Essential INDIA

Timeless Treasures & Traditions,

including the Maha Kumbh Mela

January 20–February 7, 2025

Join our Footsteps of the Buddha tour and visit the Mahabodhi temple at Bodhgaya.

Essential INDIA

Timeless Treasures & Traditions,

including the Maha Kumbh Mela

January 20–February 7, 2025

Journey into the essence of India on this all-inclusive small group tour of North and South India, including exclusive access to the iconic Maha Kumbh Festival in Prayagraj in 2025.

Explore the spirit of Sikhism in the heart of Punjab; rejuvenate in South India on Mahabalipuram’s beach with nourishing Ayurvedic treatments; marvel at the Ganges River and the sacred ghats of Varanasi; admire the Taj Mahal in the warm sunrise glow. 

The highlight is our insider access to the Maha Kumbh Mela and the holy Hindu men and women who come to Prayagraj to celebrate in the largest religious gathering on the planet!

This trip is sold out, but please leave your name on the waitlist below for “Essential India” in case we have an opening!

Trip at a Glance

  • January 20–February 7, 2025
  • This journey is double carbon offset
  • Escorted by BJ Graf & Lauren Rathvon, owners of RetreaTours, with expert help from local Indian guides
  • Limited to 13 adventurers
  • Enjoy exclusive access at the Maha Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj, a very special festival that happens once every 12 years
  • Drink in the beauty of the Taj Mahal at sunrise
  • Discover the heart & soul of the Sikh religion in Amritsar’s Golden Temple, Sri Harmandir Sahib
  • Explore some of South India’s most ancient temples in Mahabalipuram
  • Feel the flow of thousands of years of ritual in Varanasi along the banks of the holy Ganges River
  • Enjoy North and South Indian culture & cuisine on this all-inclusive small group journey
  • $7499 per person (based on double occupancy); please see “Price” tab for everything that is included and private room supplement cost

How to Register

  • Please complete the registration form below.
  • When we receive your registration form, Lauren will email you a link to pay the deposit.
  • Once we have your registration form and deposit, your spot is officially saved!
  • This journey is sold out, but please join our waitlist below in case a spot should open!

New Delhi

You’ll arrive in New Delhi on or before October 30 for your October 31 flight to Varanasi. 

Amritsar

Varanasi

Mahabalipuram

Prayagraj

Taj Mahal, Agra

Itinerary at a Glance

January 20-22  Welcome to Delhi! Our journey officially beings at dinner tonight. On the 21st and 22nd we’ll gently explore the capital city’s highlights, allowing an easy introduction to the new time zone.

January 23-24  We’ll fly to Amritsar, located in the state of Punjab, where we’ll explore the vibrant center of the Sikh faith at the Golden Temple, also known as Sri Harmandir Sahib. Additionally, we’ll have the opportunity to visit a functioning farm in this region, often referred to as India’s Bread Basket.

January 25-28  Today we fly from Amritsar to Chennai and transfer to our beachfront hotel in Mahabalipuram. Here we’ll enjoy the unique culture and cuisine of South India’s state of Tamil Nadu, while taking in sites at some of the oldest rock temples in all of India.

January 29-31  We’ll return to the north and make the Ganges River our home base in Varanasi, one of the holiest cities in all of Hinduism. Varanasi is a microcosm of all of India and its fascinating sights will steal your heart!

February 1-4   Experience exclusive and unprecedented access to the Atal Akhada group of Hindu holy men at the Maha Kumbh Mela, the largest religious gathering in the world. The Kumbh Mela is a festival like no other and is an absolute dream come true for photographers, people watchers, or lovers of life at large!

February 5-6   One fast train to Agra and we’re marveling at the iconic Taj Mahal! We’ll enjoy this marble beauty in the colors of sunrise before discovering the other gems of this ancient Mughal Empire capital.

February 7   We’ll head back to Delhi today where you can start your journey home or continue on another adventure!

Essential India 2025 Daily Itinerary

In India, I found a race of mortals living upon the Earth, but not adhering to it, inhabiting cities, but not being fixed to them, possessing everything, but possessed by nothing.

