Heart of India

Highlights & InclusionsItineraryPricing Information Terms & Conditions
Departure Date: November 1, 2017
Duration: 16 Days / 15 Nights
Price from: $3,395
Single Room Supplement: Waived

This trip will be operated on behalf of Gutsy Women Travel (GWT) clients by award winning Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT). There are 5 Twin bedded rooms and 6 single accommodations rooms with no single supplement blocked on this trip. Once single rooms are sold out, women can secure a guaranteed share in a twin room accommodation. This trip is opened up to OAT clients & could be co-ed. However the group size will always be capped at no more than 16 participants. There will be a dedicated OAT licensed, local travel director assigned to this GWT group block departure.


Highlights & Inclusions

  • Be sure to mention booking code G7-25972 to receive all the Gutsy benefits!
  • Airport transfers are included when you purchase our operator's International air to coincide with trip's day by day agenda.
  • Please note that there is a 16 participant maximum for this trip.
  • Available Post-trip: The South of India: Kerala & Cochin
  • All land transportation and 3 internal flights
  • Accommodations for 14 nights in hotels and 1 night at an O.A.T. camp
  • 33 meals—daily breakfast, 9 lunches, and 10 dinners (including 1 Home-Hosted Dinner)
  • 25 small group activities
  • Services of a resident, English-speaking O.A.T. Trip Leader
  • Gratuities for local guides, drivers, camp staff, and luggage porters
  • 5% Frequent Traveler Credit toward your next O.A.T. trip—an average of $280
“I lived through the garbage. I might as well dine on the caviar.”
Beverly Sills, Opera Singer


Itinerary

If you’re looking for adventure, explore India, where every moment brings new stimulation. The scent of roasted cumin seeds floating through a Delhi bazaar ... a young girl’s bracelets jangling on her arm as she prepares for a festival ... Hindu pilgrims descending ghats into the holy Ganges. From the excitement of the “Golden Triangle” cities of Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur to the tranquility of the unexpected retreats that lie between them, we explore it all on this tour of India. Expert Trip Leaders will bring you behind the scenes and off the beaten path with their intimate understanding of India, past and present.

DAY 1 Depart U.S.

You depart today on your overnight flight from the U.S. to Delhi, India.

DAY 2 Arrive in Delhi, India


OVERNIGHT: Suryaa New Delhi or similar

You'll arrive in Delhi today, where your Trip Leader will meet you at the airport and escort you to your hotel. Here we'll be joined by travelers who took our optional Bhutan: The Hidden Kingdom pre-trip extension.

DAY 3 Explore Old Delhi • Raj Ghat • Jama Masjid Mosque • Rickshaw ride through Chandni Chowk Bazaar


MEALS: B D
OVERNIGHT: Suryaa New Delhi or similar

After breakfast, gather with your fellow travelers for a briefing by your Trip Leader.

We start our discoveries this afternoon in Delhi by visiting Old Delhi. Even when Bombay and Madras were mere trading posts and Calcutta a village of mud huts, Delhi had been the seat of an empire for 500 years. Through the centuries, eight cities have been built on this site by Hindu, Mughal, and British rulers—with each adding their own flavor.

In the old part of Delhi, we visit Raj Ghat, a beautifully serene monument. This is where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated, and we will see an impressive shrine to India's best-known statesman. Next, after visiting the Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India, we take a short ride by rickshaw through the crowded lanes of the Chandni Chowk bazaar. Tonight, enjoy a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.

DAY 4 Qutab Minar • Explore New Delhi • India Gate


MEALS: B L
OVERNIGHT: Suryaa New Delhi or similar

After breakfast, we head out to see the highlights of New Delhi.

The British laid out the broad, tree-lined avenues and neat street grid of New Delhi (in contrast to the narrow alleyways of the old part of the city). We'll begin our explorations by visiting Qutab Minar, a spectacular example of Indo-Islamic architecture topped by a 234-foot-high tower. Begun in the twelfth century, this is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the symbol of New Delhi.

