Off The Beaten Track in West Bengal, Mahabalipuram and the Andaman Islands
A fantastic itinerary exploring the Bengali heritage of Kolkata, the unique ecosystem of Sundarbans, the incredible marine life of the Andaman Islands and the historic monuments of Mahabalipuram.
Prices from USD $5,800 and GBP £4,200 per person, sharing.
Prices subject to availability and excluding international flights. Based on double occupancy. Please contact us for a full list of inclusions and exclusions.
Days 1 - 3: Kolkata (Calcutta)
Upon arrival in Kolkata, you will be received at the airport and driven to the iconic Oberoi Grand, located in the heart of the city. You will spend days 2 and 3 exploring the historic city with an expert local guide, discovering its traditional Bengali and British colonial heritage through gorgeous architecture, vibrant markets, fine arts and mouth-watering cuisine. Depending on your interests, we can arrange meetings with artists, historians, chefs and photographers to make your experience incredibly in-depth and extraordinary.
Days 1 - 3 (cont): Kolkata Philanthropy
We are passionate about supporting the local communities and strive to make our journeys as immersive and meaningful as possible. In Kolkata, we promote Key To Freedom and Future Hope who are doing an exemplary work to support and uplift the underprivileged communities. Based on your interests, we will incorporate a visit to one of their local projects where you will have an opportunity to get involved and gain a deeper understanding of the local social and culture issues.
Days 4 - 7: Cruise Sundarbans National Park
After breakfast, you will be driven about 5 hours to Godakhali, the boarding point for your cruise. Board ABN Raj Mahal for a 3-night / 4-day cruise (full board) to the Sunderbans National Park, the world’s largest mangrove forest. You will spend days 5 & 6 exploring the channels and islands on excursions using country boats, to view mammals, birds, plants and local villages. There is much to see here including crocodiles, wild boars, spotted deer, fishing cats, macaques and a huge variety of birds. After breakfast on day 7, you will be driven back to Kolkata to overnight at the Oberoi Grand.
Days 8 - 10: Havelock Island - Andamans
This morning, fly to Port Blair (economy), then transfer to the jetty for a catamaran ride to Havelock Island (2.5 hours). On arrival, you will be met and driven to the newly opened Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, where you will stay for three nights on Bed and Breakfast Basis. Your days will be at leisure to explore the island on your own, or take part in the incredible experiences on offer such as night kayaking in the mangroves, game fishing, snorkelling and scuba diving, turtle nesting and birding.
Days 11 - 12: Historic Monuments of Mahabalipuram
Return to Port Blair and fly to Chennai (in Economy). You will be transferred to The Leela Palace Chennai, a deluxe hotel overlooking the sea. Stay for two nights on Bed and Breakfast Basis. Whilst here you can explore the historic 7th and 8th century monuments of Mahabalipuram, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Highlights include the Shore Temple, Pancha Rathas, Cave Temples and Arjuna’s Penance – the world’s largest open-air Bas relief. You can also visit Dakshina Chitra, a unique cultural village on the outskirts of Mahabalipuram that showcases various aspects of South Indian culture.
Day 13: Return Home
Check-out from the hotel in the morning after breakfast. You will be transferred to the international airport to check-in for your return flight home.
Prices from USD $5,880 and GBP £4,200 per person, sharing.
Prices subject to availability and exclude international flights. Please contact us for a full list of inclusions and exclusions.
Eastern Himalayas Village Walking and Tea Plantation Exploration
See the rich heritage of Kolkata, walk with an expert local guide in the unspoilt Himalayan villages of Sikkim with views of the Kanchenjunga massif, visit Samthar and get involved in their pioneering philanthropy projects with the local community, and finally stay on a working tea estate in the magical Darjeeling Hills.
Prices from GBP £5140 or USD $6680 per person.
Prices subject to currency exchange rates and exclude international flights. Please contact us for a full list of inclusions and exclusions.
