Day 1: Arrive Delhi:
Welcome to India! You are met as you exit the aircraft by our representative who will walk you to Immigrations. After clearing Immigrations and Customs you transfer to your waiting vehicle and drive to your hotel.
The rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 2: Delhi:
This morning after breakfast, we begin by discovering the Indian birds in and around the Okhla Bird Sanctuary. The key species include Ruddy Shelduck, Bar-headed Goose, White-tailed Lapwing,
and the impressive Great White Pelican.
The habitat around the wetlands is home to the range-restricted White-tailed Stonechat,
the colorful Red Avadavat,
and the endangered Striated Babbler.
This evening you will go on a camel safari ending the ride on a sand dune with a sunset cocktail
In the afternoon you drive to the walled city of Old Delhi the former Imperial capital.
Disembark at India’s largest mosque, the white marble Jama Masjid.
This mosque is believed to be Shah Jahan’s last architectural legacy. Begun in 1644, the mosque was not completed until 1658. It has three great gateways, four angle towers and two minarets standing 40m high and constructed of alternating vertical strips of red sandstone and white marble.
After Jama Masjid you hop on board a cycle rickshaw and drive through the busy streets of Chandini Chowk,
a 300 year old market that is bustling even today with vendors selling an extraordinary variety of items – silver, jewellery, aromatic spices, leather, fruit and vegetables. Apothecaries sell home grown medicinal items, and roadside dentists display their bizarre array of equipment and false teeth. This is a wonderful introduction to the organized chaos that is quintessentially Indian!
Day 3: Delhi/Bharatpur:
After breakfast you will visit one of the architectural triumphs of the Mughal Empire – Humayun’s Tomb.
Humayun’s tomb is the earliest example of Mughal architecture in India. Recently renovated with the gardens restored to their former splendor and the fountains working, it is a very attractive site. Architecturally the mausoleum drew its inspiration from the styles prevalent in Samarkand, and the design of the Taj Mahal is based on this tomb.
From here you continue your drive, your destination being Bharatpur. The drive will take four hours.
Arrive in Bharatpur in time for lunch.
After lunch visit Fatehpur Sikri,
which was was built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar to honour the Saint Salim Chisti who foretold the birth of Akbar’s’ son and heir. Built entirely in vibrant red sandstone architecturally it draws its inspiration from Hindu, Persian and Islamic styles.
Day 4: Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary/National Chambal Sanctuary:
This morning you visit the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. One of the finest bird parks in the world, the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is a reserve that offers protection to faunal species as well. It is also known locally as the Keoladeo Park. ‘Keoladeo’, the name derives from an ancient Hindu temple, devoted to Lord Shiva, which stands at the center of the park. It hosts a wide variety of wetland species including Oriental Darter, Asian Openbill, Painted Stork, Cotton Pygmy Goose,
the impressive Pheasant-tailed
as well as Bronze-winged Jacanas, Bar-headed Goose, Lesser Whistling Duck,
and the sizeable Sarus Crane.
Also present here are the less common birds such as Ferruginous
and Red-crested Pochards.
The acacia savannas and thickets hold Yellow-footed Green Pigeon, Black-rumped Flameback, Indian Hornbill, Coppersmith Barbet,
and White-tailed Eagle.
You will also search for the nocturnal Collared Scops Owl
and Dusky Horned Owl.
In between the bird sightings, there are other mammalian attractions as well. These include the enigmatic blue bull or Nilgai, Sambar (Indian deer), wild pig, and Indian grey mongoose.
This afternoon you check out and drive to the National Chambal Sanctuary. The drive will take about three hours. The evening is at leisure.
In and around the grounds of the picturesque Chambal Safari Lodge you can search for Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Brown-headed Barbet, and Brown Hawk-Owl.
Day 5: National Chambal Sanctuary/Agra:
Today will be the highlight for many birders. You start shortly after dawn aboard a boat on the Chambal River. As the sun rises over the Indo-Gangetic Plain you will search for Indian Skimmer, Lesser Whistling Duck, Black-bellied Tern,
the exquisite River Lapwing, River Tern,
the skulking Brown Crake,
and the impressive Great Thick-knee.
With luck, you may even find the Gangetic dolphin,
and the unique fish-eating gharials
that often swim up close to the boat.
After lunch you travel to Agra. The drive takes about two hours.
This evening you drive to the incredible Taj Mahal**.
This stunning mausoleum immortalized the name of Shah Jahan’s last wife Mumtaz Mahal, “light of the palace”. Built by Indian artisans and artisans from neighboring Islamic countries, it is aptly described by the poet laureate Tagore as “A tear on the face of eternity”. Decorated with a mosaic of semi-precious stones and Persian calligraphy recreating verses from the Koran, the mausoleum is an “Urs”, an important place of pilgrimage since the empress died in childbirth making her a martyr. Prayers are said and passages from Koran are constantly recited in the mosque and cenotaph chamber.
Stay at the Taj through sunset before returning back to your hotel.
Day 6: Agra/Delhi:
You will an option of visiting the Taj Mahal at sunrise.
Later you tour Agra Fort.
When the Mughal Emperor Akbar established his supremacy in Northern India, he began his first architectural venture, rebuilding the fort as a beautiful fort palace. The work was completed by his son and grandson, highlighting the Mughal’s ability to blend defensive and decorative architecture. Richly decorated with marble and mosaic, it was in a part of this fort that Shah Jahan spent the last years of his life, imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb. His private quarters where he was confined, has a magical view of the Taj Mahal across the river Yamuna.
Continue drive to Delhi after lunch. Drive will take about four hours.
Day 7: Delhi, depart:
You will be transferred to international airport to connect with your flight back home or your onward journey.
**Taj Mahal remain close on Friday