~1st century Greek philosopher Apollonius Tyanaeus

New Delhi, January 20-22

Welcome to India! We begin our adventure together in New Delhi. We designed the first two days carefully to allow you downtime to recover from your journey as well as to experience some highlights of India’s capital city. 

We’ll explore some sites unlike any other we’ll encounter on the rest of our journey, from Old Delhi’s iconic Jama Masjid to the modern Lotus Temple, an eye-catching Baháʼí House of Worship.

“Delhi is the symbol of old India and new…even the stones here whisper to our ears of the ages of long ago and the air we breathe is full of the dust and fragrances of the past, as also of the fresh and piercing winds of the present.”

Jawaharlal Nehru, 1st Prime Minister of India

Amritsar, January 23–24

On January 23, we’ll fly from Delhi to Amritsar (1-hour flight), the largest city in the state of Punjab. Amritsar is the center of the Sikh religion, founded in the late 1400s as a response to some of the more harsh and unjust practices of other contemporary religions. The Golden Temple, or Sri Harmindir Sahib, is one of the holiest spots in all of Sikhism–the air here is just electric! The sweet sounds of Sikh chants drift out of the golden windows and over the holy pond, across the polished marble and to the many pilgrims there to pray and volunteer.

Sikhism is based on equality and and service to others; one of the many ways Sikh temples practice this is through free volunteer-prepped meals offered to the community. We can take part in the preparation of nourishing meals at Golden Temple’s langur hall, the world’s largest community kitchen where 100,000+ pilgrims are served daily.

And what would a trip to “India’s Bread Basket” be without an excursion to a local working farm? We’ll experience authentic rural Punjabi life on a visit to a local family farm with our amazing guide.

“Recognize the whole human race as one.” 

— Guru Gobind Singh Nanak, the 10th Sikh Guru

Mahabalipuram, January 25–28

On the afternoon of January 25th, we’ll say goodbye to the northwest border of India and fly to the far southeast. We’ll land in the gorgeous state of Tamil Nadu, set on the Bay of Bengal. We’ll make the beach town of Mahabalipuram our home base as we explore the culture, history, and cuisine of South India. 

Mahabalipuram is home to stunning stone and rock-cut temples from the 7th and 8th centuries, some of the oldest in all of India. These UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the beachfront Shore Temple, were crafted and carved during the Pallava dynasty. These iconic landmarks offer a captivating glimpse into India’s rich cultural heritage and are a must-visit for history enthusiasts and architecture aficionados alike.

You can’t visit South India without indulging in a traditional Ayurvedic massage, and we’ve included one to get you started! Ayurveda is the traditional Indian system of medicine that emphasizes holistic healing, natural remedies, and lifestyle practices to promote physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. 

During our time in Tamil Nadu, we’ll savor culinary specialties unique to South India, including dosas, idli, vada, sambar, and coconut chutney! 

“Tamil Nadu is not a place, it’s an emotion; it’s a celebration of tradition, art, and spirituality.”

Varanasi, January 29–31

We’ll return to the north (2.5-hour flight) and enter the holiest city in the Hindu religion, Varanasi. One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, it’s been known throughout the ages as Benares and Kashi, the “City of Light.” Varanasi sits on a sacred stretch of the west bank of the Ganges River; sunrise is a magical time on the ghats, the stairs leading from the city to the river.

Life unfolds along the banks of the Ganges every day as it has for thousands of years, full of the most sacred rituals and the most basic of daily routines. We’ll take sunrise boat rides along the river to take it all in, cup of chai in hand. The banks of the Ganges are sacred in both life and in death; this is a very special place for Hindu cremations, and we’ll have the opportunity to witness the holy cremation sites.

We’ll explore the winding alleys of Varanasi, bustling with life. We’ll explore local essential oil and spice shops and marvel at the gorgeous silk shops; Varanasi has been famous for its textiles since the time of the Buddha 2,500 years ago.

