Hill stations to the Himalayas

India

Travel through the Himalayan foothills to Ladakh

20 days £3,595 pp This is the per person group tour price, based on 2 sharing. The price is subject to change with exchange rate and flight cost fluctuations.
Dates & Prices

Intro

Take a unique journey through the Himalayan foothills to the Buddhist kingdom of Ladakh. Set off from Delhi to the holy city of Haridwar and watch the sacred River Ganges come to life with floating candle-lit offerings. Head to Shimla, the former British summer retreat and ride the iconic toy train. Wander through the heritage village of Pragpur and visit the home of the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala. Marvel at the splendour of the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Get a taste for India's tea culture in the gardens of Palampur and drive from Manali to Sarchu via the spectacular Rohtang Pass with panoramic views of the Himalayas. End your journey in the Tibetan Buddhist heartland of Ladakh, known for its charming people, colourful monasteries and dramatic scenery.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • The holy city of Haridwar
  • The spectacular Ganga Aarti ceremony at sunset
  • The temples of Rishikesh
  • Stop at the scenic village Pragpur
  • Marvel at Amritsar's Golden Temple
  • Buddhist culture in Dharamsala
  • The tea gardens of Palampur
  • Travel up to Manali
  • Stunning valley views from Rohtang Pass
  • Explore the largest and wealthiest Gompa in Ladakh

Places Visited

Delhi - Haridwar - Rishikesh - Shimla - Pragpur - Amritsar - Dharamsala - Palampur - Manali - Sarchu - Leh

What's Included

Arrival & departure transfers
Ground transport with driver
Accommodation
Meals (refer to itinerary for meal plan)
English-speaking guides
Entrance fees to sites & parks
Itinerary & Map
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Day 1 : Arrival

Arrive into Delhi airport where you will be met by a Travel The Unknown representative and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day will be at your leisure. Overnight in Delhi. 

Meal plan: n/a

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Day 2 : Delhi - Haridwar

In the early morning, transfer to the railway station to connect with your train to Haridwar. One of our representatives will meet you on arrival to transfer you to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax or explore. Overnight in Haridwar. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Haridwar is an ancient city situated on the banks of the River Ganges whose name is translated to mean ‘gateway to God’. It is one of the most holy Hindu cities, thought to be one of the four sites where drops of immortality were spilled. It is home to many festivals including Purna Kumbh Mela, which is held every 12 years, where pilgrims come together to bathe in the river Ganges and wash away their sins.

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Day 3 : Haridwar

Enjoy a full day sightseeing tour of Haridwar and Rishikesh. Visit Lakshman Jhoola bridge before proceeding to Mansi Devi Temple and Shanti Kunj Ashram. In the evening, there is an opportunity to witness Ganga Aarti at sunset. Overnight in Haridwar. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

The city of Rishikesh is known as the ‘gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas’. Many saints have visited this holy city to meditate in search of higher knowledge, today Rishikesh is renowned as yoga capital of the world. Due to its religious significance this national heritage city has prohibited alcohol and non-vegetarian food.

The majestic bridge of Lakshman Jhoola hangs 70 feet above the River Ganges with a length of 450 feet. According to myth, Lord Rama's younger brother crossed the river on a jute rope-bridge at the same site where the bridge now stands. After the erosion of this jute bridge, a new iron bridge was built in its place in 1939. The old Lakshman Temple is situated on the western bank, while other attractions such as the School of Yoga and Meditation and the white water rafting camp at Shivpuri are located upstream.

Perched atop the Sivalik Hills, Mansi Devi Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Mansa Devi. With "Mansa" meaning wish, it is believed that the goddess fulfills the wishes of devotees who present offerings of coconuts, fruits, garlands and incense sticks, or tie threads to the branches of a tree located in the temple. Once the wishes are fulfilled, the threads are untied from the tree.

Literally meaning "Prayer for Ganga", the Ganga Aarti is a spectacular religious ceremony in which offerings are made to the Lord Shiva and the River Ganges. At sunset, Pilgrims gather on the banks of the Ganges and offer plates of flowers and flaming ghee while temple bells ring and mantras are chanted. The aftermath of the ceremony is a wonderful sight, with hundreds of floating miniature lamps and flowers placed into the river.

