Kathmandu, Thamel, Patan, Chitwan National Park, Lumbini, Varanasi, Orchha, Fatehpur Sikri, Jaipur, Delhi, Jhansi, Agra
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
The slower the travel the more you see. Take this mantra with you through Nepal and India on a one-way journey that connects lands of sublime history and spiritual present. Regal palaces, epic mountains, sunset ceremonies, and jungle safaris will be just the start of your time in Nepal. Then, memoirs of the Mughal Empire, hot air ballooning, Buddha’s birthplace and more will be a few of the highlight of India. Tailored for senior travelers, this leisurely journey will take you through a stunning...
Kathmandu – A Gentle Welcome to a Spiritual Land
When you touch down in Kathmandu, you’ll take your first look at the mountains. Nothing is straight or flat in the Himalayas, and as you look to the horizon, the mountains seem to extend ceaselessly. They will provide the backdrop for your time in Nepal, omnipresent as you tour a city that brims with pride and passion. Locals enter small temples, colorful saris dominate side streets, and there’s a sense that Kathmandu marches to the beat of its own drum. You’ll be greeted at the airport and transferred to a boutique hotel just outside the city, with a stunning view of Mt. Everest shining at sunset.
Kathmandu – Buddhist Shrines, Monkey Temples and Holy History
On your first full day in Nepal, Buddha’s eyes will stare at you from the top of a temple. Locals burn incense and chant besides small stupas. Buddhist monks bring crimson robes to a temple loved by monkeys. Visit Swayambhunath to see the spectacular architecture and views before you enjoy all its subtleties, from Hindu holy men to stupas that bring Buddhism and Hinduism together. There will be a similar experience at Kathmandu Durbar Square, where the slower you walk, the more you enjoy, from the palace rooms and rebuilt 15th-century temples to the emotional locals and a living goddess that peeks from a balcony. There will be other potential destinations as well today, which you can take in on a private day tour of Kathmandu’s heart.
Kathmandu – Everest Helicopter Flight and a Quiet Afternoon at Boudhanath
Today, you will fly to Lukla and soar through the Himalayas in a helicopter, rising above glacier-carved valleys on route to Mt. Everest. Icy rivers twist through stark landscapes, and rows of ever-rising mountains flank everything. At first, you’ll look up to the snowline, but soon mountains fully clad in white will surround you, including a string of 8000-meter giants. Pass Mt. Lola and Mt. Lhotse on to Everest, which forms a stark triangle that seems unruly from the helicopter window. Then loop around and return through the Khumbu Valley where Mt. Ama Dablam is the highlight of this scenic helicopter flight. After you return to the capital, spend the afternoon at Boudhanath and watch the spirituality that engulfs a giant pagoda.
Chitwan National Park – Rhinos in the Jungle
From the lodge, you’ll glimpse Everest at sunrise, which comes out of the shadows as it is illuminated by bands of red and yellow. This morning, you’ll fly to Chitwan where you are greeted by other feats of nature. Rather than open panoramas, you will be inspired by the smell and sound of the dense jungle that is full of echoed calls and a striking atmosphere. Rhinos will be your neighbors and you’ll see one wander past before another bashfully retreats into the trees. Elephants hoot as they announce their coming, a mother and calf on route to the Rapti River below. This World Heritage Site showcases nature untamed and this first day is just an introduction to the safari experience.
Day 5 - 6
Chitwan National Park – Immersive Safari Including Canoe and Jeep Activities
A Chitwan safari is all about the different angles and you will have plenty of time to try it all. Canoe safaris will be slow and gentle as you paddle silently along the river to beautiful close-ups of rare animals. Jeep safaris create adventure where you will bump along muddy trails mostly in search of Chitwan’s rarest resident, the royal Bengal tiger. Walking safaris will take you even closer to offer an intimate understanding of the jungle’s inner workings, especially when you follow the spoor of a rhino or elephant. These three activities will be combined with jungle picnics, sunset cruises, and visits to conservation centers, where you discover how different species are blossoming in the park. Like Kathmandu you could spend a day in Chitwan and get a good impression of the area but to really enjoy this Nepalese highlight you must spend more time and go deeper into the jungle.
Lumbini – A Day at the Birthplace of Buddha
The next day, a moving atmosphere will confront you in Lumbini, where the outpourings of emotion are sometimes too much to take in. This small border town marks the birthplace of Buddha and a cycle rickshaw is a good way to get around. From an elevated vantage point, you pass serenely through streets of temples and spirituality with barefooted monks all around. This is one of Buddhism’s four pilgrimage sites, and you’ll slowly gain a sense of the religion, through the local guide and the scenes you witness. Stop at the sublime Ashoka Pillars to view the spot where Buddha was born, then spend the evening on your own as you take your own slow footsteps through Lumbini.
