Welcome to India! You will arrive in Delhi for the start of your program.
See the most awe-inspiring sights of India on this two-week adventure across the country. Immerse yourself in the culture, take cooking and dance classes, bargain in markets, and visit the famous Taj Mahal. Understand the mix of religions as you visit Hindu temples, Sikh gurudwaras, Islamic mosques, and a Jewish synagogue. From the North to the South, experience the excitement and variety of India.
*Jai Ho India was previously named Namaste India. It’s still the same incredible program, just with a new name!
Meet up with your group in Newark and board a comfortable non-stop flight to New Delhi, India, and start getting to know your fellow travelers. You’ll be escorted by a Rustic Pathways flight leader to India.
Following the flight to India, clear customs and be met by your trip leaders, who will take you to the hotel, so you can freshen up before getting a great night of sleep in a quiet and comfortable hotel.
As you head through the streets of New Delhi, sink in the first sights of India. You’ve just arrived in a land of 1.2 billion people, home to every major religion in the world and a dizzying variety of histories and languages, and one of the most beautiful countries in the world. What better way to experience the heart of India than diving straight in?
The morning starts with a brief group orientation to India’s culture and customs and group expectations. Head out on a scavenger hunt to get a firsthand look at this diverse city! Head to a restaurant for some delicious Punjabi food and debrief your experience on the scavenger hunt. After lunch, spend the afternoon touring this bustling capital city. Learn about Gandhi at a museum housed in the same building where his life ended, explore Sikh religion at Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, and take in the famous India Gate and parliament.
Depart to the city of Agra by a comfortable bus and spend the afternoon at a factory seeing how the intricate marble work of the Taj Mahal is inlaid with precious gems. Tonight, enjoy a delicious dinner together sampling a wide array of traditional Mugal dishes known for their rich aroma and flavor.
Visit the highlight of India, the Taj Mahal! Experience the magic of the Taj Mahal at sunrise, then head to Agra Fort to learn about the Mughal dynasty and the emperor who built the Taj. Later in the afternoon drive to the Pink City of Jaipur to continue your North Indian tour. This evening, you’ll have a cooking demonstration and dinner, where you’ll learn to prepare traditional Rajasthani dishes.
Start your day with an excursion to the famous Amber Fort Palace. Explore within the well-protected walls of the palace and see the secret caves that were used by former royalty to escape when the palace came under attack by invading armies hundreds of years ago. Next it’s off to the lac workshop, where you will see how artisans make these beautiful bangles! Try your hand at customizing one of these bangles to give to friends or family. Spend the evening getting an elaborate Mehndi design inked on your hand while trying your dance moves with our fabulous ghoomar dancers – traditional Rajasthani style.
Begin the morning with a walk through the ancient city of Amber and keep an eye open for beautiful peacocks and mischievous monkeys! If you are lucky enough, get a chance to investigate your future with the help of a local astrologer. If he said your next stop is South India, he was right! After breakfast, pack your bags and head to the airport to catch your flight to Cochin, the tropical paradise of India! Arrive in Cochin in the late afternoon and settle into your hotel in historic Fort Kochi. This evening enjoy a relaxing sunset cruise through the Arabian Sea. Savor some of the local seafood delicacies as the sun paints colors across the sky.
After an introduction to South Indian culture and tradition by your trip leader, head to nearby Kumbalanghi village where you will experience village life as it has existed for centuries. See 15th century Chinese fishing nets, fish for crabs, and learn how coconuts are made into rope! Have a fresh seafood lunch and then it’s off to visit the Paradesi Jewish Synagogue and enjoy an enthralling Kathakali dance performance by local artists! It’s a different world down here, so take your time to soak in the down-south vibes while sipping on fresh coconuts and speaking your first words of Malayalam (say that five times fast).
After an early morning breakfast, depart Cochin and drive to the magnificent hill station of Munnar, situated in the Western Ghats at an elevation of 5,000 feet above sea level. Munnar was the British government’s summer resort in South India and is famous as one of South India’s most beautiful tea plantations! Enjoy your afternoon with a plantation tour to learn the colorful and fascinating story behind growing and making tea, then sample more than ten varieties of the teas that are locally grown.
Spend your day exploring the unique cultural landscape of Munnar. Step into the exotic world of nearby tribal colonies to learn about their lifestyle and culture. In the afternoon try some lip-smacking local cuisine prepared by locals with fresh local spices of the mountain. Enjoy your evening watching the skillful and adventurous martial art form Kalaripayattu, said to be one of the oldest systems of martial arts in the world.