After lunch at a local restaurant, we'll continue our tour of the former "Imperial City" which continues to serve as the center of government for the world's largest democracy. We'll see the buildings of India's Parliament and (from the outside) the residence of India's president, a palatial building called Rashtrapati Bhavan. Nearby we see the India Gate, where a popular park surrounds a memorial to Indian soldiers who served Great Britain in World War I and the 19th-century war in Afghanistan.

You'll have the latter part of the afternoon at leisure. This evening, enjoy dinner on your own.

DAY 5 Overland to Jaipur


MEALS: B L D
OVERNIGHT: Ramada Jaipur or similar

After breakfast, we’ll journey to Jaipur, called the “Pink City” for the rosy hue of its sandstone buildings. En route, we’ll stop for lunch at a local restaurant. When we arrive in Jaipur, we’ll check in to our hotel. Dinner tonight is on your own.

DAY 6 Optional hot-air balloon over Jaipur • Jantar Mantar • City Palace Museum


MEALS: B L
OVERNIGHT: Ramada Jaipur or similar

An optional hot air balloon ride may be offered this morning (weather permitting). Rise early to enjoy a bird's-eye view of Jaipur and its surroundings. Float high above the fort, Jai Mahal Lake, or the countryside, going where the wind takes you. Don't be surprised if you attract attention from the people below along the way!

This morning, we enjoy a sightseeing tour of Jaipur.

Next we see the Jantar Mantar, a remarkable astronomical and astrological observatory built in the 18th century. The giant sundials here are still accurate to two-tenths of a second. Then we go on to the City Palace Museum, filled with an array of textiles, arms, carpets, paintings, and manuscripts. You'll complete your tour with an optional visit to a fabric block-printing center to learn more about the textiles that are so representative of this area. After lunch at a local restaurant, your afternoon is free.

Tonight we will gather for dinner at a local restaurant.

DAY 7 Palace of the Winds • Amber Fort • Home-Hosted Dinner


MEALS: B D
OVERNIGHT: Ramada Jaipur or similar

We begin today's discoveries with a view of the exterior of Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds). This is actually not a palace, but rather a façade of 956 delicate, honeycombed sandstone windows used by the ladies of the palace to watch the outside world without being seen.

Next, we'll explore Jaipur's Amber (pronounced "am-er," with a silent "b") Fort-Palace. The Fort is a stunning and well-preserved 16th-century structure, built on four levels.

Among its many splendors is the Sheesh Mahal, a small room whose ceiling, covered with tiny mirrors, looks like a sky filled with brilliant stars. Here, in Rajput times, a dancing girl held candles during a dance of love for her Maharaja. We make our way back down the hill and return to Jaipur.

After lunch on your own at the hotel, your afternoon is free. Then we are the guests of an Indian family for a Home-Hosted Dinner.

DAY 8 Overland to Ranthambore National Park • Optional tour of Ranthambore Fort


MEALS: B L D
OVERNIGHT: Nahargarh Hotel or similar

After breakfast, we leave Jaipur and drive through the rural countryside and into the low Vindhya mountain range. The drive is about five hours in length along bumpy roads.

Our destination is Ranthambore National Park. Located near the town of Sawai Madhopur, the park is one of the eleven sites chosen for Project Tiger, India's national tiger conservation program, the largest such effort in the world. The park is comprised of more than a hundred square miles of deciduous forest and several large lakes, and until 1970 it was a hunting preserve of the Maharajas. We'll arrive at the hotel in time for lunch. Please note: As Ranthambore National Park is closed in August and September, we will visit the Sawai Mansingh Animal Sanctuary instead during those months.

In the afternoon, you can join an optional tour to the Ranthambore Fort, a spectacular fortress built more than 1,000 years ago on a rocky outcrop with stunning views. Today it sits in the middle of the Ranthambore sanctuary. You'll ride in an open four-wheel drive vehicle (known locally as a canter), and then hike to the fort, a huge structure with a fascinating history and fine craftsmanship in its interiors.

Dinner is included at our hotel this evening, along with a presentation on the local wildlife we'll see tomorrow.

