Delhi, touring the backstreets with local guides and sharing a meal at a Sikh temple. Before a tour of the Taj Mahal, you’ll practise dawn yoga in view of the magnificent mausoleum with a local master. An outing in Jaipur unveils the best foodie spots, but you’ll also get the chance to meet the artisans of Dhula village, which is pin-drop-quiet by comparison.
More contrasts lie ahead: the next half of this India highlights tour explores southerly Kerala. Dip in and out of the galleries of Kochi and ditch the van, instead breezing around the old fort area by bike. You’ll move slower still in Periya National Park. Here, a ranger reveals how to track the tigers and elephants that roam here, before hopping on a raft downriver – one of the most relaxing and low-impact ways to explore the park.
Your final stops draw you to the coast: an overnight houseboat cruise that eases through the Kerala backwaters. And finally, the chance to kick back at a seaside hotel on Vypeen Island.
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PlanetAccommodation & Meals
On this trip we spend 11 nights in a variety of 3-5-star hotels, and one night on a houseboat. Howard Plaza – The Fern, Agra has been recognised for its top eco-credentials as a leading environmentally sensitive hotel providing facilities such as the ‘green button’ where guests can choose to reduce their power consumption. *some hotels only. You will notice that our hotels employ local residents and use local produce from nearby markets 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 guests to try local restaurants and street food vendors for authentic eating experiences. They can make recommendations which will help boost small businesses and celebrate local specialties. In Jaipur, clients can even see how the food is made and try traditional Indian street food snacks such as Masala Chai (Tea), Samosa (Mashed Potato Snacks), Jalebe (Indian Donuts) and Lassi (Yoghurt Drink) whilst embarking on a foodie walking tour.
Wildlife & Environment
On day eight we enjoy a leisurely cycle ride around Fort Cochin, which is arguably the best and most sustainable way to travel around this historic place, stopping to practise working the Chinese Fishing Nets. On day ten, we’ll explore Periyar National Park on foot by walking through the forest to spot animal tracks and maybe spot the elusive fauna living here. It is a chance to see a natural habitat for numerous animals including elephants and tigers. No interaction is permitted with the animals but taking photographs is accepted. Guests will also experience bamboo rafting on the lake, where they can further enjoy this pristine environment while minimising the human impact on the park.
India is the birthplace of yoga and on this tour guests will learn from a local master while taking in the Taj Mahal at dawn. A more modern cultural practise is the colourful and energetic Bollywood dancing craze which our guests will have fun learning during a lesson with experienced teachers. Supporting the old and the new cultural practises through these lessons is another way to learn about India and its people.
In Old Delhi there is an off-the-grid walking tour led by ex-street children who will guide us around bustling alleyways. These children have studied hard to gain their guiding qualifications and spending time with them will be a memorable experience. Following this we visit the kitchens of a Sikh Temple, where food is served to thousands of Delhi’s most impoverished citizens. Guests will then share the dining experience which is a great way to interact with local people. We have included a special visit to Dhula village near Jaipur where we will meet local families and artisans such as potters and bangle makers. They will share their traditional crafts and you may like to join in. There will also be the opportunity for guests to get involved and assist farmers with milking cows and ploughing fields, and again an appreciation of rural life. Handicrafts will be for sale in the village and purchasing a souvenir will not only carry memories of your day back home but support traditional crafts and provide practical assist in the livelihood of the Dhula families.