You can view Varanasi as a splendid microcosm of all of India; it is absolutely one of our favorite spots to be in the entire country! You’ll be staying in the best possible location, directly on the ghats (Meer Ghat, to be exact). Our guesthouse overlooks the Ganges River and all of its fascinating activity; it’s just a few minutes walk to the Main Ghat and a few minutes walk to the cremation ghat at Manikarnika, allowing for safe and easy exploration at any time.

Benares is older than history, older then tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all them put together

— Mark Twain

Maha Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj, February 1–4

What makes this trip remarkably special (dare we say once-in-a-lifetime?) is the time we’ll spend at the Maha Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj. On February 1, we’ll drive ~3-4 hours to Prayagraj (formerly known as Allahabad). The Kumbh Mela, a sacred Hindu festival, has been celebrated for over 1500 years, rotating among four cities in India every few years. Every 12 years there is a “Maha” or “Great” Kumbh Mela, and we will enjoy such an event in 2025. 

What exactly is a Kumbh Mela, anyways? “Kumbh” means pot or pitcher and “mela” means festival. According to ancient Hindu mythology, Lord Vishnu spilled drops of an elixir of immortality (carried in a kumbh) at four sites where the festival is now observed. In 2017, UNESCO included the Kumbh Mela in the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, recognizing its profound spiritual significance in India.

It is an extremely important pilgrimage for Hindus, as it is believed that dipping in the holy rivers on certain days during this astrological confluence will purify one’s sins and allow them to escape the cycle of rebirth. For that reason, some call it a “Shortcut to Nirvana,” also the name of a 2004 documentary about the 2001 festival.

During the Kumbh Mela, an “Akhada” is a collective of spiritual leaders and followers who unite to partake in the event. These Akhadas, each with their own unique customs and leaders, hold significant influence in organizing rituals and activities throughout the Kumbh Mela. Together, they engage in ceremonies, perform sacred baths in the holy rivers, and share spiritual teachings, demonstrating their spiritual strength and heritage to the broader Hindu community.

For almost a decade, BJ has enjoyed a close relationship with the Atal Akhada. The Atal Akhada was founded in the 646 CE, making it one of the oldest Akhadas in India. This particular group of sadhus enjoys the privilege of being the first to bathe in the holy waters on the most auspicious bathing days. 

The Prayagraj Kumbh Mela takes place on the banks of the Ganges and Jamuna Rivers, and the entire floodplain becomes one giant “pop-up” city. Think of it like a giant Hindu “Burning Man”–an enormous community set up solely for this one event. This might sound intimidating, but Harvard researchers found that the 2013 Prayagraj Kumbh Mela was amazingly well-organized (even better than the 2014 FIFA Games in Brazil!)  Although the main bathing days can draw crowds of 50 million pilgrims, the area is expansive and it never feels like a crush of people. 

During our time at the Kumbh Mela, we’ll be staying in luxury tents on site, each equipped with their own bathroom. Our camp even has private access to the river, allowing for calm bathing in the holy water should that appeal to you. 

We’ll have very privileged personal access to the sadhus of the Atal Akhada, and we’ll even have an opportunity to sleep at their camp the night before an important bathing day on February 3rd. This will allow us to march with them in their early morning parade to the river to bathe. 

We promise that this Kumbh Mela will be absolutely unprecedented in terms of “street photography” and general people-watching! Pilgrims from all over India are eager to meet curious tourists, and Indian kindness and hospitality shine here. In addition, many sadhus and ascetics at the festival are practicing intriguing acts of self-mortification, such as keeping one arm above their heads for years at a time.  And, of course, there are the famous Naga sadhus who are naked, save a coating of ash on their bodies. (It should be mentioned that you will encounter nudity at the Kumbh Mela, a practice of the sadhus to demonstrate their deep ascetic renunciation.)

Vibrant tent villages showcasing Indian art and handicrafts emerge across the festival grounds, allowing us to appreciate artisanal traditions from all over India. The event also features lively areas where attendees can witness traditional classical dance and music performances come to life.

All of this you can take at your own pace or relax in our tent camp area, but it’s a privilege and an honor to experience any of this Maha Kumbh Mela!

