Home to over a billion people, India is an incredibly dynamic country where the landscape, language, and religion change every twenty kilometers. At the heart of it all is the state of Rajasthan, known for its vibrant colors, wonderful textiles, and welcoming traditional culture. From lakes to mountains and deserts, and from city bustle to quiet village life, this program will introduce you to the rich diversity of India. Add in a few meaningful service projects and great adventure activities, and you have the ultimate North Indian Cultural Experience!
From Delhi, you will fly to Udaipur, the lake city of Rajasthan and a great place to get acquainted with Indian life. Practice your bargaining skills while hunting for treasures in the local market and check out the stunning Lake Palace. Your next stop is Mount Abu, the only hill station in the state of Rajasthan and a popular destination for Indian tourists. Here you’ll dig in to your first service projects. Help out with a few environmental conservation efforts, including cleaning Nakki Lake and working on reforestation projects, and give from your heart during service at a center for visually impaired people. On your final day in Mount Abu, you will get a feel for what life is like for the people you have been working with as you go on a blindfolded scavenger hunt through town!
From the shores of Nakki Lake, you will head to the small village of Galthani, where your immersion into Indian life will kick into high gear as you move in with a local family. Tell stories, swap English lessons for Hindi tutorials, share meals, and get to know one another during this intensive cultural exchange.
The service here will focus on community projects. You may find yourself repairing local huts, repainting community buildings, or building a wall at a retention pond. In addition to working on community projects, you will head to the local school, where you will lead fun lessons in English and math with the local students. Don’t be surprised if the kids ask you to stick around for a game of soccer or cricket when school ends!
What would the North Indian Cultural Experience be without a little adventure? Go on a safari and try to catch a glimpse of the elusive Indian panther, trek through the forests of Mount Abu, milk cows at a local farm, go rock climbing and rappelling (optional), visit the vibrant markets of Udaipur and Shivganj, and marvel at the Lake Palace and the Mehrangarh Fort. Cap it all off on the final night with a camel safari in the Thar Desert. Gaze at the sunset over the dunes, get cozy next to a bonfire, watch a traditional Rajasthani folk dance, and fall asleep beneath the stars at a camp in the desert.
Grab a camera and your sense of adventure and get ready for this experience of a lifetime! This program easily connects with all of our other great trips in India, as well as with our programs in Southeast Asia and China.
You will depart the United States on the escorted group flight to India today.
Welcome to India! You will land in Delhi in the evening, and your trip leaders will be at the airport eagerly awaiting your arrival. Once everyone has cleared customs and collected their baggage, you will head to the hotel for a relaxing evening and the chance to recover from jet lag.
Catch an early morning flight from Delhi to Udaipur, the lake city of Rajasthan. In the afternoon you will stroll through the wonderful artisan market, grab a bite to eat at a restaurant with a beautiful view of the water, and gaze at the magnificent Lake Palace. Then drive down to Mt. Abu, the only hill station in the desert state of Rajasthan. Here in the Aravalli Mountains, one of the world’s oldest mountain ranges, you will begin your first community service project.
Today you will tour the wonderful mountain area of Mt. Abu. After breakfast, take a short hike through the mountains and visit one of the many temples in the area. Following the brief trek, you will head back for lunch and a boat ride on the lake in the center of town. Don’t be surprised if a few Indian tourists ask to take your picture – this is a very popular destination for tourists in India, and they love to ask for “just one snap!”
Today is the first day of service! With more than half of the world’s visually impaired population, India will be a great place to volunteer at a center for the blind. You will assist the center with mobility training and basic computer training, as well as facilitating various arts, sports and cultural activities. In the evening you can stroll through town and shop in the market or take an evening hike through the mountains.
Another day of service awaits! Today you will work on environmental issues that are important to this mountain hill station. Depending on the amount of rain the area received during the monsoon season, you will either work on a tree planting project to prevent erosion or on a water cleanup project in Nakki Lake, the only source of water for the people of Mt. Abu. You will walk also around the lake and pick up plastic bags and try to develop ideas to prevent future pollution in the area.
Today you will return to the center for the blind for another day of service. After a full day working with the people in the center, take a trek through the forest and enjoy some optional adventure activities. Try rock climbing or rappelling if you feel up to the challenge and enjoy an afternoon adrenaline rush.
Today will be your last day in Mt. Abu. After another day volunteering with the center for the blind, you will get a feel for life in their shoes. Partner up with a fellow Rustic Pathways student and take turns leading each other through the town on a blind scavenger hunt. You will never take your vision for granted again!