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Day 4 : Haridwar - Shimla

Drive to Shimla and check in to your hotel on arrival. The rest of the day is free to explore at your leisure. Overnight in Shimla. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Shimla is the capital city of the northern state of Himachal Pradesh. In 1864 it was declared the summer capital of British India. It is built on a panoramic location, over several hills and connecting ridges, surrounded by green pastures and snowy peaks. It retains its colonial heritage, with grand old buildings and Anglo-Saxon names.

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Day 5 : Shimla - Taradevi - Shimla

In the morning, enjoy a Toy Train ride from Shimla to Taradevi. After the ride, drive back to Shimla for a sightseeing tour. Being with a visit to the Viceregal Lodge before heading to a Hindu Temple containing shrines to various Hindi gods. Enjoy a leisurely stroll back along the Mall to Scandal Point. En route, it may be possible to look inside the Gaiety Theatre, or alternatively find a spot for refreshments whilst viewing the snow-capped Himalayan peaks if the weather is clear. The evening is free to rest or explore at your leisure. Overnight in Shimla.  

Meal plan: Breakfast

Built in 1888, the Viceregal Lodge was the official summer residence of the British viceroys, from which the Indian subcontinent was ruled until World War Two. A symbol of the British Empire, it is built in mock-Tudor style, with the wooden interior decor still in its original state. The building now holds the Institute for Advanced Studies, with an 180,000-volume library occupying the old ballroom, dining room and drawing room.    

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Day 6 : Shimla

Today is free at your leisure. There are optional tours than can be booked and paid locally, including excursions to: the quaint town of Mashobra and its forest; the former capital of the Maharajah of Patiala, Chail, with the highest cricket pitch in the world; or Naldehra. There are other walks and treks also available organised by the hotel. Overnight in Shimla.

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 7 : Shimla - Pragpur

Drive to Pragpur where you will check in to the hotel on arrival. The rest of the day is free to relax or explore. Overnight in Pragpur.

Meal plan: Breakfast

The scenic village of Pragpur can be found in the foothills of the Himalayas, 1,800ft over sea level amongst snowy mountains. It holds some key sights of interest, including the Kuthiala Soods Ancestral Home and Radha Krishna shrine. The village offers the perfect environment to enjoy activities such as fishing, bird watching and hiking.
 


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Day 8 : Pragpur - Amritsar

Drive to Amritsar and check in to the hotel on arrival. The afternoon is free at your leisure. In the evening, proceed to the Golden Temple to witness the holy Palki ceremony. Overnight in Amritsar. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

The city of Amritsar boasts the famous Golden Temple, located in the heart of the city. Amritsar is at the epicentre of the Sikh faith, where the Golden Temple is the holiest of Sikh shrines. For Sikhs it is both a display of Punjab's wealth and an important pilgrimage. People from all faiths gather at the Golden Temple, a tribute to the traditions of a faith whose holy book is a compilation of the writings of men of different faiths. 

The Palki Ceremony takes place every evening at the Golden Temple. During the ceremony, the Granth Sahib (the Sikh Holy Book) is carried from the main shrine in Hari Mandir (the Divine Temple) to the sanctum, where it stays until the opening ceremony the next morning. Many people take part in the ceremony, with devotees queuing behind the palanquin on which the Holy Book is carried and taking turns in supporting each arm.

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Day 9 : Amritsar - Wagah Border - Armistar

After breakfast, explore the Golden Temple and see the community kitchen (langar) where volunteers feed 30,000 people daily for free. Later, visit the historic Jallianwala Bagh, commemorating the hundreds of innocent Indians killed or wounded in the most notorious massacre under the British rule. Also see the beautiful Ram Bagh Gardens. In the afternoon, enjoy an excursion to Wagah Border to witness the change of the guard ceremony between Indian and Pakistani armies. Overnight in Amritsar. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

The Wagah Border, marks the border between India and Pakistan, where each evening a retreat ceremony called 'lowering of the flags' takes place. This has been happening since 1959. The soldiers (the Border Security Force of India and the Pakistani Rangers) indulge in an energetic parade, in what first may appear slightly aggressive and even hostile to people watching it for the first time! However, the paraders are meant to be imitating the pride and anger of a cockerel. Donning colourful turbans, the troops of each country put on a show you will never forget.