If the weather is clear today, head out for a hike into the surrounding tea plantations. Hike through valleys and up through clouds to ascend the mountain peaks. Alternatively, if the weather is rainy, tour a local organization that is working for the welfare of tea pickers and the environment. Check out the process of hand made paper and natural dies and taste their organic berries and vegetables.
Break for lunch and then pack your bags and head to the mountains! Tonight you will be camping under the stars at our mountain campsite. Settle into camp and take a short hike to sunset point, where you will watch the sun dip below the horizon. Celebrate the company of your fellow students with a bonfire dinner tonight.
Wake up early for a spectacular mountain sunrise this morning and then break camp. Today you will trade mountain peaks for the spectacular backwaters of Vembanad Lake, one of the largest lakes of India. Drive to Alleppey and settle into a traditional Ketuvallam houseboat, your home for the next two days! Life on the boat is comfortable, with spacious bedrooms, a great lounge area, bathrooms, and delicious, healthy meals prepared by local chefs to make each day a real treat! Fish for your dinner, swim in the lake, and compete in a friendly canoe race among your group! This is a day to soak in the ambiance of Kerala.
No India experience is complete without the celebration of a festival! Today celebrate a mock Onam Festival that welcomes the gods to Kerala. Create beautiful patterns from freshly picked flowers on the deck of your boat, get dressed to the nines Indian-style in traditional clothing, and have a huge feast eating off banana leaves. In the evening you will have a chance to get a massage in the birthplace of Ayurveda.
Soak in the last vibes of South India this morning with a sunrise boat cruise through the backwaters. Go for a dip in the lake and then sip hot South Indian filter coffee as you watch the rice paddies and villages pass by. Enjoy the tranquility and peace of Keralan village life. After lunch, bid farewell to the backwaters and make your way to Cochin. Drive straight to Cochin airport to catch your connecting flight to Delhi, then settle into your hotel for a final night in the nation’s capital city.
As today is your last day in India, it’s the best time to utilize your bargaining skills to pick up the rest of the souvenirs you have been wanting to get. You will spend the morning in a local market shopping for gifts, then head to a resort in South Delhi to relax in a pool and meet up with other Rustic Pathways India groups. Share stories of your program over a final, farewell dinner, then head to the airport to catch your flight back home or connect to your next program in India or Asia.
Students returning to the U.S. will arrive to Newark on this day filled with great new stories and experiences to share with their family and friends!
Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity.
The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.
“Optional Activities” are fully included in the cost of your program, but you can choose to not do these activities.
“Add-On Activities” are not included in the cost of your program and must be paid for separately. Add-on activities are rare, but include things like skydiving, bungee jumping, or weekend side-trips. Not every program has add-on activities.
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This program connects seamlessly to all other programs in India and Asia. All of our Asia programs begin and end on Thursday, which allows for easy connectivity.
A tourist visa is required for all students traveling to India. Students are responsible for obtaining their own visa. Rustic Pathways will provide important details relating to the visa process in the Spring. If you would like information or would like to view the visa requirements, please visit the Government of India website at https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html.
Yes, there will be a flight leader on the direct flight from Newark, New Jersey (USA) to New Delhi, India. If a student is connecting from another country, they will not have a flight leader. In such instances, we will provide students with detailed instructions on navigating airports, immigrations, and customs and will have a Rustic Pathways staff member waiting at the arrival airport to pick them up.
The direct flight from Newark, New Jersey to New Delhi, India is 14 hours.
Yes. Please note that this program is 14 days in length, with international travel times on each end, making it 16 days total outside of the United States.
During Namaste India, students will travel through North and South India. The first week is spent in the cities of Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. Students spend the second week in South India in the state of Kerala. In Kerala, students will visit Cochin, Alleppey, and Munnar.
Students fly from round trip from New Delhi to Cochin, Kerala. The flight is approximately 3 hours in length.
Each program will have leaders who are certified in First Aid and CPR. Some of our program leaders are also certified as Wilderness First Responders, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), Wilderness EMTs, or Life Guards.
Rustic Pathways India programs maintain a minimum of 1 Program Leader for every 6 students. Additionally, each program maintains at least 2 primary program leaders, one male and one female.
Rustic Pathways uses sterilization techniques to ensure that all drinking water for students is potable and safe to drink. We ask students to bring reusable water bottles in order to reduce plastic usage.
Students are allowed to bring phones on their Rustic Pathways program, but must abide by our cell phone policy. Students will not be allowed to use their phones during group activities, nor at any other time where it is disruptive to the group dynamic. If students are unable to abide by this policy, disciplinary action may be taken.
