14 independent reviews for History, culture & wildlife of India holiday

Reviews for History, culture & wildlife of India holiday

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review 16 Aug 2019

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

Seeing tigers. Local people. Untouristy parts of India. The care and diligence of our tour operator and Rajat Kumar. Special mention should be made to Rajat and his team, our guide Manju and the manager at the ground company, the medical help at Ranjit’s Svaasa in Amritsar as well our guide Gagan. Gagan not only a help in Amritsar but also in Delhi where he went out his way to show us the 2 step wells.

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

Take note of advice given on tipping. Get small denomination Rupees for tipping from ATMs. Be aware of levels of walks, ours in Shimla ‘Pen to Brush’ was very strenuous even for 2 fit walkers, 43deg. terrain not made clear in leaflet.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Our tour operator was in India and therefore gave good advice and helped considerably when issues arose with local knowledge and support. Small local hotels Red Earth and Pench Tree House employed local people in all aspects of hospitality and as guides in the reserves. The 2 reserves were Tadoba and Pench who employed local trained guides to not only find tigers but other fantastic animals. The Tree House had a policy of reducing single use plastic and gave free aluminium bottles to fill up at hotel coolers. Shimla had banned plastic bags.

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

Excellent overall. On planning Rajat was excellent at adapting and advising to suit what we wanted in our itinerary going out to visit the new hotel on our itinerary. In addition he had to deal with the collapse of Jet Air, keeping us informed and giving us options to keep on track. In Mumbai, our new airline Kuwait, left our luggage behind in Kuwait, again Rajat’s team monitored this problem and after with the help of the hotel manager at Red Earth we received the luggage on the 3rd day. As this was our first time using a local tour company we were very impressed.

review 25 Nov 2018

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

From start to finish our bespoke trip ran like clockwork. It’s hard to work out the most memorable part as there were so many,Kerala backwaters on a traditional canoe, a traditional houseboat, two days hiking in the Westarn Ghats, plantations of tea, coffee, cardamom and more, ancient temples, maharajah’s places, eerily deserted mansions of Chettinad, small enterprises, ex colonial grandeur, crumbling poverty, varied local cuisine and the kindest friendliest people. Our storytelling guides brought places to life in a way that we would otherwise have walked by, our driver kept calm in the busiest of streets, our trekking guide oozed passion for the mountains and rare wildlife and hotel staff were eager that we should try another local delicacy. For sheer excitement our number one was unexpectedly seeing wild elephants grazing in the dappled sunlight of a Munnar forest. Our second choice as mountain lovers would be the trekking, shy wildlife, not another person in sight, varied terrain and breath taking views from the top.

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

The operator took great care to build the trip around the things we wanted to do, so think carefully and do your research to get the trip that you want. Though not a lover of Crocs they would have been a better alternative to sandals, then sandy grit doesn’t rub your feet sore and if it rains you are a little higher of the ground. If you are wondering whether you really need boots for the trekking in the Western Ghats...yes you do.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

The trip was designed around local initiatives and environmentally aware projects culminating in a relaxing stay in an eco lodge with an organic farm for vegetables and milk, solar power and water conservation/ filtration.

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

We had a wonderful holiday, varied, exciting with delicious food and passionate guides. It far surpassed our expectations and we must thank Rajat for constructing a holiday of a lifetime.

review 26 Aug 2018

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

The Kerala boat trip and both the land and boat safaris in Karnataka.

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

Travelling from one place to the next can be tiring and time consuming, as the roads are not always good

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

It benefited local people as all business that were used were local.

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

It was a very good holiday, people were welcoming, helpful and friendly. Rajat was very efficient and helpful.

review 23 Aug 2018

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

The contrast between the the Nilgiris and the lowlands of southern India. The food almost everywhere was an order of magnitude better than we've had anywhere else. Life in the towns, villages and streets was fascinating. Our home stays were all superb.

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

Plan well ahead and decide on the things you 'must do' and the things you'd 'like to do'. There is so much to see, a list of priorities is essential. In fact, in choosing our itinerary, we changed our minds half a dozen times and, each time, Rajat accommodated our changes without any problems at all.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

The trip involved conservation through contributions to wildlife parks, the use of local guides and drivers. Local home stays helped small rural businesses.

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

Excellent. We got exactly what we wanted! I hesitate to call it a 2-week holiday in southern India. It was an immersive, fulfilling and rewarding travel experience which we'd happily do again.

review 6 Feb 2018

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

Probably the most exciting thing was seeing two tigers (on separate visits - one on the boat safari and one on a land safari) in Nagarhole National Park - astonishing. But equally memorable was the temple tour in Madurai - it felt a privilege to visit when so many pilgrims were also worshipping at the temple.

