Kolkata to Amritsar

Kolkata to Amritsar

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15 Days From

$2620

$2548

Kolkata to Amritsar

15 Days Starting in Kolkata and ending in Amritsar

Visiting: Kolkata, Bodh Gaya, Varanasi, Sarnath temple Varanasi Uttar Pradesh, Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Taj Mahal, Delhi, Kalka, Shimla, Ambala, Amritsar

Tour operator:

Explore!

Tour code:

RBA

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

4 - 16

Physical rating:

Medium, Moderate

Age range:

16-

Special diets catered:

Vegans, Vegetarians

Tour operated in:
English
Trip Styles:

Adventure Tours

Activities:

Sightseeing

From:
$2620
$2548 Exclusive Tourhub Discount: -$72

NB: Prices correct on 19-May-2024 but subject to change.

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Tour Overview

Travel on India's extensive rail network from buzzing Kolkata in the East to Amritsar's Golden Temple. On the way we delve into India's melting pot of religions including Hinduism in Varanasi and Buddhism in Bodh Gaya as well as sailing along the Ganges and riding the iconic toy train to Shimla.



Varanasi - Soak up the atmosphere in this sacred Hindu city and see the Ganga Aarti ceremony on the scared Ghats

Agra & Delhi - Watch the sunrise over the beautiful Taj Mahal and explore the wonders of Old and New Delhi

Amritsar - Experience the captivating atmosphere of the Golden Temple, the sacred heart of the Sikh faith

Highlights

  • Varanasi - Soak up the atmosphere in this sacred Hindu city and see the Ganga Aarti ceremony on the scared Ghats

  • Agra & Delhi - Watch the sunrise over the beautiful Taj Mahal and explore the wonders of Old and New Delhi

  • Amritsar - Experience the captivating atmosphere of the Golden Temple, the sacred heart of the Sikh faith

Itinerary

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Day 1: Join Trip In Kolkata

Location: Kolkata

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: No Meals

Arrive in Kolkata (Calcutta). Once the capital of British India, Kolkata has had a turbulent past. It was central to the struggle for Indian independence and thousands of Bengali refugees came here at the start of the 1900's. It is a city of striking contrasts and can be overwhelming initially, but the unusual sights, pungent smells and the chaotic sounds of the country's second largest city are an experience unique to India.



For those arriving on time today our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 5pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Kolkata at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Kolkata Airport (CCU), which is one hour from the airport. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.



If your flight arrives in the early morning your room will be ready for you on arrival. Later in the day you might choose to take a stroll around the Kalighat area. One of the oldest parts of the city, it is densely populated and busy, with an interesting temple dedicated to the goddess Kali.

Day 2: Explore The Bustling City Of Kolkata

Location: Kolkata

Accommodation: Hotel

This morning we'll begin our exploration of Kolkata with a visit to the colourful flower market and the clay modeller's village. The potters here spend all year creating a wealth of images and idols for the annual festivals and, as the time approaches for the models to be prepared for the coming pujas, the streets are filled with an overwhelming display of brightly coloured and richly attired idols. We'll also visit the Victoria Memorial, Dalhousie Square and Kolkata's wonderfully intricate Jain temple, an important pilgramage site for Jains from all over India which set in particularly beautiful gardens.

Day 3: Travel To The Buddhist Town Of Bodh Gaya, An Important Pilgrimage Site

Location: Bodh Gaya

Accommodation: Hotel

A free morning affords an opportunity to explore a little more of the city. You may wish to travel to the Dakshieswar Kali Temple and the Ramakrishna Mission or perhaps visit the Mother Theresa Home and Orphanage. This remarkable woman, born in Serbia in 1910, has become synonymous with the city of Calcutta. A member of the Order of the Loreto nuns, she was sent to India in 1937 and spent the next 60 years attempting to alleviate some of the appalling poverty that first assailed her on her arrival here, self sacrificing acts that saw her beatified by the Vatican in 2003.



