Wonders of India
from $7525
Duration: 25 Days
Spend 25 days on an Indian odyssey that reveals the best of north and south, from the bustle of Delhi to the beaches of Kovalam. Discover the magic of the heritage-rich north with guided tours of iconic sites like Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal, as well as immersive cultural experiences like watching a Bollywood film at a local cinema in Jaipur and spending the evening in a rural castle. Experience the natural charms of the south while looking for elephants in Periyar National Park, walking through the tea plantations of Munnar and cruising the Kerala backwaters on a Kettuvallam. This all-encompassing tour is perfect for travellers who want to experience all that India has to offer.
  • Discover India’s diverse beauty, from architectural wonders like the Taj Mahal and the Hindu temples of Madurai to the natural splendour of East Coast Road and tropical Kerala.
  • Join expert local guides on safari in Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan and search for tigers in Periyar National Park in the Western Ghats
  • Be immersed in spiritual Varanasi with a tour of the Old City, an invitation to a candle ceremony and a sunrise boat ride along the Ganges.
  • Enjoy unique accommodation experiences with Feature Stays in a castle in rural Rajasthan and on a spacious houseboat floating on the Kerala backwaters.
  • Along with all the bucket-list topping sites across the country, this tour includes daily opportunities to get to know local life in chai houses, restaurants and even a Bollywood cinema.
  • Jaipur - Walking & market tour
  • Jaipur - Bollywood Movie at Raj Mandir Cinema
  • Jaipur - Amber Fort
  • Ranthambhore National Park - Evening wildlife safari
  • Ranthambhore National Park - Morning Safari
  • Agra - Taj Mahal
  • Agra - Agra Fort
  • Delhi - Jama Masjid
  • Delhi - Old Delhi tour
  • Delhi - Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple)
  • Varanasi - Old City tour
  • Varanasi - Sunset candle ceremony
  • Varanasi - Sunrise boat trip
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
  • Mamallapuram - Shore Temple
  • Auroville - Experimental township
  • Puducherry - Walking tour & Sri Aurobindo Ashram
  • Madurai - Sri Meenakshi 1000 Pillar Entrance
  • Madurai - Sri Meenakshi Temple
  • Madurai - Gandhi Museum
  • Day 1 Location: Delhi
    Welcome to India! On arrival at Delhi Airport, you will be met by a Peregrine representative and transferred to your hotel. This evening, there will be an important welcome meeting in the hotel at around 6 pm to meet your local leader and fellow group of travellers. Until then, you can use any free time before the meeting to explore this excitingly chaotic capital city. Filled with historical sites from different eras, museums, galleries and endless bazaars, there’s plenty to see in Delhi.
    Day 2 Location: Jaipur
    Get a taste of Indian rail travel with an express train into Rajasthan and onto the region’s capital of Jaipur (approximately 5 hours). On arrival, take a walking tour through the crowded streets packed with cars, camel carts, rickshaws, trucks and bicycles, past traditionally dressed Rajput men wearing colourful turbans and sporting magnificent moustaches. Walk the city's crowded bazaars filled with handcrafted textiles, folk art, and the local speciality of semi-precious stones. Afterwards, stop at one of India's most photographed buildings – the Hawa Mahal or 'Palace of the Winds'. There’s also the option to visit one of India’s finest palaces – Jaipur's Royal City Palace – or the astronomical instrument sculptures of the Observatory. This evening, continue to indulge in the wonders of Indian culture by watching a Bollywood blockbuster at Raj Mandir cinema.
    Day 3 Location: Jaipur
    Visit the opulent Amber Fort – the jewel of Jaipur. It is quite a sight, with its soft shades of red, sandstone and white marble with elaborate Hindu-style flourishes. Explore the legacy of a fallen empire in its ornate rooms, lavish murals, frescoed arches and delicate jali work. After spending some time here, the remainder of the day is free for you to explore parts of Jaipur that you may have missed yesterday, or simply to relax at your accommodation.
    Day 4 Location: Rural Rajasthan Heritage Stay
    Drifting high over the Pink City while it’s bathed in the early morning sunlight is a highlight for many visitors to Jaipur, so consider booking yourself into a hot air balloon experience this morning. This can be done between September and April – for additional information see the 'Important Notes' section of the Essential Trip Information. During the day you’ll also drive to Kanota (approximately 1 hour). Your accommodation here is the elegant Castle Kanota – a Feature Stay of this itinerary. Built in 1972 and set on eight acres of manicured gardens, this heritage hotel is one of Rajasthan's finest.
    Day 5 Location: Ranthambhore National Park
    Drive from Castle Kanota to Ranthambhore National Park (approximately 5 hours). In the evening, embark on a safari through the park. Ranthambore National Park is one of the original Project Tiger reserves – a place where nature has reclaimed ancient fortresses and temples and is teeming with wildlife. In 4WD safari vehicles, take game drives to search for animals, including the majestic tiger which stalks through the jungle. You may also have the chance to explore the 1000-year-old Ranthambore Fort, where two pavilions that have survived the ravages of war and time – Badal Mahal and Hammirs Court – give an idea of its old grandeur.
