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Impressions of Burma itinerary

 

Day 1: Yangon
Min Gala Ba! Welcome to Burma (Myanmar).

Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting in the evening of Day 1.

You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please check with the hotel reception where and when it will take place, or check the reception notice boards. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

Formerly named Rangoon, Yangon is the country's biggest city and was the capital from 1885, when the British conquered the north and the kingdom of Mandalay, until just a few years ago when the government moved the capital to Naypyidaw.

To get your bearings and a taste of this wonderful city, take a walk to Sule Paya, then perhaps down to the Victorian Strand Hotel to admire both the colonial architecture and the bargaining madness of Bogyoke Market. Or sample some of the great Indian food on offer.

Day 2: Yangon/Mandalay

This morning we set off for one of the great sites of Rangoon, indeed Burma, if not the world! The extraordinary Shwedagon Pagoda and its surrounding temples and edifices dominate all and provide an extraordinary mix of monks and pilgrims and worshippers and tourists. We will spend some time walking around the complex, learning of its history and spiritual devotions, and experiencing the ambience of this extraordinary place.

We then leave mid-morning for the airport (seeing a bit more of Rangoon along the way). At the airport your tour leader will coordinate the check-in for your flight to Mandalay, using a private airline. Flight time is usually a little over an hour and after landing it is a drive of about 45 minutes to the city and your hotel for the next three nights. The rest of the afternoon is free – you might enjoy a walk to one of the markets, where a great time can be had enjoying the hustle and bustle, taking photos or bargaining for local wares.

 

Day 3: Mandalay

We make our way down to the city’s lively waterfront which offers an interesting backdrop as we take a boat trip up-river to Mingun - the site of the world's largest pagoda (albeit unfinished!), the world’s largest unbroken bell, and temples dating back hundreds if not thousands of years. The river is effectively a major trading, communication and commuting highway and a wide range of different boats, barges and steamers can be viewed along the way. We return to Mandalay late morning: this city was a former capital of Burma; however the surrounding countryside contains many towns that could lay claim to that same title at some stage or another in the past. Later in the afternoon we embark on a tour visiting the remnants of one of these once-great cities, Amarapura. Weather permitting, we may also view a spectacular sunset over the 200-year-old, two-kilometre-long, U Bein wooden bridge, either from land or by boat.

This evening you may wish to dine at your hotel, or your tour leader will be able to recommend any one of a number of good local restaurants: the choice of meals and good places to eat is extensive throughout this trip.

 

Day 4: Maymyo (Pyin U Lwin)/Mandalay

After a drive up into the hills, Burma's most famous hill station, Maymyo (Pyin U Lwin), provides an escape from the heat of the plains. Established during the colonial era back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it is today a crossroad for traders coming over from China and this is reflected in its colourful market.

Take time to explore surroundings in a local horse-drawn carriage called a 'myin-lay'. English-style country mansions and Chinese temples dot the hillsides in a place rightly called the 'vegetable garden' of Burma. Later, we return to Mandalay where the rest of the day is spent visiting various temples, including Kuthodaw Pagoda that claims to house the world's largest 'book'.

Time permitting, it was once a challenging walk up Mandalay Hill (236 metres), but these days, if in operation, a series of large escalators will do most of the work for you on the way up!! If conditions oblige, the sunset views from the summit can be impressive and along the way there are many shrines of religious significance.

 

Day 5 & 6: Bagan

We depart early from our hotel for the waterfront to spend to an entire day on a ferry boat as we cruise down the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River.

Note: (Due to the unpredictable nature of water levels and ferry operations on the Irrawaddy River between February and May, it is possible that some services may be cancelled during that period. Some of these cancellations may take place at the last minute and often without warning. If this is the case it may be necessary to fly between Mandalay and Bagan. There will be no extra cost for this flight).

Along the way, we witness the idyllic way of life that epitomises parts of rural Burma in the form of the small fishing villages that lie along the riverbanks. And we pass dozens of boats of different size and utility, testament to the role which this mighty river plays in the life of so many.

There is a restaurant on board our ferry, and meals and drinks are readily available for purchase during the day. In the evening we arrive in Pagan (Bagan), one of the most impressive archaeological wonders of Asia, and are met and driven to our hotel. (Due to the unpredictable nature of water levels and ferry operations on the Irrawaddy River between February and May, it is possible that some services may be cancelled during that period. Some of these cancellations may take place at the last minute and often without warning. If this is the case it may be necessary to fly between Mandalay and Bagan. There will be no extra cost for this flight).

The sights of Bagan are explored from dawn to dusk. Nyaung U's lively market contrasts with the eerie silence of the plains littered with over 4000 structures, including Gawdawpalin, Thatbyinnyu, Ananda and Shwezigon - all names of temples and pagodas that bear testament to a glorious past. The area is also famous for producing lacquer-ware and sand-paintings that is available in the stalls amidst the ruins.

There is also a chance to do some of our exploration by horse and cart. Weather permitting, we may enjoy a breath-taking sunset view from one of the ruins.

 

Day 7: Day trip to Mt Popa/Bagan

Today we drive for an hour before arriving at Mount Popa, an extinct volcano that is home to the local spirits or deities known as 'nats'. For the energetic, there is a chance to climb the 777 steps to the shrine at the top of the hill. Returning to Pagan, we visit a local village to observe the lifestyle of the people and talk with some of the villagers. The afternoon is free to further explore this amazing area. You may hire a bicycle or take a horse carriage and enjoy your own exploration of the archaeological sites. This evening we return to Bagan for our last night.