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

Try to avoid the large, noisy buses in Nagarhole National Park (they are truly dreadful) - and arrange a tour by jeep. And ask if a guide will be accompanying you - as we didn't get one on any of our safaris. We can highly recommend our tour operator - their organisation and recommendations were all excellent - and their homestay in the hills above Ooty was also a highlight of the whole trip.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I hope so - we tried to eat at local restaurants and we used a lot of local guides (who were all excellent - particularly the city `story telling` tours and food tours) - and visited local workshops.

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

Absolutely excellent - and we hope to return. We just wish we could have spend twice as long at every destination.

review 5 Dec 2016

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

My stay at the Wild Mahseer in Assam was very special. Great hospitality, beautiful lodgings and interesting environmental projects. In Shillong I had an excellent guide and driver who made the trip interesting and gave me an insight into the local area. They were both very helpful and attentive. I was sorry I didn't have enough time to trek out to see the root bridges in Meghalaya or visit the Kaziranga National Park in Assam.

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

Bring warm clothing if going to Shillong. At night it's cold in November.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes.

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

Excellent.

review 26 Apr 2016

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

Nagarhole National Park well managed , carefully done trips to see animals etc

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

Read !! Read !!! Read !!! If go without reading first you will be blind .Nothing will make sense . Good books on India are out there . Travel guides need to be digested before leaving .

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

No I do not feel that it did much OTHER than we employed local people , asked questions , tried to understand what we saw , tipped properly etc

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

I have told the holiday provider that they do a great job .

review 23 Jun 2014

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

The most exciting part was not on the original programme. We asked Rajat to give us somewhat more nature and less culture. He arranged for us to spend a day and two nights in a resort on the Kabini Lake, across from the Nagarhole National Park. On a boat safari at dusk, amidst myriad birds and beasts, we saw a male tiger emerging muddily from the river, slinking into the jungle. Next day at dawn our guide (the guides were all serious naturalists) was still more excited when a family of sloth bears crossed our path. The resort itself was wondrously luxurious, with excellent food and notably courteous staff. But an equally memorable part was our 3 days with Rajat's family in the Nilgiri Hills. We learned a great deal about how to cultivate and appreciate tea, and enjoyed some exceptionally lively conversations. The family are Jains, and the vegetarian cooking by cooking by Rajat's mother Renu offered repeated revelations. At a personal level, this stay was what we'll remember most fondly.

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

In Mysore we had an excellent guide. With our interest in Tipu we had requested an additional visit to Tipu's Summer Palace at nearby Srirangapatnam, and this is not to be missed. Remember that elements in the itinerary can be modified at your request. Up to this point, five stars. However, in the latter part of our tour, we spent rather too high a proportion of the time on bumpy roads - two six-hour drives. If doing it again, we would take the whole 15 days and divide the car travel into smaller bits. Not Rajat's fault. We would also omit Goa - accommodation fine, beach horrid. Lastly, the end of March was often too hot for comfort, and we would advise an earlier slot.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes.

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

Last year we toured Kerala in homestays and gave the holiday five stars; we like the personal contacts you get in a homestay. Towards the end of this holiday we felt more like regular tourists, and experienced some of the minus points of the industry. Not reborn - just replete with good memories.

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Susan & Robin, It was a pleasure planning this holiday for you and was an even greater pleasure meeting the two of you and showcasing our lives, family and the part of the world we live in. We’re glad that you had a nice time on this holiday. With regards the region you visited, the emphasis was always going to be about the history and ancient architecture. Unlike Kerala with it’s abundance of small and heritage family home stays, these parts of Karnataka that you visited are devoid of such experiences but bring a lot of ancient history and wonderful architecture to the balance. It was the reason why we made sure you come and experience our family home stay first to help you settle into your trip and gain a fresh perspective on India before you embarked on the rest of the experiences on the trip. Goa sadly has become more commercial than it ever was and unfortunately as a destination does harbour some of the minuses that commercialism can make of any service. But it was the logical end to your trip, geographically and hence unavoidable. But I’m glad that on the greater balance of things you had great, memorable experiences that will stay with you in the future.

review 16 May 2014

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

The two home stays were an amazing part of our trip. Friends of Orchha is a great social enterprise supporting local people. The food we ate at the home stays was delicious. The palaces we visited were fabulous.

