Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Asia (
-   -   To tour [India] or not to tour, that is the question. (

annhig Nov 14th, 2018 01:46 PM

To tour [India] or not to tour, that is the question.
Some of you here may remember that I've been thinking about going to India, in fact I booked a tour last year but cancelled for a variety of reasons. I have thought about going it alone, [by which I mean using the services of a company like India Panorama] but I am put off partly because I don't really fancy spending 2 weeks or so by myself with a driver and various guides, and partly by the fact that I feel that for my first visit to India I would like the the security of traveling with a tour company. Perhaps if there were two of us it would be different [we did this very successfully in Sri Lanka] but I'm concerned about safety as a women by myself in India, particularly when I have no experience of it

As for many of the tours I see offered by Intrepid, Jules Verne etc. one of the things that puts me off is the speed at which these tours travel and how they all visit the same places which must be terribly crowded. Then I found a nature tour which adds in some cultural aspects as well bird and animal watching and another one which covers the some of the same ground as more run of the mill tours, but does it in more detail.

This is the tour which concentrates more on birding etc:

And this is the more leisurely one around Rajasthan:

Any thoughts and suggestions you may have will be gratefully received. I am thinking about late Jan/early Feb next year as I'm already committed to the Valencia GTG in mid March.

thursdaysd Nov 14th, 2018 02:26 PM

I can't recommend Explore. I used them for Jordan and was disappointed (see my Middle East TR for details or start here: )

The Nature Trek spends more time than I would want in Bharatpur, and admits up front that you are unlikely to see tigers.

How about this:

CaliNurse Nov 14th, 2018 04:00 PM

After reading your initial post Annhig, I closed the computer while considering a reply, and ten minutes later reopened to find Thursdaysd's reply. While she and I differ on some aspects of travel in India, she "took the words
out of my mouth" with her totally spot-on comments here! My thoughts repeat/reinforce what she wrote:

1.Bharatpur. Even birders there told me they were disappointed. I thought the Kalaheo Sanctuary was "meh" (disclaimer:I am not a birder) and as for the town itself, it was one off the most dismal I've seen in India. One night there was too much for me. IF you are seeking a wildlife-oriented tour in choosing your trip, there are probably much better Indian safari tours.

2 The second-listed tour-.Unless missing a section of the tour description, I see nothing "leisurely" or "in more detail" than any other Rajasthan tours, in the one from "Explore." It looks vey much a typical fast-paced, standard-sited, Rajasthan tour.

3. Most important... After recently receiving a Road Scholar catalog and being intrigued by some of their Asia tours, I thought they'd be a perfect tour company to go with...on the same tour cited by Thursdaysd. It looks fantastic, with interesting places, good pacing, some unique lodgings. If I were doing a tour to get a great, interesting, overview of India...I'd GRAB this one!!!! I honestly don't think you'd beat it as a group tour!! Hoping they have departure dates that match your plans. You could meet up with them in New Delhi.

Re : solo vs group: I like "solo" travel (in my case, often with Indian Panorama's assistance before and during a trip). I rarely feel alone, or even lonely, but then, I enjoy quiet "myself' time in the evening. Based on what you write, I suspect you'll be happier and calmer with a group tour. What I like doesnt matter--you know yourself, and you live the choice. A custom private tour might work well for you IF you have a friend who will commit to that. Is that a possibility? Then if you have a travel mate, would you both want to do "just you two" trips, or as roommates on the above Road Scholar tour?

Overall, I'd say, go with a fantastic, reasonably paced group tour, such as that from Road Scholar.

sartoric Nov 14th, 2018 06:17 PM

Ann we met a group of eight English people on tour in Bikaner. Led by Angela (also a Brit), she spends six months of the year in India and they had a really interesting itinerary including some private home stays. I’m sorry I didn’t get more details to pass on to you, but maybe try googling “small group/private tour”. They were from the north, and all having a great time.

billirandall Nov 14th, 2018 08:10 PM

You should definitely go to India , It is a beautiful country with diverse culture and traditions.
Various Travel agencies are there to help you out, just go there and have fun

CaliNurse Nov 14th, 2018 10:48 PM

Great idea from Sartoric to google "small group tour to India from UK" or similar

For example, doing that, i found this---just one among many. No comment or feedback from me on the itinerary, or the UK company (Newmarket) other than the lodgings sound wonderful.

