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Help with trip to India trip (possibly Nepal as well)

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Help! Inspired a number of trip reports on this forum. We are hoping to take an (almost) last minute trip in Feb/March and are looking at a number of options in Asia and South America and could do with some help coming to a decision. Asiais in pole position and we are primarily considering India, or India plus a trek in Nepal or maybe Sri Lanka (mainly because this is where my grandfather ran a tea plantation in the 40’s and 50’s). We have around one month to play with.

Our travel style is very much to travel independently and make it up as we go, but with a broad outline of the places we want to visit. Our interests include food, culture, photography and getting off the beaten track. As far as accommodation is concerned we prefer to stay in smaller cheap (ish) places, B&B, home-stays, guest houses rather than 5* hotels (although we do like the occasional splurge). We have tended to arrange our accommodation on arrival or maybe a couple of days in advance, but having read a number of TRs here, I wonder if this is really practical or indeed possible in this region?? As far as getting from place to place to place is concerned we prefer local transport such as train or bus where possible rather than flying.

For India I have always wanted to visit Himachal Pradesh/Ladkah but understand that this in not the best time of year due to the snow and so I am looking at flying into Dehli and doing the “Golden Triangle” plus Darjeeling & Sikkim (which, according to the guide books is a little better weather-wise) plus maybe flying south to Kerala for some chill out time -but not sure whether time would permit or whether it is horrendously busy at that time of year.

Any general thoughts on the above?

A few specific questions on India and Nepal:
1.With one month to play with is it better to focus on India alone or a combination?

2.Is Feb a reasonably good time for trekking in Nepal?

3.Organized trek or DIY trek in Nepal?

4.Is it easy enough to arrange guides on arrival or better to book in advance?

5. How easy is it to arrange train or air on the spot in India (or better done through an agency)?

6.Likewise organizing a car and driver – is this the preferred method of travel for all but the longest trips.

7.Is it necessary to book basic to mid range accommodation in advance?

8.Any specific recommendations for accommodation, places and experiences not to miss?

9.With a month play with should I include another region in our travel plans?

10.Is Sri Lanka worth further consideration?

I appreciate that this is a little vague and some of my questions may seem a little naive but I am doing other research and have little time left to get this sorted out so any suggestions or comments would be greatly appreciated.

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