Taj & Wilderness of North India
Come on this epic journey with us where culture meets wildlife. On this holiday, we strike a balance between the two and bring the best both have to offer. You start with an eye-opening cultural experience in Old and New Delhi. At Agra, you travel back in time as you take a guided tour of India’s crown jewel, the Taj Mahal. Roam in the jungles of Chambal and Bharatpur and search trees and thickets for some gorgeous birds. They say even time stops at Ramathra, so with no one to disturb you; tbreak from everything and unwind at this secluded fort. In Ranthambore you get to meet the star attraction of this holiday, a Royal Bengal Tiger. Chance to feel like a local as you watch a Bollywood film with them. Finish off with a soul lifting experience with a meditation session in Jaipur.
- Delhi - Explore India's bustling capital by rickshaw in Old Delhi
- Agra - See the Taj Mahal at sunrise
- Bird watching at Keoladeo Ghana National Park and Chambal Sanctuary
- Two of Asia’s premier wetland reserves
- Tiger and other fauna at Ranthambore National Park
- Jaipur – History of India's Maharajas
- Kingdom Of Dreams, Gurgaon
- Mohabbat the Taj Show, Agra
- Photo session at Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds), Jaipur
- Morning with the Elephant
- Walking Tour of Old Jaipur
- Private Yoga Session by a Local Yoga Guru
- Elephant Safari at Dera Amer with Lunch/Dinner
- Jeep Safari with lunch/dinner
- Balloon Ride
Best time to Visit
Day 1 Arrive Delhi
Upon arrival at Delhi in the evening, you are received by a Vasco representative and escorted to the hotel where you are welcomed in a traditional Indian style. Overnight stay is at the hotel.
Known for its survival against all odds, Delhi the capital of India has been the epicenter of Indian politics for centuries. The delightful ambiance of Delhi leaves a hypnotic spell on the visitors with its old world charm and modern lifestyle that coexist in this city of Djinns. Upon arrival you will experience the newly built state of the art Delhi airport and as the journey unfolds, you will be fascinated by the ancient architecture of Mughal Era while traveling through the crowded by lanes of Chandni Chowk where the sights and sounds of the ever growing city and spicy traditional Indian food will caste a magical spell on you. Several luxury hotels adorn the skyline of Delhi and are known for their traditional warmth and hospitality the world over. The mystic charm of Delhi lies in its architectural marvels and rich traditional background.
Day 2 Delhi
After breakfast we leave for city sightseeing tour of Old Delhi & New Delhi. Old Delhi came into prominence when Shah Jahan moved his capital from Agra to Delhi. You visit 300 year old Chandni Chowk market. A maze of lanes crowded with shops selling an extraordinary variety of items and food, the noise and crowds are a quintessential part of Chandni Chowk. From here you continue to the Jama Masjid or Friday Mosque. This is India's largest mosque designed by Shah Jahan. In complete contrast to the noise and crowds of Old Delhi, is Raj Ghat the resting place of Mahatma Gandhi, the main architect of India's independence.
In the afternoon, we take our tour of New Delhi and first visit Qutab Minar. From there our next stop is Humayun's Tomb, built by mother of Emperor Akbar. It is believed that it was this mausoleum, which inspired Shah Jahan to build the Taj Mahal. Later, we drive past India Gate, Presidential Palace and Parliament House. Afterwards return to hotel for overnight stay.
Optional Inspiring Experiences
Kingdom Of Dreams, Gurgaon
Situated in the millennium city of Gurgaon in the outskirts of Delhi, Kingdom of Dreams is a unique entertainment complex whose exterior façade resembles that of a Maharaja Palace of the bygone era. The majestic dome shaped structure painted in gold stands apart amongst the high-rise structures of the city and appears to be an oasis in the middle of a concrete jungle. Upon entering the building, you will be awestruck to see the exquisite interiors which have been designed keeping in mind the intricate details of the concept. The large auditorium is the centre of activity which brings to you live a fairy tale of a Gypsy Prince in the form of a musical show with amazing special effects and high-tech wizardry, every day. The breathtaking dance performances by a group of dancers with the help of digital media are pure entertainment for children and adults alike. They cannot stop clapping in appreciation watching the show which is a result of tremendous hard work by a team of actors, dancers and technicians. The complex also hosts an indoor food court where you can sample Indian delicacies from various states.
Day 3 Delhi – Agra
After breakfast check out from the hotel and drive to Agra. Upon arrival check-in at the hotel and relax for few hours. Post lunch we leave by Tonga (Horse Carriage) to the visit the world famous Taj Mahal (Closed on Friday) built by Shah Jahan in 1630 for his queen Mumtaz Mahal to enshrine her mortal remains. This architectural marvel is a perfectly proportioned masterpiece fashioned from white marble that stands testimony to the skill of 20,000 craftsmen brought together from Persia, Turkey, France and Italy. It took 17 year to complete this 'Love Poem in Marble'.
