The Land of The Thunder Dragon & a Side-dish of India

The Land of The Thunder Dragon and a Side-Dish of India

 

OVERVIEW

This tour takes you to one of the most beautiful and most remote kingdoms in the world – Bhutan. Limited numbers of travellers each year can enjoy this magical country and its hospitable people who live by the mantra of Gross National Happiness. Before we take you to Bhutan, we will show you one of the most historic cities in India – Kolkata and the days of ‘The Raj’, followed by a trip up to Darjeeling for tea and trains!

 

TOUR ITINERARY

Day 1 Wed 04 Oct Australia-Kolkata
Depart Australia on a Singapore Airlines flight for Kolkata, via Singapore.

Day 2 Thu 05 Oct Kolkata
After an early breakfast, we walk through this vibrant and bustling city. During our city tour, we will visit the Park Street Cemetery and Victoria Memorial – two great institutions left behind by the British.
At 1pm, Mr Surojit ‘Bomti’ Iyenger, an art collector and socialite, is delighted to welcome us to his charming flat on historic Chowringhee for a home-cooked Bengali lunch. In the afternoon we board a private boat cruise up the River Hoogly and discover a hitherto unseen side of Kolkata.
Dinner and overnight at Oberoi Grand Hotel in Kolkata. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 3 Fri 06 Oct Kolkata-Bagdogra-Darjeeling
After breakfast, we fly to Bagdogra then travel by road to Darjeeling via Kurseong, the land of the white orchid. Standing high in the Himalayas at an altitude of 2134m and surrounded by World Famous Tea Gardens and snow-capped mountains, Darjeeling is one of the most exotic destinations. Afternoon walk to Observatory Hill.
We will spend two nights at Hotel Elgin in Darjeeling. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 4 Sat 07 Oct Darjeeling-Ghum-Darjeeling
The spectacular landscape unfolds as the 2-foot gauge Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, opened in 1881, labours at about 10 mph criss-crossing the main road. During our toy train ride, we will experience the sound, smell and romance of a bygone era.
In the afternoon we proceed for our city tour, visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Himalayan Zoological Park, and Tibetan Self-Help Centre or Refugee Centre.
Evening enjoy Tea Tasting at Nathmuls Tea Lounge. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 5 Sun 08 Oct Darjeeling-Kalimpong
Drive to Kalimpong. At an altitude of 1250m, Kalimpong’s clement weather has made its orchids and gladioli well renowned.
In the afternoon we proceed for a city tour with visits to the Flower Nurseries, Zang Dog Palri Fo-Brang Monastery, the Tharpa Choling Monastery and Thongsa Gumpa Monastery.
Overnight at Hotel Silver Oaks in Kalimpong. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 6 Mon 09 Oct Kalimpong-Siliguri
Drive to Siliguri en-route visit ISKCON and Salugara Monastery.
The Buddhist shrine Salugara Monastery is among the most frequented revered places in Siliguri. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, more popularly known as ISKCON Temple, is the biggest Krishna centre in the whole of the Northeast India.
Overnight at Royal Orchid Hotel in Siliguri. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 7 Tue 10 Oct Siliguri-Bagdogra-Paro-Thimphu
After breakfast, transfer to Bagdogra Airport for our flight to Paro. Upon arrival, we head to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan.
Have the late afternoon free to explore Thimphu town.
Dinner at hotel with a cultural show and complimentary drinks.
We will stay at Hotel Namgay Heritage for two nights. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 8 Wed 11 Oct Thimphu
Enjoy a relaxed day with sightseeing in Thimphu Valley. We will visit the Buddha point, National Memorial Chorten, Paper factory, Folk Heritage Museum and Traditional Arts and Craft School. After lunch we go on to explore the arts and crafts bazaar. Later visit the Fortress Tashichodzong, also the seat of the King.
Dinner with a Bhutanese family host at their home. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 9 Thu 12 Oct Thimphu-Punakha
Today we drive up to Dochu-la pass (3,088m) to get a view of the high Himalayan peaks. After lunch in Sopsokha village, we make our way to the Temple of the Divine Madman.
Continue on to the Punakha Valley and check into our hotel, Zhingkham Resort for overnight. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 10 Fri 13 Oct Punakha-Phobjikha
Morning visit the Punakha Dzong, a massive structure built at the junction of two rivers. In the afternoon we head to Phobjikha where we stay for two nights.
On arrival we check into Hotel Dewachen and relax in the evening enjoying the view of the valley. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 11 Sat 14 Oct Phobjikha
The Phobjikha Valley is one of the loveliest high altitude glacial valleys in Bhutan. This morning we explore the valley and visit Gangtey Gompa. If lucky we might sight black necked cranes. Later in the day we can hike on one of the many nature trails in the valley, visiting farms and meeting locals. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 12 Sun 15 Oct Phobjikha-Trongsa
We start out early today for our drive to Bumthang across Pele-la pass (3,300m) to Trongsa (80km) where we see a change in vegetation, with mountain forest replaced by high altitude dwarf bamboo.
Overnight at Yangkhil Resort in Trongsa. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 13 Mon 16 Oct Trongsa-Bumthang
Today we visit the Trongsa Fort before driving to Bumthang, a journey of about 3 hours over the Yutong-la pass (3,400m).
On arrival in Bumthang, check in at the Jakar Village Lodge where we stay for two nights. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 14 Tue 17 Oct Bumthang
We explore the peaceful Bumthang Valley with visits to Kurje Lhakhang, Jambey Lhakhang, Tamshing Monastery and Jakar Dzong. The evening will be free to walk around the town and visit the local shops. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 15 Wed 18 Oct Bumthang-Paro
Take a morning flight back to Paro where we will stay at Tashi Namgay Resort for two nights. We will explore Paro Valley, visit the National Museum (Ta-Dzong) and Paro Rinchen Pong Dzong (fortress) which is the Administrative seat of the Paro district and also contains a state monastic community of about 200 monks. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 16 Thu 19 Oct Paro
Today we hike to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest), then drive up the valley to Drukgyel Dzong. On our return we visit Kyichu Lhakhang, built in the 7th century by the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo and explore Paro town. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 17 Fri 20 Oct Paro-Kolkata
After breakfast, take our flight to Kolkata. The coach will be at our disposal for shopping or sightseeing in Kolkata.
Overnight at Oberoi Grand Hotel in Kolkata. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 18 Sat 21 Oct Kolkata-Australia
After a late check out, transfer to the International Airport to board our flight home via Singapore. (Breakfast)

Day 19 Sun 22 Oct Arrive Australia
Arrive Australia in the evening.
To enquire or book this tour, please contact
Opulent Journeys 1300 219 885
Email: tony@opulentjourneys.com.au

Flowers of Turkey 2016

FLOWERS OF TURKEY with LIBBY CAMERON

 

DAY 1- Wednesday 13 April 2016
Sydney – Istanbul
Meet your tour leader, Libby Cameron, at Sydney airport for flight to Istanbul.

DAY 2 – Thursday 14 April, 2016
Istanbul (D)
Check in for the next five nights at the five-star Dosso Dossi Hotel located in the heart of the city. Welcome dinner tonight.
Accommodation: Dosso Dossi Hotel, Istanbul

DAY 3 – Friday 15 April 2016
Istanbul (B/L/D)
Sultanhamet,the Old City, is up first with a glimpse of ancient Turkish life at the Topkapi Palace. Then to the largest church of its era, the 6thC Hagia Sophia. After lunch we visit the 17thC Blue Mosque famous for its minarets and beautiful tiles depicting tulips, carnations and other flowers. Finish our first day in the heart of Constantinople, the Hippodrome Square.
Accommodation: Dosso Dossi Hotel, Istanbul

DAY 4 – Saturday 16 April 2016
Istanbul (B/L)
Shop till we drop with a visit to the leather, jewellery and antique filled Grand Bazaar. Then the Egyptian Bazaar, known for its spices and tasty sweets. We can’t miss the Rustem Pasa Mosque for those striking Iznik tiled walls. Unforgettable belly dancing performance in an old Turkish Bath house tonight.
Accommodation: Dosso Dossi Hotel, Istanbul

DAY 5 – Wednesday 13 April 2016
Istanbul (B/L)
Our adventure today takes in the sparkling Bosphorus Strait with a boat cruise from the former fishing village of Ortakoy, and fish lunch. Visit museums this afternoon to walk in their gardens, and see silver, ceramics and embroidery.
Accommodation: Dosso Dossi Hotel, Istanbul

DAY 6 – Sunday 17 April 2016
Istanbul (B/L)
Today we celebrate many aspects of the Turkish tulip, with Gursan Ergil, a well known landscape architect.. An early start to witness the exciting and chaotic flower auction in Istanbul, the biggest of its kind in the Middle East. Fields filled with tulips in full flower, and this afternoon we delve into how tulips have influenced Ottoman art.
Accommodation: Dosso Dossi Hotel, Istanbul

DAY 7 – Tuesday 19 April 2016
Istanbul – Cappadocia (B/L/D)
Flight to Cappadocia where we visit the Underground city of Kaymakli, dating back to 1200BC. Walk along the shaded river valley of Ihlara dotted with cave churches, wildflowers and rock formations. If you are lucky, you will hear nightingales singing! Lunch in the chill zone on the river. Uchisar Castle on our way to check in to our cave hotel for a two night stay.
Accommodation: Yunak Houses Hotel, Cappadocia

DAY 8 – Wednesday 20 April 2016
Cappadocia (B/L)
One of the wonders of the world – a moon landscape that has been formed by intense volcanic activity, Goreme Open Air Museum has dozens of painted cave churches. A stop at pottery village, free time this afternoon to prepare for a very special ‘Sema’ unique local dancing performance.
Accommodation: Yunak Houses Hotel, Cappadocia

DAY 9 – Thursday 21 April 2016
Cappadocia – Bodrum (B/D)
An early hot air balloon ride is optional. Free day to explore canyon walks, go shopping, or just chill out. Evening flight to the archeologically significant, Bodrum where we’ll check in to the El Vino Hotel for three nights.
Accommodation: El Vino Hotel, Bodrum

DAY 10 – Friday 22 April 2016
Bodrum (B/L)
Our outing around Bodrum takes in historic sights such as Bodrum Castle, and the underwater Archeological Museum. Later enjoy an intimate farm visit to see the production of local delicacies such as chemical-free wine, goats cheese, olives, jams and breads made with traditional methods. We have lunch sharing stories and wine with the farm owners.
Accommodation: El Vino Hotel, Bodrum

DAY 11 – Saturday 23 April 2016
Bodrum (B/L)
The Aegean Sea is so turquoise it’s hard to believe today, our private traditional gulet taking us to pretty inlets and glittering bays. A relaxed lunch served on the boat is the perfect way to say goodbye to Bodrum.
Accommodation: El Vino Hotel, Bodrum

