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Impressions of Burma itinerary

 

Day 1: Yangon
Min Gala Ba! Welcome to Burma (Myanmar).

Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting in the evening of Day 1.

You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please check with the hotel reception where and when it will take place, or check the reception notice boards. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

Formerly named Rangoon, Yangon is the country's biggest city and was the capital from 1885, when the British conquered the north and the kingdom of Mandalay, until just a few years ago when the government moved the capital to Naypyidaw.

To get your bearings and a taste of this wonderful city, take a walk to Sule Paya, then perhaps down to the Victorian Strand Hotel to admire both the colonial architecture and the bargaining madness of Bogyoke Market. Or sample some of the great Indian food on offer.

Day 2: Yangon/Mandalay

This morning we set off for one of the great sites of Rangoon, indeed Burma, if not the world! The extraordinary Shwedagon Pagoda and its surrounding temples and edifices dominate all and provide an extraordinary mix of monks and pilgrims and worshippers and tourists. We will spend some time walking around the complex, learning of its history and spiritual devotions, and experiencing the ambience of this extraordinary place.

We then leave mid-morning for the airport (seeing a bit more of Rangoon along the way). At the airport your tour leader will coordinate the check-in for your flight to Mandalay, using a private airline. Flight time is usually a little over an hour and after landing it is a drive of about 45 minutes to the city and your hotel for the next three nights. The rest of the afternoon is free – you might enjoy a walk to one of the markets, where a great time can be had enjoying the hustle and bustle, taking photos or bargaining for local wares.

 

Day 3: Mandalay

We make our way down to the city’s lively waterfront which offers an interesting backdrop as we take a boat trip up-river to Mingun - the site of the world's largest pagoda (albeit unfinished!), the world’s largest unbroken bell, and temples dating back hundreds if not thousands of years. The river is effectively a major trading, communication and commuting highway and a wide range of different boats, barges and steamers can be viewed along the way. We return to Mandalay late morning: this city was a former capital of Burma; however the surrounding countryside contains many towns that could lay claim to that same title at some stage or another in the past. Later in the afternoon we embark on a tour visiting the remnants of one of these once-great cities, Amarapura. Weather permitting, we may also view a spectacular sunset over the 200-year-old, two-kilometre-long, U Bein wooden bridge, either from land or by boat.

This evening you may wish to dine at your hotel, or your tour leader will be able to recommend any one of a number of good local restaurants: the choice of meals and good places to eat is extensive throughout this trip.

 

Day 4: Maymyo (Pyin U Lwin)/Mandalay

After a drive up into the hills, Burma's most famous hill station, Maymyo (Pyin U Lwin), provides an escape from the heat of the plains. Established during the colonial era back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it is today a crossroad for traders coming over from China and this is reflected in its colourful market.

Take time to explore surroundings in a local horse-drawn carriage called a 'myin-lay'. English-style country mansions and Chinese temples dot the hillsides in a place rightly called the 'vegetable garden' of Burma. Later, we return to Mandalay where the rest of the day is spent visiting various temples, including Kuthodaw Pagoda that claims to house the world's largest 'book'.

Time permitting, it was once a challenging walk up Mandalay Hill (236 metres), but these days, if in operation, a series of large escalators will do most of the work for you on the way up!! If conditions oblige, the sunset views from the summit can be impressive and along the way there are many shrines of religious significance.

 

Day 5 & 6: Bagan

We depart early from our hotel for the waterfront to spend to an entire day on a ferry boat as we cruise down the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River.

Note: (Due to the unpredictable nature of water levels and ferry operations on the Irrawaddy River between February and May, it is possible that some services may be cancelled during that period. Some of these cancellations may take place at the last minute and often without warning. If this is the case it may be necessary to fly between Mandalay and Bagan. There will be no extra cost for this flight).

Along the way, we witness the idyllic way of life that epitomises parts of rural Burma in the form of the small fishing villages that lie along the riverbanks. And we pass dozens of boats of different size and utility, testament to the role which this mighty river plays in the life of so many.

There is a restaurant on board our ferry, and meals and drinks are readily available for purchase during the day. In the evening we arrive in Pagan (Bagan), one of the most impressive archaeological wonders of Asia, and are met and driven to our hotel. (Due to the unpredictable nature of water levels and ferry operations on the Irrawaddy River between February and May, it is possible that some services may be cancelled during that period. Some of these cancellations may take place at the last minute and often without warning. If this is the case it may be necessary to fly between Mandalay and Bagan. There will be no extra cost for this flight).

The sights of Bagan are explored from dawn to dusk. Nyaung U's lively market contrasts with the eerie silence of the plains littered with over 4000 structures, including Gawdawpalin, Thatbyinnyu, Ananda and Shwezigon - all names of temples and pagodas that bear testament to a glorious past. The area is also famous for producing lacquer-ware and sand-paintings that is available in the stalls amidst the ruins.

There is also a chance to do some of our exploration by horse and cart. Weather permitting, we may enjoy a breath-taking sunset view from one of the ruins.