    Day 6 Location: Ranthambhore
    Rise early for a morning safari – your second chance to spot some of this region’s resident tiger population. Even if they are too stealthy to see, the park is filled with other animals like gazelle, hyenas, sloth bears, crocodiles, jackals, three types of antelope (nilgai, sambar and chital) and leopards to watch out for. Afterwards, enjoy some time at leisure at the resort. You may like to take a stroll around town with your free afternoon or continue your relaxation beside the pool, perhaps enjoying a meal at the onsite restaurant, with most of the produce grown at the resort’s organic farm.
    Day 7 Location: Agra
    Today, drive to Agra (approximately 5 hours). Once arrived, visit India's most iconic structure – the spectacular Taj Mahal. Best known as a monument to love and loss, the 17th-century Taj was built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his second wife and is a beautiful example of Mughal architecture surrounded by trimmed English gardens. Agra is also home to one of the finest looking forts in India. Stop at the nearby Agra Fort – a fortress, palace and prison built of red sandstone by Akbar in 1565 and partially converted into a palace during the time of Shah Jahan.
    Day 8 Location: Delhi
    Travel from Agra to Delhi and explore the bustling city streets on a walking tour. You’ll also get the chance to travel in the local style, by cycle rickshaw, gaining another perspective on this chaotic metropolis. Visit the Sisganj Gurudwara – one of the nine historic gurdwaras (Sikh temples) in Delhi, first constructed in 1783. Stop in at the awe-inspiring Red Fort, which is considered to be the peak of Mughal creativity. Also, pay a visit to the 73-metre-high Qutab Minar and about learn some of its history.
    Day 9 Location: Varanasi
    Fly from Delhi to Varanasi. Awash with shrines and temples, it is the ultimate destination for Hindu pilgrims who travel from far and wide to experience this spiritual city. Varanasi may not be known for its cleanliness, but it is recognised as one of India’s most inspiring cities. Take a walking tour of the Old City, through narrow laneways packed with stalls and shops, past the dhobi wallahs, burning ghats, and the endless temples that echo with bells and the pungent aroma of incense. Witness pilgrims performing ancient bathing rituals and ceremonies as the sun sets over this sacred city.
    Day 10 Location: Varanasi
    Today starts early with a sunrise boat ride on the Ganges, where you can watch the light gradually illuminate the many ghats and temples along the river as you pass. There is an option today to take a trip to nearby Sarnath – one of the four main Buddhist pilgrimage destinations. The site is where Buddha preached his message of the path to enlightenment and features a number of stupas and museums to explore. Alternatively, the day can be spent exploring the laneways and alleys behind the ghats or picking up some quality pieces from a local silk merchant. Perhaps finish the day with an optional Ganges river cruise at sunset.
    Day 11 Location: Delhi
    This morning will be free for you to soak up the atmosphere of Varanasi. Perhaps hit the streets to do some last-minute shopping in the incredible bazaars or simply wander through the ghats. Later today, return to Delhi by plane (approximately 1.5 hours), arriving early afternoon. This evening, consider dining with your group with an optional dinner organised by your leader – a perfect occasion to celebrate the many memories made during your India adventure.
    Day 12 Location: Chennai
    Transfer to the airport and board your included flight to Chennai for the second half of your trip. On arrival in Chennai, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Chennai, formerly Madras, is the fourth-largest city in India and the first major settlement of the East India Company in 1639. There is nothing planned for today except a welcome meeting at your accommodation at 6 pm.
    Day 13 Location: Puducherry (Pondicherry)
    This morning you will leave the city behind and drive along the scenic East Coast Road (approximately 2 hours) to the fishing town of Mamallapuram, home to sprawling, relaxed beaches. Visit the 8th-century Shore Temple and its mandapams (carved pillars) and watch locals pay their respects to the deity Shiva. Later in the afternoon continue the drive to Pondicherry (approximately 3 hours). On arrival the rest of your evening is free.
    Day 14 Location: Puducherry (Pondicherry)
    Today you will visit Auroville, which sits just outside Pondicherry and is an experimental township dedicated to the concept of human unity. With more than 80 rural settlements and home to over 1500 residents, half of the town’s population are foreign nationals. Auroville is also home to the world’s largest solid crystal, which you can examine. Return to Pondicherry for a walking tour to see local temples, the French Quarter and the spiritual community of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Evidence of the French colonial period is everywhere – the architecture, sprawling town squares and even in the police uniforms. 
    Day 15 Location: Madurai
    Today, continue by private vehicle to Madurai (6 hours), with plenty of bathroom and chai stops along the way. After arriving in the city in the late afternoon, head out on a short orientation walk of the local area to get your bearings. The rest of the day is free. 
    Day 16 Location: Madurai