Transferring to the railway station later this afternoon we then continue our journey by train, heading for the important Buddhist pilgrimage site of Bodh Gaya, in the Bihar province on the plains of the eastern Ganges. It was here that the Lord Buddha attained enlightenment, making the town an important mecca for pilgrims from across India and the rest of the Buddhist world.

Day 4: See The Sacred Bodhi Tree, Under Which Buddha Attained Enlightenment. Take A Train To Varanasi

Location: Varanasi

Accommodation: Hotel

This morning we will join the constant flow of the faithful to visit some of the most important sites in the Buddhist world. Whilst the original Bodhi tree under which Prince Siddhartha Gautama achieved enlightenment over 2600 years ago no longer remains, its ancestral descendants still occupy the same spot and we will visit it, along with the majestic Mahbodhi Temple this morning. Built in the 6th century AD on the site of an original temple erected by the emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC, this magnificent building, topped by a towering 50m high spire, was declared a World Heritage Site in 2002 and is one of the oldest brick built Buddhist temples in India.



We will also visit the 25m high Great Buddha Statue, before taking an early afternoon train east, towards the holy city of Varanasi, certainly one of the oldest Hindu pilgrimage centres in India and believed to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on earth, its age making it a contemporary with ancient Thebes and Babylon. Lying on the banks of the sacred River Ganges, Varanasi is steeped in the lore and traditions of Hinduism, and since its inception as one of the principal centres of Shiva worship some 1200 years ago, it has attracted devotees from across the world to its myriad of temples and ghats. It is believed by many that this is where the material and spiritual worlds cross and countless thousands come here to cleanse themselves along the banks of the Ganges and partake in the rituals of Aarti. On arrival in the city we will transfer to our hotel, where we will spend the next two nights.

Day 5: Visit Sarnath's Temples And Sail On The Ganges

Location: Sarnath temple Varanasi Uttar Pradesh

Accommodation: Hotel

This morning we make a short journey north, to the sacred site of Sarnath, the cradle of Buddhism, where the Buddha preached his first sermon following his attainment of enlightenment. We will visit the main shrine, the Dharmarajka Stupa and the Dhamekh Stupa, the spot where he first espoused the teachings that were to form the very principles of the Buddhist faith. We will also see the nearby Ashoka Pillar and the monastery, the centre pieces of what is in effect probably the most expansive collection of Buddhist temples and monasteries on earth. At its height this remarkable site housed over 1500 monks, before its decline and subsequent destruction by Muslim armies saw it all but disappear. It was rediscovered by British archaeologists in the middle years of the 19th century, since which it has recaptured some of its original prestige and now represents one of the four holiest Buddhist sites on earth.



Returning to Varanasi after our visit we will spend the afternoon exploring the old city and the riverfront by cycle rickshaw and on foot, before an evening sunset boat ride along the sacred Ganges itself, hopefully catching sight of the local priests performing the revered Aarti ceremonies. Varanasi can boast some 80 or so riverfront ghats, including a number of 'burning ghats' where public cremations take place along the water's edge.

Day 6: Free Morning Before An Overnight Train To Agra

Location: Agra

Accommodation: Overnight Train

It is possible this morning to take an optional dawn boat ride along the Ganges, when the city is bathed in the glow of the early morning and the pilgrims are practising the puja ceremony to the newly awaking sun. The rest of the day is free to explore more of this most fascinating of cities at your leisure, immersing yourself in the eclectic mayhem of the city's narrow streets and alleyways, a truly unforgettable experience and an incredible insight into the lives and cultures of traditional Indian life. Late this afternoon we will transfer back to the railway station for the overnight sleeper train to Agra. Indian sleeper trains are a fantastic experience and a great way to meet people as we travel. We make our bookings in second class air-conditioned sleepers, which have four beds in each compartment and all bedding provided. Whilst we try to ensure the group is all together, due to overwhelming demand and the system for booking train tickets in India, it may not always be possible to have everyone in the same carriage and some reservations may be in 3rd class. In such cases our Tour Leaders will help everyone to find their seats and ensure you get the most out of your journey. For overnight trains, each berth is separated by curtains and has 4/6 bunk beds. Bedding (sheet, blanket and pillow) is provided but you may wish to bring your own sleeping liner for added comfort. Train travel in India is safe and civilised but for added security whilst you sleep it may be a good idea to bring a bike lock for your bags. If you do not wish to carry one with you, your tour leader can help you to purchase one locally before your train journey.