DAY 12 – Sunday 24 April 2016
Bodrum – Kusadasi (B/L/D)
Local textile specialist, Frances Ergen, will join our travels today. Drive to Lake Bafa and visit a local house, and walk with the villagers through a sea of spring wildflowers at the ruins of Heraklia. Continuing on along the scenic Aegean coastline, we will visit The Temple of Apollo, and check in to the hotel in Kusadasi for three nights.
Accommodation: Kismet Hotel, Kusadasi

DAY 13 – Monday 25 April 2016
Kusadasi (B/L/D)
We’ll visit Sirince, a small hillside village famous for wine, oils and soaps, drive to Camlik village to see naturally dyed carpets, then visit The House of Virgin Mary. Avoiding the crowds we’ll savour Ephesus city with a walk along the marble road late afternoon. A special ‘Roman’ afternoon taking in the Grand Library of Celcius, Great Theatre and Terrace Houses. Later, a delicious dinner at the Yedibilgeler Winery.
Accommodation: Kismet Hotel, Kusadasi

DAY 14 – Tuesday 26 April 2016
Kusadasi (B/L/D)
Delve into Turkey’s traditional crafts today with a visit to the bustling Tire local street market, then handicraft markets and sampling of delectable Tire meatballs. This is an area famous for silk and linen weaving. We will see collections of lace and needlework, visiting Odemis and Birgi. Dinner with a sea view this evening.
Accommodation: Kismet Hotel, Kusadasi

DAY 15 – Wednesday 27 April 2016
Kusadasi – Cannakkale (B/L)
We head north to the ancient city of Pergamum, the capital of the east Roman Empire with the steepest theatre in Anatolia. As we head north we will stop and enjoy an olive oil museum with wonderful traditional jars and presses.. Dinner and overnight stay at the Akol Hotel in Canakkale tonight.
Accommodation: Akol Hotel, Canakkale

DAY 16 – Thursday 28 April 2016
Cannakkale – Istanbul (B/L/D)
A full day at Gallipoli. We’ll visit Kabatepe museum, and after lunch at Suvla Winery, spend the whole afternoon at the World War 1 battlefields, visiting Lone Pine Australian Memorial and Chunuk Bair, NZ Memorial, ANZAC Cove and Johnson’s Jolly. Drive to Istanbul for dinner and check in to the Dosso Dossi Hotel for two nights.
Accommodation: Dosso Dossi Hotel, Istanbul

DAY 17 – Friday 29 April 2016
Istanbul (B/D)
Free day to catch up with shopping, enjoy a Turkish bath, visit the underground Cistern, Arasta Bazaar and Mosaic Museum, and relax in one of the many welcoming Istanbul cafes. Fine-dining farewell dinner tonight.
Accommodation: Dosso Dossi Hotel, Istanbul

DAY 18 – Saturday 30 April 2016
Istanbul – Home (B)
Transfer to airport for flight home.

DAY 19 – Sunday 1 May 2016
Welcome home

Sri Lanka: Gardens of Paradise

The island paradise of Sri Lanka is renowned for its palm-fringed beaches, misty mountain landscapes, extraordinary wildlife, lush tropical flora and cultural diversity.

Known as the ‘the land of smiles’ Sri Lanka is also steeped in heritage. With a history that dates back over 2,000 years, the island is home to some of Asia’s best preserved monuments and to no fewer than eight UNESCO World Heritage sites. Thanks to its colonial history (Portuguese, Dutch and British), interaction with Arab, Chinese and Malay merchants over the centuries, and the prevailing religions of Buddhism and Hinduism, Sri Lanka is a land of rich traditions, continual festivities and an exotic cuisine.

The garden lover will be amply rewarded by some of the world’s best botanical gardens, ancient Buddhist sites and Royal Hindu ‘pleasure gardens’, fragrant spice and herb gardens, hill country estates and some contemporary private gardens.

AT A GLANCE…
• Tour price includes flights on Singapore Airlines and late check-out on last day
• explore six UNESCO World Heritage listed sites
• enjoy the scenic train trip from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya in the highlands
• stay in a mixture of beachside, lakeside, safari resort and grand historic hotels
• visit botanical, pleasure, herb and private gardens

ITINERARY

Sun 10 Apr 2016 / Australia – Colombo
Depart Australia on Singapore Airlines flights via Singapore. Arrive Colombo at midnight. Transfer to your hotel located in the nearby resort town of Negombo.

Mon 11 Apr / Colombo – Dambulla
After a leisurely start join Fiona for a welcome briefing and introductory talk followed by a welcome lunch with fellow garden lovers.

After lunch drive to Dambulla in the heart of Sri Lanka’s ‘Cultural Triangle’ comprising numerous UNESCO World Heritage cultural sites. (BLD)

Tue 12 Apr / Dambulla
After breakfast, explore Polonnaruwa, which became Sri Lanka’s second capital city in 1070 AD. Under King Parakramabu, who ruled in the late 11th century, Polonnaruwa became a magnificent walled city and is famous for his policy that every drop of rain should be used. An extensive irrigation system with channels and lakes was built. The largest tank is the Parakrama Samudraya or the ‘Sea of Parakrama’, with an area of 2,600 hectares.

In the afternoon visit Sigiriya, or Lion Rock, which was selected for his capital by an obsessed monarch in the 5th century and is an astonishing feat of engineering and construction. The most striking portion of Sigiriya, a terracotta and grey core of rock, rises a sheer 200 metres above a forested plain, its flattened summit sloping gently. A series of moats, ramparts and water gardens – remnants of an ancient city – spread out on two sides of the rock, with the remains of a pair of giant stone lion’s paws still guarding the staircase that leads to the summit, once occupied by a royal palace. (BLD)

Wed 13 Apr / Dambulla – Kandy
Morning visit to the Golden Temple of Dambulla which dates back to the 1st century BC as a centre of pilgrimage for Buddhists and Hindus alike. The Cave monastery, home to Buddhist monks, is covered with exquisite 2,000 year-old murals depicting the life and times of the Lord Buddha. The shrines also house a collection of 157 statues of Buddha in various sizes and poses, including a 15 metre long reclining Buddha and vividly coloured frescoes on the walls and ceiling, making this the largest antique painted surface in the world.

Later, depart for Kandy, en route stopping to visit a private garden. Nestled in the hills at an altitude of 488 metres, Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings. The name Kandy conjures visions of a storied past, splendour, legend, folklore, mystery and traditions lovingly kept alive for countless years. (BD)

Thu 14 Apr / Kandy
Start your exploration of Kandy with a visit to the sacred Temple of the Tooth, which houses one of Buddhism’s most sacred relics and draws followers of the Buddhist faith from all over the world. The Royal Complex situated around the Temple of the Tooth and Kandy Lake – comprising the King’s Palace, the Queen’s Palace, the Audience Hall, the Royal Boathouse and the Royal Summer House, represent the zenith of ancient Sri Lankan architecture.
After lunch at a local restaurant, the afternoon is at leisure to explore Kandy. You may wish to visit a batik factory, gem store or explore Kandy’s main market with fruit, vegetable, tea and spice stalls and fabric shops. Souvenirs, scarves, leatherwork and clothing can also be found in abundance.
(BL)

Fri 15 Apr / Kandy
Following a talk, visit the Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya, which was originally the pleasure gardens of the royalty. Nearly 4,000 species of plants are found in this garden and it is encircled by the Mahaweli River. There is an avenue of coconut palm trees, a spice garden, giant bamboos, rubber trees, an orchid collection and a giant Javan fig tree which covers 1,600 sq metres.

Sri Lanka’s botanic gardens have a long and proud history, punctuated by colonialism, and industrial change. Throughout this period the gardens have continued to flourish, and the plant collections and herbarium grown.

Later, visit 1 – 2 private gardens.

In the evening attend a Kandyan dance performance. Dances include the cobra dance, mask dance and the Ginisila, showing power over fire. The entire frenetic and colourful spectacle climaxes with the amazing fire-walking act.
(BL)

Sat 16 Apr / Kandy – Nuwara Eliya
Depart Kandy in the morning and travel by train to Nuwara Eliya, situated at around 2,000 metres above sea level in the Central Highlands. The town was founded by Samuel Baker as a hill retreat for the British during the colonial era, where typical English pastimes including fox hunting, polo and cricket were played. Several buildings and parks here retain features from the colonial period.

Arrive in Nuwara Eliya early in the afternoon. Time at leisure before visiting the Hill Club (dress code applies), which was founded in 1876 by a British coffee planter, as a home away from home, and is today a privately operated club and hotel. Enjoy a tour of the beautiful gardens followed by dinner. (BLD)

Sun 17 Apr / Nuwara Eliya
Full day exploration of Nurawa Eliya including visits to Victoria Park, a tea plantation and Hakgala Botanical Gardens. Victoria Park at the centre of town comes alive with flowers around March to May and it is also home to quite a number of hill country bird species, including the Kashmir flycatcher, Indian pitta and grey tit.

Sri Lanka is one of the world’s largest exporters of tea. Since the introduction of tea to Sri Lanka in mid 19th century, Nuwara Eliya has been the capital of the tea industry. The rolling mountains of Nuwara Eliya are carpeted by green tea plantations. Visit a tea plantation and a tea factory and observe all about the process of manufacturing tea.

In the afternoon, visit Hakgala Botanical Gardens which were established in 1861 under the patronage of the British. They are located under the Hakgala Peak and are the highest set botanical gardens in the world. There are trees like English Oak, Himalayan Pines, Japanese Cedars and Cypress trees from California.
(BLD)

Mon 18 Apr / Nuwara Eliya – Udawalawe N.P.
Depart Nuwara Eliya for Udawalawe, one of Sri Lanka’s National Parks.

Mid-afternoon arrival and check-in to your safari resort-style hotel, situated just 500 metres from the Ath Athuru Sevana (Elephant Orphanage), and a five minute drive from the Udawalawe National Park.

At dusk, embark on a jeep safari in the national park before returning to the hotel for dinner.
(BLD)

Tue 19 Apr / Udawalawe N.P.
Day at leisure. A wide range of activities are available ranging from half- and full-day jeep safaris, nature tracks, bird watching trails, night safaris etc. During safaris you may see the elusive leopard, elephant, sloth bear, sambar, chital, wild boar, tripe necked, brown and ruddy mongoose, black-naped hare, marsh mugger crocodile and several civet species. The National Park is also a popular bird watching destination.
(BLD)
Wed 20 Apr / Udawalawe N.P. – Galle
A day of travel takes you from Udawalawe N.P. to Galle, an ancient Dutch outpost located on the south western coast of Sri Lanka. The minimalistic, stately and elegant Lighthouse Hotel, your home for the next two nights, was designed by the famous Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. Dinner at the hotel.
(BLD)

Thu 21 Apr / Galle
Following a morning talk, pay a visit to ‘Lunuganga’, the former country home of Geoffrey Bawa. Started in 1947, the garden led Bawa, a lawyer called to the Bar at the Inner Temple in 1940, to decide to become an architect. The garden at Lunuganga estate remained his first muse and experimental laboratory for new ideas.