 

Day 8: Flight to Heho, Inle Lake

We board a plane and fly to Heho, which is situated in the Shan Plateau. From here, we drive through picturesque countryside and rolling hills to our final destination, Khaungdaing, situated on Inle Lake not far from the main township, Nyaungshwe. This afternoon you may like to rent a canoe (for about one hour) and row in to Lin Kin village, famous for its floating garden in the lake. On our way back we may stop over at some of the village houses to see the process of making traditional snacks (optional and at extra cost). You will notice that the weather is rather cooler due to the high altitude.
 

Day 9: Inle Lake Boat Trip
A full day is spent on the lake exploring the floating gardens and catching a glimpse of the local Intha fishermen who are famous for their unique 'leg-rowing' technique. These people are different from the Shans and they originate from the south of the country. The lake is also home to a wide array of bird-life including egrets, cranes, ducks, storks and birds of prey. Visits may be made to some of the local villages and our stay may coincide with one of the market days: always exciting with much of the commuting being done by local people using the ubiquitous long-tail boats.
 

Day 10: Short Trek
After breakfast at our hotel we transfer to Indein ruins complex (about 45 minutes by long-tail boat). On disembarking we find a pagoda and stupas built in the 8th century. We can also enjoy browsing through the rows of shops along the corridor uphill or just marvel at the surroundings. After spending some time we will start our walk towards to Yankin, Pa O and Taung Yoe tribe village (1.5 km, approx 45 minutes).

Along the way we explore the mystery of more than 300 ancient stupas around the village and then continue towards (1 km, approx 30 minutes) to a Buddhist monastery and head north to Naydaw (1.5 km, approx 45 minutes) to Taung Yoe ethnic tribe village through farm land and bamboo forest. From here turn to South-West (5 km, approx 3 hours) through the valley ups and downs to west Taung Mauk, Pa O village from here another 20 minute walk would get you to east Taung Mauk village. Finally we turn east through valley to Indein (3 km, approx 45 minutes) where we will meet our boat and return back to hotel. This evening we enjoy a traditional Shan dinner and get to sample some of the local style culinary specialties.

Note: the amount of walking advisable today will depend on individual and group fitness and wishes, and also the time of year.
 

Day 11: Fly to Yangon, Kyaikhtiyo (Golden Rock)
We transfer to Heho Airport for the flight back to Rangoon in the morning, on arrival you will be met and drive for the 5 hour (approx.) transfer to Kyaikthiyo. One of Myanmar’s major landmarks, famous for its precarious position and religious importance, Kyaikthiyo the “Golden Rock” is a huge boulder completely covered by gold leaf and delicately balanced on the edge of a cliff.

We arrive at the base camp of Kinpun and continue up to the Golden Rock by open truck, about an hour’s mountain drive. A further light trek to the summit we will have time to have enjoy the sunset from the top of the hill. Descending back down, we spend the night at our hotel in Kyaikhtiyo.

 

Day 12: Yangon
After breakfast this morning, we walk for 30mins to reach Kyee Kan Pa Sat (Crow's mouth Cave); an important place of worship for the local people. On the way we will pass by some local handicraft stalls selling local produce.

Midmorning we will return Yangon via Bago through rice fields and small towns. When we arrive in Bago we will visit the local market, Kanbawza Thardi Palace built by King Bayinnaung, the Kalayani Sima (Ordination Hall), Shwemawdaw Pagoda, and Shwethalyaung Pagoda - home to what many say is the world’s most beautiful reclining Buddha. We then return to Yangon.

The rest of the afternoon is free in Rangoon and you can visit Sule Pagoda, which marks the centre of town and the nearby Bogyoke (Scott) Market that sells a wide array of local goods and handicrafts. There is also time explore a fascinating city full of dilapidated colonial edifices, to perhaps take High Tea at the historic colonial hotel, The Strand, and take a stroll through vibrant Chinatown market area as the afternoon cools (these are optional excursions and at your own expense).

 

Day 13: Yangon
The tour ends after breakfast, and you are free to depart at any time, or spend longer in Yangon at your own expense.

 

Please note: One of the main things about the trips that I run is flexibility.This is especially needed in Burma, where flights and sometimes even hotel arrangements can change at short notice. We will do our best to achieve everything on the itinerary, but it is important to realise that mass travel in Burma is in its infancy and so changes can occur.

Printable version of itinerary

Land arrangements are sub-contracted to Intrepid Travel, who have many years experience in running small group adventures.

Bookings are made through the Intrepid Private Groups in the UK not the Intrepid website or Stores. Use this link for more information

Included in the trip price

9 nights hotel or riad accommodation

1 night in desert camp

• 1 night in guesthouse

• 8 breakfasts

2 dinners

All transport as per itinerary

• Todra Gorge 4WD safari

• Camel ride to desert camp

Walking tour of Marrakech

Taxi to main square & dinner

Transport to Majorelle Gardens

Majorelle Gardens entrance

Cooking class, Ait Benhaddou

• Essaouria walking tour

• Pre-trip Facebook group

• Experienced Intrepid leader

Expert photographic tuition

Impressions of Morocco itinerary

 

Day 1: Travel day/Arrival in Ouarzazate
Salaam Aleikum! Welcome to Morocco.

Our adventure officially starts in the desert town of Ouarzazate. but the official group flight is the Easyjet flight to Marrakech from London Gatwick, which arrives on the morning of the 12 April. We will be met from the airport, and transferred to Ouarzazate by private bus. The cost for this has been built into the airfare if bought from Intrepid (which is currently a shade under 260 including booking fee, transfer and baggage costs). If buying separately transfer cost will be 15.

Our drive takes us across the atmospheric 2260 metre Tizi n'Tichka Pass, and through some stunning scenery.

