India for Spring Break?

Old Sep 29th, 2010, 01:11 PM
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India for Spring Break?

I am just about to book tickets for our family of 4 for India for spring break. I am aware it will be hot during the end of March, our time will be short (10 days), flight will be long, but I am so excited, I really can't wait to go. I have contacted tour companies, prices are really reasonable. Kids are 12 and 15. Obviously we can't see it all, just a small sampling. Is it crazy to try to squeeze in India in this short of time?
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Old Sep 29th, 2010, 02:27 PM
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It won't be crazy if you don't make it crazy. Choose a very limited number of stops, opt for a leisurely pace to account for the heat. Remember to factor in your jet lag and travel time from place to place.
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Old Sep 29th, 2010, 03:13 PM
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Excellent advice from Kathie! How about three locations (pick ones you want most that are reasonably close together). Rajasthan or south India or Bengal. You can't do it all.
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Old Sep 29th, 2010, 03:29 PM
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I have the airfare on hold now. I reallly can't fiqure in jet lag there is just not enough time to rest, but I asked the tour company for a scaled down tour because the kids do not like to ride in the car. So we have Delhi, Agra, Neemrama, and Jaipur. Along with the sights we will have a cooking class, elephant safari, camel ride, and an orphange visit. Does this sound good?
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Old Sep 29th, 2010, 03:34 PM
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yes.... i did basically that in 11 days and we did not rush....two long days in the car however...

make sure your driver takes you to neemrana village and go into some houses....bring big bags of candy for the kids who will swarm you....its very interesting..

you might like to read my india trip report: "why India"...click on my name
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Old Sep 29th, 2010, 03:41 PM
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"bring big bags of candy" - NO - are you going to pay for their dental care?
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Old Sep 29th, 2010, 03:54 PM
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Do you have 10 full days on the ground? If you do, I'd opt for three locations, I think four is pushing it give how long transport takes in India. Also, you have kids along - Bob didn't.
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Old Sep 29th, 2010, 05:22 PM
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karen had a kid along---me....lest you forget...

and yes tons of candy---its a treat--- don't be an old grouchy woman....ok, bring them tubes of toothpaste....jeane will bring them brushes with her name on them./..
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Old Sep 29th, 2010, 07:30 PM
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Some thoughts and suggestions:

1. March is better than April in terms of temps, although toward the end of March you are probably going to be creeping up in temp. You should have temps on either side of 80 F most days, excepting the odd heat or cold wave. Humidity is only middling, so that helps as well. Bring layers as it may be cool in the mornings and evenings.

2. Holi, the spring festival, is celebrated on March 20, 2011. This may be a very fun event for your kids, assuming they don’t mind getting covered in coloured powder and water. Bring a set of old clothes that you don’t care about and wear them on Holi to make sure you can fully enjoy the celebrations.

3. In February and March the lovely gardens on the grounds of the President of India’s house in New Delhi are open to the public. I would certainly try to include a trip to see these gardens while you are in New Delhi. Check with your hotel as to opening times, as they do vary.

4. I am curious as to where you are doing and “elephant safari” as from what I can see of your itin, you won’t be near a wildlife preserve. Ranthambore, which is a park about 3.5 hours drive from Jaipur, does not offer elephants as an option, only jeeps. The only parks I know in central/north India which offer elephant safaris are Corbett National Park and Bandhavgarh National Park, neither of which are close to places on your itin. So I assume you are going to do some sort of short ride on elephants outside Jaipur, where there are a few places where you can ride elephants (or just take them up to Amber palace). If you really want to see wild animals on an actual safari by elephant, you should clarify this with your agent (and if the agent only refers to taking elephants up to Amber palace, that is in no way a safari, as this ride takes place on the tarmac road leading uphill to the palace and lasts about 15 minutes. While fun and picturesque, it ain’t a safari.) Otherwise, I would not put a whole lot of time and effort into the elephant “safari” as you are unlikely to see animals on it. The camel ride may be a bit canned as well, but hard to say.

My final comment is that much as I love India, having just seen your wish list, that I would say that you consider going to Kenya for the spring break. You can stay in one or at most two camps, and do less moving around. With 10 days you can get a lot of wildlife viewing in. Save India for when you have a little more time and you can include really interesting places like Varanasi, some wildlife preserves, and/or the south (for terrific cooking lessons as the food is so superb). Temps are nice in Kenya in March, although you may have some rain. It’s also the calving season for wildebeest. South Africa would be another place to consider as in 10 days you could IMO do 2 camps and Capetown.
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Old Sep 29th, 2010, 09:54 PM
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Thanks for all the feedback:

Here's what she says about the elephant safari:

"You will be transported at 5:30 p.m. from the hotel to the estate and can freshen up with cold towels. You can relax with a beer or G&T, watch the elephants coming in and enjoy the beauty of your natural surroundings. The elephant safaris last between 30-45 minutes.

The Aravalli hills are the oldest mountain range in India, formed by a Precambrian geological
event 4500 million years ago. The elephant safaris are conducted in the Aravalli forests
surrounding the camp and follow a route through villages, agricultural fields, hills and old
monuments. Birdlife in the forests is thriving. Antelopes and jackals are in abundance.
Although panthers inhabit the jungles they are not usually sighted. Occasionally the hyena and the wolf have been sighted by guests. "

It sounds nice, perhaps not a safari, but maybe more of a sighting. What do you think?
As much as I want to go to Africa it just seems too costly. The airfare is comparable, but I must not understand booking safaris in Africa because my calculation is much more expensive than India, unless I am really off base.
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Old Sep 29th, 2010, 10:43 PM
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From the atove, I assume this ride is somewhere near Jaipur. The Aravalli hills are indeed lovely; they will be brown in March, but still quite pretty. It is a rather short ride on the elephants, up to you whether it is worth it or not. An actual safari in India or elsewhere would generally last 3-4 hours. I am not sure you will see antelope on a route which passes through villages (and let’s hope that the wolves, hyenas and jackals aren’t near the villages either for the sake of the villagers.)

The one thing I find odd is that if you are being picked up at 5:30 pm, by the time you get to the estate and actually get onto the elephants it will probably be 6:30 pm or later. In March, the sun will have set by that time. While night safaris are quite interesting, I am not sure that this would be the case from the back of an elephant, as someone needs to have a large and very bright coloured light to shine on the animals, and unless your mahout does, you may not see much. I think it would be quite hard to see birdlife especially. I also believe you will be staying on roads or public paths, as to the best of my knowledge, all nature preserves in India close at sunset, and in any event nature preserves don’t generally allow off-road excursions (this is another advantage of Africa and esp. a private game reserve, you can go off-road and at night). Public paths and roads are unlikely to be great places to sight animals. I have gone horseback riding in the Aravalli hills over the years and would not say that wildlife sighting was any type of regular event (other than birdlife, but as above at night this may not really be possible). Cows don’t count.

In any event, you might just want to think of this as a fun ride on an elephant (which is indeed fun), and not really as a way to see wildlife. Be sure you are also getting an elephant ride up or down from the Amber palace.

As for India versus Africa costs, while I think a good bit depends on the kind of camp you stay at in Africa, in general, an African trip probably is more expensive. However, remember that most African safari camps include all meals, drinks and all activities, so you are not constantly forking out for extras. I am not sure if your Indian price includes all meals and all your activities (like admission to the Taj which is close to US$20 per person per visit, or things like beer and wine which are generally always included in camp prices). So be sure you are comparing apples to apples, as they say, before you decide that India is cheaper. Also you can rent your own car and self-cater in most of the parks in South Africa (esp Krueger) so I do think there are ways to do this inexpensively.
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