 

Day 7: Day trip to Mt Popa/Bagan

Today we drive for an hour before arriving at Mount Popa, an extinct volcano that is home to the local spirits or deities known as 'nats'. For the energetic, there is a chance to climb the 777 steps to the shrine at the top of the hill. Returning to Pagan, we visit a local village to observe the lifestyle of the people and talk with some of the villagers. The afternoon is free to further explore this amazing area. You may hire a bicycle or take a horse carriage and enjoy your own exploration of the archaeological sites. This evening we return to Bagan for our last night.

 

Day 8: Flight to Heho, Inle Lake

We board a plane and fly to Heho, which is situated in the Shan Plateau. From here, we drive through picturesque countryside and rolling hills to our final destination, Khaungdaing, situated on Inle Lake not far from the main township, Nyaungshwe. This afternoon you may like to rent a canoe (for about one hour) and row in to Lin Kin village, famous for its floating garden in the lake. On our way back we may stop over at some of the village houses to see the process of making traditional snacks (optional and at extra cost). You will notice that the weather is rather cooler due to the high altitude.
 

Day 9: Inle Lake Boat Trip
A full day is spent on the lake exploring the floating gardens and catching a glimpse of the local Intha fishermen who are famous for their unique 'leg-rowing' technique. These people are different from the Shans and they originate from the south of the country. The lake is also home to a wide array of bird-life including egrets, cranes, ducks, storks and birds of prey. Visits may be made to some of the local villages and our stay may coincide with one of the market days: always exciting with much of the commuting being done by local people using the ubiquitous long-tail boats.
 

Day 10: Short Trek
After breakfast at our hotel we transfer to Indein ruins complex (about 45 minutes by long-tail boat). On disembarking we find a pagoda and stupas built in the 8th century. We can also enjoy browsing through the rows of shops along the corridor uphill or just marvel at the surroundings. After spending some time we will start our walk towards to Yankin, Pa O and Taung Yoe tribe village (1.5 km, approx 45 minutes).

Along the way we explore the mystery of more than 300 ancient stupas around the village and then continue towards (1 km, approx 30 minutes) to a Buddhist monastery and head north to Naydaw (1.5 km, approx 45 minutes) to Taung Yoe ethnic tribe village through farm land and bamboo forest. From here turn to South-West (5 km, approx 3 hours) through the valley ups and downs to west Taung Mauk, Pa O village from here another 20 minute walk would get you to east Taung Mauk village. Finally we turn east through valley to Indein (3 km, approx 45 minutes) where we will meet our boat and return back to hotel. This evening we enjoy a traditional Shan dinner and get to sample some of the local style culinary specialties.

Note: the amount of walking advisable today will depend on individual and group fitness and wishes, and also the time of year.
 

Day 11: Fly to Yangon, Kyaikhtiyo (Golden Rock)
We transfer to Heho Airport for the flight back to Rangoon in the morning, on arrival you will be met and drive for the 5 hour (approx.) transfer to Kyaikthiyo. One of Myanmar’s major landmarks, famous for its precarious position and religious importance, Kyaikthiyo the “Golden Rock” is a huge boulder completely covered by gold leaf and delicately balanced on the edge of a cliff.

We arrive at the base camp of Kinpun and continue up to the Golden Rock by open truck, about an hour’s mountain drive. A further light trek to the summit we will have time to have enjoy the sunset from the top of the hill. Descending back down, we spend the night at our hotel in Kyaikhtiyo.

 

Day 12: Yangon
After breakfast this morning, we walk for 30mins to reach Kyee Kan Pa Sat (Crow's mouth Cave); an important place of worship for the local people. On the way we will pass by some local handicraft stalls selling local produce.

Midmorning we will return Yangon via Bago through rice fields and small towns. When we arrive in Bago we will visit the local market, Kanbawza Thardi Palace built by King Bayinnaung, the Kalayani Sima (Ordination Hall), Shwemawdaw Pagoda, and Shwethalyaung Pagoda - home to what many say is the world’s most beautiful reclining Buddha. We then return to Yangon.

The rest of the afternoon is free in Rangoon and you can visit Sule Pagoda, which marks the centre of town and the nearby Bogyoke (Scott) Market that sells a wide array of local goods and handicrafts. There is also time explore a fascinating city full of dilapidated colonial edifices, to perhaps take High Tea at the historic colonial hotel, The Strand, and take a stroll through vibrant Chinatown market area as the afternoon cools (these are optional excursions and at your own expense).

 

Day 13: Yangon
The tour ends after breakfast, and you are free to depart at any time, or spend longer in Yangon at your own expense.

 

Please note: One of the main things about the trips that I run is flexibility.This is especially needed in Burma, where flights and sometimes even hotel arrangements can change at short notice. We will do our best to achieve everything on the itinerary, but it is important to realise that mass travel in Burma is in its infancy and so changes can occur.

Printable version of itinerary

Land arrangements are sub-contracted to Intrepid Travel, who have many years experience in running small group adventures.

Bookings are made through the Intrepid Private Groups in the UK not the Intrepid website or Stores. Use this link for more information

Included in the trip price

9 nights hotel or riad accommodation

1 night in desert camp

• 1 night in guesthouse

• 8 breakfasts

2 dinners

All transport as per itinerary

• Todra Gorge 4WD safari

• Camel ride to desert camp

Walking tour of Marrakech

Taxi to main square & dinner

Transport to Majorelle Gardens

Majorelle Gardens entrance

Cooking class, Ait Benhaddou

• Essaouria walking tour

• Pre-trip Facebook group

• Experienced Intrepid leader

Expert photographic tuition

Impressions of Morocco itinerary

 

Day 1: Travel day/Arrival in Ouarzazate
Salaam Aleikum! Welcome to Morocco.