    Continue your walking exploration of Madurai today. Take guided wanders through the Tailor's Market, the  local bazaars and the Sri Meenakshi Temple. Still in use today, this ancient temple is a maze of lamp-lit corridors leading to shrines where traditional rituals take place. Next is the National Gandhi Museum, dedicated to the life and achievements of the 'Father of the Nation' and the leader of India's fight for independence. This evening is free for you to use as you wish.
    Day 17 Location: Thekkady
    Travel to countryside Thekkady by private vehicle on a roughly 4-hour drive past rubber and pineapple plantations. Thekkady is the gateway to Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve, perched high in the ranges of the Western Ghats. This afternoon, take a tour of a local spice plantation.
    Day 18 Location: Thekkady – Periyar National Park
    This morning, take a guided nature walk in the acclaimed Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Look out for tiger tracks, spotted deer, Indian elephants or gaur – the world's largest species of buffalo. You are most likely to encounter Bonnet macaques and the Malabar giant squirrel, a species native to India. The rest of your day is free, but you might want to unwind with an optinoal ayurvedic massage or attend an exciting demonstration of Indian martial arts (kalaripayattu) at the Kadathanadan Kalari Centre.
    Day 19 Location: Munnar
    This morning drive north to Munnar (approximately 4 hours), an old British Hill Station cradled in a picturesque valley. At 1525 metres above sea level, there’s likely to be dramatic drop in temperature here, so have your jacket ready! Take a tour of a nearby tea garden on arrival, where you can soak up the luscious green surrounds. There may be an opportunity to visit the tea museum, though opening hours are irregular so this cannot be guaranteed. This evening, relax at your mountain resort.
    Day 20 Location: Munnar – Mattupetty Dam
    This morning take a guided walk around the lush hills of Munnar, India’s largest tea-growing region and favourite summer retreat during the British Colonial era. In the afternoon, journey out to the scenic Mattupetty Dam where you can take an optional motorboat ride. Return to Munnar for a free evening.
    Day 21 Location: Kochi
    In the morning, drive from the tea covered hills to Kochi (approximately 5 hours). Cochin, as it was formerly known, is spread over several islands and is a melting pot of Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese and British influences. On arrival, take some time to relax after a long drive. In the early evening you will enjoy a Kathakali dance performance. This classical dance style combines symbolic storytelling with physical technique. It is one of the most vibrant and extraordinary theatre forms in the world and proficiency requires incredible commitment and rigorous training.
    Day 22 Location: Kochi
    Today, you will explore the antique shops and spice bazaars, visit Fort Kochi and see the Chinese fishing nets that line the coast. You will also stop at the Dutch Palace (Mattancherry Palace), which was built in the 16th century by the Portuguese and later claimed by the Dutch in 1663. Continue to the Paradesi Synagogue, the oldest existing Jewish synagogue in India, built in 1568. The rest of your day is free.
    Day 23 Location: Kerala Backwaters
    Drive to the backwaters of Kerala this morning (approximately 3 hours) and discover Alleppey’s sleepy, palm-shaded waterways. Once a significant trading port, the town is now famed for the long ‘snake boat’ races that take place in August every year. Tonight, you'll sleep on a traditional Kettuvallam (houseboat). These floating cottages have western toilets, private bedrooms, a dining area and open deck where you can relax.
    Day 24 Location: Kovalam
    Drive to Kovalam (approximately 4 hours). Kovalam was once a quiet coastal village known for its export of fresh fish and coconuts but is now one of India’s most popular beach resorts. On arrival, set out on a walking tour. The rest of your day is free, but you might want to make an optional excursion to the 16th-century Koyikkal Palace.
    Day 25 Location: Kovalam
    No activities are included today and your trip ends after breakfast. We can organise a departure transfer to the airport in Trivandrum if you organise it in advance. Otherwise your leader will assist you in booking a taxi.
    Dates
    Prices
    Availability
    Departure Date:
    06OCT2020
    Return Date:
    30OCT2020
    7525NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    13OCT2020
    Return Date:
    06NOV2020
    7525NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    27OCT2020
    Return Date:
    20NOV2020
    7525NZD
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    Departure Date:
    03NOV2020
    Return Date:
    27NOV2020
    7525NZD
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    17NOV2020
    Return Date:
    11DEC2020
    7525NZD
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    08DEC2020
    Return Date:
    01JAN2021
    7525NZD
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    Departure Date:
    05JAN2021
    Return Date:
    29JAN2021
    7880NZD
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    Departure Date:
    26JAN2021
    Return Date:
    19FEB2021
    7880NZD
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    Departure Date:
    16FEB2021
    Return Date:
    12MAR2021
    7880NZD
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    Departure Date:
    23FEB2021
    Return Date:
    19MAR2021
    7880NZD
    available
    Last modified (date)

