A whirlwind of sights, sounds and local colour. The towns and villages of India are chaotic, pulsating and mesmerising, the people loud, vibrant, flamboyant yet charming. We met warmth and good humour wherever we went. I've never felt so challenged yet engaged with a country and its people.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
We didn't see a tiger in Ranthambore but we did experience a thunder storm with sheet lightening and threatening drops of rain. The park felt electric and other worldly. I wouldn't have missed the wild boar, jackal, crocodiles, monkeys, deer or displaying peacock for the world or the five minute stops where we listened for warning crys and potential sightings.
Floating a candle on the Ganges at dusk and making a wish couldn't have been more beautiful or loaded with emotion. In the morning we were gripped by Raj's tales when he casually told us to look over our shoulders - the sun was just appearing above the horizon, magical.
- What did you think of your group leader?
Gajrajsingh Bhati is a legend, as one of the party said when he negotiated us through the chaos of Varanasi, if he told us to walk off a cliff we would have followed - inspirational.
He seemed to be possessed of magic powers, organising the trip seamlessly, coming up with endless options and knowing who to call to sort out any request or solve any problem. We were positioned at exactly the right place to get on the train from Varanasi to Delhi to within an in inch of the right door.
The man has endless patience, great charm and organisation. We were greatly impressed.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
Get fit before hand as this trip is full on. Raj planned a 4.45 start to get us to the Taj Mahal - we were at the front of the queue and we have perfect shots of the Taj minus other tourists. This followed several full on journeys with early starts and late finishes. I would get plenty of sleep the week before and stock up on vitamins.
Neither I nor my husband got sick on the trip and we put this down to eating hot vegetarian curries, hot breads rather than rice and drinking copious amounts of Kingfisher beer. I would avoid cocktails and cold food. Tropical strength insect repellant and sun tan lotion with insect repellant is a good thing and at the Taj Mahal queue there were drifts of mosquitos so remember to put the spray on early that morning. You need small denomination notes to tip at the toilets and at the temples to guard your shoes and avoid changing money at the airport in case you get tatty notes. Shopkeepers were doubtful about the quality of some of my larger notes.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
- The place is mad but brilliant, go for it!