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Tours of the Raj

Overview

These breathtaking and luxurious Indian safaris combine the thrill of riding through the magnificent former Raj kingdoms with the experience of riding Indian horses such as the Marwaris, with their beautiful curled ears, and the Sindhis. As you ride across this unspoilt terrain you will interact wi…

Highlights

  • Experience the power of a native Marwari Horse
  • Canter long, sandy trails on horses which don't tire
  • Share fun stories with Devendra around the campfire
  • Wake to the sound of Ramlal's sweet music
  • Eat delicious, fresh and authentic Indian cuisine

Essential Facts

  • 4 itineraries available
  • Max 12 riders per group
  • Average of 3 - 5 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 85kg / 187lbs / 13 stone 5 lbs

Description

These breathtaking and luxurious Indian safaris combine the thrill of riding through the magnificent former Raj kingdoms with the experience of riding Indian horses such as the Marwaris, with their beautiful curled ears, and the Sindhis. As you ride across this unspoilt terrain you will interact with locals by riding through untouched villages, enjoy a taste of the desert lifestyle, view the flora and fauna of Rajasthan and listen to the rhythms of folk musicians. This is the way to see real India, sharing the experience with likeminded people who have a love for horses, nature and the environment. Your experienced guides have taken special care to ensure that the routes are as varied and interesting as possible and that you find your selected horses to be well bred, appropriately schooled and a pleasure to ride.

These trips are organised from a reputable Marwari stables based at a former palace, which can also offer based riding holidays (see 'Rajasthan Hotel' on our website). The hosts' ancestors were feudal chiefs under the Maharaja of Jaipur and they governed country estates and maintained the horses and cavalry. The hosts' ancestral home has been converted into a beautiful heritage hotel with extensive gardens, pool, billiards room and of course the stables. It lies around 6 hours by car from Delhi and is the perfect place to start your riding adventure in Rajasthan.

During these horseback safaris lunch halts and campsites are in unique settings. The riding routes pass through semi-deserted terrain, forests, salt lakes, marshes and flat grasslands. Riders have the opportunity to trot, canter and to gallop at times. The support team has been carefully selected to consist of experienced riders, a talented cook (ex-army!), organised camp staff, folk musicians, efficient grooms and drivers. Some of the itineraries take you to spectacular horse fairs where you will be stunned by the number of horses, camels and cattle, the quality of many of the animals on show and this real taste of old style India. These tours are a delight for photographers, those with a love of history or simply keen riders wanting to explore this fascinating country.

Holly from Far and Ride rode here in 2015 and 2017 and absolutely loved it! She was particularly impressed with the beautiful care of these majestic horses and with the flawless organisation by the team. If you would like to know more then please get in touch!

Horses & Riding

Tack

Indian cavalry 'Sawar' saddles - these are strong and simple but comfortable for both horse and rider. We recommend you take a seat-saver if you would like one, though they have a few available for guests to borrow.

Horses

The stables here use primarily Marwari horses with a few Kathiawari and Sindhi horses. The Marwari horse is a lean breed, generally small in height, and is very intelligent and spirited... a wonderful endurance horse. They adapt very well to desert conditions and changes in fodder and you might know them as the horses with the beautiful curled ears! The Marwaris were the traditional battle horses of Rajputana and here you will be able to experience how different they feel as you ride them across their homeland. The hosts of these rides feel strongly that it is important to preserve the Indian breeds of horses and effort has been made to maintain the pure blood lines.

Riding

There are 4 itineraries:

  • Nawalgarh to Mehansar Castle is a trail ride
  • Rajasthan Mini Trail is a trail ride
  • Talchapper Blackbuck Sanctuary Ride is a trail ride
  • Balotra Fair Ride is a trail ride

Ages

12+ (under 18's must be travelling with parents and able to ride a forward-going horse).

Health

Good fitness recommended - riders should be prepared for 25-50 kms of riding a day with long trots and canters.