Day 1: Kolkata (Calcutta)
You will fly to Kolkata where you will be met and driven to a luxurious 5-star palatial hotel, set conveniently in the heart of the city. Today you can simply relax as there are ample opportunities for stretching the legs over the next two days. One of the most under-rated and under-visited cities, Kolkata will leave you marveling at the hidden treasures and unique history the city has to offer.
Days 2 – 3: Kolkata (Calcutta)
Embark on a very interesting walk from the banks of the River Hooghly, visiting the Park Cemetery, Victoria Memorial and the famous Writers Building. Enjoy a Bengali lunch followed by Darjeeling tea before taking a cruise on the Hooghly. The following day, explore the treasures of North Kolkata starting from the Black Town, the bizarre Marble Palace and the Potters market at Kumartulli, and the Mother House - Mother Theresa's home.
Day 4: Rinchenpong
Take a short flight to Bagdogra, where you will be driven to Rinchenpong, where the village walks begin. At an altitude of 6400ft, Rinchenpong is an unspoilt Himalayan town. You will stay in a village house offering fantastic views of the Kanchenjunga massif. Explore the village and get glimpse of the local lifestyle at the market. A picnic lunch will be served in the village of Hatti Dunga.
Day 5: Rinchenpong - Hee
Visit a 200 years old family monastery that offers a 360 degree view of the stunning mountains on a clear day. Trail down via Rinchenpong monastery continuing through the charming villages of Bhasmay and Kaluk, arriving at village of Jowbari, where you will be served a delicious picnic lunch. Continue walking along the ridge to arrive at Hee via Bermiok monastery. Spend the night at a village house.
Day 6: Hee – Radhu Khandu
Start the day with the truly breathtaking sight of the sun rising over the Kanchenjunga. Walk through the Red Panda wildlife sanctuary, then follow one of the oldest trade routes in this part of the mountains. Walk to your village house in Radhu Khandu, a charming traditional Sikkimese house looked after by a fantastic family. Explore the village, take a tea break at one of the local houses and follow a path to the beautiful 150 year old monastery.
Days 7 - 8: Samthar
You will be driven through pristine scenery (5 hours) to Samthar. Stay at a restored farm house, owner-managed by a retired Corps Commander, whose love and knowledge of the people, landscape and history here is amply evident as is his willingness to share these with his guests. Explore the area with your guide, taking in the villages, monasteries, cascades, biking routes, vast forests and unforgettable views of Himalayan countryside. You can also discover how Samthar is empowering the local community through the Awake and Shine School and numerous other community projects, and even get involved in some!
Days 9 - 12: Darjeeling
You will be driven to a magical spot in the Darjeeling Hills (3 hours) where you will spend the next three nights at a 150 year old plantation house on a small hilltop above the River Rungeet. This is a great and rare chance to stay on a working tea estate. Whilst here you can walk, bird watch, visit Darjeeling, take private tours of the tea estate and of course relax with the beautiful Kanchenjunga in the background.
Day 13: Kolkata (Calcutta)
On your last day fly back to Kolkata and have a day room at a luxury hotel so you can relax prior to your flight home.
Prices from GBP £5140 or USD $6680 per person.
Prices subject to currency exchange rates and exclude international flights. Please contact us for a full list of inclusions and exclusions.
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Colonial or small characterful hotels, tea plantations, havellis
These dreamy little hotels today belong to the descendants of those who lived here in the colonial era, who are your highly affable, energetic and involved hosts.
Historic forts and opulent palaces (India)
Few structures evoke the majesty of the Indian courts as splendidly as the country’s numerous palaces and ancient forts.
Village trek houses (India)
Village walks are a great concept and an increasing number of sophisticated travellers are seeking something beyond five-star luxury – although even here it is possible!
Owner Managed Retreats (India)
Staying at establishments which are owner managed is becoming increasingly popular, allowing one to experience real India.
Tented camps and luxury safari lodges
The subcontinent has a wide range of wildlife camps – from intimate, owner-managed camps to luxury lodges. The owner-managed camps are intimate and are set in magnificent locations either overlooking a river or the forest.