The Jallianwala Bagh memorial was established in 1951 to commemorate the 1919 massacre of peaceful Punjabi New Year celebrators when British occupying forces opened fire. Some bullet holes are still visible in the walls. An eternal (24-hour) flame burns as a sign of remembrance, as well as an exhibition telling the stories of victims and a Matryrs’ Gallery with portraits of Independence heroes. 

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Day 10 : Amritsar - Dharamsala

In the morning, drive to Dharamsala, the home of the Dalai Lama and a major Buddhist site. On arrival, check in to the hotel. The rest of the day is free at your leisure. Overnight in Dharamsala. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Dharamsala is situated in the upper reaches of the Kangra Valley and surrounded by dense coniferous forest. The hill-station town is best known as the home of the exiled Dalai Lama and the centre of the Tibetan exile world in India. The town is a centre for Tibetan arts and crafts, boasting several art galleries and an annual international film festival. The Dalai Lama temple and other Buddhist monasteries are set in beautiful and serene surroundings.

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Day 11 : Dharamsala

After breakfast, proceed for a full day guided tour of Dharamsala. Visit the Dalai Lama Temple and Bhagsu Nag Temple. Also visit the Norbulingka Institute and its small museum. Later, proceed to Kangra State Museum. The rest of the day is free to explore McLeod Ganj at your leisure. Overnight in Dharamsala.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Bhagsu Nag Temple can be found in the heart of Bhagsunag village at an altitude of 6,960 feet, with beautiful views over the valley. Constructed around 1800, it is dedicated to the Lord Shiva and the local deity Bhagsu Nag. Buddhist monks and visitors can enjoy a relaxing dip in a series of pools within the temple complex, or at the spectacular 20-metre-high Bhagsunag waterfall located behind the temple. The waterfall is most impressive during the monsoon season when the cascade is in full flow. 

Kangra State Museum provides a fascinating insight into Kangra Valley's rich cultural past, displaying arts, crafts and artifacts dating back to the 5th century. Exhibits range from Kangra's famous miniature paintings, to collections of sculptures, pottery and anthropological items. There are also copies of paintings by the 20th century Russian artist Nicholas Roerich, renowned for his vivid Himalayan mountain landscapes. 

Sitting on the edge of a cliff and surrounded by high walls, the Dalai Lama Temple offers beautiful views overlooking the valley. Not only is it the place of residence of the Dalai Lama, but it also holds the offices of the Tibetan Government in Exile. On special festive occasions, the Dalai Lama leads the public Kalchakra Ceremony, performed by Buddhist monks to promote universal peace and harmony. 

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Day 12 : Dharamsala - Palampur

Drive to Palampur, visiting the Kangra valley tea plantations en route. On arrival in Palampur, check in to Taragarh Palace. The evening is free to rest. Overnight in Palampur. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

The town of Palampur, named the ‘tea capital of northwest India’, is famed for its tea gardens. The many streams, waterways and green plains of Palampur contrast a dramatic backdrop of the Dhauladhar mountain range which remains snow covered for almost the whole year.  
 


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Day 13 : Palampur - Manali

Drive up to Manali and check in to the hotel on arrival. The rest of the day is free at your leisure. Overnight in Manali. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Manali is a small town in the Beas River Valley, positioned at an altitude of 2,050m. Surrounded by high peaks it is the perfect location for activities including trekking, mountain biking, skiing and paragliding which has made it a popular destination for tourists and backpackers alike.
 


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Day 14 : Manali

In the morning, visit Nagar Castle and its Reorich Art Gallery, which displays the private collection of the paintings by the famous Russian painter Nicolas Reorich. Proceed to Old Manali and the Manu Temple. The evening is free to rest or explore. Overnight in Manali.  