After lunch at Lunuganga, return to Galle. Afternoon at leisure to explore Galle Fort. (BL)

Fri 22 Apr / Galle – Colombo
Today journey from Galle to Colombo. En route visit ‘Brief’, the former house and garden of lawyer turned landscape architect Bevis Bawa, brother of Geoffrey Bawa. Started in 1929, it is a hillside garden overlooking a former rubber plantation. It contains sculptures by Bevis himself and his many artist friends, including Donald Friend, who went for a weekend and stayed six years. The house is also open to view and contains many wonderful artworks including a magnificent mural of Sri Lankan life by Donald Friend in the style of Chagall.

Continue to Colombo where you will stay at the historic Galle Face hotel. The hotel was built by four British entrepreneurs in 1864. Its name derives from the stretch of lawn which it faces, known as the Galle Face Green. Dinner at the hotel. (BLD)

Sat 23 Apr / Colombo
During a morning tour of Colombo, see the Fort area, the Oriental bazaar at Pettah, numerous Hindu and Buddhist temples and the Jumi Ul Alfar Jumma Mosque as well as the Wolfendhal Dutch Church, Hulftsdorp Law Courts, Independence Square and the Geoffrey Bawa designed Sri Lankan Parliament building. Finish with a visit to the National Museum which houses a large and important collection of Sri Lanka’s cultural and artistic heritage.

Enjoy lunch at the Gallery Café, situated within the former office of Geoffrey Bawa, followed by a visit to Colombo Zoo to attend the Elephant Circus. (BL)

Sun 24 Apr / Depart Colombo
Morning exploration of two or three private gardens of Colombo including an Ayurvedic garden. A light lunch will be served in one of the gardens.

Mid-afternoon return to the hotel for an afternoon and evening at leisure until 9.00 pm check-out and transfer to the airport. (BL)

Mon 25 Apr / Arrive Australia
1.30 am departure from Colombo on Singapore Airlines to Singapore and Australia. Evening arrival in Australia.

Mandulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge Sri Lanka

Mandulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge Sri Lanka

 

The Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge is located on a picturesque 25 acre tea plantation just 30 km away from Sri Lanka’s hill capital of Kandy and approximately 150 km away from Colombo.

Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge commands a majestic view of the UNESCO World Heritage Knuckles Mountain Range – so called due to its shape similar to the knuckles of a clenched fist. It offers 18 secluded lodges with comfortable amenities, specially designed to make your next holiday in Sri Lanka a truly unforgettable one. All lodges are made of high quality tarpaulin canvas specially imported from South Africa. This is the very same material used by many world renowned safari camps especially in campsites all over Africa. Each lodge at the Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge can hold a maximum of 3 people and feature:

A front porch with ‘out-of-this-world’ views, comfortable beds, full bathroom with walk-in shower and a separate private WC.

Guests staying at the Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge will appreciate the many facilities and services on offer. Some of these facilities include;

  • A real colonial style “planter’s” estate house with:
  • Reception, welcome area and Information Desk
  • A Library with Internet Access and a Business Center
  • An English styled estate Lounge Bar with an impressive stock of beverages
  • A Grand Dining Room and Restaurant with a cozy fireplace
  • A stand alone Infinity Pool offering fabulous views of the Madulkelle Village as well as the majestic Knuckles Mountain range
  • Seating Areas placed within the tea estate, ideal for a quiet read, meditation or just to spend some quiet time alone with nature
  • An Organic Vegetable and Herb Garden yielding fresh vegetables and herbs all year round helps our Chef to prepare fresh and delicious meals daily
  • Drivers’ and guides’ live-in quarters with Onsite Parking
  • opportunities for adventure sports with our highly skilled team
  • hiking and trekking through lush tea plantations, forests, paddy fields and water falls. See unique birds and wildlife, plus overnight camping available.

 

 

Our Garden

We understand and respect your need for healthy meals. Therefore, our hotel has a special garden for fruits, vegetables and herbs. It is grown organically with our staff with the support of two gardeners. We do not use synthesized pesticides and fertilizers, and instead, organic pesticides (Neem extract), and manual methods of pest control and organic fertilizers are been used to produce a healthy harvest.

Around 60% of the vegetables and herbs used in the hotel kitchen are harvested from the garden with the careful supervision of our executive chef. We maintain year- round harvest of carrots, chili varieties, green veggies such as spinach, cabbages, gotukola and many more. The varieties of fruits we have are pineapples, avocados, papaya, guava, wild-strawberries and black-berries, mangos, locuts, and citrus-fruits.

Our Chef adopts food preparation methods in Native medicine called Ayurvedha, as he has family background of it, and he is careful to select the best parts of vegetable and fruits in the best levels of their maturity in order to prepare an excellent dish.

 

Experiments

Our garden is also a place for experiments and knowledge dissemination. We have established a demonstration model of a Micro-home garden suitable for estate line-rooms, which was developed collectively by the Extension department of the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya, our staff and the InGaDS Sri-Lanka, our advisor in social responsibility. Already, there are around six micro-home gardens established by the Line house dwellers (in our neighbor community) as a results of the knowledge dissemination trough the demonstration model.

Furthermore, we provide our staff the opportunities in gardening, which in turn become a recreational activity for them after their duties.

 

Contact us:

Madulkelle Tea & Eco Lodge
Madulkelle,
Kandy,
Srilanka.

Telephone: +94 (0)813801052
Fax : +94 (0)719378672
Email : info@madulkelle.com 
Web : www.madulkelle.com

Sri Lanka: Gardens of Paradise

The island paradise of Sri Lanka is renowned for its palm-fringed beaches, misty mountain landscapes, extraordinary wildlife, lush tropical flora and cultural diversity.

Known as the ‘the land of smiles’ Sri Lanka is also steeped in heritage. With a history that dates back over 2,000 years, the island is home to some of Asia’s best preserved monuments and to no fewer than eight UNESCO World Heritage sites. Thanks to its colonial history (Portuguese, Dutch and British), interaction with Arab, Chinese and Malay merchants over the centuries, and the prevailing religions of Buddhism and Hinduism, Sri Lanka is a land of rich traditions, continual festivities and an exotic cuisine.

The garden lover will be amply rewarded by some of the world’s best botanical gardens, ancient Buddhist sites and Royal Hindu ‘pleasure gardens’, fragrant spice and herb gardens, hill country estates and some contemporary private gardens.

AT A GLANCE…
• Tour price includes flights on Singapore Airlines and late check-out on last day
• explore six UNESCO World Heritage listed sites
• enjoy the scenic train trip from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya in the highlands
• stay in a mixture of beachside, lakeside, safari resort and grand historic hotels
• visit botanical, pleasure, herb and private gardens

ITINERARY

Sun 10 Apr 2016 / Australia – Colombo
Depart Australia on Singapore Airlines flights via Singapore. Arrive Colombo at midnight. Transfer to your hotel located in the nearby resort town of Negombo.

Mon 11 Apr / Colombo – Dambulla
After a leisurely start join Fiona for a welcome briefing and introductory talk followed by a welcome lunch with fellow garden lovers.

After lunch drive to Dambulla in the heart of Sri Lanka’s ‘Cultural Triangle’ comprising numerous UNESCO World Heritage cultural sites. (BLD)

Tue 12 Apr / Dambulla
After breakfast, explore Polonnaruwa, which became Sri Lanka’s second capital city in 1070 AD. Under King Parakramabu, who ruled in the late 11th century, Polonnaruwa became a magnificent walled city and is famous for his policy that every drop of rain should be used. An extensive irrigation system with channels and lakes was built. The largest tank is the Parakrama Samudraya or the ‘Sea of Parakrama’, with an area of 2,600 hectares.

In the afternoon visit Sigiriya, or Lion Rock, which was selected for his capital by an obsessed monarch in the 5th century and is an astonishing feat of engineering and construction. The most striking portion of Sigiriya, a terracotta and grey core of rock, rises a sheer 200 metres above a forested plain, its flattened summit sloping gently. A series of moats, ramparts and water gardens – remnants of an ancient city – spread out on two sides of the rock, with the remains of a pair of giant stone lion’s paws still guarding the staircase that leads to the summit, once occupied by a royal palace. (BLD)

Wed 13 Apr / Dambulla – Kandy
Morning visit to the Golden Temple of Dambulla which dates back to the 1st century BC as a centre of pilgrimage for Buddhists and Hindus alike. The Cave monastery, home to Buddhist monks, is covered with exquisite 2,000 year-old murals depicting the life and times of the Lord Buddha. The shrines also house a collection of 157 statues of Buddha in various sizes and poses, including a 15 metre long reclining Buddha and vividly coloured frescoes on the walls and ceiling, making this the largest antique painted surface in the world.

Later, depart for Kandy, en route stopping to visit a private garden. Nestled in the hills at an altitude of 488 metres, Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings. The name Kandy conjures visions of a storied past, splendour, legend, folklore, mystery and traditions lovingly kept alive for countless years. (BD)

Thu 14 Apr / Kandy
Start your exploration of Kandy with a visit to the sacred Temple of the Tooth, which houses one of Buddhism’s most sacred relics and draws followers of the Buddhist faith from all over the world. The Royal Complex situated around the Temple of the Tooth and Kandy Lake – comprising the King’s Palace, the Queen’s Palace, the Audience Hall, the Royal Boathouse and the Royal Summer House, represent the zenith of ancient Sri Lankan architecture.
After lunch at a local restaurant, the afternoon is at leisure to explore Kandy. You may wish to visit a batik factory, gem store or explore Kandy’s main market with fruit, vegetable, tea and spice stalls and fabric shops. Souvenirs, scarves, leatherwork and clothing can also be found in abundance.
(BL)

Fri 15 Apr / Kandy
Following a talk, visit the Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya, which was originally the pleasure gardens of the royalty. Nearly 4,000 species of plants are found in this garden and it is encircled by the Mahaweli River. There is an avenue of coconut palm trees, a spice garden, giant bamboos, rubber trees, an orchid collection and a giant Javan fig tree which covers 1,600 sq metres.

Sri Lanka’s botanic gardens have a long and proud history, punctuated by colonialism, and industrial change. Throughout this period the gardens have continued to flourish, and the plant collections and herbarium grown.

Later, visit 1 – 2 private gardens.

