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Trekking India Holiday Package
There are few contrasts as great as trekking in the Himalaya and cruising in the Maldives, or for that matter cycling the country roads in northern India. With this in mind we combine our superb introduction to Himalayan trekking in the Annapurna foothills and ride elephants in search of wildlife at Chitwan. Next, we explore the cultural heart of India as we cycle through rural villages to Agra and the Taj Mahal. Finally, we head to the translucent waters of the Maldives to cruise aboard a Dhoni - a unique handcrafted sailboat. The combination of activities on this magnificent adventure throughout India, Nepal and the Maldives is not only captivating, you would also enjoy substantial savings on this comprehensive itinerary than if undertaking them separately, on this super-duper Trekking India Holiday Package!.
A pre-trek briefing would be handed over and arrangements will be made for the distribution of your kit bag, sleeping bag and down jacket.
The sightseeing tour,at the very start, takes you to the key attractions in and around Kathmandu. You will visit Pashupatinath and Boudhanath, and you may then have time to explore Swayambhunath, Durbar Square, Patan or Bhaktapur, and the lesser-known towns that dot the valley on foot, by bicycle or trishaw. The area has an amazing range of fascinating highlights, whatever your interest. Excellent bookshops, extensive markets, and novelty and handicraft shops contrast with fantastic centres of cultural and spiritual significance, as Kathmandu has more World Heritage sites than any other city in the world.
The next morning you take a flight west to Pokhara, Nepal's second largest town (820 m). On arrival you are greeted with sights of the entire Annapurna Range. The drive to the roadhead at Khara takes around one hour. The trail then winds uphill through terraced fields and mixed oak and rhododendron forests but this is a short day with plenty of time to reach the camp, on a grassy ridge that affords inspiring views of the huge snowy face of Annapurna South and the sacred peak of Machhapuchhare, where you are set for this trek. At dusk you can appreciate the lights of Pokhara over a thousand metres below your resting base.
The views from the campsite are excellent, and the morning generally offers the best opportunity to view the huge peaks. As you walk, the peaks of the Annapurnas will be visible through the scattered rhododendron forest, offering a sample of the trek to come. After the longer uphill morning session, the afternoon will be more gradual, as you descend towards the Mardi Khola, trekking through dense forests of rhododendron, oak and birch until you reach the terraced fields of Landruk, where there is time to explore the village and visit the nearby waterfall before you set camp nearby and dwell in the bonfire festivity.
High on the opposite side of the river, you can explore the village of Ghandruk. From this point, the trail descends along terraced slopes and forests down to a river. After crossing the river at New Bridge, the trail ascends steeply for 500m to join with the trail from Ghandruk. From here it is another walk to Chomrong, a village which offers spectacular views of Annapurna South and Machhapuchhare.
The trail meanders downhill through fields and into forests of rhododendron, magnolia and lichen covered figs. You pass by waterfalls that cascade down narrow gullies that provide the perfect home for many small ferns and delicate plants such as exotic orchids bursting with color, when you reach Tadapani, a small village with limited campsites.
It is a wonderful traverse through the forest and a fine contrast from the previous stages on the trek. You gain views of Annapurna South from Bhaisi Kharka before heading through a series of clearings that define the trail to the substantial Gurung settlement of Ghandruk, where you visit the local Gurung museum in the heart of the village and trek downhill through villages and the terraced fields to the local Syauli Bazaar on the enigmatic `Trekking India Holiday Package’.
Again, you take a short trek to Nayapul before being transported back to Pokhara for an overnight stay. Remainder of the day is at leisure to explore the Pokhara city. It would be interesting for you to follow a few of the commercial tea-house trails, on this trek. Accordingly the route and campsites may be varied at the discretion of your guide or group leader. Note that the walking hours include rest stops, an expert guide, and can vary due to trail or weather conditions.
The earlier journey which has taken you through various villages would give a chance to the tourists to get a flavour of life different in form and shape from the urban arena, a slightly detoured route in the mountainous region!
Pokhara is the launch pad for treks in the Annapurna region and it is nestled in a tranquil valley at a high altitude, a place of natural beauty. The serenity of Phewa Lake and the magnificence of the fish-tailed summit of Machhapuchhre rising behind it create an ambience of peace and tranquility. This resort lies on a once vibrant trade route extending between India and Tibet. The enchanting city has several beautiful lakes and offers stunning panoramic views of the Himalayan peaks, creating the essence that has made it such a popular place to relax and enjoy the charisma of nature. Relax in a café, hire a boat and float around the lake, or shop for Nepali and Tibetan souvenirs in the endless stalls and shops. Clearly the most stunning of Pokhara's sights is the spectacular panorama of the Annapurna range. Opt to travel out to Sarangkot, north east of Pokhara, for a spectacular sunrise of the surrounding mountains. The walk back through farms and forest is wonderful on this `Trekking India Holiday Package’.
