India: Holi Festival Foray

A Royal Journey Through Rajasthan with the Gay Travel Experts at Out Adventures

DESCRIPTION

India – and especially the province of Rajasthan – is chaotic and colourful. While the country is laden with lavishness, it can also exasperate and confound the unprepared traveller. This gay tour fills a decadent 12 days with a 7th Wonder of the World, the Pink City of Jaipur and huge clouds of colour that define the world-famous Holi Festival. Please stand by for fiery feasts, local accommodations and a truly unique culture.

QUICK FACTS

Duration: 12 Days/11 Nights
Starts In: Delhi
Ends In: Udaipur
Group Size: Min 4, Max 16
Deposit: $750 USD
Accommodation: 4-Star Hotels (4 nights), 5-Star Hotels (6 nights)
Physical Rating: 1/5
Prices: Based on double occupancy

DEPARTURES & PRICES:

Feb. 29, 2020 to March 11, 2020 - 6495.00 USD

HIGHLIGHTS

• Celebrate Holi, the Festival of Colour...and highlight of our journey!
• Witness the lighting of the Holika (huge bonfire) on the eve of Holi at Udaipur’s City Palace
• Marvel at (and photograph) the Taj Mahal twice: in the afternoon and again at sunrise
• Appreciate India’s glorious architecture including India Gate, Agra Fort, Chand Baori and Mehrangarh Fort
• Discover the madness of India's famous bazaars
• Learn about Rajasthan’s sweeping history during walking tours of Delhi, Jaipur and Jodhpur
• Enjoy a slew of Indian and Rajasthani dinners
• Learn about, and visit with, the region’s nomadic Bishnoi tribes

Namaste, and welcome to Delhi. Rebuilt seven times over the centuries, today Delhi marries modern hustle with historic highlights. After clearing customs and immigration at DEL Airport, an Out Adventures rep will transport you to our hotel, where a traditional Indian welcome awaits. We’ll have a kickoff meeting this evening, followed by a decadent welcome dinner.

Our day begins in Old Delhi with a visit to Jama Mosque. One of the world’s most beautiful Muslim temples, it was built by Shah Jahan in 1656. We'll enjoy a walking tour as well as briefly drive past Red Fort. With our appetites revved up, a traditional Kashmiri lunch awaits, then we’ll hit up Humayun's Tomb in New Delhi before enjoying another walking tour. We'll be sure to swing by Presidential Palace (Rashtrapati Bhawan) and India Gate (this war memorial honours 90,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives in WWI). This evening we meet with a prominent journalist and LGBT activist at the hotel, then he joins us for an optional dinner.

Our day begins with a 4.5-hour drive to Agra, the second capital of the Mughal Empire. After checking-in and grabbing a bite, we’re off to Agra Fort, an imposing structure nearly two miles long. Featuring palaces, audience halls and mosques within, it flaunts both Islamic and Hindu architecture. Today’s final stop is the world’s ultimate tribute to love. Lacy white and mesmerizing, the Taj Mahal was built by the Shah Jahan for Mumtaz Mahal, his favourite wife. Tonight we head out for an included Indian dinner!

So magical is the Taj Mahal we’ll return to view it this morning as the sun rises. After breakfast and checking out, we’ll drive to Jaipur stopping along the way for lunch and an incredible photo opportunity at Chand Baori, the largest stepwell in the world. It was originally built in honour of the Goddess of Joy and Happiness. This evening we'll enjoy a group dinner at the hotel followed by free time to explore.

Enjoy a full day in the Pink City of Jaipur (the rosy glow arose thanks to a visit from King Edward VII in 1876 – almost all of the city was freshened up with a coat of paint). We'll take a guided tour this morning, visiting City Palace where we'll even get to enter the royal family's private chambers. Other stops can include the city's Observatory as well as Hawa Maha. In the afternoon we'll visit the market in the old city including Johari Bazar together before some free time. Dinner will be at the hotel.