In the evening attend a Kandyan dance performance. Dances include the cobra dance, mask dance and the Ginisila, showing power over fire. The entire frenetic and colourful spectacle climaxes with the amazing fire-walking act.
(BL)

Sat 16 Apr / Kandy – Nuwara Eliya
Depart Kandy in the morning and travel by train to Nuwara Eliya, situated at around 2,000 metres above sea level in the Central Highlands. The town was founded by Samuel Baker as a hill retreat for the British during the colonial era, where typical English pastimes including fox hunting, polo and cricket were played. Several buildings and parks here retain features from the colonial period.

Arrive in Nuwara Eliya early in the afternoon. Time at leisure before visiting the Hill Club (dress code applies), which was founded in 1876 by a British coffee planter, as a home away from home, and is today a privately operated club and hotel. Enjoy a tour of the beautiful gardens followed by dinner. (BLD)

Sun 17 Apr / Nuwara Eliya
Full day exploration of Nurawa Eliya including visits to Victoria Park, a tea plantation and Hakgala Botanical Gardens. Victoria Park at the centre of town comes alive with flowers around March to May and it is also home to quite a number of hill country bird species, including the Kashmir flycatcher, Indian pitta and grey tit.

Sri Lanka is one of the world’s largest exporters of tea. Since the introduction of tea to Sri Lanka in mid 19th century, Nuwara Eliya has been the capital of the tea industry. The rolling mountains of Nuwara Eliya are carpeted by green tea plantations. Visit a tea plantation and a tea factory and observe all about the process of manufacturing tea.

In the afternoon, visit Hakgala Botanical Gardens which were established in 1861 under the patronage of the British. They are located under the Hakgala Peak and are the highest set botanical gardens in the world. There are trees like English Oak, Himalayan Pines, Japanese Cedars and Cypress trees from California.
(BLD)

Mon 18 Apr / Nuwara Eliya – Udawalawe N.P.
Depart Nuwara Eliya for Udawalawe, one of Sri Lanka’s National Parks.

Mid-afternoon arrival and check-in to your safari resort-style hotel, situated just 500 metres from the Ath Athuru Sevana (Elephant Orphanage), and a five minute drive from the Udawalawe National Park.

At dusk, embark on a jeep safari in the national park before returning to the hotel for dinner.
(BLD)

Tue 19 Apr / Udawalawe N.P.
Day at leisure. A wide range of activities are available ranging from half- and full-day jeep safaris, nature tracks, bird watching trails, night safaris etc. During safaris you may see the elusive leopard, elephant, sloth bear, sambar, chital, wild boar, tripe necked, brown and ruddy mongoose, black-naped hare, marsh mugger crocodile and several civet species. The National Park is also a popular bird watching destination.
(BLD)
Wed 20 Apr / Udawalawe N.P. – Galle
A day of travel takes you from Udawalawe N.P. to Galle, an ancient Dutch outpost located on the south western coast of Sri Lanka. The minimalistic, stately and elegant Lighthouse Hotel, your home for the next two nights, was designed by the famous Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. Dinner at the hotel.
(BLD)

Thu 21 Apr / Galle
Following a morning talk, pay a visit to ‘Lunuganga’, the former country home of Geoffrey Bawa. Started in 1947, the garden led Bawa, a lawyer called to the Bar at the Inner Temple in 1940, to decide to become an architect. The garden at Lunuganga estate remained his first muse and experimental laboratory for new ideas.

After lunch at Lunuganga, return to Galle. Afternoon at leisure to explore Galle Fort. (BL)

Fri 22 Apr / Galle – Colombo
Today journey from Galle to Colombo. En route visit ‘Brief’, the former house and garden of lawyer turned landscape architect Bevis Bawa, brother of Geoffrey Bawa. Started in 1929, it is a hillside garden overlooking a former rubber plantation. It contains sculptures by Bevis himself and his many artist friends, including Donald Friend, who went for a weekend and stayed six years. The house is also open to view and contains many wonderful artworks including a magnificent mural of Sri Lankan life by Donald Friend in the style of Chagall.

Continue to Colombo where you will stay at the historic Galle Face hotel. The hotel was built by four British entrepreneurs in 1864. Its name derives from the stretch of lawn which it faces, known as the Galle Face Green. Dinner at the hotel. (BLD)

Sat 23 Apr / Colombo
During a morning tour of Colombo, see the Fort area, the Oriental bazaar at Pettah, numerous Hindu and Buddhist temples and the Jumi Ul Alfar Jumma Mosque as well as the Wolfendhal Dutch Church, Hulftsdorp Law Courts, Independence Square and the Geoffrey Bawa designed Sri Lankan Parliament building. Finish with a visit to the National Museum which houses a large and important collection of Sri Lanka’s cultural and artistic heritage.

Enjoy lunch at the Gallery Café, situated within the former office of Geoffrey Bawa, followed by a visit to Colombo Zoo to attend the Elephant Circus. (BL)

Sun 24 Apr / Depart Colombo
Morning exploration of two or three private gardens of Colombo including an Ayurvedic garden. A light lunch will be served in one of the gardens.

Mid-afternoon return to the hotel for an afternoon and evening at leisure until 9.00 pm check-out and transfer to the airport. (BL)

Mon 25 Apr / Arrive Australia
1.30 am departure from Colombo on Singapore Airlines to Singapore and Australia. Evening arrival in Australia.

The Paradise of Sri Lanka with Michael Bates

ITINERARY

 

DAY 1
Thursday 18 February 2016
Home – Negombo

Meet your tour leaders Michael Bates and Paul Van Reyk at Sydney International Airport. Arrive late to Colombo. Transfer to your hotel in the resort town of Negombo, rich in culture and history. Accommodation: Jetwing Blue, Negombo

DAY 2
Friday 19 February 2016
Negombo – Kandalama (B/D)

Join Paul and Michael for breakfast and then set out for Dambulla within the cultural triangle in the centre of the island. Dating back to the 1st century BC, the Golden Temple of Dambulla has been the centre of pilgrimage for Buddhists and Hindus for 22 centuries! The cave monastery, home to Buddhist monks, is covered with exquisite 2,000 year old murals depicting life and times of Buddha. The shrines also house a collection of 157 statues in various sizes including a reclining Buddha 15m long. Vividly coloured frescos are the largest antique painted surface in the world. Finish our day with a beautiful view of the surrounding countryside. Check into the Heritance, a hotel surrounded by pristine tropical jungle, designed by Geoffrey Bawa and overlooking the magnificent expanse of the Kandalama wewa (part of Sri Lanka’s famous ancient irrigation system) and across to the Sigiriya rock fortress in the distance. The hotel is one kilometre long and the hotels seven floors are unobtrusively set into the mountainside. Hotel boasts 3 swimming pools for relaxing. Welcome dinner tonight.
Accommodation: Heritance, Kandalama

DAY 3
Saturday 20 February 2016
Anuradhapura (B)

Visit the ancient city of Anuradhapura to visit its greatest treasures -dagobas – hemispherical shaped white domes. We’ll swing past the 2250 year old sacred Buddha’s tree of enlightenment – the Bo tree is said to be the oldest tree in the world and protected by UNESCO. Onward to Minintale for a beautiful mountain walk under frangipani trees to discover Buddhist caves.
Accommodation: Heritance, Kandalama

DAY 4
Sunday 21 February 2016
Sigiriya (B/L)

Explore Sigiriya or Lion Rock, a must-see natural wonder of Sri Lanka. Built by an obsessed monarch in the 5th century and an astonishing feat of engineering and construction. Sirigiya rises 200m of sheer core of rock above a forested plain. Discover a series of ancient gardens, moats, ramparts, pools, fountains arranged symmetrically on either side on the rock. Spot the remains or a pair of giant lions paws still guarding the staircase that leads to the summit, once occupied by a royal palace.
Enjoy a lunch cooking demonstration with Paul and the hotel chef.
Accommodation: Heritance, Kandalama

DAY 5
Monday 22 February 2016
Kandalama – Kandy (B/L)

Travel to Kandy stopping en route to visit a coconut rope maker and lunch in a spice garden where you can explore the history, tastes and ayurvedic health uses of spices for which Sri Lanka is renowned. Arrive in Kandy in the afternoon, a town that nestles in the hills at an altitude of 488m and the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings. The name Kandy conjures visions of past, splendour, legend, folklore, mystery and traditions kept alive lovingly for years.
Check in to the breathtaking retreat of Amaya Hills in the verdant mountains of Hanthana, 9km from Kandy, where the architecture is Kandyan palatial style and the 170ft swimming pool is more than tempting!
Accommodation: Amaya Hills, Kandy

DAY 6
Tuesday 23 February 2016
Kandy (B)

This morning visit the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya, which was originally the pleasure garden of royalty. Nearly 4000 species of plants are found in the garden which is encircled by the Mahaweli River. Bandara Palipana, Professor of Botany who has worked in the garden for 25 years, will take us for a walk around the gardens that are famous for their collection of orchids. Afternoon tour of Kandy with its lakeside setting and a visit to the sacred Temple of the Tooth, which houses one of Buddhism’s most sacred relics and attracts followers of the faith from all over the world. The Royal Complex situated around the Temple of the Tooth and Kandy Lake comprises the Kings Palace, Queens Palace, Audience Hall, Boathouse and Royal Summer house, represent a zenith of ancient Sri Lankan architecture.
Accommodation: Amaya Hills, Kandy

DAY 7
Wednesday 24 February 2016
Pinnawala Elephant Sanctuary (B/D)

A special visit to an elephant orphanage today with 75 elephants ranging from newborn to elderly matriarchs, some orphaned, some injured in the wild and others abandoned. We’ll watch them eat, play and bathe in the river.
Back to Kandy for a home visit with a difference, a midula is an open planned house with space for drying the harvest and relaxation.
Dinner tonight at Helga’s Folly.
Accommodation: Amaya Hills, Kandy

DAY 8
Thursday 25 February 2016
Kandy – Nuwara Eliya (B/HT)

Board the train at Peradeniya for one of the most scenic train trips in the world through stunning hills and tea plantations. We’ll get picked up at Nanu Oya station and drive to Nuwana Eliya to spend a relaxing afternoon in the hills and a special high tea at the Hill Club (dress code applies), which was founded in 1876 by a British coffee planter, as a home away from home, and today is a private club and hotel.
Check into the old world charm of Jetwing St Andrews, a former country house, reminiscent of the days of the British Raj – it’s all about English breakfasts, high tea and stiff brandy.
Accommodation: Jetwing St. Andrews

DAY 9
Friday 26 February 2016
Nuwara Eliya (B)