I still prefer the Road Scholar one mentioned above, as it covers a variety of states in interesting ways. But it is a week longer.

Whatever or wherever you decide, do go. You'll have an amazing time.

thursdaysd Nov 15th, 2018 04:08 AM

Road Scholar also has a shorter India trip.

annhig Nov 16th, 2018 02:22 PM

Dear all,

thank you all so much for taking the time to respond. honest opinions is what Fodors is about and I certainly got them. Thursdays - I had forgotten [if I ever truly knew] that your Jordan trip was with Explorer, and I take your and CaliNurse points about it. Calinurse - I might well be up for a solo trip in the future but not for a first visit to India - I feel I need the security of being with a group while I "suss" out a bit how the country works. And thanks for the link to Newmarket travel -that is a company I have looked at in the past but had overlooked this time - there are just so many companies!

Thursdaysd - you're right that that Roads Scholar trip looks good but the length and dates don't really work for me. Also they are very expensive compared with UK based tours and they don't include flights and single supplements. With the fall in the pound I think they are out.

Sartoric - good idea to google small group tours to India.

I will report back. I am still looking at Egypt too - I do fancy a Nile cruise and the idea of not having to pack and unpack all the time is very appealing.

thursdaysd Nov 16th, 2018 02:48 PM

I'm not being rude, but how old are you? Do you qualify for Saga tours? My elder sister uses them extensively for travel in Europe, and I see that they have 18 trips to India.

This looks interesting:

Did you look at Imaginative Traveler? They are UK based.

annhig Nov 17th, 2018 01:02 PM

Hi Thursdaysd - sorry I have been somewhat remiss in doing the homework you had all set me, as I was "quite" busy today, welcoming my new tenant into our rental property, packing to go to Venice tomorrow, and going to watch our local rugby team play. So thanks for doing it for me!

Yes, sadly I've been qualified for Saga for some time! [in fact one of the staff at the place my mum has moved into asked me while I was carrying boxes from the car if I was the new resident in mum's building, and then about 10 minutes later she come up to me and apologised - she said I looked too energetic to be living there, but TBH I didn't feel it at that point!]

But I hadn't thought of them! They used to send us the brochures but they stopped. I did look at Imaginative travel - they look good too. Too much choice!

off to have a look now.

annhig Dec 2nd, 2018 12:30 PM

Back again. I seem to take one step forward and two back. [or is it two forward and one back?].

ok, I seem to have narrowed it down to these two tours of Rajasthan:

Thursdaysd - Saga didn't seem to have anything that appealed in either Jan or early Feb which is when I want to go.

thursdaysd Dec 2nd, 2018 01:11 PM

I already expressed my opinion of Explore - I would not travel with them again. Another Fodors poster used them for two tours in Central Asia and one tour was good and one bad. However, both tours are too fast paced, but the Wild Frontier's one is worst. I prefer the Explore itinerary. I didn't check the hotels and I notice that there are more meals included on the WF tour.

I would really keep looking.

annhig Dec 23rd, 2018 08:10 AM

ok folks - this one just came up on the Wild frontiers website:

it looks slower than most of the other group tours and gets good reviews.

I would top and tail it with a night in Mumbai at the start and 2 nights at the end.

Thoughts, anyone???

Elizabeth_S Dec 23rd, 2018 09:15 AM

I know nothing other than the three trips I planned but didn't take to India! I like the pace of the itinerary ..... but wonder if it's possible to add an extension to Varanasi -- shame to be that close and not go?

