Stride climate

Trip Type : Small Group Tour
Foothills & Faiths tour
Cultural Culture Foothills & Faiths package

Foothills & Faiths

Encounters Travel
5.0 . Excellent
100%
Travel Style: You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level: Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level: 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
12 days
From: $ 2,509 $ 209 / day
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Overview

Short Description

Explore the foothills of the Indian Himalayas, see off the beaten track villages, ride the Himalayan Queen 'toy train' and visit important Sikh, Buddhist and Hindu religious pilgrimage sites at Amritsar, Mcleodganj and Haridwar

Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
Trip Type Small Group Tour
Off the beaten track trips will stretch your comfort zone. They don't always feature tourist highlights, but dive deeper into local life and culture.
Itinerary Focus Off the Beaten Path
3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Lodging Level Premium - 4 star
Flights & Transport Only ground transport
Start City N/A
End City N/A

Trip Includes

  • All accommodation in mid-range hotels and heritage properties
  • 24-hour airport arrival & departure transfer service
  • Transport and transfers in AC vehicles
  • Himalayan Queen toy train to Shimla
  • Train from Kalka to Haridwar and Haridwar to Delhi (2nd class AC)
  • Sightseeing tours and activities as per the itinerary
  • Services of a local tour leader and specialist local guides
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary (11 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner)

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Itinerary

Day 1, Your Indian adventure begins in Amritsar, airport to hotel transfer included
After touching down in the holy city of Amritsar, you’ll be greeted by one of our staff members at the airport, who will transport you to your hotel. Once you've settled in, we'll explain what you can expect to experience on this India tour over the next few days, before arranging a time to collect you in the morning.
| OVERNIGHT:
Amritsar hotel
| EXTRAS:
Single Room Supplement, Extra day in Amritsar - pre-tour

Day 2, Exploring the Golden Temple
Our morning starts with a visit to the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of the Sikh religion. The entire top of the temple is made of pure gold and its interior is beautifully inlaid with jewels and covered with gold leaf. There's a serene and peaceful atmosphere and regardless of what faith or none you may have, it really feels like one of the world's special places. We then spend an hour at the temple's free community kitchen which feeds up to 100,000 people every day. We will eat here and also spend an hour doing Langar Seva - helping serve or prepare food, clear or wash up; a small gift of our time and effort in thanks and support. In the afternoon we head through the farmland of rural Punjab, stopping to see what is growing and in season, to experience the Wagah Border ceremony, which takes place every day before sunset. This is a daily military practice that the security forces of India and Pakistan have done since 1959. We'll watch the colourful, rapid dance-like manoeuvres of the security forces, which serves as a signal of brotherhood and cooperation between the two nations. We’ll head back to Amritsar and you have an option to head back to your hotel, have dinner at a local restaurant or head back to the Golden Temple for the evening Palki Sahib ceremony - which sees the Holy Book, the Guru Granth Saab carried from the main shrine in Hari Mandir to the sanctum, where it rests for a few hours until the opening ceremony the following morning. This is also a great time to explore the inside of the Golden Temple in detail if it has been very busy with pilgrims during the day.
| OVERNIGHT:
Amritsar hotel
| MEALS:
Breakfast, Lunch

Day 3, A free day in McLeod Ganj
Today we’ll drive up into the foothills of the Himalayas to Dharamshala and McLeod Ganj. Once we arrive, you have the day free to do some exploring. Mcleodganj is known for its Buddhist monasteries, museums, temples, waterfalls, lakes, and Tibetan settlements and is home to the Tibetan Government in Exile and the Dalai Lama's residence. It's a lovely small place to walk around, with beautiful scenery and good local markets with exotic sculptures, souvenirs and Thangka paintings in abundance.
| OVERNIGHT:
McLeod Ganj hotel
| MEALS:
Breakfast

Day 4, A visit to the Dalai Lama Monastery and a trip to a waterfall
Today, we’ll visit the Dalai Lama Monastery, where we’ll attend a puja, a prayer session, that includes chanting mantras, bowing and making offerings. We’ll offer lamps and Khagat religious cloth, made of silk and worn around our necks as a show of respect. We’ll also visit the 20 metre Bhagsunag Waterfall and Shiva Temple. It's a walk of around 1km from the temple to the main waterfall, which is surrounded by cliffs and trees with great views. If you’re brave enough, you can even have a swim in its chilly waters. The freshwater spring beneath the temple produces waters believed to have healing powers and are channelled into large tanks which devotees may bathe to in cleanse their ailments. We’ll also visit the Naddi View Point, which always provides spectacular views of the Dhauladhar mountain ranges and the pristine Dal Lake below.
| OVERNIGHT:
McLeod Ganj hotel
| MEALS:
Breakfast