Varanasi – Opening the Senses to India’s Holiest City
The following morning, you’ll cross the border and drive south through India, a relatively long journey that offers a whole cascade of new impressions. Mud-brick buildings, flowing saris, vibrantly designed temples, clouds of dust, spluttering rickshaws, lanes of street food and so much more through the sanctity of your window. When you arrive in Varanasi, it will be a sensory overload as the narrow pedestrianized streets are packed with harmonic sounds, peculiar smells, living histories and an atmosphere that seems both ineffable and ephemeral. Enjoy taking in the sites at a slow pace before you return to the hotel rooftop to relax. Like each day in India, you’ll be led by an expert guide, who shows you the destination through local eyes.
Day 9 - 10
Varanasi – Sunrise Boat Ride, Burning Ghats and Sunset Ceremonies
In the next few days, you’ll discover that Varanasi rewards slow travel. Approximately 3000 years of history emanates from the haphazard walls, attracting devotees to an overflowing excess of temples and shrines. Narrow alleyways are lined with temple deities and mysterious archways while lumbering cows stop and sleep, requiring the street food carts to choose a different route. Incense flumes greet you on corners while funeral processions carry bodies on bamboo stretchers. Monkeys live on the rooftops while tiny food stalls send their smells through the narrowest of lanes and children fly kites over the Ganges.
You will have a local guide who accompanies you everywhere in Varanasi, something that will be highly valuable while navigating the fascinating maze of the pedestrianized Old City. During your stay, your guide will plan a flexible itinerary that does not rush you through the attractions. One of the essentials will be a sunrise boat ride on the Ganges, some time spent at the holy burning ghat, and a candlelit sunset ceremony at the river. For many, this city reflects the magic of India, right down to the flower markets and confusing rituals.
Day 11 - 12
Orchha – Palaces and Proud Memoirs to India’s Rich Past
Once you arrive in Orchha, you’ll be amazed to think you’re in the same country. Standing on the banks of the Betwa River, Orchha is a regal town from the 16th-century, remarkably untouched since the Bundelas clan ruled the region. An abundance of old temples fill the town’s center, each seemingly more elaborate than the last. Small palaces showcase an otherworldly opulence, with Orchha Palace the grand dame of forgotten Mughal architecture. You can travel anywhere by foot, giving you plenty of time during your visit to be immersed in the 16th-century Indian backwater city.
Agra – Beyond the Taj Mahal
This morning, you’ll cross India to Agra, stopping first in Jhansi for a gourmet lunch then onwards on the train to the city of the Mughal Empire’s excesses. Traveling by train is an iconic Indian experience, and this route is air-conditioned and first class, giving you quiet time to absorb the rural impressions through the window. When you arrive in Agra, you will not immediately visit the Taj Mahal. Instead, you’ll take time to explore the region’s equally impressive but less recognized attractions. Begin with part-fortress and part-palace, Agra Fort, a sandstone giant that glistens deep crimson in the fading afternoon light. All over Agra you’ll find sublime examples of Mughal architecture, many of them overlooked by tourists. Explore them with a guide and you’ll also get to know the architectural building blocks that gave rise to the Mughal ode to love.
Agra – Sunrise at the Taj Mahal and More Beautiful Mughal Remainders
In the morning, all will be still in the courtyard. Slowly the marble emerges from the sun’s shadow and at first it glistens red before the color softens and light dances transiently across the domes. Walk past the pools and get a little closer, admiring the sharpness of the Taj Mahal’s form. Calligraphic messages wrap around the monument, and they beckon you inside, where the architectural opulence comes as a surprise. Almost everyone has seen photos of the Taj Mahal, but few have considered consider how beautiful it must be on the inside. Take your time and enjoy the morning around this pre-eminent Mughal monument, before the afternoon takes you off the beaten path, with Persian mosques and Akbar’s Mausoleum among the highlights.
Jaipur – Living the History in India
Agra has evolved, a modern city growing around an ancient capital. In comparison, Fatehpur Sikri has hardly changed. This city was the Mughal capital for a fleeting few years in the 16th century, but the royal town was eventually abandoned and left to the desert dust. Even today it feels like a ghost town, a showcase of architectural might that almost looks out of place. Persian and Hindu styles merge together and the more you walk around, the more you’ll get to discover. From here you continue across the ochre plains of Rajasthan to arrive in the Pink City for an afternoon in the markets. After the 16th-century you’re now in a city that brings history into today, which is exemplified by bazaars of cramped stalls and enigmatic smiles.