DAY 9 Game-viewing in Ranthambore National Park


MEALS: B L D
OVERNIGHT: Nahargarh Hotel or similar

In the early morning, when nocturnal animals may still be active, we head out for game-viewing before breakfast. Once again, our mode of transportation is a canter, a safari truck. We may see all the great Indian species: sambar, nilgai, the shy chinkara and chital, and the always cunning Langur monkey.

We return to our hotel for breakfast and the rest of the morning at leisure. Following an included lunch in the hotel, we regroup for a second safari expedition. Though it is rare, we may see the Royal Bengal tiger, usually sleeping by day in the tall grass. A recent census showed 26 tigers in the reserve. We also see lakes that hold crocodiles, and a wide variety of water birds in season. More than 450 bird species frequent this area, from crested serpent eagles to painted storks.

Dinner is included at our hotel this evening.

DAY 10 A Day in the Life of a Ranthambore community • Overland to O.A.T. Camp FOUNDATION VISIT


MEALS: B L D
OVERNIGHT: O.A.T. Camp

After breakfast, we'll stroll into a local village to visit with the students at a primary school (when in session) that O.A.T. proudly supports through donations from Grand Circle Foundation.

Then we'll continue our A Day in the Life of this village by visiting a local family and learning about their way of life. Next we visit a cooperative where women are trained to make handcrafts. We'll learn about this enterprise from one of the women involved, with the opportunity to purchase its products.

After lunch at the cooperative, we begin our drive (totaling approximately four hours on a bumpy road) to our village camp retreat. You'll check in upon arrival.

Our campsite is nestled among small plots of land used by local farmers to grow a rich diversity of crops. Often, villagers will stop by to pay us a visit, or farmers will take a break from their work to share a laugh. Especially enchanting are the mustard blooms, which, in season, resemble thousands of buttercups waving in the breeze.

Join your travel companions this evening in the relaxed environment of the campsite to enjoy an authentic Indian dinner. Dinner is prepared especially for you by our camp cook, who uses the freshest locally grown organic ingredients.

After dinner we'll relax around the campfire and enjoy being entertained by local dancers who proudly perform cultural Indian dances for us.

DAY 11 Abhaneri step wells • Overland to Agra


MEALS: B L
OVERNIGHT: Jaypee Palace or similar

Today, we'll visit Abhaneri to view an ancient baolis, essentially a step-well or waterway built to provide a constant water supply to local inhabitants.

Then, we'll depart for Agra, driving through the vast rural countryside. We'll break up the long journey by stopping for lunch en route. As we drive, our Trip Leader entertains us with a discussion of the history of the Mughals.

When we arrive in Agra in the late afternoon, we'll check into our hotel and enjoy time at leisure. Dinner tonight is on your own.

DAY 12 Taj Mahal • Agra Fort


MEALS: B D
OVERNIGHT: Jaypee Palace or similar

Today we rise early to view a sight unlike any other in the entire world: early morning at the Taj Mahal. Please note: If this day falls on a Friday, we visit the Taj Mahal on the evening of Day 11 instead.

This grand edifice, built by Shah Jahan from 1631 to 1653 to enshrine the remains of his Queen Mumtaz Mahal, took 20,000 workers to build. We walk into the inner chambers of this renowned "Monument to Love," and seek out several vantage points to see the magnificent play of light. The semi-translucent white marble is inlaid with thousands of semi-precious stones in beautiful patterns and the building has four identical facades, a perfect exercise in symmetry. It's truly a wonder of the world!

Later in the morning we visit the sprawling Agra Fort on the bank of the Yamuna River. This immense fort and palace were the seat of power for four generations of Mughal emperors; they ruled all of northern India from the early 16th century until the consolidation by British colonial rule in the early 1800s. Agra Fort's architecture is an almost perfect fusion between military might and lavish beauty.

We return to our hotel to enjoy the afternoon at leisure, then gather for an included dinner this evening.

DAY 13 Train to Jhansi • Overland to Khajuraho


MEALS: B L D
OVERNIGHT: Radisson Khajuraho or similar

To enjoy and make the most of this very long, overland, travel day, you'll need to approach it with curiosity, an adventurous spirit, and a healthy sense of humor.

