India Northern Escapade

Great value Trip through the North of India



Explore the rich, vibrant and diverse culture of India with our 13-day North India Escapade. Covering the country’s greatest northern features, including the Golden Triangle. Experience iconic major landmarks like the Taj Mahal and the spiritual ancient city of Varanasi with a twist, venture into the desert for a camel safari and treat your taste buds to an abundance of delicious food. From bustling cities to rural villages, we take you off-the-beaten-track as you explore all that North India has to offer.


India Northern Escapade: Trip Highlights


Imagine visiting ancient temples, royal palaces and world heritage sites from centuries long gone Explore the North of this exciting country by immersing yourself in the local traditions and culture of the people.

With Xtreme Gap Year´s  ´India Northern Escapade´ programme, you will visit the North of the worlds most unique and exciting countries, while immersing yourself in the culture and travelling through various parts of the country.

This incredible 13-day programme takes you from our start point in Delhi to Mumbai and every interesting place in between. There are lots of adventurous activities to keep satisfied.  Sharing moments like these with other like-minded travellers on set group start dates, with English speaking guides will be an amazing experience.


India Northern Escapade Photos





Itinerary


Day 1: Delhi

In the evening, meet your guide at the hostel ready  for your pre-departure briefing. Take in the views of Delhi from the hostel rooftop, as your guide tells you everything you need to know.
After your briefing has peaked your excitement levels, take the short walk from the hostel to the train  station, ready for the start of your India adventure.
Board your first overnight train as you travel to your first destination, Varanasi!

Day 2: Varanasi

Arrive in the holiest city in India and head to your hostel for a chance to relax before your first full day of adventures. Transfer to the Sarnath Buddhist and Hindu archaeological site (200 INR), one of four holy Buddhist sites sanctioned by the Buddha himself for pilgrimage. Explore the excavated ruins and pay a visit to the deer park found next door, where you can walk around the tranquil gardens as the animals roam free!
Don’t fancy the temple? Take a walk around the city’s old town and pay a visit to the Blue Lassi Store, home to some of the creamiest fruit lassis in India.
Spend the afternoon on a relaxing boat ride down the River Ganges, as you take a tour of Varanasi’s historic Ghats (monumental flights of stairs leading down to the waterfront). Be on the lookout for one of the most famous in India, the Burning Ghat. Finish your river  journey at the Dasaswamedh Ghat where you can catch the famous Ganga Aarti ceremony at sunset.
After the truly riveting ritual, you can enjoy your first group dinner. Get to know your fellow travellers and guide over a delicious meal, before heading back to the hostel. Now is your chance to get an early night’s sleep before get-ting up for the sunrise tomorrow  morning!

Day 3: Varanasi & Agra

Rise and shine at the crack of dawn for an unmissable sunrise boat tour (100-200 INR, dependent on nbrs). Enjoy the peace and tranquility of early morning Varanasi and watch the locals begin their daily routines. Witness the religious significance of the Ganges River as the local community begins their morning prayers and washing in the holy water.
At 10am you’ll be picked up from the hostel and taken to the airport. Get ready to catch a flight to your next destination, Agra. Be picked up from the airport to drive to the hostel and catch some glimpses of the city along the way.
Eager to have your first experience of Indian entertainment? Tonight, you can watch  Mohab-bat The Taj Show at Kalakriti Cultural & Convention Centre (1500 INR). Enjoy a show full of creative dances and dramatic lighting, as you learn about the love story of Emperor Shajahan.
When the theater is closed in May & June, enjoy a delicious dinner and drinks at the Hotel Taj Resort (300-1000 INR).

Day 4: Agra

This morning, you can make the most of your stay in this historic city by taking a rickshaw to Agra Fort, one of India’s listed UNESCO World Heritage sites (entry 550 INR, rickshaw 500 INR between 3 people for the whole day tour). This beautiful sand-stone, high-walled palace was home to the emperors of the Mughal dynasty  during the 16th century, when Agra was the country’s capital. Wise up on the fort’s history as you wander around with one of the brilliant audio guides (200 INR).
After exploring the fort, cross the Yamuna river and visit the ruins of the Black Taj foundations (200 INR). From here, you’ll have excellent views of the Taj Mahal directly back across the river. (Tomorrow’s destination!). Why not spend the afternoon in a nearby village and experience your first interaction with the local community! Take a group walk around the village, where you will be shown into the houses and even the local school (1500 INR).
In the summer months when the school is closed,  you can explore the less-known side of the city with the Taj Nature Walk.