Next we visit Agra Fort built by Emperor Akbar between 1565 & 1573, which reveals the Mughal talent for combining defensive architecture with beauty and design. Overnight stay is at the hotel.
Optional Inspiring Experiences
Mohabbat the Taj Show, Agra
While staying in Agra, you cannot afford to miss “Mohabbat The Taj Show” which is a musical extravaganza depicting the saga of one its kind love story of Muhgal Emperor Shahjahan and his most beloved wife Mumtaz.
The show comes alive every evening at the Kalakriti Auditorium and enthralls the audience with its heart rendering dialogues and dance performances which transport you to the reign of Emperor Shahjahan who immortalized his love by building Taj Mahal in the fond memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal.
This exceptionally inviting event brings alive the historical legacy of India which is truly admired by the overseas visitors who visit the country to experience its diverse cultural heritage.
Day 4 Agra – Chambal (National Chambal Sanctuary)
After a leisurely breakfast we drive to Jarar and upon arrival check-in at the hotel.
After lunch you have the opportunity to go for a nature walk around the lodge area and nearby farm land. Overnight stay is at the hotel.
Chambal River and Ravines are prominent landmarks of the state of Madhya Pradesh which fall midway and become visible as you travel towards Gwalior from Agra. The tributary of Yamuna River, Chambal is a legendary river which finds it mention in ancient Hindu scriptures. Chambal River is a favorite spot of fishing enthusiasts and bird watchers who come here from Delhi and other parts of North India during winters in search of migratory birds. The river is surrounded by a belt of ravines which were once known to be the abode of dacoits who plundered the nearby villages. Chambal became famous after the filming of the movie ‘Bandit Queen’ which portrayed the saga of notorious female dacoit Phoolan Devi.
Day 5 Chambal
In the morning we depart for the Blackbuck Jeep Safari. We head southwest from the Chambal Safari Lodge towards the Chambal Ravines for excellent sightings of Blackbuck deer and numerous dry land birds including the Indian Courser.
After lunch, we go for a River safari. The calm and gentle waters of the Chambal River are best explored on boats and the River Safari provides spectacular opportunities to view the wildlife. The Chambal Safari boatmen are exceptionally skilled at cutting the boat engines, and manoeuvring as close to the birds and animals as possible without disturbing them. The River Safari is a most relaxing, enjoyable and special experience. We return to lodge for overnight stay.
Day 6 Chambal – Keoladeo Ghana National Park Via Fatehpur Sikri
Breakfast is at leisure at the hotel. Late morning we take a short drive to Keoladeo Ghana National Park also known as Bharatpur. En route stop to visit Fatehpur Sikri which is located 40 kms from Agra. The deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri was built by Emperor Akbar in 1569, in honour of the great Saint Sheikh Salim Chisti who blessed Akbar and prophesied the birth of three sons to the heirless Emperor. The emperor used Fatehpur Sikri as his capital and the city was fully occupied for 14 years but slowly became deserted and ruined after Akbar left the city. Scarcity of water was the prime factor for the abandonment of this beautiful city. Visit the remarkably well-preserved, graceful buildings within the 'Ghost City' including the Jama Masjid, Tomb of Salim Chisti, Panch Mahal Palace and other places that speak of the grandeur and splendour of the Mughal empire at the height of its power.
After the visit continue our drive to Bharatpur. Check-in at the hotel upon arrival. In the evening, we leave for our first bird watching session in the forest. The geographical location of Keoladeo Ghana National Park is ideal as it is on the main North - South avian route of India. Although small in size, 29 sq. km. only, it boasts to house more than 375 species of beautiful birds, and more than 132 of them breed inside the National Park and nearly every year new ones are added to the list. The way birding is done here is an experience in itself; much different from other places as birding is done on a rickshaw or on foot.
Day 7 Keoladeo Ghana National Park
We will have two birding sessions today; which will be separated by a break during noon.
A checklist of some of the birds of Bharatpur:
Water birds (wetlands): Painted Stork, Cormorant, Egret, Asian Open-billed, Black-headed Ibis, Darter, Shoveller, Teal, Bronze-winged and Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Ruddy Shelduck, Demoiselle and Sarus Cranes, Gadwall, Pintail, Mallard, Coot, Purple Moorhens.
Raptors: King Vulture, White-rumped Vulture, Marsh Harrier, Pied Harrier, Crested Serpent Eagle, Ring-tailed Fish Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Black-shouldered Kite, Pallas's Fish Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Collared Scops Owl, Spotted Owlet, Dusky Horned Owl.