Weight

85kg / 187lbs / 13 stone 5 lbs

Food & Accommodation

Food

Your food is prepared by an-ex Army cook who has a lifetime of experience cooking for officers moving with the Paltans. In army language this type of lunch is called 'haver sack'. The variety of menus is astounding and no two lunches have a common menu. Instead of giving individual lunch boxes, a buffet is laid out on the bonnet of the support jeep. Tea/Coffee is served piping hot in insulated containers. Portable stools are carried in the jeep, to be used by the guests at lunch time. Menus include both old Rajasthani recipes in addition to continental dishes for those who prefer it - during the week the menu will be altered according to the tastes of guests. Sometimes you may also enjoy a picnic breakfast ride served in the same way.

During camping nights the dining tent has a regular sit down arrangement with chairs and tables. Fixed menu meals with a choice of Indian and continental dishes for every meal are provided. Tea and coffee after each meal and soup at dinner is for unlimited consumption.

When staying in hotels and guesthouses during your tour you will continue to eat authentic local cuisine. There is usually a spiced element to each meal, including breakfast, but for those who prefer not to eat spices then they will happily cook something else for you. Breakfast usually consists of toast, eggs (cooked how you like them, we recommend the 'Indian scrambled'!), butter, jam and something like samosas or pakoras. Lunches and dinners are always buffet style, served with chapattis.

Accommodation

Accommodation is split between one of the best palace hotels in Rajasthan (Roop Niwas Kothi), selected guesthouses en-route and luxurious tented campsites when you are on safari.

Usually on arrival at your destination you spend 2-3 days at Roop Niwas Kothi, which is a fascinating blend of European and Rajput architecture, though this depends on your chosen itinerary. The palace has spacious lawns, a billiards room and a private swimming pool.

The mobile camp consists of tented accommodation in Shamiana type oriental tents on twin sharing / single basis. Each tent cubicle is provided with cots, chairs, linen, white sheets, quilts, blankets, pillows, mosquito nets (dependent on time of year, not always necessary), hot water bottles and a full floor covering. Lighting in tents is by kerosene lamps. The dining tent and kitchen are lit by petromex/gas lamps.

There are also toilet and bath tents. These are one piece units with a covered roof and zippers. The bath tents have wooden floors, foot mats and hangers for clothes. The toilet tents have a wooden / metal commode with a pit. Hot water for bathing is provided in buckets both in the morning and evening. Soaps, towels, looking mirrors and wash basins are provided.

The camp is set out with a large rectangular courtyard for camp fires and folk entertainment. Each evening a different demonstration or talk is given ranging from local horse medicine, wildlife, Indian cooking or the caste system. The dining tent is on one side while the other three sides are guest tents. The adjacent space is utilised for bath and toilet tents.

Itineraries

Nawalgarh to Mehansar Castle Tented / Luxury accommodation.

Rajasthan Mini Trail Tented / Luxury accommodation.

Talchapper Blackbuck Sanctuary Ride Tented / Standard / Luxury accommodation.

Balotra Fair Ride Standard / Luxury accommodation.

Other Activities

These rides are point to point so each day will bring new and exciting activities. Aside from the spectacular landscape, you may have the opportunity to visit a private home and meet the family members, learn how to cook traditional Indian dishes and share them with your group and enjoy the nightly folk music performed by the team. Ladies have the opportunity to see how Indian henna is applied and might even choose a design for themselves to be painted on.

Non-riders are welcome to accompany their riding partners on the trip and travel by jeep to each destination. They are an integral part of the trip and participate in all activities except riding.

We highly recommend that riders consider extending their trip in India to include a visit to Agra and the Taj Majal - we can help you organise this so please just get in touch.

Travel

Flights operate to New Delhi and Jaipur from London airports. Most visitors fly into Delhi and we can organise the transfer for you from there, using a company called Royal Expeditions.

It's roughly a 6 - 7 hour drive from Delhi to Nawalgarh where the stables are based, but the transfer company provide comfortable, well-maintained vehicles with bottled water available. They will stop half-way during your journey so that you can have lunch and a break. It is a long way but well worth it in our opinion and you can nap in the car.

Alternatively you may be able to find a good flight into Jaipur or to fly there from Delhi itself. Jaipur is 2.5 - 3 hours from Nawalgarh by car and so reduces your road time.