Our adventure officially starts in the desert town of Ouarzazate. but the official group flight is the Easyjet flight to Marrakech from London Gatwick, which arrives on the morning of the 12 April. We will be met from the airport, and transferred to Ouarzazate by private bus. The cost for this has been built into the airfare if bought from Intrepid (which is currently a shade under 260 including booking fee, transfer and baggage costs). If buying separately transfer cost will be 15.

Our drive takes us across the atmospheric 2260 metre Tizi n'Tichka Pass, and through some stunning scenery.

Hotel: 1 night, breakfast included

Day 2: Erg Chebbi

Welcome meeting in the hotel reception at 9 am. This morning you will explore the town of Ouarzazate and visit the hundred year old Taourirt Kasbah. A potent symbol of the Glaoui clan’s power, the kasbah gives a glimpse of how these feudal lords lived. You will then have the chance to buy an essential piece of desert kit – a shesh. This is a long piece of cloth a bit like a scarf that is wrapped around the head to keep the sun off and the loose end can be pulled across the face to keep out the sand.

Take a stunning drive towards the mighty Sahara Desert (approx 7hrs). We have many opportunities to stop and admire and take photos of the panoramic views of the Kasbahs and palmeries (valleys lush with date palms, fields and orchards) en route, since we have the convenience of our own private minivan (there are not many options for public transport in these parts). We can pause in some of the frontier towns such as Erfoud and Rissani before we reach the end of the road and the small Saharan settlement of Merzouga.

We'll store our main baggage before saddling up our day packs and mounting camels to head off into the sunset for a memorable night in our Sahara camp (approx 1 hour each way).

The Erg Chebbi dunes are the most stunning in the country and an experience essential of any visit to Morocco. An erg is a vast sea of shifting wind-swept sand that's formed into picturesque undulating crests and valleys, and the Erg Chebbi is one of the world's classic landscapes of towering dunes, up to heights of over 150 metres. Located at the end of the sealed road and just 20 kilometres from the Algerian border this is wonderful frontier country.

The camp is a simple affair with bedding and basic toilet facilities provided. Our local friends will prepare a hearty feast so all you need to do is soak up the experience. Our camp does provide blankets which are sufficient for most travellers between April and October.

In the night we will have our first chance to photograph star trails, at our desert camp.

Optional lunch in Tinghir.

Included Activities

• Camel ride in desert

• Dinner at camp

• 4WD to camp

Accommodation: Desert camp (1 night) No single supplement is available for this night stop

 

Day 3: Dades Gorge

For the early risers the morning begins with a sunrise over the majestic dunes before breakfast. It's another classic drive with dramatic changes of landscape to Dades Gorge (approx 4 hrs).

Stop en route in a small town called Tinejdad (approx 2 hrs from the desert) and where we have the option to visit the interesting Museum El Khorbat, which has a great collection of rural and historical Berber artefacts, clothing, jewellery and tools. It's housed in three restored homes of a Ksar and provides a wealth of information about Berber people living in the area.

After lunch, we head to our hotel in the Dades area that has a very pleasant pool. After two long driving days the group can relax and take the afternoon off.

Flanked on both sides by high limestone cliffs, Dades Valley features bizarre rock formations with picturesque kasbahs dotted amongst the crops and palms.

Accommodation: Hotel (2 nights)

 

Day 4: 4WD safari to Todra Gorge

After two long driving days we have a day with very little driving as we stay local and explore the equally spectacular Dades Gorge. We travel by 4 wheel drive on this excursion (please note that if conditions are very wet it is too dangerous due to flash flooding, if this is the case we will use the main highway instead.

Todra Gorge is a spectacular canyon with sheer rock walls up to 300 m high, now gaining fame as a rock-climbing destination. We plan to have a meal in a guesthouse in Todra, and also have the time to explore the Palmeries in the verdant lower gorge, before returning to our hotel in the Dades Gorge for the night.

 

Day 5: Ait Benhaddhou

Say goodbye to the Gorges region and travel further south towards Ait Benhaddou (approx 3 hrs). This scenic drive offers a glimpse of times gone by via the ruins of ancient kasbahs, former colonial military outposts, austere mountains, wide-open spaces, and valleys of palm trees and irrigated fields. En route we can pause for lunch in Ouarzazate.

The film capital of Morocco, Ouarzazate is the location where productions such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Sheltering Sky and Black Hawk Down were filmed.

Time permitting, you can take an optional tour of the Atlas Movie Studios.

We also have the chance to make a short visit to Project Handicapped Horizon, an organisation dedicated to the rehabilitation, health and empowerment of people with disabilities. Some of the amazing services they provide include the building and fitting of prosthetic limbs, custom-made wheelchairs, and physio and social therapy for sufferers of accidents and illness. They also operate an artisans workshop which trains local people in trades such as pottery, weaving, metal work and jewellery making. This is a wonderful visit and we're very proud to support this project through The Intrepid Foundation.