Day 7: Discover Agra's Imposing Red Fort And The Deserted City Of Fatehpur Sikri

Location: Fatehpur Sikri

Accommodation: Hotel

Once the capital of the mighty Mughal Empire, the city is littered with some of the country's most opulent and iconic buildings, and the sandstone majesty of its imposing fort is no exception. Built by Emperor Akbar and then embellished by his grandson, Shah Jahan, the fort was once a great city, with palaces, mosques and halls all lying behind the protective embrace of 20m high walls. There will be some free time to wander the city, perhaps taking in the rich elegance of the exquisite Itimad-ud-Daulah, a 17th century tomb built for the Emperor Jehangir's chief minister that mirrors the marble majesty of the more famous Taj Mahal (hence its rather apt title of 'Baby Taj).



This afternoon we will visit the nearby abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri, lying to the west of Agra and, for a brief time, the capital of the Mughals under Akbar the Great. Founded in 1569 it was deserted just 16 years later following the emperor's death and today it remains a ghostly testament to the majesty and power of 16th century Mughal India. Visiting the site with a local guide we take in the splendour of its perfectly preserved imperial court and the grandeur of the 5-storey Panch Mahal. We will also see the courtyard and pachisi board, where the emperor played an Indian equivalent of chess, using slave girls as pieces. Perhaps the finest of all the city's monuments though is the lotus shaped carved central pillar of the Diwan-i- Khas (Hall of Private Audience), a magnificently column of matchless proportions that supports the vaulted roof of Akbar's old debating room.

Day 8: Visit The Taj Mahal At Sunrise. Travel To Delhi

Location: Taj Mahal

Accommodation: Hotel

This morning we have an early start as we head for the iconic magnificence of one of the most universally recognised buildings on earth, and surely the greatest testament to love ever constructed. Built by the emperor Shah Jahan to honour the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz, the building took some 22 years to complete and was once described by Rudyard Kipling as 'the embodiment of all things pure'. Built of marble and decorated with the most exquisite inlay work, the Taj Mahal required the labour of 20,000 men and is estimated to have cost something in the region of 3 million rupees (at today's prices that equates to around $70 million). In the afternoon we travel to Delhi by road.

Day 9: Explore New Delhi And The Narrow Lanes Of The Old City

Location: Delhi

Accommodation: Hotel

This morning we explore the colonial grandeur of New Delhi. The Indian capital has long been a phoenix, rising again and again out of its own ruins and is essentially a city divided in two: a magnificent living monument to the grandiose designs of the Moghals and the British. New Delhi was the creation of the British Raj of the 1930s and its streets are filled with a rich collection of the architectural creations of Edward Lutyens. Our tour this afternoon will include many of the sites of New Delhi and give us the opportunity to see for ourselves this vibrant city of bustling bazaars and historic sites. Following the broad expanse of the Rajpath (Kingsway), we will visit the towering memorial arch of the India Gate, a testament to the 90,000 Indian troops who lost their lives during WWI and the fighting along the Northwest Frontier during the early years of the 20th century. We will view the imposing buildings of the Indian Parliament, as well as the Moghal majesty of Humayun's Tomb, a 16th century mausoleum commissioned by the emperor's Persian born wife and considered by many to be one of the best examples of Moghal architecture in the country. We also visit the towering Qutub Minar, a spectacular 13th century edifice made of sandstone and marble that towers some 73m above the city and heralded the final demise of the Hindu kings and the arrival of the Muslim sultans.



