Feedback on our C&K India itinerary

Old Aug 8th, 2014, 01:43 PM
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Feedback on our C&K India itinerary

Hi everyone,


Thanks to all who have helped us with our India trip planning so far! I have been spending many hours reading trip reports for inspiration

We have approached castle and king for a 3 week itinerary, which we wanted to include bandhavgarh and kanga national parks. Unfortunately they are opening later this year, which means we will miss them. We are really disappointed but going to go to ranthambore national park instead.

This is the itinerary C&K have given us - and I was hoping for some feedback. Specifically, is this enough time in each place? Also, he has added Rawla Jojawer and Luni. I haven't read much about either place, has anyone who has been there let us know what they are like?

Day 1: arrive Delhi 8pm
Day 2: sightseeing Delhi, 8pm overnight train to udaipur
Day 3: sightseeing Udaipur
Day 4: sightseeing Udaipur
Day 5: drive to Jolawer (4hours)
Day 6: 3 hour drive to Luni, village safari
Day 7: drive 1 hour to Jodhpur, sightseeing
Day 8: drive to Jaipur (5 hours)
Day 9: Jaipur
Day 10: drive to ranthambore (3 hours)
Day 11: Safari in ranthambore
Day 12: Safari in ranthambore
Day 13: drive to Agra via fatehpur Sikri
Day 14: Taj Mahal, train to Khajuraho
Day 15: fly to Varanasi
Day 16: Varanasi
Day 17: Varanasi, fly back to Delhi

Now you'll notice that this isn't 3 weeks worth of days! There seems to have been confusion with C&K when we couldn't visit the 2 national parks, they cut our trip down! We will have another 3 full days of sightseeing.

What would you change/add/leave out?
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Old Aug 8th, 2014, 02:21 PM
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More time in Jodhpur, there is SO much to see there, it was one of our favorite places. Where are you staying? You might want to ask for an itinerary from Legends and Palaces to compare with what C&K are doing. It never hurts to get more than one quote. And don't hesitate to ask for less expensive options in each city so you have some choices (although do splurge if you can once in a while) When (time of year) is your trip?
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Old Aug 8th, 2014, 03:03 PM
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I would spend two full days/3 nights in Delhi and two full days/3 nights Jaipur, especially if you are staying at a nice property. We only had one full day and part of the next which was a little rushed. Wished we had had more time as we skipped some places and found others we would have liked more time.

Read my trip report for a day by day report of our trip in April 2013.
www.springmix3013.blogspot.com
go to the bottom of the page that opens and click on April 12, we arrive in Delhi late at night. We only visit Delhi, Agra and Jaipur...a very short trip, we do a couple of sort of off the tourist track things...and fell in love with India much to my DH surprise! We are going back next year.
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Old Aug 8th, 2014, 04:05 PM
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The itinerary looks okay. But, one day is not enough for Delhi sightseeing. There are many things to see and do in Old Delhi and New Delhi. Makes sure to visit Chandichawk Bazar in Old Delhi if you are fond of photography. I would like to say the same about your one day stay in Jaipur. Make sure to spend 2 days in Jaipur. Don't miss a visit to Amer Fort and Palace.
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Old Aug 8th, 2014, 06:51 PM
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Thank you all for your advice - I will go back and ask for more time in Delhi and Jaipur!

The one thing I am not sure about is going from udaipur to Jaipur via Jolawer, Luni and Jodhpur... Wouldn't it be better to train between these two places instead? Seems like a lot of driving to see very little...

Uh oh: we are staying in 3* hotels, but may choose to stay in some 4* if budget allows! We leave at the end of September... As you can probably tell, we like to leave things til the last minute are legends and palace seasonably priced? I'll contact them too.
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Old Aug 8th, 2014, 08:17 PM
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We went with India by Car and Driver. I did send my trip plan to C&K and L&P also, but India by C&D had the best price and was very easy to work with...replied to my emails promptly etc.