Centuries ago, Ait Benhaddou was an important stop for the caravans passing through as they carried salt across the Sahara, returning with gold, ivory and slaves. Today, its grand kasbah is still one of the most beautiful in all of Morocco and a World Heritage site. This fortified village is a fine example of clay architecture and is also famous for its role on the silver screen, featuring in numerous films such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Jewel of the Nile and Gladiator.

This evening will be our second chance to practice shooting star-trails - from the roof of our guesthouse!

Included Activities

• Cooking class and dinner

Accommodation: Guesthouse (1 night) No single supplement is available for this night stop

 

Day 6: Taroudant

Rejoin our minivan and continue towards Taroudant (approx 5 hrs). This drive takes us through more superb desert scenery and along a route that's a reserve for the indigenous argan trees - if we're lucky we might come across the famous image of goats climbing these trees in search of their tasty nuts.

Please note that this is a long travel day and we won't arrive at our accommodation until late afternoon/early evening. Our riad is centrally located which will allow us to walk around the atmospheric main square of the town, which comes along as the heat of the sun starts to fade away.

Accommodation: Central Riad (1 night)

 

Day 7: Drive to Essaouria

In the morning we will have time to explore Taroudant before continuing on to Essaouira on the coast. Taroudant is a vibrant market town located in the fertile Souss plains. With an energetic, bustling city centre this is a great opportunity to see an untouched traditional Berber lifestyle. The souqs of the medina teem with sights, sound and colour, with terrific bargains to be found.

We leave the valleys of the magical High Atlas Mountains behind and head towards the windswept Atlantic Coast and Essaouira (approx 4.5 hrs), we will use the coastal road with a brief stop in Agadir en-route.

Accommodation: Central riad (2 nights)


Day 8: Essaouria

The name Essaouira means image, which is appropriate since it's such a picturesque town. Its charm is undeniable - within the stone ramparts you'll find whitewashed houses with bright blue shutters, art galleries and wood workshops. This laid-back artists' town is a former Portuguese trading colony and was once home to sizeable British and Jewish populations. The town faces a group of rocky islands - called the Mogador - and is surrounded by an expanse of sandy beaches and dunes.

It's still a busy fishing port and it’s pretty harbour is filled with tiny colourful boats which go out early every morning for the day's catch. Visitors who have been seduced by its charms include Orson Welles and Jimi Hendrix, who (according to local legend) spent much of his time here in the 1960s. More recently, filmmaker Ridley Scott chose the ramparts as an important location for his film, Kingdom of Heaven.

Join our local guide for a walking tour through the old Medina, Jewish mellah, port and skala (sea wall). You have some free time to soak up the romantic ambience.

Everything in the small centre is within walking distance and the beach is clean. Wander the harbour and its adjacent fish markets where you can witness the daily auction. A freshly-cooked plate of the day's catch is highly recommended. Browse the plentiful shops and intriguing art galleries that make this little town a particularly pleasant place to unwind for a few days. It has a growing reputation for its unique art and is becoming even more famous for its burled Thuya wood - delicately formed and inlaid in tiny shops, which are built into the thick walls of the Portuguese ramparts. The scent from the oils used to polish the richly coloured wood permeates the air and makes walking down the streets incredibly pleasant.

Essaouira is a world-famous windsurfing destination. Give it go or you may like to try your hand at the increasingly popular sport of kite surfing.

Don't miss the opportunity to go to a hammam or local-style bath to be spoilt with a good scrub, a mud pack and a relaxing massage with argan oil.

Included Activities

• Walking tour
 

Day 9: Travel to Marrakech
On day 9 the morning is free for further exploration around Essaouria. In the early afternoon we will catch a comfortable local bus to Marrakech (approx 3 hrs), where we will check in to our riad.
 

Day 10 & 11: Marrakech
Even today, the name conjures up images of scenes from the Arabian Nights: alleyways, souks, stalls and markets. This remarkable city, dating from the 11th century, never fails to satisfy the curiosity of adventurous travellers. It has everything from the graceful architecture of the renowned Koutoubia Minaret, which dominates the skyline, to the wonderful throbbing atmosphere of a medieval fair in the great open square, the Djemaa el-Fna, at the heart of the medina.

We have two days to explore and photograph this famous city. On day 10 a 2 hour guided tour is included. This will take us down to the leather pits, where leather is cured and dyed in the traditional way, as it has been for generations.

 

Day 12: Tour ends
The tour ends after breakfast, and you are free to leave at any time, or contact Intrepid to arrange an extra night or two in this fascinating and entrancing city.

 

Notes on the tour

Itinerary:
Any tour is a balance between seeing as much as possible, and also having enough time to explore and take pictures. I believe that we have struck the best balance with this itinerary. There are many times where we will have free time, so you are free to explore and photograph on your own. I try to keep compulsory sunrises to a minimum, but there will be plenty of chances for those who are keen to make an early start!

I have tried to ensure that we manage to have the chance of a sunrise or sunset in all of the most important places, but sometimes we will have to photograph things during the day - at the wrong times. This is mainly the case when we are in transit. This is just a part of trying to see so much: if we were to photograph everything at the optimum times, then the trip would have to be about three or four times longer!
 

