Explore Rajasthan on horseback, riding through the Thar Desert and Aravalli Hill range. This ride is perfect for intermediate and advanced riders wanting to experience rural life in India whilst staying in luxury tented camps, Heritage Hotels, Forts and a private 250 year old Castle only open to horse riding enthusiasts.
The ride passes through the villages inhabited by the eco conservationists of the area, the Bishnoi people. You will be riding fit, responsive Mawari horses that are eager and willing to please their rider.
Other highlights on this trip are visits to Ranakphur Jain Temple, set in a remote wooded valley. This very special Temple built in 1439 has 1444 individually carved marble pillars and the atmosphere is one of spiritual tranquillity. On the last day of the ride you will visit Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary and Kumbhalgarh Fort which has withstood almost continuous attacks by the Mughals for over 350 years. This ride has all the elements of a truly memorable riding holiday: history; majesty; luxury and of course the wonderful Rajashtani people and their horses.
Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.
Review received from TD of Cromer on 24/02/2020
Transfer from Jodphur hotel or airport for a one hour drive to the Khandi Wilderness camp where lunch will be waiting for you. After lunch you will meet your guide and horses and will be able to have a one to two hour ride to get to know your Mawari mount. Tonight will be spent in a small exclusive tented camp set in open semi-desert country. 10km - 2 hr ride.
This morning, after breakfast, you will ride out through villages and desert terrain stopping off here and there to visit the Bishnoi villages. The Bishnoi people are the eco-conservationists of the desert. On arrival in a simple village you will arrive at the magnificent frescoed walls of Rohetgarh, a unique heritage hotel splendidly painted with Indian horse scenes. Entering through the huge wooden gates you will be met by a perfect oasis in the desert. Gorgeous landscaped gardens with roaming peacocks provide an old world Indian charm. Guest rooms are beautifully decorated with silk bedthrows and cushions. The afternoon is spent at leisure to enjoy the fabulous pool and spa or you could take a walk to the local village. Overnight at the unique Rohetgarh. 18km - 3 hr ride.
Today you are off to Sardar Samand riding through sandy tracks and grassland, passing through quaint hamlets populated by the colourful tribal people of this region arriving at the Sardar Samand Lake Palace. This property situated on the hillside next to the huge lake is owned by the Maharaja of Jodhpur. The Palace has views for miles of the open countryside. In the afternoon you may relax by the pool on it's own terrace and watch the bird life on the lake. The sunset views are amazing. Overnight Sardar Samand Lake Palace. The horses will be taken by truck to meet you at your start point tomorrow morning. 30kms - 5.5 hr ride.
After breakfast you will have a two hour drive passing the busy town of Pali and crossing busy highways to reach the Jawali Shiva Temples where you will meet the horses. After a picnic lunch you will ride through low hills and open grassland arriving in the evening at an ancient 250 year old Castle set in the middle of a small rustic shepherd village. This Castle is owned and run by the Ghanerao nobility and is only open to horse riding enthusiasts. It has all modern amenities. Overnight Kotri Raola. 14km - 3 hr ride
For the 28 December ride there will be New Year Celebrations! This will be a small, private party with capfire and a special meal.
In the morning after breakfast you will ride out in open farmland to the rocky hills of Narlai. After lunch you have a choice - ride back to Kotri along a different route, or take a break from the saddle to climb the rock of Narad and visit the village, or even visit a spa for a massage. Overnight at Rawla Narlai a classic Heritage Hotel. 12kms - 2 hr ride.
For the 28 December ride there will be a special New Years Day dinner at the Rawla Narlai stepwell.
This mornings ride will take you out past farms and lakes arriving at the Muthana bird lake where you will stop for refreshments. After which the ride continues through scrub and forest until you meet the road. After a four hour ride you will meet the jeep for a short drive through the merchant town of Sadri arriving at Maharani Barh for lunch. In the afternoon you will visit the magnificent Jain Temples at Ranakpur, a 20km drive away. Return by jeep to overnight in Ghanerao Castle, a 16th century heritage castle. 26kms - 5 hr ride.
