Arriving Soon: Incredible New Journeys for 2023 & 2024!
The Taj Mahal is perhaps the world’s most stunning symbol of eternal love — and most definitely on every serious traveler’s “must-see” list. This is your opportunity to experience it not just once, but twice on an unforgettable journey that also features some of the most iconic sights of Agra and Delhi. First you will see the Taj in the early morning light, then also visit at dusk as the setting sun bathes the marble domes and minarets with a rosy glow. To come all this way to India and not take this opportunity would be almost unthinkable!
Fly to Delhi, India
Today you’ll fly overnight from the U.S. to Delhi, India.
If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, upon arrival at the airport a Vantage representative will meet you and assist in your transfer to your centrally located hotel. Settle in and take the rest of the evening to relax.
See the best of Old Delhi
Delhi is a city with two distinct profiles — Old Delhi and New Delhi — and during your stay you will enjoy two guided sightseeing tours that reveal them both. Today, after breakfast and a morning briefing, you’ll set out on a panoramic tour highlighting the epic attractions of Old Delhi, a city whose history dates back to the 6th-century BC.
Unforgettable Moment: Your sightseeing features Raj Ghat, the memorial to peaceful crusader Mahatma Gandhi; and the huge Jama Masjid mosque, which was built between 1644–1656 by Shah Jahan (who also built the Taj Mahal). Its massive courtyard can hold 25,000 worshippers. Your tour also showcases the Red Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Mughal masterpiece that was built in 1639. It is still the site where the Prime Minister hoists the flag every August 15, marking India’s Independence Day. Lunch will be at a local restaurant.
Cultural Discovery: Hop aboard a rickshaw for a lively ride among the colorful wares, fragrant spice-lined lanes, and narrow alleys of Chandni Chowk, the city’s oldest and busiest market. After your tour, you’ll return to the hotel and get better acquainted with your travel mates over dinner at your hotel.
Discover New Delhi
Today you’ll see Rashtrapati Bhavan, the 340-room Presidential Residence that is set among 320 acres of offices, stables, parks, and the Mughal Gardens. It lies along a main ceremonial avenue called the Rajpath, whose axis is straddled by the India Gate, Delhi’s answer to Paris’ Arc de Triomphe. After lunch at a local restaurant, you’ll also peek into the emporium of Dawn Cottage Industries, where Indian artisans demonstrate their skills and sell handmade jewelry, carpets, clothing and more.
Unforgettable Moment: In the afternoon you’ll behold the grand spire called Qutub Minar, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rising nearly 240 feet in the air, it is the world’s tallest, free-standing brick minaret and its complex includes a striking mosque and other monuments.
The balance of the day is at leisure and you are free to enjoy dinner on your own.
The Mughal marvel of Agra
This morning you’ll depart Delhi and travel to Agra. Though it is most famous for the Taj Mahal, the city also boasts several other Mughal-era wonders. Settle in to your 5-star hotel, and then join us on an afternoon excursion.
We'll have lunch along the way as we set out to explore palatial Agra Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is more of a walled city than a fortress. Its vast walls embody the power and wealth of the Mughal leaders who built it. Walk through courtyard after courtyard, past red sandstone ramparts, and through elaborate gates inlaid with marble. Here is where you can also get your first view of the Taj Mahal, in the distance across the Yamuna River. It is said that Shah Jahan, who built the Taj for his wife, gazed at his masterpiece from here when he was imprisoned at Agra Fort by his own son.
The balance of the day is free until tonight’s dinner in your opulent hotel.
Behold the Taj Mahal
This morning, you’ll visit India’s most iconic landmark and another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the magnificent Taj Mahal. It was built by Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth. Upon the Shah’s death in 1666, he joined his beloved inside the tomb. Get the all-time classic shot as you step inside the grounds, and photograph the Taj reflected in the long Lotus Pond, in all its symmetrical glory. You’ll have time to walk around the site, taking in all the details. The interior has elaborate decoration but the actual tombs of Mumtaz and the Shah are rather plain, according to Muslim tradition.