Others: Lark, Pipit, Kingfisher, Dove, Myna, Bulbul, Blue Jay, Oriole, Plum-Headed Parakeet, Hoopoe, Shrike, Bee-Eaters, Wagtails, Finch.
Migrants: Steppe Eagle, Pale and Marsh Harriers, Osprey, Common Teal, Indian Little Ringed Plover. Overnight stay is at the hotel.
Day 8 Keoladeo Ghana National Park – Ramathra
After breakfast morning is at leisure and later we drive to Ramathra. Check-in to the hotel upon arrival and relax for few hours. In the afternoon we take a walking tour of Ramathra village, a small hamlet of farmers and cattle herders, You see all kinds of work associated with tending crops and animals along with a guide with water & lemonade. Evening we enjoy row boat in the Kalisil dam. It is peaceful and picturesque with breathtaking views of the sunset & rich with birdlife. We will provide life jackets, a bird book & also a pair of binoculars during the boat ride. Afterwards return to hotel for overnight stay.
Situated 175 km east of Jaipur, Ramathra is a beautiful countryside with a lake and acres of farm land where you can relax in the wilderness. A sleepy hamlet, Ramathra is devoid of any urban influence as it is mainly inhabited by herders and farmers. The village has numerous shrines which give you a glimpse about the rituals and religious practices followed by local inhabitants.
Ramathra Fort is a unique heritage property surrounded by hillocks and gorges and has been restored brick by brick with great precision. Built in 17th century, the fort was the stronghold of Jadaon Rajputs.
Day 9 Ramathra – Ranthambore National Park
After breakfast we drive to Ranthambore and upon arrival check-in at the hotel. In the afternoon you will go for your first game drive in the jungle. Ranthambore National Park is one of the finest tiger reserves in the country to see these majestic predators in the wild. Ranthambore was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1955 and became a part of the Project Tiger in 1973. The park covers an area of nearly 400sq Kms and is set between the Aravalli and Vindhya ranges.
After the game drive we return back to hotel for overnight stay.
Day 10 Ranthambore National Park
We have morning and afternoon game drives in the park. Usually the main focus is to search for Tigers but a wide variety of other mammals are present and, in addition to them Leopard, Caracal, Hyena, Jackal, Jungle Cat, Marsh Crocodiles, Wild Boar, Bears and various species of deer can be found here. Our attention would also be on the bird life present in the park.
The most important birds in Ranthambore includes Indian courser, Painted Spurfowl, Indian Skimmer, Quails, Larks, Pipits, Prinias, Greylag Goose, Woodpeckers, Indian Gray Hornbills, Common Kingfishers, Bee Eaters, Cuckoos, Parakeets, Asian Palm Swift, Owl, Nightjars, Pigeon, Dove, Spoonbills, Quails, Storks, Geese, Crakes, Snipes, Sandpipers, Gulls, Terns, Great Crested Grebe, Eagles, Darters, Cormorants, Egrets, Herons, Bitterns, Flamingos, Ibis, Pelicans, Pittas, Shrikes, Treepies, Crows, Orioles, Cuckooshrike, Minivets, Drongos, Flycatchers, Ioras, Wood Shrikes, Pipits, Bayas, Sparrows, Finches, Wagtails, Munias, Bulbul, Mynas, Falcons, Grey Legged Goose, Pintails, and Shelducks etc.
Day 11 Ranthambore National Park – Jaipur
After breakfast we drive to Jaipur and upon arrival check in at the hotel. The afternoon is at leisure to explore the Pink City on your own. In the evening, we have a cooking demonstration followed by dinner with a local Indian Family, a unique opportunity to learn the secret recipes of making Indian curries; understand the living cultures of India as you interact with the family. Afterwards retrun to your hotel for overnight stay.
Jaipur the pink city of Rajasthan is known for its royal heritage for centuries and you are bound to get mesmerized with the beautiful palaces, forts and havelis of the city, each one of them having a story of their own to tell. The capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur is a delight for visitors from around the world who come here to experience the regal legacy of the Mewar rulers. The city offers immense opportunities of sightseeing and shopping where you can shop for ethnic Indian handicrafts and handmade precious and semi-precious jewelry.
Day 12 Jaipur
After breakfast we leave for an excursion to Amber Fort. A major attraction at Amber is the Elephant Ride (subject to availability) all the way up to the Fort entrance. This journey on caparisoned elephants is bound to enrich your memories with the royal lifestyle of the Maharajas making it a truly unforgettable experience. En route to Amber Fort from your hotel, you will have a brief photography stop at Hawa Mahal - the Palace of Winds.
In the afternoon, we tour the city of Jaipur. We first visit the Maharaja's City Palace, the former royal residence part of it converted into a museum. A small portion is still used by the royal family of Jaipur. One of the major attractions in the museum is the portion known as Armoury Museum housing an impressive array of weaponry-pistols, blunderbusses, flintlocks, swords, rifles and daggers.