We begin our journey early this morning, as we board a train for an approximately two-hour ride to Jhansi, a center of Bundela civilization. Upon arriving at the railway station in Jhansi, we will continue our long (five-hour) drive to Khajuraho, stopping for lunch at a local restaurant.

Although remote and very quiet today, in the tenth century Khajuraho was the center of the thriving civilization of the Chandelas. The magnificent group of temples (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) was built between the ninth and tenth centuries by the Chandela Dynasty, which dominated Central India at the time.

We'll check in, and enjoy dinner at our hotel in the evening.

DAY 14 View erotic carvings of the Chandelas • Fly to Varanasi • Ganges evening ceremony & boat ride


MEALS: B L
OVERNIGHT: Radisson Varanasi Hotel or similar

After breakfast at our hotel, we visit the east and west temple complexes that the Chandelas constructed. The erotic stone carvings here have come to symbolize the important role of love and prana energy in Hindu thought. British archaeologists excavated these intricate stone carvings during colonial times, when they scandalized post-Victorian English sensibilities.

We have time for lunch before transferring to the airport for our 40-minute flight to Varanasi, the holiest of Hindu cities. Known as Benares during British times, Varanasi is one of the oldest cities in the world, with a written history dating back more than 4,000 years. It has an intense, almost palpable atmosphere of spiritual devotion, a feeling of an unending religious festival. Hundreds of temples propitiate the thousands of deities in the Hindu pantheon. Pilgrims from every part of this vast nation crowd the narrow streets and the riverside ghats.

As the day comes to a close, we'll travel to the bathing ghats located alongside the sacred River Ganges. People flock in large numbers every day to bathe and worship in the temples built beside the riverbank. Feel the timelessness of Varanasi as the sun sets and as the temple priests perform aarti, the sacred light ceremony, on the banks of Mother Ganga. The aarti performance is best viewed while having a boat ride on the river. We can photograph riverside temples and bathing ghats; however, photography of the cremation ghats is not permitted.

After the puja ceremony is completed, dinner will be on your own this evening.

DAY 15 Early morning Ganges cruise • Sarnath


MEALS: B D
OVERNIGHT: Radisson Varanasi Hotel or similar

Early this morning, we board our small boat for a cruise on the Ganges. From our boat we are witness to the everyday life in the holiest of cities, as the people arrive at the ghats to take a ritual dip, perform yoga asanas, wash clothes and offer flowers and incense to the river. We'll see devotees performing their daily religious rites. At stone steps on the river's edge, we join our hosts in a pilgrimage: for them, the heart of their faith, for us, a superlative cultural experience. We then continue our guided walking tour of the local temples before returning to our hotel for breakfast.

After breakfast, drive to the nearby ancient Buddhist learning center of Sarnath. Here, Gautama Buddha preached his first sermon to his disciples, as portrayed in Bernardo Bertolucci's film Little Buddha. We then visit the Sarnath Museum, (except on Fridays, when the museum is closed) which houses some of the great treasures of Indian Buddhist art, including Ashoka's Lion Capital—the National Emblem of India—and the beautiful Teaching Buddha, among the most beautiful sculptures in the world. We can explore and photograph excavated Buddhist stupas and pillars unearthed during the British archaeological explorations in 1836. We also have the opportunity to visit a silk-weaving workshop.

This evening, enjoy a Farewell Dinner with your traveling companions.

DAY 16 Yoga & meditation class • Fly to Delhi or fly to Kathmandu to begin your post-trip extension


MEALS: B D
OVERNIGHT: Pride Plaza Hotel or similar

This morning we have the chance to begin the day with a relaxing yoga and meditation class before breakfast at our hotel. Learn basic yoga exercises and breathing techniques from a local expert.

After lunch on your own, you will be transferred to the airport to board a flight to Delhi, where you'll stay tonight. Or, if you’re continuing on the post-trip extension to Kathmandu, Nepal, you will fly to Kathmandu instead.

Enjoy an included dinner at your hotel this evening.

