Day 1: Delhi, India
Arrive in Delhi today. You are met by your representative and escorted to your hotel in New Delhi. where the remainder of the day is at leisure with time to relax and rest. Your hotel is in the city center near shopping, financial and business districts. It reflects the capital city's spirit and sense of history in a harmonious blend of tradition and contemporary sophistication. The Oberoi, New Delhi
Day 2: Delhi
Today begins after breakfast with a fun, exciting and different way to see the city. This morning you are in for a treat – a tour by Segway of Lutyen's New Delhi. Edwin Lutyens was a renowned British architect who designed many of Delhi buildings under British rule. You glide your Segway through the most spectacular places in the national capital. Ride through The Secretariat, Rashtrapati Bhawan, Parliament House and the scenic beauty surrounding the Ministry Buildings. Pause at the immortal flame at Amar Jawan Jyoti, an Indian memorial built to commemorate martyred soldiers. Visit the famous India Gate. This is a thoroughly delightful way to see the city that is alive with brilliant colors, exotic smells and shops selling everything from false teeth to colorful silks.
This afternoon offers a visit to a most unusual museum – Sulabh International Museum of Toilets. That’s right! Not something we would normally think about. This slightly bizarre yet unique museum summarizes the global history of toilets related social stigmas, toilet etiquettes, predominant sanitary settings and more. Segmented in three parts - Ancient, Medieval and Modern, it has an extensive display of outhouses, chamber pots, toilet furniture, bidets and water closets. It showcases the evolution of something we take for granted in our society every day. The museum covers the time from 1145 CE to present day. While creating awareness about the importance of hygiene and sanitation, it also looks at solid waste management, waste water treatment systems, the biogas technology that can be used for cooking and lighting as well as electricity generation. It offers remarkable examples of efforts required to make our world a sustainable place to live. The Oberoi, New Delhi, Premier Room (B)
Day 3: Delhi / Khajuraho / Panna
After breakfast, you are transferred to Delhi Airport to board your flight for Khajuraho. When you arrive, you are taken for lunch at Lalit Khajuraho, which features choice selections of scrumptious croissants, puffs, rolls, sandwiches, salads, pastries and cakes.
After lunch, drive on to Panna, a city of tribes and sages, of rajahs and colonial loyalties, meadows and evergreen forests, of diamonds and tigers. Ah, tigers! The lesser known Panna National Park has had some success with their tiger reintroduction program. With a good mammal population and a rich raptor activity, this park presents a healthy ecosystem. Check into your eco-friendly hotel, The Sarai at Toria. With sweeping views of the wide Ken River, the hotel features just eight cottages with thatched roofs and mud-caked exterior walls in the traditional village style. The Sarai at Toria is a simple but tastefully done-up property that blends into the rustic landscape at the edge of the Panna National Park. The remainder of the day is at leisure. Enjoy the comforts of a stay that has little impact on the wildlife, offers rich pickings for fishermen, and is dominated by the incredible diversity of insects and birds on the riverside. The Sarai at Toria (B,L,D)
Day 4: Panna
Today you explore conservation in India with Dr. Raghu Chundawat, a conservation biologist, whose work reaches beyond India's borders and into Central Asian countries such as Mongolia, China, Kirgyzstan and Pakistan. He has researched extensively on the ecology of snow leopards and its prey species in the region of Ladakh Himalayas in India. Learn from Dr. Raghu and his wife Mrs. Joanna Van Gruisen as they offer you fascinating insights into the complex field of conservation, which includes census of tigers and other endangered species in the park. You see how to identify birds and understand the park’s habitats and different eco systems. You discover how to lay camera traps and other methods used to save and protect the wildlife from poachers. This is the perfect opportunity to see firsthand what it’s like to be a conservationist and see India's forests, its wildlife and the challenges faced in conservation. The Sarai at Toria (B,L,D)
Day 5: Panna
This morning, you have your first jeep safari into Panna National Park. This beautiful jungles in Central India is known for a revival of the tigers in the recent years with about 17 tigers at present. The animals had been previously wiped out of this area, so their return is remarkable. The park is also home to leopard, chital, chinkara, nilgai, sambhar and sloth bear and includes more than 200 species of birds including the bar-headed goose, honey buzzard, king vulture, blossom-headed parakeet, changeable hawk-eagle and Indian vulture. Later, you have the opportunity to ride a bike to a nearby village to meet local residents, including children, and spend time with them sharing your stories and trading ideas. This is the essence of traveling, engaging encounters that have impact for both the travelers and the people they meet. The Sarai at Toria (B,L,D)
Day 6: Panna
Today is an easy day with time to relax. In the afternoon, take a boat trip on the wide Ken River, which flows right through the Panna Reserve. You may glimpse wildlife along the way that come to the river for water and food. Hear some of the birds as you float past a forest teeming with life. Your river journey ends with sunset on the Ken River at sunset. The Sarai at Toria (B,L,D)
Day 7: Panna / Khajuraho / Jhansi / Agra
Today is a travel day that includes a journey by local train from Jhansi to Agra. Local trains in India offer an intriguing encounter with the bustling and energetic pace of this country, which is ancient and ultra-modern at the same time. Trains are usually crowded, colorful, noisy, and a great experience unlike anything you have at home. You are welcomed on arrival in Agra and transferred to your resort hotel.
