Start in New Delhi and end in Kathmandu! With the in-depth cultural tour Highway to Himalayas - 16 Days, you have a 16 day tour package taking you through New Delhi, India and 11 other destinations in Asia. Highway to Himalayas - 16 Days includes accommodation in a hotel as well as flights, an expert guide, meals, transport and more.
Saturday. Welcome to India! Upon arrival in Delhi, you?ll be transferred to our hotel to enjoy the rest of today at leisure. This evening meet your group and guide in the hotel lobby for a welcome meeting at 18:00.
Today we enjoy a day of guided sightseeing in India?s capital. In Old Delhi we visit Humayun?s Tomb and Jama Masjid - India?s largest and oldest mosque. We also see the site of Gandhi?s cremation at Raj Ghat and enjoy a thrilling rickshaw ride through Chandni Chowk bazaar, one of the oldest markets in the city. In New Delhi we?ll stroll down the ceremonial Rajpath and see the India Gate monument. We enjoy a delicious Namaste dinner at the hotel this evening.
Delhi - Jaipur. Today we drive to the UNESCO-listed Pink City of Jaipur. Enjoy a guided tour of the beautiful City Palace and the Jantar Mantar space observatory - a collection of 19 separate astrological instruments. Early on day 4 you may opt to join our Balloon Over Jaipur add-on and sail over lofty palaces, temples and fortresses in a hot air balloon. Later, we visit the striking 16th century Amber Fort, which we reach by jeep. Enjoy a tour of this well preserved site, spread out over four levels and built on the shore of shimmering Maota Lake. On our way back to Jaipur we stop at a local cotton weaving house and a tailor shop. Here you may wish to have traditional Rajasthani garments created to your specification for an excellent price. These will be delivered to our hotel before we leave.
Jaipur - Abhaneri - Bharatpur. Say goodbye to Jaipur today as we travel to the village of Abhaneri to see the famous Chand Baori step well. This 13 story well is the deepest of its kind in the world and has 3,500 steps that lead down to the waters edge. It also famously featured in the blockbuster film ?Batman: The Dark Knight Rises?. After our visit we continue to a local school (if open) to meet the pupils and teachers. We operate our Change for Children programme here and any donations you make will be greatly appreciated. You may also wish to bring some educational gifts from home to donate to the school (see trip notes). We then arrive at our hotel in Bharatpur and enjoy a visit to Keoladeo Ghana National Park. Enjoy a bicycle rickshaw ride around this important wetland reserve and keen bird-watchers can enjoy spotting some of the hundreds of bird species which inhabit the park. A knowledgeable guide will accompany us to identify the species we manage to spot.
Bharatpur - Agra. This morning we explore the former Mughal capital city of Fatehpur Sikri. The city was abandoned more than 400 years ago due to a lack of water but remains fantastically preserved. Continue to Agra, where we explore the impressive Agra Fort and enjoy a tour of India?s most iconic site, the legendary Taj Mahal. This famous white mausoleum was built in the 17th century under the orders of Emperor Shah Jahan. It stands as a perfect and extravagant memorial to his beloved wife who tragically passed away. We enjoy a beautiful sunset at this wonderful site.
Agra ? Lucknow. This morning we depart for Lucknow, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh. Boasting beautiful British Raj-era architecture as well as fantastic examples of Islamic art and design, Lucknow is an enigmatic city steeped in history. This afternoon we?ll tour the highlights of a city which first gained importance in 1528 with its capture by Babur, the first Mughal ruler of India. Our first stop will be to the Chota Imambara, one of the most intricate and exquisite buildings in Lucknow, it was built as a congregation hall for Shia Muslims and today houses the tombs of Muhammed Ali Shah and his family. Our next stop is the Rumi Darwaza, often referred to as the Turkish Gate. This imposing gate is a busy route through the city. We finish the day at Bara Imambara, this impressive complex was built in the 1780?s and houses a mosque, a step well and a maze of corridors.
Today we further explore the city of Lucknow, heading first for La Martiniere college. The college was established in 1845 from instructions in the will of Major General Claude Martin, who left a large endowment for its construction and upkeep. Today, it educates upwards of 6,000 pupils at one time and the Constantia building has been described as ?perhaps the best-preserved colonial building in Lucknow?. Later we?ll visit the remains of two British Raj-era buildings, Dilkusha Palace and the British Residency, both of which were shelled during the 1857 siege of Lucknow and today lay in ruins. The rest of the day is at leisure for you to further explore Lucknow.
Lucknow ? Varanassi. Today we drive from Lucknow to Varanasi, one of the oldest and holiest cities on Earth. The city is also an important Hindu pilgrimage site, set on the banks of the River Ganges. Varanasi is perhaps the holiest city in India, known as Benares or the city of Shiva, it is also one of the oldest cities on earth. Sitting on the banks of the holy River Ganges, Varanasi has been a centre of learning for more than 2000 years and its an important Hindu pilgrimage site.
This morning we enjoy a magical sunrise boat ride on the holy Ganges. Watch the ancient religious tradition of ritual cleansing that takes place on the riverside ghats (steps). Afterwards we enjoy a tour of Varanasi?s highlights and you may wish to revisit the ghats this evening, when the ritual is different to the morning.
Varanasi - Delhi - Kathmandu. Today we fly back to Delhi and then onwards to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. After our long day of travelling we?ll transfer you straight to our hotel to rest and relax.
Today we enjoy a guided sightseeing tour of delightful Kathmandu. We?ll visit the riverside Pashupatinath Temple and Swayambhunath Pagoda. The pagoda is perched on a hill-top with a stunning birds eye view of Kathmandu below. Continue to the colossal Bodhnath and Durbar Square in the heart of the city. The square is home to more than 50 temples and shrines that you may wish to visit. After the tour there is free time to relax or explore at leisure. Perhaps discover one of Kathmandu?s vibrant markets - the Ason and Mangal bazaars both offer a vibrant atmosphere and a variety of gifts, spices and street food.
Kathmandu - Chitwan National Park. On day 13 we drive to Chitwan National Park, one of the most biodiverse wildlife reserves in Asia. The park is home to many iconic and rare species including Bengal Tigers, leopards, elephants, sloth bears and the Indian rhino. There is also a population of the critically endangered gharial (crocodile) and a vulture breeding centre for the critically endangered Oriental white-backed vulture and the Slender-billed vulture. This huge level of biodiversity makes the park extremely popular with visitors and we will have a good chance of seeing some of this wildlife over the next two days as we explore the park on game drives, jungle walks, bird-spotting trips and canoeing excursions.
Chitwan National Park - Kathmandu. Enjoy a final morning of wildlife spotting in the park before we return to Kathmandu. The last evening of our tour is free for you to relax or explore at leisure. Return to Durbar Square, which comes to life in the evening or do some last minute souvenir shopping.
Sunday. Today marks the end of our tour. We will transfer you to the airport for your onward flight. Note: Whilst in Kathmandu you can opt to take an early morning scenic flight over the Himalayas. The scenic flight, which is offered by several companies, provides spectacular views of a seeming endless chain of snow capped peaks, as you fly above the clouds, over glaciers and lakes, rivers, gorges and see the world?s highest and most enigmatic mountain - Mt Everest. The flight will be offered on the morning of day 13 or day 16, subject to availability.