Meal plan: Breakfast

Built in AD 1460, Nagar Castle served as the residence of Raja Sidh Singh of Kullu. It is an impressive blend of European and Himalayan architecture, combining both medieval stone and woodwork. There are three small shrines located within the premises, as well as an art gallery exhibiting spectacular paintings by the famous Russian painter Nicholas Roerich. In 1978, the building was converted into a heritage hotel. 

Located on the bank of the River Beas, Manu Temple is a prominent place of worship for the people of Manali. It is the only temple dedicated to the sage Manu, who is believed to have meditated in this spot. According to Hindu mythology, Manu was the creator of the world and the writer of Mansumriti, the text in which the founding laws of Hinduism were laid down. Constructed in wood and stone, the temple was rebuilt in 1992 to include a vaulted ceiling and marble flooring. 

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Day 15 : Manali - Sarchu

Drive to Sarchu, stopping at Rohtang Pass and Baralacha Pass en route. On arrival, check in at the camp, where the rest of the day is free. Overnight in Sarchu. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Sarchu, also known as Sir Bhum Chun, is situated at 14,500ft between the Himalayan mountain passes of Barlacha La and Lachlung La. It provides tented accommodation as an important halfway stopover on the Leh-Manali highway, which is a high-altitude journey that normally takes travellers two days to complete.
 


Located at a height of 13,054 ft, the high mountain pass of Rohtang Pass provides a natural divide between the primarily Hindu culture of Kullu Valley and the Buddhist culture of the high-altitude Lahaul and Spiti Valleys, which in turn provide access to Leh. The pass offers beautiful views over Lahaul Valley, the Chandra River, and surrounding glaciers and peaks. However, unpredictable snowstorms and mudslides have given it a dangerous reputation ("Rohtang" translates to "ground of corpses", relating to the number of people who have died trying to cross it in bad weather). Consequently, the pass is closed during the heavy snowfall over winter.  

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Day 16 : Sarchu - Leh

Drive to Leh, crossing Tanglangla Pass, the second highest motorable pass in the world at 5350 metres. Enjoy the natural beauty of the mountains as you continue the drive through the plains, where there are tiny colonies of Marmots, Yaks and Herbs. Drive to the rugged Lachungla Pass at 5065 metres. On arrival in Leh, check in to the hotel, where the evening is free to rest. Overnight in Leh. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Leh is at an elevation of 3500m above sea level, situated in the Ladakh province. The stunning Leh Palace is modelled on the Tibetan Palace in Lhasa. some of Ladakh’s most famous and spectacular religious sites, including Sindhu Ghat where you can take a stroll by the bank of the River Indus. From there we move on to Thiksey Monastery, one of Leh’s most architecturally impressive structures clinging to the cliff-face and containing numerous stupas and murals of Lord Buddha.  The former home of the Ladakhi royal family, Shey Palace and Museum is situated on a hillock and houses an impressive 7.5 metre gold statue of Lord Buddha.  Hemis National Park is India’s largest national park, and the only park found in the northern Himalayas. It is home to a number of endangered species and the 400-year old Hemis Monastery.

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Day 17 : Leh

After breakfast, visit Hemis Gompa, the biggest Gompa of Ladakh. Proceed to the monastery of Thiksey Gompa and Shanti Stupa. Overnight in Leh. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Built in 1630, the Hemis Gompa is the largest and wealthiest monastic insitutation in Ladakh, with more than 200 branches and over 1,000 monks in the Himalayan region. The monastery uses Tibetan-style architecture and is decorated with colourful walls paintings, gold and silver stupas, and a copper statue of Lord Buddha. It also has the largest "Thanka" (a Tibetan-Buddhist painting) in Ladakh, which is unfurled once every 12 years, symbolising good health and spiritual strength. The monastery's population stems from the major annual Hemis Tsechu festival held within the complex every summer, in which holy masked dances glorify the victory of good over bad. 

Constructed in 1430, Thiksey Gompa is one of the largest and architecturally most impressive Gompas, incorporating elements of Ladakh's traditional architectural style. It consists of 12 storeys and holds several stupas, prayer halls and small shrines with exquisite colourful wall paintings. The main prayer hall houses a 15-metre-high seated statue of Buddha, the largest in the region. 