After lunch we take a tour of Old Delhi by metro and cycle rickshaw. This old city, the former capital of the 17th century Mughal emperor Shan Jahan, is a magnificent fusion of grandiose architecture and vibrant chaos, centred around the Chandni Chowk Bazaar, an eclectic cacophony of noise, colour and deafening barter that is so essentially Indian. Our sightseeing takes in the spectacular Jama Masjid Mosque, the largest in India and Shah Jahan's magnificent swansong. Taking 14 years to complete, the mosque is a majestic structure, featuring four towers, three gateways and two towering minarets that stand some 40m high. Built from sandstone and marble its vast courtyard can hold upwards of 25,000 worshippers and from the top of the southern minaret you can get a clear view of the colonial designs of Edward Lutyens across the city.

Day 10: Travel On The Kalka Shatabdi And Toy Train To Shimla

Location: Kalka

Accommodation: Hotel

Departing the Indian capital this morning we take a train to Kalka, just to the north of Chandigarh. From here we transfer to a narrow gauge track and continue to Shimla on the remarkable 'Toy Train'. Climbing from the plains below, the train negotiates a meandering journey of some 93km, ascending over 1600m towards the cooling heights of the old British hill station. Whilst traditionally the Toy Train was pulled by steam engines these days they are mostly pulled by diesel engines. The journey takes us through an incredible 103 tunnels and past some of the most scenic landscapes in the region, before reaching the town itself, stretched out along a crescent shaped ridge, its alpine style houses shaded beneath dense forests of fir.

Day 11: Take A Walking Tour To See Shimla's Vice Regal Lodge

Location: Shimla

Accommodation: Hotel

With a full day in Shimla we have an opportunity to explore this beautiful setting further, first with an orientation tour of the town, taking in some of its colonial ambience. The opening of the Kalka-Shimla railway at the turn of the 20th century allowed the well to do families of the Raj to escape the heat of Kolkata and Delhi and spend the hot summer months amongst the cool landscapes of these verdant hills. We will take in the ageing charm of the Christ Church and Scandal Point, where the mock Tudor architecture presents a quite surreal imitation of Old England against the magnificent backdrop of the Himalaya. Whilst following the ridge there is an opportunity to visit the Viceregal Lodge, the former residence of the British viceroy and site of a number of important negotiations that preceded Indian independence.

Day 12: Free Time To Explore The Former Hill Station Of Shimla

Location: Shimla

Accommodation: Hotel

A free day for personal exploration in Shimla. Various optional walks are also available today, such as the 2km walk up to the Jakhu or 'monkey' Temple, which provides some inspiring panoramic views. Dedicated to the monkey god Hanuman the site is, as you might imagine, inundated with monkeys, many who find no trouble in chancing their arm at mischief and mayhem, so be careful of bags, food and anything that isn't firmly nailed down! Back in town, the bazaar is renowned for its selection of locally made woollen shawls, as well as a range of other locally produced handicrafts.

Day 13: Travel To The Holy Sikh City Of Amritsar

Location: Ambala

Accommodation: Hotel

Departing Shimla this morning we follow the train track as it winds its way down towards the town of Ambala, to connect with an afternoon train to Amritsar in the Northern Punjab. The holiest city of the Sikhs', Amritsar was founded in 1577 and, in spite of extremist unrest and destructive invaders, it remains the spiritual centre of the Sikh religion, its magnificent Golden Temple acting as a serene centrepiece. After transferring to the hotel there may be an opportunity to visit this landmark monument this evening, to watch the reflective light of the moon playing across the tranquil waters that surround the main shrine, the Harmandir. The temple is home to the revered texts of the Sikh Holy Scriptures, the Guru Granth Sahib, and its gilded dome is covered in over 700kg of pure gold. A sumptuous fusion of Hindu and Islamic influences, the temple was the scene of the massacre of hundreds of Sikh protesters in 1984, when the Indian army acting on the orders of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, evicted extremists from the temple, an act that led to the assassination of Indira Ghandi by Sikh bodyguards later that same year.

Day 14: Visit The Golden Temple And The Border With Pakistan

Location: Amritsar

Accommodation: Hotel

Today we visit the incredible Golden Temple where we need to make sure that we remove our shoes, cover heads and wash our feet before entering. The temple itself is a surprisingly small building surrounded almost entirely by tanks of holy water in which the Sikh pilgrims bathe (the name of the town itself comes from the Amrit Sarovar - the Pool of Nectar). The atmosphere is one of incredible calm, with devotees taking their turn to pass through the main shrine, where there is a continuous and melodic recital (known as the Akhand Path) from the Guru Granth Sahib. This afternoon there will be an excursion to Wagah Border to see the 'Flag Down' ceremony, where the border guards for both India and Pakistan make a rather dramatic display of closing the border gates each day.