Day 5, Exploring the Heritage Villages of Pragpur & Garli
Our day starts with a visit to the Norbulingka Institute, which is dedicated to the preservation of the Tibetan culture in its literary and artistic forms. We’ll then drive to the little visited Heritage Village of Pragpur, which was founded in the late 16th century by the Kuthiala Soods in memory of Princess Prag Dei of the Jaswan royal family. Pragpur is famous for its winding cobbled lanes, mud-plastered walls and slate-roofed houses. If there’s time before lunch, we’ll visit the nearby Dada Siba Temple, famous for its Kangra mural and miniature wall paintings. After lunch, we’ll explore the village before heading to Garli and checking in at our accommodation for the night. Garli is another heritage village in the Kangra Valley which displays a huge range of colonial and regional architectural styles in its mansions, temples and sarais. A local guide will walk us through the village and tell us stories about its history.
| OVERNIGHT:
Garli hotel
| MEALS:
Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6, Ride the Toy Train to Shimla
Today we’ll drive to Dharampur Himanchal to board the 'toy' train to Shimla - the capital of the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, in the Himalayan foothills. Shimla was once the summer capital of British India, and it remains the terminus of the Kalka-Shimla Railway, completed in 1903. This narrow gauge railway is one of the world's most famous train journeys, now a World Heritage Site, and is a highlight of the tour. The train travels slowly up through the hills, passing over more than a hundred bridges, and through more than a hundred tunnels along the way, with beautiful views around every bend. We catch the Himalayan Queen service, missing the lowest section from Kalka, which shortens the journey to around 3 hours and concentrates on what we feel is the best scenery. The train stops regularly and you can hop off at the many tiny stations and buy some snacks from one of the local vendors plying the platforms. We arrive in Shimla in the afternoon and have time to settle in and look around. Shimla is also known for its craft shops, a pedestrian avenue, as well as the Lakkar Bazaar, a market specializing in wooden toys and crafts.
| OVERNIGHT:
Shimla hotel
| MEALS:
Breakfast

Day 7, Exploring Shimla
Today, you have the morning free to explore Shimla, but as an option, you can also choose to trek towards the Tara Devi Temple which is positioned amongst a thick forest of oak and rhododendron and offers scenic views of the lofty Himalayas surrounding the town. This afternoon, we’ll go on a walking tour of Shimla, visiting its main attractions such as the Vice Regal Lodge, the Christ Church, the Gaeity Theatre and we’ll also take a cable car ride to Jakhu Temple, Shimla’s most famous temple, dedicated to the monkey god Hanuman. It’s situated on the highest peak in Shimla at a height of 2455 metres.
| OVERNIGHT:
Shimla hotel
| MEALS:
Breakfast

Day 8, Shimla to Haridwar
We have some free time this morning to finish looking around Shimla before we descend out of the hills again to catch a fast train from Chandigarh to Haridwar. Haridwar is an ancient city on the banks of the River Ganges, and is an important Hindu pilgrimage site with thousands of pilgrims making their way there every year to bathe in the holy waters. The city is set at the point where the Ganges leaves the forested mountains for the plains below making it one of India’s most beautiful city locations.
| OVERNIGHT:
Haridwar hotel
| MEALS:
Breakfast

Day 9, From Haridwar to Rishikesh
We’ll start the day with a trip to the River Ganges in Haridwar, as we watch the pilgrims bathe in the river at the main Har Ki Paudi ghat. We’ll also make our way to the Shanti Kunj ashram, the Chandi Devi temple via cable car and the Pawan Dham temple which houses unique glass and mirrored ornaments as well as depictions of Hindu gods. We’ll say our goodbyes to Haridwar and make our way to Rishikesh, another holy city situated on the banks of the River Ganges. Rishikesh is also India’s most popular city for yoga and meditation as well as adventure activities such as whitewater rafting. Tonight we’ll head down to the River Ganges to participate in an Aarti ceremony at the Triveni Ghat. The ceremony sees give candlelit offerings to the river to the sounds of chanting of bhajans, beating drums and ringing bells.
| OVERNIGHT:
Rishikesh hotel
| MEALS:
Breakfast Day 10, A walking tour of Rishikesh
Today we’ll explore Rishikesh on foot, as we make our way along the River Ganges, passing various temples and the Shivananda, Parmarth Niketanj, Geeta Bhawan and Swarg Ashrams. We’ll also learn about the importance of yoga and meditation to the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and other religions. The rest of the day is free to explore this fascinating town further.
| OVERNIGHT:
Rishikesh hotel
| MEALS:
Breakfast Day 11, Leisure time and optional activities in Rishikesh. Train to Delhi
We have another free day in Rishikesh and you can choose to arrange some activities for yourself or take one of our optional activities, which includes a safari to the nearby Rajaji National Park to search for tigers and wild elephants, try a cooking class with a local family or head out on a whitewater rafting trip on the Ganges. This afternoon, we’ll make our way back to Haridwar station to board the fast train to Delhi, where we’ll spend our final evening.
| OVERNIGHT:
Delhi hotel
| MEALS:
Breakfas
| EXTRAS:
Rishikesh white-water rafting tour, Wildlife safari at Rajaji National Park, Indian cooking class with dinner Day 12, Back to Delhi. Transfer to airport included
All good things must come to an end. We have the morning free to explore the city, or try one of our optional half day tours available before being transferred to the airport to board your flight back home. We can arrange longer extensions to visit the holy city of Varanasi or to do some safaris in search of tigers and other wildlife at Ranthambore National Park.
| OVERNIGHT:
N/A
| MEALS:
Breakfast
| EXTRAS:
Goa beach extension, Ranthambore National Park Safari, Extra day in Delhi - post-tour, Spinmonkey cycling tour, Varanasi extension, New Delhi half day by car, Old Delhi half-day walking tour, Salam Balak Trust walk