Testimonials

Vikki S. (Talchapper), April 25, 2018

It was incredible! From start to finish the trip was exactly what I had hoped it would be, full of exciting experiences, new cultures, lovely people and wonderful horses.


Mirren K. (Talchapper), April 25, 2018

I had a really fantastic experience. It was a truly unique perspective on a part of India and its culture that you cannot see any other way - it was completely different to the rest of India I saw in my travels after the ride. Getting out into the more rural and remote areas, on horses which are 'homegrown', in the company of our amazing host Devendra was fantastic. The Marwaris themselves an extra special treat and such fun to ride.


Frances P. (Talchapper), April 25, 2018

Wonderful experience. Difficult to find sufficient words to describe all the good impressions. The sum of all the varied experiences combined to make a fantastic holiday. I very much enjoyed riding through the countryside and villages, seeing the country firsthand.


Sally S., March 5, 2015

Riding from Nawalgarh to Mahansar on my beautiful Marwari... I have milked cows, spent nights in palaces and forts, escorted a Marwari stallion on his first safari, danced around a camp fire with bells tied to my ankles, been chased by camels, cows and a pony stallion, giggled until my head nearly fell off, galloped across desert sands, slept under the stars, listened to stories of pigeon flying, kite fighting and wall climbing, been woken by a traditional folk musician each day, learnt to tie a turban, eaten all manner of delicious delights and most importantly, I have witnessed the life and culture of rural Rajasthan through the curly ears of such incredible Marwari horses. The perfect adventure.


Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1 - Arrival

Riding: No riding.

Arrive into New Delhi on a morning flight and take an airport transfer to the hotel/base stables in Nawalgarh, a journey of approximately 6.5 hours (transfer not included in the price but can be arranged by and paid to Far and Ride). You will receive a royal welcome at Roop Niwas Kothi which lies just a kilometre from the town and is a fascinating blend of European and Rajput style of architecture. The former palace offers spacious lawns, a billiards room and swimming pool. 

Nawalgarh is situated in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan, an area which comprises of the districts Jhunjhunu and Sikar. It is know for the painted houses, known as "havelis", which belonged to its wealthy merchant class (the Marwaris!). The region is sometimes considered as an open-air art gallery! The drive to Shekhawati is through picturesque villages and farms. 

Nawalgarh was founded in 1737AD. by Thakur Nawal Singh, a warrior statesman, whose name is enshrined in history and folklore. The town has an old world charm and the colourful bazaar offers the greatest number of painted havelis in Shekhawati. 

Depending on your arrival time there may be time to meet your horse today and even try them out, otherwise you will be introduced to them tomorrow and given tips on how best to ride them. These are purebred Indian horses and your host, Devendra, is very passionate about them.

Tonight you will have dinner and stay overnight at Roop Niwas Kothi.

Day 2 - Nawalgarh

Riding: 3 - 4 hours

Morning ride out with picnic breakfast in the countryside, returning to Roop Niwas in time for lunch. Afternoon involves free time at the palace though an optional activity is offered - ladies are invited to have their palms decorated with henna. Later you will enjoy some sightseeing of Nawalgarh by car, with a guide, in order to see the havelis, frescos and painted houses. In the evening you will visit the stables and enjoy another night in the hotel.

Day 3 - Nawalgarh - Churiajitgarh - Nabipura (28km)

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Today's ride is through semi-desert farmland towards a small woodlot and a dry watering hole, surrounded by ker bushes. There are often large numbers of blue bull antelope here and you can see them around your campsite. Overnight in camp.

Day 4 - Nabipura - Dabri - Fatehpur Beed (30km)

Riding: 1 hours

Morning ride through semi-desert region and Fatehpur Beed. You will enjoy a picnic lunch near a typical Shekhawati architecture water tank, 'johda'. Three hundred years ago the Nawab of Fatehpur encircled an area, by riding on horseback from sunrise to sunset, and declared it protected. Today Fatehpur Beed is an amazing 70 sq. km area with a variety of desert plant species. Camping in Beed allows you to see desert foxes, jackal, blue bull antelope and deer. The protected area proves that if humans don't interfere then a semi-forest can be created in a desert. 