“India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great-grandmother of tradition.”

— Mark Twain

Agra, February 5–7

On February 5th, we’ll bid farewell to the Kumbh Mela and take a fast train to Agra (~5-6 hours on the train). Agra experienced its Golden Age in the 16th century under Mughul rule and it became the subcontinent’s preeminent city for arts, learning, and culture. These days it’s best known for one of the most iconic structures on the globe–the Taj Mahal. Tonight we’ll get a view of the Taj Mahal at sunset from across the Yamuna River, a wonderful preview to tomorrow’s sunrise visit. We’ll rest in a 5-star hotel and sleep comfortably tonight.

On the 6th we’ll visit the Taj Mahal as the sun rises, a magical time to be there as the mist rises and the white marble dome changes hues with the sun. Built in the 17th century by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan to immortalize the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, this architectural marvel embodies the pinnacle of Mughal craftsmanship and artistic expression, symbolizing eternal love and devotion. We’ll fully explore this massive monument to love and hit all of the best photo spots with our expert guide.

Agra is so much more than the Taj Mahal, though! We’ll explore other breathtaking sites this afternoon, including Agra Fort. This UNESCO World Heritage Site dates back to the 16th century and offers a beautiful view of the Taj Mahal from afar. It served as the main residence of the Mughal emperors and offers visitors a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the era, with its impressive palaces and intricately carved structures overlooking the Yamuna River.

On the morning of February 7th, we’ll begin our journey back to New Delhi (~4-hour drive). Many flights leave in the afternoon or evening, allowing you to depart for home today. If you wish, you can stay overnight in Delhi and depart on the 8th. But why go home?  Perhaps you’re interested in heading to India’s vibrant state of Rajasthan. Or maybe you’re ready for some beach time in the Maldives! BJ can advise you on plans should you wish to extend your time in this part of the world.

“A massive marble structure, without weight, as if formed of ether, perfectly rational and at the same time entirely decorative, it is perhaps the greatest art work which the forming spirit of mankind has ever brought forth.”

— Count Hermann Keyserling

The temple at Kushinagar at sunset on our Footsteps of the Buddha pilgrimage.

Please click the title of the each box to expand and read more.

Price & What is Included

This journey’s cost is $7499, with a private room supplement of $1499 (please read further for more information about the private room supplement).

This price only covers the actual retreat, not international airfare (for a full list of inclusions, please see below).

A $1200 deposit holds your space. The second installment of $3500 is due by August 1 and the balance is due by October 1.  The private room supplement is due along with the last installment.

If you prefer to have your own room, the private room supplement ($1499) will be added to your last payment. (Click here to understand why this supplement is necessary). Please note that we cannot guarantee you a roommate for this trip, and if you room alone, you will be responsible for the single supplement. Your entire supplement goes to cover the other half of the hotel rooms that a roommate would be covering. 

Pilgrimage Price Includes

  • All accommodation in India from the night of January 20 to February 6
  • All meals in India from dinner on January 20 until breakfast on February 7
  • All ground transportation within India beginning with airport transfer on arrival
  • Flight from New Delhi to Amritsar
  • Flight from Amritsar to Chennai
  • Flight from Chennai to Varanasi
  • Train from Prayagraj to Agra
  • One Ayurvedic treatment in Mahabalipuram
  • All site fees
  • All tips at hotels and restaurants
  • All tips to local expert guides and drivers
  • Double carbon offsets for your entire journey (door to door)

      Price does not include

      • International airfare (although we will be more than happy to advise you!)
      • Indian visa fee (we will advise on the entire visa process; a 30-day eVisa will cost ~$25 USD)
      • Travel insurance (required)
      • Laundry services
      • Alcohol
      Payments

      Please refer to the Price box for specific information about price & what is included in your journey.

      The non-refundable $1200 deposit guarantees your space. The 2nd installment is due on August 1, 2024 and the balance on October 1, 2024. The private room supplement ($1499) will be added to the final balance.

      For our American guests, we accept payments via check, credit, or debit card (via PayPal), Zelle, or Venmo. Lauren will send you these details after receiving your registration form.

