This fully guided cultural tour of Rajasthan and the Taj Mahal has been designed to lead you through the most famous and exotic highlights of authentic North India. The tour is led by award-winning photographer, Francisco de Souza. Originally from Zimbabwe, Francisco has been running tours through Rajasthan since 2012.
Starting in Delhi you will circumnavigate your way through almost a dozen enchanting experiences in Rajasthan and Agra. During your journey, Francisco will also show you the other side of this colourful part of the world - the rural villages, out of the way temples, hidden lakes and spectacular hilltop forts - all the while providing you with comfortable and characterful accommodation in charming, heritage hotels, tents in the desert and family-run palaces. On this journey you will witness all the colour, culture and beauty of Rajasthan as well as stepping off the beaten track to experience the authentic ‘Land of the Maharajas’ and her people.
On your travels you will also have the opportunity to witness and even learn many different traditional Indian art techniques, such as Miniature paintings with squirrel hair brushes in Udaipur, block printing in Jaipur and pottery sculpting in Jodhpur.
Explore and photograph UNESCO world heritage forts, palaces and temples in Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Ranakpur, Udaipur and Agra.
Experience desert life during an overnight safari in the Thar desert, with sunrise camel ride and folk dancing
Photograph Jodhpur and Jaipur’s colourful & bustling backstreets and bazaars
Enjoy a 2 day safari in the Aravalli Ranges, with the opportunity to photograph leopards and other wildlife
Explore Udaipur’s winding alleyways and photograph the mystical Lake Palace at sunset
Stay in comfortable heritage hotels and family-run palaces and experience India’s celebrated hospitality
Experience the adventure of travelling by Indian Railways
Discover the amazing flavours of exotic North Indian cuisine, including a private cooking class
Get off the beaten track in rural Rajasthan as you visit villages and meet with local communities
Visit the stunning Taj Mahal at sunrise
Take part in traditional Indian art and craft workshops (for example Miniature Painting, Block Printing). Privileged access to people, places and moments you'd never otherwise see
Opportunities to explore and shop in bustling Indian marketplaces
Small private group for personal attention
A professional photographer and local experts to guide and inspire you
Sat 17th Oct: TOUR BEGINS IN DELHI
Day 1: Meet your tour guide at the airport by midday and transfer to your Delhi train station to catch an overnight sleeper train to Udaipur.
Sun 18th Oct: UDAIPUR
Early this morning we will arrive in exotic Udaipur. After breakfast we will take a walk around picturesque Lake Pichola with its floating palace. There will be many opportunities to shop for unique items in the stalls around the lake and market area. In the early evening we will experience a traditional Rajasthani puppet show and folk dance demonstration.
Mon 19th Oct: UDAIPUR
Today we will visit the vibrant wholesale markets and photograph the colourful merchant stalls and vendors. In the afternoon we will explore the majestic City Palace complex, once the seat of Maharajas, which overlooks the beautiful lake and floating palace below.
We will end the day with a visit to the 15th Century Jagdish temple in the centre of a market filled with interesting souvenir and jewellery stores.
Tues 20th Oct: UDAIPUR
This morning you can photograph aerial views of Udaipur’s old city from the ropeway cable car, after which you will get the opportunity to take part in a hands-on art workshop learning to paint the famous Rajasthani miniature paintings.
In the afternoon we will drive up to 18th Century Monsoon Palace and explore the palace ruins. From here you can capture some great panoramic images of Udaipur city and the lakes below.
Weds 21st Oct: UDAIPUR - ARAVALLI RANGES
After breakfast we will drive 150km through the Aravalli Ranges, stopping at farming communities and small villages for photography along the way.
Around lunchtime we will visit the 15th century Jain temples at Ranakpur for a guided tour of the ancient temple complex and a traditional Jain thali lunch. The temple is a great spot to capture some images of the saffron-adorned Jain pilgrims against the white marble pillars of the temple.
In the early afternoon we will depart for our 2 day safari in the Aravalli ranges, staying at a small family-run palace. In the early evening you will enjoy a guided safari to spot leopard and other wild life, like hyenas and nilgai, in the mystic country side of Bera.
Thurs 22nd Oct: ARAVALI RANGES SAFARI
Early morning wildlife safari where you may see crocodiles and other Indian native species, and then enjoy some migratory bird watching and morning tea at picturesque Jawai Dam.
In the afternoon we will take a tour of a small village and local temples where you can meet and interact with the local shepherds and their families in their natural surroundings.