Tour Nuwara Eliya and understand how abundant rainfall, sunshine and cold nights makes the perfect cup of tea. Sri Lanka is one of the world’s largest exporters of tea. Since the introduction of tea in the mid-19th century, Nuwara Eliya has been the capital of the tea industry where rolling mountains in the highlands are carpeted by green tea plantations. Tea plantations abound as we get a little taste of England in the hills with rose gardens and dotted with stone houses. We’ll wander around the Hakgala Botanic Garden and visit a Tea Plantation with tea tasting this afternoon.
Accommodation: Jetwing St. Andrews

DAY 10
Saturday 27 February 2016
Nuwara Eliya – Galle (B)

After breakfast we travel to Galle, an ancient Dutch outpost located on the south western coast of Sri Lanka. Pass by the landacape that was filmed for ‘The Bridge over the River Kwai’ on the Kelani River near Kitulgala which is famous for white water rafting. The minimalistic, stately and elegant Lighthouse Hotel is our home for the next four nights, another hotel designed by Geoffrey Bawa who was responsible for linking the islands ancient architecture with modern modernism. Hotel terraces sweep down to a small sandy bay and unrestrained views of the Indian Ocean. Hotel is famous for local seafood, Japanese delicacies and the very best of Sri Lankan cuisine.
Accommodation: Jetwing Lighthouse, Galle

DAY 11
Sunday 28 February 2016
Galle (B/L)

We discover Galle Fort’s low lined streets and rampart. The fort is a hive of activity and is one of the few World heritage listed sites which thrive with a bustling population, restaurants, shops and galleries, making this a pleasant and leisurely day. Today Chef Nimal and Paul will put on a luncheon cooking class to demonstrate the local lamprais – a great treat. Remainder of the day at leisure.
Accommodation: Jetwing Lighthouse, Galle

DAY 12
Monday 29 February 2016
Galle – Lunuganga (B/L)

Visit the Lunuganga estate, the former country home of Geoffrey Bawa. Started in 1947, the garden led Bawa, originally a lawyer to the bar, to decide to become an architect. The garden in the estate here remained his muse and an experimental laboratory for new and exciting ideas. Explore the garden with Michael leading the charge. Lunch to be taken within the gardens.
Accommodation: Jetwing Lighthouse, Galle

DAY 13
Tuesday 1 March 2016
Galle – Bentota (B/T)

Coastal drive this morning, passing coastal villages to Bentota, where our destination is Bevis Bawa’s Brief garden. The estate is located along the south coast in Bentota. Bevis, Geoffrey’s brother, also an architect and artist, designed and converted what was a rubber plantation, bequeathed to him by his mother in 1929, into the legendary garden it is today. It’s a magical world surrounded by a thick bamboo hedge. The garden is a private wonderland filled with nooks, alcoves and cloisters, and the house quite invisible with a roof completely concealed in white bougainvillea. Beautifully filled with sculptures by Bevis himself and his many artist friends, including Donald Friend, who went for a weekend and stayed for six years. The house also contains many artworks including a magnificent mural of Sri Lankan life by Donald Friend in the style of Chagall. Lunch will be served at the third of our Bawa hotel visits– the Bentota Beach Hotel.
Accommodation: Jetwing Lighthouse, Galle

DAY 14
Wednesday 2 March 2016
Galle – Colombo (B)

After a leisurely morning at the hotel we drive to Colombo. This modern city still retains its old world charm in places. We check into the iconic-historic-colonial Galle Face Hotel located within the heart of Colombo, situated along the seafront facing the famous Galle Face Green. Built in 1864 the hotel reflect the grandeur of the British Colonial period and is one of the oldest hotels east of the Suez, renowned for warm Sri Lankan hospitality.
Accommodation: Galle Face Hotel, Colombo

DAY 15
Thursday 3 March 2016
Colombo (B/D)

Explore the commercial and historic hub of Colombo. The city tour will take in the sights – old city fort, Viharamahadevi Park, Hindu temple at Sea street, Dutch church at Wolfendal and the historial Davatagaha mosque. Drive past the Hulftsdorp Law Courts and Independence Square and Pettah, a noisy oriental bazaar with a mix of chaotic bargain shopping. Afternoon free for shopping for precious gems, clothing and antiques. Enjoy a farewell dinner at Gallery café situated within the former office of Geoffrey Bawa.
Accommodation: Galle Face Hotel, Colombo

DAY 16
Friday 4 March 2016
Colombo – Home (B)

Day at leisure. We have arranged a late checkout. Evening transfer to the airport.

DAY 17
Saturday 5 March 2016
Arrive Home

Evening arrival into Australia.

Jordan and Mediterranean Turkey

ITINERARY

 

DAY 1 Monday 19 October – Arrive Amman
Arrive on recommended group flight Ethiad EY513 departing Abu Dhabi at 0815 and arrive into Amman at around 1025am. On arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel. You will have the opportunity to have a short rest and freshen up before meeting your guide and heading out on an afternoon city tour. Amman is the capital of Jordan, and was known in biblical times as Rabbath Ammon, and under the Ptolemies, as Philadelphia. It is situated on a series of Jebels (meaning hills) and is divided by wadi’s (or dry river beds) into modern and ancient quarters. We will visit the ruins of the Amman amphitheatre, the citadel and the Umayyad Palace. This evening we will join for a welcome dinner. Overnight Qasr Metropole (or similar).
Meals: L,D

DAY 2 Tuesday 20 October – Visit Royal Botanic Gardens of Jordan and Jerash
This morning we will head north of the city and visit the Royal Botanic Gardens of Jordan.
Established in 2005 the Gardens showcase a wide variety of plant species that grow naturally
throughout Jordan. From there we drive to Jerash, where we visit one of the largest and best
preserved Graeco-Roman ruins in the Middle East. The grandeur of Imperial Rome is evident from the extensive remnants of this ancient city. On our return to Amman we will stop for a cool drink and some afternoon tea at the Mountain Breeze Country Club with its lovely views over the surrounding valleys. We return to Amman for dinner and overnight. Overnight Qasr Metropole (or similar)
Meals: B,L,D

DAY 3 Wednesday 21 October – Wadi Mujab, Kerak, Dana Nature Reserve and Petra
After breakfast we drive to Kerak along the Mujib Canyon to visit the well preserved crusader castle with its diverse history dated from the Byzantine to the Mamluk period. We then continue to the Dana Nature Reserve. Apart from its wildlife the reserve is rich with archaeological sites and culture.
We take a guided walk (2-3 hours) to some spectacular viewpoints above Dana Village, exploring the terraced gardens and local community craft workshops. From here we drive to Petra, where we check into our hotel for overnight. Overnight Taybet Zaman, Petra.
Meals: B,L,D

DAY 4 Thursday 22 October – Explore Petra
Chief among Jordan’s archaeological sites is the soul-stirring, rose-red city of Petra, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Petra is the legacy of the Nabataeans, an industrious Arab people who settled in south Jordan more than 2,000 years ago. This morning our visit of the ancient Nabatean Capital starts with a short walk (or optional horse ride at own risk) to the entrance of the Siq, a long narrow fissure between two overhanging cliffs. We then walk through the Siq, with the sudden view of Petra’s most spectacular monument, the Khaznah (or Treasury) appearing dramatically at the end. Our tour gradually exlores the mysteries of the ancient city with its Royal Tombs and burial chambers. No matter how many pictures of the Rose Red City  you have seen, it will surpass your wildest expectations to see it for real. We return to our hotel in the evening. Overnight Taybet Zaman, Petra.
Meals: B,L,D

DAY 5 Friday 23 October – Explore Petra
Today we have our second visit to the ancient city of Petra, this time visiting the Monastery and the High Place of Sacrifices. There are many steps involved today as these specific sites are located at the top of ridgelines but the climbs are worth it. We overnight again at the same hotel. Overnight Taybet Zaman, Petra.
Meals: B,L,D

DAY 6 Saturday 24 October – Explore Beida and Wadi Rum
Our first stop this morning is Beidha, also known as Little Petra. This is the place where the
Nabateans used to entertain their guests in the 1st and 2nd centuries BC but it is believed this
ancient settlement had its origins in the 11th century BC. After a short visit here we drive south to the enchanting desert of Wadi Rum, Jordan’s largest desert and one of the most spectacular desert landscapes in the world. It is a unique valley of colored sand dunes surrounded by beautiful rugged mountains. We enjoy an incredible jeep safari through this dramatic landscape. In the late afternoon we reach our Bedouin campsite and delight in a traditional dinner. Overnight Rahayeb Camp.
Meals: B,L,D

DAY 7 Sunday 25 October – To Dead Sea, Madaba, Mt Nebo
After breakfast we head out of the Wadi Rum transfer to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the surface of the earth. En route we stop to visit the Christian Town of Madaba, “The City of Mosaics”, best known for its beautiful Byzantine-era mosaics, including the ‘Madaba Map’, a 6th century mosaic map of the Holy Land. From here we take a detour to visit the Monastery in Mount Nebo, a high hill overlooking the Dead Sea from where Moses is said to have seen the Promised Land. On our arrival at the Dead Sea, the afternoon will be at leisure to take a dip and float in its salty waters. Tonight we will enjoy our final meal together in Jordan. Overnight Crowne Plaza, Dead Sea.
Meals: B,L,D

DAY 8 Monday 26 October – Fly Amman to Istanbul
This morning we check out of our hotel and transfer to the airport for our flight to Istanbul. We depart Amman on Royal Jordanian RJ165 at 1120 and arrive into Istanbul at 1345. Formerly known as Constantinople, Istanbul was the hub of the Ottoman Empire and many of the grand buildings of this period are still present. Later this afternoon you will meet your Turkish guide and have enjoy a trip briefing before heading out for dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight Ottoman Imperial Hotel (or similar).
Meals: B,D

DAY 9 Tuesday 27 October – Sightseeing in Istanbul
Today we will explore the old Sultanahmet Area. We visit the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Grand (Covered) Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar. All sights located on the historical peninsula and within walking distance to our Hotel. Overnight Ottoman Imperial Hotel (or similar).
Meals: B

DAY 10 Wednesday 28 October – Bosphorus, Istanbul Modern Art Gallery, Bebek & Rumeli Hisari
After breakfast we continue our fascinating tour through Istanbul. This morning we will take a ferry (public) to explore the Bosphorus. In the afternoon we will visit the Istanbul Modern Art Gallery and explore the historic Bebek area and Rumeli Hisari (Fortress) with fantastic views to the Bosphorus. Depending on our time we will enjoy lunch at the Istanbul Modern (own expense). In the afternoon we will enjoy a drink atop the fabulous rooftop bar of the Bebek Hotel with its glorious views over the river. Overnight Ottoman Imperial Hotel (or similar)
Meals: B

