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Northern India holidays

Price:
From £1349 - £1769 (10 days) including UK flights
From £549 - £619 excluding flights. Mimimum age 16.
Vouchers: accepted
Dates:
2015: 1 Oct, 15 Oct, 17 Oct, 22 Oct, 12 Nov, 19 Nov, 26 Nov, 19 Dec, 26 Dec
2016: 7 Jan, 21 Jan, 4 Feb, 11 Feb, 13 Feb, 17 Mar, 24 Mar, 26 Mar, 7 Apr, 14 Apr, 23 Jul, 4 Aug, 6 Oct, 20 Oct, 27 Oct, 3 Nov, 10 Nov, 17 Nov, 24 Nov
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Reviews:
4 reviews3.5 star rating
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Northern India holidays


Responsible Travel's at a glance summary

“As well as Golden Triangle gems, this trip has some sacred specials. Head to Varanasi to see life on the Ganges, and Ranthambore National Park to spot the sacred tiger.”
Highlights: Delhi | Jaipur | 2 game drives in Ranthambore National Park | Fatehpur Sikri | Taj Mahal | Varanasi and the Ganges
This small group holiday packs as much as it can into ten days, taking you to the classic architectural wonders such as the Pink City of Jaipur or the Taj Mahal. However, it also stretches you out of this crumbly heritage world, to a very vibrant one in Varanasi where, for two days you witness the extraordinary life around the Ganges.

Take a boat trip at dawn to take in this sacred river where thousands of Hindu pilgrims immerse themselves every day. You also get to immerse yourself in India’s finest natural heritage, with two game drives in Ranthambore National Park where you have to try and spot the tiger. Although elusive, the Park is teeming with other wonderful wildlife.
Our top tip:
Have cushion, will travel. This is best rule of thumb for this busy trip, with lots of travelling by bus and train. So have something cosy to cuddle.
Trip type:
Small group with maximum 16 people. Min. age 16
Solos:
Solo travellers welcome, with surcharge for single rooms.
Accomm:
6 nights in standard, ensuite city hotels. 2 sleeper train journeys.
Included:
Flights, accommodation, all breakfasts except day 1, 1 lunch, all transport, tour leader.
Meals:
Allow £13 -15/day for lunch and dinner.
About this holiday company:
As well as over 40 years’ experience this company boasts an impressive portfolio of conservation and community work in India.
Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

Northern India holidays


Description from the holiday company

Description of this tour from the holiday company

Click to read more

Northern India holidays: the story of this holiday company

This tour operator was the first to get access to China over 30 years ago and the first to take a truck to Everest Base Camp on the Tibetan side. They have since expanded into 91 countries. Their product is driven by their clients because they listen to feedback and have to constantly evolve to provide a greater experience and better value. The exclusive centres they use have been grown organically and are often owned by ex-leaders. The holidays remain innovative, though you will now be travelling in a Mercedes 16-seater sprinter coach rather than a rusty old Bedford overland truck.

Responsible tourism: Northern India holidays

Environment

Wildlife
With the exception of summer departures, this tour includes the wonderful chance to visit Ranthambore National Park for 2 game drives. Ranthambore is a tiger reserve under Project Tiger- a conservation effort which has now been running with progressing success for over 40 years. Tigers have been targeted for centuries by poachers for their fur and various body parts for Chinese medicine, but with increasing tourist numbers investing in a mutually safe form of tiger tourism, population numbers are on the rise. By paying National Park fees at Ranthambore, this tour contributes to the upkeep of this vital habitat for the tigers, deer, crocodiles, bird and plant life etc.

Accommodation & Meals
This trip sees you spend 6 nights in standard city tourist hotels with en suite facilities two nights in an overnight train with air conditioning from Agra to Varanasi and Varanasi to Delhi. You will notice that our hotels employ locally and use local produce from markets in the area wherever possible. The hotels are waste and energy conscious and have their own policies like asking guests to turn off the power when leaving a room in order to save electricity. Where meals are not supplied, our group leaders always encourage people to try local restaurants and street food vendors. They can make recommendations which will help boost small businesses and celebrate local specialties. In Jaipur, Varanasi and Delhi, clients can even see how the food is made e.g. Masala Chai (Tea), Samosa (Mashed Potato Snacks), Jalebe (Indian Donuts), Lassi (Yoghurt Drink), etc.

UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

Community

Charity
For years we have been involved in campaigning for tiger conservation in Bandhavgarh. In late summer 2014 we teamed up with The Corbett Foundation, an Indian charity dedicated to conservation-oriented research. They have proved instrumental in enabling us to get the funds to where they are needed. Through this we have now completed the building of a community hall at Tala Village, solar pumps in the park for wildlife and staff in the dry season, bio gas plants and smart stoves for villagers and provided the salary for 2 full time teachers at the government school. Our work in India continues to be of great significance and most recently we have been able to purchase a 4 wheel drive medical vehicle and pay for outreach medical support.

Local Craft & Culture
We are keen to encourage guests to engage with the culture of Northern India and to purchase local crafts and services where possible. Your local guide will be able to recommend the best of the area’s colourful and vibrant markets and small businesses and through our commerce, tourist wealth is more evenly distributed. You might pick up some street food in Delhi or in Varanasi take the opportunity to explore the emporiums specialising in silks and brocades, have a massage by the banks of the Ganges or buy block printed material and pottery in Jaipur. There are locally crafted gifts and souvenirs available by most of the landmarks we visit, and your guides will be able to advise you on which to buy and which to avoid. For example, some bangles and other decorative items in Jaipur claim to be made of ivory and, although this is mostly fake, we are against the popularisation of this kind of product and make a point of including a warning in the briefing.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

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Northern India holidays

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays. In addition, we don't run these holidays ourselves - our only interest is giving you the best independent advice.


5 stars
I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
4 stars
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
3 stars
Very enjoyable
2 stars
It was OK
1 star
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed 06 Jan 2012 by Charlotte Beer3 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Seeing the Taj Mahal and experiencing the Ganges

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


There is a lot of travelling and local amenities are not at the standard we are used to in Britain.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


I think we probably benefitted a few people who may be associated with the trip leaders rather than the communities we encountered more generally.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


A great experience. Lots of travelling, not easy or relaxing or luxurious but it's India and it is an amazing place, wonderful people and a lot to see. This trip is tiring but worth it.

Reviewed 02 Mar 2011 by Lisa Phillips4 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Dawn boat trip at Varanasai, the Taj Mahal, a visit to the Sikh temple, the food and the shopping!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Think twice if you have a bad back as the roads and very bad and a large proportion of the day is spent travelling either by coach or by train (up to 15 hours by train). Remember to change your rupees back before customs on the way home as it is illegal to take currency out of the country and no-one will help you if you take some through by mistake.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes - trips to local communities, shops and schools, shopping opportunities in local co-operatives.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent but you need to be prepared for v long days and lots of travelling.

Reviewed 23 Apr 2010 by Hilary Glegg2 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Seeing the tiger in Ranthambore National Park; the Ghats in the evening and the overnight train journeys.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be aware - the trip is hectic and verging on the exhausting. The travel distances are enormous - 10 hours in a bus is not pleasant. On the other hand, the train journeys are great! There is no contact with people - it seemed we were shunted from place to place, always in the bus, never walking. No opportunities to shop in the local places - always in the chosen tourist spots and therefore quite expensive. Be prepared to spend about £5 a day on lunch - exorbitant - as it was always the touristy places again. Yes, we saw the highlights, but not India. Don't go on this trip unless you are very short on time and feel the need the say "been there, done that".

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


I wonder - always buying bottled water bothered me a lot. Lots of travelling in a bus....Local people - we hardly came across them! The drivers, yes; the hotels - yes; and the tourist restaurants - yes. I would have welcomed the opportunity to get out of the bus and walk through a town or village on route, buy some local produce - fruit (it was the mango season and we didn't have one mango!)

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


6 out of 10. A whirlwind - the guide was inflexible, the pace too fast, and no contact with the country.

Read the operator's response here:

I did everything what I could for the clients of this group using all my knowledge and experiences to deliver the best services. I have been working from the last 15 years as a professional tour leader. I always try to give more free time to the clients in Local market in every city as much as possible within the time frame of the itinerary. In Jaipur I gave them some time to explore the local market near wind palace after we finished our sightseeing. Later clients have visited the textile factory at Jaipur, because some clients wanted to visit. (Only one shop).