Meet your horse back at Ghanerao Castle. Today's ride will be to the Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary. The ride will pass through tribal villages and farms along the Aravalli, climbing up 2000ft to the Aodhi Hotel in the middle of the Sanctuary. After lunch at the hotel you will visit Kumbhalgarh Fort, circa 1458 which has huge bastions, 9 gates and 36km of unbroken wall. This historic Fort built by Rana Kumbha was so strong it withstood almost continuous attacks by the Mughals over 350 years. Overnight at Aodhi Hotel, a Heritage Hotel of the HRH Group of Hotels. 18 kms - 4 hr ride.
After breakfast depart for Udaipur.
Please follow this link for a map of the start point of this itinerary: Rajasthan Kumbalgarh Ride
Please note that if the minimum number of 5 people are not confirmed for this ride, the Avaralli Hills 4-day programme will run instead.
We're avid readers here at Unicorn Trails and have selected several books connected to this ride. If you're interested in reading more about the area before you travel, or want to get into the cultural background, here are some suggestions that may inspire you. Click on the links for more information.
India (Lonely Planet Country Guides) - Sarina Singh
City of Djinns - William Dalrymple
The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia - Paul Theroux
An Indian Summer - James Cameron
Into India - John Keay
No Full Stops in India - Mark Tully
Rajasthan; India's Enchanted Land- Raghubir Singh
Rajasthan; Land of Kings - S. Matheson & R. Beny
The Royal Palaces of India – G. Michell & A. Martinelli
Arts and Crafts of Rajasthan - A. Nath & F. Wacziarg
Plain Tales from the Raj - Charles Allen
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
The horses are Marwari horses which are indigenous to India and range from 14hh to 16hh. The exotic beauty and vigour of the Marwari horse is their lasting heritage. Marwari was bred to lift the heart in battle and please the eye. He is easily recognised by his proud carriage, upright graceful neck and distinctive aquiline head, the crowning glory of which are the unique inward curling or scimitar shaped ears set high on the poll and without exception unique to the noble Indian horse. The intelligence and natural regal bearing of the Marwari is blended with tremendous equipoise, graceful animated gaits and stamina. He displays an alert stillness when in repose and incredible elan vital in action. Hardiness and longevity have enabled the breed to survive wars, famine and droughts. The Marwari agreeably adapts to different life styles and environmental conditions and performs in various sports and formal riding disciplines. Loyal, tireless and competitive, the Marwari has evolved from one of the world ancient breeds to present a new archetype of beauty, brilliance and personality.
The Marwari horses are warm blooded and forward going and very light to ride - a little like Arab and Thoroughbred horses. They are very kind natured, intelligent and surefooted and swift to respond to their riders wishes. The riding style is English and the tack utilised is cavalry saddles and usually snaffle bridles.
Riders should be confident at a walk, trot and canter. There is plenty of assistance on hand with mounting and dismounting and this is a full service ride (so no need to groom or tack up the horses).
The weight limit for this ride is 209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Accommodation on this trip has a wonderful local flavour with some very impressive settings. All are historical palaces and forts with some full service campsites. The forts and palaces provide twin rooms, some are grand but modest in decoration whilst others offer every modern luxury.
The campsites consisit of separate walk-in tents with made up beds, hot showers, a meal tent and a full complement of camp staff. The meals have an Indian flavour but European dishes are also provided as desired. The hygiene is scupulous and it is extremely rare for any guest to have an issue with the food on this ride. Bottled mieral water is always at hand.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request.
General information, correct as of 3rd February 2014:
You must obtain a visa before travelling to India. If you arrive without a visa, you will be refused entry. Visas can be obtained online via the Indian government agency, VFS Global - http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk/ On this website you will find a step by step guide outlining the forms you need to fill in. You will also be required to send your passport and 2 approved photographs so factor in enough time for this to be done and for your passport and visas to be returned to you. There are a number of companies who will charge a fee to check your information for you before it is submitted, so you could take advantage of these if you are not confident that you have filled out the forms correctly. There are also Visa collection centres in London and Leicester, however these do not guarantee a same-day visa and can entail hours of queuing.
Always keep a copy of your passport and your Indian visa separate from your passport, in case of loss. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months. For further information on entry requirements, visitors are advised to check with the Indian representation in the UK at India House, Aldwych, London, WC2B 4NA. Telephone: (020) 7836 8484.
The British High Commission in India can be found at Shantipath, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi - 110021. Telephone: +(91-11) 26872161. Email: postmaster.nedel@ fco.gov.uk.