DAY 11 Thursday 29 October – Botanic Gardens and Fish Markets
Today we spend time this morning in the famous Heilbronn Botanic Garden of the University of Istanbul. The oldest botanic garden in Turkey, it was established 75 years ago by a trio of scientists who fled Hitler’s regime in Germany and came to Istanbul at the invitation of Ataturk (NOTE: A visit to The Gardens must be arranged with officials in advance. A confirmation of this visit will be received 8-10 weeks prior to the trip departure). We will also visit the vibrant and lively Balik Pazari (Fish Bazaar) and see, smell and sample and incredible array of fish, vegetables and local delicacies. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Meals: B

DAY 12 Friday 30 October – Fly to Dalaman and transfer to Kas. Afternoon boat trip to Kekova Island, Simena Castle & Sunken City
This morning we will take an early flight to Dalaman in Southern Turkey. On arrival we will transfer to Kas (approx 2.5 hours). Kas was one of the most important cities of ancient Lycia and is now a small tourist town with great historical interest. Its quaint town centre has a rocky waterfront with good beaches nearby. After checking in to our hotel we will transfer to the harbour and enjoy an afternoon excursion by boat to see the ruins on the northern coast of Kekova island. Kekova is the name of a region of fascinating islands, bays and ancient cities. Along the shore of the Island some of the old houses were completely submerged due to earthquakes during the Byzantine period. We motor (by boat) around the island where you can see remains submerged under the water. We walk up to the Simena castle rewarding us with panoramic views of the surrounding area. We return to Kas for overnight. Overnight Hotel Club Barbarossa (or similar)
Meals: B,L,D

DAY 13 Saturday 31 October – Visit Lake Avlan & Alacadag and the ancient city Myra
Today we drive to the north to Lake Avlan area, with a lovely mosaic of vegetation; a back road takes us up to the Sinekcibeli Pass where we can see the cedar and juniper clad mountains below the region’s highest peak, the Kizlar Sivrisi. Across the valley Baba Mountain rises, it is particularly impressive as on its western side it drops almost vertically into the sea. It has a most marvellous flora too with abundant Colchicum boissieri and Crocus pallasii. We will explore this area on foot where all around are the glowing colors of autumn and expansive views of the Mediterranean below. In the late afternoon we drive back to Kas, on our way we take time to visit the ancient city of Myra which has some of the best preserved Lycian rock tombs. Overnight Club Hotel Barbarossa (or similar), Kas.
Meals: B,L,D

DAY 14 Sunday 1 November – Drive to Antalya via Kemer Valley, Beycik Koyu and Phaselis
Today we leave Kas and drive to Antalya. En-route we will take time to visit Kemer Valley and Beycik Koyu and the ancient ruins of Phaselis In the area of Kemer Valley and Beycik Koyu it is possible to see widespread crocus cancellatus amidst a variety of ferns and late blooming silenes and dianthus. In the late afternoon we will arrive in Antalya, often referred to as the Turkish Riviera because of the archaeological and natural riches of the area. The sun, sea, natural environment and history combine to form a very popular area. The 630km shoreline of the province is liberally scattered with ancient cities, harbours, memorial tombs and beaches, secluded coves and lush forests. Antalya iteslf, with its palm-lined boulevard, internationally-acclaimed marina, museums and the old castle, makes it a major tourist city. Today the historical old city of Antalya known as Kaleici. We spend the next 2 nights in Antalya at the Aspen Boutique Hotel (or similar). Approx 200km driving.
Meals: B,L,D

DAY 15 Monday 2 November – Explore Kaleici, Antalya Museum and ancient Termessos
This morning we will explore the old city centre of Antalya, known as Kaleici with its narrow cobbled streets and historic Ottoman era houses. The old town has been restored to retain much of its historical character and in and around the Kaleici area you can find traces of Lycian, Pamphylian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Seljuk architecture and cultures. We will also visit the world class Antalya Museum, with its impressive collection and open air galleries. In the afternoon we drive to the ancient site of Termessos, 34 km north west of Antalya in a rugged mountain valley with jaw dropping position and views. Termessos was an ancient fortified Pisidian city and is protected as a National Park.  As a result, its limestone hillsides have some of the most diverse flora in south-western Turkey. We spend time exploring and walking around this (reasonably spread out) site. We return to our hotel in the late afternoon. Overnight Aspen Boutique Hotel (or similar).
Meals: B,L,D

DAY 16 Tuesday 3 November – Ancient Aspendos, Akseki Road and Ibradi village
We will have an early start today and drive to the area around Akseki. On the way we take time to visit ancient Aspendos known for having one of the best-preserved Roman theatres in Turkey and where people still come to see plays or theatre performed. Akseki is the oldest district in the province of Antalya and has an appearance that befits its location in the rugged Taurus mountains, in a forested and very rocky area. The history of Akseki extends back to the Roman era. The Akseki Road and Ibradi village are a rich hunting ground for naturalists. In autumn this is great crocus country and we will have a chance to see many colourful species on our visit today. We will visit one of the most bulb-rich areas with populations of the endemic crocus. In the late afternoon we will return to Antalya and have time to freshen up before enjoying a final farewell meal together. Overnight Aspen Boutique Hotel (or similar).
Meals: B,L,D

DAY 17 Wednesday 4 November – Trip Concludes Istanbul.
Our trip concludes today after breakfast. You will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Istanbul and onward flight home. Recommended group flight departing Istanbul on Ethiad EY096 at 1425 and arrive Abu Dhabi at 1950. Connect with EY454 departing Abu Dhabi at 2150, arrive Sydney EY454 at around 1740 (+1)
Meals: B

India and Bhutan with Peter Whitehead

ITINERARY

 

DAY 1
Thursday 26 November 2015
Home – Kolkata (D)

Meet Ross Tour Leader Peter Whitehead at Sydney Airport for our flight to Kolkata. Rest of the day at leisure. Spend the next 2 nights in Kolkata.
Accommodation: Overnight in Kolkata

DAY 2
Friday 27 November 2015
Kolkata (B/L)

We’ll take a walking tour of North Kolkata to the Marble Palace, then Kumartuli, a potter’s village, Jorasanko, the ancestral home of Rabindranath Tagore, and finally the Jain Temple. Enjoy dinner cruise on Hooghly River.
Accommodation: Overnight in Kolkata

DAY 3
Saturday 28 November 2015
Kolkata – Guwahati (B/L/D)

Morning flight to Guwahati in beautiful Assam. Begin with a sightseeing tour. Visit Kamakhya temple on top of Nilachal Hill. Nobel Laureate Tragore’s ancestral home. See the poignant Commonwealth War Graves cemetery before embarking on our cruise vessel. Set sail aboard our river boat, home for the next five nights.
Accommodation: Overnight on board

DAY 4
Sunday 29 November 2015
Cruise (B/L/D)

The day will be spent mostly cruising upstream with jungle-covered hills rising on either side. Time to pause and visit the north bank village of Khirakata, with its lush green fields of vegetables.
Accommodation: Overnight on board

DAY 5
Monday 30 November 2015
Cruise (B/L/D)

Leaving the hills behind, we will enjoy our first taste of the wilderness experience. See weavers at work in their homes and production of jaggary from sugar cane juice. Moor for the night with the Himalayas in view.
Accommodation: Overnight on board

DAY 6
Tuesday 1 December 2015
Cruise (B/L/D)

Today we’ll reach Tezpur, visit the 6th century Da Parbatia temple ruins. Explore the town by cycle rickshaw. Stop at Cole Park with medieval stone carvings, and pass by the bungalow where tea pioneer Alexander Bruce lived.
Accommodation: Overnight on board

DAY 7
Wednesday 2 December 2015
Cruise (B/L/D)

We drive to the Nameri NP at the foot of the blue hills of Arunachal Pradesh. Take a float trip down the Jia Bhoreli River through the park, while looking out for the great hornbills and wild elephant.
Accommodation: Overnight on board

DAY 8
Thursday 3 December 2015
Guwahati – Kaziranga (B/L/D)

Continue upstream to moor at Steemer Ghat. Disembark the ship onto the wild and untamed Kaziranga NP. Check into our lodge. After lunch we drive to Kaziranga’s Western Range for a jeep safari. Next 2 nights in Kaziranga.
Accommodation: Overnight in Kaziranga

DAY 9
Friday 4 December 2015
Kaziranga (B/L/D)

An early rise and adventure to Kaziranga’s Central Range for an early morning elephant ride, we think this is the best way to get really close to the rhinos. After breakfast drive to a Mising tribal village, then visit a tea estate. After lunch we take a jeep safari in the little visited Eastern Range.
Accommodation: Overnight in Kaziranga

DAY 10
Saturday 5 December 2015
Kaziranga – Siliguri (B)

Drive to Guwahati for our flight to Bagdogra. On arrival we will be met by local guide and drive to Siliguri.
Accommodation: Overnight in Siliguri

DAY 11
Sunday 6 December 2015
Darjeeling (B/L/D)

Travel to Darjeeling to experience the World Heritage Listed Toy Train, a beautiful blue British built steam locomotive on our Darjeeling Hill Rail trip. Afternoon walk to Observatory Hill and Bhutia Basti. Darjeeling for the next 2 nights.
Accommodation: Overnight in Darjeeling

DAY 12
Monday 7 December 2015
Darjeeling (B/L/D)

Early morning visit Tiger Hill and Ghoom Monastery, After breakfast visit Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Zoological Park and Tibetan Refuge Centre.
Accommodation: Overnight in Darjeeling

DAY 13
Tuesday 8 December 2015
Darjeeling – Paro, Bhutan (B/D)

Drive to Bagdogra Airport for flight from Bagdogra to Paro. The flight into Bhutan is one of a kind giving us a taste of our upcoming adventure. Look down over the Himalayan ranges. Meet our local guide who will take us to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. Dinner in a local restaurant. Thimphu Hotel for 2 nights.
Accommodation: Thimphu Hotel, Paro

DAY 14
Wednesday 9 December 2015
Thimphu (B/D)

We explore Thimpu’s cultural sites. See the world’s largest book in the National Library and Folk Heritage Museum. We’ll walk to the revered National Memorial chorten and the lively weekend market.
Accommodation: Thimphu Hotel, Paro

DAY 15
Thursday 10 December 2015
Thimphu – Trongsa (B/D)

This morning we drive to Dochu-la pass to view the high Himalayan peaks towards the north east. Stop at Wangduephodrang town for lunch, then continue on to Tongsa across Pele-la pass. Stop en route at Chendebji Chorten. Arrive at Trongsa late afternoon.
Accommodation: Overnight at Trongsa

DAY 16
Friday 11 December 2015
Trongsa – Bumthang (B/D)

Walk by famous Trongsa Dzong, home to superb artworks and architecture. Drive to Bumthang over the Yutong-la pass (3,400m). After lunch visit Kurje Lhakhang, Jambey Lhakhang (7th century), Tamshing Monastery and Jakar Dzong.
Accommodation: Overnight at Bumthang

DAY 17
Saturday 12 December 2015
Bumthang – Punakha (B/D)

Explore the valley of Bumthang and Punakha, stopping along the way at Tongsa for lunch. Visit Wangduephodrang Dzong and town en route to Punakha.
Accommodation: Overnight at Punakha

DAY 18
Sunday 13 December 2015
Punakha – Paro (B/D)

Morning visit to Punakha Dzong, a massive structure built at the junction of two rivers. The Dzong has withstood damage from fire, earthquake and flood over the centuries. Drive to charming Paro. Stay in Paro for 2 nights.
Accommodation: Overnight at Paro

DAY 19
Monday 14 December 2015
Paro (B/D)

Hike to the famous Tiger’s Nest Temple. After lunch, we drive up the valley to Drukgyel Dzong, built in 1647 by the Shabdrung to commemorate the Bhutanese victory over the Tibetans in the war of 1644. En route visit Kyichu Lhakhang, built in the 7th century, then visits to the National Museum, and Paro Dzong, built in 1646. Overnight in Paro.
Accommodation: Overnight at Paro

DAY 20
Tuesday 15 December 2015
Paro – Kolkata (B)

Morning flight back to Kolkata, India. On arrival we’ll be met and transferred to our hotel. Rest of the day at leisure.
Accommodation: Overnight in Kolkata

DAY 21
Wednesday 16 December 2015
Kolkata – Home (B)

Our homeward bound journey starts today.