After Pokhara, you transfer to Chitwan by road. You may carry a brief on the planned activities during your stay. Late afternoon and early morning is the best times to sight wildlife, so other times tend to be for less energetic activities. You couldl have a meal at your lodge and on arrival commence the activity program. Your accommodation would be at the Chitwan Adventure Lodge outside the park, generally in two-bed huts with a private bathroom, a favourable suggested option. Solar heated hot water is available here in the afternoon.
A guide could charter the full day's activities that include jungle walks, canoe rides, bird-watching and four-wheel-drive excursions, as well as lectures on other fauna. Our concession area is the territory of many species of wildlife including tigers, leopards, rhinoceros, and many deer, boar, bear, peacocks, an extraordinary number of bird species and this range is occasionally visited by wild elephants.
You transfer by road to Kathmandu. While there is no shortage of things to see and do in Kathmandu, it is recommended you spend time wandering the town and exploring the valley on bicycle or by taxi. The old Royal Palace, Durbar Square, Swayambhunath (the Monkey Temple), Pashupatinath (a major Hindu shrine) and the giant Buddhist stupa at Boudhnath are absolute must-sights! The staff of your accommodation lodge or hotel can arrange a guide and/or transport, should you wish or you can head off, armed with a map and explore the city to your heart’s content.
Get back to Delhi and in transit, you have some free time to wander around Connaught Place in the heart of the city,before venturing on to the next section of your trip on the `Trekking India Holiday Package’.
You transfer to Jaipur from New Delhi by train or flight, and after some rest you may start to wander the city. The famed "Pink City" of Jaipur is the capital of the state of Rajasthan, and here, you could visit the City Palace and the Jantar Mantar, the remarkable observatory reflecting their Maharaja’s passion for astronomy. There is also the Old City with its bazaars and the Hawa Mahal, the Palace of the Winds, originally built as part of the City Palace complex to allow the ladies of the Royal household to watch the everyday life in the city without themselves being observed.
A group leader or guide would be arranged for this avenue! Departing through the outlying settlements of Jaipur and with the Amber Fort as the backdrop, you may commence the bike or driving section of the trip. You then progress along the Ramgarh road, one of the quieter veins leading out of Jaipur. This region twists through small farming settlements, where you happen to provide endless entertainment to the villagers who are intrigued at the notion of westerners riding bikes or sometimes travelling by foot, or even interacting with them, through their India passage. Move on to Ramgarh Lake and enjoy a lunch respite under a huge Banyan tree. After lunch you could cycle or go on to your camp spot, in a true rural setting, with small rudimentary dwellings and endless fields of various crops. Cycling is an option and the best way to experience village India, hence this suggestion has been carefully researched to ensure that you cycle the quieter country roads well away from the main highways. The cycling section is just a great way to meet the people and absorb something of the village life that few appreciate during their time in India. There will be a forward vehicle, a back-up bus and an accompanying crew. All your gear, camping equipment, food and supplies are carried on the bus and if you decide to take a break from cycling, you can also ride on the bus or on the jeep that goes ahead of the group. The group leader and assistant leader will cycle with you, while the cook and assistants will prepare a host of snacks and refreshments that are served throughout the day. At night the camp would be established and tea will be prepared, with plenty of time for a wash and a visit to the local village before the evening meal is served.
You continue riding through timeless India, with lush flowering mustard plantations flanked by overhanging willow trees, before reaching the gates to the Sariska Tiger Reserve. After a drink stop, you continue on to your camp inside the park where you would have your meal. This was once home to a significant population of tigers, until a few seasons ago, when poaching reduced numbers. However there are many other animals in the park, and the atmosphere and natural surrounds make the visit very much worthwhile. The camp overnight will be in the grounds of the Sariska Tiger Camp.
You gallop through a number of small villages to Rajgarh where you stop for lunch. After lunch you may continue cycling or driving a few miles before boarding the bus for the journey to Bharatpur via Mahua, arriving at the camp in the premises of a Resort.
Again you may cycle or drive to the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary where you would enjoy a packed lunch. The bikes provide a wonderful mode of transport to move around and explore the park, where swamplands provide habitats for hundreds of bird species. You will then travel in a vehicle to Fatehpur Sikri, to explore Akbar's deserted capital, before continuing on to Agra.
In the early morning you have a sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan's mausoleum for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. You continue to Agra Fort, a fitting testimony to the Great Moghuls, Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan, during the era when Agra was the capital of the Moghul Empire. From the Red Fort you would have more views of the Taj Mahal on this short trip on the `Trekking India Holiday Package”.