Another day in Jaipur, beginning with breakfast at the hotel before taking the morning to explore both Nahargarh Fort and Jaigarh Fort together. Afterwards you'll enjoy some free time to explore on your own before an early dinner. This evening we discover the city's main attraction: Amer Fort. Overlooking Maoto Lake, the fort is famed for its decorative Hindu style and immaculate landscaping. We'll arrive after sunset to ensure epic photos of the structure lit up. After we've explored the landmark, it's back to our hotel to relax.

Today we leave the Pink City en route to the Blue City (Jodhpur), about a 6-hour drive away. This gorgeous city is a maze of streets that are as confusing as they are dazzling. After checking in, you'll have some time to nap and freshen up before joining the group for an exclusive meal at the hotel.

A full day of sightseeing awaits, beginning with a visit to the royal cenotaphs (tombs) and Jaswant Thada, a memorial to Maharaja Jaswant Singh II, on the banks of a nearby lake. To wrap up the morning we visit the majestic Mehrangarh fort, filled with courtyards and palaces. After delving into the history of Mehrangarh fort, we'll enjoy lunch on site. This afternoon we drive to nearby Rohet where we’ll learn more about the Bishnoi tribes on a village safari, even visiting their homes and partaking in their customs. Dubbed the ‘Premier ecologists of the world’, the Bishnoi have protected nature for more than 500 years, and have ensured the survival of species like the Black Buck antelope.We’ll enjoy an exclusive and private dinner tonight in the dunes, with local folklore to accompany the night’s sky.

After yesterday's jam packed day, we've left this morning wide open for you to either sleep in or enjoy free time to explore on your own. We'll convene in the afternoon to visit the city's old bazaar together, famous for its textiles and lace work. Dinner will be included back at the hotel.

Today we drive to Udaipur, with a visit to Ranakpur Jain Temple en route. This massive monument on the Magai River was built between the late-14th and mid-15th century AD. It has over 1444 marble pillars – carved in exquisite detail – with no two pillars the same. Once in Udaipur, we’ll check in to our hotel (a former palace!) then take in the fairy tale palaces that rise from the islands of steely blue Lake Pichola. Tonight we bear witness to the Holika Dahan, a bonfire ceremony that represents the triumph of good over evil. Dinner will follow tonight – at the palace, no less.

Today is the highlight of our holiday: Holi, the festival of colour! We'll celebrate the festival at a local Indian family's private home. Lunch will be served before we let loose – Holi is a free-for-all where participants run around and shower each other with coloured powders and water. After this unicorn of a battle is over, we’ll unwind poolside at the hotel before enjoying an incredible Farewell Dinner.

Today is our final day and we wish everyone safe travels home. From the whole Out Adventures team, we'd like to extend a royal thank you for joining us in India!

• Arrival & departure transfers to/from Out Adventures’ joining/finishing point hotel
• 4-Star Hotels (4 nights), 5-Star Hotels (6 nights)
• Breakfast daily, 5 Lunches and 10 Dinners
• Air-conditioned transportation
• Gratuities for tour leaders, drivers, hotel staff and included meals

• Village safari by jeep in Rohetgarh
• Entrance fees to monuments mentioned
• Holi Festival celebrations in Udaipur
• Bottled water, soft drinks and wet wipes on bus
• Basic porterage at hotels & airports

• International Airfare
• Meals & Activities not mentioned in itinerary
• Gratuities for Group Leader (Recommended: USD $5-$7 per person/per day)
• Travel insurance is mandatory for all travellers. Visit www.outadventures.com/insurance for more details.

• Alcoholic beverages during meals
• Camera/Video Fees at the monuments

Out Adventures is all about good times with likeminded guys. Whatever's on the itinerary - from fireside camping to five-star decadence - our goal is to make the experience magical. To ensure authenticity we hire local guides, stay in locally-owned accommodations whenever possible, and seek out local cuisine. It's a great way to immerse yourself in the culture while supporting the communities we visit.

VISAS: A visa is required for most nationalities, and can be obtained online at https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/. There may be exceptions, and all visas are the responsibility of the traveller.

CULTURE SHOCK: India is unlike any country we know (and we know many). The poverty and pollution can be overwhelming, but so can the beauty and opulence. You can count on friendly locals, but we ask that you in turn respect local customs when visiting sacred sites (we'll prime you in advance). Since most meals will be at hotels and tourist-style restaurants, please rest assured proper hygiene will be practiced.

