India group or private tour?

Jun 25th, 2015, 06:03 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 63
Just wanted to let you know that I emailed Castle & King. I picked an itinerary from their site that was close to what I had in mind to see what to expect on pricing without wasting much of their time. I got an initial quotes for different level of accommodations. Their lowest level was about the price of the Intrepid tour. Then of course there's the guide and all that which was not listed.

Not sure how I feel about this option... It sounds very isolating (not that I'm very outgoing) as a solo trip. It would be cool with a friend or a group as you're not worrying about booking trains and such.

Maybe it's just the private car the whole time... Like being a celebrity.
flyingbaran is offline  
Jun 25th, 2015, 06:05 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 63
CaliforniaLady, did you just hire a driver for the day via hotel only when you wanted it? Or was it for every city?

In regards to riding an elephant or similar activities, my experience has been that most of the time as a solo traveler you have to pay a lot extra or there needs to be enough people for the activity. Sometimes you just join up as the operator knows other people will sign up for that same time. Again each situation is different.
flyingbaran is offline  
Jun 25th, 2015, 09:07 PM
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 889
We had three guides, one for Agra, another for Varanasi, and a third guide that we used for both Jaipur and Udaipur. The last guide lives in Jaipur, but grew up in Udaipur, so he was knowledgeable about both areas. My son and I flew between those two cities, and the guide and the driver took the car.

That was a good strategy to get a quote from Castle & King. If your inner self, or whatever you want to call it, is pulling you toward the Intrepid tour, then go for it. I just get very grumpy on group tours--I'm always the one fuming outside the obligatory gift shop, trying to persuade the guide to hurry us along.

Of course you can put it all together cheaper than the travel agency, but the question is, do you want to bother? I find my own hotels from a variety of sources (Rough Guide is my favorite), and then I write to my first choice, get a room quote, and then see if they can get me a driver, or whatever I need, If not, I move onto choice #2. Very time-consuming, but a fun challenge for me.

My son wanted to take a day tour recently out of Kiev, Ukraine, and he posted on the Thorntree/Lonely Planet forum, asking for another person to share a private taxi for the day. It worked out well--maybe you could post for each city in India, but insist on a female traveler only?

Whichever way you decide to go, I am sure you will have a great time.
CaliforniaLady is offline  
Jul 21st, 2015, 01:13 PM
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 7
In this day and age, it's pretty easy to DIY an entire trip--and India's pretty easy because everyone speaks English (language is the one justification for guided tours, IMO). I would do the following: for tickets
Tripadvisor / for hotels in the cities for spectacular experiential lodging in the outskirts (depends on your itinerary, but if there's an overlap between your locations and theirs, I highly recommend this chain). for tours within cities (guided tour of Mumbai, Taj Mahal tour, etc.) for active travel (day hike, safari, boat ride, etc.) for ferreting out cutting edge restaurants, etc. in Delhi. for Mumbai. There are probably equivalents for other cities too, if you google.

In a nutshell, I think you could create a spectacular, memorable experience of your own with some very basic legwork! Don't waste your India trip by doing an off-the-shelf tour!!
ala101 is offline  
Jul 21st, 2015, 01:42 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,749
I have DIY'ed India twice, for a total of four months. It is certainly possible, but I don't know that I would recommend it for everyone, especially not for solo females these days (and I am female). It is also absolutely NOT true that "everyone in India speaks English". Although people in the higher levels of the tourist industry will do so, it is not uncommon for a car or rickshaw driver not to do so, or to have minimal English.

A person who is considering an Intrepid tour is unlikely to be in the market for Neemrama or Viator. They would do better to consult for information on Indian trains.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2015, 02:09 AM
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 36
Do you ever think about finding a partner to travel with? Many travelers at may be also interested in India like you.
KimFionafromUK192 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2015, 06:08 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 63
I usually DIY my trips so I'm well aware that I can plan it all on my own. My concern, as thrsdaysd pointed out, is about safety. Maybe when I visit I'll find that I was putting too much focus on the whole thing. It's a huge country so there will always be next time.

I've never tried to find someone to travel with. Although I hope to meet up with people via couchsurfing or other sites.
flyingbaran is offline  

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