Overnight in camp, near to the ruins of a travellers home which overlooks the entire beed. This is a beautiful campsite!

Day 5 - Fatehpur Beed - Thimoli Crossing - Dhakas (22km)

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Riding north today you will go further into the Shekhawati region. The sand dunes are dotted with greenery where farmers have found water from deep tube wells. Ramgarh is a town with many painted havelis and an interested traditional market place. 

Overnight camp on farmland.

Day 6 - Thimoli Crossing - Dhakas - Mehansar Castle (14km)

Riding: 3 - 4 hours

You will pass through very high sand dunes and desert villages to reach the beautiful small village of Mehansar of the Shekhawati region. The hotel is a charming, family-run hotel with basic comforts but very tasty home cooked food. 

Overnight in Mehansar castle.

Day 7 - Mehansar - Lalsinghpura - Mehansar (23km)

Riding: 3 - 4 hours

Ride out with picnic breakfast. Late afternoon sightseeing of Mehansar including a visit to the Gopinath temple and the famous 'Sone Chandi Ki Haveli'. 

Overnight in Mehansar castle.

Day 8 - Mehansar - Delhi

Riding: No riding.

Early morning ride (if time permits) and a chance to say goodbye to your horses. After breakfast you will take a transfer (around 7 hours) back to Delhi. The transfer is not included in the price but can be arranged by and paid to Far and Ride, as can a hotel in Delhi for the night before flying home the next day.

Accommodation

A combination of Nawalgarh hotel, luxury tents and Mehansar hotel.

Experience Experienced

Experienced riders capable of handling a forward going horse. Riders need to be fit and able to withstand long hours in the saddle.

Minimum group size 4
Maximum group size 12
Departure windows

At any time during: Sept. 15, 2021 - April 15, 2022

Pricing

2021/2022
Sharing
£1915 $2665 €2245
Included 7 nights of accommodation, all meals from day 1 dinner to day 8 breakfast, horse riding as per itinerary, groom service to look after horses, English speaking safari leader, accompanying 4X4 jeep to carry hand baggage, unlimited mineral water and soft drinks whilst on safari and at camps, campfire, folk music entertainment every day at the camps.
Not included Flights, insurance, transfers from/to Delhi, Delhi hotels (if required), alcoholic drinks or extra drinks in hotels/accommodation, extra services and tips/gratuities.
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.

Day 1

Riding: 1 - 3 hours

Arrival to the hotel in time for lunch. Introduction to the stables and a short ride to get accustomed to your horse. Dinner and overnight in the hotel.

Day 2

Riding: 2 - 4 hours

Morning ride out for a picnic breakfast, back to the hotel for lunch. In the afternoon you are taken on a sightseeing tour of Nawalgarh which is famed for its beautifully painted havelis (country mansions). Dinner and overnight in the hotel.

Day 3

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Trail ride begins! Today you will cover 28km, stopping for lunch on the way, before reaching your first campsite at Nabipura. This is camping with a difference - comfortable beds, hot bucket showers, sit down meal and plenty of great campfire tales. Hot water bottles are provided for those who get chilly! The horses stay just outside the tents and are kept well fed, watered and washed down. Blue bull antelope are often seen in this area.

Day 4

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

After breakfast you will depart for your next day ride, this time covering approximately 30km on the way to your next campsite at Fatehpur Beed. This is an amazing 70 sq. km area with a variety of desert plant species, home to desert foxes, jackal, blue bull antelope and deer. This is a beautiful camping spot!

Day 5

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

This is your last day of riding. You will depart from camp after breakfast, riding on until Thimoli crossing with a lunch stop on the way. This ride takes you further into the Shekhawati region where the sand dunes are dotted with greenery - this is thanks to farmers who have sourced water from deep tube wells. After today's ride you will dismount and be transferred by jeep back to the hotel for a good dinner and overnight. The horses will follow you home by lorry.

Day 6

Riding: No riding.

Breakfast and departure, otherwise you may wish to extend your stay here.

Accommodation

A combination of camping and hotel.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

Confident Intermediate and above, able to ride a forward-going horse at all paces and to cover long distances.