      For our guests outside the U.S., Lauren will connect with you about the best ways to transfer money.

      Cancellation Policy

      We do everything in our power to do right by our guests. We are proud to say that in the wake of our COVID-related trip cancellations through 2020 and 2021, we were able to offer each of our guests the choice of a 100% credit, if not a full refund.

      We’ve re-examined each trip and done our best to reduce the deposit amounts as much as possible. Upon your registration, your deposit immediately goes toward reserving your space for flights, hotels, and excursions that must be booked months in advance and are non-refundable.

      Cancellation by our guests

      The cancellation charges are as follows unless otherwise indicated on the detailed itinerary for each trip. All cancellations must be received via e-mail or US mail.

      • Cancellations prior to 120 days to departure, money will be refunded minus the non-refundable deposit.
      • Cancellations received 61 to 119 days prior to departure are subject to a penalty of 50% of the total cost of the trip.
      • Cancellations received 60 days or fewer prior to trip departure will forfeit the entire cost of the trip.

      If a trip is canceled by RetreaTours

      When a tour is canceled in the case of force majeure, the Tour Participant will receive a refund minus any funds that we are unable to recover from any supplier.

      You can see the full cancellation policy in our contract here. 

      Travel Insurance

      Required Coverage

      RetreaTours requires that each guest carries travel insurance that covers emergency medical treatment and emergency evacuation and repatriation. Please send Lauren your policy information as soon as you have it.

      Suggested Coverage

      We suggest trip cancellation insurance, as well, as you never know what obstacles life can toss at you leading up to a trip. However, we do not require this coverage, we only suggest it highly.

      Please familiarize yourself with RetreaTours’ guest cancellation policy in your journey’s contract. Please read this article to understand a bit more about trip cancellation insurance and what it may or may not cover. “Cancel For Any Reason” policies do exist, as well, although do check to see what percentage of the trip cost they actually reimburse.

      When to purchase your policy

      Please purchase this insurance as soon as we tell you the trip has reached its minimum. Please do not wait until the last minute, should you need to use your (optional) cancellation coverage before then.

      Where to search for policies

      Below you will find some options to start your search for trip insurance. However, we ask that you carefully consider your choice in travel insurance. What works for some people may not work for others, particularly if you have any pre-existing conditions. Please do take the time to consider the best policy for your individual needs.

      Squaremouth.com and InsureMyTrip.com are two sites where you can see and compare many policies at once, and you can refine the options by what coverage you would like. Squaremouth’s interface is very easy and intuitive to use, and you can easily opt out of trip cancellation coverage.

      World Nomads provides policies for guests under 70 that includes trip cancellation options. Use the link above and pop in your info to get an immediate quote.

      It may also be a good idea to check with your credit card companies, especially American Express, to see if they offer any medical coverage for travel.

      Passport & Visa Requirements

      Your passport MUST be valid at least 6 months beyond the end date of the trip, and you’ll need two empty pages in the Visas section of your passport (make sure they are in the Visa section, not the Amendment or Endorsement section). 

      You will need to apple for your Indian visa online before you arrive; we will provide you with more detailed information before you apply for your visa. A 30-day eVisa costs $25 USD (as of early 2024) and you can apply 30 days in advance of your arrival.

        Suggested Fitness Requirements and Other Health Notes

        Suggested Fitness Requirements

        • Guests will want to feel comfortable walking 2 miles at a time at a moderate pace
        • Guests will want to comfortably climb stairs 2-3 flights of stairs at a time

        Sitting on the Ground

        There will be opportunities to sit with the sadhus at the Kumbh Mela. If you CANNOT sit on the ground, you’ll need to bring a solution in the way of a travel camping stool or a cane/chair combination and you’ll need to bring that with you. Here are some ideas to get you started:

        Air Quality

        The air quality in India can be worse than what you may be accustomed to, as it is the dry season and there is no rain to occasionally clear the air. We advise wearing a good face mask for any prolonged time outdoors if you have pre-existing respiratory conditions. We highly recommend wearing a mask for any time you spend in and around New Delhi.

