This was my first trip to India and was an extremely good introduction to the main highlights in north India. It was busy and fast paced which was exactly what I expected, but it allows you to see and experience a huge amount in a short space of time. I would definitely like to return to see other parts of this fantastic country.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
So many to choose from, but my top three were -
1. Seeing a tiger at Ranthambore.
2. Experiencing the real India – meeting families in local villages, visiting street markets and bazaars, manic rickshaw rides around Jaipur at dusk and the train journeys to and from Varanasi.
3. Evening prayers on the Ganges in Varanasi, especially as it was Diwali with fireworks going off in the distance and sparklers on the boats. Extremely atmospheric and very moving.
- What did you think of your group leader?
Avtar was an absolutely superb leader. He had a huge volume of information and stories which kept the group entertained for hours. He was extremely passionate about his country and keen for us to experience the real India. His humour, boundless energy and enthusiasm were infectious.
Avtar organised restaurants, porters, rickshaw rides, guides, boat trips, tuktuk rides, visits to local villages, street markets, bazaars and money changing facilities and he negotiated good deals and made sure that we were well looked after everywhere we went. He was able to adapt the itinerary to suit better light conditions for the keen photographers in the group and changing plans when we were running late for various reasons.
He made time to talk to and get to know every single member of the group and kept us happy at all times, catering for people's differing interests extremely well.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
On reflection I would have travelled out a day early rather than booking on to the group flight - to allow myself an extra day and night in Delhi at the start of the trip to get some sleep before the itinerary started. I didn't sleep at all on the overnight flight and you go straight from that into a long bus ride to Jaipur and late night, followed by very early starts from then onwards...so it was pretty tiring right from the word go. Our train was also delayed coming back to Delhi so we didn't have so much time for sightseeing on the last day - an extra day at the start would have allowed this.
Having said that, the amazing sites and experiences, as well as our guide Avtar's energy and enthusiasm, keep us all going however tired we were!
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
- Go with an open mind, patience ("Indian Stretchable Time") and be prepared for a real experience!