Minimum group size 4
Maximum group size 12
Departure windows

At any time during: Sept. 15, 2021 - April 15, 2022

Pricing

2021/2022
Sharing
£1455 $2025 €1710
Included 5 nights of accommodation, all meals from day 1 dinner to day 6 breakfast, horse riding as per itinerary, groom service to look after horses, English speaking safari leader, accompanying 4X4 jeep to carry hand baggage, unlimited mineral water and soft drinks whilst on safari and at camps, campfire, folk music entertainment every day at the camps.
Not included Flights, insurance, transfers from/to Delhi, Delhi hotels (if required), alcoholic drinks or extra drinks in hotels/accommodation, extra services and tips/gratuities.
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.

Day 1 - Arrival

Riding: No riding.

Arrive into New Delhi on a morning flight and take an airport transfer to the hotel/base stables in Nawalgarh, a journey of approximately 6.5 hours (not included in the price but can be arranged by and paid to Far and Ride). You will receive a royal welcome at Roop Niwas Kothi which lies just a kilometre from the town and is a fascinating blend of European and Rajput style of architecture. The former palace offers spacious lawns, a billiards room and swimming pool. 

After lunch you will be taken to the stables and introduced to the team who will assist you during your safari. There will be a briefing on horse riding in India and a chance to meet some of the horses. Guests arriving early in the afternoon will have a chance of a test ride today, but most transferring from Delhi will take their first ride the next day. Nawalgarh is situated in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan, an area which comprises of the districts Jhunjhunu and Sikar. It is know for the painted houses, known as "havelis", which belongs to its wealthy merchant class (the Marwaris!). The region is sometimes considered as an open-air art gallery! The drive to Shekhawati is through picturesque villages and farms. 

Nawalgarh was founded in 1737AD. by Thakur Nawal Singh, a warrior statesman, whose name is enshrined in history and folklore. The town has an old world charm and the colourful bazaar offers the greatest number of painted havelis in Shekhawati. 

Tonight you will have dinner and stay overnight at Roop Niwas Kothi.

Day 2 - Nawalgarh

Riding: 3 - 4 hours

Morning ride out with picnic breakfast in the countryside, returning to Roop Niwas in time for lunch. Afternoon involves free time at the palace though an optional activity is offered - ladies are invited to have their palms decorated with henna in the traditional style. Later you will enjoy some sightseeing of Nawalgarh by car, with a guide, in order to see the havelis, frescos and painted houses. In the evening you will visit the stables and then enjoy another night in the hotel.

Day 3 - Nawalgarh - Churiajitgarh - Nabipura (28km)

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Today's ride is through semi-desert farmland towards a small woodlot and a dry watering hole, surrounded by ker bushes. There are often large numbers of blue bull antelope here and you can see them around your campsite. Overnight in camp.

Day 4 - Nabipura - Dabri - Fatehpur Beed (30km)

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Morning ride through semi-desert region and Fatehpur Beed. You will enjoy a picnic lunch near a typical Shekhawati architecture water tank, 'johda'. Three hundred years ago the Nawab of Fatehpur encircled an area, by riding on horseback from sunrise to sunset, and declared it protected. Today Fatehpur Beed is an amazing 70 sq. km area with a variety of desert plant species. Camping in Beed allows you to see desert foxes, jackal, blue bull antelope and deer. The protected area proves that if humans don't interfere then a semi-forest can be created in a desert. 

Overnight in camp, near to the ruined of a travellers home which overlooks the entire beed. This is a beautiful campsite!

Day 5 - Fatehpur Beed - Khuri - Shynanmata (34km)

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Riding west today will take you into the territory of the former Bikaner state. There will be a sudden change in terrain, your surroundings becoming large sand dunes. After lunch the going will be slow. Overnight camp in the protected woodlot of the Shynanmata rock edifice temple.

Day 6 - Shynanmata - Khuri - Talchapper (31km)

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Today the ride continues west and you will leave the sand dunes and come to flat land of loam soil. Most of the ride (providing permission is given) will be through or around the peripheries of Tal Chappar, the famous blackbuck sanctuary. Scarfs/turbans will be useful here as fine dust rides when you ride across this flat ground. You will get to see blackbuck deer and also other deer species during the ride. 