Portraits in Morocco:
It is worth bearing in mind that Morocco is not as easy a place to shoot portraits as it used to be. People can be quite paranoid about being photographed - especially if you don't ask permission. You are advised not to try to 'steal' pictures and to ask people. Not only is this a courtesy, that I believe will help you to secure better, more engaged pictures, it can avoid unpleasantness.

It is perfectly possible to shoot some amazing portraits in Morocco, and I will be on hand to advise as to when and how to ask. Very soon in the trip, I will hold an illustrated talk showing my technique for approaching people and how to get the best shots.

 

Tuition:
Throughout the trip I will hold a series of illustrated talks and group review sessions to try to help people to learn as much as possible on the trip, and also to come away with the best pictures possible. We will have some group sessions - notably on exposure and also on shooting star trails. I am always available if anyone has a question about photography and am always happy to look at pictures if you want a personal review. Please be aware that you will generally get out of this trip what you are prepared to put into it, especially with the review sessions.

 

Single supplement:
The single supplement is not available in the Ait Benhaddhou guesthouse, or in the desert camp. This means that people will have to share a room on these nights. Please also note that sometimes the single rooms are smaller than double rooms - especially in riads when many of the rooms will vary in size and quality. In general, we will try to balance everything out wherever possible, but sometimes the best rooms in the riads have double beds: twin and single rooms might not be as luxurious.

Printable version of itinerary

Included in the trip price

1 night on night train

3 nights desert camp

• 9 nights in hotel/guesthouse

13 breakfasts

• 5 dinners

• 4 lunches

All transport as per itinerary

Old Delhi tour

• Mehrangarh Fort visit

Udaipur City Palace visit

Bundi Palace & step wells

• Chittorgarh fort visit

• Ranakpur Jain Temples visit

Pushkar Camel ride

• Pre-trip Facebook group to meet other group members

• Experienced Intrepid leader

Expert photographic tuition

Impressions of Rajasthan itinerary

 

Day 1: Delhi
Welcome to Delhi!

We don't spend long in Delhi, so if you haven't been here before why not consider flying out a couple of days early so that you can explore.

There are plenty of things to see and do in free time. Visit the World Heritage-listed Mughal masterpiece of Humayun's Tomb. This was the first garden tomb in India, built way back in 1570. Wonder at the tall brick minaret of Qutub Minar, which was started back in the 1100s. Explore the mighty Red Fort of Delhi. Part palace and part fort, it plays an integral part in the history of the city with former residents ranging from royal families to British soldiers.

If you flight arrives early enough, join your group leader on an excursion into the sights and sounds of Old Delhi! Get a taste of India's famed public transport with a cycle rickshaw ride through chaotic streets, such as the famous Chandni Chowk. Make a visit to the Jama Masjid, Delhi's oldest mosque and one of its most impressive buildings, then visit the Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) to learn about the Sikh religion.

We leave on a night train, in the evening on our way to the city of Jodhpur.

Inclusions – Old Delhi visit
 

Day 2: Jodhpur
Jodhpur is known for its antique shops and the best lassi in India. And yes, it is where those famous trousers come from.

Explore the colossal Mehrangarh Fort and take in the great views from its ramparts, which dominate the city's skyline.

You might also choose to visit India's last great palace, the Umaid Bhawan Palace, which was constructed between 1929 and 1944. Named after the late Maharaja Umaid Singhji, the palace is still the residence of his successors.

Inclusions – Mehrangarh fort visit
 

Day 3: Jodhpur
Today we visit Sadar Bazaar, one of the oldest markets in India. Built around a clock tower amid spice and vegetable markets, juice sellers and sari materials, Sadar Bazaar also has numerous vendors with carts selling everything from Bollywood soundtracks to armfuls of sparkling bangles.

We then take a tour of the nearby Bishnoi villages. The Bishnoi are a peaceful nature-loving community and no trip to this region is complete without experiencing the fascinating traditions of the tribespeople of rural Rajasthan.

Inclusions – Bishnoi Village visit
 

Day 4 - 6: Pushkar
Drive to Pushkar in around 5 hours.

Pushkar is one of the India's holiest places. It's also a market centre for many of the local village people and a great place to sit back and relax.

We have timed our visit for the annual Pushkar Mela, which attracts camel sellars and pilgrims from miles around. The camel trading tends to happen at the beginning of the festival - the bathing at the end of the festival under the full moon. The problem with the bathing is that photography is banned by the holy lake, where the bathing happens. This is why we are coinciding with the beginning of the festival, and leaving for a different mela to see the bathing there.

We will be staying at a desert camp, and will have plenty of time to explore the mela and photograph to our heart's content!

Head out to explore Pushkar's main bazaar and many side streets - some great bargains can be had, as some of the cheapest clothes and jewellery in northern India can be found here. Walk around the lake, with its bustling ghats and temples, to watch the devout as they worship at the holy waters. Visit the only Brahma Temple in India.

Early risers can make the sunrise hike up the hill to the Savitri Temple for magical views over the town. There could also be a wonderful steaming glass of chai waiting for you if the chai man is there - certainly well worth the trek.

If you are keen, take a camel ride out into the local desert area. For those who don't want to ride a camel, there's a camel cart option.

Inclusions – Camel ride
 

Day 7 & 8: Udaipur
We drive to Udaipur via the beautiful hamlet of Ranakpur (approx 3 hrs), home to a host of intricately carved white marble Jain temples.

