This sixteen day itinerary combines the vibrant cities of Rajasthan such as Jodhpur, Jaipur and Udaipur with the state's beautiful rural regions and the iconic Ranthambore National Park, home to an increasing number of tigers. Finish off in Agra (admittedly not in Rajasthan, but well worth the visit), home of the incomparable Taj Mahal.
This evening your flight to Delhi departs from London for the eight and a half hour overnight to the Indian capital.
Your flight arrives into Indira Ghandi International Airport at breakfast time, you will then transit through to your onward flight to Jodhpur. There is a roughly two-hour wait in transit when you can enjoy your first Indian breakfast while your bags go straight through to the next flight.
After the one and a half hour flight into Jodhpur you will be met after baggage reclaim and driven the 15 or so minutes into the city for a late and leisurely lunch at your hotel. After lunch you can stretch your legs and go for a wander around the bustling streets or enjoy some R&R beside the hotel pool before a relaxed evening drink and al fresco dinner.
This morning you will discover why Jodhpur is known as the 'Blue City' on a private heritage walking tour of the beautiful blue painted part of the city.
Start your guided exploration from the famous Clock Tower Bazaar, before delving deeper into the sky blue painted alleyways of the Blue City to see exquisitely carved havelis (merchant's mansions) and hidden markets. This part of the city was once home to the Brahmin caste, the highest echelon of traditional Hindu society, who painted their houses a distinctive blue. You will wander through residential and commercial areas with your guide, who can introduce you to traditional swordsmiths, perfume makers and tailors making the city's sartorial signature - jodhpurs. You will also visit the Kishanji Temple, dedicated to Lord Krishna, where you will find many garland makers and sweet shops.
After lunch, your guide will take you to the imposing Mehrangarh Fort, which dominates the city skyline. Learn about the fort's fascinating past, hear about the impressive restoration project that is underway and visit one of the finest museums in Rajasthan, within the fort's mighty walls. From this wonderful vantage point you can also see the wider effect of the Brahmin exterior design aesthetic, with a large swathe of the city a vivid blue colour in an otherwise dusty brown landscape. It's a beautiful spectacle, particularly as the sun sets.
You will have the morning to relax or explore more of Jodhpur before lunch. Then you will be met at the hotel for the two hours and 30 minute private transfer south to your next stop - Narlai.
This drive is a perfect first opportunity to experience the rugged beauty of rural Rajasthan before you arrive at Narlai in time for a lovely afternoon tea at your next stop, Rawla Narlai. You will have a couple of hours to appreciate the beauty of the location before we have arranged a special evening dinner for you.
Enjoy a sundowner cocktail at the hotel before you are decked out with traditional Rajasthani turbans and scarves for a short transfer by ox-drawn cart through the village to a local baori or stepwell. These elegant wells feature symmetrical steps that allow access to precious drinking water whatever the level of the water table, and tonight the steps are illuminated by hundreds of lamps as you sit down for a delicious meal served by liveried footmen while a local yogi chants devotional songs. It's a magical experience, and after dinner you will be transferred back to Rawla Narlai by 4x4 for herbal tea and bed.
Today you have the opportunity to explore this lovely location further.
There are several Hindu and Jain temples within easy reach of the hotel, with Adinath and Lord Shiva being the most famous, decorated with elaborate murals on the ceilings. Take a guided 4x4 or walking tour of the local region, taking in the village to see local craftsmen and women in action and visiting a temple where a miraculous sacred flame has supposedly burnt for centuries, producing saffron instead of soot.
This region is also famous for breeding the Marwari horses beloved of Rajasthan's royal houses for centuries. You can ride around the village or visit a local stud farm. If wilder wildlife appeals then you take a trip to Seli Bandh, a nearby reservoir that's home to many species of migratory birds. We can even organise a 4x4 safari to try and see some of the local population of leopards, who can sometimes be seen sunning themselves on the rocky granite outcrops of the Aravalli Hills. Return to the hotel for a lovely dinner in Rawla Narlai's elegant dining room.
After the quiet, tranquil village life it is time to re-enter city life once more and today you will be travelling just over two and a half hours to the supremely romantic city of Udaipur, home to the famous Lake Palace which featured in the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy.
After breakfast you will head south again from Narlai and en route you will visit the famous Jain temples at Ranakpur. These temples date back to the 15th century and are well worth a look for the magnificent marble temple complex and population of monkeys who call the place home.
You will arrive in Udaipur in time for lunch at your hotel, marvelling at the beautiful views of the cityscape surrounding Lake Pichola. You can enjoy the rest of the afternoon by the pool at your hotel or exploring the city. Our Dossier and in depth knowledge of the city means we can recommend local shops and even tailors. As you're here for three days they can knock up anything from a suit to a sari for you before you move on.
Today, head out with your guide for a private half-day sightseeing tour of the city.
As your tour is private it is up to you how much or little of the city you see. Options include looking around the City Palace, which is a huge complex of 11 palaces, courtyards and gardens including many detailed peacock mosaics, or visiting the Bagore Ki Haveli, a museum with a fascinating collection of Rajasthani art and artefacts chronicling the region's regal Rajput history. We will recommend lovely local restaurants for lunch in our detailed Dossier, and then you have the early afternoon at leisure to relax before we have booked you a boat ride on Lake Pichola.