Jaipur – Hot Air Ballooning Above the Pink City
With its domes and forts, Jaipur is the perfect city to view from the air. Today, you’ll rise in a hot air balloon and cruise serenely above the monuments, perhaps spotting a procession of elephants down below. A desert landscape surrounds Jaipur that glows red and orange to complement the pink city hues. Once you touch down, you’ll enjoy the first day of exploration. Like all your Indian destinations the focus is on flexible touring with a private guide, tailored to your interests and your energy levels. So today could bring a whole host of sights, or it may be a day to escape the city crowds and recharge at your luxury hotel.
Jaipur – Forts, Observatories and More Royal Legacies
The following day’s highlight will be riding a painted elephant up to Amber Fort. You’ll be dazzled by the peculiarity at The Hall of Mirrors (Sheesh Mahal). Then, explore the extravagance on show at The City Palace, where each stately room is more ostentatious than the last. Discover bazaars full of jewelry and textiles then appreciate the silence of Jantar Mantar Observatory. Go to watch a Bollywood movie in the cinema then take a stroll through streets laden with sizzling local food. Jaipur’s main attractions usually require two days, but there’s no set itinerary in a city that mixes architectural wonder with welcoming local culture.
Day 18 - 19
Delhi – The Best of Old and New Delhi
Your final days in India will be spent in Delhi, the bustling capital city that embodies India’s dynamic culture. Ride the modern metro system then take a cycle rickshaw down Chandni Chowk, the city’s oldest lane. Then, gaze up at what was once the world’s tallest building in the 11th century before you sit around a communal kitchen table at a cooking class. Wander through the immense colonial remains of Red Fort before a feeling of spirituality accompanies a visit to Humayun’s Tomb. Finally head into the new part of Delhi, a cosmopolitan almost-Western city that shows the changing side to India. Old and new, adventure and relaxation, Delhi has more to offer than the initial impression of crowds and chaos. In many ways it’s the microcosm of India, a fitting place to end your time in the region.
Delhi – Departure
Today you’ll leave India with three weeks worth of memories, including all those little moments that only slow travel can afford.
- Take a helicopter to Mt. Everest and bask in the wonder of the world’s highest mountain range
- Go in search of rhinos and tigers on a three-day jungle safari to Chitwan National Park
- Discover all of the majestic wonders of Agra, including the Taj Mahal
- Spend a day at the birthplace of Buddha, a chance to connect with the Buddhist religion and its principles
- Savor the legacy of India’s Mughal Empire with three days in Jaipur, including a hot air balloon ride above the Pink City
- Connect with culture during your three days in Kathmandu on a tour that includes everything from a monkey-shrouded temple to Hindu-Buddhist harmonies
- Feel the atmosphere of Varanasi, India’s oldest city, which is always a sensual introduction to the country it graces
- Complete the vacation in Delhi, to discover the traditional charms and modern features
Your travels through Nepal and India will be memorable because of the details. While Mt. Everest and the Taj Mahal may provide excellent photos, these enigmatic countries are also noteworthy for the small moments that nobody else sees. From the head wiggle of a boatsman on the Ganges, and a rhino that looks at you through the bushes to the tastes on the tongue and sounds that float around 3,000-year-old city streets, every moment will be unforgettable. Traveling slowly will be rewarding as it reveals the best of Nepal and India. This private three-week tour has been tailored for senior travelers seeking a slow and leisurely means of exploration. While you travel one way from Kathmandu to Delhi, your journey through the countries’ famous and lesser-known highlights will consist of private tours throughout the trip.
Begin your time in Nepal, where remarkable landscapes set the scene for cultural connections. See how Buddhism and Hinduism come together in Kathmandu, take a helicopter flight to the world’s highest mountains, and spend serene afternoons overlooking World Heritage Sites. Then, fly to Chitwan, and you’ll be immersed in a different world on a jungle safari that brings you face to face with some of the greatest animals to walk the earth. In the lush foliage, rhinos and elephants will become your neighbors as you try out a variety of safari activities. Afterward, it will be off to Lumbini, where the birthplace of Buddha is all about tranquility and moving moments with the locals.
Your first stop in India will be Varanasi, the country’s holiest city. Explore the River Ganges, follow the spirituality, and open your senses to all the different Indian impressions. Next, you’ll visit Orchha, a regal town that’s off the standard path, seemingly frozen in a distant time. Agra, Jaipur, and Delhi will fill your final week, and these famous destinations are packed with both architectural relics and fresh experiences. You’ll experience the real India as well as the iconic attractions, as shown by expert guides in each city. Cruise above the Pink City in a hot air balloon, cook with the locals, tour historic bazaars, and enjoy the concept of slow travel through the streets of Nepal and India.
$2,995 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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