Day 5: Agra & Jaipur

Start your day early and enjoy a peaceful half an hour walk from the hostel to the Taj Mahal. Catch the beautiful sunrise over the world-famous monument – don’t forget to bring your camera to make the most of this incredible experience. The view is truly spec-tacular and the best way to see the Taj Mahal.

Make your way back to the hostel and prepare for your private transfer to Jaipur. By early afternoon, you’ll arrive at your accommodation where you  can drop your bags off. Want to use the rest of the day to explore? Continue on your journey with the bus to the nearby Nahargarh Fort (200 INR).
The fort is located on the edge of the Aravalli  hills, giving you incredible panoramic views of Jaipur. You can even spend the evening enjoying a drink at Padao restaurant located near the fort!

Day 6: Jaipur

In the morning, pay a visit to the nearby Amber Fort, one of the most important historical spots in Jaipur (200 INR). The fort is located high on a hill and looks out over the Maota Lake. Drop by the nearby Monkey Temple, which features multiple religious pools where you’ll witness
people bathing in the holy water. You can even take a dip yourself but, due to religious reasons, men and women are required to be separate.
More of an artist than a historian? As an  alternative activity, you can ride a tuk-tuk to an  art class at the Creatis Studio. You can try your hand at Indian embroi-dery, block printing, tie-dye and many more (1000 INR).
In the evening, enjoy a food tour of the city  along with two guides. You’ll be taken to eight recommended hot spots and have the opportunity  to treat your taste buds to a variety of different food! (200 INR)

Day 7 Overnight train: Jaipur

This morning, you will enjoy a private guided Pink City tour, where you’ll visit the structures that give the city its charming nickname. Make a stop at the City
Palace and spend some time wandering around its  glorious buildings, gardens, courtyards and temples.
After your tour, enjoy a free afternoon at your pleasure. Need help deciding what to do? Why not do a spot of shopping at the vibrant markets, or visit one of Jaipur’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, Jantar  Mantar, which is home to the world’s largest stone sundial.
Head back to your accommodation in the evening because at 11pm tonight you’re jumping on board the overnight train to Jaisalmer!

Day 8: Jaisalmer

By midday, your train will arrive in Jaisalmer. Get picked up from the train station by the Camel Safari guides, who will transfer you to the company house.  Here you can shower and get ready for your Camel Safari adventure to begin.
At around 3:30pm you’ll be driven by jeep for an hour into the desert. Take a short camel ride to the campsite, where you will be cooked a vegetarian dinner and can enjoy the desert all to yourself. Fill your bellies with delicious food as the sun sets and gather around the campfire under the stars.
Your guide might even provide some musical
entertainment! Sleep out in the open on the sand dunes with the sky above you and your camel friends nearby. Who needs to count sheep when you have the stars? In the case of rain, tarpaulins will be provided. Otherwise, sleeping arrangements are open-air.

Day 9: Jaisalmer

Wake up early to catch the breath-taking sunrise over the sand dunes, accompanied by a freshly cooked  vegetarian breakfast. Embark on a longer camel trek to one of the desert villages, where you can visit the homes of the locals.
Later in the morning, say goodbye to your camel buddies and drive back to the company house. Here you can get showered and rested before the rest of
the day’s activities!
Visit Jaisalmer Fort, one of the very few ‘living forts’ in the world (600 INR). Over a quarter of the city’s  population still resides within the fort. You can learn more about its history with the audio guide included in the entrance fee.
Don’t want to visit the fort? Pay a visit to the Gadsisar  Sagar Lake (free) or the nearby viewpoint instead for
a tranquil day with a view (Viewpoint 100 INR).
At around 4pm, you’ll be picked up from the hostel and take a private transfer to Jodhpur.
Take the opportunity to see more of India as the
landscape passes by you during your journey. By
the late evening, you’ll arrive and check in to your  accommodation.

