Immensely powerful and deeply vital to those who call its banks home, the Ganges River is a must-see travel destination in and of itself. Take this rare opportunity to cruise its storied waters on a 12-day adventure on riverboat and land. Sail to picturesque local villages to explore stunning temples and palaces. Wrap up with a four-day land excursion to the city of Varanasi, often considered the spiritual capital of India.
Itinerary - 12 Days
DAY 1 KOLKATA
Arrive at any time and transfer to your hotel. Arrival transfer included. Meals included: Breakfast
DAY 2 KOLKATA/FARAKKA
Catch a train from Kolkata to Farakka and embark on the riverboat this afternoon. Meals included: Breakfast | Dinner
DAY 3 FARAKKA/MANIHĀRI GHĀT
Sail upstream to Rajmahal, a village with a fantastic local atmosphere. Explore the remains of palaces, forts, and mosques submerged in vegetation before sailing on as far as Manihari Ghat. Meals included: Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
DAY 4 MANIHĀRI GHĀT/KAHALGAON
Cruise upriver to idyllic Bateshwar and visit 6th century rock carvings. Afterwards, drive a short distance to the impressive ruins of a Buddhist monastery at Vikramshila. Meals included: Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
DAY 5 KAHALGAON/SULTĀNGANJ
Keep an eye out for South Asian river dolphins this morning as you sail to Bhagalpur, a centre of silk production. Visit a mansion and silk-weaving village. Continue on to Jehangira Island and enjoy an excursion to view ancient Hindu rock carvings. Meals included: Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
DAY 6 SULTĀNGANJ/SITA KUND
Sail to Munger and take a rickshaw ride through the town to view the remnants of a Mughal fort and an East India Company cemetery. Visit the local bazaar, Pirpahar Hill, and Sitakund hot springs. Walk through the village and fields before getting back on board.
Meals included: Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
DAY 7 SITA KUND/BĀRH
This morning pass under the great bridge at Mokama, where the naturalist Jim Corbett spent his working life overseeing the ferry crossing. Stop to visit a bankside village and stretch your legs. Cruise on to Barh and moor for the evening. Meals included: Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
DAY 8 BĀRH/PATNA
Enjoy a full day excursion to Nalanda. Visit an excavated Buddhist monastery and stupa, and the picturesque Jain temple at Pawapuri. Continue to Patna and reboard the boat for the night. Meals included: Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
DAY 9PATNA/BODH GAYA
Disembark and discover Patna on a morning tour visiting the Golghar granary, the great Sikh temple, and the State Museum. Afterwards, transfer to the small town of Bodh Gaya to explore the Mahabodhi Temple Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Meet with a monk to discuss the history of the area and visit the spot where the Buddha found enlightenment. Meals included: Breakfast
DAY 10 BODH GAYA/VARANASI
Drive to Varanasi, the quintessential Indian holy city. This afternoon, enjoy a lecture at the Ghats of the Ganges by a Research Scholar from Benaras Hindu University, and talk about the river's significance spiritually, socially, economically and politically. After, embark on a boat trip on the sacred Ganges at sunset. Enjoy a candle and flower ceremony accompanied by sitar and tabla playing, and observe an evening aarti (prayer) ceremony. Meals included: Breakfast
DAY 11 VARANASI
Rise early for a sunrise boat ride along the Ganges to observe the dawn rituals of bathing and burial. After, have breakfast at Open Hand, a vocational training cafe and one of G Adventures' grassroots partners. Learn about this social enterprise whose mission is to provide dignified and meaningful job opportunities to underprivileged people in India. This afternoon take an excursion to Sarnath, a pilgrimage site where it is said the Buddha preached his first sermon. Meals included: Breakfast
DAY 12 VARANASI
Depart at any time. Meals included: Breakfast
Pricing starts at $2,500 per person, double occupancy.
Excursion to Rajmahal
Visit Bateshwar and Vikramshila Buddhist Monastery
Visit Jehangira Island
Rickshaw excursion to Monghyr
Explore Nalanda Buddhist Monastery and museum
Visit Pawapuri Lake and a Jain temple
Patna city tour
Explore the Mahabodhi temple complex and meet with a local monk
Orientation walk of Varanasi
Lecture on the Ganges
Sunset and sunrise boat trips on the Ganges River
Breakfast at Open Hand vocational training cafe
Interesting articles, helpful tips, and photography advice from National Geographic before you depart
All transport between destinations and to/from included activities
Hotels (4 nights), riverboat (7 nights)
12 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 7 dinners (Allow approximately USD $135-175 for meals not included. Drinks and tips on board not included.)
Riverboat, minibus, train, auto-rickshaws, cycle-rickshaws, walking.
Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout, local guides.
Travel Style: National Geographic Journeys
Cabins on board the riverboat all have exterior view windows and private bathrooms.
Built: 2006 Capacity: 24 passengers Cabins: 12 Cabins
Boat Layout: Spacious saloon with French windows opening onto a front balcony deck, dining room with glass doors down each side. Large sun deck with cane rattan chairs and sun loungers. Single seating for buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner. Combination of Indian and Western cuisines served on board.
A variety of styles of hotels/guest houses are used in India. These can vary in terms of service, efficiency and cleanliness. In many instances they might not be like what you are used to back home. Power cuts can and are a regular occurrence in many places, especially throughout North and Central India. Although a number of hotels have generators there may be times when these won’t work. It is also recommended when you are in your room to lock the door, as staff will sometime enter without reason.
Trip Type: Small Group
Small group experience, maximum 24.
Age Requirement: 12+
All travelers under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
We believe single travelers should not have to pay more to travel so our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and do not involve a single supplement. Single travelers joining group trips are paired in twin or multi-share accommodation with someone of the same sex for the duration of the trip. Some of our Independent trips are designed differently and single travelers on these itineraries must pay the single trip price.
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