Today you will leave for Galthani, a small village with a population of 2,000 people. Home to potters, snake charmers, shepherds, and carpenters, this unique Indian village will give you a glimpse of the myriad lifestyles in the state of Rajasthan. You will spend the afternoon creating lesson plans for your first day of teaching in the schools tomorrow.
You will also meet your Indian home stay family today. You will be paired with another Rustic Pathways student and welcomed into a family’s home, giving you a real immersion in local life. Spend the evening getting to know the family, having a cup of tea, exchanging English lessons for Hindi lessons, and enjoying a traditional Rajasthan meal.
The day will start with teaching in the village school. Math, English, and sports and arts activities will all be on the agenda, and it will be your job to get the students excited to learn something new. It can be difficult to keep kids in school here, and you will be a big part of motivating them to come and keeping them excited to learn.
Don’t expect to travel to school on a yellow school bus – you will get there and back Indian style, in a camel cart! After your first day of teaching, head back to your home stay for another delicious Indian meal and some more time to hang out and get to know the family.
Today you will spend half of the day working at the school and then shift gears to contribute to another community project in the village. Deforestation has been a major issue in the area because of the local shepherds and camel farmers, so you will work on water conservation and reforestation efforts. Additionally, you will spend the afternoon doing some light construction in the village, which could range from repairing small huts to working on painting projects or mending walls on a retention pond. After a day of service, you will visit a local Jain temple to learn about another religion that contributes to the diverse cultural tapestry here. Evening will be spent back with your home stay family.
Today is a holiday at the school, so the service projects will be completely focused on the environmental issues and community projects you began tackling yesterday. In the evening you will visit a cow farm where you will learn about how to raise these animals. You’ll even get a chance to try milking the cow yourself! Afterwards, you will take a short drive to the small village market of Shivganj, where you can purchase any number of traditional Rajasthani goods, including block-printed skirts and textiles, bangles, puppets, artisan goods, and dozens of spices. You will return to your home stay family in the evening for dinner and cultural exchange.
This is your last day in the village, so you will want to make the most of it. Spend the day teaching in the school and take an afternoon break to play a game of soccer or cricket with the students. Don’t worry if you’ve never played before – they’ll show you the ropes and you’ll be swinging for sixes in no time!
After saying goodbye to your new friends at the school, you will head out for a wildlife walk in the afternoon. Keep your eyes peeled for an elusive Indian panther or hyenas! Tonight will be your last evening with your home stay family.
Today you will drive down to the gates of the Thar Desert. Have lunch in the ‘Blue City’ of Jodhpur and see the beautiful painted homes throughout the town. After lunch you will explore the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort. Then drive to Osian, where you will ride camels in the desert and visit the small hamlets of these desert people. As the sun sets over the sand dunes, you can reminisce with your fellow travelers about all of the incredible memories you have made over the last two weeks. You will spend your last night in India at a desert campsite, relaxing around the fire and hanging out with your new friends in the desert. This will be an unforgettable night!
After breakfast on the dunes, you will drive back to Jodhpur for the flight back up to Delhi. After one final meal together, you will head off to the airport for your flight home.
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.
*When packing, please be mindful of the conservative Indian culture and please leave skimpy clothing, sleeveless shirts, short shorts, and other revealing clothing behind. Remember that part of being a good traveler is fitting in with your surroundings and clothing that is normal at home can be extremely suggestive and often times offensive in the areas we will travel to. Most people in India rarely wear shorts, almost always wear pants or dresses, and keep their shoulders covered despite the sometimes high temperatures. If you do not pack conservative clothing, our staff will request that you to purchase appropriate clothing upon arriving to India.
-A medium sized duffel bag or large back pack work best - wheeled bags are OK as long as they are medium sized and can easily be carried like a duffle over rough terrain. It is important that you try to keep your total luggage to one piece of checked luggage. Often you will have to carry it through streets, so it should be easily manageable!
For all programs pack the following items in your checked luggage:
-Remember don’t be that person with way too much stuff. Part of embracing Indian culture requires us to cut down on our material possessions.
Students will be provided with safe drinking water on their program, either
pre-packaged bottled water or water that has been treated and filtered prior to drinking.
YES! All students traveling to India are responsible for obtaining their own visa
for India. You must obtain a minimum 6-month, multiple entry tourist visa. The
information for obtaining the visa can be found at:
You will need a reference for your visa, which is provided to you or you can email us for this information as well.
Students on this trip will find themselves staying in a mix of 3 star hotel
accommodations, comfortable and clean guest houses, and pre-screened and
interviewed home stay families.
Rustic Pathways only requires an up-to-date Tetanus shot, however the Center for Disease Control often has recommendations that are kept updated regarding India.
