January 14th - 17th, 2023
Prepare your senses for an awakening journey! Join this photographic adventure exploring one of India’s most iconic locations, Varanasi.
A spiritual walk or boat ride in Varanasi is a cultural experience like no other. Located on the Ganges River, Varanasi is one of the oldest living cities on the planet. It is the holiest of seven sacred cities for Hindus and Jains and a pilgrimage site for many others. The bustling narrow city streets will overwhelm. Intimate spiritual rituals, religious ceremonies, and cremations performed on the holy Ganges will humble. Varanasi is a place where life and death meet. This journey will awaken your heart, mind, and soul.
2023 Varanasi Photography Tour Travel Plans
Saturday, January 14
Arrive at Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) in Delhi, India, any time of day. Our VIP welcome team will greet and help expedite you through customs and immigration. Transfer provided to the JW Marriott Hotel New Delhi Aerocity.
Sunday, January 15 (B, D)
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel. This morning we’ll transfer to Delhi airport for our flight to Varanasi.
Varanasi is known to the devout as Kashi and said to have been founded by Shiva, Lord of the Universe. It’s one of the oldest living cities in the world and also one of the most important pilgrimage sites in India. Situated on the banks of the sacred Ganges River, the city has been a center of learning and civilization for over 2,000 years.
Upon arrival, we’ll transfer to Brijrama Palace. Get settled in at one of Varanasi’s oldest landmarks; guests here will feel akin to royalty. Brijrama Palace is perched on the Darbanga Ghaat on the Ganges, a perfect location to soak up the spiritual traditions of the holy city and explore the fascinating history, culture, and narrow, bustling alleyways.
We’ll start the evening with a visit to the Ganges for a glittering Aarti prayer ceremony, an important ceremony of the Hindu faith. Calmed by this uplifting spiritual ritual, we’ll take a rickshaw ride through the bustling streets to observe and photograph the diversity and unique life of the city and also visit a flower market nearby. To finish the day, we’ll take a sunset cruise on the Ganges and absorb the sights and sounds of the striking religious rituals occurring in every direction.
We’ll gather for a group welcome dinner tonight. Overnight Brijrama Palace
Monday, January 16 (B, L, D)
The subah, or morning, is for Varanasi! We’ll be ready at dawn for an amazing boat journey on the Ganges. As the sun rises, we’ll see those who flock to the riverside for morning worship and learn the captivating history of the ghats.
As the sun rises in the sky, we’ll partake in a walking tour through the mystical landscape of sacred temples and holy ponds near Assi ghat, the southernmost embankment of the holy Ganges. Walk in the footsteps of 16th-century poet and mystic pandit Goswami Tulsidas, translator of the sacred Ramanyana text. Learn about the history and special culture of Varanasi while visiting the Southern temple established by Tulsidas. The walk ends with a special darshan, meaning ‘taking sight’ of a hidden sun temple behind his home.
Overnight Brijrama Palace
Tuesday, January 17 (B)
Breakfast at the hotel before we depart Brijrama Palace for our transfer to Varanasi Airport and flight back to Delhi. Arrive in Delhi late afternoon and check into the luxurious Leela Palace Hotel. The 2023 Snow Leopard Photography Tour officially begins today!
Notes: Our first visit to Varanasi was in January 2020. Over the last few years, the Prime Minister of India has cleaned up the Ganges River. We were unsure of what to expect on this trip and can honestly say it was a highlight of our time in India. Accommodations were boutique, historic, clean, and in the best location for morning activity on the Ganges. Locals were beyond friendly, inviting and not pushy. We were able to blend into the environment to authentically experience this holy city. We felt very comfortable and loved our guides. The food was very good throughout the trip with a variety of dishes, not all curry! The private boat rides along the Ganges were great for photography. Loved the flower markets. So much to experience and take in for such a short amount of time but was perfect.
Dan and Tanya will not be guiding this trip. All guiding will be done by a local guide.
Tour Extensions Available
January 17th - 29th, 2023
10 Guests Maximum
2,550pp, DBL occupancy (6-10 guests)
Single sup: 700
All pricing in US dollars
$500 Per person due at time of booking
Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, Discover, or check accepted
Deposits are non-refundable. If cancellations are necessary, we require this request in writing. We will do our best to resell your space. Only if we can resell your space, we will refund (minus deposit and discounts given to sell your space). No partial refunds are possible for unused services.
