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bushwoman2002 Jan 30th, 2014 03:52 PM

First time to India
Hello there everyone
I am looking to join a group to go to India and I would like to know the names of some of the best India tour operators. Can someone help me? Thanks so much

MmePerdu Jan 30th, 2014 04:26 PM

My first to trip to India over a decade ago I booked a private tour with the travel agent, Indian Moments. One of many trustworthy travel agencies in the country, they worked with me to provide exactly the tour I wanted at a remarkably low price. My point is you don't have to opt for a group tour in India, if that's what you've been thinking, to have a wonderful introduction to the country at a budget price.

If you communicate with an agency it's best, I think, to have a good idea of the places you wish to see as they have "canned" itineraries that they're happy to plug you into. I wanted heritage hotels, many of which are much less expensive than ones an agent might suggest. You need to be firm about your preferences. I traveled by train, air and private car, toured the north of the country for several weeks. I had a wonderful time. I've since gone back twice for several months of independent travel after the above mentioned introduction to travel in India.

jacketwatch Jan 31st, 2014 10:59 AM

See Mr. VP Singh

thursdaysd Jan 31st, 2014 02:27 PM

Before encouraging a woman (from the screen name I'm assuming the OP is female) to travel in India solo, even with agency support, I suggest (re)reading this thread:

I have spend months traveling solo in India, but have serious doubts about doing it again.

@bushwoman - what's your budget? if you want a budget level trip I would probably suggest Intrepid, but there are plenty of higher end outfits if you can afford/want more comfort.

bushwoman2002 Jan 31st, 2014 03:17 PM

Thanks so much for your suggestion is I were to travel alone. I am looking for tour operators and don't want a budget level. I am not looking for the most high end level either. Any suggestions?

thursdaysd Jan 31st, 2014 03:29 PM

I haven't personally traveled with any mid-range outfits - I know more about the top and bottom ends. You might look at Adventures Abroad, Colette, Bestway Tours & Safaris, Eldertreks (if you fit their demographic), Road Scholar (ditto).

MmePerdu Jan 31st, 2014 08:35 PM

This is the company I mentioned above with which I had a good experience:

uhoh_busted Feb 1st, 2014 07:33 AM

We have a friend who went with Road Scholars
He loved it. His stories and pictures inspired us to go. We picked his mind about what he liked most and didn't like, and ended up going to Legends and Palaces and having Mr Singh work up an itinerary for us. But we are two, and if you are a single, I understand why you would prefer going with a tour (I think I would, in your place.)

MmePerdu Feb 1st, 2014 09:14 AM

If cost is a factor I think you'll find, in general, that any tour put together by an Indian agency can be both more personal and considerably less expensive. A tour bought from a western provider is likely to be "canned" (not bad, but not flexible), For the same money you can buy a private, personal itinerary and considerably more luxurious trip for the same money or more affordable if you opt for less luxury.

wkwb42a Feb 1st, 2014 10:16 AM

We are going to India next week. I planned our trip with Castle and King, an agency in Delhi. The owner, Arvind, was a pleasure to work with, and we designed our itinerary to suit our preferences. (If you contact him, you can tell him that Carole recommended him). He was very knowledgeable, helpful, and patient. Upon our return, I will post a trip report.

thursdaysd Feb 1st, 2014 02:58 PM

I am usually one of the first to recommend independent travel. But this is a woman, traveling alone, going to India for the first time. She is asking for a tour, and I think that in the current climate she is right to do so. You are doing her no favors to try to talk her out of a tour. If you don't have a tour company to recommend, don't suggest something else.

Elainee Feb 1st, 2014 08:40 PM

Smartours. Budget prices and had been very good in past. Have not traveled with them recently. But...take a look. Frequent travel people have used this company.

wkwb42a Feb 2nd, 2014 06:04 AM

Castle & King does have tours. If interested, check on his website.

thursdaysd Feb 2nd, 2014 06:43 AM

I don't see anywhere on the C&K website where they do tours in the sense the OP is asking for. They are calling their pre-set itineraries tours, that is different from a scheduled group departure.

MmePerdu Feb 2nd, 2014 08:21 AM

There's nothing wrong with providing options other than what's been asked for. While it's your prerogative, thursdaysd, I'd hate to think we must all stop traveling solo in India. Please respect our right to provide information here for what we feel are safe ways to do it.

thursdaysd Feb 2nd, 2014 11:12 AM

And I am disputing how safe it is to travel solo with a car and driver. I have done it, and I have serious doubts about doing it again. In any case, the OP has made it clear - on Jan 31, 14 at 7:17pm - that she is looking for a group tour.

MmePerdu Feb 2nd, 2014 01:24 PM

I have no such doubts. Nor about the value of information, asked for or not. If we believed we knew everything about what we were seeking, we'd never learn a thing.

uhoh_busted Feb 2nd, 2014 04:26 PM

You might also consider OAT as a tour provider. They keep groups small, (10-16) and will match you with another traveler if you want to share a room. ( or there is a single supplement). However, sometimes they may drop that supplement if they need to fill out a scheduled tour. I know several singles who have used them and loved their experiences. We planned a trip with them in 2009 and had to cancel last minute due to family illness. They were terrific to work with. (Yes, trip insurance is a must on a trip like this) Going with a group will also give you someone else to handle your visa....which is an issue in traveling to India this year.

julies Feb 3rd, 2014 05:32 AM

My husband and I travel independently in India using an agent to help us out with some of the arrangements. But, as a single woman, I would not go on my own.

I have no personal knowledge of this agency (Wild Frontiers), but I have read several published travelogues by people who have taken their trips, and they sound good. Obviously do some more research on your own, but I'd check them out because they have interesting and different itineraries rather than just the same old, same old. This one in particular looks great. We spent six weeks in India two years ago and are now planning a return trip. The smaller, off-the-beaten path places were so much more interesting than the typical biggies that everyone knows the names of and goes to.

Once on a trip to France we ended up staying in the same small hotel as a group from Road Scholars. I think they are good too if you fit their demographic.

One final thought on prices. US and UK based tour operators use middle men on the ground in India to put together their tours. And, this extra level adds to the cost of the trip. So, to keep costs down you may want to try to find a tour operator who operates from India without adding that extra layer of expense.

Hope this helps.

CaliNurse Feb 7th, 2014 02:20 AM

I've traveled both solo (most recently, November 2013) and with my daughter or friends.
The agency i swear by, when I've used one, is Indianpanorama, based in Trichy but with numerous branches all over India.
However, they don't do group tours at this time.

Note: In addition to what JulieS said, Indian tour operators use local middle men as well.

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