        Vaccines & Staying Healthy Abroad

          Vaccines

          None are required to enter India, but we suggest you work with your physician or your area’s travel health expert to decide what options are best for you.  You can read the CDC’s recommendations here and the UK NHS recommendations here.

          It is good general practice to be up to date on your flu shot and tetanus shot; please discuss with your physician if this is right for you.

          Malaria

          You may or may not wish to consider anti-malarial drugs, so please work with your physician or travel doctor when making these choices. Please see our blog about this topic for more information.  Here is an NHS malaria map for India (all of our destinations fall into the no to low-risk category).

          Mosquito Bite Prevention

          You’ll want to bring mosquito repellent to protect yourself in case of mosquitos, for other mosquito-borne illnesses (such as dengue, Chikungunya, etc). Wearing long sleeves and pants at dusk and dawn will also be useful to protect against mosquito bites. In our packing list we’ll make recommendations for repellents.

          Staying Healthy on Tour

          Please visit our comprehensive article, “How to Stay Healthy While Traveling…Naturally,” which addresses all of the most common travel ailments.

            Expected Temperatures & Suggested Packing List

            Expected temperatures

            The expected and historical temperatures on this journey range between 45° and 85°F, with most locations in the 55° to 75°F range with very little chance of rain. 

            • Delhi: 50-70°F
            • Amritsar: 45-65°F
            • Mahabalipuram: 70-85°F
            • Varanasi & Prayagraj: 55-75°F
            • Agra: 50-75°F

            Packing List

            We will provide a suggested packing list in Autumn 2024.

            About our Hotels & Kumbh Mela Camp

            We have carefully chosen each hotel based on comfort, location, and safety. We can say with confidence that these are the very best hotels in each of these locations; if you wish to check out their websites, you can find them here:

             

            About our Tent Camp at the Kumbh Mela

            These tents have private washrooms, and the camp will let us know the times of day that we will have running water hot and cold water. This tent camp is a perfect way to have some comfort in this “pop-up” city of millions! Here are some photos as provided by Aagman’s website.

             

            Travel Times on this Journey

            Although we see much of the country on this journey, we don’t have any incredibly long travel times. Here are the expected flight or drive times between destinations on our journey:

             

            • Delhi and Amritsar: 1-hour flight
            • Amritsar to Chennai: 5-hour flight; 1-hour drive to hotel in Mahabalipuram
            • Chennai to Varanasi: 2.5-hour flight
            • Varanasi to Prayagray: 3-4 hours (depending on Kumbh Mela traffic)
            • Prayagraj to Agra: 5-6 hour fast train
            • Agra to New Delhi: 4-hour drive
            About the Food & Water on this Journey

              We’ll ask you about any dietary requirements or allergies on the registration form and reach out with any questions we may have.

              Vegetarians and Vegans

              Vegetarians will have no problem anywhere on our travels. The only thing that might prove difficult is pure veganism in India. Although meat is entirely avoidable, India is the world’s largest consumer of butter, and it is almost unavoidable in most of their curries, stews, and even breads.

              Many vegans travelling in India adopt what is locally referred to as a “pure veg” diet: no meat, no eggs, but it allows for dairy consumption.  (It is worth noting that some of the reasons for avoiding dairy consumption in the west is slightly mitigated here, as there is less factory farming and antibiotic use in livestock.) Milk can be avoided by not consuming creamy dishes or milk tea.

              Gluten

              Gluten is also avoidable in India by choosing rice over chapatis and other local breads. Celiactravel.com has GREAT printable cards in local languages to present to restaurants and hotels about your intolerance of gluten. Click here for the Hindi version.  If you have multiple dietary needs, it may be worth your while to check out these specialty cards, available in 60 different languages.

              Mealtimes

              Mealtimes are most often buffets with a mix of northern Indian dishes, some Chinese dishes, and continental dishes. Dinners typically do not start until 7 PM, and our lunch and breakfast times will depend on the day’s activity.

              Can I drink the water?