March 1, 2022: $1,500 per person first installment
October 15, 2022: Final payment
Check or Zelle only for first and final installments. Please make checks payable to Natural Exposures and mail to:
810 N. Wallace, Suite E
Bozeman, MT 59715
- Meals where indicated (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner) in itinerary
- Accommodations as noted in itinerary
- All beverages with meals
- Airport transfers in Delhi on scheduled arrival and departure days
- Air-conditioned vehicles for all transfers and sightseeing
- Bottled water in vehicle during all transfers, drives, and sightseeing
- Local English-speaking guide
- Exclusive boat ride on Ganges River
- Entrance fees to monuments in itinerary
- Airfare in Economy class Delhi-Varanasi-Delhi (15kg luggage per person)
- Government service tax
- International flights
- Airport departure taxes
- Visa fees
- Gratuities for guides
- Travel/emergency medical evacuation insurance
- Miscellaneous personal expenses such as laundry, phone calls, etc.
- Excess baggage fees
- Airport transfers on non-itinerary days
Flights to Book
January 14, 2023
Arrive in Delhi (DEL) any time of day.
January 17, 2023
Continue on with Natural Exposures for the 2023 Snow Leopard Photography Tour.
Travel/emergency medical evacuation insurance is not required for this photo tour, but we always recommend purchasing it for any trip. We recommend one or more of the following, depending on your needs:
(use code natexp)
Allianz Global Assistance
(use travel agency ID F203564)
Terms & Conditions
Natural Exposures cannot control nor is responsible for abnormal weather, natural disasters, or any other disaster that might affect the trip. Travel insurance should be purchased to cover any missed flights or medical problems that may affect/delay your travel. National Parks have the right to change our itinerary.
By booking a trip with Natural Exposures, you agree to the following CANCELLATION AND LIABILITY POLICY
Accommodations for 2023 Varanasi Photography Tour
JW Marriott Hotel New Delhi Aerocity
An unforgettable experience awaits you at JW Marriott Hotel New Delhi Aerocity. Their 5-star hotel offers stylish accommodations, personalized service and an ideal location. Recharge in luxury rooms and suites with indulgent bedding, mini-bars, marble bathrooms, ample workstations, free Wi-Fi and 24-hour room service. Indulge at any of their remarkable restaurants and bars and enjoy their upscale day spa, heated outdoor pool and modern fitness center. Stay in style and sophistication at the award-winning JW Marriott New Delhi Aerocity.
January 15-16, 2 Nights
Conveniently perched on the Ganges River on the Darbanga Ghaat is the Brijrama Palace, one of the oldest landmarks of the city. The history of the palace dates back to the year 1812, in which it was built by Shridhara Narayana Munshi’ the then minister for the estate of Nagpur. The first sight of the hotel is its historical elevator, installed in 1918, built to help the Darbanga king climb the second floor of the palace, also boasts of being the first elevator of India. The architecture and the design of the palace are directly influenced by the erstwhile ruling dynasty of the Marathas. The sandstone walls and pillars graced with Maratha art accentuate the palace architecture. Also, you may notice, a betel leaf runner along the roof corners of the walls—a signature pattern followed by Marathas during the ancient time.
At Brijrama Palace, guests are just not travelers; they are “Royal Guests.” The services designed and offered are sure to elevate your expectations of a hotel. The magical ambiance at the hotel will definitely leave you spellbound. The Palace aura will definitely hold your senses and compel you to soak in its beauty and get intrigued by the Palace history, beautiful traditional architecture, musical mornings and evenings, spectacular view of the Ganges and the Ghats, and exclusive dining experience.
Helpful Information for 2023 Varanasi Photography Tour
Passport and Visa (US citizens)
Your passport must be valid for six months beyond the date of your India visa application. Two blank pages are required for the entry stamp.
A tourist visa is required for this trip. Please visit the Indian government’s website for electronic travel authorization for additional information regarding the eligibilities and requirements for this type of visa. Visa requirements may change prior to trip time. Please visit the US Bureau of Consular Affairs for the most up-to-date entry requirements. Once you have received your visa, check it carefully to ensure that the type of visa and number of entries is appropriate for your travel plans.
It is advisable to carry photocopies of the bio-data page of your passport and the pages containing the Indian visa and Indian immigration stamps.
