Tour Details at a glance
5 - 27 November 2018 (Diwali tour) (FULLY BOOKED - sells out fast) 6 - 28 February 2019 (some bookings still open) 3 - 25 November 2019 7 - 29 February 2020
23 days / 22 nights
From USD4290pp twin share From USD5110pp including Optional Single Supplement
Minimum 4, Maximum 10
21 nights 3&4 star and Heritage Hotels 1 overnight train
1 day train 1 overnight train 2 domestic flights 3 boat rides (Varanasi & Udaipur) Private air-conditioned minibus Taxis and rickshaws for sightseeing Camel ride in Jaisalmer (Optional)
22 breakfasts; 3 lunches; 2 dinners
Arrival and departure transfers Entrance fees to all sights as per the itinerary Guide fees Tips and gratuities
Our November 2018 tour is now fully booked...
We have additional departures of this tour in February and November 2019 as well as February 2020. Book your place now.
Essence of India – Women Only 23 Day Mumbai to Delhi
From the sprawling commercial capital of Mumbai to Rajasthan, the 'land of the Kings' and from the banks of the holy Ganges to the magnificence of the Mughal cities, we will show you the well known and introduce you to some wonderful secrets. The massive forts of Rajasthan, the opulence and splendour of Maharajah's palaces, markets and bazaars, holy cities, a town seemingly lost in time, a camel safari and a search for the elusive Bollywood star all make for a trip full of highlights and contrasts.
In addition, the November 2018 departure of this tour will experience two of the most amazing festivals in India the fantastic Diwali, festival of light, for which you’ll be in the romantic lake city Udaipur. Additionally, you will be in Varanasi for Dev Diwali, held on the full moon night two weeks after Diwali.
This is a trip you don’t want to miss!
Experience Incredible India and Rajasthan on this Women-only Small Group Tour, fully escorted within India by a western female tour leader (who has been guiding tours in India trouble free since 2000) with the additional services of local guides for various activities and sightseeing where needed.
* live it up in glitzy and glamorous Mumbai
* enjoy the beautiful lake city of Udaipur
* get wild in the hills of Mount Abu
* spend the night in a heritage hotel at Bhenswara
* experience the Desert city of Jaisalmer
* be amazed at Jodhpur's majestic Meherangarh Fort
* explore the palaces and bazaars of Jaipur
* be left breathless by the unsurpassed Taj Mahal
* explore the Temple village of Orchha
* witness sunrise over the Ganges in holy Varanasi
* be part of the craziness and excitement of India's capital city Delhi
Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1 Mumbai
Arrival Day. Please arrive in time to meet with the group by Midday when we have a welcome meeting before we head out for lunch and an afternoon of sightseeing.
Hotel: Fariyas Hotel
Day 2 Mumbai
We have another full day to explore Mumbai, the exciting and frantic commercial capital of India, where we visit some of the sights including the Gateway of India, Dhobi (laundry) washers and Chowpatty beach.
Hotel: Fariyas Hotel
Days 3-4 Udaipur
We take a morning flight to Udaipur. Often called the Romantic city and the Lake City, Udaipur lives up to its name with its white washed havelis 'private mansions' and palaces lining the banks of the charming lake Pichola. We visit the City Palace complex (one of the largest palace complexes in India) and take in a classic Rajasthani Dance show. We wander the local markets and learn how to make a sensational Indian curry. Why not try your hand at a spot of miniature painting or cruise the lake. Udaipur has on offer plenty of places to try an Ayurvedic Massage, or a Yoga class. Udaipur is a friendly and charming city just made for exploring.
Hotel: Udaigarh or similar
Days 5-6 Mt Abu
We drive 3 hours to Mount Abu where we enjoy the charms of Rajasthan's only 'Hill Station' a place to escape the heat of the plains. Well off the international tourist trail, Mt Abu is popular with Indian tourists and is famous for it's remarkable Jain Temples. Some great walks and views are to be had in the hills surrounding the town.
Hotel: Hillock Hotel or similar
Day 7 Bhenswara
A 3 hour drive today brings us to the small hamlet of Bhenswara where we get to spend the night like Maharanis (Queens) in a Heritage Ravla (Castle) 240 years old. We take a jeep safari to nearby villages and meet some of the local tribal people living in this remote part of South-Western Rajasthan.