Day 10: Jodhpur

For the thrill seekers, this morning you can test your nerves on a flying fox zip wire over the battlements of
the Mehrangarh Fort (1999 INR). The six stations will give you amazing views of the fort and a panoramic
of the city’s blue skyline.
Want to pick up a skill instead? Join an incredible  Krishna cooking workshop where you can learn to
cook ten traditional dishes (1500 INR). At the end of the class, taste your creations and enjoy the flavours of regional Rajasthan cuisine. By the end of the day, you’ll be an expert! Meet in the hostel at 4pm for a guided walking tour of the Old City, you’ll soon find out where the city got its nickname from! Walk around the Blue City as you  make your way to Toorji’s Step Well. If the water level is low enough, you’ll see the amazing step brickwork dating back to the 1740s. If the water level is high,  watch the local children jump in from great heights! Have a drink with your fellow travellers at The Step  Well Café before taking a rickshaw back to the  hostel. Be sure to get a good night’s sleep, ready for your early start tomorrow.

Day 11: Udaipur

Wake up early to catch your 8am bus to Udaipur. In the early afternoon, you will arrive at the hostel where  you will have some time to get settled. If you want to
get straight into activities, you can walk through the nearby old city on the way to the city palace (outside 30 INR, entry 300 INR).
Meet up with your guide at 5pm for a sunset boat
cruise across Lake Pichola. From the water, you can get the best views of the palace and old town, and of course, catch a beautiful sunset.
End the day with a stop for dinner at the lakeshore restaurant and eat delicious food while creating great  memories over a wonderful view (300-500 INR).

Day 12 Overnight train: Udaipur

Get hands-on this morning and pay a visit to Animal Aid, a local animal rescue, where you can take a tour of the organisation and spend a few hours  volunteering (600 INR for a rickshaw group of 3). Want to get more creative? Take an art class at Udaipur art villa (250 INR per hour) or try your hand at a henna class (75 INR upwards). You can even join a musical instrument class and learn the art of the sitar or Indian drums (900 INR). If you fancy stretching yourself a little, take a yoga class with local yogi, Prakash -his flexibility will amaze you! (Pay as you see fit). If you fancy something else altogether just ask your tour leader to take you to suggested places, all walkable from the accommodation. Udaipur is a culturally rich town, so you’re guaranteed to find
something you want to do!
After a day full of activities, meet your guide at the hostel before taking the 9:30pm overnight train to your next destination, Mumbai.

Day 13 End of trip: Mumbai

Enjoy the last few hours of your train ride this morning before arriving in the bustling city of Mumbai. Make the most of a free afternoon and explore the wonders of the city. Say goodbye to your tour guides and fellow travellers as you transfer to the airport, ready for your flight home.


Accommodation


Accommodation in hostels which meet our high standards. All hostels have their own unique Indian charm, and at the same time are safe, clean, and hygienic.

What is the standard of accommodation?

All of the hostels are clean, air-conditioned or have fans, are safe, have good showers, internet, washing machines and most importantly, have real Indian character. It is easy to make friends and fun to hang out in the lounge areas. If you would like to stay in a private room though, that is absolutely possible as well as we have room upgrades available at the time of purchase. However, most will opt for the standard hostel accommodation!

Do the hostels have WIFI?  Will I be able to keep in touch with friends and family while in Asia?

There is Wi-Fi and computers available for use in all hostels you stay in during your trip. You can also purchase an Indian SIM card very cheaply to stay in touch and your Adventure Leader can help you with this. Alternatively, the Indian Government has introduced a system for people to rent pre-paid phones with data, calls, Google Maps and helpful apps pre-installed.

Do I need a sleeping bag or is linen supplied in the hostels?

All bedding – including sleeping equipment for the Camel Safari desert camping – is provided.

Price

13 Days - 

USD 729




What's Included?