Hotel: 1 night, breakfast included

Day 2: Erg Chebbi

Welcome meeting in the hotel reception at 9 am. This morning you will explore the town of Ouarzazate and visit the hundred year old Taourirt Kasbah. A potent symbol of the Glaoui clan’s power, the kasbah gives a glimpse of how these feudal lords lived. You will then have the chance to buy an essential piece of desert kit – a shesh. This is a long piece of cloth a bit like a scarf that is wrapped around the head to keep the sun off and the loose end can be pulled across the face to keep out the sand.

Take a stunning drive towards the mighty Sahara Desert (approx 7hrs). We have many opportunities to stop and admire and take photos of the panoramic views of the Kasbahs and palmeries (valleys lush with date palms, fields and orchards) en route, since we have the convenience of our own private minivan (there are not many options for public transport in these parts). We can pause in some of the frontier towns such as Erfoud and Rissani before we reach the end of the road and the small Saharan settlement of Merzouga.

We'll store our main baggage before saddling up our day packs and mounting camels to head off into the sunset for a memorable night in our Sahara camp (approx 1 hour each way).

The Erg Chebbi dunes are the most stunning in the country and an experience essential of any visit to Morocco. An erg is a vast sea of shifting wind-swept sand that's formed into picturesque undulating crests and valleys, and the Erg Chebbi is one of the world's classic landscapes of towering dunes, up to heights of over 150 metres. Located at the end of the sealed road and just 20 kilometres from the Algerian border this is wonderful frontier country.

The camp is a simple affair with bedding and basic toilet facilities provided. Our local friends will prepare a hearty feast so all you need to do is soak up the experience. Our camp does provide blankets which are sufficient for most travellers between April and October.

In the night we will have our first chance to photograph star trails, at our desert camp.

Optional lunch in Tinghir.

Included Activities

• Camel ride in desert

• Dinner at camp

• 4WD to camp

Accommodation: Desert camp (1 night) No single supplement is available for this night stop

 

Day 3: Dades Gorge

For the early risers the morning begins with a sunrise over the majestic dunes before breakfast. It's another classic drive with dramatic changes of landscape to Dades Gorge (approx 4 hrs).

Stop en route in a small town called Tinejdad (approx 2 hrs from the desert) and where we have the option to visit the interesting Museum El Khorbat, which has a great collection of rural and historical Berber artefacts, clothing, jewellery and tools. It's housed in three restored homes of a Ksar and provides a wealth of information about Berber people living in the area.

After lunch, we head to our hotel in the Dades area that has a very pleasant pool. After two long driving days the group can relax and take the afternoon off.

Flanked on both sides by high limestone cliffs, Dades Valley features bizarre rock formations with picturesque kasbahs dotted amongst the crops and palms.

Accommodation: Hotel (2 nights)

 

Day 4: 4WD safari to Todra Gorge

After two long driving days we have a day with very little driving as we stay local and explore the equally spectacular Dades Gorge. We travel by 4 wheel drive on this excursion (please note that if conditions are very wet it is too dangerous due to flash flooding, if this is the case we will use the main highway instead.

Todra Gorge is a spectacular canyon with sheer rock walls up to 300 m high, now gaining fame as a rock-climbing destination. We plan to have a meal in a guesthouse in Todra, and also have the time to explore the Palmeries in the verdant lower gorge, before returning to our hotel in the Dades Gorge for the night.

 

Day 5: Ait Benhaddhou

Say goodbye to the Gorges region and travel further south towards Ait Benhaddou (approx 3 hrs). This scenic drive offers a glimpse of times gone by via the ruins of ancient kasbahs, former colonial military outposts, austere mountains, wide-open spaces, and valleys of palm trees and irrigated fields. En route we can pause for lunch in Ouarzazate.

The film capital of Morocco, Ouarzazate is the location where productions such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Sheltering Sky and Black Hawk Down were filmed.

Time permitting, you can take an optional tour of the Atlas Movie Studios.

We also have the chance to make a short visit to Project Handicapped Horizon, an organisation dedicated to the rehabilitation, health and empowerment of people with disabilities. Some of the amazing services they provide include the building and fitting of prosthetic limbs, custom-made wheelchairs, and physio and social therapy for sufferers of accidents and illness. They also operate an artisans workshop which trains local people in trades such as pottery, weaving, metal work and jewellery making. This is a wonderful visit and we're very proud to support this project through The Intrepid Foundation.

Centuries ago, Ait Benhaddou was an important stop for the caravans passing through as they carried salt across the Sahara, returning with gold, ivory and slaves. Today, its grand kasbah is still one of the most beautiful in all of Morocco and a World Heritage site. This fortified village is a fine example of clay architecture and is also famous for its role on the silver screen, featuring in numerous films such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Jewel of the Nile and Gladiator.

This evening will be our second chance to practice shooting star-trails - from the roof of our guesthouse!

Included Activities

• Cooking class and dinner

Accommodation: Guesthouse (1 night) No single supplement is available for this night stop

 

Day 6: Taroudant

Rejoin our minivan and continue towards Taroudant (approx 5 hrs). This drive takes us through more superb desert scenery and along a route that's a reserve for the indigenous argan trees - if we're lucky we might come across the famous image of goats climbing these trees in search of their tasty nuts.

Please note that this is a long travel day and we won't arrive at our accommodation until late afternoon/early evening. Our riad is centrally located which will allow us to walk around the atmospheric main square of the town, which comes along as the heat of the sun starts to fade away.