LOCAL SCENE: India generally condemns homosexuality. For this reason, it's wise to avoid public displays of affection, for the safety of yourself and fellow travellers.

WEATHER: During February/March the days are normally warm to hot and the nights are often mild. Daytime temperatures can be expected to be around 27C/80F, with evening lows around 16C/61F. Humidity is usually low and little or no rain can be expected.

REQUIRED VACCINATIONS: Based on entry requirements, no vaccinations are needed for entry unless your home country, or a country you are travelling to before or after this tour, has restrictions in place. To determine if you should take preventative measures to reduce the risk of illness, consult with your doctor or a travel medical clinic. OUT Adventures cannot provide vaccination recommendations.

ELECTRICITY: You will need an international travel plug/adapter for type D/G sockets. Visit http://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/india/ for more information.

CONNECTIVITY: All of our hotels will have Wi-Fi access, so feel free to tweet, pin, post, and generally be the envy of your friends and family back home.

For everybody's peace of mind, medical travel insurance is required on all Out Adventures tours. At a minimum, your travel insurance must provide cover against personal accident, death, medical expenses, emergency repatriation and personal liability, with a minimum medical coverage of US $50,000.

For more details, visit www.outadventures.com/insurance.

All Out Adventures are led by gay (or gay-welcoming) guides. Whenever possible, we hire destination locals, and will connect you with people if you'd like to delve deeper into the local culture. If you're pleased with your guide, we recommend a tip of $5-10 USD per person, per day (they'll certainly appreciate it).

Out Adventures are a great way to meet people from all walks of life. Bear in mind that everybody's there for a good time, so mutual respect will go a long way. Please be on time for any meet ups, empathetic to the needs of others, and ready to roll with whatever the adventure brings.

Although we can't tell you about fellow travellers for privacy reasons, we can tell you many great friendships began on an Out Adventure. We're also not gay-exclusive: friends and family are always welcome to join!

If you've never travelled on your own, it's an amazing way to learn about yourself while making new friends. We can arrange for you to share a room with someone in your age range (at no charge), or you can pay a supplement for your own room. If there's an odd number of solos, we'll rotate a single room on a random basis to keep things even.

The itinerary is correct at time of publishing. If anything, it will only improve with feedback from travellers and our own research. Please reference your final trip documents, rather than our website, for final details and any changes that may affect your departure.

Every Out Adventure offers optional excursions that are not included in price of this trip. Please see your daily itinerary in your final pre-trip packet to see what's available.

To keep things flexible, not all meals are included in the trip price. While we typically dine together so everybody can taste everything, feel free to explore restaurants on your own...your guide will always have solid recommendations.

The Imperial
Janpath Lane, Connaught Place,
New Delhi, 110001 ‎ India

Standard check-in time is between 2PM and 3PM. We are unable to arrange early check ins, however you are able to store your luggage and explore the central area near the hotel while you wait. If you would like a guaranteed early check-in, you will need to reserve a pre-tour night of accommodation.

Fateh Garh Renaissance
Bujra Road, Udaipur

Local currency is the Indian Rupee, with USD widely accepted. While credit cards are accepted at most upscale restaurants and hotels, we recommend carrying local currency or small USD bills for little purchases. We also recommend carrying about $400 USD, only to be used in an emergency, or if your credit/ATM cards are placed on hold.

If you are happy with services throughout your trip, a tip is recommended. Details will be provided in your final trip documentation, though we recommend budgeting about $150 USD.

Most Out Adventures entail carrying your own luggage on occasion. And while you'll never schlep far, things can quickly get costlier than a celebrity breakup if you don't keep your baggage under 20kg/44lb thanks to costly surcharges on domestic flights. You should also bring something smaller for day trips to carry water, your camera, and any souvenirs you find along the way.

The following packing list is a guideline, not gospel. Our Out Adventure Specialists are happy to answer any specific questions about how much or little to bring.