All the details are in my blog as far as how having a driver for 6 days went. We loved it. But we did not use any trains or go far a field either. Having a driver and driving from place to place was one of the highlights of our trip as we could travel at our own pace plus we found the country side fascinating!
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Old Aug 9th, 2014, 06:24 AM
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Yes, they are nicely priced. Between Jodphur and Udaipur, we stopped at Chanoud Garh, which was one of the most wonderful places we visited. It also allows you to stop to see the Jain Temple at Ranakpur. You are at a fairly short notice now, but it isn't the super busy travel season (which seems to be November - March) so it may not be an issue. If you've not seen my trip report, it is here: http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...r-in-india.cfm
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Old Aug 9th, 2014, 06:36 AM
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I would add 1 day to delhi, 1 day to agra and 1 day to jodhpur... I think I might cut 1 day from ranthambore and add it to jaipur
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Old Aug 9th, 2014, 03:51 PM
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Jessie--

As I recall (I think), you are the person who is looking for a moderately priced trip with a mix of activities. Other than the nights at Jolawar and Luni, yours is pretty much exactly the standard Golden Triangle/Varanasi itinerary. If that is what you want to do, it is up to you. But, we managed to find so many other interesting places to visit on our two trips, that I would re-think the plan a bit. And, I noticed you did not include one of our big favorites Jaisalmer (and yes, it is a bit out of the way and a pain to get to).

You aren't able to visit the national parks you were interested in, and Ranthambore has been substituted. In your shoes, I'd do lots and lots of reading about experiences at this park before signing on. And, research extensively about what type of experience you can expect in the September season. I assume you want to see a tiger in the wild. Tiger spotting is a matter of luck at any time of the year but becomes much more difficult when things are fresh and green with many more shrubs and grasses for tigers to hide in. On our first trip we vacillated a lot about visiting one of India's parks and finally decided to visit one of the ones we had heard was the best--Corbett. We were sorely disappointed in the entire experience and realized that what we think of as a national park experience here in the US is very different from what Indians think of as a national park experience.

On both of our trips we used Nikhil at TGS Travel. He'll arrange as much or as little for you as you want, and he has excellent knowledge about many of the lesser visited locales. When we were in their offices this spring, they told us that during the slack season they make site visits to the different estates and locales so they have first hand knowledge of each place and its pluses and minuses. They get a great recommendation from me (a moderate budget traveler who wanted to do many things on my own and who wanted good advice and help with hiring a car and driver). By the way, he'll also tell you when it is a better idea to take a train than go by car.

p.s. If you are interested in wildlife, read my old trip report and the one I am currently posting. Both times we visited Castle Bera, had a fabulous time with wildlife spotting and enjoyed the place itself immensely. It is only a couple hours west from Udaipur and could be done on the way to Jodphur (I think).
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Old Aug 10th, 2014, 07:56 AM
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I just read that portion of Julies report on Castle Bera, and it may be a better option for you than Ranthambore. We DID see tigers at R, but the "safari" experience leaves a lot to be desired. The park is gorgeous, but you need to make the driver stop the jeep once in a while so you can enjoy it, otherwise you will just tear around from place to place. They seem intent that you get to see a tiger, but it was hit-or-miss even in February when we were there. Only about half the parties staying at Khem Villas (where we were) were successful. It was a very international crowd and we probably enjoyed people watching as much as the wildlife, plus the food and spa facilities (something I really wasn't looking for but enjoyed) were wonderful.
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Old Aug 10th, 2014, 10:17 AM
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uhoh_busted

That was exactly the same type of experience we had at Corbett. It was dusty trails full of jeeps racing around trying to do nothing but see tigers. There was no time to just enjoy the park itself. And, to top it all off, midway through the safari there is a stop at the central location where there was a snack bar. Indian tourists didn't think anything of this and perhaps expected this. We thought it was weird and not at all what we were interested in. We had a somewhat similar experience when we did an afternoon of "whitewater" (LOL) rafting out of Rikikesh. Set up along side of the river was a place where vendors came in during rafting trips to cook and sell snacks. Once again not a part of what we expect when we take what we think will be more wilderness trips.

On our first trip before our Corbett experience, we'd stayed in a small establishment outside of Corbett where we had a marvelous nature guide who was from Nepal. He told us if we made a future trip to go to Chitwan in Nepal instead because it is a much better park. We took his advice on this trip, and he was right. And, even though tiger sightings there are very rare, and we went for the entire park experience itself (so different from the jeeps racing around looking for tigers in Corbett), we did have a half hour sighting of a tiger.

I think your advice to try Castle Bera instead of Ranthombore is right on. Jessie, if you do this, ask if Winku will be there during your stay. We booked directly with him. In fact, other than one or two places I had TGS book for us, I made all of my bookings myself, and we just paid when we were there rather than giving a huge hunk of money up front to an agency that was collecting an everything included fee.
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Old Aug 11th, 2014, 02:12 PM
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Thanks everyone - we are rethinking our itinerary! DH really has his heart set on at least trying to see tigers in Ranthombore, so it'll have to stay. Last year we did a big trip to East Africa where we did several safari drives in Kenya/Tanzania/Uganda, so he's particularly keen on seeing a different landscape and animals. But thank you for the heads up - we are going in with an open mind

I'm going to take your advice Julie and try and do most of the bookings myself, and use the travel agent for train bookings/car where ever needed.