Accommodation: Central Riad (1 night)

 

Day 7: Drive to Essaouria

In the morning we will have time to explore Taroudant before continuing on to Essaouira on the coast. Taroudant is a vibrant market town located in the fertile Souss plains. With an energetic, bustling city centre this is a great opportunity to see an untouched traditional Berber lifestyle. The souqs of the medina teem with sights, sound and colour, with terrific bargains to be found.

We leave the valleys of the magical High Atlas Mountains behind and head towards the windswept Atlantic Coast and Essaouira (approx 4.5 hrs), we will use the coastal road with a brief stop in Agadir en-route.

Accommodation: Central riad (2 nights)


Day 8: Essaouria

The name Essaouira means image, which is appropriate since it's such a picturesque town. Its charm is undeniable - within the stone ramparts you'll find whitewashed houses with bright blue shutters, art galleries and wood workshops. This laid-back artists' town is a former Portuguese trading colony and was once home to sizeable British and Jewish populations. The town faces a group of rocky islands - called the Mogador - and is surrounded by an expanse of sandy beaches and dunes.

It's still a busy fishing port and it’s pretty harbour is filled with tiny colourful boats which go out early every morning for the day's catch. Visitors who have been seduced by its charms include Orson Welles and Jimi Hendrix, who (according to local legend) spent much of his time here in the 1960s. More recently, filmmaker Ridley Scott chose the ramparts as an important location for his film, Kingdom of Heaven.

Join our local guide for a walking tour through the old Medina, Jewish mellah, port and skala (sea wall). You have some free time to soak up the romantic ambience.

Everything in the small centre is within walking distance and the beach is clean. Wander the harbour and its adjacent fish markets where you can witness the daily auction. A freshly-cooked plate of the day's catch is highly recommended. Browse the plentiful shops and intriguing art galleries that make this little town a particularly pleasant place to unwind for a few days. It has a growing reputation for its unique art and is becoming even more famous for its burled Thuya wood - delicately formed and inlaid in tiny shops, which are built into the thick walls of the Portuguese ramparts. The scent from the oils used to polish the richly coloured wood permeates the air and makes walking down the streets incredibly pleasant.

Essaouira is a world-famous windsurfing destination. Give it go or you may like to try your hand at the increasingly popular sport of kite surfing.

Don't miss the opportunity to go to a hammam or local-style bath to be spoilt with a good scrub, a mud pack and a relaxing massage with argan oil.

Included Activities

• Walking tour
 

Day 9: Travel to Marrakech
On day 9 the morning is free for further exploration around Essaouria. In the early afternoon we will catch a comfortable local bus to Marrakech (approx 3 hrs), where we will check in to our riad.
 

Day 10 & 11: Marrakech
Even today, the name conjures up images of scenes from the Arabian Nights: alleyways, souks, stalls and markets. This remarkable city, dating from the 11th century, never fails to satisfy the curiosity of adventurous travellers. It has everything from the graceful architecture of the renowned Koutoubia Minaret, which dominates the skyline, to the wonderful throbbing atmosphere of a medieval fair in the great open square, the Djemaa el-Fna, at the heart of the medina.

We have two days to explore and photograph this famous city. On day 10 a 2 hour guided tour is included. This will take us down to the leather pits, where leather is cured and dyed in the traditional way, as it has been for generations.

 

Day 12: Tour ends
The tour ends after breakfast, and you are free to leave at any time, or contact Intrepid to arrange an extra night or two in this fascinating and entrancing city.

 

Notes on the tour

Itinerary:
Any tour is a balance between seeing as much as possible, and also having enough time to explore and take pictures. I believe that we have struck the best balance with this itinerary. There are many times where we will have free time, so you are free to explore and photograph on your own. I try to keep compulsory sunrises to a minimum, but there will be plenty of chances for those who are keen to make an early start!

I have tried to ensure that we manage to have the chance of a sunrise or sunset in all of the most important places, but sometimes we will have to photograph things during the day - at the wrong times. This is mainly the case when we are in transit. This is just a part of trying to see so much: if we were to photograph everything at the optimum times, then the trip would have to be about three or four times longer!
 

Portraits in Morocco:
It is worth bearing in mind that Morocco is not as easy a place to shoot portraits as it used to be. People can be quite paranoid about being photographed - especially if you don't ask permission. You are advised not to try to 'steal' pictures and to ask people. Not only is this a courtesy, that I believe will help you to secure better, more engaged pictures, it can avoid unpleasantness.

It is perfectly possible to shoot some amazing portraits in Morocco, and I will be on hand to advise as to when and how to ask. Very soon in the trip, I will hold an illustrated talk showing my technique for approaching people and how to get the best shots.

 

Tuition:
Throughout the trip I will hold a series of illustrated talks and group review sessions to try to help people to learn as much as possible on the trip, and also to come away with the best pictures possible. We will have some group sessions - notably on exposure and also on shooting star trails. I am always available if anyone has a question about photography and am always happy to look at pictures if you want a personal review. Please be aware that you will generally get out of this trip what you are prepared to put into it, especially with the review sessions.

 

Single supplement:
The single supplement is not available in the Ait Benhaddhou guesthouse, or in the desert camp. This means that people will have to share a room on these nights. Please also note that sometimes the single rooms are smaller than double rooms - especially in riads when many of the rooms will vary in size and quality. In general, we will try to balance everything out wherever possible, but sometimes the best rooms in the riads have double beds: twin and single rooms might not be as luxurious.