  • Pre departure pack before travelling
  • Documentation for applying for a visa
  • English-speaking Adventure Leaders
  • Accommodation in hostels which meet our high standards. All hostels have their own unique Indian charm, and at the same time are safe, clean, and hygienic.
  • All train and bus tickets
  • Entry, transport and Adventures Leaders to some of India’s unmissable attractions, such as the Taj Mahal, a Camel Safari in the Thar Desert, and camping next to a shola forest (a full list of all unmissable activities is available).
  • All taxes and charges

What's Excluded?


  • Flights to and from India
  • Airport pick up: Upon request, airport pick-ups can be arranged. The price is 2250 INR
  • Aside from the many free unmissable activities, we also offer some extra activities which are great value for money, safe and fun.
  • Food and Drink – food and drinks are incredibly cheap in India, but even so, the tour guides still give you access to great discounts on food and drinks in the liveliest bars in town.
  • Any train/bus tickets for journeys made after the trip
  • Any hostels for after your trip has ended – if you require accommodation before or after your trip, we can help you book that! Just contact us at [email protected] Payments for these will need to be made along with your final trip payment.

Frequently Asked Questions



  • A visa is required for entering India. Check your local Indian Embassy. Note: You are responsible for the correct visa. Xtreme Gap Year cannot be held responsible for this.

    Once you’ve made your booking with us, we will send you detailed instructions on applying for your visa, a visa invitation letter and a detailed itinerary, and a number of other items in your booking packet.

    You will need at least six months validity from the date of arrival in India and at least two blank pages for stamping in your passport to get your visa. If this means getting a new passport then we will need to have a copy of your most recent passport as well as the one you booked with. You will also need proof of a return or onward journey ticket to be eligible for the e-Visa.

    The Indian government now offers 60-days e-Visas which you can apply for and pay for online and receive confirmation via email. Although the application is quick and easy, you should apply for your visa within three months of your travel start date to avoid any issues. For a full list of countries, more details and to apply, click here.

    How do I get a VISA if I’m away (abroad) from home?

    So long as you have access to the internet, and the required documentation, you can apply for an e-Visa online as usual.


    • We take you to see the absolute best of India. All-encompassing, packed itineraries give you access to the top must-see sites you’ve read about, as well as all the hidden, off-the-beaten-track destinations you haven’t.
    • Experience travelling with an amazing group of like-minded people – not just those travelling with you, but our expert, fun-loving guides too! They’ll show you their part of India their way.
    • Give something back by volunteering in the local community.
    • We have an excellent commitment to safety – we do the hard work keeping you safe, so you can enjoy yourself to the full.
    • Environmentally friendly and sustainable travel – we want these stunning places to exist for future generations.
    • We like to think of ourselves as open-minded people, and our tours are for open-minded people too. We welcome travellers of any age, nationality, ethnicity, religion, political affiliation, gender and sexual orientation.
    • You will feel safe travelling with us, whatever your way of life – that means no judging and no harassing!

  • Each trip is different, but our travellers come from all over the world and from every background. Usually, for this trip, travellers are aged anywhere between 18 to 30 something, but we do get older customers joining. We fully embrace the backpacker attitude that everyone is very welcome. A typical trip would include solo travellers or friends who have just finished high school, couples on career breaks, students on university holidays, and solo travellers from all walks of life. The group normally speaks English but come from all over the world including the UK, Netherlands, North America, Australia and New Zealand, Mainland Europe, Israel and Brazil.


  • We require all our customers to have backpackers travel insurance when coming on the trip.

    Please bring details of your travel insurance along with you. In the event of an accident, we may need to contact your insurance company on your behalf, so we will need the insurance company’s name and phone number and your policy number.


  • First of all, you are responsible for the correct vaccinations. Xtreme Gap Year cannot be held responsible. At the time we published this programme the below was advised.

    the trip aims to enter no areas with tropical diseases. However, as with any backpacking trip, we urge you to seek advice from a travel nurse before departing your home country.