The Foreign and Commonwealth office also provides travel advice on their website at www.fco.gov.uk
The temperature although warm during the day max 30C will drop in the evenings to approx 13C. It is therefore essential to have a warm fleece to hand especially when camping.
Anti-malaria precautions are advised as necessary to some areas at certain times of year. If you have recently visited a place known for yellow fever you will need a vaccination certificate. Your G.P. will advise on necessary vaccinations and precautions.
For up to date information on health matters please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org or visit the departmwetn of health's web site on www.dh.gov.uk
Voltage is the same as in the UK and most appliances such as battery chargers for videos, hair dryers etc. can be plugged in with appropriate adapters. These are available for purchase at most airports and travel shops
Electricity is available on all hotel nights for charging electronic equipment but not on camping nights. Mobile phone reception and 3G is widely available, many hotels have wifi.
Riding clothes, half chaps (recommended), riding gloves, riding boots, walking shoes, fleece, warm jacket, sweatshirt, long sleeved shirts, windcheater/raincoat, plenty of socks, swimwear, light flip flops/sandals, sunblock, sunglasses with string, insect repellent, torch, camera on a shoulder strap with a pouch which can be secured to your belt, plenty of film and batteries, binoculars, water bottle.
There is no laundry service after arrival in Johdpur until Delhi so ample supply of socks and underwear will be necessary. It is recommended that a riding hat is worn, if not you will be grateful for a light scarf to keep dust and grime out of your hair. This will also be useful if visiting any Sikh shrines when the head must be covered. Out of respect to local custom women should avoid bare shoulders, legs and low neck lines. Many historic palaces have no heating so make sure that you have warm socks, trousers etc
Set dates are available between October and March (inclusive), 8 days/7nights. Other dates by arrangement for goups of 5 or more, private departures can be arranged from 5 onwards.
Lonely Planet Guide/ NEOS Guide to Rajasthan/Delhi & Agra.
‘The City of Djinns’-William Dalrymple,
‘The Great Railway Bazaar’-Paul Theroux,
‘An Indian Summer’-James Cameron, ‘Into India’-John Keay,
‘No Full Stops In India’ –Mark Tully,
‘Rajasthan;India’s Enchanted Land’-Raghubir Singh,
‘Rajasthan, Land of Kings’-Matheson S.& Beny R.,
‘The Royal Palaces of India’ –Michell G. & Martinelli A.,
‘Arts and Crafts in Rajasthan’-Nath A. & Wacziarg F.,
‘Plain Tales From The Raj’-Charles Allen,
The Bagahvaad Gita and of course many others have been written about this huge, diverse land and its 847 million inhabitants. For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback visit www.thelongridersguild.com also a fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com
Notable sights en-route such as temples and festivals are always included in the itineraries.
The wildlife sanctuary is known for its population of wolves and you may also encounter four horned antelope, leopards and sloth bears.
PERSONAL TOILETRIES: For peace of mind it is recommended that should you require any tampons/sanitary ware you take this with you. A toilet roll with inner cardboard tube removed will take up little space and may be an invaluable item.
BEGGARS: You will not visit India without coming into contact with many distressing facets of this unfortunate community. Without appearing harsh it is strongly advised by the Indian Authorities and charity workers in the country not to give to these people. Should you wish to do something extra to help these communities that a donation to an established charity will go much further and give you a relatively hassle free visit.
TAXIS/RICKSHAWS; In major cities these should be metered and have a tariff rate. If in doubt agree a fare before departing and check that the meter is used. Do not be persuaded to go where the drivers get commission, ask your guide for current price guidelines!
India forms a natural sub-continent with the Himalayas to the north. The Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, which are sections of the Indian Ocean, lie to the west and east respectively.
The official language of India is Hindi written in the Devanagari script and spoken by some 30% of the population as a first language. Since 1965 English has been recognised as an 'associated language'. In addition there are 18 main and regional languages recognised for adoption as official state languages. There are another 24 languages, 720 dialects and 23 tribal languages.
India will sideswipe you with its size, clamour and diversity - especially if you enjoy delving into convoluted cosmologies and thrive on sensual overload. Nothing in the country is ever quite predictable; the only thing to expect is the unexpected, which comes in many forms and will always want to sit next to you.
The time difference for India is GMT/UTC +5.5hrs and the dialling code is +91. India has adopted metric weights and measures.