The Oberoi Amarvilas resort is quite close to the world-famous Taj Mahal. You enjoy brilliant views of the monument from the lobby, pool, spa, restaurants and from every room in the hotel. Elaborate gardens, terraced lawns, fountains and pavilions complement the classic architecture of the hotel. The Oberoi Amarvilas (B,L)
Day 8: Agra
After breakfast, explore the massive Agra Fort on the right bank of the Yamuna River. Also called the Red Fort, this was one of the most important strongholds of the Mughals, encompassing richly decorated buildings. Your guide shares stories with you about the Mughal history of the fort. It took 4,000 workers working for eight years, from 1565-1573, to complete this massive structure. Imagine playing hide and seek here.
Agra is most famous as the home of the majestic Taj Mahal, the stunning mausoleum the emperor Shahjahan had built for his queen, Mumtaz. India’s own jewel, it is set with precious gems and is certainly one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World. Later today, you will head to the Taj Mahal to witness sunset, and watch as the colors change, pink, orange, mauve, as they reflect off the iconic white marble mausoleum. The Oberoi Amarvilas (B)
Day 9: Agra
After breakfast, you set out today to see and learn about elephants and sloth bears. First is the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre, a safe haven and rehabilitation center for India’s elephants. You begin your visit with a very sort documentary on captive elephants. Later you walk with an education officer, who can tell you the story of each of the elephants here and how they were rescued. You help with the feeding of these gentle giants. From here, you drive to Agra Bear Rescue Facility. This is the largest Sloth Bear Rescue Facility in the world. It currently houses some 200 sloth bears as well as many other species of wildlife in large forested enclosures with ponds and shady trees. One of the orphaned animals at one of these orphanages will be fostered in your family’s name for one year. The Oberoi Amarvilas (B)
Day 10: Agra / Jaipur
After breakfast, your drive to Jaipur, stopping along the way at Abhaneri step wells. Step-wells are unique to India and were used as royal baths and reservoirs, providing escape from the summer heat. A Rajput king is believed to have built Chanda Baoli, which has separate his and hers royal bathrooms. You enter sun-shaded verandahs that overlook what must be thousands of crisscrossing steep patterned-like upside down ‘Vs’ descending deep into the abyss of the well. Here, you will have a chance for to take sort ride on ‘Jugaad’, which runs on a generator and also is used to pump water. This is a popular means of transportation for the villagers in rural communities. A genuinely eccentric and popular vehicle that comes is a variety of shapes, and can be anything from an old-style, wood-panel truck to a wagon attached to a motorcycle. It is an off-beat but fun way to get around. Continue to Jaipur after lunch at Abhaneri. On arrival at Jaipur you check into your hotel. Rajmahal Palace is one of the oldest and most treasured palaces in the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur. Only the City Palace and the royal family’s private forts hold this distinction. Home to the Maharaja of Jaipur, this exquisite royal palace is located at the heart of Rajasthan’s bustling capital. Tall bay windows, mirrored doors and meticulously appointed interiors allow you to imagine you as royal guests. This magical palace, a garden retreat, has stood witness to over 250 years of history. Sujan Rajmahal Palace (B,L)
Day 11: Jaipur
Start your day in Jaipur with a visit to one of its most famous landmarks, the Amer Fort, the citadel of the clan who later became the rulers of Jaipur. This nearly 400-year-old city has a wealth of historic sites such as the palace quarter, which encloses the Hawa Mahal palace complex, formal gardens, and a small lake. Nahargarh Fort, which was the residence of the King Sawai Jai Singh II, crowns the hill in the northwest corner of the old city.
This afternoon take in a puppet-making workshop and meet the artisans who create these delightful puppets. The puppet making involves a lot of patience and skill. They are done in several steps including making the faces, coloring and stitching cloth, deciding on decoration for each doll, and finally attaching to the strings. You’ll have fun have creating a puppet of your own. Sujan Rajmahal Palace (B,L)
Day 12: Jaipur
Today you visit a shop specializing in remodeling classic Enfield motorcycle and Willys Jeeps. You meet the young, energetic Vijay, at Rajputana Customs. Vijay, a graduate in Mass Communication at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, came home to Jaipur and decided to follow his dream of creating custom motorcycles and set up a garage here. Visit his workshop for remodeling these classic vehicles. Sujan Rajmahal Palace (B)
Day 13: Jaipur / Delhi / Depart
Today, you transfer to the airport and fly to Delhi. You will make your own way to your hotel, JW Marriot Hotel New Delhi Aerocity within the airport complex, where a day room has been reserved for your use. JW Marriot Hotel New Delhi Aerocity - Day Room (B)
Land price, per person, double occupancy: From US$800 per person, per day, minimum 4 people.