Royal Tented Luxury Lodges
These small, often luxurious boutique style camps are found all over Rajasthan - from the Thar desert, to Nimaj, overlooking a lake, to outside the tiger reserves in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and occupying locations on the outskirts of Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Jaipur.
Houseboats and luxury cruises
A trip to South India is incomplete without a journey on a traditional house boat. Locally known as kettuvallam, these traditional rice barges are made by tying jackwood planks together with coir rope and then coating them with black resin made from boiled cashew nut shells.
Design Inspired, Luxury Boutique Hotels
You will enjoy fine food and an intimate atmosphere in our specially selected luxury boutique hotels. These usually are smaller independent properties including city hotels and retreats.
Luxury trains in India
Welcome to the world of luxury train travel in India, where pampered guests can drink in scenes of daily life from a cocoon of comfort. In India, the rail network is an essential part of life. The second-largest system in the world, stretching nearly 64,000km, it could be wrapped twice around the Earth.
Private Villas and Houses
Goa and Kerala are best known for some of the country's finest beaches. The Dutch and Portuguese both left their mark on these coastal towns, which means you will find charming properties from simple, private houses right on the beach that one takes over exclusively, to sumptuous villas. Sri Lanka has a wealth of beautiful, colonial style villas on the coast and beautiful houses in the tea plantation regions.
Luxury Beach Lodges and Hotels
We have a wonderful array of luxury beach lodges and hotels in India and Sri Lanka.
Robinson Crusoe retreats – India and Sri Lanka
Away from the mainland are the Andaman and Lakshadweep Islands, where you can discover India’s best-kept secrets.
Resorts – five-star and lower – India, Bhutan, Burma and Borneo
These are larger hotels, again, either placed in a city in India such as Delhi, Calcutta, Mumbai, Bangalore or Bhutan, such as Paro, Thimphu and Bumthang.
Bhutan Accommodation Style
Elegant hotels like the Uma Paro and the Aman group rub shoulders alongside resorts and the more basic, traditional Bhutanese hotels that have their own particular charm.
Maldives Accommodation Style
Resorts that just breathe imaginative and inspired luxury in one of the world’s most beautiful seascapes – this is sybaritic bliss at its most blissful!
Nepal Accommodation Style
Award-winning heritage hotels, atmospheric walking or trekking hotels, vibrant hubs of activity, pioneering jungle lodges, and camps and mountain lodges.
Sri Lanka Accommodation Style
Sri Lanka is a country that has effortlessly preserved its wealth of colonial houses and converted these into the most stunning and stylish boutique hotels, homestays, country retreats and seaside villas. It has also built itself some exceptional modern examples.
Borneo Accommodation Style
Borneo is one of the ultimate diving and snorkeling destinations in the world. These resorts are often wonderfully isolated and many have turtle nesting sites that you can observe in carefully controlled night watches.
Burma (Myanmar) Accommodation Style
There is an array of accommodation to choose from in Myanmar. The majority of choice is for larger hotels but as tourism develops there are an increasing number of smaller, more boutique style places and those with a difference that go that extra mile.
We like to share the rejuvenating effects of remote surroundings – to provide privileged access to places far removed from the noise and clutter of the modern world, where space, peace and epic landscapes provoke the imagination and nourish the soul. And our Himalayan holidays are perfect for this.
The beauty of the Himalayas has lured visitors to this region since ancient times and being the world’s highest mountain chain, it constitutes the greatest attraction to climbers and trekkers throughout the world for holidays in the Himalayas. More than anything else though, our Himalayas holidays allow you to experience the awe-inspiring power, beauty, and grandeur of nature.
Take in the sacred landscapes of Kumaon and Garhwal – birthplace of the holy Ganges – with expert, Sherpa guides, staying in simple, comfortable, spectacularly located atmospheric homes set in wildlife-filled valleys, or a luxury lodge set high on a ridge commanding uninterrupted views of the great rearing massif of Nanda Devi, where the only sound you’ll hear is that of monks chanting in the distance whilst on your Western Himalayan holiday.