    27 Mar 2020

    Trip title

    Wonders of India

    Trip code

    PIWIC

    Validity

    Validity: 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020

    Introduction

    Spend 25 days on an Indian odyssey that reveals the best of north and south, from the bustle of Delhi to the beaches of Kovalam. Discover the magic of the heritage-rich north with guided tours of iconic sites like Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal, as well as immersive cultural experiences like watching a Bollywood film at a local cinema in Jaipur and spending the evening in a rural castle. Experience the natural charms of the south while looking for elephants in Periyar National Park, walking through the tea plantations of Munnar and cruising the Kerala backwaters on a Kettuvallam. This all-encompassing tour is perfect for travellers who want to experience all that India has to offer.

    Style

    Peregrine

    Transport

    Auto-rickshaw,Bicycle rickshaw,Boat,Plane,Private vehicle,Train

    Physical Rating

    2

    Joining point

    Jaypee Siddharth

    3, Rajendra Place

    Delhi

    110008

    INDIA

    Phone: +91 (11)25760000

    Joining point description

    This 94 room hotel is a 5-minute walk from the metro stop. Modern rooms come with free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs with satellite channels, as well as desks, seating areas, tea and coffeemakers, and minibar. Room service is available. Complimentary amenities include parking and breakfast. There's also an upscale restaurant, a 24-hour cafe, a tapas bar and a bakery, plus an outdoor pool, a gym, a spa and a business centre.

    Joining point instructions

    Delhi's Indira Gandhi's International Airport is approximately 25km from Karol Bagh. One of the biggest airports in the world, it can be quite chaotic and can take some time to process your visa and collect your luggage. Peregrine offer a complementary pre-arranged transfer service. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your trip departure. You will be met in the arrivals hall after clearing customs, your representative with sign board will be standing near Costa Coffee next to gate no 5. Please ask them to confirm your name. Please do not exit the gates, Costa coffee is just before the exit gate no.5. If you have any problems and cannot locate our representative, or if your flight is delayed please call the following 24 hour number: +91-9911 97 2636 If you do not have a mobile phone, there are public phones next to Costa Coffee. Calls cost 1 rupee per minute Failing the above please take a taxi to the hotel (using the instructions below) and advise your group leader. When you walk out of the exit door, you will easily be able to spot popular metered taxi counters such as Meru Cabs/Mega Cabs or Easy Cabs, show them your drop location and pay them as per the meter once you get to your hotel. The taxi ride from the airport to our starting point hotel takes approx 1 hour and costs between INR 500 - 600 (prepaid traffic police booths). IMPORTANT: Please avoid taxi touts who tell you that they have a metered taxi parked outside the airport. Previous passengers have complained that they have been charged hefty amount for the transfers. The Delhi metro is another option from the airport. Trains depart between approx 5am and 11:30pm, the trip takes approx. 45 mins and costs around INR100. Please refer to the metro map for lines, changes and directions to Karol Bagh where most of our hotels are located. http://delhimetrorail.info/delhi-metro-map Check in time at hotel is 12 midday.

    Finish point

    Uday Samudra Leisure Beach Hotel & Spa

    GV Raja Road, Samudra Beach

    Kovalam

    Kovalam

    INDIA

    Important information

    1. A single supplement is available on all nights of this trip for solo travellers who do not want to share a room. 2. Please note that this trip is a combination of two of our most popular India trips. As such the make up of your group and your leader may change on Day 12 when you fly to Chennai. 3. The flight from Delhi to Chennai is unaccompanied. Please provide your full name exactly as it appears on your passport at the time of booking (including any middle names listed on your passport) so we can secure your place on the flight. Ticketing fees may apply for amendments to passport details within 45 days of departure, and in some cases you will be required to cover the cost of issuing a new ticket. 4. Hot air balloon flights in Jaipur are operated by Sky Waltz. Flights operate from 1 September to 31 April  and last approximately 60 minutes. Return transfers, tea, coffee, light refreshments and a certificate of flight are included in the cost. You can register your interest and pay your tour leader at your welcome meeting on Day 1. Payment must be made by cash in either INR/AUD/USD/GBP only and is USD 260 (at time of writing). Flights are subject to availability and weather conditions (tickets are fully refundable in case of bad weather).