Hotel: Ravla Bhenswara
Days 8-9 Jaisalmer
Like something out of 1001 Arabian nights, Jaisalmer, the Golden City is both exotic and mysterious with a unique fort, which unlike all others in India is still lived in, and accommodates a quarter of the towns population. We wander the ancient streets of the fort and the town, visiting the intricately carved sandstone havelis (merchant's mansions) and temples. Jaisalmer is famed for its handicrafts and there are many wonderful shops in the bazaar.
Days 10-11 Jodphur
Travelling on to Jodhpur and into the Thar Desert we wander the palaces of the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort before exploring the markets in the Blue city below. Famous throughout the country for its special Makhani (butter) lassi's (yoghurt drink), Jodhpur is also where the pants come from.
Hotel: Haveli Inn Pal or similar
Days 12-14 Jaipur
We arrive today into Jaipur, the 'Pink City' and capital of Rajasthan. We stay in the charming Diggi Palace, which has been converted into a Heritage Hotel. Diggi Palace is home to one of Rajasthan's royal families who still live in and manage the hotel. Amber Fort is a splendid example of Rajput/Moghal architecture and was the old capital of Rajasthan prior to 1727. We take a wander through the markets and colourful bazaars of Jaipur and visit the wondrous Jantar Mantar. You have the chance to see the splendid City Palace Museum and thePalace of the Winds. There is free time to explore some of Jaipur's many sights, or markets. We also experience a Bollywood extravaganza here in Jaipur at the famous Raj Mandir cinema.
Hotel: Diggi Palace or similar
Days 15-16 Agra
Leaving Rajasthan, we travel by private vehicles today to Agra. We make a dawn visit to the incomparable Taj Mahal and visit the remarkable Agra Fort and the exquisite 'Baby Taj'.
Hotel: The Retreat or similar
Days 17-18 Orchha
A 3-4 hour train ride takes us further south to Jhansi, from where we travel a short distance to Orchha. Surrounded by temples and palaces seemingly forgotten by the passage of time, Orchha is a tranquil small town situated on a sparkling river with friendly locals and a fabulous ambiance.
On the evening of day 18 we take an overnight train to Varanasi.
Hotel: Orchha Resort or similar
Days 19-20 Varanasi
We arrive mid morning into Varanasi, also known as Benares and Kashi, the City of Light. After transferring to our riverside hotel, we take a walk along the Ghats (steps) on the bank of the Holy Ganges and explore the old city. Varanasi is the holiest place in India for Hindus and abounds with Saddhus and holy cows. Whilst in Varanasi, we enjoy an evening ceremonial 'aarti' on the riverbanks and take a dawn boat ride on the Ganges. We visit Sarnath, the site of Buddha's first sermon and still have plenty of free time to explore the Ghats and alleyways of ancient Varanasi.
Hotel: Hotel Banaras Haveli or similar
Days 21-22 Delhi
We have an afternoon flight into Delhi. Included here is a visit to Old Delhi visiting the Jama Masjid, (the largest Mosque in India), the old Delhi spice market and Chandni Chowk, the busiest marketplace in Asia. We also pay our respects to the Moghul emperor Humayan, at the spectacular tomb built by his grieving widow in the mid 16th century.
Day 23 Departure DayThere are no organised activities today. You are free to depart at anytime.
Don't miss out!
Ready to find out more about our exclusive "Women Only" small group tours? Please fill in the enquriy form below with any questions you may have and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks - Debbie.
Minimum 4, Maximum 10
23 days / 22 nights
Arrival and departure transfers
All accommodation as specified
All transportation between overnight stops and to and from included sightseeing
Entrance fees for all sites listed as part of the itinerary
Tips and gratuities for hotel staff, porters, guides and drivers
Meals as specified
Meals other than those listed
Drinks, meal tips, laundry and other items of a personal nature
Guesthouses/hotels (21 nights), Overnight train (1 night)
This tour uses a variety of accommodation. From guesthouses to heritage hotels, we experience a wide range of accommodation styles. Hotel rooms are twin share with private bathrooms with western style toilets. Although most rooms will be air-conditioned, some may be fan-cooled.
Optional Single Supplement
If you are a single traveller, you are not required to pay a single supplement as we will match you up with other travelers. However if you do not wish to share accommodation, but would like to guarantee your own room throughout the tour a single supplement of USD820 will be payable.
2 domestic flights, 1 day train and 1 overnight train, Private A/C Minibus, Boat rides on the Ganges, Varanasi and Lake Pichola, Udaipur, Jeep for village safaris, Taxis and rickshaws for some sightseeing.
