In the charming rural town of Nimaj, celebrate Gangaur Festival, a female-only festival celebrated in Rajasthan with post-fast feasting and traditional arts and crafts. Join the local women for Rangoli making, henna painting and a dance show.. Take a jeep safari into the Thar Desert where you’ll enjoy an exclusive Kalbeliya dance performed by local women at our desert camp. After the performance enjoy some quality one on one time with the dancers while the gentlemen prepare dinner.. Savour a home cooked meal at the family home of one of our amazing Delhi female staff members. Get to know her family, your leader, and each other over delicious home cooked food.. Visit a local woman’s home and select a stunning saree and complimentary accessories to wear on your visit to the Taj Mahal, one of the most beautiful buildings in the world inspired by the extraordinary love of an exceptional woman.
Join us on our first female-only, female-led expedition through the deserts, bazaars and forts of Rajasthan. Travel by in the female-only carriage of the Delhi Metro to explore coloruful Old Delhi before spending a night dancing under the stars on a desert safari. Learn about the struggles of underprivileged women from cities and villages, many of whom are dealing with the cultural challenges of being divorced or widowed. Listen to inspirational stories of acid attack survivors and how they are facing the world in the most beautiful ways. You’ll also have the chance to take part in Gangaur Festival, a women’s-only celebration where local women will invite you into their homes and their lives.
Breakfast Included: 2 Lunches Included: 3 Dinner Included: 4
Namaste! Welcome to Delhi. Your India Women’s Expedition will begin with a welcome meeting held at the hotel at 5pm – please check with the hotel reception to find out where it will be. After the welcome meeting, your local leader will take your group to the home of one of Intrepid’s female staff members for an amazing home cooked family dinner. You’ll also have the chance to try on some traditional clothing and learn some dance moves – the ultimate ice breaker. This will be a great chance to get to know some locals, as well as your leader and each other over delicious food and fun.
Delhi - Overnight train
After breakfast, explore the sites of Old Delhi on a guided walking tour. For some parts of the tour, you may ride the metro in a women’s only carriage, which will give you a unique insight into the way local women travel around Delhi. In the afternoon, board an overnight train to Jaisalmer. Make friends with entertaining chaiwalas (tea vendors), food vendors and enjoy conversations with the locals to pass the time and make this an unforgettable experience. You’ll have a sturdy bed to sleep in when you get tired and clean bedding will be provided (although some travellers prefer to BYO a sleeping sheet). There’s no food cart on the train, but your local leader will recommend the best snacks for you to buy before you board the train, so you won’t be left hungry. Check out the Essential Trip Information for details about what to pack for the overnight train.
The next morning you’ll arrive in Jaisalmer. You’ll have a chance to grab some breakfast before heading out on a jeep safari in the Thar Desert. The Thar Desert cover 200,00 square kilometres, so while you won’t get to see it all, you will spend the day exploring the rolling sand hills before arriving at your desert camp. Here you’ll meet some local men and women – the men will head off to prepare a traditional Rajasthani dinner for you, giving you a chance to get to know the women. They will also put on a traditional Kalbeliya dance performance for you, a traditionally female dance where women in long skirts replicate the movements of a serpent, as a representation of the snake charmer’s role in traditional Rajasthani society.
After breakfast at the desert camp, you’ll make the one-hour drive in your jeep back to Jaisalmer. From here you’ll have a chance to check in to your hotel and freshen up before heading to Bellissima, a shop which sells embroidery, paintings, bags, rugs, cushion covers and all types of Rajasthani art made by local women. Your leader will explain how the proceeds from Bellissima assist underprivileged women from surrounding villages, including those who have divorced or been widowed – situations which still carry a lot of stigma for Indian women. After this, you will head to the Jaisalmer Fort for a guided tour, before enjoying a free evening.
Today you’ll get up early and get a train to Jodhpur, which will be about a six-hour journey. Use this time to connect with your fellow travellers and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Once you arrive in Jodhpur, you’ll head straight to the striking Mehrangarh Fort that towers over the city. Explore some of the ornately decorated palaces and visit one of Rajasthan’s most interesting museums to learn about battles past. From here you’ll make your way to the Sadar Bazaar in the Old City for a guided tour of the market and the opportunity to taste some local delicacies like lassi and dal baati, both classics of Indian cuisine for a good reason – they’re delicious! You may like to spend the rest of the evening exploring the Old City and your local leader will be able to recommend great places for dinner.