    Group leader

    All group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. We aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

    Safety

    WOMEN'S SAFETY: Women should exercise caution when travelling in India. Reported cases of sexual assault against women are increasing; recent sexual attacks against female visitors in tourist areas and cities show that foreign women are also at risk. While the risk of an incident occurring on your trip is very low, below are some things you can do for your safety and peace of mind when travelling: - Respect local dress codes and customs, perhaps dressing more conservatively than you do at home - Avoid isolated areas, including beaches, unlit city streets and village lanes when alone at any time of day - Avoid travelling alone on public transport, or in taxis or auto-rickshaws, especially at night - If you have to use a taxi get them from hotel taxi ranks and use pre-paid taxis at airports. Try to avoid hailing taxis on the street. Some cities (including Delhi and Chennai) have special taxi services for women with women drivers - If you’re being collected at the airport by a driver make sure they have properly identified themselves before you set off. -When leaving your compartment on overnight trains (ie. going to the bathroom), ask a male travel companion to accompany you where possible For further information and advice, visit: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/women-safety-india https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/india-solo-female-traveller-story/ www.gov.uk/government/policies/supporting-british-nationals-overseas/supporting-pages/advice-for-women-travellers www.smartraveller.gov.au/tips/women.html PERSONAL BELONGINGS: We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. FREE TIME: Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. FESTIVALS: Travelling in India and Nepal during Holi can at times be unsafe - drinking and drug use is more widespread during this holiday. Your leader/guide will advise your group on what places to avoid on this day. It may be necessary to alter your itinerary for the day. Diwali (a lunar festival generally held from mid October to mid November every year) is celebrated by local people letting off fireworks in the street. It can be very noisy for several days with extra pollution caused by fireworks. As there are no restrictions on buying fireworks in India there are often injuries caused by people exploding them inappropriately. During this festival your leader/guide may be required to alter your itinerary to avoid large crowds gathering and using fireworks. PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing. SCAMS: Scams involving ATM and credit cards, train tickets, taxis, temple donations and tourist guides operate throughout India. If you are the victim of a scam, report it immediately to the nearest police station. Even though they may not be able to get your money or goods back, they can issue you with an official loss report for insurance purposes.

    AIR POLLUTION The high levels of air pollution in New Delhi (and across urbanised India) may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be especially affected. Please ensure you bring the required medication with you if you have any of these type of medical conditions. You can check the pollution index levels for many cities on the following website: http://safar.tropmet.res.in/ Our tour leaders have a supply of masks for sale at the joining meeting should you wish to purchase one.

    Communications

    WIFI Generally WiFi is available in most parts of India and at most of the accommodation we use. It's usually free in public areas of hotels but some properties will charge for in room use. Please ask your tour leader or the specific hotel reception upon check in. Many restaurants and cafes (especially in tourist areas) offer customers free WiFi. Ask for the password when ordering. Internet cafes are widespread in India and connections are usually reasonably fast, except in more remote areas. MOBILE You can purchase a SIM at the airport (or at kiosks everywhere) for use while travelling in India. Airtel or vodaphone are a good bet. SIMs are relatively cheap. You will need to usually provide 2 passport sized photos and a copy of your passport will be made. MAIL Posting airmail letters to anywhere overseas costs ₹25/15. International airmail postcards cost around ₹12. For postcards, stick the stamps on before writing, as the post office can give you as many as four stamps per card. The post office is always a fun adventure in India!

    Visas

    INDIA: An E-Tourist Visa (eVT) visa on arrival is available for select nationalities including but not limited to the following: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, UK & USA. Passport holders from these countries can apply for an eVT to have their visa issued upon arrival at 16 major airports in India. Please follow the instructions at - https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html and complete the application for your eVT. IMPORTANT: - Please be aware of strict conditions regarding application and travel (check under ELIGIBILITY section of the website). - E-Tourist Visas are available for entry of up to 90 days. For residents of USA, UK, Canada and Japan e-Tourist Visas are available for up to 180 days. If you plan to be in India longer you will need to apply for a tourist visa at an Indian visa application centre in your home country. - Please note that travellers entering India overland from Nepal are required to apply for a visa in advance their home country. Visas will NOT be issued on the Nepal/Indian border. - The e-Tourist Visa DOES NOT apply to travellers entering India overland. Please check your trip notes if you are crossing a border between India and Nepal. - Indian visas are difficult and time consuming to obtain in Nepal. Tourist visas are available in Single and Multiple Entry. Be sure to check the date you require a visa from and the length of time you will need to cover, especially if you change countries during your trip. For your visa application you need to include the following information under the local contact section towards the end of the application. : PEAK India 25/3 East Patel Nagar Delhi 110008 Phone: +91 11 4500 6400 Please note that this information can change at any time. Please always refer to https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html This is the only official visa online site. There are many other mirror sites that are run by visa service companies or scammers and may not be reliable.

