From the horse’s mouth
Forgotten palaces in Shekhawati Christmas ride
- Stay at Dundlod Fort, the ancestoral home of your guide Bonnie Singh who is the heir of a large rajput family
- Enjoy the extravagent royal and colonial feel staying at palaces and strongholds, frozen in time
- Experience true rural Indian life riding through small villages on horseback
- Ride through rich and varied landscapes with a wide range of bird life
- Arrive on horseback into the villages of salesman and the strongholds of maharajas
- Stay at Nawarlgarh and Mandawa luxurious heritage hotels, capturing the legends of the past.
- Visit the pink city of Jaipur and the stronghold of Amber Fort
Day 1 1 : EUROPE - DELHIJAYPEE VASANT CONTINENTALFly from Europe to Delhi (time difference with the UK: 4h30).
On your arrival in New Delhi you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Those arriving in the morning will have a half-day sightseeing in Delhi. Rooms will be available from 12:00 noon at the Vasant Continental (or similar).
Day 2 2 : DELHI - DUNDLOD - No ridingDUNDLOD FORTThis morning you will drive from Delhi to Dundlod (approx. 7h drive). Here, you will arrive at Dundlod fort, a building which has been beautifully maintained and is complete with all modern comforts. The fort, built in around 1750, is home to a majestic banquet hall and charming bedrooms. The impressive Diwan Khana (Audience Hall) is furnished with Louis XIV furniture.
Dundlod Fort is in the heart of the Shekhawati region, surrounded by a moat, and is testament to both Mogul and Rajputana architecture.
After a welcome drink, you will have dinner.
You will spend the night in the fort.
Day 3 3 : DUNDLODDUNDLOD FORTIn the morning, you will meet the horses and explore on horseback some of the villages and temples surrounding Dundlod. This semi-desert ground is soft and sandy and allows for plenty of opportunity for some good gallops!
In the afternoon, you will visit the Frescoed Havelis (mansions) of Dundlod.
Day 4 4 : DUNDLOD - CHURI - 20km ridingAfter breakfast, ride to Churi Ajitgarh (about 20 kms in the saddle). The ride to Churi takes you across villages, farmlands and some quaint farmers’ dwellings. The terrain is soft and sandy and ideal for riding.
Arrive at Churi and transfer to Vivaana Culture Hotel which at one time used to be a Haveli (a merchant’s mansion) with beautiful frescoes. No other region in India or perhaps, even in the world, has such a large concentration of high quality frescoes as the region of Shekhawati. Today, this region is commonly called the Open Air Art Gallery of Rajasthan.
Day 5 5 : CHURI - MANDAWA - 25km ridingMANDAWA CASTLEOn Christmas morning you will ride to Mandawa, passing through villages and farmlands dotted with Khejri trees. The terrain is quite flat except for the sand dunes which keep coming up now and then. In Mandawa you will stay at the Castle Mandawa – a very imposing and luxurious hotel. Christmas festivities in the evening.
Day 6 6 : MANDAWA - THIMOLI - 28km ridingCAMPRide to Thimoli, riding over soft sandy tracks, through rural farm lands and Indian villages. There are good chances of seeing some wildlife in the form of the Nilgai antelope (which is the biggest antelope in India) and the graceful Chinkara gazelle.
Overnight at Camp.
Day 7 7 : THIMOLI - MEHANSAR - 25km ridingToday, you will ride across a varied terrain, through quaint villages, farmland and over sand dunes to reach Mehansar.
Arrive to Mehansar and ride into the Narayan Niwas Castle.
Please note that the Narayan Niwas Castle is a private home and facilities are quite basic. Hot water is supplied in buckets. Please do not expect any luxuries here. However, the hosts are lovely people and they will make you feel at home.
Day 8 8 : MEHANSAR - GANGIASAR - 25 km ridingCAMPThe ride on this day again is through the desert country – which is still quite devoid of major developments. The pace of the ride is fast like on the previous days and you will enjoy some good canters. You get to ride over a very open and interesting area and see small farmer’s dwellings. Most of the time the terrain is soft and sandy and there are good chances of seeing the Chinkara Gazelle and the Nilgai antelope.
Overnight at Camp.