For our itinerary, we're going to add extra time in Delhi, Udaipur, Jaipur and Jodphur.
We're going to add Jaisalmer and see if there are any extra days to squeeze in some smaller villages. Julie - is there anywhere you recommend we visit that's in the areas we'll be visiting?
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Old Aug 11th, 2014, 02:51 PM
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I've been working with C&K over the past couple of weeks to develop a 2+ week itinerary. I've found Arvind very helpful and after he got a sense of our travel needs and style, he made some good suggestions. His prices are also good, I checked them vs hotel websites. Plus you have the benefit of having someone to call if there is a problem or issue while traveling. So if the prices are close for hotels, you might want to reconsider having an agent book for you.
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Old Aug 12th, 2014, 05:24 AM
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Jessie--

Look at Fort Bhadrajun, Fort Dhamli and Chanoud Ghar. They all provide very different takes on the rural village idea and they, I think, are all somewhat in areas that should fit your itinerary. I cover the first two in my first trip report and the last one in the trip report I currently have going. I know you are trying to do this on a fairly moderate budget, and Chanoud Ghar is definitely the most pricey of the three options (as I recall just under $200 per night). Castle Bera is also only a couple hours southwest from Udaipur, and you'll see rural India while visiting the out-in-the-boonies countryside there, but learning about village/small town life is not the focus of the visit the way it is in the other places. You can use Google maps to get a good idea of the locations and distances between these various places, but keep in mind when using their travel time function that you probably need to add about 30% to the time listed.

Two more things: First, most (not all) people who post here tend to stay in very upper end lodging and spend a lot more than I spend nightly, so you need to take that into account when making your choices based on some of their recommendations. My first trip report I included lodging prices at the start, so you can see what we paid per night at each place. Check out the lodgings we stayed in in the locales you plan to visit. They were all reasonably priced and I'd stay at all of them again. Secondly, I think it is going to be really hot when you are traveling, so I'd try to take that into account and see if the trip could be arranged so that the hottest places might be at the end of the trip in hopes that they'll start cooling down.
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Old Aug 12th, 2014, 05:30 AM
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BTW, you don't need a TA to make train reservations. Very easy to do it yourself using cleartrip.com If you are doing a lot of trains it might be worth getting an Indrail pass (if you're in the US you can buy it from the UK agent). See http://www.seat61.com/India.htm for more.
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Old Aug 12th, 2014, 07:19 AM
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We stayed in several Taj Mahal hotels which were offering a reasonable price and which offered the third night free. This chain is not the top of the line, but they were all nice.

Your itinerary sounds much better without the parks. I would not be concerned with staying in small villages as you will see them all throughout your car ride. If you do want someplace less touristy, you may consider driving or taking the train to Gwalior which we found delightful. The palace and fortress area there were very different than those you will see elsewhere. There is a Sikh temple as well as other interesting temples within the fortress. Additionally, there was a terrific museum, the jai villas, which is actually part of the home of the maharajas. Half of the home is set up as a museum to pay the maharajas expenses. Along the fort's walls leading up to the palace are fabulous Buddha reliefs. There was no begging in Gwalior and this town, surprisingly, was one of our highlights. You can have your driver drop you off at the train and go to khaduraho from there. We drove, but it was a long day. If you lick on my name and pull up my India report, there is more detailed info including the stops in between.
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Old Aug 12th, 2014, 07:56 AM
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I think Jessie need to decide if she wants to "see" what rural village life looks like or if she wants to have rural villages and the lives of the villagers/small town folk explained to her. Yes, while driving one sees a lot of rural India, but several of the small heritage estates focus on offering walking tours that help the tourist to understand how life is lived in these places.

By the way, we too made all of our own train (and plane) bookings on Cleartrip. OTOH, it is my understanding (maybe incorrectly) that if an agent has made train bookings and a change to the ticket needs to be made last minute, the agent, through his connections, has a much better chance of finding some seats for you on another already fully booked train.
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Old Aug 12th, 2014, 09:24 AM
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Now that Indian train reservations are computerized "connections" are less likely to work. What may work are the tourist quota and the tatkal quota.
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Old Aug 12th, 2014, 01:24 PM
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We had castle & king purchase our tickets in advance. They were delivered directly to our hotel.
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Old Aug 12th, 2014, 03:51 PM
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Sometimes an agent is just worth it! A trip to India is one of those times. We found that most of the time that doing it our self was not cheaper and not any easier.
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