Situated on a hill in Cahngspa village, Shanti Stupa (also known as the World Peace Pagoda) provides beautiful panoramic views of Leh town and the surrounding mountain peaks. It was built out of white marble between 1983 and 1991 by Japanese monks to promote world peace. As a result, Japanese elements are evident in the architecture, such as small clean side rooms for meditators, a Japanese garden and the main Japanese shrine at the entrance. 

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Day 18 : Leh

In the morning, visit the impressive Tibetan-style Leh Palace. In the afternoon, explore the bustling Leh Bazaar before visiting Leh Jokhang and its statue of Joyo Rinpochey (crowned Buddha). Overnight in Leh. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 19 : Leh - Delhi

Transfer to the airport at the appropriate time to catch your flight to Delhi. Overnight in Delhi. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 20 : Departure

Transfer to the international airport at the appropriate time to catch your flight home. 

Note:  extensions to other parts of the region or India can be organised. Contact us for more information.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Accommodation

Accommodation

All accommodation subject to availability. Final accommodation choices will be confirmed after booking.

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Claridges

The 5-star hotel Claridges is one of New Delhi’s most iconic hotels. A perfect amalgamation of elegance and contemporary luxury, it is located in close proximity to the capital’s bustling commercial and cultural centres. The hotel is equipped with a delightful temperature-controlled swimming pool, complete with sun decks, cabanas, loungers and a bar, where you can savour exotic cocktails, amidst uplifting music and ambient lighting!
 

Visit hotel's site
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The Haveli Hari Ganga

Located on the banks of the River Ganges, the Haveli Hari Ganga offers boutique accommodation within a heritage building. Built in 1913, it showcases authentic carved wood furnishing and traditional Indian furnishings, while rooms are equipped with modern amenities including air-conditioning and WiFi.

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The Oberoi Cecil

Nestled in the mountainside near Viceroy Lodge, The Oberoi Cecil provides luxury accommodation in a restored heritage hotel. Rooms are classically furnished and equipped air-conditioning and free WiFi. Set within the restored grand ballroom, the onsite restaurant serves a wide range of international, pan-Indian and local Himachali dishes, while guests are welcome to enjoy the indoor heated swimming pool. 

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Judge's Court

Built around a 300-year-old cottage in 1918, Judge's Court is a heritage hotel with historical significance and old world charm. All rooms are furnished with antique ornaments and furniture, while guests are welcome to dine in the regal dining hall and relax in the plunge pool. 

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Hyatt Amritsar

The Hyatt Amritsar is found nestled in the heart of the city. It has over 200 sleek, contemporary guest rooms as well as a spa, lounge bar, restaurant and fitness centre.

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Fortune Park Moksha

Nestled in the Strawberry Hills surrounded by pine trees, Fortune Park Moksha provides beautiful views of Dharamsala Valley and the snow-capped Dhauladhar mountains. The hotel prides itself on luxury accommodation and reliable service, with all rooms furnished with modern amenities including air-conditioning and WiFi. A variety of dining options are available onsite, including a multi-cuisine restaurant and a patisserie shop. 

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ShivAdya

Built in the Himalayan style out of stone, mud and wood, the eco-friendly ShivAdya blends seamlessly within its natural surroundings, with beautiful views of the mountains, valleys and forests. WiFi is available throughout the resort, while guests are welcome to enjoy the onsite restaurant and sun terrace. Attractions including Nagar Castle and the River Beas are nearby the resort. 

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Adventure Camp

Located at an oasis in the desert land of Sarchu, Adventure Camp sits on the main Sarchu camp grounds. Stitched out of canvas with a printed cloth lining, the tents are wind and water proof. Each tent is carpeted and equipped with twin beds as well as blankets. There is a dining hall onsite offering a choice of Indian, Chinese and continental dishes. 

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Ladakh Residency

Located just 5 minutes from Leh town, Ladakh Residency combines contemporary with traditional, priding itself of its old world charm and hospitality. Rooms are decorated with authentic Ladakhi wood work and wall frescoes, while an onsite restaurant serves local Ladakhi cuisine as well as Italian, Chinese and continental foods. 