After breakfast you’ll head out to spend the day at Sambhali Boutique, an outlet for the clothes, accessories and handicraft items produced by the women in the Sambhali Graduates’ Sewing Centre. Sambhali Trust is a non-profit charitable organisation based in Jodhpur, with a focus on the development and empowerment of women and girls in Rajasthan, many of whom have come from abusive marriages or difficult family situations. You’ll have the chance to meet some of the women and hear their stories over lunch, as well as purchase a variety of handmade Indian and western style clothes and accessories – the perfect souvenir or gift for those back home. After a full day out, enjoy a free evening in Jodhpur.
Today you’ll make the two and half our drive by private vehicle to Nimaj, a small town in the Pali district of Rajasthan. After a traditional welcome by the local women, your leader will take you on a guided walk around the village where you’ll have an opportunity to have a chat to some of the locals and get a sense of small-town Indian life. This evening you’ll have the opportunity to take part in a very special women’s-only celebration. Gangaur Festival is celebrated by all women through the worship of Gauri, the wife of Lord Shiva who is one of the three key Hindu gods. If you’re unmarried, you pray to be blessed with a good husband, while married women pray for the welfare, health and long life of their husbands and for a happy married life. In preparation for the festival, women fast for 18 days to complete the ritual and only eat only once per day. Tonight, we will don traditional dress and join the local women for their special festive feast, prepared by the female hotel chef and staff who you will have the opportunity to meet with. You’ll also get to join the local women for their traditional Rangoli making, henna painting and a dance show.
This morning, hop back in your private vehicle and make the five-hour journey to Jaipur, the capital of the Rajasthan region. The Gangaur celebrations will continue today as you head to a local home for a screening of a Bollywood movie and a cooking class to help the women prepare their daily feast – a classic girl’s day in during this festival and a great way to bond with the women you meet. This evening, watch the procession of unmarried women singing as they carry small earthen lamps through the streets, a tradition that happens on the seventh day of the festival.
This morning you’ll take a guided tour of the Amber Fort, one of Jaipur’s most recognisable landmarks. The red sandstone and marble palace is set high on a hill overlooking the Maota Lake, and there is plenty of history to learn about as well as picturesque sites to see. In the afternoon, head into town for a memorable rickshaw ride with The Pink City Rickshaw Company, a not for profit organisation that aims to provide a new aspirational employment opportunity to 200 women from low income households in Jaipur. See the highlights of the city and get to know your amazing female driver at the same time as you travel through the streets.
Today you’ll make the six-hour trip to Agra in your private vehicle. Your first stop will be a visit to the home of a local women who will help you choose the perfect saree and show you how it's worn. She’ll also help you dress up with an armful of glittering bangles and a matching bindi in the traditional style, ready for your sunset visit to India’s most iconic landmark – the Taj Mahal. Spend time wandering around the pristine grounds and watching the setting sun illuminate the stunning marble mausoleum built by Shah Jahan in his favourite wife’s honour.
This morning you’ll visit the second most famous building in Agra after the Taj Mahal, the Agra Fort. Take a guided tour of this UNESCO listed site and learn all about its role as the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty, back when Agra was the nation’s capital. From here, you’ll make your way to Sheroes Hangout, a café run by female acid attack survivors. In many cases, women who have suffered from these horrific attacks are isolated and shunned from society and for young survivors this can greatly impact their ability to obtain an education. This entrepreneurial café gives survivors a chance to earn a livelihood by themselves and provide them with opportunities to socialise with other women and guests. Join the survivors for some coffee and snacks as they share the story of Sheroes Hangout and discuss many of the issues around acid attacks in India. From here, you’ll make the four-hour journey back to Delhi in your private vehicle and join the General Manager of Intrepid Travel’s India office for dinner to discuss their commitment to hire female staff in India and Intrepid’s work on gender equality and future plans.
Today is the final day of your women’s expedition in India. There are no included activities planned, so you’re welcome to check out of the hotel any time before midday. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel until your flight. If you decide to stay an extra couple of days in Delhi, there are plenty of activities in and around the city to enjoy, as well as many Urban Adventures on offer.