Please Note: Satellite phones are prohibited in India.
Make sure you’re up to date on routine vaccines. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella (chickenpox), and polio. Also recommended, but not required are:
- Hepatitis A and B (combo shot series)
Some travelers may also consider vaccinations for cholera, Japanese encephalitis, and rabies, along with malaria prevention. Please consult with your doctor/medical professional.
There is no risk of yellow fever in India. However, if you are arriving in India from Sub-Saharan Africa or other yellow-fever areas, Indian health regulations require that you present evidence of vaccination against yellow fever. If you do not have such proof, you could be subjected to immediate deportation or a six-day detention in the yellow-fever quarantine center. If you transit through any part of sub-Saharan Africa, even for one day, you are advised to carry proof of yellow fever immunization.
Visit the CDC for the latest requirements/recommendations for India health information.
Dan will phone each guest prior to trip time to discuss camera gear and make suggestions for what to bring. Please feel free to email at any time if you have questions regarding camera gear for the trip.
Varanasi Travel Tips
Death is all around in Varanasi, so be prepared. Many people come here to die; it’s a major center of pilgrimage for Hindu, Buddhist, and other religions. This may sound grim, but Varanasi is full of life and celebrations. It’s considered a great honor to die and be cremated in Varanasi/on the Ganges.
Varanasi is a holy city and funerals happen every day on the Ganges. Be sure to be extremely respectful when in front of the cremation ghats (steps) as these are funerals where families are saying goodbye to their loved ones. It is forbidden to take photos of the cremation ghats. You can take pictures of ghats found beyond the cremations.
Varanasi is a crowded place, home to millions, and notorious for pickpockets, beggars, and scammers. Be aware of your surroundings and keep track of your valuables. Avoid wearing expensive jewelry. Resist the temptation to give money to beggars on the street.
Remember cows are considered holy animals in India. Expect A LOT of them (and bulls) in Varanasi, since it is a holy city. Watch your step!
Varanasi is beautiful and magical, yet polluted and dirty. It’s not wise to take a dip in the Ganges, if you are tempted.
Try to keep an open mind. Soak up the atmosphere and observe what’s going on. This is an ancient city and the holiest of the seven sacred cities of Hinduism.
India General Travel Tips
The left hand is considered unclean (being associated with matters in the bathroom) and is never used for eating, passing/receiving objects, shaking hands, etc.
India is a conservative society. It’s best to keep affectionate gestures private. Keep clothing loose versus tight/revealing. Cover your legs and shoulders, especially when visiting temples/shrines/mosques. Ladies will want to cover their heads in these places also.
Pay attention to your body language. Don’t point your feet/finger. A “Namaste” with both palms together is a safe alternative (especially for women) rather than a handshake.
It’s good manners to take off your shoes before entering someone’s home, and it’s required if entering a temple, mosque, or shrine. If you see shoes at an entrance, it’s a good idea to take yours off as well. Feet are typically considered unclean, so don’t touch anyone with your feet/shoes.
Arranged marriages are commonplace. Family values are fundamental in daily life. Patriarchal families are the norm.
Additional information will be sent closer to trip time.
Have a question?
Have a question about this tour? We're happy to answer any queries you may have.
Testimonials from Natural Exposures' Explorers
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To our next encounters with nature"
Maud and Leon Soriano, Florida
"I just wanted to again thank you for a wonderful week of photography and relaxation away from the office. It was a really a good group."
Sue Wolfe, Texas
"We have been friends and have traveled with Dan and Tanya for almost 20 years. We have had the privilege of being invited to join them on their wonderful photography adventures. Dan, a master of photography, is always willing to share his vast knowledge of cameras and photographic skills. Tanya has mastered the art of arranging great tours along with being able to please everyone involved. I keep thinking of how Dan and Tanya pass the Rotary International "Four Way Test". Is it the Truth? Is it fair to all concerned, will it build good will and better friendships and yes it will be beneficial to all concerned. We love, trust and feel safe with Dan and Tanya. Our home is filled with spectacular images we have taken on tours with Natural Exposures Photo Tours."
Ed and Pat Nahin, California
"Tanya and Dan’s logistic skills provide a seamless photo tour where one can truly enjoy the experience. With unlimited photographic opportunities Dan’s instruction has taken my photography to a higher level."
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