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Pullman Hotel Aerocity

Conveniently located near the airport, Pullman Hotel Aerocity is ideal for travellers. The hotel provides luxury accommodation with all rooms equipped with modern amenities including free WiFi. A range of Indian, Chinese and European cuisine is served within four onsite restaurants, while guests are welcome to enjoy the outdoor pool.

Visit hotel's site
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Reviews

I thoroughly enjoyed my tailor made tour of northwestern and central India. Guides and accommodations were excellent and we saw as much of the area as could be packed into two weeks. I look forward to another tour with Travel the Unknown.

Mary Trubek (USA) , Tailormade India

I visited two different parts of the Himalayas in January and one of the regions was rather remote. I was incredibly impressed with the quality of the local agents that Travel the Unknown uses in India. This included their knowledge of the local conditions, excellent and safe drivers with great English and friendly helpful guides where needed. I also knew these agents were tracking my progress throughout the trip to make sure everything was going well. They also stepped in admirably when the local weather conditions suddenly changed. I was also very happy indeed with the way Travel the Unknown co-ordinated the trip planning from start to finish. Also the way that they took total account of what I wanted to experience on this holiday; this is essential for a tailor made trip.

Anne D'Heygers , Tailormade India

What an excellent service! Rahul adapted, extended and improved our trip so many times without a qualm and we ended up with the trip of a lifetime. The destinations are unusual and interesting but everything has been checked out by the team and works brilliantly. I can`t wait to do another trip.

Penelope Smith , Assam & Nagaland Hornbill Festival, India

Another fantastic trip with this company. WE really managed to get off the beaten track and have seen some amazing sights. Well put together. We will travel again with Travel the Unknown

Hazel & James Frost , Tailormade India

This is our second fabulous trip with Travel The Unknown and we were not disappointed. Rajasthan's vibrant colours of turbans and saris, the noise, the spicy aromas, the silence in the hot air balloon over rural Jaipur, the majestic forts and palaces of ancient times, sighting leopards in the wild, all far exceeded our expectations and the heritage homes and hotels we stayed in, whilst being of high standard in every way, still had a friendly family touch. Thanks so much to Rahul and the team for such a memorable trip. Six weeks on and we still can't stop talking about it. I can't wait for the next one!

John & Christine Gregory , Tailormade India

Travel the Unknown put together an Itinerary in North East India - Living Root Bridges for me and a travelling companion. The accommodations, transportation, promptness of drivers, and knowledge of our guide was excellent. Easy booking from office and good pre trip information. Thanks TTU!

Christina Taft , Living Bridges of Meghalaya, India

Wow, India is incredible and Travel The Unknown put together a trip that really showed the diverse nature of the country and cultures, from the busy capital Delhi to the splendour of the Taj Mahal and then off the main tourist trek with an overnight sleeper train to Varanasi on the Ganges, the Hindu religious capital with bathing , washing and cremations alongside the river - an astonishing experience. We then moved to the forgotten North East corner where there is a tribal culture in an area seemingly cut off from the rest of India. Our destination was the Living Root Bridges which are unique and remote. Just want to go back to India for more...

Ken Sankey , Living Bridges of Meghalaya, India

Gotta say thanks to Travel The Unknown for organising my fascinating trip to a little-known area of the world. The scenery was fantastic, food was amazing, the guide was great and the living bridges were inspiring. An India not many get to see. Thanks again.

Stephen , Living Bridges of Meghalaya, India

I had been studying the Apatani Tribe for quite some time… I’m talking roughly 7 years! Travel The Unknown made my dreams come entirely true. They organized every aspect of my experience in the most minute detail. I have never felt such confidence in an agency nor worked with one more knowledgeable about their destination. Because of them and their kind efforts, I will continue to travel with Travel The Unknown for all future expeditions to this or similar regions. Thanks, Travel The Unknown, for everything!

Christian Noni , Tailormade North East India

As always Travel The Unknown were exceptional in organising my trip to India. The guides for Meghalaya and the Golden Triangle were friendly, extremely helpful and very informative. The tour was busy but never felt rushed; the combination of Meghalaya and Golden Triangle giving quite a varied perspective of India.

Terry Cooper , Living Bridges of Meghalaya

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