DAY 22
Thursday 17 December 2015
Arrive Home

Gardens of North India

DAY 1
Tuesday 17 February 2015
Home – Delhi (D)
Your Ross Garden Tour leaders Peter and Hilary Whitehead will meet you at Sydney International Airport for the Singapore Airlines flight to New Delhi.
India’s dynamic capital is a thrilling mix of old and new. It’s both a modern capital and an ancient city, continuously inhabited for more than 26 centuries. Fittingly we are staying in a hotel that combines fascinating history with contemporary appeal. The Imperial has won plenty of awards, including ‘Best Luxury Hotel in India’ in the World Luxury Hotel Awards. You’ll love the stories embedded in the walls here. This is where Mountbatten met Ghandi and Nehru to discuss the partition of India for instance, and the Nehru family kept a permanent suite in the hotel. We’ll explore a little of what the Imperial has always offered its guests. Enjoy the welcome dinner this evening.
Accommodation: Hotel Imperial, Delhi

DAY 2
Wednesday 18 February 2015
Delhi (B/L)
We’ll visit the astonishing, 70m-high Qutb Minar complex. This 12th century monument marks the site of the first Muslim kingdom in northern India.
Then a visit to the 16th century tomb of the 2nd Mughal Emperor, Humayun, which is tucked away in 100 acres of glorious Mughal gardens. This is the building which is said to have inspired the design of the Taj Mahal!
Lunch is at The Lodi Gardens, a calm space amid the chaos and crowds of Delhi. After lunch we’ll wander through the gardens, which are filled with water features, fountains and monuments. We’ll have a chance to get some great shots of the majestic neem trees that are such a feature of Delhi. Tonight we are free to relax and enjoy the luxury of the Imperial, or to head out and explore some of Delhi’s delights.
Accommodation: Hotel Imperial, Delhi

DAY 3
Mon 17 Feb 14
Delhi (B/L)
We start our day in Old Delhi, an area rich in cultural heritage. After a moment of reflection and serenity at the beautiful 17th C Jama Masjid we’ll immerse ourselves in the frenetic pace of Meena Bazaar and Chandni Chowk, a souk-like bazaar of narrow streets and crowded alleyways. Having had a glimpse into daily life in Old Delhi we’ll meet up with a food expert for a visit to Asia’s largest wholesale spice market, Khari Baoli. This is total sensory overload as spices, pickles and chutneys scent the air and the place teems with rickshaws, spice dealers and shoppers. It looks like chaos but has a logic all of its own. After all, it’s worked for hundreds of years!
We can’t leave this part of the old city without a walk through the Paranthe Wali Gali – literally ‘The lane of fried bread’! Delicious traditional parathas are sold here, accompanied by chutneys and curries.
After an exhilarating rickshaw ride through the narrow lanes of the old city to the exterior of the Red Fort, we’ll visit the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial at Raj Ghat on the banks of the Yamuna River.
The rest of the afternoon is yours to relax by the pool, try out the Imperial’s award-winning spa or consult the in-house Vedic astrologer. Later in the afternoon you might like to join us in a visit to the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib Sikh Temple, to witness the devotees at prayer, and check out the temple’s amazing communal kitchen.
Accommodation: Hotel Imperial, Delhi

DAY 4
Friday 20 February 2015
Delhi (B/L)
We’ll tour New Delhi this morning, with a stop at India Gate, which was built in memory of the Indian Soldiers who died in WW1, Rajpath and Parliament. Edward Lutyens, the architect best known to garden lovers for his collaborations with Gertrude Jekyll, designed these buildings and this part of the city.
This afternoon we’re off to Birla House, where Mahatma Gandhi spent the last 144 days of his life and where he was assassinated on January 30, 1948. Nearby is Birla Temple, built in 1938 and dedicated to Laxmi, the goddess of prosperity, and to Narayana, the preserver. As Gandhi decreed, this is a temple for all castes.
We’ll end the day with a stroll through lively Connaught Place, a business HQ that was developed as a showpiece of Lutyens’ Delhi. Today, CP’s buildings house the world’s fifth most expensive office space.
Accommodation: Hotel Imperial, Delhi

DAY 5
Saturday 21 February 2015
Delhi – Agra (B)
This morning we head for Agra, on the legendary Grand Trunk Road. This road has linked the east and west of the subcontinent for more than two thousand years. We’ll pause on the outskirts of Agra to visit the tomb of Emperor Akbar the Great. This patron of art and architecture was the 3rd Mughal Emperor and his tomb is surrounded by magnificent formal gardens decorated by palms and neem trees, as well as by birds and deer.
Agra was the seat of the Imperial Mughal court during the 16th and 17th centuries and has many wonderful examples of Mughal architecture. Our hotel, ITC Mughal is the only Indian hotel to have won the prestigious Aga Khan award for its excellent representation of Mughal architecture. It’s set in 35 acres of gardens and is close to the Taj Mahal.
In the late afternoon we’ll visit what’s called the ‘Mini Taj’, the Itmad-ud-Daulah, a peaceful mausoleum surrounded by formal Mughal gardens on the banks of the Yamuna River.
Accommodation: ITC Mughal Hotel, Agra

DAY 6
Sunday 22 February 2015
Agra (B/D)
We’ll rise early for the unforgettable sight of the glorious Taj Mahal at sunrise. This magnificent ‘monument to love’ was built by Emperor Shah Jehan for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It has been described by UNESCO as ‘the jewel of Muslim art in India’ and it’s bound to be a highlight of your tour.
We’ll head back to the hotel for a late breakfast, then visit Agra Fort on the banks of the Yamuna River. The great Mughal Emperor Akbar built the fort in 1565 and it is the site of Emperor Shah Jehans’ imprisonment. The site offers a different view of the Taj Mahal.
A short drive away is the Mehtab Bagh gardens. This ancient garden has been partially restored with plants of the Mughal era but that’s not the real reason we’re here. The gardens are across the river and perfectly aligned with the Taj Mahal. Having started the day with a view of the Taj painted in dawn pink, we’ll finish it relaxing as we watch sunset’s golden light wash over it.
Accommodation: ITC Mughal Hotel, Agra

DAY 7
Monday 23 February 2015
Agra – Ranthambore (B/L/D)
Today we’ll head to Fatehpur Sikri, the 16th century capital of the Mughal rulers, which was ultimately abandoned due to lack of water. This magnificent series of buildings is built entirely from red sandstone and seems to glow.
We’ll lunch at Chandra Mahal Haveli and take the afternoon train Bharatpur Railway to Ranthambore.
Accommodation: Nahargarth, Ranthambore

DAY 8
Tuesday 24 February 2015
Ranthambore (B/L/D)
We’ll be up early this morning for a safari! Ranthambore National Park, in the rolling Aravali Hills, is home to sambar deer, monkeys, spotted deer, black buck, nilgai, and many species of birds. If we’re lucky we might even spot a tiger!
You can snooze or enjoy yourself in the hotel for the rest of the day, before a late afternoon safari, following a different route through the park.
Accommodation: Nahargarth, Ranthambore

DAY 9
Wednesday 25 February 2015
Ranthambore – Jaipur (B/L)
Travel to Jaipur and check in to our hotel, the magnificent Taj Rambagh Palace set amongst 47 acres of gardens, fountains and strutting peacocks.
Out option this evening is to dine in traditional surroundings under the hospitality of a noble family of the Jairpur state. Located in a heritage home surrounded with frescos and scalloped architecture, Peter and Hillary will help you on a step-by-step discovery, dining on a colourful array of local delicacies particular to the Rajasthani culture.
Accommodation: Taj Rambagh Palace, Jaipur

DAY 10
Thursday 26 February 2015
Jaipur (B/L)
Jaipur is affectionately referred to as the Pink City because of the pink walls and buildings of the old city, lures visitors with its stunning remnants of a bygone era. We’ll visit the most popular Jaipur attractions today: ancient palaces and forts, with elaborate architecture that serves as a resplendent reminder of their royal heritage.
A short distance from our hotel is the fairytale hilltop Amber Fort, overlooking Maota Lake, and it’s our first stop this morning. The fort entrance is reached by walking up the hill, going in a jeep, or taking a lurching elephant ride. We’ll get a glimpse of Mughal luxury, circa 1592, in its royal apartments, mirrored halls, intricate marble inlays and fascinating courtyard gardens. Lunch is at Spice.
On our return to Jaipur we’ll visit the ancient City Palace, a huge complex of courtyards, gardens, and buildings blend both Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. Inside the City Palace complex is a museum, art gallery, and interesting displays of royal costumes and old Indian weapons.
Nearby is the ornate Hawa Mahal, ‘The Palace of the Winds’ which is surrounded by a labyrinth of bazaars – and great shopping opportunities! Legend has it that the palace, which overlooks the main street of Jaipur’s lively Old City, was built so that the women of the royal household could watch the streets below without being observed. A panoramic view can be had from the top of the building.
We’ll load the shopping bags on the coach and then visit the outdoor Jantar Mantar Astronomical Observatory, which was built in the early 1700s. The massive complex is perfectly preserved, and you’ll be amazed at how accurate its huge devices are.
There are more shopping opportunities tonight when we wander the shopping streets of old Jaipur. Some of the most popular items are precious gemstones, silver jewelry, bangles, clothes, blue pottery, and textiles.
Accommodation: Taj Rambagh Palace, Jaipur