Day 9 9 : GANGIASAR - ALSISAR - 22 km ridingALSISAR HAVELIRide to Alsisar. Today's ride will take you over lovely sand dunes - besides small hamlets and farmlands. Today also there are good chances of seeing the Nilgai and the Chinkara gazelle and if lucky, the endangered Blackbuck Antelope. The distance today is short and you can arrive to Alsisar early with plenty of time to relax at the hotel. The place has been tastefully renovated in order to provide all the comforts to the guests. The hotel has a lovely swimming pool and facilities for massage – this is a nice hotel to relax after a ride.
Day 10 10 : ALSISAR - GANGHU - 25km ridingCAMPRide to Ghanghu. Today's ride will take you through small villages, across open land and past farmers’ dwellings. At times you may have to ride over sand dunes and there is a good chance of encountering more of the local wildlife - Chinkara gazelle, the Nilgai antelope and maybe also the endangered Blackbuck antelope.
Overnight at Camp.
Day 11 11 : GANGHU - CHURU - 25km ridingYou will ride again through desert-like country with opportunities for some lovely canters on your Marwari horses. You come across sand dunes, open land and farmers’ dwellings. The hotel in Churu is Malji ka Kamra, a former haveli belonging to a wealthy merchant, now converted into a comfortable Heritage hotel. New Year's Eve celebrations in the evening.
Day 12 12 : CHURU - JAIPURAfter an early breakfast, you will be driven to Jaipur (c. 4h drive) where you will be taken to your hotel.
You will spend the afternoon sightseeing in Jaipur. The "Pink City of India", founded in the 1728, is enclosed by city walls and surrounded by hills crowned with forts. The houses in the city line the street, their rose-pink colour and latticed windows, lend an air of enchantment to the scene - and at sunset the city is breathtakingly lit.
In the City Palace, you will find a museum containing rare manuscripts, paintings and an armory. You will also have the occasion to see the Jantar Mantar observatory with a sundial 90ft high - built in the 17th century by Jai Singh, a keen astronomer, he built the observatory and it is still equipped with his quaint masonry instruments of remarkable size.
You may also visit the Ram Niwas Palace Gardens museum founded in 1876 and home to a large collection of antiques. You will also see the palace of winds, a uniquely designed Jaipur landmark made of pink sandstone.
Day 13 13 : JAIPUR - DELHIJAYPEE VASANT CONTINENTALThis morning, you will go to see the majestic ancient Amber fort cum Palace which looks out across the lake at the entrance to a rocky mountain grove. This includes an elephant ride to the fort.
This palace is a fine example of Rajput architecture built in the 17th century. Within its walls, you will find the Jai Mandir (hall of victory) decorated intricately with fine inlay work – giving the impression that this delicate work glows. You will also spot Jaigarh fort, crowning the summit of a peak, and you can enjoy its amazing beauty and grandeur.
In the afternoon, you will be transferred to Jaipur in time for your flight to Delhi and transfer to your hotel. Please note that there is a risk of fog at this time of year and sometimes the flight is delayed or replaced by a vehicle transfer. This is why we include a night in Delhi.
Night spent in Delhi or transfer to airport depending of your departure time.
Day 14 14 : DELHI - EUROPETransfer to the international airport in time for your flight – usually an overnight flight.
Dates & prices
- An internal flight from Jaipur to Delhi is also required at an additional cost (an average of £100, confirmed at the time of the booking)
- Airport transfers are included from Delhi
- Groups are usually composed of a minimum of 4 riders and a maximum of 14 international riders
- Non-riders are welcome and we will arrange a special jeep itinerary. Please contact us for details and prices.
- There is a single supplement payable to guarantee your own room. The supplement is c. £600. If you are willing to share but we don't have a sharer for you at the time of the booking, we will invoice a supplement of £300 - waived once a sharer is found.
- A visa is required to enter India and is your responsibility.
The itinerary may be modified at anytime for security reasons, meteorological or events beyond our control such as blocked roads, rivers in flood, drought, strikes and local holidays. Equus Journeys, our local partners and their local guides will always strive to find the best solution and will alter the itinerary as needed.
The names of the hotels and accommodation are given for information only and depending on availability, they may be modified without notice and replaced by another of a similar standard.