Train travel in India is essential considering it is such an efficient and extensive network, and is also such a part of India's culture and heritage. For our overnight journeys, we travel in air-conditioned sleeper carriages with two levels of berths. They are arranged in door-less sections each of four berths. They also have a row of two-tier (upper and lower) berths along one side. A conductor ensures that nobody without a reservation gets into the carriage. Each carriage usually has one 'squat' style and one western style toilet at either end. Bedding is supplied and is clean, but for peace of mind you may wish to bring a sleeping sheet. Meals are not included during our overnight train journey, but food is usually available.
Train journeys by day give us an opportunity to experience Indian life by rubbing shoulders with the locals. Travelling locally is always exciting and fascinating you never know who you will meet.
We will be taking private vehicles for our other journeys.
The following is a list of included activities on this trip. Other activities are optional and will be at your own expense.
Gateway of India, Dhobi Ghats, Crawford Market, Chowpatty Beach (Mumbai)
City Palace, Cooking class, Market walk, Traditional dance show, Lake Cruise (Udaipur)
Dilwara Jain Temples, Morning walk/trek (Mount Abu)
Jeep Village Safari (Bhenswara)
Meherangarh Fort, Market walk, Bishnoi Village Safari (Jodhpur)
Camel ride (Jaisalmer)
Amber Palace, Jantar Mantar, Market walk, Bollywood movie (Jaipur)
Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Itimud-ud-Dualah, (Agra)
Palace Complex Tour (Orchha)
Dawn Boat Cruise, Sarnath Visit, River and city walk (Varanasi)
Old Delhi, Humayans Tomb, (Delhi)
22 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Traveling with Incredible Indian Tours we ensure that you will experience a vast array of the gustatory treats available in India. Generally, meals are not included in the trip price when there is a choice of eating options. This allows you to choose where, and what to eat. More often than not however we eat together as a group. Your leader will offer suggestions for favourite restaurants throughout the trip.
Exchange Rates as at April 2018
AUD1 = 50 INR
CAD1 = 51 INR
EUR1 = 80 INR
GBP1 = 93 INR
NZD1 = 48 INR
USD1 = 65 INR
There are many ATM machines (which accept both Cirrus/Maestro debit cards and Visa and MasterCard) throughout India. This is a safe and convenient way to access money in India, however we suggest that you bring a small amount of money in cash (suggested $300) in case there are times that ATMs are not available. The major currencies, including AUD and CAD are no problem in general to exchange. Visa & MasterCard credit cards are accepted in major shops and restaurants in the bigger cities. Make sure you inform your card issuer about your travel plans before you leave home so that your cards work ok while you are away.
Although entrance fees to specified sites are included in the tour price, there are additional sights that you may like to visit. Many sites levy camera fees.
Spending money requirements will differ from one person to the next. You will need to take into consideration your spending habits when allowing for drinks, shopping, and optional activities.
It is recommended you allow enough money for the following:
Meals USD500 (or equivalent)
Optional Activities USD100 (or equivalent)
Money for drinks, shopping and incidentals.
Tipping is an integral part of Indian life and is essential to a smooth trip. To make things easier we cover tips for hotel room boys, local guides and for drivers of private transport we use. We do NOT cover restaurant tips. You will need to allow approximately 10-15% on top of your restaurant bill.
Physical rating 2/5
You may need to carry your bag/pack up and down railway station and hotel stairs. There will be plenty of walking around towns or sites, which due to the warm to hot weather in India at this time of year will make general sightseeing a little more strenuous.
Culture shock rating 3/5
Conditions in India are not always as comfortable as in other countries. You may need to occasionally deal with a squat toilet, cold showers or power failure.
Travel Insurance is highly recommended whilst traveling to India and is compulsory for any group tour with Incredible Indian Tours.
All foreign nationals require a visa to enter India. Most nationalities can apply for an e-Tourist visa. The Indian Government is in the process of extending this e-Tourist facility to more countries so check this website to find out the latest eligibility details.
For the e-Tourist visa, you need to apply within 120 days of travel 60 days validity. The visa is issued online and takes up to 3 days.
Regular tourist visas (issued by the Indian Embassy or Consulate) for those nationalities who do not yet have availability of the e-Tourist facility, or for those who require a visa longer than 60 days, are usually issued for 6 or 12 months and are either Single, Double or Multiple Entry. As the validity begins from date of issue, be sure you do not apply for your visa too early. For information, or assistance with obtaining a visa, check out the following websites.
