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Gain insights into captivating Rajasthan’s contrasting cultures with your own guide: visit forts and palaces of the Maharajas, marvel at the vast desert, travel by camel to a camp, learn about the traditional desert people, and enjoy warm hospitality in authentic, welcoming guesthouses.
One overnight train; two city hotels; one thatched roundhouse; one domed tent
8 breakfasts, 5 dinners, 5 lunches/picnics
Price (excluding flights)
Connecting transfers are included. We can also arrange flights – see ‘Prices & Travel’.
When you can travel
The season for this holiday is:
15 October 2019 - 09 April 2020
15 October 2020 - 28 February 2021
A journey through Rajasthan with a guide
Rajasthan is the ‘Land of Kings’ – of fabled palaces and forts, and of cities rich in history and bustling with life. It is also synonymous with the tranquillity and mysterious beauty of the Thar Desert, which was created, so legend goes, by the falling of an arrow shot by Rama, and is characterised by vast horizons, camel trains and fairs, demoiselle cranes and other wildlife in abundance. Thus Rajasthan is a region of great contrasts, exhibiting the richness and creativity of both man and nature. This holiday gives a wonderful sense of all this, taking you from the fabulous world of the Rajput Maharajahs right into the heart of desert communities – or dhani – where life among the dunes is simple but surprisingly diverse.
Your adventure begins in Jodhpur, dominated by the formidable Mehrangarh Fort, beneath which lies a jumble of blue-painted houses. From here, you journey to the edge of the Thar Desert to experience a very different side of Rajasthan. Here, in a largely untouched area of gently undulating semi-desert, lie the scattered houses of Hacra, between which roam herds of goats, cows and camels. Hacra is also home to a warmly hospitable people who live in harmony with – and great sensitivity towards – their surrounding landscape. You may encounter farmers harvesting watermelons or repairing camel saddles, hear musicians playing traditional songs, or see peacocks, blackbuck or the odd gazelle sauntering through the undergrowth. After a memorable camel safari during which you spend a night under the stars in a tented camp, you finish your adventure in Jaipur, whose grand palaces and noisy bazaars again highlight the sharp contrasts of this magnificent region.
We are currently unable to take new bookings for this holiday, but hope to be able to do so again soon.
Amber fort, Jaipur
Camel feeding time in Hacra
Jhumpa roundhouses, Hacra
Herding cattle in Hacra
Merangarh fort, Jodhpur
We provide you with your own local guide who accompanies you as you explore. Because it's privately guided, you get to set the pace and have a say in how you spend your days, and can pause as often as you like to take photos and admire the views.
Arrival in Delhi
Arrival in Delhi
You arrive in colourful and tumultuous Delhi. You will be collected from the airport and taken to a hotel to freshen up before heading for the railway station to board the overnight Mandor Express, bound for Jodhpur. Depending on your flight arrival time, you may have chance for a quick exploration of Delhi in the afternoon.
Night 1: on the overnight Mandor Express, bound for Jodhpur. As this is a day of travelling, we class your first day of exploration (ie the following day) as Day 1 of the itinerary.
On arrival at Jodhpur (known as the ‘Gateway to Thar’) early in the morning, you are met at the station by your driver, with whom you have the whole day to explore as you wish. Many people head straight for the mighty Mehrangarh Fort, and you may wish to do the same. An architectural masterpiece whose formidable walls seemingly grow organically from its rocky perch, it towers over the ‘old town’ – which is spread out in a jumble of blue cubes far below – and features the Maharaja’s extravagant palace, several ornate temples and extensive gardens in which to relax beneath shady trees. So, the ‘Blue City’ really is blue, with its Brahmin painted houses, and you can also enjoy browsing the spices, sweets, silver and handicrafts at busy bazaars beneath the famous clock tower. Your hotel, the Haveli Inn Pal, is handily located for the sights.
Free morning in Jodhpur then travel to Hacra
Free morning in Jodhpur then travel to Hacra
You have the morning to further explore this exotic city. After lunch you begin your journey by car (2hrs) towards the edge of the vast Thar Desert and the small village of Hacra, not far from the town of Osiyan. Here you stay five nights – four in a traditional jhumpa, or thatched village roundhouse, and one in a tented desert camp.
Explore the Thar Desert
Explore the Thar Desert
‘How do people manage to live here?’ is the type of question that comes to mind here on the fringes of the desert; but the Rajput community (a caste considered to be chivalrous, loyal and brave) manage to do so with great amiability and sensitivity towards the surrounding landscape and natural world. Theirs is an undeniably simple way of life, but one that is a true privilege to share for a few days, in order to gain a valuable insight into their time-honoured customs, habits and traditions.