DAY 11
Friday 27 February 2015
Jaipur (B/L/D)
We’ll see two exquisite gardens today. We head to the outskirts of Jaipur to visit Kanak Ghati, a sacred hindi temple surrounded by flowers and alluring waterfalls. Next up the Royal Palace Garden.
We’ll lunch at Dera Mandawa, then drive to Dera Amber for a private elephant safari through the somnolent countryside. We’ll clamber off the elephants and dine at a country farm owned by a renowned Jaipur family.
Accommodation: Taj Rambagh Palace, Jaipur

DAY 12
Saturday 28 February 2015
Jaipur – Samode (B/L)
Drive this morning to the stunning Samode Palace, our home for the next two days. This palace, set in a deep gully surrounded by dramatic hills, was the setting for scenes in the film ‘The Far Pavillions’. Its storybook perfect and you’ll have a great day exploring and enjoying the beauty of the hotel. You might also like to venture outside the palace walls and wander through the fascinating village of Samode.
Accommodation: Samode Palace, Samode

DAY 13
Sunday 1 March 2015
Samode (B/L)
We’ll take a jeep safari this morning through the villages and farmlands around Samode. This is an opportunity to see typical Indian rural life up close – farmers tending their fields, camels carting produce and village women in richly coloured saris.
We’ll lunch at Samode Bagh, another hotel with glorious Mughal gardens, then head back to the Palace to relax and enjoy our last evening here.
Accommodation: Samode Palace, Samode

DAY 14
Monday 2 March 2015
Samode – Delhi (B)
After breakfast we’ll have to tear ourselves away from Samode for our journey back to Delhi. We have free time today to relax and enjoy Delhi.
Accommodation: Hotel Imperial, Delhi

DAY 15
Tuesday 3 March 2015
Delhi (B/D)
We visit Hauz Khas which means ‘The Royal Tank’ referring to the large water reservoir built in 13th C. A visit to Dilli Haat will excite as we wonder at the open handicraft bazaar and food plaza. We’ill have free time to do any last minute shopping or exploring more of the wonders of Delhi.
Farewell dinner at a Veda restaurant.
Accommodation: Hotel Imperial, Delhi

DAY 16
Wednesday 4 March 2015
Delhi – Home (B)
The National Museum is first this morning, the largest in India. The rest of the day will be at leisure ready for our late check out from our rooms at 6pm. International transfer to board of flight back home with the group.
DAY 17
Thursday 5 March 2015
Home (inflight)
Arrive home today.

Gardens of Northern India

DAY 1 – Sat 15 Feb 14 Home – Delhi inflight   Your Ross Garden Tour leaders Peter and Hilary Whitehead will meet you at Sydney International Airport for the Singapore Airlines flight to New Delhi.
India’s dynamic capital is a thrilling mix of old and new. It’s both a modern capital and an ancient city, continuously inhabited for more than 26 centuries. Fittingly we are staying in a hotel that combines fascinating history with contemporary appeal. The Imperial has won plenty of awards, including ‘Best Luxury Hotel in India’ in the World Luxury Hotel Awards. You’ll love the stories embedded in the walls here. This is where Mountbatten met Ghandi and Nehru to discuss the partition of India for instance, and the Nehru family kept a permanent suite in the hotel. We’ll explore a little of what the Imperial has always offered its guests.
 Accommodation: Hotel Imperial, Delhi

DAY 2 – Sun 16 Feb 14 Delhi (B/L)
     Tour New Delhi this morning, with a stop at India Gate, Rajpath and Parliament. Edward Lutyens, the architect best known to garden lovers for his collaborations with Gertrude Jekyll, designed these buildings and this part of the city.
Visit the 16th century tomb of the 2nd Mughal Emperor, Humayun, which is tucked away in 100 acres of glorious Mughal gardens. This is the building which is said to have inspired the design of the Taj Mahal!
Lunch is at The Lodi Gardens, a calm space amid the chaos and crowds of Delhi. After lunch we’ll wander through the gardens, which are filled with water features, fountains and monuments.
In the afternoon, we’ll drive to the astonishing, 70m-high Qutb Minar complex. This 12th century monument marks the site of the first Muslim kingdom in northern India.
 Accommodation: Hotel Imperial, Delhi

DAY 3 – Mon 17 Feb 14 Delhi (B/L)     
Old Delhi with the beautiful 17th C Jama Masjid then the frenetic pace of Meena Bazaar and Chandni Chowk, a souk-like bazaar of narrow streets and crowded alleyways. Visit Asia’s largest wholesale spice market, Khari Baoli, then a walk through the Paranthe Wali Gali – literally ‘The lane of fried bread’!
Rickshaw ride through the narrow lanes of the old city to the exterior of the Red Fort, and the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial at Raj Ghat on the banks of the Yamuna River.
Relax by the pool, try out the Imperial’s award-winning spa or consult the in-house Vedic astrologer, and join us in a visit to the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib Sikh Temple, to witness the devotees at prayer, and check out the temple’s amazing communal kitchen.
 Accommodation: Hotel Imperial, Delhi

DAY 4 – Tue 18 Feb 14 Delhi (B/L)     
Birla House, where Mahatma Gandhi spent the last 144 days of his life and then nearby is Birla Temple, built in 1938. As Gandhi decreed, this is a temple for all castes.
End the day with a stroll through lively Connaught Place, a business HQ that was developed as a showpiece of Lutyens’ Delhi. Today, CP’s buildings house the world’s fifth most expensive office space.
 Accommodation: Hotel Imperial, Delhi
DAY 5 – Wed 19 Feb 14 Delhi – Agra (B)
Head for Agra, on the legendary Grand Trunk Road with a pause on the outskirts of Agra to visit the tomb of Emperor Akbar the Great, surrounded by magnificent formal gardens decorated by palms and neem trees, as well as by birds and deer.
Agra was the seat of the Imperial Mughal court during the 16th and 17thcenturies and has many wonderful examples of Mughal architecture. Our hotel, ITC Mughal is the only Indian hotel to have won the prestigious Aga Khan award for its excellent representation of Mughal architecture. It’s set in 35 acres of gardens and is close to the Taj Mahal.
 Accommodation: ITC Mughal Hotel, Agra

DAY 6 – Thu 20 Feb 14 Agra (B)
     The Taj Mahal at sunrise – the magnificent ‘monument to love’ built by Emperor Shah Jehan for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It has been described by UNESCO as ‘the jewel of Muslim art in India’ and it’s bound to be a highlight of your tour.
Visit Agra Fort, built in 1565, on the banks of the Yamuna River.
Visit the ‘Mini Taj’, the Itmad-ud-Daulah, a peaceful mausoleum surrounded by formal Mughal gardens on the banks of the Yamuna River and the ancient Mehtab Bagh gardens. The gardens are across the river and perfectly aligned with the Taj Mahal. Having started the day with a view of the Taj painted in dawn pink, we’ll finish it relaxing as we watch sunset’s golden light wash over it.
Accommodation: ITC Mughal Hotel, Agra

DAY 7 – Fri 21 Feb 14 Agra – Jaipur (B/L)     
Fatehpur Sikri, the 16th century capital of the Mughal rulers, which was abandoned due to lack of water. This magnificent series of buildings is built entirely from red sandstone and seems to glow.
Lunch at The Bagh in Bharatpur, which is set in 200-year old gardens, and then continue on to Jaipur and check in to our hotel, the magnificent Taj Rambagh Palace set amongst 47 acres of gardens, fountains and strutting peacocks.
 Accommodation: Taj Rambagh Palace, Jaipur

DAY 8 – Sat 22 Feb 14 Jaipur (B/L)     
Hilltop Amber Fort, for a glimpse of Mughal luxury, circa 1592, in its royal apartments, mirrored halls, intricate marble inlays and fascinating courtyard gardens.
Jaipur – visit the ancient City Palace museum, ornate Hawa Mahal, ‘The Palace of the Winds’ which is surrounded by a labyrinth of bazaars – and great shopping opportunities!
Outdoor Jantar Mantar Astronomical Observatory, which was built in the early 1700s.
There are more shopping opportunities tonight when we wander the shopping streets of old Jaipur. 
Accommodation: Taj Rambagh Palace, Jaipur

DAY 9 – Sun 23 Feb 14 Jaipur (B/L/D)
     We’ll see two exquisite Mughal gardens today, starting off with Ram Niwas Gardens. Here the lawns, pools, fountains and flowerbeds are seen in the context of a wonderful backdrop of heritage buildings. Our second call is to the Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh Gardens, constructed in 1728 as a multi-tiered garden of pavilions, fountains and rills.
We’ll lunch in a local restaurant, then drive to Dera Amber for a private elephant safari through the somnolent countryside. We’ll clamber off the elephants and dine at a country farm owned by a renowned Jaipur family.
 Accommodation: Taj Rambagh Palace, Jaipur

DAY 10 – Mon 24 Feb 14  Jaipur – Ranthambore (B/L/D)     
Travel to Ranthambore. Keep your eyes open for deer, monkeys and hyena.
 Accommodation: Taj Sawaimadhopur, Ranthambore

DAY 11 – Tue 25 Feb 14  Ranthambore (B/L/D)
     An early morning safari to Ranthambore National Park, in the rolling Aravali Hills, home to sambar deer, monkeys, spotted deer, black buck, nilgai, and many species of birds. If we’re lucky we might even spot a tiger!
You can snooze or enjoy yourself in the hotel for the rest of the day, before a late afternoon safari, following a different route through the park. 
Accommodation: Taj Sawaimadhopur, Ranthambore

DAY 12 – Wed 26 Feb 14   Ranthambore – Samode (B/L)     
Drive this morning to the stunning Samode Palace, set in a deep gully surrounded by dramatic hills, and the setting for scenes in the film ‘The Far Pavillions’.
 Accommodation: Samode Palace, Samode

DAY 13 – Thu 27 Feb 14  Samode (B/L)
     Jeep safari through the villages and farmlands around Samode, an opportunity to see typical Indian rural life up close – farmers tending their fields, camels carting produce and village women in richly coloured saris.
Lunch at Samode Bagh, another hotel with glorious Mughal gardens.
 Accommodation: Samode Palace, Samode

DAY 14 – Fri 28 Feb 14  Samode – Delhi (B/D)
     Journey back to Delhi with free time today to relax before a farewell dinner this evening.
Accommodation: Hotel Imperial, Delhi

DAY 15 – Sat 1 Mar 14   Delhi – Home(B)     
Free time for last minute shopping or exploring the wonders of Delhi. Afternoon transfer to airport.

DAY 16 – Sun 2 Mar 14  Home (inflight)
     Arrive home today.