Electricity in India runs at 230V and electrical outlets are a mix between http://electricaloutlet.org/type-c Type C and http://electricaloutlet.org/type-d Type D. We recommend purchasing one or two Type C adaptors (as these can also be used in Type D outlets).
Summer in India is monsoon season! Temperatures in North India can reach 110 F (43 C) with high humidity. In South India the temperatures are warm but pleasant (80 F, 26 C). Rain can be a daily occurrence in both North and South India! Please make sure you have the required clothing on the packing list.
Students will be staying in a mix of hotels and guest houses, ranging from a three star hotel in Delhi to a basic guest house in Munnar. Students will sleep 2-3 to a room, separated by gender.
Students will eat a mix of North and South Indian food, as well as a few western dishes. North Indian food generally consists of dals (lentils), curries, and roti (flatbread). South Indian food has more rice-based food, like dosas and idlis! Seafood and coconut are also very common ingredients.
Bathroom facilities will have western style showers and toilets. Hot water will be available in most locations.
Students will have very limited access to internet and telephones while on the program. These services are only available in Delhi and Cochin, and only for short periods of time, as we are very busy on the program.
Students will have opportunities to hand wash laundry once or twice every week. Alternatively, students can get their laundry washed for them in Delhi and Cochin. The cost is approximately $10 per load.
As a cultural touring program, students will be traveling often on this program. The group will be on the move every other day as we crisscross the country from North to South India.
According to the Center for Disease Control, malaria transmission is possible for all locations this program visits. Dengue, chikungunia, and rabies are also present in areas this program visits.
Please consult with a travel doctor or your family physician for immunization and other medical recommendations, based on the area(s) where you will be traveling and on your own medical history. In addition to consulting with a medical professional, please visit the HX Global and Centers for Disease Control websites for country specific information around immunizations and traveler’s health. Please let us know if you have specific questions.
HX Global is one of the world’s leading providers of medical evacuation and travel services. All participants traveling with Rustic Pathways will have access to HX Global benefits through Rustic Pathways’ membership.
As a member you will have access to HX Global’s extensive travel information database to help you make informed decisions prior to travel. Additionally, all travelers who travel outside their country of residence will have access to medical evacuation support during their program. For more information please visit our HX Global webpage.
Hospitals are available within a thirty minute drive from each location the program visits. Western-standard facilities are available in Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, and Cochin.
If you are vegetarian, you are in luck! India is one of the most vegetarian friendly places in the world. Vegan, lactose free, and gluten free diets can also be accommodated. If you have other dietary restrictions, please contact Team India at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students with mild allergies to nuts can be accommodated on this program. If you have any severe allergies, please let us know. We will work with you to determine the best program choices.
Mosquitoes are present in all areas this program visits. Most bites occur at dawn and dusk, and students are encouraged to wear long sleeves, long pants, and DEET based insect repellent at these times of day.
Personal gifts, internet, phone calls, and snacks are not included. All other costs (accommodation, meals, in-country transportation, and activities) are included in the program price.
We recommend bringing $100 – 200 (USD) per week for spending money.
Packing the right gear (and the right amounts) is the first step to an incredible travel experience. Follow these tips to pack like a pro:
Travel light. Pack only the essentials. You’ll need less than you think!
Bring the right clothes. Pack clothes that are culturally appropriate for your destination and acceptable for service projects. This means bringing lightweight pants, t-shirts with sleeves to cover shoulders, and appropriate footwear.
Leave your valuables behind. While traveling, it’s easier for things to get lost, stolen, or damaged. Keep any prized possessions safe at home.
Check with TSA. Make sure your luggage complies with TSA regulations, especially your carry-on. Useful tip: Pack an empty water bottle and fill it up after security.
Extra paperwork? If you need additional forms filled out to get credit for your service hours, no problem! Bring these forms with you so they can be completed in-country.
A school backpack is ideal as it will be used on day trips.
A 50-70 Liter duffel bag or backpack is ideal.
Welcome to India! You will arrive in Delhi for the start of your program.
Experience the Taj Mahal at sunrise in Agra.
Explore forts, temples, and bazaars in Jaipur and learn how to make Lac bangles.
Welcome to South India! Sip from fresh coconuts and eat delicious seafood curries in Cochin.
Live on a houseboat in Alleppey and get a glimpse into local village life.
Taste tea and check out martial arts in Munnar, a famous South India hill station.