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 Dundlod Fort, Vivanna Heritage Haveli, Malji Ka Kamra and Alsisar Fort, 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 - THIMOLI - 25km ridingCampOn Christmas morning you will ride to a luxurious camp, 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 Thimoli you will stay at a tented camp. Christmas festivities in the evening.
Day 6 6 : THIMOLI - RAMGARH - 28km ridingCampRide to Ramgarh, 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 Heritage .Vedaaranya Heaveli - standing tall and well-preserved in the beautiful heritage town of Ramgarh Shekhawati, home to the only Veda temple in the world and where history comes alive in the form of vibrant colours, art and architecture.
Day 7 7 : RAMGARH - RATANSHAHAR - 25km ridingCampToday, you will ride across a varied terrain, through quaint villages, farmland and over sand dunes to reach a tented camp at Ratanshahar. You will see a lot of chinkara deers and Nilgai antilopes.
Overnight at camp.
Day 8 8 : RATANSHAHAR - CHURU - 25 km ridingThe 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 Arrive to Churu to leave the horses outside the old town and drive into the Heritage Malji Ka Kamra hotel, a meticulously restored 1920 Shekhawati Haveli with colonial pillared architecture, Italian art-deco influences, mughal arches and handmade fresco paintings. Malji Ka Kamra is family- run, personalized and authentic to take you back to the era of Marwari traders and live their stories.
Day 9 9 : CHURU - GHANGHU- - 22 km ridingCampRide to Ghanghu. Today's ride will take you through small villages, across open land and past farmersʼ 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 10 10 : GHANGHU - ALSISAR - 25km ridingRide 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 11 11 : ALSISAR - 15 km ridingYou will ride again in the morning hours around the village of Alsisar and see the water reservoir created to bring water to the desert area from Punjab. In the evening a sun downer at the dunes before New Year's celebrations at the Fort.
Day 12 12 : ALSISAR - 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
- International flights to Delhi are not included
- An internal flight from Jaipur to Delhi is also required at an additional cost (an average of €130/€120/$140), 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. €940/£820/$960. If you are willing to share but we don't have a sharer for you at the time of the booking, we will only invoice 50% of the single supplement - 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
Guide & local team
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.
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.
- Travel light. It's a little known fact, but the lighter you pack, the better for the environment as heavy bags will produce higher emissions (when flying a plane or driving a car!).
- Reduce plastic waste. Take your favorite reusable bottle with you. Avoid single-use bags, cups, or straws.
- Preserve nature. Always take your rubbish with you during the ride and recycle them. Leave all the flowers or plants as you found them, and never get too close when observing wildlife. Make sure to use eco-friendly products such as body wash or laundry detergent (if camping) to protect both your skin and the environment.
- Choose your experiences carefully. Respect animal life by not participating in any activities that abuse wild animals (shows, elephant rides, etc.).
- Support local populations. Buy local handicrafts, be respectful of customs, and learn about the culture of local communities.
- Share! Raise awareness among your family and friends about sustainable tourism.
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.
Equus Journeys' reply
Thank you Veronica for your detailed feedback, it's great to hear you had an enjoyable holiday in India! We will add "seat savers" to the list of equipment provided by the local team - thanks for letting me know!