Day 15: Trip Ends In Amritsar

Location: Amritsar

Our tour ends this morning after breakfast.



If your flight departs later this evening or in the early hours of the next day, we have arranged late check-out on a shared room basis (1 room every 4 passengers) so that you can freshen up and store your luggage before you depart.

What's Included

  • Train Tickets

  • Meals – Breakfast Only

    14 breakfasts

  • Fully Guided

  • All Domestic Transportation (including internal flights)

  • Airport Transfers at Destination

  • Accommodation

    13 nights comfortable hotel

    1 nights simple overnight train

What's Not Included

  • 1 bottle of Mineral Water per person per day

  • Country Entry Visas

  • Tipping and Gratuities

Why Book this Tour

This tour is ideal for anyone wanting to experience India's fantastic rail network. Travelling mainly by train it's a great opportunity to mix with local families and really get under the skin of the country.

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Check out our Q&As

  • Do I need to bring a sleeping bag?

    No. For overnight trains, each berth is separated by curtains and has 4/6 bunk beds. Bedding (sheet, blanket and pillow) is provided but you may wish to bring your own sleeping liner for added comfort.

  • Can you assist with pre or post tour accommodation?

    Yes, we would be delighted to book extra nights before the start or at the end of your trip, please let us know your requirements at the time of booking.

  • What is the standard of the hotels on this tour?

    13 nights comfortable hotel

    1 nights simple overnight train

  • Will I know the names and details of all the accommodation before I depart?

    Yes

  • Are airport transfers included in this tour?

    All customers that travel on a Explore group trip will be provided with a complimentary transfer, provided they arrive and depart into the designated airport or train station on the trip start and end dates. This is a great way to start your travels, offering you that little extra peace of mind and comfort in the knowledge that there will be someone at the airport or station waiting to take you t

  • What is the maximum group size?

    16

  • Will there be an escort accompanying this tour?

    Yes

  • What is the fitness level required to do this tour?

    Moderate

  • I'm going on a walking/cycling trip-do I need to train?

    It will depend on the grade and how fit you already are. Check the trip page for details of the walking or cycling grade and how far you’ll be walking/cycling each day. For moderate or challenging trips in particular we’d recommend doing some walks or cycles before you leave to build up your fitness and prepare you for the distances being covered.

  • Who will be my travelling companions on the tour?

    We have a wide range of ages nationalities on our small group trips and they come from all walks of life.

  • Should I get travel insurance?

    Yes–it is a condition of booking that you are fully insured when travelling with us

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    At Explore, we're the experts in adventure travel. Our small group adventure holidays have been running since 1981. Today, Explore is one of the most trusted travel companies in the UK with over 500 trips to more than 120 countries.

  • Can I join the tour once it has departed?

    Yes, but there are no concessions for doing so, and we must have a record in your booking advising as such before the trip departs.

  • Am I contributing to any charity by booking the tour?

    Being a responsible company is a large statement, something that has to be entwined within the very fibre of a company. Discover the charities and partnerships we support as part of this at https://www.explore.co.uk/about/sustainability/charities-and-partners

  • What happens if I need to change my holiday date once I’ve booked?

    We want to be as clear as and as honest as possible about what happens if you decide to that you no longer wish to travel on your trip. Our booking conditions have details of the costs you’ll incur when you cancel-these charges depend on how long it is before your planned departure.

  • What is the accommodation like?

    We choose comfortable accommodation in the best locations possible. We opt for small, local and family-run accommodation where we can, as opposed to large chain hotels. We typically use hotels that are the equivalent of European 3-star, and you’ll usually have an en suite room. Occasionally, where we want to get off the beaten trail we may stay in more basic accommodation.

  • What Ethical Travel credentials does the tour company have?

