Expert-Led Group Tour

India Group Tour - Exploring Gujarat's History, Textiles and Wildlife

Departing 1st - 10th November 2020

10 days

from £4,395pp
  • Explore India's 'Jewel of the West', accompanied by Amelia Dalton
  • Visit the exquisite Aina Mahal, known as the Palace of Mirrors
  • Explore the ancient capital of Patan, renowned for the quality of its dyes and silk saris
  • Gain special access to remote Banni tribal villages

Travel through the semi-arid region of Gujarat in India's north-west to experience the region's rich blend of exotic locations, historical sites, religious places and variety of wildlife.

During this tour, accompanied by Amelia Dalton, meet the artisans of Bhuj with their instinctive eye for colour and design. Visit Dasada to learn the origins of Ajrakh prints, among the oldest textiles in the world, dating back to the Indus Valley civilisation. Explore the Rann of Kutch, home to the only remaining population of Indian wild ass, alongside nilgai, blackbuck, desert cats and flamingos. Visit sacred Jain and Hindu pilgrimage sites before finishing your tour in Ahmedabad, India’s first UNESCO heritage city.

Why should I join this Gujarat group tour?

This tour allows you to step off the main tourist trail and travel through Gujarat in India's north-west to experience the region’s rich blend of temples, palaces, textiles, tribal people and extraordinary wildlife.

Do I need a visa to travel to India?

All visitors need a visa for India. There is now a provision for an online e-visa for citizens of certain countries, including the UK. The visa has to be obtained before arrival in all circumstances. Tourist visas issued in the UK have six months’ validity from the date of issue.

What is the accommodation like in India?

During this tour, you will stay in a carefully selected range of small hotels and guesthouses. All hotels are at least a three-star standard and all offer restaurants on site, some offer pools and leisure facilities. These hotels have been chosen for their vantage points and good access to city sightseeing.

Gujarat hotel standards are generally lower than other more visited areas of India and availability and choice are limited. We believe we have confirmed the best available in each location.

Is this tour suitable for solo travellers?

Our group tours are perfect for solo travellers, as travelling as part of an organised group in faraway places does provide security and peace of mind. We handle all of the arrangements for you and there will be a local tour guide on hand throughout to provide advice and help if needed, as well as the expertise of a Tour Expert.

If you are willing to share, we will always do our best to match you up with another solo traveller of the same sex so that you do not have to pay for a single room.

If you would prefer the privacy of your own room and would like this guaranteed, then the single room price supplement will apply.

What is the food in Gujarat like?

Gujarat cuisine offers a wide selection of vegetarian dishes, and more often than not served on a lovely silver platter. A combination of different spices is used in cooking and this is what makes Gujarati food truly exotic with sweet notes dominating many dishes such as Gujarati Kadhi (curry). Another traditional dish is the Gujarati thali, consisting of roti, dal, rice and shaak (a dish made up of several different combinations of vegetable and spices).

What will the weather be like in India in November?

Warm sunny days with cooler nights. November is the end of the monsoon rains. The average temperatures sit around 30 degrees, dropping to 17 – 18 degrees at night.

How fit should I be to enjoy this tour?

General overall fitness is required. There is a lot of walking however, at a leisurely pace with some stairs. We would suggest that you bring a comfortable pair of walking shoes, that are easy to take on and off as you will be required to remove your shoes when visiting mosques and temples.

Can I extend my stay in India?

Yes, this can easily be arranged at the end of the tour. Private travel arrangements with a car and driver will be provided and a private guide arranged for sightseeing.

From Mumbai, you can easily reach the beaches of South India. If Rajasthan is on the wish list then there is daily connectivity by air, easily enabling a short extension to visit the Taj Mahal and Jaipur.

Departing on:
  • 1st November 2020

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

STARTFINISHPrice Excluding Flights £Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour ExpertStatus 
1st Nov 2020 10th Nov 2020 £ 4,395 £ 700 £ 550 Amelia Dalton Available
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • Accommodation (as indicated)
  • Accompanied by a local English speaking guide throughout
  • Accompanied by Amelia Dalton throughout
  • Entrance fees to sites visited
  • Gratuities for local guides, drivers and porters
  • Internal flight from Dasada to Ahmedabad
  • Internal flight from Mumbai to Bhuj
  • Meals (as indicated)
  • Transportation (as indicated)

what is excluded

  • India visa
  • International flights
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Travel Insurance


Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Mumbai arrival

You will be met on arrival by a Steppes Travel representative and transferred to your hotel.

Formerly known as Bombay, Mumbai is a city teeming with culture, architecture and people. This vast metropolis, energising and dynamic, is home to proud and liberal 'Mumbaikars'. Having boomed as a port during the 18th and 19th century, Mumbai is rich with colonial architecture, whilst towering contemporary structures underline the city's recent prosperity. These glimmering skyscrapers contrast greatly with the city's slums, which make up large parts of this modern city and serve as a reminder of the mixed fortunes of its residents. There are incredible places to eat in Mumbai including historic Parsi restaurants such as Brittania & Co. Mumbai is also the home of Bollywood so watch out for film sets throughout the city.

