Vast, diverse, deeply spiritual and utterly unforgettable, India is unlike anywhere else on earth – a melting pot of ethnicities and religions, a treasure trove of history and culture, and a curious mixture of chaos and serenity. Stretching across more than three million square kilometres, it encompasses a staggering array of landscapes, vistas and environs, and offers unparalleled travel experiences – from the beautiful beaches of Goa, to the compelling craziness of Kolkata, the sacred Ganges river banks of Varanasi, the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas in Kashmir and the ancient, exquisitely crafted temples dotted across the entire country. Not to mention the vibrant, friendly people, and the incredible cuisine.
Days 1 - 2
India’s largest city, Delhi, has been one of the country’s commercial and economic hubs for centuries and, as a result, is incredibly rich in culture and history. Made up of the ancient walled city of Old Delhi and the more modern sector, New Delhi, the city encompasses a staggering array of beautiful architecture, notable monuments and age-old temples, including three UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the Red Fort, Qutab Minar and Humayun's Tomb. Other key attractions include the 17th century Chandni Chowk marketplace – still one of the city’s most popular retail centres today, particularly for jewellery and traditional Indian saris; the iconic Bahà’i Lotus Temple – an award-winning architectural gem; and the Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque.
Days 2 - 5
Nestled among isolated mountain peaks, the bustling town of Leh has long been an important stopover for trade between Kashmir, Tibet, India and China. From a high viewpoint, grey flat-topped houses dominate the old city and sprawl through the valley easing off into a verdant patchwork of irrigated barley fields and tall trees, which light up the landscape. Major attractions offering superb views include the Buddhist Shanti Stupa and the former royal palace, Leh Palace, which is currently being restored. A worthwhile trek once you’ve settled into town is a hike to Victory Fort.
Days 5 - 12
Situated deep the Ladakh mountain range, 4300 metres up the side of a valley north of Indus, the village of Ulley is one of the most remote in India. Here, where less than 50 people live in a collection of homesteads, visitors travel from far and wide in the hope of seeing the ever-elusive, ever-enthralling Snow Leopard in its natural habitat. This is one of the best locations to spot these smallish but majestic creatures, where, along with Himalayan wolves and ibex, they live peacefully. Nicknamed the ‘grey ghost’, this cat species is one of the rarest on earth. Among the rugged, lunar-like landscapes, travellers will be able to enjoy an otherworldly experience which makes for breathtaking photography and incredible memories.