|This trip brings together the popular triangles of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur in India with the triangle of Kathmandu, Pokhara and Chitwan. This makes for a heady mix of India and Nepal and a perfect filler for a three- week break. Using sustainable partners in the two countries, we make these trips full of local insights, and most importantly, a responsible alternative to the mass tourism already happening in these popular circuits.||
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India | Delhi, Agra, Jaipur | 7 days
Day 1: Arrive into Delhi ..and transfer to Hotel/homestay in the city . Time free to roam on own or just read a book or help the hosts in the Kitchen. The metro station is nearby and one may take a train ride to fell what ordinary Delhi is.. Day free to get acquainted with the time change.. Overnight in Delhi.
Day 2: Morning: Delhi by Metro: (does not operate on Sundays)
What this tour is about: This is an off-beat tour of Delhi by students from Manzil, an NGO that works in youth empowerment and learning. The tour uses the Delhi Metro, as well as two additional forms of 'green' transport that are popular with the common man in Delhi - the compressed natural gas (CNG) powered green auto-rickshaw, and the cycle-rickshaw. The tour provides income for the student-guides, and also helps to finance some programmes at Manzil.
Places we will visit: The tour covers both New Delhi and Old Delhi. It starts at Connaught Place, with an introduction to the history of Delhi, and a geographical orientation of the city. From Connaught Place, we take you by autorickshaw on an exploration of 'Lutyens Delhi' - the city of grand public spaces designed by the British, which is now called New Delhi. We drive through the Central Business District, seeing the markets and businesses there. We go to the Lutyens Bungalow Zone, Janpath, Rajpath, and visit the President's House, Parliament House, Secretariat and India Gate..
After this, we board the Metro to go to Old Delhi, where we experience the bustle of the bazaars both on foot, and using cycle-rickshaws. We will visit Dariba Kalan (the silver market), Kinari Bazaar (wedding market) and Paranthewali Galli (Lane of Parathas). We will go past the famous Jama Masjid (the largest mosque in India). We'll visit Gurdwara Sees Ganj Sahib, built at the site where Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh Guru, was beheaded for refusing to convert to Islam. We will also see Hindu temples, Jain derasars and churches, all standing cheek-by-jowl.
The final stop is at the legendary Haldiram's for snacks (try Delhi’s popular chaats!) and a cold drink. After that, we clamber on to the Delhi Metro again, to end the tour at Connaught Place.
Total Time: 3-4 hours depending on your interest. The cab will be waiting for you to take you back to the home stay/hotel. Overnight in Delhi
Day 3: Delhi - Agra. Drive to Agra-5.5hrs drive and stop over at Sikandra, a tomb build by Akbar and completed by his son Jahangir. Arrive into Agra. Afternoon: Visit the Agra fort and examine the exquisite architecture of the Mughal empire. Overnight in Agra.
Day 4: Agra - Jaipur. Leave morning for Jaipur-4.5 hrs drive, the pink city of India . Set foot into one of the best planned cities in India. In the afternoon visit City Palace and Observatory and walk in the bazaars..
In the evening attend the Folk and Puppetry programs at a nearby village. Meet the authentic performers . The Blue Yonder supports these artisans in partnership of Kalakar Vikas samiti . You will also get opportunity to buy directly from these artisans small puppets ,trinkets, hanging elephants, bangles etc.. Such buying directly helps the artisans. An act of Responsible shopping..!!! Overnight in Jaipur.
Day 5: Jaipur-Shekhawati. Morning Visit the Amer Fort ..the majestic fort overlooking Jaipur.
Afternoon: Drive to Nawalgarh -4hrs drive ..enter the gates of Nawalgarh where you can go on a village walk and visit ancient houses, forts and temples. There are more than 200 ancient havelis in Nawalgarh. Overnight in Nawalgarh.
Day 6: Nawalgarh/Shekhawati. At Nawalgarh, we can organize a Tie and dye workshop organized by the local artists. Design your clothes with natural dyes by twisting and tying them to form pretty patterns in whichever colour you choose. Buy directly from the artisans. Learn to art of making bangles and fit some to your hands. Overnight in Nawalgarh.
Day 7: Nawalgarh-Delhi. Drive to Delhi /5hrs drive.Proceed to Hotel for the day. Rest of day free. Overnight Delhi.
The next morning we fly to Kathmandu (1hour and 20 minutes)
Nepal | Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan | 11 days
Day 1: Arrival. We transfer to Hotel Kantipur Temple House, renowned for its responsible practices and preservation of culture, and one of our long standing partners. In the evening we go to Bhojan Griha to indulge in a seven course traditional dinner prepared from organic products.
Day 2: Briefing and Orientation: After breakfast, we spend the morning conducting a detailed briefing on the trip. After lunch we walk the back streets of one of the most popular areas in Kathmandu – the Kathmandu Durbar Square – following the tradition of the Living Goddess, Kumari. Time permitting, we move to the famous Monkey Temple, Swayambhunath, to wind off the evening.
Day 3: This day is an optional day, where we either go to the hill station of Nagarkot for a walk, or to the medieval town of Bhaktapur or even venture out on a short cycling trip, learn how to cook locally or learn how to throw a pot. The activity is entirely up to the group to choose. We overnight either in Nagarkot, Bhaktapur or Kathmandu.
Day 4: An early start in a private car gets us out of the valley and on the road to Bandipur, a breathtaking mountain village close to Pokhara. The drive takes four hours through a winding valley that follows a pristine mountain river. Adventurous travelers can opt for a day of rafting. The evening is in Bandipur.
Day 5: We spend the morning exploring Bandipur. In the afternoon we get in our vehicles for the two hour drive to Pokhara, arriving just in time for sunset and the brilliant views of the Annapurnas.
Day 6: Our free day in Pokhara. We can either relax by the lake, take a short hike to the Peace Stupa, or leisurely row around the lake and enjoy the majestic views. The more adventurous can book a tandem paragliding trip which, with the backdrop of the two 8000+m peaks of Annapurna I and Dhaulagiri,simply could not have a better setting.
Day 7: After a late start we move to Chitwan National Park, about six hours away by car. We stay at our resort, Park Side, renowned for its environmentally friendly and socially responsible practices.
Day 8: Jungle Activity day. We hop on elephants and ride into the jungle to watch the famous one horned rhino. We also might visit Tharu villages and experience their culture. At some point we take a look at the responsible practices conducted around the hotel (e.g. making paper out of elephant dung; the hospital project).
Day 9: After another morning of jungle activity, or an optional cycle ride around Sauraha, we fly back to Kathmandu from Bharatpur.
Day 10: Responsible Shopping Day (optional) or a visit to an orphanage or a school that we support (as requested). In the evening we conclude with a farewell dinner.
Day 11: Departure back home. Time to rest a bit after such an eventful holiday before getting back to work. A perfect way to spend three weeks!
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