    Why we love it

    Discover India’s diverse beauty, from architectural wonders like the Taj Mahal and the Hindu temples of Madurai to the natural splendour of East Coast Road and tropical Kerala.

    Join expert local guides on safari in Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan and search for tigers in Periyar National Park in the Western Ghats

    Be immersed in spiritual Varanasi with a tour of the Old City, an invitation to a candle ceremony and a sunrise boat ride along the Ganges.

    Enjoy unique accommodation experiences with Feature Stays in a castle in rural Rajasthan and on a spacious houseboat floating on the Kerala backwaters.

    Along with all the bucket-list topping sites across the country, this tour includes daily opportunities to get to know local life in chai houses, restaurants and even a Bollywood cinema.

    Is this trip right for you

    This trip is a combination of two of our most popular India itineraries, Essence of South India (PIES) and Golden Triangle and Varanasi (PIIG). This means your leader and group makeup will likely change on Day This tour involves some long drives. Please consult the daily itinerary for details. From December to February it is common for North India’s trains to experience delays due to fog. The drive to Munnar on Day 20 is on winding mountain roads which causes some to experience motion sickness.

    Health

    MOSQUITO-BORNE ILLNESSES: Malaria is a risk in many parts of India, including major cities. Cases of dengue fever are reported, especially in the period after the monsoon. Other mosquito-borne diseases (including Japanese encephalitis, chikungunya fever and filariasis) also occur. Take preventative measures such as as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn. Consult a medical professional regarding prophylaxis against malaria. For more information, see the World Health Organisation's fact sheets: http://www.who.int/neglected_diseases/vector_ecology/mosquito-borne-diseases/en/ AIR POLLUTION: During winter months (October-February), air pollution levels in parts of India can spike to hazardous levels. Severe pollution can increase the risk of respiratory problems. Those with pre-existing medical conditions, particularly heart and lung conditions, may be especially affected. Your leader can assist you to obtain a face mask if required. OTHER INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including meningitis, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, tuberculosis, diphtheria and rabies) are common in India. Tap water is not safe to drink. Home-made or unlabelled alcohol can be poisonous. Seek medical attention if you suspect food poisoning, if you have a fever or suffer from diarrhoea. ZIKA VIRUS: India is classified as an ongoing transmission zone for Zika, with confirmed cases in Tamil Nadu and Jaipur. Basic precautions for protection from mosquito bites should be taken by people traveling to Zika transmission areas, especially pregnant women. INFLUENZA Cases of influenza A(H1N1) are widespread in India during winter with a number of recent cases in Rajasthan. Discuss influenza vaccination requirements with your doctor or a travel health professional before departing and maintain good hygiene practices by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing, and washing your hands regularly. For more information, see the World Health Organisation's fact sheets: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/influenza-(seasonal)

    Money matters

    Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some  travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than others, others prefer to visit more optional sites. Remember that alcoholic beverages are expensive compared to other foods locally. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities. COMMISSION: The receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops, services or activities is ingrained in the culture of the Indian tourism industry. In an effort to best control and monitor shopping and activities with an aim for the best experience possible, Intrepid has established a system of carefully selected shopping experiences and activities based on positive feedbacks from our previous travellers. On occasion these will be as part of included walking tours or outside of included activities in free time. Please note that if you feel that you do not wish to join in on these shopping experiences we assure you there is no obligation and if you indicate your desire to not partake your group leader will help to facilitate a suitable alternative during this time. While Intrepid endeavours to ensure that these suppliers and services maintain reasonable levels of quality, please note recommended suppliers are chosen based on past travellers feedback and experiences and Intrepid cannot explicitly guarantee the quality of the product. A priority in establishing this fund is that the experience of you our traveller is not compromised in any way. Please let us know via the feedback after your trip if we are successfully meeting this objective. TIPPING On this trip, we have included gratuities for the essential services that you will receive as part of your tour package. Where applicable, this will cover tips to drivers, specialist local guides, restaurant staff for included meals, porters, bellboys and other hotel staff, including room-cleaning staff. This amount DOES NOT include a tip for your tour leader, so you may wish to set aside some funds for this. It is customary to tip your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$3-US$5 per person (in local currency), per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service. You may also wish to put aside some money for your own tipping, such as when you are doing our own optional sightseeing or activity that involves local guides and/or drivers or when joining in optional groups meals or dining out on your own. In these instances, we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier. The amounts can vary greatly according to destination. Please ask your tour leader for guidance on what are appropriate amounts to tip.