Printable version of itinerary

Included in the trip price

1 night on night train

3 nights desert camp

• 9 nights in hotel/guesthouse

13 breakfasts

• 5 dinners

• 4 lunches

All transport as per itinerary

Old Delhi tour

• Mehrangarh Fort visit

Udaipur City Palace visit

Bundi Palace & step wells

• Chittorgarh fort visit

• Ranakpur Jain Temples visit

Pushkar Camel ride

• Pre-trip Facebook group to meet other group members

• Experienced Intrepid leader

Expert photographic tuition

Impressions of Rajasthan itinerary

 

Day 1: Delhi
Welcome to Delhi!

We don't spend long in Delhi, so if you haven't been here before why not consider flying out a couple of days early so that you can explore.

There are plenty of things to see and do in free time. Visit the World Heritage-listed Mughal masterpiece of Humayun's Tomb. This was the first garden tomb in India, built way back in 1570. Wonder at the tall brick minaret of Qutub Minar, which was started back in the 1100s. Explore the mighty Red Fort of Delhi. Part palace and part fort, it plays an integral part in the history of the city with former residents ranging from royal families to British soldiers.

If you flight arrives early enough, join your group leader on an excursion into the sights and sounds of Old Delhi! Get a taste of India's famed public transport with a cycle rickshaw ride through chaotic streets, such as the famous Chandni Chowk. Make a visit to the Jama Masjid, Delhi's oldest mosque and one of its most impressive buildings, then visit the Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) to learn about the Sikh religion.

We leave on a night train, in the evening on our way to the city of Jodhpur.

Inclusions – Old Delhi visit
 

Day 2: Jodhpur
Jodhpur is known for its antique shops and the best lassi in India. And yes, it is where those famous trousers come from.

Explore the colossal Mehrangarh Fort and take in the great views from its ramparts, which dominate the city's skyline.

You might also choose to visit India's last great palace, the Umaid Bhawan Palace, which was constructed between 1929 and 1944. Named after the late Maharaja Umaid Singhji, the palace is still the residence of his successors.

Inclusions – Mehrangarh fort visit
 

Day 3: Jodhpur
Today we visit Sadar Bazaar, one of the oldest markets in India. Built around a clock tower amid spice and vegetable markets, juice sellers and sari materials, Sadar Bazaar also has numerous vendors with carts selling everything from Bollywood soundtracks to armfuls of sparkling bangles.

We then take a tour of the nearby Bishnoi villages. The Bishnoi are a peaceful nature-loving community and no trip to this region is complete without experiencing the fascinating traditions of the tribespeople of rural Rajasthan.

Inclusions – Bishnoi Village visit
 

Day 4 - 6: Pushkar
Drive to Pushkar in around 5 hours.

Pushkar is one of the India's holiest places. It's also a market centre for many of the local village people and a great place to sit back and relax.

We have timed our visit for the annual Pushkar Mela, which attracts camel sellars and pilgrims from miles around. The camel trading tends to happen at the beginning of the festival - the bathing at the end of the festival under the full moon. The problem with the bathing is that photography is banned by the holy lake, where the bathing happens. This is why we are coinciding with the beginning of the festival, and leaving for a different mela to see the bathing there.

We will be staying at a desert camp, and will have plenty of time to explore the mela and photograph to our heart's content!

Head out to explore Pushkar's main bazaar and many side streets - some great bargains can be had, as some of the cheapest clothes and jewellery in northern India can be found here. Walk around the lake, with its bustling ghats and temples, to watch the devout as they worship at the holy waters. Visit the only Brahma Temple in India.

Early risers can make the sunrise hike up the hill to the Savitri Temple for magical views over the town. There could also be a wonderful steaming glass of chai waiting for you if the chai man is there - certainly well worth the trek.

If you are keen, take a camel ride out into the local desert area. For those who don't want to ride a camel, there's a camel cart option.

Inclusions – Camel ride
 

Day 7 & 8: Udaipur
We drive to Udaipur via the beautiful hamlet of Ranakpur (approx 3 hrs), home to a host of intricately carved white marble Jain temples.

Explore the incredible complex of Jain temples - the main reason why Ranakpur is one of the most important pilgrim destinations for Jains in India.

Udaipur undoubtedly lives up to its reputation as India's most romantic city. Rolling hills, white marble palaces and lakes come together appealingly and it's a centre for artists, dancers and musicians. The shopping is also superb, with miniature paintings being the speciality.

On arrival in Udaipur, take a walk around town to help gather your bearings. Explore Udaipur's twisting alleys filled with silver, shoes, bags, leather goods and miniature paintings.

Visit City Palace, one of the largest royal palaces in India, and check out the unbelievable treasures within - from vivid murals to antiques and royal utensils.

Enjoy a half hour boat ride on the famous Lake Pichola and see marvels like Lake Palace and Jag Mandir Island (seasonal depending on the water level in the lake).

Be part of a musical concert combining seven traditional Rajasthani folk dances.

Inclusions – Ranakpur Jain Temples; Udaipur City Palace visit
 

Day 9: Chittorgarh
Drive to Chittorgarh in around 4 hours.

Chittorgarh is the largest fort in India and the grandest in the state ofRajasthan. It is a World Heritage Site. The fort, plainly known as Chittor, was the capital of Mewar and is today situated inChittorgarh City. It was initially ruled by Guhilot and later by Sisodias, the Suryavanshi clans of Chattari Rajputs, from the 7th century, until it was finally abandoned in 1568 after the siege by Emperor Akbar in 1567. It sprawls majestically over a hill 180 metres in height spread over an area of 280 ha (691.9 acres) above the plains of the valley drained by the Berach River. The fort precinct with an evocative history is studded with a series of historical palaces, gates, temples and two prominent commemoration towers. These monumental ruins have inspired the imagination of tourists and writers for centuries.