Since we do not know your child’s medical history, we recommend you
reference the CDC website at: http://www.cdc.gov or the World Health Organization
website at: http://www.who.org for more information. We also suggest consulting with your local travel doctor prior to your travels for further information.
This trip includes all of the student’s accommodations, in addition to three
meals a day, drinking water, transportation, entrance fees and other related group entertainment costs. Optional activities, such as internet use, phone calls home, snacks, souvenirs, etc… are extra costs. For this program, we typically recommend between US$100-200 per week for allowance depending on the student’s spending habits. Student spending can vary greatly, however, as some students may spend very little and others may spend much more if they plan on making a big purchase.
All flights departing from and returning to the United States will have flight
leaders. In the event a student is connecting from another country, they may or may not have a flight leader. In such instances, we generally have coordinated with the airlines to escort the students from check-in through customs, and delivered to a verified Rustic Pathways staff member in Delhi airport.
This program connects seamlessly with our other India programs and students
traveling in different regions of India will use Delhi as their hub. This program
also easily connects with any of our other programs in Thailand, Cambodia,
Vietnam, Laos, Burma, and China.
Students travel on a very comfortable nonstop flight from Newark Airport in New Jersey (EWR) to Indira Gandhi Airport in Delhi, India. It is approximately 14
hours each way.
Students will be eating a mix of Indian, Tibetan, Chinese and maybe even a little
western food. Dietary restrictions are typically accommodated quite easily and
vegetarians are in paradise here with the extensive options of vegetarian dishes. Indian foods can be easily sampled at a local Indian restaurant, but they consist of rice, lentils (dals), curries, and flatbreads (naan, roti, parantha). Tibetan food is made up of momo’s (steamed or fried dumplings stuffed with veggies or meats), Thukpa (noodle soup with vegetables, or meat), and chowmein (fried noodles) dishes.
This program generally breaks down to about a 70% female and 30% male mix. Please feel free to contact us for more specific information on your desired departure date.
Because safety is our number one priority, all of our programs have guides that are certified with First Aid and CPR training. Many of our guides are also
qualified Wilderness First Responders, EMTs, Wilderness EMTs, or Life Guards.
During this program, students will be moving around a bit, so laundry will only be able to be done one or two times on the program. Students should keep in mind that they don’t need new outfits for each day and ‘re-wearing’
clothing is perfectly fine! In fact, the less you pack, the happier of a traveler
you’ll be. Many of your guides will be carrying just a small pack to travel
with, you’d be amazed at how little you need! Laundry will be the equivalent
of about US$10 per load generally.
Students will have access to phones and internet throughout their travels and have the time to use them about every 3-4 days, but this can vary through the trip. Parents will receive safe arrival emails upon their student’s arrival and
should also remember that many students get to India and to fully immerse
themselves in their trip and new opportunities stay away from things like phone and internet which connect them back to their lives at home. This is completely normal and parents should remember that ‘no news is good news’ if they don’t hear from their child during the course of their trip
The climate during this time of year generally is hot and sometimes humid. During much of the year, temperatures in India can be in excess of 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Yes! At the end of summer you will be mailed a certificate of completion for the number of hours that you volunteered on the program. You will have the opportunity to receive the maximum number of hours listed for this program as long as you work hard and with a positive attitude on each and every day of service. We do however reserve the right to deduct hours from your certificate of completion if you refuse to do service or do not complete the service with a positive of effective attitude after talking with our staff.
This program is not very strenuous, but students should be able to hike short
distances, and be in fairly good physical shape. Students with health concerns
should contact our India staff at
This program does not have optional activities that will require a student to
spend extra money.
Most of the meals on this program will be in restaurants. We will also have packed lunches on many days of the trip.
Depending on the program, we sometimes have a lower staff to student ratio, but with safety as our top priority, we maintain at least a 4 or 5 to 1 student to staff ratio.
India is extremely vegetarian friendly, however some special diets may be more
difficult to cater to during parts of the trip.
Contact Us: For more information about The North Indian Cultural Experience you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The North Indian Cultural Experience combines well with the following programs.
Ages: 15 to 18 years old
Length: 16 days from the USA
Hours: Up to 55 hours awarded
Cost: $3,295 + $450 Internal Airfare
International airfare is not included in the above cost. Please check our Travel Desk for airfare pricing and specifics.
|Departs Wed||Returns Thu||Availability|
|3 Jul||18 Jul||Available|
Dates shown are inclusive of travel time from the United States. Most Rustic Pathways trips interconnect, allowing you to design your own perfect summer program.Apply Now