Walk from village to village, observing the peaceful, rural culture – watching farmers harrow their fields with oxen, whilst the women plant chillies, beautifully attired in colourful saris – and not another tourist in sight.
Across the spine of the Himalayas, in the rain-shadow, lie the high, arid Buddhist lands of Ladakh and Spiti, where giant bearded vultures and golden eagles drift over fluttering prayer flags and gigantic tiered monasteries cover entire gaunt hillsides. Perhaps walk through the snow-filled paths in search of the snow leopard on your Himalayan holidays, or travel through the jungle on elephant-back in search of tiger on tiger safaris with a difference in Corbett. Whatever stimulates you, our Western Himalayas holidays engage you on every level.
The Eastern Himalayas
A kaleidoscope of extraordinarily contrasting landscapes and experiences. The eastern quadrant of India offers an exhilarating kaleidoscope of extraordinarily contrasting landscapes and experiences for Himalayan holidays.
This is the borderland where the Indian plate collides against south-east Asia, grinding under the Tibetan plate to throw up the highest, steepest mountains on Earth. It is a region dominated by Everest and Kangchanjunga. It is where one of the great rivers of Asia, the Brahmaputra, which predates the rise of the Himalayas, breaks through the barrier of the mountains to create the vast, fertile alluvial floodplain of Assam.
A fabulous river journey by luxurious river boat makes it possible to explore this incredible riverine system, visiting vibrant traditional farming communities and steaming through remote stretches of the river populated by rare Gangetic dolphins. Superb wildlife reserves like Kaziranga, Manas and Nameri preserve the last fragments of floodplain grassland and riparian jungle that support great one-horned rhino, tigers, elephants, wild buffalo, a host of deer, pig and an incredible assortment of birds, reptiles, butterflies and plants.
Bordering the plains are deep, isolated valleys where tribal groups – more akin to south-east Asia than India – still practice traditional hunting lifestyles. From the foothills of Bengal one can board the 100 year-old Darjeeling Himalayan Railway – a world heritage monument – and steam up through some of the most stupendous scenery in the subcontinent, to chug through hill towns jostling through crowds and markets and traffic jams to emerge above the clouds in a landscape covered by endless acres of velvety tea bushes.
Stay in a beautiful lodge on a tea plantation near Darjeeling and hike through magnificent high country in the shadows of Kangchenjunga – a region that offers some of the finest walking holidays in India, remote and beautiful scenery, Buddhist culture and unmatched birding. The region also offers some of the finest fishing and rafting. There is also a wonderful, private walk or trek that you can take in Sikkim with your own Sherpa guides on your Himalayan holiday. Otherwise, one can walk and ride from a wonderful converted tea plantation bungalow at Dibrugarh, Assam where tea was first planted. Head into the fascinating states of Nagaland or Mizoram with their unique cultures.
Calcutta or Kolkata – the hub of this region is a must – try to spend several days here. It has beautiful hotels, amazing history and architecture to rival that in Delhi – brought alive by our special heritage private tours of India that bring this incredible city to life.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour and catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore – Dream – Discover - Mark Twain - You can view clips of some of our own favourite discoveries here.
- Utterly designed and tailored around you and your requirements
- Totally unique every time you travel with us
- The very best hand picked guides which can make the difference between a good and an outstanding holiday
- Established over 30 years ago we have been around longer than most
- Our specialists come from, have lived in or travelled extensively in the regions we cover
- Unparalleled knowledge provides you with the best possible experience
- Philanthropy is our philosophy
- Our founding principle is to always ‘put something back’
- An amount from each holiday is donated to our selected conservation and humanitarian charities
By Marcela Kunova - 20th April 2017
Nicola Shepherd, founder and CEO of The Exploration Company, organises unusual trips for HNW and UHNW clients ranging from birthday parties at an Indian Maharajah's palace to reliving Sir Vivian Fuchs's 1950s expedition to the South Pole. Citywealth caught ...
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