Explore the incredible complex of Jain temples - the main reason why Ranakpur is one of the most important pilgrim destinations for Jains in India.

Udaipur undoubtedly lives up to its reputation as India's most romantic city. Rolling hills, white marble palaces and lakes come together appealingly and it's a centre for artists, dancers and musicians. The shopping is also superb, with miniature paintings being the speciality.

On arrival in Udaipur, take a walk around town to help gather your bearings. Explore Udaipur's twisting alleys filled with silver, shoes, bags, leather goods and miniature paintings.

Visit City Palace, one of the largest royal palaces in India, and check out the unbelievable treasures within - from vivid murals to antiques and royal utensils.

Enjoy a half hour boat ride on the famous Lake Pichola and see marvels like Lake Palace and Jag Mandir Island (seasonal depending on the water level in the lake).

Be part of a musical concert combining seven traditional Rajasthani folk dances.

Inclusions – Ranakpur Jain Temples; Udaipur City Palace visit
 

Day 9: Chittorgarh
Drive to Chittorgarh in around 4 hours.

Chittorgarh is the largest fort in India and the grandest in the state ofRajasthan. It is a World Heritage Site. The fort, plainly known as Chittor, was the capital of Mewar and is today situated inChittorgarh City. It was initially ruled by Guhilot and later by Sisodias, the Suryavanshi clans of Chattari Rajputs, from the 7th century, until it was finally abandoned in 1568 after the siege by Emperor Akbar in 1567. It sprawls majestically over a hill 180 metres in height spread over an area of 280 ha (691.9 acres) above the plains of the valley drained by the Berach River. The fort precinct with an evocative history is studded with a series of historical palaces, gates, temples and two prominent commemoration towers. These monumental ruins have inspired the imagination of tourists and writers for centuries.

Inclusions – Chittorgarh fort visit
 

Day 10-11: Jhalawar
Drive to Jhalawar in around 5-6 hours.

Every year, The Chandrabhaga Fair in Rajasthan welcomes thousands of visitors and participants from all over the nation. It is held at Jhalrapatan, situated at a distance of about six kilometers from Jhalawar, in the month of Kartik (the full moon night).

The government of Rajasthan is taking several measures to promote tourism towards this unexplored state. The indomitable forts, magnificent palaces, charming wildlife, traditional fairs and festivals and peaceful lakes are some of the things that form the goodwill of this place. Chandrabhaga Fair, Jhalawar is one such splendid sight that truly deserves the attention of the tourists. This fair acquaints all travelers, pilgrims and explorers alike, with the rituals and traditions practiced in this region of the nation.

The ancient city of Jhalrapatan has an exceptionally large number of temples. It is also referred to as 'the City of Bells'. Amongst the old temples, about four or five still remain and the most famous amongst them is the Sitalesvara Mahadeva Temple which is also considered as one of the most remarkable specimens of architecture in India. A lot of pilgrims assemble into Jhalawar on the banks of river Chandrabhaga during the Chandrabhaga Fair in Rajasthan and take part in this gala event. The festival is named after the river Chandrabhaga itself and is considered very sacred by the people of Rajasthan.

We have timed our visit to fit in the the main bathing day of the mela on the Kartik Poornima full moon.

Please note: we are staying a few miles away from the mela ground, and so will have to travel to see the festival. Often traffic will be banned on the main bathing day, so the chances are that we will have to walk some way through crowds of pilgrims. Flexibility will be the key!
 

Day 12: Bundi
Drive to Bundi in around 5-6 hours, via Gagron Fort.

Just 12 Kms away from Jhalawar, the foundation of this magnificent, impregnable renowned fort was laid in the 7th century and the fort was completed in the 14th century. Gagron Fort is perched on a low ridge at the confluence of the rivers Ahu and Kali Sindh whose water surround it on three sides. On the fourth side there used to be a deep moat completing its defenses. It is surrounded by forests and has behind it the Mukundarrah range of hills.

A delightful town teeming with Rajasthani life, Bundi's narrow streets are packed with shops of all kinds and the downtown market is an interesting spot to mingle with the local people.

This is a fantastic place to explore on foot and there's plenty of time to visit the baoris (step-wells) and experience local street life down in the bazaars.

Explore Bundi Palace and its famous murals. Built during the 16th and 17th centuries, it's a classic piece of Rajasthani architecture.

Inclusions – Step wells; Bundi palace; Gagron Fort


Day 13: Jaipur

Drive to Jaipur for our farewell dinner.


Day 14: Tour ends
As many people have already visited Jaipur (and indeed Agra) we have taken the decision to end the trip here without any sight-seeing. You have a number of options though. Many international flights (including Jet Airways, Virgin and BA) can include a connecting leg from Jaipur to Delhi, giving you the option of flying into Delhi and flying out from Jaipur.

You also have the option of spending a bit of time in Jaipur, or joining the optional extension that spends a day in Jaipur, before driving to Agra to view the Taj Mahal via Fatehpur Sikri. This excursions finishes in Delhi. We will be posting further details of this extension in due course.