    What to take

    Remember - the lighter you travel the better! A soft-sided duffel or sausage bag is the ideal form of luggage. It is recommended that you keep your luggage weight less 15kg (Indian domestic airlines have a strict max 15kg weight limit). A small or medium-sized backpack (45-50 litres) is another good option. When you pack your clothing, consider the climate at the time of year you are travelling and any specific requirements for your trip as at certain times of the year some of the items suggested in the list that follow may not be necessary. Laundry facilities are available in most destinations. Many people are surprised by how cold it gets in north India in December and January.  The air flows down from the snow-capped mountain ranges to the north and can get very chilly. It can get particularly cold at night, so it's important that if you're travelling around that time that you pack a warm jacket. Below is a list of equipment and documentation that we suggest you take with you. Please use this checklist as a guide when packing for your holiday: Travel documents: passport, visa (if required), travel insurance, air tickets or e-ticket receipts, Trip Notes Photocopy of main passport pages, visa (if required), travel insurance and air tickets Spare passport photos Money: cash/credit card/EFTPOS card Money belt Small padlocks Metal chain and padlock to secure luggage on overnight trains – additional precaution Small first-aid kit Daypack for use on day or overnight excursions Watch/alarm clock and torch/flashlight (and spare batteries) Electrical adapter plug Toiletries/roll of toilet paper/travel wipes Insect repellent Sunscreen, lip balm, sunhat and sunglasses Earplugs and eye mask (for light sleepers) Extra pair of prescription glasses (if required) 2 strong plastic garbage bags (for laundry and in case of rain) Refillable water bottle Water purification tablets (available to purchase locally) Phrase book Warm clothes - when travelling in cooler climates Wind and waterproof jacket Comfortable and sturdy walking shoes with good walking socks Camera/iphone

    Climate and seasonal

    INDIA SEASONS: As a general rule have a look online to check the weather in India just before you are about to travel. This gives you a clearer understanding of what to pack. Here are some general ideas of seasons in India: December to March: Pleasant weather – warm days, cool nights. December and January bring chilly nights in the north. Fog can delay trains travelling across the north of the country Temperatures climb steadily from February. April to June: April is already hot; May and June are really hot and dry. From June, the monsoon sweeps from south to north, bringing high temperatures and humidity Cooler in the hills and mountains across the country July to November: Monsoon continues until November. The southeast coast and southern Kerala see heavy rain from October to early December. MONSOON: Travel in rural areas during the monsoon season can be hazardous. Monsoon rains cause flooding and landslides that can cut off some towns and villages for days. It is not unusual for trains to be delayed or cancelled resulting in itinerary changes or for activities in towns near to rivers and lakes (ie Varanasi) to need to be changed during this time of year. During the monsoon, excessive rainfall can see the river Ganges rise to unsafe levels. This may cause the suspension of all water related activities by local government. At this time of year walking along the Ghats can also be dangerous. Your tour leader will be able to advise you locally on any changes. WINTER: Winter in India can be colder than you might expect and as this is not peak travel season hotels in some regions may not have adequate heating. In these months you may like to bring thermals for sleeping.

    A couple of rules

    Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption. The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips. By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund. If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.

    Feedback

    Can’t stop thinking about your adventure? Tell us all about it! We read each piece of feedback carefully and use it to make improvements for travellers like you. Share your experience with us at: https://www.peregrineadventures.com/feedback

    Pre-departure checklist

    Before you travel please download our pre-departure checklist to make sure you are fully prepared for your trip: http://www.peregrineadventures.com/pre-departure-travel-checklist

    Emergency contact

    BOOKING ENQUIRIES / ISSUES For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at: www.peregrineadventures.com/contact-us CRISIS AND EMERGENCIES In case of a genuine crisis or emergency please contact our local ground representative on the number below: Peregrine’s Local Operator: +91 9999 005 019