1 horse equipped with saddle and bridle per rider
1 team in charge of the horses
All land transfers in an air-conditioned van
Double room in hotel or palace in the countryside with private bathroom
1 bottle of mineral water per day during the ride
First aid kit
Price doesn't include
Beverages and personal extras
Internal flight from Jaipur to Delhi
Camera fees, laundry or personal extras
November - December 2020
Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status 21/12/2020 03/01/2021 £2,920 Open Book now
Minimum riding ability
Minimum riding ability
Weight limit: 14 stones (89 kgs) (196 lbs)
Tacking ability and participation
Trip conditions and Requested experience
Visiting a new country offers the opportunity to meet other cultures with different mentalities, therefore it is important to accept these differences and respect the local way of life.
We recommend our riders to wear a helmet to the correct standard and you should bring your own to ensure a proper fit.
Nights in hotels: hotel nights will be in twin bedded rooms with a private bathroom. Hotels are of a high standard. They are often previous palaces converted into hotels, retaining much of their original charm.
Nights at camp: safari style camp with large spacious tents. Each tent has two made up beds with comfortable mattresses. Separate toilets and showers are set up, with hot water available in the morning and evening.
Enjoy sumptuous meals, carefully prepared, freshly cooked and delicately spiced.
Camping :A help yourself breakfast of toast and cereals with eggs cooked to order if you wish. You have a hot lunch and then another hot meal in the evening around the camp fire. The food is varied and tasty Indian cuisine.
Contrary to popular belief, all Hindus are not vegetarians and strict vegetarianism is limited to the south. However, you are unlikely to be served beef steak as the cow is sacred. You can expect to eat either goat or chicken.
Take care and do not drink water unless it out of a bottle. It is better to buy mineral water when staying in the towns. The water you will be offered along the trail will be treated.
There will be limited alcohol to purchase and a variety of soft drinks.
The rides are scheduled for the cooler months and at this time the maximum temperature would be around 24°C during the day. Please be mindful that evenings can be cool (c. 5°C) and you should bring a warm sweater and be prepared for a chilly morning just in case there is a snow fall in the Himalayas as the temperature does drop suddenly at times. When camping, the nights can be cold are felt much more and you are advised to bring warm clothes for sleeping.
Guide and local team
After the ride, guest usually collect the money in an envelope and hand it over to either your guide Bonnie or Sunayana (his assistant) with the instructions to divide it among the whole team – grooms, camp cook and staff, jeep drivers etc… Budget for c. £40-50 per person in total.
At the hotels, tipping is absolutely discretionary. The bell boys at the hotel handling the baggage do expect a small tip. If you are happy with their services, they may give them around Rupees 50 to 100 – but again, it is absolutely discretionary.
Be careful not to tip too much - being overly generous can affect the general standard of living and destabilise the local economy. If children earn more money than their fathers by begging or asking for money for photos then this can create major distortions within the family.
- Equus Journeys strongly recommend that you wear a riding helmet and that you take your own to ensure a correct fit. There are many lightweight options available nowadays
- Sunhat for when not riding
- Sunglasses - with a cord attached so they don't fly off when riding
- Wooly hat
- Buff or Bandana to protect against sand, sun and dust
- Long sleeved shirts provide protection from the sun and are an extra layer
- Lightweight fleece or jumper
- A light waterproof jacket
- Lightweight, comfortable riding trousers or jodhpurs - we recommend riding in them at home before taking them on holiday to ensure they don't rub
- Casual trousers for the evenings.
- Swimsuit to enjoy the swimming pool of the hotels
Hands and Feet
- Comfortable riding boots. We recommend short boots with half chaps. We don't recommend taking your favourite long leather boots in case they get damaged
- Trainers or equivalent light shoes for the evenings
- Gloves - your hands are particularly exposed to the sun
- Please don't take a hard sided suitcase. Your luggage should be soft sided with a capacity of about 80 litres. We recommend taking a backpack or similar.
- Backpacks cannot be worn whilst riding. MAX LOAD is 15kg.
- We recommend a small bumbag or a coat with pockets so that you can carry small items with you during the day (camera, sunscreen, lipbalm etc) and whilst riding.
- We recommend travelling in your riding boots and carrying your hat and some riding clothes in your hand luggage - then if your luggage goes astray you are still able to ride.