              In a word, No. Although many cities around the world are getting more advanced public water systems, we don’t recommend it. Not only from a pathogen standpoint, but it’s a different set of bacteria than your body is used to. Why risk an upset stomach if you don’t have to? We recommend drinking only bottled water, and you will want to rinse your toothbrush off in bottled water.

              For those of you who wish to use your own filtration system (LifeStraw bottle, etc), you can definitely bring them and use tap water in them, which will save on the plastic of water bottles.

              Wifi, Electricity & Communication

              Wifi

              The internet is accessible at hotels throughout this journey with the exception of the Kumbh Mela. If you wish to stay connected while out at sites or on our vehicles, we suggest using an International Plan through your phone carrier or purchasing a SIM card upon arrival at Delhi airport. 

              Electrical Outlets and Adaptors

              You’ll need an electrical adaptor for India. You’ll only encounter C and D-type outlets on this trip, NOT M- types.  For both C and D-types, a 2-pin European adaptor will work.

              We highly recommend a Universal Adaptor such as this  which also has USB and USB-C outlets so you can charge multiple devices at once. 

              Communication

              We rely on WhatsApp to communicate the schedule 24-48 hours in advance, as well as to give updates and share important news. You’ll be expected to connect at every hotel to make sure you are seeing these messages.

                Money while on Tour

                  How much do I need?

                  All of your meals, transportation, fees, and tips are covered once you arrive in New Delhi, so you just have to gauge how much you want to spend on extras (laundry, souvenirs, and alcohol when available). Please see the “Price and Inclusions” tab on this page for more specifics.

                   

                  How do I get the local currency?

                  You can either exchange cash in India or use a local ATM (which we personally prefer). Our hotels will take credit cards for any extras, but most smaller shops will not take credit cards.

                  We are happy to help exchange money on the road for you; we’d ask that you either PayPal or Venmo us the money OR, if you wish to exchange cash, that it be in high denominations with no ink marks, stains, or tears.

                    About your International Flights

                    We are more than happy to recommend international flights, but ultimately you will make the purchase yourself directly through the airline website or through a 3rd party site like Expedia or Kayak. (We recommend going directly through the airline when possible, as it makes any needed changes easier.)

                    Arrival

                    You’ll want to arrive in New Delhi on or before January 20, 2025.  We have intentionally built this trip to be slower-paced on the first two days, so you don’t have to arrive early for this trip in order to combat jetlag. 

                    Departure

                    You’ll want to arrange your departure flight for any time after 6 PM on February 7th. 

                    Our Carbon Negative Commitment

                    Please visit our Carbon Negative page to learn more about what we are doing to mitigate the impact of our collective journey, including a double carbon offset credit to cover not only your time in India, but travel to and from your home.

                    * * * 

                    carbon offset toursWe purchase double carbon offsets for your travels with us—that’s from your home, through the entire tour, and back to your home again, times two

                    RetreaTours is officially a Carbonfree® Partner with Carbonfund.org, as well as a “Certified Carbon Fighter” with Cool Effect.

                    You may have heard the term “carbon neutral,” which means that a company offsets as much carbon as it produces. With this 200% offset, RetreaTours is actually offsetting more carbon than we produce each year, making us “carbon negative” (or “climate positive,” which has a nicer ring to it!)

                    Since 2012 we’ve focused on making travel safe and easy for our guests; with our double carbon offset tours, we’re pleased to make our trips as sustainable as they are memorable.

                    About BJ and Lauren of RetreaTours

                    BJ Graf and Lauren Rathvon have traveled the globe year-round since January 2013, researching, designing, and leading impactful journeys. We are deeply grateful for the trust that our guests place in us to save them time and resources while they enjoy a memorable journey.

                    We are committed not only to our guests but to the local communities in our destinations and the planet. We engage with local businesses and guides to keep money within the community, and we double carbon-offset each of our tours.

                    We invite you to visit our Testimonials page to see what other people have to say about us!

                    Contact RetreaTours
                    Please write to Lauren for any questions you may have about this journey. If you have not received a reply within 48 hours, please check your spam folder.

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