Fri 23rd Oct: ARAVALI RANGES SAFARI - JODHPUR
In the morning after breakfast we will travel north through the desert to a traditional Bishnoi community. We will spend some time in a village home, visit a traditional pottery works and get a demonstration of local pots and other eco-friendly items being made. We will enjoy lunch at the village, and in the afternoon we will drive on to Jodhpur.
Sat 24th Oct: JODHPUR
Today we will rest in the morning before we spend some time exploring the world-famous Old Blue City's lanes and alleyways. There are plenty of great shopping opportunities to be found in the bustling market area.
In the afternoon we will visit the 13th Century Mehrangarh Fort and museum built high on a hill overlooking the ancient city of Jodhpur.
Sun 25th Oct: JODHPUR
This morning we will explore the Clock Tower market and visit Jodhpur's famous 16th Century step well. In the afternoon we will begin our cooking class by a visit to the local market to source fresh spices and ingredients with our cooking class instructor. We will spend an enjoyable evening learning several famous Rajasthani dishes for a memorable dinner.
Mon 26th Oct: DESERT CAMP SAFARI
At midday we will drive into the Thar Desert and check into a Desert Safari Camp and have lunch. In the afternoon we will drive further into the desert to a small village where you can meet the local villagers and see how they live, cook and eat in this remote landscape. In the evening you will enjoy a buffet dinner back at camp while locals play traditional music and perform Rajasthani folk dancing. You will spend the night in a tent under the stars.
Tues 27th Oct: DESERT CAMP SAFARI - JODHPUR
In the early morning we will take camel carts to a remote location deep in the Thar Desert, with the opportunity to take photos of camels at sunrise. We will ride camels across the sand dunes before returning for breakfast back at the camp. We will drive back to Jodhpur in the early afternoon, stopping at a small village community for lunch on the way. The evening is yours for resting or shopping.
Weds 28th Oct: JODHPUR
We will spend the early morning exploring the bustling wholesale fruit and vegetable market, to witness the trucks from far flung corners of Rajasthan unloading and selling their wares.
Later we will visit the Umaid Heritage Art School which offers art lessons in traditional Rajasthani art. It also hosts an art shop where you can buy traditional art supplies like brushes and natural dyes, inks and paints.
Thurs 29th Oct: JODHPUR - JAIPUR
The morning is free to spend at your leisure. In the afternoon we drive 350km east across the Thar desert from Jodhpur to Jaipur.
Fri 30th Oct: JAIPUR
In the morning we will visit the famous Panna Meena stepwell, which provides fantastic opportunities for both people and architectural photography. We then explore the beautiful sandstone Amer Palace and take a walk around the local village.
Sat 31st Oct: JAIPUR
This morning we will explore the famous Pink City area of Jaipur, filled with plentiful opportunities for shopping and finding great bargains. While in the Pink City we will also visit the picturesque City Palace complex.
In the afternoon you will have the opportunity to join a hands-on block printing workshop, where you will learn the famous Jaipur art of block printing on fabric or paper.
Sun 1st Nov: JAIPUR - AGRA
Around midday we will drive 230km through the desert to Agra. We will arrive in Agra in time for sunset photographs over The Taj Mahal.
Mon 2nd Nov: AGRA
To ensure the best shots possible, we will get up early to be amongst the first to enter the Taj Mahal complex at 6am. You are free to wander through the grounds photographing the Taj Mahal as long as you like. Afterwards you can elect to visit the nearby Red Fort, or join me taking reflection photographs of the Taj Mahal from other vantage points in the surrounding area.
Tues 3rd Nov: AGRA - HOME
In the morning we will drive back to Delhi from where you can depart for Zimbabwe.
What is included in the tour
Full services of an award winning travel photographer & travel guide, an additional support guide and assistance from a network of local guides and drivers
17 nights' accommodation (in family-run guesthouses, heritage hotels, old palaces and a desert camp tent)
17 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 3 dinners
All transport (minibuses, rickshaws, train journeys) including airport pickup and drop off in India
All entrance fees, sightseeing, excursions and activities as per the itinerary
Art/craft classes (Miniature Painting, Block Printing etc)
What is NOT included in the tour
- International or internal flights unless specified
- Airport transfers in your home country, airline taxes and excess baggage charges
- Meals & drinks other than those specified in the itinerary
- Visa and passport fees
- Travel insurance
- Vaccinations and medical care
- Activities not listed in the tour itinerary
- Your own personal shopping