After time to take it all in, you’ll transfer to a local restaurant for lunch, then have time to relax before your next adventure:
Unforgettable Moment: Your second Taj experience commences with a visit to Itmad-ud-daulah (sometimes called the Baby Taj). It was the first monument in Mughal India to be constructed of pure marble rather than sandstone, and to feature the pietra dura inlay later used on the Taj walls. At sunset, you’ll move on to Mehtab Bagh (Moonlight Garden), on the flood plains across the Yamuna River from the Taj. Once surrounded by sandstone-clad walls, crisscrossed by white stone walkways, and planted with fruit trees and narcissus, the bagh was nearly ruined by floods and neglect, but is today being restored, including replantings that match the original Mughal horticulture. Some of these plants produce bright flowers that shine in the moonlight. In these splendid surroundings, you can feast your eyes on the golden hues washing the Taj across the river, and then watch as one by one, the stars come out to illuminate the white pearlescence of this modern World Wonder.
Transfer to Delhi, then fly to Mumbai
After breakfast you’ll bid farewell to Agra, transfer back to the airport in Delhi, and fly to Mumbai where you will commence your base tour.
Once lost in time, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Petra is a not-to-be missed icon whose beauty is as spellbinding as the history that surrounds it. Its intricate temples are hewn into the red rock of the jebels, and to see the soft desert light illuminate it with a rosy glow will have a striking effect on you. Best of all, it’s within striking distance, just a short included flight from the last city on your base program, Dubai. Your Jordan stay includes a visit to the Dead Sea; two nights in the capital, Amman; an excursion to Biblical Mount Nebo (where Moses took his last breath after seeing the Promised Land), and more. Make the most of your time in the Middle East by adding these travel milestones, at a great value.
Arrive in ancient Petra
We’ll fly from Dubai to Amman and then transfer to the ancient city of Petra, a 2,300-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site and symbol of Jordan. Its strategic location at an important trade crossroads prompted the nomadic Arab Nabataeans to establish a settlement here around 312 BC. Carving beautiful buildings directly in to the rose-red rock of the area’s jebels, they also applied ingenious methods to control the water supply, creating a prosperous oasis. The city declined under Roman rule and eventually was abandoned, falling into obscurity until its rediscovery by the Swiss explorer Johann Burckhardt in 1812. Our hotel is set directly across from the entrance to this spectacular archaeological site. You will enjoy a full day of discovery here tomorrow. For the balance of today you are free to relax and join your fellow travelers for dinner at the hotel, which is located directly across from this spectacular archaeological site. This is the best location possible in this incomparable destination.
Exploring Petra: From archaeology to Indiana Jones
Today will be a highlight of your travels as we set out to explore Petra. Our entrance is appropriately grand as we make our way along the narrow alley wedged between two sandstone cliffs known as the Siq (keyhole), which opens up before the majestic Al Khazneh (Treasury) building. Its intricate, galleried facade, carved into a rock wall, may be familiar to you as it was the setting for a crucial scene in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (among other films). You will also see the Roman Theater, Great Temple, Monastery, and many rock tombs and monuments as your Adventure Leader recounts the history and legends of this amazing place. After lunch at a local restaurant, we’ll return to the hotel. Then, with the afternoon at leisure, discover the area on your own or relax at the resort. Dinner is at the hotel tonight.
Swim the Dead Sea as you venture to Amman
We’ll begin our overland journey to the Jordanian capital of Amman today, stopping first to explore and swim in the legendary Dead Sea. Set at the Earth's lowest point, its salinity is so high you can float on your back and read a newspaper. We’ll enjoy lunch at a local resort here and then proceed to our hotel in the heart of Amman’s business and diplomatic area. The balance of the day is at leisure, and dinner is at the hotel tonight.
Amman's highlights: From the Bronze Age to the Bible
This morning we’ll discover the highlights of Amman, whose origins date to the Bronze Age and includes a stint as the Roman city called Philadelphia. All this history comes alive at the old Citadel, set atop the city’s highest hill and scattered with antiquities like the Temple of Hercules, Roman Theater, and Umayyad Palace. Time permitting, we’ll also peek into the small archaeological museum, with its treasure trove of ancient coins, glassware, and statuary. From here we set out on the 5,000-year-old King’s Highway, a scenic route that was mentioned in the Bible. Our first stop is Mount Nebo, from which Moses was said to have finally gazed upon the Promised Land before he died. It is believed that his tomb lies here. Take in the spectacular views of the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea before we continue to Madaba. Here, we’ll visit the St. George Greek Orthodox Church. It is famous for its striking 6th-century Byzantine mosaics that depict an old map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. After breaking for lunch, we'll enjoy the afternoon at leisure in Madaba. Afterwards, we’ll return to Amman for a Farewell Dinner at the hotel.
After breakfast you’ll transfer to the Amman airport for your return flight to the U.S.