    • All travellers should be up to date with a full course of vaccination and boosters recommended by their governments. For UK regulations, click here.
    • Yellow Fever: The only vaccine required by international health regulations is Yellow Fever. Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is only required if you have visited a country in the yellow-fever zone within the six days prior to entering India.
    • Diphtheria: All travellers are strongly advised to be vaccinated
    • Hep A: All travellers to India should be vaccinated.
    • Typhoid: All travellers spending more than a week in India should be vaccinated.
    • Tetanus: All travellers are strongly advised to be vaccinated
    • Hep B: Sexually transmitted. All travellers to India should be vaccinated.
    • Japanese Encephalitis: Vaccination is recommended if you’re in rural areas for more than a month during summer months. As a company, we must urge you to take all precautions deemed necessary including the highest level of immunizations for safety reasons.
    • Malaria: Generally, malaria is a high risk only in the very eastern areas of India that and we do not go to these places, so it should not be a primary concern for you. However, as we mentioned above, we must advise you to err on the side of safety.
    • Rabies: Don’t need pre-vaccination per se.
    • Cholera: Only individuals who are considered ‘high risk’ are advised vaccines. Cholera is spread through consumption of contaminated water and food. It would be unusual for ‘non-high risk’ travellers to contract cholera if they take basic precautions with food and water and maintain a good standard of hygiene.

  • At its heart, the trip is an adventure tour of India, but you can make your trip as physically active (or inactive) as you want. Instead of hiking up around the Shola Forest, you could ask your Adventure Leader for a more relaxing activity!


  • Generally yes, but please do inform us of your specific requirements at the point of booking.


  • All of our Adventure Leaders have a fully equipped first aid kit with them at all times, but of course, there is no harm in bringing your own small one along. We also advise that you bring your own antihistamine, anti-diarrhoea, and painkillers if you think you’ll need them. These are available in all of the cities.


  • All Indian cities have hospitals and clinics in case of emergencies. With that being said, medical treatment is certainly more developed in the bigger cities, but regardless of where you are in India, medical treatment is available, and your Adventure Leader will always be on hand to help take you to a hospital if worse comes to worst.


  • The bags will be stored at the hostels where they are tagged and recorded. We have never had a case of anyone losing their luggage or having their luggage stolen so you can focus on having fun.


  • Yes! If you’d like to upgrade to a private room the prices are listed below. Just email us before your final payment is due to let us know you’d like to upgrade. The upgrade fee is for the room, not per person- i.e. if you are a couple upgrading, then you split this price between the two of you. Room upgrades include single, double and twin rooms.


  • You will be travelling in the sleeping carriages with beds on the overnight trains. We try to get all our travellers in the same compartment as well so that you can have fun getting to know each other better, playing some games, and even sharing a few drinks.


  • Upon request, airport pick-ups can be arranged. The price is 2250 INR. This service is available from and to the following airport locations: Delhi, Mumbai.

    For your safety, we highly recommend spending some extra money on an airport transfer service in Delhi, as taxi scams are common.


  • Each group will be accompanied by English speaking Adventure Leaders. All our adventure leaders have the passion and knowledge to ensure that they can help you have a great time in each destination.

    How experienced are they?  And will they be travelling with us?

    Each of our Adventure Leaders is an expert in their area – so actually you will have a different Adventure Leader in each location. At the end of the trip for each location they will either travel with you just on the train or see you off onto your train and another Adventure Leader will pick you right back up as soon as you get off your train.


  • Do I need to bring power converters?

    Yes! Indian electrical outlets are very unique so unless you are from Sri Lanka, you will need to bring an adaptor. India uses 230 Volts and the plug sockets are Type D, featuring three round pins. In some places across India, you can find the round, two pinned sockets, in which case a European plug will work. However, as it is not guaranteed your accommodation will have these, we would advise buying the three pinned adaptors to be sure.

    What should I pack for my trip?

    We strongly recommend packing very light. India has everything under the sun, so don’t fret too much if you left something behind, almost anything you’d conceivably need is available throughout India. You really need very little as you can wash clothes regularly in the hostels. As India is a relatively conservative country, you will have to dress a little differently to what you are used to at home.

    You will receive more info about that in our pre  departure information after you are all booked up

    Suitcase or backpack?

    A suitcase is OK, but a backpack/hold-all is much, much more convenient.