    Responsible travel

    Travelling responsibly is all about making good choices. It's about ensuring you have an incredible trip while also having a positive impact on the local environment, community and economy you're travelling in. How can you be a Responsible Traveller? See our tips below: - Choose to travel with a responsible travel company like us! We've already offset the main carbon emissions of your trip, so your footprint is already lighter. - Consider offsetting your flights when you book your trip/flights with us or your travel agent. - Bring a refillable water bottle and some water purification tablets (or a Steripen) to cut down on plastic bottle waste. - Be an animal-friendly traveller. Only go to venues that respect animals by allowing them to live normally in their natural environment. Steer clear of venues that use animals for entertainment or abnormal activities and/or keep animals in poor and unnatural conditions. - Eat at local restaurants, buy from regional artists and support social enterprises so you can contribute directly to locals and their economy. - Always be respectful of local customs and ask permission if you want to take a photo of someone. - Learn a few words of the local language and engage with the people around you. - Carry a cloth or re-usable bag so you can avoid plastic bags. - Give back by making a donation to a local project via The Intrepid Foundation. Share your thoughts with us by completing your feedback form after your trip. This helps us to continue to improve our commitment to responsible travel. ELEPHANT PERFORMANCES & ELEPHANT RIDING: While we respect each individual’s decisions while travelling, Peregrine does not include elephant rides or unnatural performance activities on any itinerary, and we recommend you bypass these activities should they be offered to you during your stay. Professional wildlife conservation and animal welfare organisations, including World Animal Protection (formerly the World Society for Protection of Animals) advise that contrary to common belief, captive elephants remain wild animals and despite good intentions, unfortunately many venues are unable to provide the appropriate living conditions elephants require and this ultimately impacts their well-being. While there is some merit in the argument that the money that you pay for the activity goes towards keeping the elephants and their mahouts employed, we know that it also fuels demand for elephants to be captured in the wild or captive bred. We thank you for your support in improving the welfare of these majestic creatures.

    The Intrepid Foundation

    Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Peregrine Adventures, a brand of the Intrepid Group, and works with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed more than AU $6 million to over 100 community organisations since 2002. Did you know that tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the global economy, making up 1 out of every 10 jobs? That’s why we support local projects that create meaningful jobs and give people the skills they need to work in the destinations we take you to. And it’s why we exist – to make it easy for travellers to give back to the communities and places they’ve been in an effective and meaningful way. Intrepid Group covers all administration costs, every cent goes directly to the projects. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information about the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or visit our website:

    Accommodation notes

    Heritage hotels are a wonderful way to experience Indian hospitality harking back to the days of the Maharajah. The properties we choose have previous incarnations as palaces, forts, government houses and more. Each room is unique, the decor is original, the staff and owners friendly and local. Please be aware that each room is different and bathrooms have often been retrofitted, some rooms will be bigger than others, some have a different view or outlook. These properties are different from a standard hotel and thus may not have some of the mod cons such as televisions. We choose each hotel based on its unique appeal and location and hope you enjoy staying in them as much as we do. they really are a small slice of Indian history. Showers at some hotels only have hot water working at peak times (usually morning and evening) outside of these times you may need to speak to reception to obtain hot water. Generally WiFi is available in most parts of India and at most of the accommodation we use. Sometimes its free in the room, other times only available in reception or public areas. A general rule of thumb is the more expensive the accommodation, the higher charge for WiFi access. Your tour leader can assist locally. If you have any issues with your room, please speak to the hotel or your tour leader at the time. This way the problem can be addressed immediately. FEATURE STAY - PICKADALEY HOUSEBOAT Spend a night on a traditional Kettuvallam (houseboat). These floating cottages have western toilets, private bedrooms, a dining area and sundeck for you to relax on.

    Transport notes

    TRANSPORT IN INDIA: Main roads in India are usually very busy with an assortment of vehicles from the biggest trucks (who always have right of way) down to bikes (and goats, chickens and dogs). Overtaking on blind corners at speed is common as is the total use of the horn as a form of communication. Our leaders have complete authority to remove groups from local transport if the driver is not driving safely. Drivers of our private vehicles are experienced and well trained. if you are uncomfortable with your driver, please always let your tour leader know immediately. Please ensure you wear your seat belt at all times. TRAVEL TIMES: Distances in India do not reflect the driving time and to cover 100km may take much longer than you would expect at home, even if much of the route is on a highway. TRAINS: We use first class seated trains on journeys in India. These trains are some of the best and fastest in the country. Water and a snacks may be included in some rail fares. Delays do occur and your tour leader will be on hand to advise if this is the case. FLIGHTS: Airlines in India are of excellent quality. Airports are becoming more modern (especially in the major and tourist cities). To enter the airport, you must have a copy of your flight ticket and passport. Schedule changes and delays do occur, especially when weather conditions make visibility poor.

    Travel insurance

    Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader. If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

    Your fellow travellers

    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

    Itinerary disclaimer

    ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour.

    Accommodation

    Comfortable Hotel (18 nights),Houseboat Feature stay (1 night),Heritage Feature Stay (1 night),Resort (4 nights)

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