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

Take the plunge and travel on an overnight train with shared accommodation. It's a great experience.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, definitely.

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

Excellent, we enjoyed it all.

review 12 Mar 2014

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

Staying at the home of the Kumars, visiting Golden Temple at Amritsar and WildFlower Hall.

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

Be aware of traveling time when going by road and do not try and do too much.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes.

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

Outstanding.

review 20 Jan 2014

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

Mysore and dewelokam

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

Don't spend the night on a houseboat just the day

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes

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

All brilliant. Only place I wouldn't recommend was Aranyakam

review 19 Mar 2013

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

We enjoyed Nagarhole (The Bison) and Rainforest Retreat the most, but also very much the ecotourism day in the Vembanad Backwaters (canoe trip, coir rope making, etc.) and our home stay in Wayanad. Every part of our vacation was very interesting.

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

Be prepared with extra tip money at the large temple sites. We didn't realize at first that we should always bring extra money at each stop (e.g. you need to pay to leave your shoes at temple entrances, leave tips for blessings, etc.). Also, we noticed that other people brought school supplies, etc., for children; we didn't know to do that. Fortunately we had received a tipping guide from Rajat, and that allowed us generally to have the right amounts of money along with us each day. It is important for both men and women to dress quite conservatively in rural areas. It would have been better if I (older woman) had purchased some Indian clothing to wear (e.g. long shirt), but long pants and a short-sleeved shirt worked okay. Our trip was in late February to early March, and this worked well--it was before the end of the tourist season and not too hot. We were there during the harvest, and it was so interesting to see all of the harvesting and also the start of planting for the next season.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

The main benefit we saw was from the hiring of local guides and drivers, thus benefiting local people and economies. It was clear that our ecotourism day in the Vembanad Backwaters, our Wayanad home stay, and our stay at Rainforest Retreat benefited local people and supported conservation.

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

This was the trip of a lifetime for us. We asked for a trip that would take us off the beaten track, give us a chance to meet local people and learn about local activities and customs, and give us a good introduction to the culture and history of India. This trip surpassed our goals in every way. We met many, many wonderful people on our trip and were able to talk with them about their lives and activities. Our drivers were extremely courteous, competent, and knowledgeable. Similarly our guides were excellent. Overall we had a fantastic holiday and feel we had a very good introduction to southern India.

review 10 May 2013

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

Udaipur!

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

Stay in the same hotels, spend a little more time and go to Jaisalmer. Don't go in April as too hot.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes.

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

Excellent. We had one hiccup in that the overnight train back to Delhi was delayed more than 6 hours and Andy only just caught his flight the next day after a lot of stress and a sleepless night. We should have not arranged the holiday this way as it is to be expected that trains are late in India. So we had bad advice in this respect. However, a minor point in the grand scheme of things.

Read the operator's response here:

Hello Karen, Thank you for the time you've taken out to leave a review of your holiday with us. It was a pleasure planning this trip for you and I'm glad that the two of you had a nice time. I just wanted to comment on the last rail journey that you took from Jodhpur into Delhi. At the beginning of the trip, a flight was considered back to Delhi. However given the limited days that you had and the experiences that needed to be covered, Jodhpur wouldn't have been possible if the domestic flight option was selected. It was only made possible because of the overnight train, that you ultimately ended up taking. Yes, it was very unfortunate that the train ended up delayed like it was. But the reality of Indian trains today is that they run on time 98% of the time. There is that unfortunate window when something can go wrong. And in this case unfortunately 'murphy's law' kicked in. However at the planning stage we did leave a big buffer of time between the train's arrival into New Delhi and Andrew's flight out in the afternoon. Given the delay, you will remember that we stayed on to coordinate things both at the station and with the airline to ensure that Andrew made his flight back home on time and as scheduled. So I guess all's well that ends well and some experiences like this need to be attributed to the India travel experience!

review 18 Nov 2012

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

The whole holiday was wonderfully put together and the people that we met made the holiday particularly memorable. Our visit to the Nilgiri Hills, Tamil Nadu, was one of the most memorable parts of our trip. The scenery was spectacular and we were extremely well looked after.

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

As long as you tell Rajat what you like from a holiday he will find the perfect combination for you. Definitely visit some of the homestays, it gives you a real insight into Indian culture.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

It definitely benefitted the local people. It was great to not stay in the big hotels and instead visit small homestays and support the local communities.

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

Excellent. Well organised and just what we were looking for. We were extremely well looked after and would highly recommend Rajat if visiting India.

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