    Sustainability is embedded within the fibre of Explore, it emanates from the inside out. But as we enter a new decade it is clearer than ever that our world needs help, and Explore has created a sustainability strategy based on the 2015 UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

  • What policies are in place for Covid-19?

    Our flexible booking and safety policies mean you're protected before and during your travels with us. Receive a full refund if your trip is cancelled, transfer your trip free of charge up to 10 days before departure minus any irrocoverable costs.

  • Do I need to be very fit to book with you?

    All our trips require some level of active participation. This could be on a cultural trip, trek, safari, expedition or voyage. It is in the interests of all members of the group that everyone should be capable of fully participating in the activities of their chosen trip.

  • What documents will I receive before I travel?

    Final documents will include a comprehensive trip itinerary, climate and country information, budgeting and packing advice visa and passport information and details on optional activities available.

  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    Yes on most of our trips. Most trips are based on customers sharing twin-bedded rooms. If you book a group trip as an individual, you will share a room with someone of the same sex. However, on many trips we offer the opportunity to pay a supplement to pre-book a single room, known as our single room option. On some trips a single room will be provided every night, on others it will be provided o

  • Do we have to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to travel

    It’s now a condition of booking a trip with us that customers should have one of the following before they travel - — Be vaccinated against COVID, having received the full recommended course, and allowing enough time for immunity to take effect. Full vaccination includes any booster required to keep the vaccine valid. — Have taken a negative test (rapid antigen or PCR) within 72hrs of departure.

  • Will the accommodation included meet local health and safety regulations?

    Explore will only offer hotels that have specific COVID-19 protocols in place and comply with local government guidelines. We will ensure these measures include; enhanced room cleaning, ventilation, social distancing, regular cleaning and disinfection of high frequency touch points in public areas, food safety, staff re-training and minimising contact within the properties.

Reviews from travellers on this tour

Claire  

Kolkata to Amritsar

Another excellent trip. I have already recommended

Another excellent trip. I have already recommended this to a friend in work, who has been on Explore trips before.

Jane  

Kolkata to Amritsar

An enjoyable trip and well balanced visits on the

An enjoyable trip and well balanced visits on the whole.

Victor  

Kolkata to Amritsar

Really enjoyed it

Really enjoyed it

David  

Kolkata to Amritsar

This rates as my best holiday ever.

This rates as my best holiday ever.

Andrew  

Kolkata to Amritsar

we have never experienced group travel before but

we have never experienced group travel before but were recommended Explore by a friend who has travelled widely with the company. We thoroughly enjoyed the trip.

Michael  

Kolkata to Amritsar

It was a great and memorable trip with a very inte

It was a great and memorable trip with a very interesting and varied itinerary. The essential part, as mentioned, was having a truly great guide - Pema Bhutia.

Ciera  

Kolkata to Amritsar

I really enjoyed my trip and met some lovely peopl

I really enjoyed my trip and met some lovely people. I thought Explore were reallyod value for money and it was all organised extremely well.

Gillian  

Kolkata to Amritsar

My first trip of this kind and I thought it was wo

My first trip of this kind and I thought it was wonderful! Thanks

Janet  

Kolkata to Amritsar

Brilliant trip, enhanced by the best tour leader w

Brilliant trip, enhanced by the best tour leader we have had on any explore trip and better than any tour leader from many other companies we have travelled with.

John  

Kolkata to Amritsar

This was a veryod trip which allowed us to see a l

This was a veryod trip which allowed us to see a lot of India in a short time. The groupt on well and Mayank was one of the best guides we have had.

Read all 19 reviews

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Book with Confidence

  • Free Date Changes

    Explore! allows you to make 1 free date changes, as long as the change is made at least 60 days before the start of the tour.

  • Low Deposit

    Explore! requires a minimum deposit of 10% or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 60 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of explore! charges.

    Up to 60 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 59 days before tour starts: Forfeit 30% of booking price.

    At 41 days before tour starts: Forfeit 60% of booking price.

    At 27 days before tour starts: Forfeit 90% of booking price.

    At 13 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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