Printable version of itinerary

Included in the trip price

11 nights comfort hotel & 2 nights lodge accommodation

12 breakfasts

4 lunches & 3 dinners

All transport as per itinerary

• All domestic flights as per itinerary

Boat trip to Mingun

• Full day Inle Lake boat excursion

Short village Trek at Inle Lake

• 4WD excursion to Chin Hills

Entrance fees as per itinerary

• Group photo-tip kitty ($450)

• Pre-trip Facebook group to meet other group members

• Experienced Local leader

Expert photographic tuition

This tour is organised and led by Steve Davey | The land arrangements are sub-contracted to Intrepid Travel, but the tours don't appear on the Intrepid Travel website | The only way to book is through this site!

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Land arrangements are sub-contracted to Intrepid Travel, who have many years experience in running small group adventures.

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unforgetPlaces4PCThis tour is led by Steve Davey - a professional photographer, whose work appears in publications all over the world. He is the author of the bestselling Unforgettable Places To See Before You Die (BBC Books). Steve recently published Footprint Travel Photography (Footprint Books), which covers everything that you would ever want to know about travelling with a camera. Click for more.

Impressions of Morocco 2017
Itinerary

Day 1: Marrakech
Day 2: Ait Benhaddou
Day 3: Imlil/Armed
Day 4: Essaouria
Day 5: Essaouria
Day 6: Marrakech
Day 7: Marrakech
Day 8: Tour ends
 

Highlights of this trip

Djemaa el Fna by night

Sleeping in a mountain gite

Kasbah of Ait Benhaddou

• Photographing star trails

Souks of Marrakech

• Relaxed Essaouria

• Photography tuition

Included in the trip price

2 nights hotel accommodation

4 nights riad accommodation

• 1 night in mountain gite

• 7 breakfasts

• 1 lunch

• 4 dinners

All transport as per itinerary

Walking tour of Marrakech

Taxi to main square & dinner

Transport to Majorelle Gardens

Majorelle Gardens entrance

Cooking class, Ait Benhaddou

• Essaouria walking tour

• Pre-trip Facebook group

• Experienced Intrepid leader

Expert photographic tuition

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Start:27 Sept. 2017
End:
4 Oct. 2017
Code: TBC

Price: From 1095 pp
excl. flights, based on

Min 8, max 12 people
Places left: 12
Trip to be confirmed!

Approx other currencies*:
€ 1275 • US$ 1430

AU$ 1915 • NZ$ 2060

* for information only. Tour price payable in Sterling

Single supplement:
250

Estimated current flight cost from London: 200

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Impressions of Morocco itinerary

 

Day 1: Marrakech
Welcome to Morocco! On arrival at Marrakech Airport, those that are on the recommended group flight will be met by our representative and transferred to your hotel. While this is an arrival day and you may arrive at any time, please note that hotel rooms are generally only available after midday, and that there will a Welcome Meeting with your leader tonight at 6pm.

Marrakech is an ancient, exotic city wrapped in European modernity. This evening, why not head to the great square of Jemaa el Fna, one of the largest public spaces in the world and unique to Marrakech. When night falls it transforms into a hive of activity. Snake-charmers, henna-painters, performers and storytellers share the square with a street food bazaar, packed with stalls loaded with Moroccan delicacies.

Tonight, enjoy a traditional Moroccan dinner.

Included Activities:
Welcome dinner
Group arrival transfer (BA flight)

Accommodation: Hotel for convenient arrival and departure.

 

Day 2: Ait Benhaddou
This morning journey along mountain roads and over Morocco's highest pass, Tizi n'Tichka (2,260 meters), to Ait Benhaddou on the edges of the Sahara (approximately 6 hours). Perched on a hilltop and almost unchanged since the 11th century, Ait Benhaddou is one of Morocco's most iconic site. It was once an important stop for caravans passing through as they carried salt across the Sahara, returning with gold, ivory and slaves. Today its grand kasbah has been listed as a World Heritage site, with its fortified village being a fine example of clay architecture.

If you think you recognize the place, you probably do, as the town has a long list of film and TV credits, including Lawrence of Arabia, Game of Thrones and Gladiator. Enjoy a walk through the winding streets of old town, making your way to the top of the hill, from where you can enjoy the views across the surrounding plains.

In the late afternoon, enjoy a cooking demonstration to learn the secrets behind Morocco's most famous cuisine: couscous and tagine. This is at an old friend of Intrepid Travel, the famouns 'Action' Hussein! A local character, he has been an extra in many films. After dinner we have the chance to shoot star trails from the roof of Action's guesthouse.

Included Activities:
Kasbah Ait Benhaddou visit
Cooking demo & dinner at La Fibule d’or

Accommodation: Riad

 

Day 3: Armed
Bid farewell to the desert and journey again over the spectacular Tizi n'Tichka Pass (2,260 metres above sea level) to Toubkal National Park (approximately 5 hours), photographing snow-dappled mountains and valleys in full flower along the way. At the end of the road in Imlil, store your main luggage and load a daypack onto a pack mule.

Walk into traditional mountain village life with a one-hour trek up to the peaceful village of Armed, far from the reach of the modern world. If you don't feel comfortable with the walk, you can ride a mule instead. Perched on a rocky outcrop, the remote village of Aroumd offers stunning views across the High Atlas Mountains and a unique opportunity to experience traditional Berber culture.