Overnight camp will be set upon the peripheries of the sanctuary.

Day 7 - Tal Chappar Blackbuck Sanctuary

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

A full day ride, exploring the area surrounding the peripheries of the Tal Chappar sanctuary. Tal Chappar covers 71 sq. km. of desert scrubland and it has the largest herds of blackbuck antelope in India, as well as chinkara gazelle, desert cat, desert fox and other dry land wildlife. Flocks of demoiselle and common cranes can be seen at the nearby lakes and wet lands. Other bird life include sand grouse, quail and the cream coloured desert courser. There will be a picnic lunch and then you will return to camp. 

Overnight camp in on the peripheries of the sanctuary once again.

Day 8 - Talchapper - Delhi

Riding: No riding.

Early morning ride and a chance to say goodbye to your horses. After breakfast you will take your transfer to Delhi or your chosen onwards destination (transfer can be included by Far and Ride).

Accommodation

A combination of Nawalgarh hotel and luxury tents.

Experience Experienced

Experienced riders capable of handling a forward going horse. Riders need to be fit and able to withstand long hours in the saddle.

Minimum group size 4
Maximum group size 12
Departure windows

At any time during: Sept. 15, 2021 - April 15, 2022

Pricing

2021/2022
Sharing
£2075 $2885 €2435
Included 7 nights of accommodation, all meals from day 1 dinner to day 8 breakfast, horse riding as per itinerary, groom service to look after horses, English speaking safari leader, accompanying 4X4 jeep to carry hand baggage, unlimited mineral water and soft drinks whilst on safari and at camps, campfire, folk music entertainment every day at the camps.
Not included Flights, insurance, transfers from/to Delhi, Delhi hotels (if required), alcoholic drinks or extra drinks in hotels/accommodation, extra services and tips/gratuities.
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.

Day 1 - Arrival

Riding: No riding.

Most guests fly into Delhi this day and spend a night here (hotel night not included) before taking the train the next morning.

Day 2 - Delhi - Jodhpur

Riding: 1 - 2 hours

Train from Delhi to Jodhpur, with arrival before midday and transfer to Hotel Ratan Vilas Palace. The hotel was built in 1920 by Maharaj Ratan Singh of Raoti, a keen horse lover and one of the greatest polo players of his time. Ratan Vilas, with its imposing exterior carved from red Jodhpur sandstone, is a genuine heritage edifice in a sylvan setting. 

The villa continues to be home to the grandson of Maharaj Ratan Singh, Maharaj Bharat Singh, and his family. In order to put the place to good use they now welcome visitors and run it as a family hotel. Lunch is eaten here. 

After lunch there is a drive of approximately 45 minutes to the base camp where the horses and safari team are waiting, having arrived from their home in Nawalgarh. Guests are welcomed with folk music and gifts and will be allocated suitable horses for an introductory ride in the surrounding countryside. Overnight tonight is at Ratan Vilas or a similar standard hotel in Jodhpur.

Day 3 - Jodhpur

Riding: 1 - 2 hours

This morning you are taken sightseeing at Mehrangarh Fort and to explore parts of the old city of Jodhpur with car and guide. In the afternoon you will be driven to the camp for a ride - Jodhpur is on the eastern fringe of the Thar Desert and serves as the gateway to its wonderland of sand dunes and shrubs, rocky terrain and thorny trees. 

Rao Jodha established the Rathore Dynasty in Jodhpur in 1459AD. The Mehrangarh Fort was hewn out of the rocks and the city of Jodhpur emerged from the sands of the Thar Desert to form the flourishing kingdom of Marwar. This encompassed some 36,000 square miles and was strategically placed on the trade route between Delhi and the Middle East. It was also a flourishing trading centre of wood, cattle, camels, salt and agricultural crops. The past, in fact, is never very far behind in Jodhpur where palaces, forts, temples and other elegant monuments of architectural and historical worth vie with each other for attention. 

Mehrangarh Fort spreads over 5km and is situated on a hill. It houses a palace intricately adorned with long, carved panels and latticed windows which have been exquisitely carved from red sandstone. It also has a museum with a rich collection of palanquins, howdahs, royal cradles, miniature paintings, folk music instruments, costumes and impressive armoury. 