Welcome meeting

In the early evening (time to be confirmed), there will be a short welcome meeting introducing Amelia Dalton, your tour expert for this group tour. An additional local expert guide will meet you at Bhuj airport. Both Amelia and the local guide will travel with you throughout your time in India.

Please note tomorrow will be a very early start, so please get a good night’s rest.

Dinner included.

You will be staying at Leela Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 2

Mumbai to Bhuj departure flight

Early morning tea and coffee will be available at the hotel before you depart for the airport for your flight to Bhuj.

The flight to Bhuj only operates in the early morning, four days a week, so this is the best option for this tour. The rest of the day will be leisurely, allowing you time to rest and recuperate after the early morning flight.

Fly Mumbai to Bhuj

Bhuj arrival

On arrival into Bhuj, you will be met by your local expert guide and transferred to the hotel where early check-in has been arranged.

Bhujia Fort

In the evening, travel to the outskirts of Bhuj to visit Bhujia Fort. Whilst the full history of the fort is still unknown, it is believed to have been constructed in the 1700s with the intention to protect the Jadeja dynasty and its chief. Spend time wandering around the remains, enjoy the breathtaking views whilst walking the ramparts and end the day watching the beautiful sunset from this ancient hilltop fort.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Prince Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 3

Visit Aina Mahal

This morning, visit Aina Mahal, also known as, ‘Palace of Mirrors’. This 18th century palace is located in the old part of Bhuj and is surrounded by a small compound with beautifully carved doorways, elaborate window boxes and balconies.

Living and Learning Design Centre (LLDC)

From here, drive to the Living and Learning Design Centre (LLDC), a pioneering new effort of the Shrujan Trust, a not-for-profit organisation. Working with craftswomen in the Kutch region, their aim is to preserve, revitalize and promote the craft heritage of Kutch. Shrujan Trust craftswomen create a range of beautiful hand embroidered items that are sold in shops in the region and through regular exhibitions all over India and abroad. It is situated on a large campus in Ajrakhpur. The centre aims to train, educate and support crafts people to practice their traditional crafts for contemporary markets so that they can earn a decent living. There will be time to look around the centre at the craftwork and beautiful embroidery. 

After your visit, explore the crafts of block printing and natural dyeing. Meet with Dr Ismail Khatri (subject to availability), recipient of an honorary PhD in Arts from Leicester University and the UNESCO Seal of Excellence for craftsmanship, as well as several recent graduates of Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Prince Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 4

Banni villages

In the morning you are driven out of Bhuj to visit some of the Banni villages to see the colourful and ethnically diverse tribes and their specialised crafts. This approximately an hour's drive from Bhuj. The Banni are renowned for the most exquisite mirror work, a technique which girls learn from an early age. The results are extravagant covers, tunics and scarves emblazoned with minute mirrors.

Banni Grassland and Chhari Dhand safari

After lunch, continue a short drive to the Banni Grassland and Chhari Dhand for an afternoon safari. Banni Grassland is the largest natural grassland in the Indian subcontinent and is a culturally unique and ecologically valuable area. Chhari means ‘salt affected’ and Dhand means ‘shallow wet-lands’ and is a bird-lovers paradise, known for its incredible array of bird species, particularly rich in raptors, waders and larks. Return to Bhuj late this afternoon, a drive of approximately one and a half hours. 

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Prince Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 5

Bhuj – Mandvi

Depart Bhuj after breakfast and drive around one and a half hours to Mandvi. Stop en-route to visit a Jain temple, a complex of both Digambar and Shwetambar sects.

Vijay Vilas palace

Visit the ship building yards where you can see ship building as it has been done for generations. For 400 years, the shipbuilding industry has been the centre of life in Mandvi and it was once the principal port of Kutch and of Gujarat. These wooden dhows are all handmade and used for transporting cargo to and from Africa and the Middle East.

The historic town of Mandvi was founded as a port town by the Khengarji, the king of Kutch, in 1574, and lies on the south coast of Kutch. It is one of the few places remaining where giant wooden dhows are still made. The town itself is quaint and charming with its marketplace and old bungalows.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Serena Beach Resort, bed and breakfast

Day 6

Mandvi –Dasada

After a leisurely breakfast, drive to Dasada, a journey of around six hours. Stop en route for lunch at a local restaurant.

On arrival in Dasada, check into your hotel and the rest of the day is at leisure.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Rann Riders, bed and breakfast

Day 7


Today, take a safari across the Little Rann. The word 'rann' means ‘salty desert’ and while travelling through the Little Rann of Kutch, a salty desert is all you see. A jeep safari is the best way to explore this enormous expanse. Visit the ‘bets’, islands on the ancient seabed that now form higher ground covered with grass and scrub. These 'bets' support a variety of wildlife including the gudkhur (Asiatic wild ass) which is not found anywhere else, nilgai or blue bull (India’s largest antelope), chinkara (Indian gazelle), jungle and desert cats, blackbuck (Indian antelope) and a large variety of birds including cranes and flamingos.

