Arrive at any time; your arrival transfer is included through Women With Wheels, a G Adventures–supported project. There are no planned activities until an evening welcome meeting, so check into to the hotel and enjoy the city. We highly recommend booking a pre-night in Delhi to get over your jetlag and be ready for this very busy trip.
Set out to discover Delhi, the capital of India, which consists of two cities: historic Delhi and New Delhi, built by the British in the early 20th century. Explore New Delhi's lively Paharganj district with a youth guide from the G Adventures–supported City Walk project, and hear about how the program provides opportunities to disadvantaged street youth. Then delve into the narrow, winding lanes of Old Delhi, visiting the 17th-century Jama Masjid??the largest mosque in India??and the Sikh temple Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib, located close to a busy shopping area. Drive to Agra this afternoon.
Spend the day in historic Agra, which served as the capital of the Delhi sultanate and later of the Mughal Empire. Discover the Taj Mahal, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World; widely considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, this breathtaking mausoleum was built by the emperor Shah Jahan for his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Afterward, visit the exquisite tomb of Mumtaz Mahal's grandfather, often referred to as the "baby Taj," and explore Agra Fort, an impressive red sandstone citadel which conceals palaces of white marble within.
Travel to Jaipur, the capital of the state of Rajasthan. On the way, stop at the magnificent Mughal city of Fatehpur Sikri, a masterpiece of red sandstone, and hear about its fascinating history. The emperor Akbar built a short-lived capital here in the 16th century to honour a Muslim saint from the village of Sikri who had predicted the birth of his son, Jehangir. Then visit the Rajasthani village of Abhaneri for a walk around the Chand Baori??an ornately decorated stepwell or water tank constructed over a thousand years ago??learning about ancient Indian methods of water conservation.
Explore Jaipur, known as the "Pink City" for its rose-coloured buildings. Take a tour of the sprawling Amber Fort, the former residence of Jaipur's Rajput rulers; and visit Hawa Mahal, or the Palace of Winds, a stunning five-story sandstone building with distinctive honeycombed windows. We'll also meet with a local historian to discuss India's complex social fabric, customs, and architecture. Tonight, consider going to the cinema to watch a Bollywood movie??a truly unique experience. Going to see a Bollywood film in India is much more than what we are accustomed to in the west. The atmosphere, energy, and pure fun (not to mention volume!) has to be experienced to be believed.
Drive to the rural village of Pachewar, where we stay in a beautiful heritage home. Exploring this traditional community is like stepping back in time: walk and meet with local residents, observing potters, silversmiths, and cobblers at work; wander amid old temples and mud homes, perhaps witnessing a cooking demonstration; and note how urbanization and modernization have altered village life. The village is about 85km (53 mi) from Jaipur and has beautiful temples dedicated to different religions. The residents of the village are still involved in traditional commercial activities. You'll see pottery wheels, silversmiths, cobblers, traditional huts, old temples, and a mud house where you can witness a cooking demonstration with local family.
Drive back to bustling Delhi. This evening, opt to join the group for a farewell dinner.
Transfer to the airport and catch a flight to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. After our welcome meeting, experience a sound bath wellness demonstration and enjoy a six-course dinner featuring organic Nepali cuisine.
Spend the day exploring Kathmandu, the colourful capital of this Himalayan nation. Pay a visit to Bodhnath Stupa, the holiest Tibetan Buddhist shrine outside of Tibet, and explore the wood-carved temples, pagados, and palaces of Bhaktapur, Nepal's medieval capital. Afterward, enjoy a cooking demonstration at local community restaurant and learn how to make Nepalese momos (dumplings). Afterwards, taste your delicious creations during a traditional lunch.