Spend the night in a family-run mountain home (gite) in Armed. Surrounded by the smell of woodstoves and bread, meet the host family and enjoy Berber hospitality and food. Facilities at the homestay are shared (both the bathroom and sleeping arrangements) but cozy, comfortable and definitely a unique Intrepid experience.

Optional Activities:
Mule ride - Imlil to Aromed - MAD50

Included Activities:
Dinner

Accommodation: Local Gite (mountain guesthouse).

 

Day 4: Essaouira
Take a morning walk through the valleys and trails of the stunning Atlas Mountains. Afterwards, head westwards for five hours towards the Atlantic Coast and the old fishing town of Essaouira, a city where the medina brushes up against the Atlantic Ocean. Sandstone walkways contrast with whitewashed houses, bright blue sky and the sand of the surrounding beaches and dunes.

This artists' town was once home to sizeable British and Jewish populations, and its charm has seduced people like Orson Welles and Jimi Hendrix, who (according to local legend) spent much of his time here in the 1960s. It is one of North Africa's most attractive places, and you will soon find yourself slipping into the easy-going rhythm of this Moroccan town with a European seaside twist. Stay in a restored riad, or Moroccan mansion, a traditional nobleman's house unique to Morocco that’s a calming oasis away from the buzz of the medina. Your riad is beautifully designed and decorated in traditional Moroccan style, cozy yet historical. This is likely to be one of the most memorable stays of your journey.

Included Activities:
Morning hike in the Atlas Mountains
Lunch in the gite

Accommodation: Riad

 

Day 5: Essaouira
Today, join a local guide for a walking tour through the old medina, Jewish mellah, port and skala (sea wall). Afterwards, use your free time to get under the skin of the town. The narrow streets of Essaouira are ideal for casual exploration. Their size discourages cars, and on a walk through the town it feels as though little has changed since the days of sea pirates. The fishing port is a serious commercial operation and there’s much fun to be had observing the daily catch and its subsequent auction.

A freshly-cooked plate of the day's catch is highly recommended. Browse the plentiful shops and intriguing art galleries that make this little town a particularly pleasant place to unwind for a few days. It has a growing reputation for its unique art and is becoming even more famous for its burled Thuya wood, delicately formed and inlaid in tiny shops that are built into the thick walls of the Portuguese ramparts. The scent from the oils used to polish the richly colored wood permeates the air and makes walking down the streets incredibly pleasant. If you’d prefer to relax, don't miss the opportunity to indulge in a hammam or local-style bath.

Included Activities:
Guided tour of Essaouira old medina

Optional Activities:
Hamam (public baths) - MAD200
Berber massage - MAD350
Horse riding - MAD250
Seafood Market Lunch - Essaouira - MAD80

Accommodation: Riad

 

Day 6: Marrakech

Morning is at leisure in Essaouira. This wll give you more chance to wander in this entrancing place, and especially to visit the bustling harbour to see the fishing boats being unloaded.

In the afternoon, board your private minivan to travel back to Marrakech.

Time permitting, in the evening we will shoot the sunset over the main square, and tke some night photographs before heading into the square to eat at one of themany local foodstalls.

Accommodation: Riad

 

Day 7: Marrakech
After breakfast, today, meet your local guide and set off on a morning tour of the old medina, through the bustling souks that are the lifeblood flowing through the city. Explore tranquil courtyards filled with the scent of orange blossom, and the many salons and chambers that make up Bahia Palace. This splendid mansion was built in 1866 for a former slave who rose to power within the government. Continue to the Marrakech Museum, itself a former palace, which houses a fine collection of Moroccan art and sculpture. Stop by the Koutoubia Mosque; its famous minaret is the prototype for others of its kind around the world, including La Giralda in Seville. Then walk back through the streets of the old medina to the Jemaa el Fna to be transferred for visit of the tropical gardens of the French painter Jacques Majorelle.

The rest of the day is free to explore further or shop in the bazaar. Otherwise, perhaps head back into the medina, where every step brings a new smell, a new sight or a new gift to buy. Watch skilled artisans perfect their craft, practice your haggling skills or take a break from the hustle to sip on tea or share a tajine, filled with the pure scent of Morocco. For your final evening, why not feast in one of the many great restaurants lining the square.

Included Activities:
Guided tour of Marrakech old medina including entrance to Bahia Palace, Marrakech Museum
Visit to the Majorelle Gardens

Optional Activities:
Marrakech - Palais Bahia - MAD10
Palais Badi - MAD10
Saadian Tombs - MAD10
Medersa Ben Youssef - MAD40
Urban Adventures - Tajine cooking class - MAD546
Hammam & Massage in a luxury spa - MAD750
Palmery cycling tour - MAD350
Hot Air Ballooning - MAD1990
Urban Adventures - A Taste Of Marrakech - MAD509

Accommodation: Riad

 

Day 8: Tour ends

There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Your transfer to Marrakech airport on the group flight is arranged.

If you are on the British Airways flight, then you will have most of the day today to explore further in Marrakech. For these people, I suggest that we move the visit to the Majorelle Gardens to this morning, as the gardens are much less crowded in the morning. We should have an hour or so before the hordes arrive, which makes photography far easier and more relaxing.

Included Activities:
Group departure transfer (BA flight)

Printable version of itinerary

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