    Packing suggestions:

    We advise a rucksack of 50 – 70L but a suitcase is also fine. If necessary absolutely, arrangements can also be made to send things domestically, for an extra fee.

    • Flipflops
    • Sensible walking shoes
    • T-shirts
    • Shorts/skirts
    • Swimming costume
    • Lightweight waterproof
    • Towel
    • Washbag
    • Passport with India Visa
    • Indian rupee or credit/debit card
    • Student card if you have one, although it is not guaranteed to be accepted
    • Travel insurance policy
    • Photocopies of insurance policy, bank cards, passport photo page, visa
    • Books and other entertainments for the night trains
    • Mosquito repellent, sun-screen and after-sun
    • Camera and charger – India is a photographer’s dream!
    • Small first aid kit with medicine for diarrhoea, paracetamol, disinfectant etc.
    • A big bag and a small rucksack. We sometimes get separated from our big bags, so you’ll need to keep your valuables with you in a small bag.

    Bring electronic products at your own risk. Some customers choose to travel with iPhone, tablets and laptops, but although theft is extremely rare, there is petty crime in some areas we visit.


  • The Indian rupee is a heavily regulated currency, meaning you cannot exchange money before entering the country. It is recommended to arrive in India with a supply of cash in your own currency and exchanging it at a bureau de change at the airport. As India is a very cash-orientated country, we recommend only carrying a day’s worth of money on you when you’re out and about and hiding the rest in multiple safe places within your belongings at your accommodation. You will be able to withdraw more money at ATMs in each city, and your Adventure Leader will tell you when the next stop on the trip where you will be able to withdraw more cash is. However, it has been reported card including HSBC and Halifax, do not work at some ATM machines. We advise that you notify your bank that you will be travelling before you depart.


  • Food in India is very cheap. We advise you to budget 500-1000 INR per day for food in great local restaurants your Adventure Leader will take you to which we know are safe and tasty. If you want to eat cheaper than this, you can by eating simpler with a traditional Thali dish – a round platter of food, normally buffet style or all you can eat – which come in at around 100 INR.

    As an example of prices of everyday items: Tea – 5-10 INR, Coca-Cola – 20-30 INR, Samosas – 15-20 INR, Thali – 80-100 INR, Imported beer – 200 INR, Short taxi ride – 45-75 INR (Taxis are dependent on city. It can be cheaper and faster to take a tuk-tuk however you will need to haggle for a reasonable price).


  • Your Adventure Leader will always offer to take you for a group meal, where we go to a local restaurant, which we know is hygienic and has cheap and delicious food. These meals usually work out at 500 INR (£5/$5.90) per person, but if you do want to eat cheaper, you can always grab a traditional Thali meal for around 100 INR (£1/$1.30). If you are craving Western food, then there are lots of great options!


  • One of the best parts of travelling in India is definitely the food! With its diverse mix of different cuisines, food throughout the country can be vastly different but fear not- with literally thousands of options, India has something for everyone, even the pickiest or most adventurous of eaters.

    I’m vegetarian/have allergies – will I be able to get the right food?

    Yes! With so many food choices, India can meet the needs of individuals with special dietary needs or requests. Just tell your Adventure Leader and they can help you find something suitable. You will probably discover a new dish that you love!


  • Typically, the answer is yes, as long as your cell phone has been unlocked for international usage. However, the Indian government has tightened laws on issuing SIM cards to foreigners. For travellers wishing to use their own cell phone while in India, you can bring a handset that’s unlocked and then purchase an inexpensive prepaid SIM card from one of the airport kiosks. Or you can purchase one from one of India’s top three mobile phone providers (Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance) directly from their retail outlets. However, this process will require you to bring a lot of documentation, including your passport, 2 colour passport photos, a copy of your Indian visa, proof of address and proof of accommodation in India. SIM cards can also be recharged at most convenient stores. Typically purchased SIM cards can be used for domestic calls, texting and 3G/4G data.

    A much simpler option would be to use a new system introduced by the Indian Government called Trabug. This provides you with a rented phone, with data, calls, Google Maps and helpful apps pre-installed on the phone. All information and data is whipped once the phone is returned.



India Northern Escapade Trip Dates


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