Availability

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Price From $ 2,509
Price Per Day: $ 209 per day
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5 Encounters Travel Travel Reviews & Ratings

100%
5.0 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 5
Great 0
Average 0
Disappointing 0
Terrible 0
Value
5.0
Guide
5.0
Activities
5.0
Lodging
5.0
Transportation
5.0
Meals
5.0

Foothills & Faiths

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Knowledgeable and entertaining

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I just got back from the Discover Egypt tour and I don't have enough good things to say. Our guide, Mohamed El Zawahry is an Egyptologist and is incredibly knowledgeable and entertaining. I took my 2 kids, ages 12 and 16, and he did such an amazing job with them (and everyone else). Honestly as a blond haired, green eyed westerner I was a bit nervous about safety issues, but couldn't have felt better than I did (and I'm not a novice traveler). We saw so many things, learned so much, I only wish I would have added the Jordan trip on the front end of this tour! I had a medical complication in the middle of the trip and Mohammad and Walid went out of their way to help accommodate me. They made this trip so much more than it could have been! I highly recommend all of the 'extra' tours- Abu Simble, hot air balloon, Philae Temple- all incredible. Thanks for everything! My kids are still in awe!
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Amazing bespoke trip round North India.

5.0
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Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I just came home from an amazing bespoke trip round North India.
Encounters Travel were amazing. Hotels were beautiful, our driver and local guides I couldn’t praise more. The trip was well planned and ran like clockwork.
I saw some amazing places, learned about the history, architecture and people. I would recommend anyone to go to India and to go with Encounters
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Amazing trip to Egypt!

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I just got back from my amazing trip to Egypt!
My tour was Discover Egypt from January 13 to January 21, 2018... What can I say?! I grew up with a fascination for Egypt and I feel so blessed I was able to go, with so many dates as an option, once I saw the date of my birthday, that was it! What better way to spend my birthday than in a country that has always been on the top of my bucket list !
I was lucky to meet an amazing group of people that shared my desire to see this amazing place and every single person involved in this tour was absolutely amazing! My tour guy Big Mo was the best! I felt very safe and well taken care of from the moment I landed in Egypt to the day I left. I really appreciated the birthday celebration as well!
I miss every single moment I lived during those days.
I went with a fascination and left loving Egypt, it’s culture and it’s beautiful people.
I will treasure this experience forever.
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Well organized

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Meals5.0
My husband and I booked the Discover Egypt trip in February 2017 and traveled in may 2017 and it was even more than we could have asked or dreamed it would be. Our group was led by Magz and we learned so much about Egyptian history and current culture. The trip was well organized and communication before during and after the trip was incredible. I have recommended this company to anyone who asks and can't wait to take another trip with them in the future. For any additional questions feel free to message me - I'm happy to provide more feedback. Thank you encounters for the trip of a lifetime!
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Discover Egypt is the most comprehensive tour I've ever been on

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Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Encounters Travel Discover Egypt is the most comprehensive tour I've ever been on.They met us at the airport getting off the plane and took us back to the airport and saw that we got through security and everything in between. It is very safe in Egypt. You can walk the streets and when telling people that ask that we were from America we were met with smiles and positive comments. Because of the low number of tourists in the country right now Encounters Travel has negotiated with the hotels to stay in 5 star hotels. The pyramids are spectacular but it's only a small part of what you will see. Right now there are no crowds. An example My Wife and I took an optional tour to some pyramids southwest of Cairo. We went inside the Red Pyramid to the burial chambers. Two people passed us going in and two people passed us going out. That's 4 other people in the pyramid with us. All of the people with Encounters Travel are there to see to it that you have an enjoyable time and are extremely helpful.Our tour guide Big Mo is very knowledgeable and friendly.The Encounters agent in Hurghada, Mohamed,( I think everyone in Egypt is that name,HaHa) Was extremely pleasant and fun to be with. When Anass,the Encounters manager found out that my wife couldn't walk far he arraigned for a wheel chair to tour the Egyptian museum so she could see it all. This was my second time going on the Discover Egypt tour. I went last year with my son and when my wife heard all of our stories she wanted to see it. Someone asked her on the way home what her favorite part was and she replied "All of it" If you ever thought of going to Egypt now is the time.
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Details

Flights & Transport

Only ground transport

Group Size:

Intimate Group - 12 max

Maximum Number of People in Group: 12

Trip ID#:

Encounterstraveltourcms-INSGFF

Trip Excludes

  • International flights (available on request)
  • Visa fees
  • Travel insurance (compulsory, available on request)
  • Meals not indicated in the itinerary
  • Drinks, snacks and other personal expenses (e.g. laundry)
  • Tips for drivers and guides
  • Entrance fees (budget USD 52, payable in Amritsar)
  • Any other items not mentioned above

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