Later you may board the train or take a flight to Trivandrum. During this particular journey, you would have travelled a huge length of India through a wide variety of cultures and people speaking a multitude of dialects. The journey completes a fantastic experience!
On arrival at Trivandrum, make your way over to the platform to the taxi stand to be taken to a hotel where you would be transferrred for an overnight accommodation, to catch the flight to Male, the final holiday destination!
On arrival at the International airport at Male, you will be transferred on a `sailing safari’ to your dhoni to join the Maldives section of this adventure. From Male you would then sail to the inhabited island of Waagali or to a resort island. Lunch aboard. The activities include swimming and snorkelling. Night at anchorage.After breakfast, the following day, you set sail to the nearby atoll and the fishing village of Felidu and spend the rest of the day in the village, meeting the local people and observing their life style. Overnight at the lagoon! Again, sail to the beautiful uninhabited island of Vashugiri with time to relax on the beach, skin diving, snorkelling or swimming. You may have a barbecue on the beach. Overnight at anchorage. Sail to another inhabited island either Felidhoo or Keyodu, meet the islanders and have some time for local entertainment that evening. Night at anchorage. Finally, you leisurely cruise back to Male Atoll and anchor at a nearby resort island for your final stay at night.
If time permits, to experience the land side of Male, you could visit the National Museum, is a three-storeyed building, the only remnant of the Sultan’s Palace which was demolished a few years ago, treasured with a collection of royal regalia and old photographs, including three moon rocks and a faded Maldivian flag that went to the moon, and enclosing a Park which is an attractive place full of flowers and trees. The Islamic Centre is the best-known architectural landmark with a complex that contains the largest mosque in the Maldives, topped with a
Golden dome. The National Art Gallery contains varied art forms of the nation, from paintings to photography and sole exhibitions. The Banana Reef, is a protected area, that has everything from dramatic cliffs to caves and overhangs, brilliant coral growths along with big predators such as sharks, groper, and prolific reef fish such as jackfish, morays and bluestriped snapper. The reef top is excellent for snorkelling. The Fish Head, one of the world’s most famous dives has steep sides which are spectacular with multi-level ledges, overhangs and there are caves supporting sea fans, anemones and black corals. Wouldn’t you call this an exhilerating phenomenon on the `Trekking India Holiday Package’?
In Nepal, there are centres and shops for homeware and furnishings with exquisite carpets from The Nepali origin and plenty of shops supporting the craft of cooperatives and handicapped women, such as handmade paper products, photo albums, paper lamps, batik and woollens. There is a showhouse with treasures of dhaka weavings, ceramics, block prints, pashminas, woodcrafts, jewellery, knitwear, statues, masks, wood carvings, curios and souvenirs, made of brass and copper with a gold polish or gold plated. The outbuildings surrounding the old Rana complex have been redeveloped to house a warren of chic clothes shops, designer galleries, handicrafts shops, including some restaurants and cafes. Sleeping bags, knitwear and carpets are found in abundance at negotiable prices, a variety of Indian and Internationally branded gear and other innumerable items to motivate the buyer!
Rajasthan has plenty of outlets and vendors all around, prominently displaying particularly attractive and colourful textiles with mirror work, to be used as bedspreads, hangings or duvet covers. Carved stone pieces, turbans and ravanhattas (musical instruments) make for interesting souvenirs as also miniatures on paper, cloth and stone, and camel leather goods like bags, jootis and sandals. There is an abundance of meenakari jewellery in silver, gold and diamonds and polki, thewa carvings and naqashi ornates on the precious metals, and the land is famous for pearls, precious and semi-precious gems. Rajasthani quilts and linen are always in demand and the outlets have an extraordinary collection in cotton, silk and velvet! Bundi murals on silk or paper, or miniatures, are also bought as ideal gifts or collections! Bundi murals on silk or paper, or miniatures, are also bought as ideal gifts or collections!
Agra is well-known for handicrafts, but the local markets are chaotic, though the big shops are expensive. Marble inlay on tables, boxes, knick-knacks, even sofas, may be available for purchase. The city’s craftsmen are also famous for carpet weaving and there are good cotton durries too. Zardozi gold wire embroidery, usually on silk, is another speciality. There are plenty of handmade leather works such as bags, sandals, purses, shoes, belts, accessories, artefacts and curios in marble and sandstone, semi-precious stones with jewels, and wood and metal craft.