Inclusions – Chittorgarh fort visit
 

Day 10-11: Jhalawar
Drive to Jhalawar in around 5-6 hours.

Every year, The Chandrabhaga Fair in Rajasthan welcomes thousands of visitors and participants from all over the nation. It is held at Jhalrapatan, situated at a distance of about six kilometers from Jhalawar, in the month of Kartik (the full moon night).

The government of Rajasthan is taking several measures to promote tourism towards this unexplored state. The indomitable forts, magnificent palaces, charming wildlife, traditional fairs and festivals and peaceful lakes are some of the things that form the goodwill of this place. Chandrabhaga Fair, Jhalawar is one such splendid sight that truly deserves the attention of the tourists. This fair acquaints all travelers, pilgrims and explorers alike, with the rituals and traditions practiced in this region of the nation.

The ancient city of Jhalrapatan has an exceptionally large number of temples. It is also referred to as 'the City of Bells'. Amongst the old temples, about four or five still remain and the most famous amongst them is the Sitalesvara Mahadeva Temple which is also considered as one of the most remarkable specimens of architecture in India. A lot of pilgrims assemble into Jhalawar on the banks of river Chandrabhaga during the Chandrabhaga Fair in Rajasthan and take part in this gala event. The festival is named after the river Chandrabhaga itself and is considered very sacred by the people of Rajasthan.

We have timed our visit to fit in the the main bathing day of the mela on the Kartik Poornima full moon.

Please note: we are staying a few miles away from the mela ground, and so will have to travel to see the festival. Often traffic will be banned on the main bathing day, so the chances are that we will have to walk some way through crowds of pilgrims. Flexibility will be the key!
 

Day 12: Bundi
Drive to Bundi in around 5-6 hours, via Gagron Fort.

Just 12 Kms away from Jhalawar, the foundation of this magnificent, impregnable renowned fort was laid in the 7th century and the fort was completed in the 14th century. Gagron Fort is perched on a low ridge at the confluence of the rivers Ahu and Kali Sindh whose water surround it on three sides. On the fourth side there used to be a deep moat completing its defenses. It is surrounded by forests and has behind it the Mukundarrah range of hills.

A delightful town teeming with Rajasthani life, Bundi's narrow streets are packed with shops of all kinds and the downtown market is an interesting spot to mingle with the local people.

This is a fantastic place to explore on foot and there's plenty of time to visit the baoris (step-wells) and experience local street life down in the bazaars.

Explore Bundi Palace and its famous murals. Built during the 16th and 17th centuries, it's a classic piece of Rajasthani architecture.

Inclusions – Step wells; Bundi palace; Gagron Fort


Day 13: Jaipur

Drive to Jaipur for our farewell dinner.


Day 14: Tour ends
As many people have already visited Jaipur (and indeed Agra) we have taken the decision to end the trip here without any sight-seeing. You have a number of options though. Many international flights (including Jet Airways, Virgin and BA) can include a connecting leg from Jaipur to Delhi, giving you the option of flying into Delhi and flying out from Jaipur.

You also have the option of spending a bit of time in Jaipur, or joining the optional extension that spends a day in Jaipur, before driving to Agra to view the Taj Mahal via Fatehpur Sikri. This excursions finishes in Delhi. We will be posting further details of this extension in due course.

Printable version of itinerary

Included in the trip price

11 nights comfort hotel & 2 nights lodge accommodation

12 breakfasts

4 lunches & 3 dinners

All transport as per itinerary

• All domestic flights as per itinerary

Boat trip to Mingun

• Full day Inle Lake boat excursion

Short village Trek at Inle Lake

• 4WD excursion to Chin Hills

Entrance fees as per itinerary

• Group photo-tip kitty ($450)

• Pre-trip Facebook group to meet other group members

• Experienced Local leader

Expert photographic tuition

This tour is organised and led by Steve Davey | The land arrangements are sub-contracted to Intrepid Travel, but the tours don't appear on the Intrepid Travel website | The only way to book is through this site!

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Land arrangements are sub-contracted to Intrepid Travel, who have many years experience in running small group adventures.

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unforgetPlaces4PCThis tour is led by Steve Davey - a professional photographer, whose work appears in publications all over the world. He is the author of the bestselling Unforgettable Places To See Before You Die (BBC Books). Steve recently published Footprint Travel Photography (Footprint Books), which covers everything that you would ever want to know about travelling with a camera. Click for more.

Impressions of
India 2018
Itinerary

Day 1: Delhi
Day 2: Jaipur
Day 3: Bharatpur
Day 4: Vrindavan
Day 5: Vrindavan
Day 6: Vrindavan
Day 7: Agra
Day 8: Agra
Day 9: Gwalior
Day 10: Orchha
Day 11: Khajuraho
Day 12: Night train
Day 13: Varanasi
Day 14: Varanasi
Day 15: Trip ends
 

Highlights of this trip

Vibrant Holi celebrations

• The incomparable Taj Mahal

Bharatpur bird sanctuary

• Gwalior Palace & Fort

Erotic temples of Khajuraho

• Sunrise on the River Ganges

• Photography tuition

Included in the trip price

13 nights hotel accommodation

• 1 night on train

• 13 breakfasts*

All transport as per itinerary

• Night train to Varanasi

• Varanasi sunrise boat trip

• Jaipur tour and entrances

• Amber Fort entrances

• Orchha tour and entrances

• Bharatpur entrance

• Taj Mahal entrance

• Gwalior tour and entrances

• Entrance fees as per itinerary

• Pre-trip Facebook group

• Experienced Intrepid leader

Expert photographic tuition

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Start:26 Feb. 2018
End:
12 March 2018
Code: IOI18

Price: From 1795 pp
excl. flights, based on

Min 8, max 12 people
Only 1 single supplement place left
Trip is confirmed!

