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The Soul of India
from $17,650 pp

  • Duration: 15 days
  • Countries: India
The Soul of India

Months, years, decades could profitably be spent exploring India's 812 million richly varietal acres. But few of us have time to follow our bliss indefinitely, so we created The Soul of India to provide a thoughtful, succinctly paced, and delightful look at some of the continent's most eye-brightening sights.

We begin in Delhi, "always interesting to all mankind" as Ved Mehta quoted a taxi wallah as saying. Then we pay homage to the Taj, whose praises we sing throughout. We peacefully search for what is perhaps the most splendorous animal on earth in Ranthambore National Park, wander the glamorous Pink City of Jaipur, and witness intense spiritual devotion at Varanasi, "the most supremely potent pilgrimage site on earth." We end in the supercity of Mumbai, a distillation of India's incredible energy and ambition, its daily familiarity with and deep attachment to its many thousands of years of history.
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DAY 1 En route to India

DAYS 2–4 In-depth Delhi, old and new

“Charming, capricious, imperial” (as John Foster Fraser wrote), Delhi is one of the world’s most intriguing mega-cities. Based from the modern, centrally located Taj Mahal Hotel, we’ll visit the imposing war memorial India Gate as well as Humayun’s Tomb (an inspiration for the Taj Mahal of 73 years later). With our Tour Director at helpful hand, we’ll wend Old Delhi’s twisting maze of streets and narrow, bustling, breathtakingly colourful byways, and visit India’s largest mosque, the imposing Jama Masjid and the nobly friendly Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, second most important shrine (after Amritsar’s Golden Temple) for India’s large and influential Sikh community.

DAYS 5 & 6 Agra and the Taj, humanity’s greatest artifact

There’s much more to Agra than the Taj Mahal. The Agra Fort is a masterpiece of Mughal architecture in its own right and the city itself is vivacious and engaging (which in India means extremely vivacious, exceptionally engaging). But “emeralds, rubies, and pearls…must pass away, yet still one solitary tear would hang on the cheek of time in the form of this white and gleaming Taj Mahal,” as India’s great laureate Rabindranath Tagore wrote.

Heartliftingly, almost hallucinatorily beautiful, the Taj Mahal is one of the first artefacts we would present to aliens as proof of humanity’s worth. Our hotel, the universally admired Amarvilas, is a delight for those of us bewitched by the Taj: every window in the hotel looks out at the very nearby monument.

DAYS 7 & 8 In peaceful search of nature’s greatest beast

We drive in the morning to Ranthambore and the exquisite and intimate Oberoi Vanyavilas, named India’s top luxury hotel in TripAdvisor’s 2015 Traveler’s Choice Awards. We come to subtly beautiful Ranthambore (thought by many to be the inspiration for Kipling’s unforgettable Jungle Book, of Mowgli and Bagheera fame) to see Panthera tigris tigris, an incandescent beast many consider the most impressive of Earth’s many trillions of sentient beings. Our chances of life-sparking sightings are very good. We cruise the park under the guidance of our Tour Director and astute local guides, who can identify the park’s super feline denizens by name and number, and sense their presence by the jungly warning cries that everywhere accompany Shere Khan. Micato, nine-time winner of Travel + Leisure’s Number One Best Safari Operator award, has a natural affection for Panthera leo, the African lion. But we must admit that seeing Leo’s Indian cousin amble imperially in Ranthambore is an almost shockingly exciting experience.

DAYS 9–11 Jaipur’s palaces, monuments, and colourful bustle

Residents of the entrancing Pink City are Parisian in their pride of place, and the city is the historic home of what is probably India’s most famous and flamboyantly rich ruling family. In fact, our three nights in Jaipur are spent in the fabulous former home of one of them, the great polo-playing, modernizing Maharajah Sawai Man Singh II.

Monuments to the wealth and monumental ambition of Jaipur’s Maharajah abound: grand City Palace, where members of the family still live; the Star Warsy observatory of Jantar Mantar, and huge yet lyrical Amber Fort, designed for protection in case of war (which never came) and for royalty’s never-ending quest for luxury. One morning we’ll lift off on a heart-stirring hot air balloon ride, flying high, then low over Jaipur’s awakening suburbs, waving to kids on the way to school, housewives putting up laundry, solemn old men on bicycles who break into big smiles as we waft overhead. We’ll explore Jaipur’s famous shopping bonanzas, and one evening we’ll get up close and personal with a winsome Elephas maximus indicus, and hop aboard for a rolling elephant ride in the gentle Rajasthani hills, ending with a festive, open-air dinner.

DAYS 12 & 13 Holy Varanasi, heart of the Hindu universe

We fly to Varanasi in the morning, via Delhi. During our stay we’ll venture out to the excellent museum and much-pilgrimaged site at Sarnath, where the Buddha went public for the first time after his enlightenment at nearby Bodh Gaya. But our focal point is Varanasi, in many ways the beating heart of the Hindu universe, perhaps the earth’s most supremely potent pilgrimage site. We’ll observe ancient rites on a quiet early morning boat ride on the sacred river Ganges, watching in the pink and gold light as devotees perform ritual sunrise baths and religious ceremonies, chant mantras, sing hymns, and go about the business of enlightenment. We’ll return at sunset, when tiny sacred lamps are ceremoniously lit during the ancient—and in the Indian way, very contemporary—aarti ceremony. Perhaps nowhere in India, or the world, is it possible to witness so clearly, colourfully, and intensely many thousands of years of unbroken dedication to spiritual exploration.