This lake is an artificial fresh water lake created in 1362 AD and deemed the most beautiful of Udaipur's lakes as you are able to see the magnificent mountains reflected in the still lake surface. Cruise around the lake at sunset, seeing the Lake Palace and city from the water and watching local women wash their laundry on the steps down to the lake as monkeys congregate on rooftops overlooking the water to appreciate the evening views.
This morning we have arranged for a private cycle tour to explore the countryside beyond the city limits.
Your guide will lead you through the lovely rural scenery to visit an organic farm and stop in a village home to learn how to make chapatis - Indian bread- in a chullah, or simple mud stove, or just have a chat over a steaming cup of chai tea. After lunch back in the city you have the afternoon to relax back at your hotel or explore more of Udaipur before you meet your cooking guide in the early evening for a Rajasthani cooking course.
This morning you will be privately transferred to Udaipur airport in time for your domestic flight to Jaipur, which takes an hour.
Upon arriving into Jaipur you will notice once again the buzz and vibrancy of an Indian city. This is the largest and capital city of the state of Rajasthan and the pinkish tinge to most of the buildings has lent itself to being known as the 'Pink City'.
Have lunch at your hotel before your driver/guide meets you for a private afternoon tour of the city. Jaipur's 'pinkness' is most in evidence at the Hawa Mahal, or Palace of the Winds, in the City Palace. This façade allowed ladies from the royal household to what life was like in the wider city without being seen themselves. Next stop will be the extraordinary Jantar Mantar, the location for several eccentric buildings used by an 18th century Rajput king with a passion for astrology.
Our Dossier might come in use again this evening if you want to eat at a restaurant or one of the other fine hotels in Jaipur this evening.
This morning after breakfast your driver and guide will meet you at the hotel for the 15-minute drive to Amber Fort, one of the finest of Rajasthan's historic hill forts.
Explore the courtyards and complexes that make up this enormous building with your private guide who will add some colour on the fort's fascinating history stretching back to the 12th century. You will be transferred back to the hotel in time for lunch and you have this afternoon to relax by the pool or choose another of the exclusive activities and experiences we offer in the Rajasthani capital.
After breakfast you will be met at the hotel and transferred by road down to Ranthambore National Park, which will take approximately three and a half hours.
Be sure to look out the window to catch a glimpse of the vivid coloured turbans and saris worn by the locals against the dusty brown backdrop on this lovely drive through another stretch of rural Rajasthan.
On arrival at the National Park you will be shown to your luxury tent before a delicious lunch. Enjoy a relaxing early afternoon at the camp before you enjoy a first evening 4x4 game drive in to the park to see the king of cats, the Bengal tiger, in the flesh. Fingers crossed you will see one of the park's growing number of tigers, but even if you don't see one, hearing a tiger's roar is one of the most terrifying, memorable wildlife experiences there is.
Return to camp for an evening cocktail and delicious dinner.
Over the next two days you will be rising early to search for tigers, monkeys and other wildlife.
Your game drives can either be private or shared and will take place in the early morning and evening in order to avoid the intense midday heat intensity and to catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures that roam freely in the national park.
Midday is the time to enjoy lunch and relax back at the camp and in the afternoon before your second game drive of the day, again on either a private or shared basis.
This morning after one last game drive (again private or shared) and brunch back at the camp you will be transferred privately by your driver to Sawai Madhopur train station, some 20 minutes away.
Board the train for the two-hour journey to Bharatpur, where you will be met again for the one and a half hour drive to Agra. On route from Bharatpur you will stop at Fatephur Sikri, the almost perfectly preserved city that once served as the capital of the Mughal Empire before a spring that fed the city's water dried up and the site was abandoned.
You will arrive into Agra (yes, we know Agra isn't in Rajasthan, but it completes the circuit beautifully!) in the evening and after dropping your bags at the hotel we have arranged for your driver to take you across the Yamuna River to a special viewing spot for your first glimpse of the incomparable Taj Mahal reflected in the water as the sun sets. It's a special way to admire a very special place.
Finally, head back to your hotel before a penultimate dinner in India.
We've saved arguably the best until last in the elegant and unmistakable shape of the Taj Mahal.
Best seen at dawn, your driver will pick you up from the hotel early so you can then appreciate this magical place at 'the golden hour' - the hour after sunrise or before sunset that's adored by photographers - with the added advantage of being a time before the massed ranks hordes of tourists arrive. Spend an hour or so appreciating the perfect symmetry, gardens and extraordinary detail, all the while soaking up the poignantly romantic story of the Taj Mahal's creation.
Make your way back to the hotel for a leisurely breakfast and then you have the rest of the morning to explore the enormous UNESCO World Heritage site of Agra Fort. After a last lunch you can enjoy a last couple of hours of R&R by the hotel pool before your transfer back to Delhi, which should take roughly four hours.
If there's time we can recommend somewhere for dinner in Delhi before your onward transfer to Indira Ghandi Airport for check in for your overnight flight that leaves in the early hours.
Your flight leaves after midnight and takes nine or so hours, arriving back into the UK in the early morning.
If you would like to book the itinerary mentioned above, with economy flights, during mid-season and staying in our preferred room category at our preferred hotels.
If you would like to pare back the above itinerary by travelling at non-peak times, staying in a standard room and removing some or all of the guided activities.
If you are looking for something extra special, we can discuss with you upgrading your accommodation, flights or activities.