Venture to the ancient hilltop temple of Swayambhunath, decorated with vibrant prayer flags and home to troops of rhesus monkeys. Later, we'll hear about National Geographic Grantee Chhing Lhomi's efforts to preserve the weaving traditions of the Upper Mustang region through her work with the Himalayan Indigenous Society, a Kathmandu-based nonprofit. Then depart for nearby Pharping, known for its Buddhist pilgrimage sites, and settle into a tranquil monastery guesthouse for the night. Get an insider's view of monastery life, and enjoy a chanting and prayer service; or opt to take a walk in the monastery's peaceful grounds. Experience the serenity of a Tibetan Buddhist monastery. The monastery guest house offers comfortable accommodations in a peaceful setting with balconies and private western-style bathrooms. There are approximately 200 monks in residence following the Nyingmapa tradition. This is a new monastery (2006), and income from the guest house directly supports it.
Rise at dawn to listen to the monks' morning chanting, and witness a stunning sunrise. Then drive to the small riverside village of Kurintar and hike to our lodge, nestled on a forested hill overlooking the Trishuli River. Opt to relax by the pool or take a guided walk through the surrounding countryside, stopping at local villages. Arrive at our remote lodge, which sits on a ridge amidst the hills overlooking sandy beaches and a river. Forests cascade down the hillsides, enclosing tiny settlements of tribal people.
Today, we travel towards Chitwan National Park, Nepal's oldest wildlife reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The park is home to 68 recorded mammal species, including the one-horned rhino and the Bengal tiger, as well as hundreds of species of birds. Check in to our lodge, located on the banks of the East Rapti River. After lunch, board a traditional flat-bottomed boat for a river safari, keeping your eyes out for aquatic birds, crocodiles, and other riverine fauna. Spend two nights enjoying cultural and wildlife excursions in and around Royal Chitwan National Park (RCNP), the oldest national park in Nepal. Established in 1973, it became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984. Within its area of 932km² (579 mi²), RCNP is home to at least 43 species of mammals, 450 species of birds, and 45 species of amphibians and reptiles, including sambars, chitals, rhesus monkeys, tigers, and langurs.
Spend the day exploring Chitwan National Park on a variety of excursions; activities differ depending on the season. Set out on a jeep safari through the grasslands and forests, seeking out rhinos, leopards, elephants, monkeys, and the elusive Bengal tiger. Meet with a "tiger technician" from the Nepal Tiger Trust, a nonprofit dedicated to the protection and conservation of these majestic cats. Visit a farming village bordering the park for a glimpse of rural life, and return to our lodge this evening in time for a dance performance by the local Tharu people.
Drive to Pokhara, an enchanting town set on the shores of turquoise-hued Phewa Lake against a backdrop of snowcapped Himalayan peaks. Enjoy a guided walk around the city, and opt to have dinner at a popular local restaurant. Nestled in a tranquil valley at an altitude of 827m (2,713 ft), beautiful Pokhara lies on a once vibrant trade route between India and Tibet. To this day, mule trains can be seen bringing goods to trade from remote regions of the Himalayas. This enchanting city has several beautiful lakes and offers stunning panoramic views of Himalayan peaks. It's a popular place to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature.
Venture to Sarangkot village early this morning and hike to the famed Sarangkot lookout to witness a breathtaking sunrise over the Annapurna Himalaya. Back in Pokhara, climb up a lush forest path to the gleaming white Peace Pagoda, built by Japanese monks after World War II. Later, visit a Tibetan refugee settlement, established by the United Nations in 1964. Learn about the history of the community on a walk through their photo gallery, and enjoy a traditional Tibetan lunch. In your free time, opt to take a boat tour of Phewa Lake.
Catch a flight back to the capital, Kathmandu. Enjoy time to shop in the bustling Thamel district, or choose to visit Pashupatinath Temple, the most sacred Hindu temple complex in Nepal. Enjoy free time in the afternoon for exploring. Visit the burning ghats at Pashupatinath and Swayambhunath, or the monkey temple. Kathmandu is fascinating at every turn, and some travelers prefer to just wander, seeing where the city may lead them.
Depart at any time. Feel free to depart at any time today, but remember that check out time from the hotel is 12:00pm.