Later visit the Jantar Mantar, which is the largest stone and marble crafted observatory in the world built by Jai Singh from 1728 to 1734. We finish our city tour with a walk through the busy lanes of the city and return to hotel for overnight stay.
Optional Inspiring Experiences
Photo session at Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds), Jaipur
A photo session at the tourist place of Hawa Mahal in Jaipur gives you an opportunity to be clicked in front of a 150 year old pinhole camera outside the Hawa Mahal where you can experience photography at its best. The veteran photographer Tikam Chand is extremely proud of this priceless possession which once belonged to his great grandfather. This experience has to be pre-booked in advance before arrival in Jaipur India and can be included during our regular pink city tour.
Morning with the Elephant
Rise early to watch the elephants getting ready for their day's work at Amer Fort. It is a fascinating opportunity to watch, understand and appreciate the relationship between the Mahouts and the regal giants. The Amer Fort Elephant Ride experience has to be pre-booked before you land in India. The best time for Elephant Safari in Jaipur ranges from October to March. It's an early morning experience and a must do in the city. Clients must reach the stable at 05:30-06:00 hrs. Packed breakfast is recommended. From here, they can go for the Amer Fort Ride, do the elephant ride, watch the fort and return to the hotel.
Walking Tour of Old Jaipur
It is a unique way to explore the living traditions of the city early morning. Experience the religious life of local communities by visiting colourful temples, interacting with residents over a cup of tea in their homes and discover some of the architectural wonders of this fascinating city. This walk has been carefully designed to offer a rewarding and enriching experience. Uncovering some of the best kept secrets of the walled city of Jaipur, we take pride in sharing our warm association with the resident artisans, shop owners, temple priests and local citizens. This association makes our walking tours more engaging; our guests have a genuinely interactive experience getting to meet the residents and as a result gain an insight into traditional ways of life. 'Chand Pol' gate, one of the original seven gateways, located at the western end of the old walled city of Jaipur is the point at which this two and a half hour walk begins. This experience has to be pre-booked before clients land in India. Best time - October to March.
Private Yoga Session by a Local Yoga Guru
His family has taught Yoga to the likes of former American President Bill Clinton, and Hollywood stars such as Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise etc. This is an early morning experience done with an empty stomach. Clients can do Yoga, have breakfast and continue with the rest of what they have paid for. Price is Inclusive of English Speaking Yoga Guru only. Yoga Mats will be provided. This experience has to be pre-booked before clients land in India. Best time - October to March. Duration - 2 hrs
Elephant Safari at Dera Amer with Lunch/Dinner
The Elephant Safari Tour to Dera Amer is a highly recommended experience with family and friends as you get to unwind yourself in the lap of Aravalli Hills leaving behind the worries of city life. This Adventure Safari in Jaipur is situated behind the famous Amer Fort at the foothills of Aravallis and offers numerous outdoor recreational and adventure activities. Surrounded by a reserved forest, the camp is an ideal spot for lovers of solitude with no urban population around except for a few hamlets in the vicinity housing the local villagers. The camp is run by a Rajput family living in the campus and they organise elephant and camel safaris in the jungle. The family is credited with protecting several hundred hectares of indigenous Aravalli forest land and encourages guests to interact with the local farmers in the village.
Jeep Safari with lunch/dinner
This Wildlife and adventure experience has been designed to thrill you with a jeep safari to the picturesque forested valley behind the hills of Amer Fort. Starting from Amer, the safari takes you past village hutments, a medieval temple and a Tiger Rescue Centre situated in the middle of the jungle. Aboard this Rajasthan Jeep Safari Tour will be an opportunity to experience a thrilling wildlife safari. You get to explore the beauty of Aravalli Hills on the way and enjoy breathtaking views of Jaipur from above. Interaction with local farmers on their fields is part of the experience. Authentic Rajasthani cuisine served during lunch and dinner is another USP of this safari which will always be a memorable experience.
If you've never taken a balloon ride then take this adventure tour. Hot air balloon ride is a beautiful way of experiencing the Pink City Jaipur in Rajasthan from above as you fly over its majestic forts and palaces. The ride provides you with an opportunity of viewing the sunset over the Aravallis, sandy stretches, green plains, and small townships and villages from the height of 5000 ft. above the crowded city.
Evening dinner at Narain Niwas Palace, a boutique heritage property converted into a five star hotel followed by folk dance performances by local artists. USD 56 per person (minimum 02 Pax).
Day 13 Jaipur – Delhi
Today your journey with Vasco comes to an end. After breakfast we drive to Delhi international airport to board your flight back home.