Approx other currencies*:
€ 1965 • US$ 2346

AU$ 2935 • NZ$ 3250

* for information only. Tour price payable in Sterling

Single supplement:
450

Estimated current flight cost from London: 600

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Impressions of India itinerary

 

Day 1: Delhi
On arrival into Delhi, those on the recommended group flight are met and transferred to your hotel. Private transfers for other flights are available on request.

Standard Check in at the hotel is 14:00, but rooms can sometimes be available earlier. The only way to guarantee an early check-in though is to purchase an extra night of accommodation.

Although there are no official events planned for today, we will no doubt head out for some sightseeing in Old Delhi. Typically this includes catching the Metro to Old Delhi, where we get to look around the Spice Market, and also pay a visit to

Time permitting there is the option of group dinner (at own expense).

Included Activities:
Group arrival transfer

Accommodation: Hotel Clarks International or similar.

 

Day 2: Jaipur
This morning we depart at 06:05 for the “Shatabdi Express” to Jaipur.

Our train is scheduled to arrive in Jaipur at 10:40, where we will be met on arrival, and transferred to our hotel.

After some time to check in, we will enjoy an afternoon sightseeing tour of Jaipur city visiting:

The City Palace, now converted into a museum, except a small portion that is still used by the royal family of Jaipur. Built in the fortified campus style, the palace covers almost one-seventh part of the city.

Jantar Mantar or Observatory was constructed between 1727 and 1734 by Maharajah Jai Singh II of Jaipur and is one of the five stone observatories in India.

We will also have some time to wander around the photogenic streets of the town.

Included Activities:
Train to Jaipur
Jaipur City Tour

Accommodation: Devraj Niwas or similar

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 3: Bharatpur
This morning you proceed for the visit of the ancient capital of Amber to see the fabulous Amber Fort. Maharaja Mansingh, Mughal Emperor Akbar’s most successful General, started the construction of Amber Fort in the 17th century. Before the City Palace was constructed in Jaipur, Amber was the seat of power. We will also visit one of the ancient step-wells that is close to Amber.

In the afternoon you will depart Jaipur by private vehicle to Bharatpur. On arrival check in and relax.

Included Activities:
Amber Fort visit

Accommodation: Laxmi Niwas Palace or similar

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 4: Vrindavan
After breakfast you will enjoy a
Cycle Rickshaw ride with your tour leader in Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary also known as Keoladeo National Park is a famous avifauna sanctuary that hosts thousands of birds, especially during the winter season. Over 230 species of birds are known to be resident. It is also a major tourist centre with scores of ornithologists arriving here in the hibernal season. It was declared a protected sanctuary in 1971. It is also a World Heritage Site. At the time that we will be visiting, we should be able to see a number of migratory birds.

Afterwards depart Bharatpur by private vehicle to Vrindavan. Check in on arrival.

Included Activities:
Cycle rickshaw ride through Bharatpur Sanctuary

Accommodation: Krishnam Hotel or similar

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 5 & 6: Vrindavan
Holi is a special festival for people of Mathura, Vrindavan and the surrounding area where people relive the legends of Holi that have association with Radha and Krishna. The Holi celebrations continue for a week and each major Krishna temple celebrates Holi on a different day such as Banke Bihari temple, Nandgaon, Gokul and Barsana.

The precise events for Holi are still being decided, and these will be made available as soon as possible. Rest assured though we will be getting as close to the action as is possible and safe!

Accommodation: Krishnam Hotel or similar

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 7: Agra
After a final foray into the Holi celebrations, we will depart late morning by private vehicle to Agra. On arrival we will be able to relax, and attempt to clean ourselves of paint from the past few days! This may well involve throwing away our old clothes - which by now will be stained a multitude of colours!

In the afternoon, we will attempt to head to a convenient spot to witness the sunset over the Taj Mahal. You could also visit the monument at your own expense if you wish, although it is very crowded in the afternoons.

Accommodation: Pushp Villa or similar

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 8: Agra
Today will be an early start to view the sunrise over the incomparable Taj Mahal. We will attemot to get over the far side of the river to photograph the reflections, but these days access to the river is often restricted. There is a formal garden on the far side, but access to this is an optional extra expense. After sunrise, we will proceed into the Taj complex for an extended visit.

Taj Mahal: visit the Monument of Love and a flawless architectural creation. Taking 22 years and 20,000 men to build, the white marble was quarried 200 miles away and transported by a fleet of 1,000 elephants. Built in the mid-17th century by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as an expression of his love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal.

Agra Fort: Built by Emperor Akbar on the west bank of the river Yamuna and beautified with palaces and gardens by Jehangir, Agra Fort today dominates the centre of the city. Diwan-i-Aam (hall of public audience) and Diwan-i-Khas (hall of private audience) were built by Shahjahan for receiving audiences.

Included Activities:
Taj Mahal entrance
Agra Fort entrance

Accommodation: Pushp Villa or similar

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 9: Gwalior
This morning you will depart Agra by private vehicle to Gwalior.

In the afternoon, we will proceed to explore the city of Gwalior, visiting:

Jai Vilas Palace was built in the 19th century, in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. It was originally built as a palace which is now turned into a museum. It was designed by a famous architect of that time, Sir Michael Filose. Spread over an area of 12,40,771 square feet, the palace has a huge Durbar Hall which is beautifully designed with the world's heaviest chandeliers, intricate gold furnishings, and a large plush carpet.