Travel Documents:

  • Passport/Visas/Flight Itineraries/Travel Insurance
  • Pre-trip packet
  • Credit/ATM card

General Personal Items:

  • Eye mask/ear plugs
  • Smartphone/camera/tablet/charging cords/International travel plug.
  • Daypack
  • Luggage lock
  • Personal Wipes
  • Guidebook/Phrase book/Reading material
  • Protection for your devices from water
  • Travel-size towel
  • Q-tips to help clean colour from your ears after Holi

Shoes:

  • Socks
  • Walking shoes
  • Sandals
  • 'Nice' shoes for dinners

Bottoms:

  • Underwear
  • Shorts
  • Swimwear
  • Lightweight pants for temple visits
  • 'Nice' pants for dinners

Tops:

  • Short-sleeved shirts
  • Long-sleeved shirts
  • Sweaters
  • 'Nice' shirts for dinners

Jackets:

  • Waterproof jacket/poncho

Other:

  • Sunglasses/Hat
  • Small Umbrella
  • Refillable water bottle(s)

Health-related Items:

  • Small First aid kit including ibuprofen, acetaminophen, zinc oxide tape and small scissors, blister pads, diarrhea tablets, dioralyte rehydration packs
  • Personal Medication
  • High protection sunscreen/lip balm
  • Insect repellent/bite cream/antihistamine
  • Antibacterial gel/wipes
  • Toiletries including toothbrush, toothpaste & deodorant
* You may want to consider bringing a set of socks/underwear/t-shirt/shoes you can discard after wearing under your Holi Festival outfit. We’ll head to a local shop to purchase simple Kurta-Pyjamas (white traditional outfit) for the occasion. Tip: Moisturize heavily (including your hair) before we head on our Holi excursion. This will make the colour easier to wash off. *

All Out Adventures guests must have a good level of health. All tours, regardless of activity level, involve uneven steps, stairs, walking tours, and you will be required to carry your own luggage from time to time. Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate individuals with limited mobility unless they are willing to absorb the cost of a private guide/assistant which varies by country and is only possible on a case by case basis. It is also your responsibility to advise Out Adventures of any pre-existing medical conditions that may increase the risk of you requiring medical attention, or that may affect the normal conduct of the tour and the enjoyment of the tour by other participants.

Below is a breakdown of our Physical Rating guide.

1 - Relaxing

  • Very little or no hiking
  • Light activities such as walking, bike tours, paddling or swimming are completely optional
  • Low altitude
  • Suitable for all fitness levels

2 - Light

  • Light walking and hiking (2 hours or less per day and at low altitude)
  • Light activities such as bike tours, paddling or swimming are completely optional
  • Suitable for most fitness levels

3 - Average

  • Light walking and hiking (3 hours or less per day, rarely at high altitude)
  • Some activities such as biking, paddling or swimming. Active days are mixed with relaxed days
  • Suitable for an average fitness level

4 - Demanding

  • Walking, hiking is a component of the tour (can range from 2 hours to 6 hours per day, at various altitudes)
  • Activities such as biking, paddling or swimming may be mixed in
  • Suitable for a good fitness level

5 - Challenging

  • Walking, hiking, biking, paddling or kayaking are the vast majority of the trip (can range from 2 hours to 8 hours per day, generally at high altitude)
  • Activities will likely happen day after day with limited rest days
  • Suitable for above average fitness level

Like the country itself, Indian hotels and accommodations vary from absolute opulence and lavishness to cozy and historical. This Out Adventure uses a range of hotels that reflect this variance. In Delhi for example, we stay at one of the country's finest hotels we're aware of. Meanwhile the bulk of the tour features 4-Star Hotels (which may feel more like an American 3-Star) as well as Local Accommodations (Unique residential buildings that have been converted into hotels and B&Bs). Please Note: Local Accommodations offer an unsterilized, authentic look into the India. Travellers should expect properties that seem stuck in time, but offer plenty of charm and character.

Indian markets and bazaars are a whirlwind adventure in themselves. Please note, shop owners use high-pressure sales tactics and the unprepared traveller can often feel overwhelmed. If you choose to visit a market, it's best to put your 'Go with the Flow' pants on and have fun with it.