Day - 1
Location: Delhi - Namaste! Welcome to India. Begin your adventure in one of the oldest cities in the world – Delhi. A welcome meeting will be at your hotel today at 1 pm to meet your trip leader and fellow families. If you arrive early, India's capital is packed with historical sites, museums, galleries, shops and endless bazaars. After the meeting today, you’ll take a guided sightseeing tour to explore the contrasts of Old and New Delhi. In the narrow streets of Old Delhi, everything competes for space – squeeze through the old city’s fortified walls on the way to Jama Masjid. Dominating the city’s skyline, this mosque is a social hub as much as a place of worship. Explore the throbbing streets, packed with buses, trucks, people and cows, on the way to the brilliantly coloured Red Fort. Then, leave the crowds behind and breathe a little easier in contrasting New Delhi – with broad, tree-lined avenues and former monuments to British power, you’ll visit all the main sights – Parliament House, President House and India Gate – before returning to your hotel for the night.
Day - 2
Location: Agra - Rise early to catch the morning sun and a train to Agra – the city alternated with Delhi as the capital of the Moghul Empire. When you arrive, take some time to relax after the early start until mid-afternoon, when you’ll head out to see the city’s big hitters. Agra’s not just about the Taj Mahal, it’s also home to one of the finest looking forts in India – a Friday Mosque and royal tombs. Along the banks of the Yamuna River, Agra Fort is part stronghold, part palace and part prison. Built in 1565 by Emperor Akbar, it was converted to a palace by Emperor Shah Jahan, and it eventually became his jail when he lost power. Enter the dark red sandstone fort by crossing the (now empty) crocodile-infested moat. Search through throne rooms and tiny but incredibly decorated mosques and climb to the top to get your first tantalising glimpse of the Taj – one of the Seven Wonders of the World – across the river.
Day - 3
Location: Ranthambhore National Park - Get up before the sun today to see it rise over the Taj Mahal (it’s worth the early start!). Witness the iconic building – one of the Seven Wonders of the World – bathed in the early morning light. Many people believe it to be the most perfectly proportioned building ever constructed, and at first glance, it appears to be white marble, but closer inspection reveals that the surface is inlaid with semi-precious stones that form flowers and bowers. Best known as a monument to love and loss, the Taj is a beautiful example of Mughal architecture, surrounded by trimmed English gardens. Next, you’ll head east and pass the Kos Minar medieval milestones, pointing to the abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri. Deserted after only a few years (because there wasn’t enough water), the incredibly well-preserved 16th-century royal complex is a haven of courtyards, pavilions, ornamental gardens, the striking Jama Masjid Mosque and the intricately carved Rumi Sultana palace. Continue to Sawai Madhopur and Ranthambhore National Park – the kids will love it here, as it’s the Jungle Book brought to life!
Day - 4
Location: Ranthambhore National Park - Ranthambhore National Park is one of the premier national parks of India – a place where nature has reclaimed ancient fortresses and temples and is now teeming with wildlife. Head out on a couple of game drives during your stay, looking out for the majestic Bengal tigers that survive among the ruined forts and temples, stalking through the jungle. Game drives take place early in the morning and in the late afternoon, as this is when animals are most active. Even if the tigers are being too stealthy, the park is filled with other animals like gazelles, hyenas, sloth bears, crocodiles, jackals, three types of antelope (nilgai, sambar and chital) and leopards.
Day - 5
Location: Jaipur - This morning, head to Jaipur – a city surrounded by an earthy red wall in the style of the Mughal sandstone cities. Your day is free once you arrive, so maybe walk through the Pink City’s streets, busy with camels, motorbikes, rickshaws and traditionally dressed Rajput men while monkeys climb overhead to get acquainted. Maybe head out to the City Palace – once home to the Maharaja. An amazing complex home to colourful courtyard gates, fascinating museums and guards with moustaches almost as impressive as the building itself, the palace remains a royal residence even after the Jaipur kingdom merged with the Indian Union in 1949. Or check out the 18th-century Jantar Mantar – an observatory filled with instruments to track the stars – the kids will love it! This afternoon, maybe visit the five-storied Hawa Mahal, or Palace of Winds, with its detailed honeycombed facade. The impressive view makes it the most photographed building in the country after the Taj Mahal.