DAY 17 Return to U.S. or begin your South India post-trip extension If you're continuing on a post-trip extension to The South of India: Kerala & Cochin, board your flight this morning. Otherwise, transfer to the airport very early this morning for your return flight to the U.S.






Post-trip: The South of India: Kerala & Cochin

Some 1,300 miles south of Delhi lies a paradise of sandalwood-scented beaches, stunning southern Indian architecture, and multicultural European ports. Add to that an enviable reputation as India's most advanced, peaceful, literate, and ecologically minded state. Discover the best of it by land, and by cruising its idyllic backwaters aboard a traditional houseboat.

It's Included:

  • Airfare from Delhi to Cochin and from Cochin to Mumbai
  • Accommodations for 2 nights aboard our houseboat, 2 nights in Cochin, and 1 night in Mumbai
  • 15 meals—6 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 5 dinners
  • 6 small group activities
  • Services of our own resident OAT Trip Leader, who speaks English and the native language
  • Gratuities for local guides, drivers, ship-crew, and luggage porters
  • All transfers

DAY 1 Fly to Cochin (Kochi) • Board houseboat • Welcome Dinner


MEALS: B L D
OVERNIGHT: Houseboat

Enjoy an early breakfast this morning before your flight from Delhi to Cochin (also called Kochi). Upon arrival at Cochin we'll transfer to the jetty to board our comfortable small, private houseboat. After checking in to your rooms here, your Trip Leader will give you a brief orientation with afternoon tea or coffee.

Our two- or three-cabin boat has teak and cane paneling, antique furnishings, local accents, and a dining lounge with panoramic views. You'll sail along placid, mirror-like lagoons, fringed by palms and resplendent with birds and wildlife, and watch local fishermen cast their nets or women wade in the clear waters, fishing in their bare feet. This afternoon, we'll find a suitable place to anchor, enjoying this unique scenery while we eat lunch.

Later, we'll enjoy a special Welcome Dinner onboard.

DAY 2 Houseboat cruising


MEALS: B L D
OVERNIGHT: Houseboat

We cruise on our houseboat all day today. Relax on board and observe the everyday lives of the villagers along the river and canals. At various stops, we’ll go ashore to meet some of them.

DAY 3 Transfer to Cochin • Optional Kathakali performance


MEALS: B L D
OVERNIGHT: Trident Hotel Cochin or similar

We have breakfast onboard, and then disembark for the drive to Cochin. Cochin is a storied South Indian city layered with Jewish, Portuguese, Chinese, and British influences. After having lunch in the old fort area, we tour Cochin's intriguing sights, including St. Francis Xavier's Church, the original burial site of Vasco de Gama (who is now interred in his native Portugal). We'll explore Cochin's multicultural influences further at the harbor, where we view the distinctive cheena vala—fishing nets that are strongly purported to be Chinese in origin.

Late this afternoon, you might join us for an optional Kathakali performance. Kathakali—literally “story play”—is the theatrical dance of Kerala, known for its complex costumes and facial paint that is so heavy it is often mistaken for a mask. Using expressions, gestures, and actions, the actors portray the stories of Indian epics, mythologies, and legends. Drama is added with the narrative verse, sung with an accompaniment of drums, cymbals, and other instruments.

Dinner tonight is included in Cochin.

DAY 4 Explore Cochin


MEALS: B D
OVERNIGHT: Trident Hotel Cochin or similar

After breakfast this morning, we'll explore Cochin city proper. We'll see remnants of the melting pot culture that emerged here as a result of the spice trade in the blend of Dutch and English architecture. We'll stroll the intensely aromatic streets of the old Jewish quarter, once the center of the spice trade and today home to spice shops that sell cardamom, ginger, turmeric, cloves, and cumin. As the scents mingle together, you may find it challenging to distinguish one from another, but the spices' magnificent colors are nonetheless a feast for the eyes.

We'll visit the Mattancherry Palace, also known as the Dutch Palace for its tiled roof and whitewashed walls. But the colorful murals we'll find here—some of the best examples of Hindu temple art in India—are the main attraction.

This part of town is also home to one of the world's oldest Jewish populations, as we'll see when we stop at the Paradesi Synagogue, which was founded in 1568. Please note: If this day falls on a Saturday, the synagogue tour will be unavailable, since the building will be closed.