Photography is not allowed inside of this museum, but it is still well worth a visit. If you thought that our current celebrities indulge in conspicious consumption, then the former rulers of Gwalior beat them hands down. There is a giant crystal railway train, used to pass port at banquets, a jewel-encrusted swing and the two chandeliers are so large, that the strength of the roof was tested with elephants before they were installed.

Gwalior Fort is an 8th-century hill fort. The fort consists of a defensive structure and two main palaces, Gujari Mahal and Man Mandir, built by Man Singh Tomar. The fort has been controlled by a number of different rulers in its history. The Gujari Mahal palace was built for Queen Mrignayani. It is now an archaeological museum. The Jai Vilas Palace (Jiwaji Rao Scindia Museum) is one of my highlights of the trip and is testiment to the power and wealth of the days of the Maharajahs!

Included Activities:
Gwalior city tour
Jai Vilas Palace entrance
Gwalior Fort entrance

Accommodation: MK Vivanta or similar

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 10: Orchha
This morning you will depart Gwalior by private vehicle to Orchha.

Orchha has changed very little over the centuries. Despite its small size it is filled with many beautiful temples and palaces, build here in the 16th century by the ruling Bundelas clan. When you arrive, take an orientation walk in rural areas untouched by modern life and meet the very friendly locals.

This evening we will witness the Ram Raja Temple puja (prayer) ceremony at the shrine at the heart of the city.

Included Activities:
Orientation walk

Accommodation: Raj Mahal Hotel or similar

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 11: Khajuraho
Today you'll visit the stunning Orchha Palace, built by Bir Sing Deo for his friend Jehangir, the great Mughal ruler. Take note of the grand Iwans (domes) that were built large enough to allow the movement of war

We will also visit the Chaturbhuj Temple: Built in 875 AD during the reign of Gurjara Pratihara dynasty, this famous temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The name literally means the one with four arms, and Lord Vishnu has been referred as Chaturbhuj in various Hindu texts.

This afternoon you will depart Orchha by private vehicle to Khajuraho.

Included Activities:
Orchha Palace visit

Accommodation: Clarks or similar

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 12: Khajuraho
Today we will have plenty of time to explore the famous temples of Khajuraho, which are noted for their erotic carvings. Many of these are somewhat shocking - especially when compared to the more reserved standards of contemporary India.

Morning: Proceed to visit the Western Group of Temples. The western complex of the Khajuraho group of temples houses the most important temples in Khajuraho. The Kandariya Mahadeva dedicated to Lord Shiva is the largest temple at Khajuraho. The Lakshmana temple dedicated to Vishnu is located near the Kandariya Mahadeva temple. Devi Jagdamba Temple Chitragupta Temple Chaunsath Jogini Temple etc. are the other major temple in the western complex.

At 23:50, we depart Khajuraho by the night train “Kurj Bsb Link Express” to Varanasi.

Included Activities:
Western Temple Complex visit

Accommodation: Night train

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 13: Varanasi
Our scheduled arrival is 10:50, and we will be transfered to the hotel.

After lunch we will proceed to the Old Town to explore the warren of tiny streets and alleys, before spending the evening soaking up the magical atmosphere of a candle flower ceremony, serenaded by traditional musicians on a Ganges river cruise as the sun sets.

Included Activities:
Evening prayers at River Ganges

Accommodation: Temple on the Ganges or similar

 

Day 14: Varanasi
Start early with a
sunrise boat ride on the Ganges, passing the many ghats and temples along the river. This boat ride is one of the highlights of any trip to Varanasi. Watching the sun rise over the Ghats is a spectacular sight and one not to be missed.

Later take a heritage walk in Varanasi: The ultimate destination for all Hindu pilgrims, Varanasi is full of temples, shrines and devotees. Varanasi is one of the world's oldest continually inhabited cities and is certainly is one of the world's most amazing. Set off by cycle rickshaw to visit the oldest part of the city, bustling with tourists and priests, and if you are lucky, watch different rituals being performed. Wander through the Old City with its maze of narrow alleyways packed full of small shops and stalls.

Proceed for half day excursion to Sarnath. Sarnath is considered, as one of the richest place to have antiques from the Ashoka period, to the 12th century. After attaining enlightenment, the Buddha came to Sarnath, where he gave his first sermon preaching the middle path for attaining Nirvana.

Included Activities:
Sunrise boat trip
Varanasi heritage walk
Sarnath excursion

Accommodation: Temple on the Ganges or similar

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 15: Tour ends
There are no activities planned today and your tour ends after breakfast.

Meals included: Breakfast

 

 

 

Please note: although certain breakfasts are included in the itinerary, this is through the hotel on a Bed and Breakfast basis. As we are a photography tour, we may at times need to make an early start before breakfast is available at the hotel. In this case, an included breakfast will not be possible and we will have to make our own arrangements.

We are currently still finalising the events for the period of Holi in Vrindavan and Mathura. Some of this will depend on the find the best things to do and the most exciting places to be! As this is the first time that we have visited the Holi festivities, this trip is officially an exploratory trip - which is reflected in the price.

Holi in India is a somewhat wild and crazy event. People will throw coloured paint and water, and will often be somewhat drunk and get carried away. It will be loud and very crowded. There will be opportuntieis for staying closer to the hotel and enjoying a slightly more sedate experience if you prefer.

Another issue will be protecting cameras. We will be sending out more information about this later. Rest assured though that Steve has led a tour to the Lao New Year celebrations, which are marked with a similarly crazy three days of waterfights, and everyone emerged unscathed. You should expect to invest ina good quality raincover though, and might decide that using a smaller, waterproof camera might be the best option for this part of the trip.

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