- Tall riders may benefit from taking a pair of long stirrup leathers with them (the local stirrups are adjustable but are sometimes limited in length)
Other useful items
- Towels - camping ones will both dry and pack more easily
- Small backpack 25-30 liters
- Camera and high capacity memory card. Spare battery
- Bumbag for carrying your camera and small items whilst riding
- Headtorch or small torch for moving around camp at night - bring spare batteries and bulbs
- Water bottle (2 litres or 2 x 1 litre)
- Swiss army knife
- Wet Wipes or equivalent (for when washing facilities aren't available)
- Toilet paper and a lighter to burn it with
- Small plastic bags for rubbish
- Ear plugs (for light sleepers)
In your hold luggage
- Any liquids, such as shampoo, moisturiser, deodorant unless they are less than 100ml and all bottles can fit in a small, clear, plastic ziplock bag. We recommend biodegradable washing products where possible.
- Swiss army knife (or equivalent)
In your hand luggage
- Any valuables, such as your camera, ipod, ipad etc.
- Travelling in your riding boots and carrying your hat and some riding clothes is highly recommended - then if your luggage goes astray you are still able to ride!
- Any medication you regularly take
- Sunscreen and lip balm - should be high factor
- Insect repellent, preferably containing deet
- Blister plasters in case of any rubs
- Antiseptic cream, plasters, aspirin, anti-histamine, insect-bite salve etc...
- Spare prescription glasses/contact lenses
- Eye drops
- Imodium or similar anti-diarrhoea medication
- Re-hydration sachets
- Water purification tablets
- Antiseptic wipes
- Handwash gel
- We recommend taking a copy of your passport and insurance documents with you in case you lose your originals
- Please take your rubbish home with you. There are no recycling facilities in Rajasthan, so take your used batteries, aerosols etc back home and dispose of them appropriately. Try to leave excess packaging material at home before travelling
- You may wish to take some photographs or postcards of your home with you to show your hosts. You may also wish to take some crayons, colouring books etc for the children
- If you prefer travelling in a "light way" please choose a biodegradable soap or washing powder/liquid.
Visa & Health
A passport valid for at least 180 days and with at least two blank pages is required by all Australian, British, USA, Canadian and other EU nationals.
Visas for India are required by all nationals referred to above. Nationals not referred to are advised to contact their embassy to check visa requirements for India.
Certain parts of the country have been designated protected or restricted areas that require special permits and in some cases prior government authorisation. You should indicate your intent to visit a specific restricted region when applying for a visa and a permit will be granted to visit that region only. It is advised that you apply for the special permit for restricted areas when you enter India by visiting the FRRO (Foreign Regional Registration Office) which has offices in all major Indian airports and cities. You must complete an additional form, but there is no fee for a restricted area permit.
Passengers are advised to check with the consulate for up-to-date information before departure. You must fill in application forms completely, and with as much detail as possible, otherwise the application may be rejected and a new application only allowed after three months have passed.
You should be aware that there have been changes made by the Indian Government, on visa formalities for foreigners who are hospitalised in India, when travelling on a short-term tourist visa. If you or someone you are travelling with is travelling on a tourist visa and is hospitalised, we would advise you to immediately get in touch with the local Foreigners Registration Office (FRO) to check if visa conversion is required.
IMPORTANT: the information below is for UK citizens. Citizens of other nationalities please contact us. For up to date information please visit: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/india/entry-requirements
You’ll need to get a visa before travelling to India. You can find further information about how to apply on the Indian High Commission website (https://www.hcilondon.gov.in/index).
Make sure you get the right visa for your travel and that it’s valid for the purpose and duration of your stay. If you enter India on the wrong visa, you could be detained on arrival and you may be deported and blacklisted, meaning that you can’t enter India again. Make sure you meet entry requirements. Tourist visas can’t be extended while in India.
From 1 April 2017, the length of stay on an e-visa has been increased from 30 days to 60 days with double entry on tourist and business e-visa and triple entry on medical e-visas. This means you can stay for or re-enter within 60 days of the date of your first entry into India on your e-visa. However, you must leave the country before your visa expires, irrespective of when or how many times you enter. When you arrive at the airport, your passport will be stamped and an expiry date for your e-visa will be handwritten by an Immigration Officer. Please be aware that 60 days is not automatically equal to two calendar months. Check the date that is written on your passport and make sure you leave the country before your visa expires.