After lunch on your own, we'll enjoy a cruise of the harbor and a better look at the famous fishing nets. This evening, we'll gather for an included dinner at a local restaurant.

DAY 5 Fly to Mumbai


MEALS: B D
OVERNIGHT: The Lalit Mumbai or similar

Fly to bustling Mumbai this morning, India’s largest and most dynamic city. Surrounded on three sides by the Arabian Sea, Mumbai sits upon what used to be a tropical archipelago made up of seven distinct islands. Archaeologists surmise that these islands have been populated since at least the Stone Age. Today, the city is the hub of India’s finance, fashion, and entertainment industries. More than half of India’s maritime cargo ships float upon Mumbai’s glittering harbor, and more films are produced here annually than in any other city in the world—hence the moniker “Bollywood.”

After we arrive and check in to our hotel, we'll depart for a city tour that includes Dhobi Ghat, “the world’s largest outdoor laundry,” where countless locals gather daily. We’ll move along to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, now known as Victoria Terminus in honor of Queen Victoria, or “Bombay VT” to the locals.

Dinner this evening is at a local restaurant.

DAY 6 Explore Mumbai • Return to U.S.


MEALS: B L Continue your discoveries of Mumbai today. We'll spend some time exploring the Gandhi Museum and Library housed within the mansion known as Mani Bhavan. Then we'll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

This evening, transfer to the airport for your overnight flight to the U.S.

Accommodations

Pricing Information

View Specials & Promotions
Arrival DateSingleSharedDouble
Nov 1, 2017 $3,395 $3,395 $3,395
Your Savings* Past GWT Traveler?
Post-trip: Southern India $1,595
Air from JFK $1,300

Be sure to mention booking code G7-25972 to receive all the Gutsy benefits!

*Discount and savings are subject to change, please call reservations (866.464.8879 for the actual price. The discount is not valid on all itineraries and will be verified at time of booking. The discount is valid for guests who’ve traveled with Gutsy Women Travel within the last five years. Other conditions apply. Every effort has been made to produce this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors. All prices are subject to change.

In order to qualify for the GWT Past Traveler Discount of 5% on the land portion of the trip, you must advise the reservation specialist at time of depositing on your 2017 trip which GWT trip you traveled on (date/name of departure and year) over the past 5 years.

Please note: A $25 documentation fee will be added to the final payment for this trip.

We limit our trips to small groups so we suggest you deposit early to guarantee your spot. View information regarding Air Travel & Transfers here.

Please note this departure is not exclusive to women but will be comprised of Gutsy Women Travel participants co-sharing the overall trip capacity with members of OAT resulting in a larger group size compared to the traditional Gutsy Women Travel trips designed exclusively for women.

This trip will be operated on behalf of Gutsy Women Travel (GWT) clients by award winning Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT). There are 5 Twin bedded rooms and 6 single accommodations rooms with no single supplement blocked on this trip. Once single rooms are sold out, women can secure a guaranteed share in a twin room accommodation. This trip is designed for GWT clients however if room block is not sold by 120 days prior to departure date, the trip can be opened up to OAT clients and could be co-ed. However the group size will always be capped at no more than 16 participants. There will be a dedicated OAT licensed, local travel director assigned to this GWT group block departure.

Single Room - one person, traveling solo in single accommodation
Double Room - two people, traveling together in same accommodation
Shared Room - one person, traveling solo who would like to share with another passenger and pay the per person "Double" price

Air travel arrangements for Gutsy Women's trip participants are made independently as most women are traveling from various gateway cities within or outside North America. Gutsy Women Travel includes a group transfer (if travelers purchase airfare from our operator) or individuals can book private transportation if desired.

For further information and reservations call (866) IM GUTSY (464 8879) or
email reservations@gutsywomentravel.com.
For online 24/7 booking capability go to gutsywomentravel.com.

Please note: Every effort has been made to produce this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors. All prices are subject to change. Departure dates and prices shown may be updated several times daily, and apply to new bookings only.