You will also have the opportunity to see the salt-making process in the Rann.

Later, visit local tribal villages, known for their nomadic lifestyle and tribal handicrafts. Return to Dasada in the late afternoon.

Dasada is the gateway for the Little Rann of Kutch. This small town is approximately a three hour drive away from the biodiversity hotspot. Dasada is an ideal base to explore the culture, weaves and handicrafts of the Kutch district.

You will be staying at Rann Riders, bed and breakfast

Day 8

Dasada – Ahmedabad

This morning leave Dasada and drive to Ahmedabad, a total journey of up to six and a half hours. En route visit the Sun Temple in Modhera. The exquisitely carved temple complex and the magnificently sculpted ‘kund’ are jewels in the art of masonry of the Solanki period, which was also known as the Golden Age of Gujarat.

Continue your journey to Patan, the ancient capital of Gujarat. Patan is famous for its complex and now rare double 'ikat patola' weaving. Ikat is a dyeing technique used to pattern textiles and patola is the name of the silk saris unique to Patan. The patola cloth of Patan is worked in double ikat, one of the most exacting of all textile techniques. In double ikat, both warp and weft threads are bound and dyed according to the desired pattern before the cloth is woven. After dyeing is completed, the bindings are removed, and the patterned warp placed on the loom. During the weaving process, the dyed and undyed portions of the similarly patterned weft threads coincide with those of the warp, producing a great depth of colour and cloth in which both sides of the fabric are the same.

After lunch at a local restaurant, continue your drive to Ahmedabad.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at The House of MG, bed and breakfast

Day 9


In the morning, explore India's first UNESCO Heritage city. Take a guided heritage walk around the old quarters of the city. Explore the beautiful havelis, temples, mosques and mausoleums ending at the finely carved 15th century Jama Masjid.

Visit the Gandhi Ashram, originally known as the Sabarmati Ashram. This was one of the residences of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. This ashram is now a national monument and houses a museum. In 1930 Gandhi marched towards Dandi, 241 miles away to protest the British Salt Law, which taxed Indian salt to promote sales of British salt in India.

Continue your journey to Adalaj stepwell. Set in the quiet village of Adalaj, this stepwell has served as a resting place for hundreds of years for many pilgrims and caravans along their trade routes. One remarkable feature of this stepwell is that it is the only one with three entrance stairs. All three stairs meet at the first storey, underground in a huge square platform, which has an octagonal opening on top.

Ahmedabad, Gujarat's major city was founded in the 15th century and its stunning Islamic architecture includes some of India's finest monuments. It is home to fascinating old quarters, which are worthy of exploration.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at The House of MG, bed and breakfast

Day 10

Day at leisure in Ahmedabad

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of India

Joe Parkes, Travel Expert

"It was extremely helpful to work in conjunction with Joe and his much more up to date knowledge of India and arrive at an itinerary which we were happy with. We enjoyed the whole trip and probably what made it special for us was the fact that all the arrangements worked so well and we really didn’t have to worry about anything at all. Even when we decided to make a small change it was dealt with efficiently and promptly. We can't think of anything that would have made our trip more enjoyable."

"The service from start to finish has been excellent. Joe was very quick to respond to any queries and put together an excellent itinerary at short notice."

"A pleasure to deal with Joe. Efficient, helpful, knowledgeable and fun!"

Read More

Kate Hitchen, Travel Expert

"Kate was calm and bent over backwards to accommodate my jitters about going to Kashmir in the light of tighter FCO guidelines just a few days before our departure. She was absolutely correct in advising against what I thought we should do. Several times during the holiday we said that, 'Kate was dead right about that!'."

"We asked for a rather particular kind of Indian holiday. You delivered it in full. Highlights? Honestly, each day was a highlight in itself. "

Read More

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Tour Host

Amelia Dalton

Amelia Dalton
Having operated her own expedition vessel in Scotland for ten years, Amelia went on to lead unique itineraries for a number of the world’s leading small luxury tour operators and charities. Amelia draws on her experience and knowledge of both the natural and cultural world with a particular specialism in leading tours to Costa Rica, Madagascar, India and Indonesia. She is an author with a recently acclaimed bestseller, a keen naturalist with a passionate interest in botany and its applications, is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a member of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, V&A and British Museum, National Art Collections Fund, the Countryside Alliance and Royal Horticultural Society. Her aim is to provide an experience characterised by purpose, adventure and joie de vivre, managed with competence and professionalism.

Enquire about this Expert Led tour:

Group Size:

Min 5 / Max 15

Tour Expert:

Amelia Dalton

Departure Date (S):

  • 1st November 2020

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