We include a day trip to Osiyan to visit the town’s remarkable cluster of ruined Brahmin and Jain temples dating from the 8th to 11th centuries, and the rest of your time can be spent getting to know your hosts and exploring the surrounding area: wander slowly between the craftsmen, shoemakers and weavers of the village; or join a camel ride into the rolling dunes, hoping to spot blackbuck, chinkara gazelle, Indian wild ass, desert fox or even a wolf. Between November and February, another optional visit which we recommend is to nearby Khichan, where flocks of around 6,000 demoiselle cranes (or kuraj as they are known locally) gather in special enclosures to be fed by locals.
The undoubted highlight of your time in Rajasthan is a camel safari and walk (10-12km) out into the ever-changing sand dunes of what is the ninth largest subtropical desert in the world. Your guide and handler provide a picnic lunch and you get to spend a memorable night under the stars in a dome-shaped tent before returning to Hacra.
Travel to Jaipur
Travel to Jaipur
Bidding farewell to your hosts in the desert, you return to Jodhpur (2hrs) after lunch. There is time to enjoy dinner (pay locally) before catching the evening train to fascinating Jaipur, India’s first planned city and now the most populous in Rajasthan. You are met at the railway station for the short transfer to the Umaid Bhawan Hotel.
Despite its size and chaotic nature, the ‘City of Victory’ charms visitors with its stunning palaces and bargain-filled bazaars, and today is spent discovering Jaipur’s staggering wealth of sights with the aid of your included car and driver.
We recommend a short trip out to the hill-top Amber Fort to admire the views and the dazzling display of Rajput architecture. Once back within the ‘Pink City’ – bound by ancient, crenellated walls – don’t miss Hawa Mahal (‘Palace of the Winds’), a breathtaking, delicately honeycombed, pink sandstone structure, constructed in 1799 to enable ladies of the royal household to watch the life and processions of Jaipur. The top offers great views over the impressive City Palace and Jantar Mantar, both worthy of a visit in their own right – the latter is a remarkable 18th-century astronomical observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh II, the great warrior-astronomer who was also the founder and creator of Jaipur itself.
Flight to Delhi
Flight to Delhi
Your discovery of Rajasthan ends with a short early morning flight from Jaipur back to Delhi, from where you fly home.
Please bear in mind that your accommodation is much simpler than on other Inntravel holidays, and although the facilities are not what you might expect to find in Europe, this is more than made up for by the uniquely welcoming atmosphere. As well as comfortable city hotels in Jodhpur and Jaipur, you get to stay in a specially constructed jhumpa (a thatched roundhouse) in Hacra, on the edge of the Thar Desert, plus a comfortable, domed tent under the stars.
Our prices are based on travel in a second-class, air-conditioned carriage. However, it may be possible to upgrade to a first-class, air-conditioned carriage, subject to availability. There is no on-board catering service.
Meal arrangements: none
Extra nights recommended
There's plenty to see in fascinating Jodhpur, so add an extra night to give yourselves more time to explore.
Haveli Inn Pal
In keeping with its 18th-century aristocratic origins, the Haveli Inn Pal, a heritage hotel, is beautifully furnished. Tall, arched windows which let in plenty of light are complemented by intricately carved furniture, richly coloured fabrics and bright floor tiles in the public areas and twelve individually decorated bedrooms. However, perhaps the best feature is the panorama: the hotel commands superb views of the imposing fort, the lake and the blue city.
Meal arrangements: breakfast only
Nights 3-4 & 6-7 (may vary)
Your accommodation is in one of three traditional thatched roundhouses (jhumpa), which each sleep two. There is a separate shower and toilet hut (shared between guests), plus a shaded communal dining hall, where you take your meals, simply and lovingly prepared by the village women using vegetarian ingredients such as lentils, onions and chillies, goat’s milk, pearl millet and rice.
The dome-shaped tents are compact, yet comfortable, perfectly suited to desert conditions. Each accommodates two mattresses, with simple washing facilities and a separate toilet tent pitched slightly apart from the sleeping tents.
Add an extra night to explore this splendid city further.
Umaid Bhawan Hotel
The Umaid Bhawan is a modern, family-run hotel offering comfortable accommodation amid elegant surroundings. The décor is traditional Rajasthani style, with beautifully carved balconies, attractive courtyards, open terraces, a pleasant garden and antique furnishings. The included Royal Deluxe rooms are spacious, with a seating area; and the restaurant serves delicious Indian cuisine. You can dine inside, in the shady courtyard, or on the roof terrace while enjoying traditonal folk dancing or a puppet show. There is also a pool and an internet cafe.
Meal arrangements: breakfast only
Extend your stay
Why not combine this journey with a stay in the Indian capital, Delhi, or a visit to 'The Golden Triangle'? Please contact us for details.
What is included
9 nights (including 1 on train)
5 dinners 5 lunches/picnics 8 breakfasts
local guide in Hacra
car and driver in Jodhpur (1 day) and car, driver & guide in Jaipur (1 day)
rail travel Delhi-Jodhpur & Jodhpur-Jaipur
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If you have any questions relating to this or any other Inntravel holiday, our friendly travel experts will be happy to help.
