Tour Review: Classic Rajasthan
Name: Emma Gardiner
Which Tour Company did you travel with?: Intrepid. Mummy Ji (my awesome step mum) and I did the Classic Rajasthan tour last Indian winter.
Where did you go?: Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Bundi, Bijaipur, Udaipur, Pushkar.
Who was your tour leader? What was he/she like?: We had two tour leaders because our first guide became ill and was replaced halfway through the trip. Bhupesh was a chatty, fun Buddhist guy from Darjeeling and Moshin was a clever, mystical Muslim lad from Agra. Both were extremely patient, good natured and seemed to have very positive relationships with the operators along the way.
What was the highlight?: The night we spent in an ancient fort in rural Rajasthan. I won’t say where because it’s meant to be a surprise but it was an absolute hoot. There’s a hint in this article if you’re desperate to know more.
And the lowlight?: The safari drive in Ranthambhore. It was long and dull. Maybe all the animals were hibernating because it was winter? Or maybe the swarms of safari buses scared them away?
How was the food?: Mostly pretty good. Everyone got sick at least once but that’s par for the course in India. The Western food options were fairly minimal so I ended up eating a lot of curry and omelettes, bananas and rice. We had one guy in our group who was obsessed with gulab jamun. He was a very happy man.
And the accommodation:? Again, mostly good. The rooms were clean and comfortable. The only downside was that the hot water supply could be somewhat unreliable. You can’t blame that on the tour though – that’s just India!
What modes of transport did you experience?: Train, 4WD, rickshaws, taxis, Metro, bus, Jeep (the most fun).
What was your group like?: Mostly couples aged from about 28 – 60yrs. There was one young lass travelling with her Mum and her Mum’s friend, an English gentleman travelling solo and then Mummy Ji and I. It was a fairly neutral group in the sense that people kept to themselves but noone seemed to get on anyone’s nerves either. No major friendships forged; no mortal enemies developed.
Who would you recommend this tour to?: People who love beautiful ancient architecture. The forts and castles of Rajasthan are extraordinary. The Taj is just one shining example of the worksmanship and design of the Mughal era. This tour gives a terrific overview of the region and there’s some pretty amazing shopping thrown in if you’re into block printed fabrics and jewellery.
And who should avoid it?: Anyone who is a looking for a party. This is not the tour for you. People go to bed pretty early and there’s not much opportunity to go out to pubs or clubs. It’s just not that kind of trip.
What was your overall impression of the tour and group?: I thought this tour was a perfect introduction to India. It’s a pretty crazy place so I was very grateful to have the safety net of a tour leader and a first rate travelling companion. I would be confident enough to go back on my own now but I would have struggled terribly if I was alone on my first trip. The group size was very manageable (about 12 people) so there was very little waiting around for stragglers. If you’re keen on getting acquainted with India, this tour is the way to go. Afterwards, I recommend a trip down south to Kerala to unwind and soak up a bit of Westerner-friendly hospitality (there are loads of Europeans down there. Hence, bakeries and coffee. After two weeks of tea and curry, trust me, you’ll love it).