Holders of passports endorsed ‘British citizen’ who meet the eligibility criteria can apply for a double entry e-Tourist Visa (e-TV) to enter India at certain designated airports. You can find more information about the eligibility criteria on the government of India’s e-Tourist Visa website (https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html). Beware of fake websites offering the e-TV service. You should check carefully whether or not you’re eligible for an e-TV before you apply. British subject, British protected person, British overseas citizen, British national (overseas) and British overseas territories citizen passport holders aren’t eligible to apply for an e-TV.
Your passport must be machine readable, with 2 blank pages for your visa and valid for a minimum of 180 days at the time of your visa application. However, the guidelines regarding passport validity on arrival in India are unclear. To avoid possible problems at immigration, make sure your passport is valid for a minimum of 180 days at the time of entry into India.
India’s Bureau of Immigration has announced that with immediate effect, foreign nationals who arrive at an Indian port holding non-machine readable passports will be denied entry. Carriers who transport foreign passengers holding non-machine readable passports may be subject to a fine.
All visa applications in the UK now have to be filed online at http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk. After the mandatory electronic filing of visa applications, applicants are asked to submit printed copies of their applications, photos, passports and fees to respective Indian Visa Application Centres (IVACs). Processing times vary at the sole discretion of the High Commission of India and its consulates in the UK, and some applications may take longer than others to get processed. You should confirm your travel plans only after obtaining the visa.
Postal applications take a minimum of 10 working days (not including transit). In addition, if the High Commission or the Consulate General requires an applicant to attend an interview, the India Visa Application Centre will contact the applicant and inform them of the date and time of the interview accordingly.
Addresses of consulates
- High commission of India
Tél. : +44-(0)20-76323070/7
- Paris | Ambassade d’Inde
15, rue Alfred Dehodencq
Tél. : 01.40.50.70.70
- Ambassade de France en Inde
2/50-E Shantipath - Chanakyapuri
Tél. : +91 (11) 43 19 61 00
Malaria prevention is strongly recommended so use insect repellent and wear protective clothing. Obtain anti-malarial medicine from your doctor before travelling.
Even seasoned travellers may find themselves at the mercy of travellers’ diarrhoea. Hygiene standards vary. If possible, travel around with soap or antibacterial gel in order to clean your hands. The culprits that cause diarrhoea are often the microorganisms found in local water supplies, so decrease your chances by drinking bottled or boiled water. You can have alcoholic drinks but say no to ice. Drink carbonated beverages or those with only boiled water like coffee and tea.
Carry rehydration solution packets, Pepto Bismol or Imodium in case you are afflicted. Before your travel, seek medical advice about what to take for self-treatment.
Wear adequate sunscreen or do like the locals to beat the heat and avoid the sun between 1200 and 1600 when it is at its harshest; don a cotton kameez to keep covered and cool.
Our recommendation :
Cancellation and travel insurances are not included. Please note that insurance is mandatory. We recommend to take out an insurance policy as soon as your travel is booked in case of cancellation.
Budget and money
Note: The import and export of local currency is prohibited. Sometimes smaller vendors will not take bills larger than Rs 500. It is best to carry a range of rupee notes if you are shopping at bazaars and local markets.
In major cities, the full cadre of banks cards are generally accepted including debit cards, American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa. However, in smaller towns and villages, choice is generally narrowed to cash or MasterCard and Visa.
24 hour ATM machines can be found in all the major cities and most large towns. Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus, Maestro and Plus are amongst the most commonly accepted cards.
Telephone and jetlag
Dialling code +91
Did you know?
Did you know?
The Maharaja palace
The proud Rajput warrior clans clashed for centuries to take control over this region of India, building majestic and impregnable fortresses.
Born to be riders, the Rajputs have made their stables one of the most important strengths of their armies. Under British protection, the powerful Rajputs princes enjoyed a peaceful life, living in palaces in the countryside, surrounded by opium scents... and many women.
The Maharajas privileges were abolished in 1947 in order to align this territory with the other states of unified India. However, in Rajasthan, traditions and customs still endure more so than anywhere else in the country. In the countryside, the forgotten palaces still vibrate with the soul of the proud Rajput riders.