Do I need a visa to visit India?
All British citizens require a tourist visa to enter India.
An E-visa system operates for tourists requiring a visa for stays of up to 60 days. You must apply for the E-visa no earlier than 120 days prior to arriving, but also a minimum of 4 days prior to your arrival in India. The visa will be valid for 60 days from your date of arrival. Your passport must be valid for a minimum of six months from your date of arrival in India and have two blank pages. You can apply for the visa here: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html
If you are travelling to India for more than 60 days then visa applications are submitted and processed by post; we advise that you allow up to 3 weeks to obtain your visa by this method. You can find full details and obtain an on-line Visa Application Form by visiting http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk. If you or any member of your party is not a British citizen or holds a non-British passport, you should check passport and visa requirements at https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html.
Do I need immunisations before travelling to India?
The TravelHealthPro website gives a general outline of the immunisations you are likely to need, though you should seek advice from your doctor or practice nurse in good time before your holiday for more tailored information. There are no reciprocal health agreements between the UK and India. It is therefore all the more important that you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover you in the case of illness or an accident. You will need to take sensible health precautions while travelling in India, and we will send you full details with your holiday documentation.
What will the weather be like?
The tropical, semi-arid desert climate here can be divided into the seasons of autumn, winter, summer and monsoon. The autumn and winter seasons (October to March) are in many ways the best time to visit, avoiding excessive heat and humidity, while still generally enjoying warm, dry conditions. During October and November, daytime temperatures do not exceed 30°C, vegetation is still green and the nights gradually become cooler. From December through to March, temperatures range from 8-28°C, with low humidity and little rainfall. As well as sunscreen and sunglasses (essential items for travel to this part of the world), you should pack layers for added warmth once the sun goes down as it can get decidedly chilly.
What language is spoken in India?
English is widely spoken in Delhi and Mumbai, but much less so in the rural villages where the local dialects are most prevalent. Most villagers will be delighted to try to communicate with you, while your guide will act as interpreter and even instruct you in the rudiments of the local dialect of Hindi spoken in Madhya Pradesh, Kumaoni (Himalayan foothills), Marwari (Rajasthan), Malayalam (Kerala) or Kannada (Karnataka)!
What is the time difference?
India is five-and-a-half hours ahead of GMT all year round, and is therefore four-and-a-half hours ahead of BST.
Can I book my flights through Inntravel, and what’s the advantage of doing this?
We can book a wide range of routes from the UK with a variety of airlines (but not, currently, with Ryanair). As well as being more convenient for you to book all elements of your holiday together, it also means that we’ll accept liability for your travel arrangements, so if things go wrong, such as the airline going bust, we’ll make suitable alternative arrangements for you. For Europe, there’s a £35 booking fee per person (£15 for children aged 2-11). For India and Nepal, the booking fee is £60 per person. More information on flights >
Can you book travel arrangements for customers from outside the UK?
We can’t book flights that originate outside the UK, but if you wanted to book your own flights to London (or elsewhere in the UK), we can make all onward travel arrangements (including flights) from there. Alternatively, if you are booking your own flights to an airport in continental Europe that’s appropriate for your holiday, we can book onward rail travel and/or taxis. More information about how we can tailor holidays for customers outside the UK >
How do I make a booking?
Once you’ve decided on your exact itinerary (our travel experts will be happy to offer advice), you need to provide us with your party’s details, either by phone or via our booking form. At this point we also ask you to pay a deposit so that we can secure a room for you immediately on confirming availability with the hotel(s). If it turns out that we can’t secure the accommodation for the holiday you’ve requested, or offer an acceptable alternative, we’ll refund your deposit promptly and in full. After booking your accommodation and other key elements, we'll then book your travel (or you can do so if you’re making your own arrangements) and send you a Booking Confirmation and Invoice.
Yes, it’s something we insist on, even for holidays in the UK. The vast majority of holidays go smoothly, but when things go wrong, it can be expensive to put them right. Buying a new pair of walking boots after your suitcase is stolen mightn’t seem so bad, but the bill for being airlifted down from a mountain with a broken leg or flown home while still recovering from an illness or accident can cost tens of thousands of pounds.
You don’t have to take out our recommended travel insurance policy (if you live outside the UK you’ll definitely need to make your own arrangements, as the policy is only for UK residents), but you do need to make sure that you’re covered for medical emergencies – including falling ill with Covid-19 while on holiday – and repatriation. We also recommend that you are covered for other eventualities, such as cancellation and loss of luggage and passports.
We'll ask you for the details of your policy (insurer, policy number and medical emergency phone number) so that we can help out if the worst happens while you are on holiday. It's up to you, though, to check that your policy covers the activities you'll be doing on holiday and that it is adequate for your own individual needs; we don't check alternative policies.