July 5, 2017 | Travel PR
The first episode of Joanna Lumley’s India sees her captivated by Indian Elephants in the wild. Naturetrek’s trip to Assam, based around an 11-day luxury cruise down the Brahmaputra River, visits one of the best places to see wild elephants – the Kaziranga National Park. Other highlights include tiger, rhino and river dolphins, and there is the chance to visit tribal villages and stunning Hindu monasteries. Departing 7 December, the 14-day holiday is priced at £3,995 pp (two sharing), which includes return flights (London), transfers, full board accommodation, all excursions and the services of an expert Naturetrek naturalist and guide. Call AITO* member Naturetrek on 01962 7339051 (www.naturetrek.co.uk).
Retrace Joanna’s journey through southern India (episode one) and take in many of the same delights, from the dazzling Meenakshi temple in Madurai to the dramatic landscapes of the Western Ghats. Visit the colonial hill station of Ooty, spot elephants on a nature walk through Periyar National Park, board the Niligiri ‘Toy Train’ and much more. Departing October, November and December 2017, and throughout 2018, Grand Tour of Southern India costs from £2,745 pp (two sharing) including BA flights (Heathrow), transfers, 19 nights’ B&B, seven lunches, three dinners and the services of local guides and representatives. Add two nights in Hyderabad from £475 pp. Call Jules Verne on 020 3553 3722 (www.vjv.com).
Starting in the pink city of Jaipur, this cycle adventure is characterised by old forts, painted houses and overnight stays in Maharajah’s palaces. The unforgettable trip also features Ranthambore National Park and the elegant, abandoned red-sandstone city of Fatehpur Sikri, culminating at sunrise at India’s most iconic monument, the Taj Mahal. Departing 3 November, priced from £2,274 pp (two sharing), this 10-day trip includes return flights (London), all transport, accommodation, most meals, mountain bike use, Discover Adventure leaders/mechanics, local guides, cooks and back-up equipment, and Taj Mahal entry. Call AITO* member Discover Adventure on 01722 718 444 (www.discoveradventure.com).
Travel back in time to the days of the Raj on a 21-day tour of the three magnificent railways that served the former British Hill Stations in India: the Kalka Shimla Railway, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and the Nilgiri Rack Railway. Off the tracks, visit the Sikh holy city of Amritsar, vibrant Delhi, and the Taj Mahal and Fort at Agra, before flying south where Chennai and Coimbatore await. Departing 18 February 2018, Indian Hill Railways costs from £4,995 pp (two sharing) including flights (London) to Amritsar/from Mumbai, 19 nights’ B&B, 16 lunches and 12 dinners, all rail journeys, transfers and excursions as per the itinerary, and tour leader. Call AITO* member Ffestiniog Travel on 01766 772 030 (www.ffestiniogtravel.com).
Soak up southern India’s heritage, sunshine and superb sightseeing on an 11-day introductory tour of Kerala that ticks all the boxes for first-time visitors. Combining visits to historic Cochin, tea and textile experiences in Munnar and a spice plantation in Thekkady with wildlife encounters in Periyar National Park and a night in a houseboat on the Keralan backwaters, this holiday concludes with a relaxing three-night stay at a beachside hotel. The price is from £2,195 pp (two sharing) including flights (Heathrow – regional departures available) to/from Cochin, all transfers and excursions as per the itinerary, and nine nights’ accommodation with breakfast. Call AITO* member Kirker on 020 7593 2283 (www.kirkerholidays.com).
This culturally immersive trip not only explores the highlights of India, such as Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur, but it also invites guests into local homestays to truly experience traditional Indian hospitality. There’ll be time to explore local villages, where guests can take part in projects such as water conservation and female cooperatives. Another highlight of the trip is volunteering at a girls’ school in Karauli – a fascinating insight into the changing dynamics of Indian society. The trip costs from £1,610 pp (two sharing), including 13 nights’ B&B (small hotels and homestays), most lunches and dinners, transfers, excursions and the services of a local guide. Flights extra. Call TravelLocal on 0117 3257898 (www.travellocal.com).
*AITO is the Association of Independent Tour Operators: more than 120 specialist travel companies providing an unrivalled collection of holiday ideas that cover every corner of the world. Consumers booking with AITO can be assured of high-quality holidays and excellent personal service. Visit www.aito.com for further information.