1. At Agra, in afternoon group was taken and dropped at the local Bazar (Sadar market ) to explore the market on their own. Clients have spent more than two hours and even some of them returned after three hours. They were picked up from the given spot back to hotel. Group was not taken to any of the shops at Agra.

2. Then in Varanasi Group was taken to Local Bazar by rickshaw ride and on reaching the city I had given them free time of hour and half to explore the local town before they were taken for visiting the Arti Ceremony at Varanasi Ghats. (on the day of arrival)

In Varanasi Lot of people who wanted to do other things on their own before leaving back to Delhi, therefore, whole afternoon was given free to all clients on 2nd day. Late evening we had to take overnight train to Delhi. Some clients visited city and others stayed back to relax at hotel.

3. Then again in Delhi I took them to Karol bagh Local market and they spent more than 2 hours in the market. Therefore, I think they were given maximum free time keeping in view the itinerary and its pace.

Regarding the long bus drive while coming from Ranthambore to Agra we have visited one school and one village on the way inspite of a tight schedule. Apart from that there were number of other stops on the way to take picture of the wheat field, Village, Local People, camels etc.

So, I think I have done what best I could. It is a bit disappointing that even after doing all this still few clients may have felt that I did not perform well. I can only feel sorry for any lack ness and will try my best to perform better in future.
Please note we have visited only two shops during the whole itinerary one at Jaipur and other at Varanasi. As a tour leader I have tried to show maximum India to my clients in a minimum time.

Thanks
Wahab Khan - Tour leader

Reviewed 09 Jun 2008 by Jerrine Barnett5 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


There were so many great memories it’s hard to pinpoint one or two! Seeing a tiger and her two cubs was an awesome experience. I knew that they were hard to spot so I genuinely didn’t expect to see one in the wild. Especially not one with a fresh kill, and one that seemed happy to stay in our company for almost half an hour! The wildlife aspect of the tour was great, even when kicking back at the end of the day there were plenty of monkeys, birds and cows(!) to keep us entertained! Seeing the Taj Mahal early morning was phenomenal, it glows red with the dawn and is certainly a sight not to be missed if you’re in the area.

I really enjoyed the overnight train rides to and from Varanassi. It was great to take part in something that it so inherent to Indian life, we met some great people on the train and it was an excellent way to see the countryside. Varanassi was the highlight of the tour for me. We took two river cruises, one after nightfall and one early morning. Both were equally amazing experiences. We were given a flower candle as we boarded the boat to take us up river, as we set off we each laid them on the water so they could float behind us. So as we paddled upstream we could see hundreds of tiny candles glowing in the river behind us, it was so beautiful. The morning cruise was great as we could see all the worshippers bathing themselves in the water along one of a dozen ghats.

This was my first group holiday so the whole experience was new to me! I was delighted that I was placed with such a great group of people too, I was never bored for a moment!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


If you’re after a relaxing break then perhaps this isn’t for you. There’s an awful lot to see and not an awful lot of time to see it in so expect a lot of early mornings and quite a few hours on the road! But I genuinely couldn’t think of a better way to squeeze so much in, there is no way that I would have been able to see so much if I had been travelling independently. Bring a good camera as there’s plenty to see. I also found a pair of binoculars handy, especially if you’re lucky enough to see a tiger! Also a sarong/scarf is useful in case of strong sunlight or dusty roads.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Absolutely. I was pleased to see that our hotels all used local staff, and a couple of hotels I discovered were actually classed as eco-friendly hotels. We ate in local restaurants at all stages and our guide ensured that everyone we used, from guides to porters, were given a healthy tip as a token of our appreciation. Our guide also went out of his way to educate us on local customs and ways of life. He also was clear to point out any tourist traps that he deemed to be un-ethical. For instance outside one of the forts it is possible to take an elephant ride up to the main entrance, even though it seemed quite exciting on the outset our guide pointed out that the elephants were not treated kindly and that he recommended that we avoid it.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


5 stars. For my first group travel experience I had a great time. India can be quite an overwhelming experience, especially in the big cities, so it was great to have a guide on hand to give us the insider tips and organize everything for us! I can’t wait to go back to India again!

Northern India holidays  Northern India holidays  Northern India holidays

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Small group holidays

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

Group on holiday

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.
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