(Yikes - website says only 1 spot left!)

annhig Dec 23rd, 2018 01:21 PM

Yes, I saw that only one place is left, Liz. So I need to make my mind up!

Honestly I hadn't thought of Varanasi, and I cannot say that it particularly interests me. I am not a particularly spiritual person, and watching others at their devotions doesn't fascinate me in the way it seems to others. Which is great for them, not so thrilling for me.

My plan is to do a group tour to India before I consider how to tackle the south which is where I really want to go, but the tours I have seen that go there involve far too much travel and moving about virtually every day, which is not what I want. Ideally I would start in Cochin and work my way east to end up in Chennai [where my grandmother was born, hence the interest] or start and end in Chennai which makes flights easier and cheaper. But I feel I need to get my "India feet" before I branch out on my own. [Though I wouldn't be entirely alone of course, with a driver and various guides - there's no way I would travel around entirely by myself]

thursdaysd Dec 23rd, 2018 01:39 PM

Well, if you want south India there is this:

Or this, which I noticed in the December International Travel News, but it doesn't go until October:

Elizabeth_S Dec 23rd, 2018 02:50 PM

Got it - just thought I'd mention that destination.

Originally Posted by annhig (Post 16844258)
Honestly I hadn't thought of Varanasi, and I cannot say that it particularly interests me. I am not a particularly spiritual person, and watching others at their devotions doesn't fascinate me in the way it seems to others. Which is great for them, not so thrilling for me.

CaliNurse Dec 23rd, 2018 05:18 PM

Hi Annhig!

I love the combined pace and variety of that latest Wild Frontiers tour! Go for it!!!

While noting that accommodations are only a guide, I like their choice for Udaipur--Karohi Haveli. I've stayed there ( another [email protected] Indianpanorama recommendation) ---a five minute walk across a footbridge to the more hectic pressuring-shopkeepers part of the city. I don't know the other places, but their Udaipur lodging choice tells me some thought and care goes into their planning.

I'm leaving for South India on January 9. Chennai to Cochin over 3 weeks. So when you are ready, i'll hopefully have some useful information for your next (-: India trip!

Btw, have you read "Cutting for Stone"? Two of the characters in it worked in and met in the big government hospital in Madras...where your Grandmother worked, iirc??

Merry Christmas!

inquest Dec 23rd, 2018 10:34 PM

Ann, you couldn't possibly go wrong with Cox & Kings,would be a safe bet,with their years of being in travel business. You could also plan to travel in reasonable comfort in India.I'm sure they could design a package for you.Just need to specify your area of interest.You'll get great inputs in this forum as many fodorites have made multiple trips to india and are a valuable source of info.Some of the cities in the south are well connected by air Chennai,Madurai,Trichy,Coimbatore, Kochi and Thiruvanantapuram would reasonably reduce travel time.

Bon Voyage & safe journey Cali, I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time in India. Eagerly awaiting your TR.

annhig Dec 24th, 2018 12:09 AM

<<Btw, have you read "Cutting for Stone"? Two of the characters in it worked in and met in the big government hospital in Madras...where your Grandmother worked, iirc??>>

Thanks, Calinurse - both for the encouragement to go for this trip, about which I am still in two minds, but know I mustn't delay too long as there is, as Liz points out, only one place left, and the book recommendation. No, I hadn't read that. My gran worked in a hospital for officers and their families, I think but it could be the same place. i must try to find it.

And Bon voyage indeed - I too will be agog for your report.

Thanks Inquest - I have thought of the solo option using Cox and Kings or Indian Panorama; I even got as far as getting them to do me an itinerary and researching flights, but for a first trip I would like to have the security of a group around me. If I had a travelling companion I might well feel differently [Bill and I had a great trip with just a driver and the odd guide in Sri Lanka] but I am unsure about it just being me and a driver for 2-3 weeks, particularly for the first time I set foot in India. Perhaps next year!

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:02 PM.