Male, the capital of Maldives is a fascinating place for the shoppers. Garments, perfumes, cosmetics, jewellery, electronic gadgets, gizmos, canned fish and various local handicrafts are amongst the best picks. There are shops offering apparels, perfumes, curios, jewellery, trinkets, sarongs, songkets, food preserves and souvenirs, to take back as mementos. Situated on the main road of the island, along its sides there are numerous shops selling goods ranging from the smallest commodities to virtually everything you may need. The shops have a fabulous collection of garments, perfumes and cosmetics, jewellery, handbags, watches or electronics and much more. Chandanee Magu is the best place for souvenir shopping and shops are stocked with a profusion of gifts, curios or souvenir items. Best picks include the “thudu kuna”, the Maldivian mat woven with local natural fibre, and the attractive wooden miniature “dhonis” which are a worthwhile purchase.
A large number of restaurants in Kathmandu have since opened, catering Nepali, Tibetan, Chinese and Indian cuisine, in particular. Many other outlets have opened to accommodate locals, expatriates, and tourists. Continental cuisine can be found in selected places. International chain restaurants are rare, but some outlets of Pizza Hut and KFC have recently opened. The legally pronounced casinos are there for an exploration and an after-dinner snacks such as momos, sandwiches, burger along with some beverages or perhaps, even an ice-cream! Customised meals can be prepared on request!
Most places in Rajasthan are completely equipped to offer North Indian, Continental, Chinese, Thai, Gujrati and of course Rajasthani dal-bhaati-choorma, gatte ki subzi, ker sangria and lahsun mirch ki chutney. There is plenty of fast food fare, such as soups, pastas, pizzas, salads, sandwiches, burgers,cakes, pastries, pies, puddings, ice creams, sundaes, delicious Indian snacks such as samosas, pani puri, aloo chaat papri, phirni, gulab jamuns, kheer, in desi ghee and minimal oil for all tastes, lined up throughout the desert land to entice the palate of Indian and International tourists!
In Agra, the heat, crowds and noise usually does not discourage the tourists from trying the local eateries. The Mughal’s buffet lunch is popular with tourist groups, while Clarks Shiraz offers decent food. Dasaprakash on Gwalior Road has idli-dosa-sambar combos and the famed Chiman near the Jama Masjid is known for its thalis. Capri in Hari Parbat serves good North Indian and Mughlai. For a decent variety, try Pinch of Spice at Wazirpura Road, favoured by Backpackers. Take home angoori and kesar petha from Panchhi Petha in Sadar Bazaar and Hari Parbat or from Kedarnath Phool Chand Pethawala in Johri. Ofcourse, you find enough fare to cater to the international tourists!
For food, Maldives has an abundance of cuisines to rock your taste buds, and give you a spell-binding culinary experience, as it offers a mix of Indian, Mediterranean, Continental, Chinese, Cantonese, Oriental fare along with burgers, pastas, pizzas, sandwiches, croissants, cold or hot shakes, savouries, mouth-melting patisserie, smoothies and beverages, home-made sweets and pickles, served in the most peaceful and solitude environment! The hive `Cafe’ offers the best Burgers in town, with a variety of other pastry items and drinks. The Hive Restaurant located on top of Beehive Nalahiya Hotel, gives a magnificent view of `Male’ in addition to the delicious international cuisines in a relaxed environment. Maarukeytu Hota, is a noisy eatery Full of fishermen from the market below. It has no English menu, but the staff is happy to help out with a serving of grilled fish, curry, rice and drinks that won’t cost more than you can afford. Olive Garden and Orchid de Magu serve pizzas, pasta and the usual suspects, spiced up to tickling tastes — ah! Warn the waiter in advance if you do not like chilies! Shell Bean is a popular sandwich shop, and Thai Wok offers tasty and authentic Thai food!
Nepal experiences five seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring. Recommended for a holiday throughout the year, as there are enough indoor activities to keep you occupied and interestingly involved, even if it is very cold or raining outside! Trekking would be best in the summer-autumn, and winter for the snow-experience!
Rajasthan, being a desert region, has summers with hot days and cool nights and are enjoyable for secluded and private indoors. Of course, the winters are much more pleasant during the day, and cold in the night apt for a candlelight dinner! Agra has a climate which is rather hot during the summer months and fairly cold during the winter months with unpredictable rain showers!
The weather in the Maldives is usually picture perfect, with sunlit days, breezy nights, balmy mornings, and iridescent sunsets. Throughout the year, the sun is a constant on most days, shining through treetops, creating lacy patterns on your feet, healing cold-bones with its warmth. The island has two distinct seasons, that is, a dry season accompanying the northeast monsoon, and a wet season accompanying the southwest monsoon, with the former extending from January to March and the latter from mid-May to November. Cruising could be undertaken during clear weather or else stay on land which also has terrific options!
A `Dream Come True’ would be your slogan, perhaps in your diary or your memory, when you return from the `Trekking India Holiday Package’, as a reminder for another trip!