Overnight tonight in Ratan Vilas or similar standard hotel in Jodhpur.

Day 4 - Jodhpur - Luni - Satlana (Safari Begins!)

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

This morning you are driven into camp to start your safari! The ride begins in a dry, flat region with a lunch halt in a small rain catchment area beside a temple to the folk divinity 'Mamoji'.

Each day on your safari you will cover distances of around 25 - 30km, riding through open countryside, farms and villages. The route follows the dry riverbed of Luni. Overnight stays are in tents in your moving luxury camp. Each evening you will swing to the rhythm of the camps' folk musicians. 

During the safari you will pass through many settlements of the Bishnoi community who have made environmental protection their religion. The Bishnoi people follow 29 principles laid down by Guru Jambhoji who made environmental and wildlife protection a "religion" in the fifteenth century. Common throughout Rajasthan and Gujarat, they are renowned for their concern for nature and particularly their refusal to harm the Blackbuck which now only survive in Bishnoi villages and reserves. 

Bishnoi beliefs came to the political forefront in 1730 when the king of Jodhpur ordered his men to collect wood for his new place. Despite the pleas of the Bishnois, felling commenced in the small village of Khejadali, near to Jodhpur. In desperation Amritdevi, a Bishnoi woman, hugged a tree. The fellers assumed that the king's request was to be respected and so ignored the woman's pleas... she and 362 of her fellow people lost their lives trying to protect the forest. On hearing the news, the king recalled his men and accorded state sanction to the Bishnoi religion, a turning point in history remembered each September when thousands attend a festival in Khejadali. 

Tonight is your first night in camp.

Day 5 - Satlana - Ghana

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Riders will head upstream into the large expanse of the dry riverbed of the Luni river. Being very sandy, the going this morning is quite slow. After leaving the riverbed the ride takes you through villages and dry, scrubby country. The festival of colour, Holi, has just passed and so in this region people are still celebrating with dancing and drumming. 

Before reaching camp tonight you will cross 8 or 9km of protected bushland, belonging to the Ramdev ji Temple. Such temple protectorates are called "Oran". The camp tonight is in a farmer's field and in the evening we may have the farmer's family or other ladies of the nearby village come to visit us. 

Overnight in camp.

Day 6 - Ghana - Karmavas

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Today's ride takes you through flat, dry desert land which is arid but not sandy. Riders will be surprised by the clean, well-maintained houses of the villagers. Your direction today is north-west and you will approach the campsite with the low hills of the Aravali ranges visible on the horizon. Typical desert flora will be seen this day. 

Overnight in camp.

Day 7 - Karmavas / Asotra

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Riding towards the hills you will pass clusters of acacia before crossing the village 'Mangla'. Today's lunch stop is in the backdrop of a hillock, facing the riverbed. After lunch you will ride on to Asotra... a big surprise, a green belt. Around Asotra an aquifer from 2000BC was discovered, created by the ancient Saraswati river basin. As a result, farmers now pump water using electric pumps to raise their crops and riders will head through this fertile oasis. Camp tonight is in a farmer's field and riders are able to meet the villagers and the family. 

Overnight in camp.

Day 8 - Asotra - Balotra Fair (Tilwara)

Riding: 3 - 4 hours

Rather than having to ride along a road with steady traffic to pass by Balotra city, riders will travel by jeep to Jasol. The horses will have been taken by the grooms early in the morning and you will meet up with them to Jasol for the ride on to the fair at Tilwara village, approximately 16km. You will reach Tilwara by evening and can explore the fair ground on arrival.

Evening campfire and folk entertainment. Overnight in camp.

ABOUT BALOTRA HORSE AND CAMEL FAIR:

In south-west Rajasthan, around 145km from Jodhpur, lies the small village of Tilwara, situated on the banks of the dry, seasonal Luni river. The closest town is Balotra (19km away) which falls in the district 'Barmer' of Rajasthan. Many centuries the famous ruler Mallinathji was in control and he is now worshipped as a divinity. The temple to Mallinathji is located on the opposite bank of river to Tilwara. Every year in the first fortnight of the Hindu month of 'Chaitra' there is a large fair held here - horses, camels and bullocks come to the fair, as well as donkeys in the last phase.