DAYS 14 & 15 The astounding mega-city of Mumbai

A world vanguard city, Mumbai is India’s unquestioned financial and commercial hub, a gleaming magnet for India’s millions of go-getting entrepreneurs: We’ll encounter the famous dabbawallahs of Churchgate Station, who prepare and deliver upwards of 175,000 lunches a day. We may do some spirited bargaining at Chor Bazaar, or the Thieves Market, where everything and anything is available. We’ll roam the former Prince of Wales Museum, one of India’s premier art and history museums, and enjoy a leisurely walk through Colaba market near our lodgings, the exquisite Oberoi, Mumbai, before dinner and our late night flights homeward.

DAY 16 Arrive home

Departure Dates
Start: January 1, 2018
End: December 14, 2018
Price: $17,650 pp
Days: 15 | Land Only

Get a Quote
Start: December 15, 2018
End: December 31, 2018
Price: $21,750 pp
Days: 15 | Land Only

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Offer Terms & Conditions

1. Accommodations
First-class hotel accommodations based on twin-bedded rooms with private
bath or showers—the categories assigned to hotels reflect the opinion of
Micato Safaris.

2. Meals
Three meals daily per the itinerary, based on evening arrivals on Day 2.

3. Air Transportation
Your travel agent should arrange international flights or Micato can refer you to
its preferred purveyor of air tickets. Internal African flights on safari must be
purchased through Micato.

4. Luggage
Tour rates include the transport and handling of two pieces of luggage per per-
son per airline regulations. Guests are urged, however, to travel with only one
medium-size suitcase. On certain flights within Africa, strict luggage restrictions
apply; details are provided in tour documentation. Luggage and personal effects
are at owner's risk throughout the tour.

5. Taxes
The tour program includes hotel taxes as imposed by city and state govern-
ments, entrance fees to National Parks and Game Reserves, and airport taxes for
intra-country flights. International airport taxes are not included.

~ Please Note: If a minimum number of travellers is not reached, Micato
may provide local guides in each location in place of a Micato tour or
safari director. Extensions are locally guided. ~

Not Included in Quoted Tour Rates:
Cost of obtaining passports, visas, travel insurance, excess baggage charges,
items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, communication (calls, faxes,
emails, etc.), international airport departure tax (to be paid in U.S. dollars or
acceptable foreign currencies), and deviations from the tour.

General Disclaimer

Product Code: ppo-micatosafaris-457987

General Disclaimer

All pricing and offers for accommodations and other non-air travel are per person, based on double occupancy, capacity controlled and subject to availability and change without notice. Pricing does not include taxes, fees, fuel surcharges, gratuities, resort fees, or airfare unless otherwise noted and is valid on new bookings only.

Prices, fees, and other restrictions are subject to supplier policies. All offers, including but not limited to, bonus amenities, upgrades, prices, and group benefits are based on select dates, resorts, room categories, and/or fare codes. Specialty pricing may require proper identification. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates, and other restrictions may apply.

When traveling outside the United States a valid passport is required. It is the sole responsibility of the passenger to have the proper documentation and identification required by the United States and other governments at the time of travel. When passports are required, it must be valid for a minimum of six months past your date of return.

AAA strongly recommends the purchase of AAA Travel Protection. Usage of a credit card for travel arrangements may provide additional protection, please consult your credit card policies.

Under certain circumstances the package price may be subject to supplemental price increases imposed by the supplier. Price increases include, but are not limited to fuel surcharges, taxes or fluctuations in foreign exchange markets that may be imposed after the date of purchase.

Air-inclusive prices do not include government imposed taxes and fees, including but not limited to a September 11th Security Fee, U.S. or international government imposed taxes and fees, Federal Excise Fees, among others. Some carriers charge additional fees for checked bags, fuel surchage, meals, etc. Please check the carriers website for details. Air-inclusive pricing is based on select departure cities. Prices from other cities may vary.

AAA Northeast acts solely as a sales agent for travel suppliers and is not responsible for the actions or inactions of such suppliers. We monitor all of the information presented on our website; however, we do not assume responsibility for any errors or omissions in the content of the offers displayed. Review full Travel Disclosure and Consent at time of booking.

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Airfare, taxes, surcharges, gratuities, transfers, port charges and excursions are additional unless otherwise indicated. Fuel surcharges, government taxes, other surcharges, deposit, payment and cancellation terms/conditions are subject to change without notice. Baggage fees are not included in your trip cost, you should re-verify with the airline directly or on their website prior to your departure for current details on allowable luggage pieces, fees, size and weight limitations since they vary from airline to airline. See link to research baggage fees and information: http://www.iflybags.com. Rates quoted are per person, land only, based on adult double occupancy unless otherwise stated. Discounts, products, vendors, rates, terms, conditions, availability and itinerary are subject to change without notice. Cruise rates are capacity controlled. Certain restrictions may apply. AAA members must make advance reservations through AAA Travel to obtain Member Benefits and savings. Member Benefits may vary based on departure date. Be advised that any and all costs associated with air reservations made outside of these packages will not be refunded by AAA or the tour operator in the event of an unforeseen change and/or cancellation by you and/or the tour operator. Not responsible for errors or omissions. Rates are accurate at the time of printing and are subject to availability and change. AAA Northeast acts only as an agent for the various tour and/or cruise providers listed and is not responsible for the actions or inactions of such providers. AAA Vacations® Best Price Guarantee and 24/7 Member Care are applicable to AAA members only. If you book a qualifying AAA Vacations® cruise or tour package and find a valid better rate for the exact itinerary within 24 hours of your booking, AAA will match the lower rate and send you a $50 AAA Vacations® future travel credit certificate. Certain restrictions apply. Visit AAA.com/AAAVacations for full details.