Day - 6
Location: Jaipur - After breakfast this morning, your leader will take the group on a walking tour of Jaipur. Hit the streets in search of some raj kachori chaat (a big fluffy chaat served with chutney, yoghurt, chilli and potato) and then cool off with a lassi from Lassiwala – Jaipur's oldest and most famous lassi shop. After a morning of exploration, you’ll head to a fun Bollywood dance class and learn some new moves. Bollywood dancing, made from the huge popularity of Bollywood film, tells mythological stories through the use of hand gestures, which are taken from Hinduism and Buddhism. When you and the kids are all tired out, take an afternoon to relax by the pool or find a great dinner spot to unwind.
Day - 7
Location: Jaipur - Today, take a trip to the Amber Fort – set on a hilltop overlooking Maota Lake, the fort is an authentic example of Rajput architecture. The Sheesh Mahal (Hall of Mirrors) is one of its more spectacular buildings. After, head back to Jaipur to learn about the ancient art of Block Printing – this traditional process has been practised in Rajasthan for around 500 years. Tonight, why not head to the Raj Mandir Cinema to see a Bollywood movie and spot some of the dance moves you learnt yesterday on the big screen.
Day - 8
Location: Jodhpur - Today after breakfast, you’ll drive across the desert to discover Rajasthan's second-largest city – Jodhpur. Jodhpur is home to heaps of fun antique shops to explore and, according to many locals, has the best lassi in India! Explore at your own pace and let the kids lead you through the colourful streets. Tonight, you’ll enjoy a local farm visit on the outskirts of the city, where produce is grown without the use of any chemicals. Take a tour of the farm and learn about the importance of sustainable farming, the benefits and challenges and how the locals grow native produce – the kids might even get the chance to help harvest some of the fruits and veg themselves! Sit down with your fellow families for a homemade farm-to-table dinner made with organic, hand-harvested produce and watch the sun set over the land.
Day - 9
Location: Jodhpur - This morning after breakfast, you’ll explore the colossal Mehrangarh Fort with a local guide. This 15th-century fort sits 125 metres above the city and inside the walls, you’ll explore the intricate carvings and huge courtyards and chase magnificent views from the fort’s ramparts. After, your afternoon and evening are free to relax at the hotel, revisit some of the shops you missed yesterday or find a good restaurant to sit and people-watch.
Day - 10
Location: Bikaner - This morning, travel into the Thar Desert to the fortified town of Bikaner – once an important staging post along some of history’s great caravan routes. Bikaner is home to many thriving bazaars as well as an impressive fort and palace. Visit the massive 16th-century Junagarh Fort with a local guide to learn about its impressive history and explore the nooks and crannies (that sometimes only a kid can find). Get some great photos of the desert landscape and then enjoy a free afternoon at leisure – maybe explore the sun-drenched streets with the kids, passing by magnificent architecture or find a good spot to eat before lazing at the accommodation.
Day - 11
Location: Bikaner - Today you’ll visit the museum at the National Camel Research Centre in Bikaner, established to protect these hardworking desert animals and to increase understanding about their place in the fragile desert ecosystem. Learn about the importance of the camel in India’s history, the different breeds of this fascinating animal (nicknamed the Ship of the Desert) and wander the museum with the kids. Don’t miss the camel milk parlour – where you can cool off with ice creams and drinks made from camel milk! Tonight, you’re free to explore Bikaner or hang out at your hotel.
Day - 12
Location: Mandawa - Today, enjoy a day exploring Mandawa – often referred to as an outdoor museum, Mandawa is famous for its ornate havelis (private residences). You'll notice that some are faithfully restored, and others are crumbling. The havelis of this part of India are recognised around the country for their lavishly painted walls and art. After exploring this gorgeous city, maybe unwind this afternoon with a cold beer and sample some of the spicy local North Indian fare – ask your leader to point you in the right direction.
Day - 13
Location: Delhi - After breakfast this morning, leave the countryside and get back into the beating rhythm of Delhi. This is a bit of a long drive, so get your car games ready! When you arrive, you can use the rest of the day however you like. Maybe practice your bargaining skills in Chandni Chowk in the maze of shops and kiosks that sell everything you can imagine, buy local crafts straight from the hands of the artisan in Janpath market, or gobble down street chaats (snacks like deep-fried fritters and flatbread). Hear the story behind the man at Gandhi’s house, see one last ancient structure at Qutb Minar, or relax in the Mughal gardens. Tonight, maybe get together with your group and look back over the trip of a lifetime, chatting about all the wonders you’ve witnessed.
Day - 14
Location: Delhi - There are no activities planned for today, and you can leave at any time after check-out. If you’d like to stay in Delhi for longer, just speak to your booking agent.