The owners of the animals camp in the dry riverbed, perhaps using their carts or making temporary dwellings from acacia bushes. The prosperous horse owners and traders bring their tents and attendant staff, cook and so on. The animal owners occupy the riverbed for many kilometres and they cook, sleep and trade in these temporary dwellings which are called "aali" in the local dialect. At sunrise and sunset the horse owners display their horses by riding up and down the riverbed whilst audiences and buyers cheer them. Anybody can accost the riders and bid or negotiate on a deal. 

These days the state government organises horse shows and competitions - last year this was presided over by the Maharaja of Jodhpur! The fair is held in the very heartland of the Marwari horse, the local Indian breed, and some very good quality horses are brought to the fair. People travel from faraway states (Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra) to purchase animals from the fair. 

It is a rare spectacle to see five to seven thousand horses, fifteen to twenty thousand camels and about thirty to forty thousand bullocks and cattle and their owners in the flat expanse of the riverbed. The market places which appear sell all kinds of goods from camel and water tanks to earthenware utensils, rugs, ropes, tack, camel saddles, colourful girdles, beds, doors, brass, copper and steel pots and pans. There are also many stores of recycled materials like conveyor belts, parachute materials, musical instruments and all sorts of things that villagers would buy. This fair is a paradise for photographers and it takes a visitor back to an atmosphere from biblical times - one feels to have walked in the past. 

Your safari camp is set up roughly 1 - 1.5km away on the banks of the riverbed, overlooking the fair. Guests will go on their horses to ride around the fair and at pre-decided points the grooms will wait so that you may leave your horse and walk around if you wish. Guests are warned that temperatures in March are getting hot but you are more than rewarded by this extraordinary event. 

The fair is much larger than the famous Pushkar or Nagaur camel and cattle fair and is not frequented by tourists, it remains unspoiled.

Days 9 to 10 - Balotra Fair

Riding: 3 - 5 hours

Morning and evening ride with afternoons free to explore the fair. 

Evening campfire and folk entertainment. Overnight in camp.

Day 11 - Balotra Fair - Jodhpur

Riding: No riding.

Morning ride around the fairground if you wish. After breakfast you will be driven back to Jodhpur (around 4 hours) for lunch at Ratan Vilas. Later transfer to railway station for train to Jaipur or Delhi. 

NB. March is the beginning of the summer season and days begin to get very hot, with peak temperatures ranging from 25 - 38C (night temperatures 15 - 20C). Riding will start early in the day and there will be a long lunch break so as to avoid riding during the heat of the day.

Accommodation

2 nights in Jodhpur hotel, 7 nights in luxury mobile camp.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

Confident intermediate riders - you should be able to ride a forward-going horse at all paces in open country, riding long distances and keeping good control. Marwari horses are spirited and energetic by nature. Saddles are similar to English GP saddles or occasionally some Indian cavalry saddles are used (which you ride in essentially as if riding English style). Fitness is key as the canters here can be very long where terrain allows, continuing on for 5+ minutes on occasion.

Minimum group size 6
Maximum group size 12
Departure windows

At any time during: March 1, 2022 - March 31, 2022

Pricing

2022
Sharing
£3805 $5290 €4460
Included Shared Jodhpur airport/railway transfers, 9 nights of accommodation on a shared twin basis (2 nights in Jodhpur hotel, 7 nights in luxury camp), all meals during the riding safari and in Jodhpur, unlimited mineral water and soft drinks when in camp, sightseeing tours and excursions detailed in the programme (inc. entrance tickets to Jodhpur fort), English speaking guide, horse riding.
Not included Flights, Delhi airport transfers, Delhi accommodation (if required), train tickets Delhi-Jodhpur-Delhi, travel insurance, drinks at the hotel, alcoholic drinks when in camp, private transfers, tips and gratuities, souvenirs or other services not mentioned.

Extras

2021/2022 - Single Supplement £174 $240 €200
Paid to Far and Ride
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.