New Zealand https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/index.html
We recommend that you consult your doctor for current medical travel information about before departure. Your leader will be carrying a basic first aid kit, but we suggest you bring along your own as well as any personal medical requirements .
The following websites have up-to-date information about health requirements.
New Zealand http://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/healthy-living/travelling
Communications / Keeping in touch
Most of our hotels have Wifi, as do many restaurants and cafes. You can also purchase a local prepaid sim card (for unlocked cell phones) and data sticks (for mobile internet on your laptop) easily and inexpensively in India. Recommended are Vodafone, Airtel and Reliance. You will need extra passport photos for this as well as photocopies of your photo and visa page from your passport.
Your tour manager
Your tour manager is there to organise and streamline your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Whilst they are not a guide per se, they will share their local knowledge, give you suggestions for your free time and manage the day to day running of the tour. They will introduce you to their local friends and recommend great local restaurants and experiences. They will have a broad general knowledge of India, so do feel free to tap into their wisdom. At some sites, local guides may be hired where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting.
We believe strongly in responsible travel. This includes being respectful to the local culture (ie dressing appropriately, and learning a few basic cultural do's and don'ts), being mindful of the environment, and leaving a positive image behind. Remember we are ambassadors for our country. Bringing a few photos of your family and home with you is a great way to interact with the locals by giving them a glimpse of your world whilst you visit theirs.
Joining hotel and arrival information
25, Off Arthur Bunder Road,
Colaba, Mumbai 400025
Ph: +91 22 6141 6141
Your airport transfer pickup will await you holding a sign with your name when you exit the baggage claim area of the arrivals hall. There may be large crowds here so please look carefully for your transfer.
Situated in South Mumbai, our joining hotel is just minutes away from the city's bustling center. Close to the financial and business district, Colaba is the tourist, shopping and entertainment centre of Mumbai. The Hotel is just minutes away from historical sites like the Gateway of India and the Taj Mahal Hotel, as well as the Jehangir Art Gallery and Prince of Wales Museum.
Early arrival information
If you are arriving earlier than day 1, extra accommodation in Mumbai is available at USD170 Single/Double (or equivalent) per night per room. Please notify us as early as possible if you require extra accommodation as hotels in Mumbai tend to be booked up well in advance.
15 Barakhamba Road, Connaught Place
ew Delhi 110001
Ph: +91 11 6615 0000
If you are staying on in Delhi after the tour, extra accommodation at Hans is available at USD130 Single/Double (or equivalent) per night per room. Again, if you will require extra accommodation in Delhi, please advise us as early as possible as rooms tend to get booked out quickly at peak season times.
What to take
We will be on the move a lot, so try to pack as lightly as possible. The smaller your bag in India the better, as the various modes of transport we use tend to have limited storage space. In addition, you will find that your bag probably needs space to expand for all that shopping!
India is very conservative and we ask that you dress accordingly. As a guideline, shoulders and knees should always be covered. The wearing of shorts is looked upon by locals as akin to wearing your underwear and will limit your entry into mosques, temples and other places of worship. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool. Singlets, tank tops and shorts are not suitable attire for India.
Note that some Indian domestic airlines have recently reduced their check-in baggage allowance to 15kg. If you have heavier luggage, you may need to pay the excess at the airport for your internal flights. Excess luggage charges are around Rs300 (USD 5) per kilo.
Upon booking, you will receive a full tour info pack including a suggested packing list an other helpful information on preparing for your trip to India.
Inexpensive laundry facilities are offered by most hotels we use and are generally available wherever we have a two night stop.
The weather during our journey should be great. Daytime temperatures will be warm to hot, in the range 25-35oc. Night time temperatures will be comfortable. Rain is not very likely at this time of year, but sun is, so sunblock and a hat are essentials. Blankets are provided on the overnight train journey.
Travel documents: passport, visa, travel insurance (don't forget your emergency insurance contact details), air tickets.
Photocopy of above documents
First aid kit
Money: ATM card (widely available and easy to access); credit cards (widely accepted in big cities); cash and travellers cheques (for emergencies)
Alarm clock and torch/flashlight
Ear plugs can be very useful if you are a light sleeper
Lock for your bag or suitcase
We recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt to store your passport, air tickets, credit cards and cash. Avoid bringing valuable jewellery with you. Some hotels we use have safety deposit boxes. A lock and chain are useful for securing your luggage on overnight train journeys. Make sure you inform your card issuer about your travel plans before you leave home so that your cards work ok while you are away.
Read the full tour Dossier here on Issuu