I think overall the trip was adequate.
Only one hotel was amazing and tour guides and drivers seen disconnected because none knew about the other legs of our trip and could not answer questions.
Drivers also bring you to tourist traps - shops and restaurants that are overpriced, but this is fairly common practice in India and hard to avoid.
Guides knew good English, but drivers did not and were not familiar with our schedule.
However, the company has good intentions and will do their best to assist travelers. It can be hard to communicate effectively with them because the headquarters are in New Delhi even if you are traveling to other parts of India.
When we first arrived, they provided us with water in the car, but this immediately stopped after the first few days.
Travel Company's Comments
A few facts:- Kate and Andrew finalised their trip in a very short notice.- Their travel was in the month of May - which is the peak summer month in Northern India.- From their feedback and from what our staff listed - it appears the unexpectedly inclement weather was a major factor [they had known it would be warm - but had not expected that it would be how it turned out] - this added to their discomfort.- Local disruptions such as flight delays [their flight from Varanasi to Agra was delayed by over 2 hours], and the fact that their hotel in Varanasi was relatively empty [they were the only guests in the hotel that night] left them unsettled.
We could have certainly done a better job by:- providing cold towels & replenishing bottled water during the journey to make them as comfortable as possible.
Let me now address the points raised by her :
- There are two kind of guides available in India - accompanying guides & local guides.Some of the guests take the option of having an accompanying guide who is well versed with the entire program and accompany them throughout the journey. On the other hand, Kate has taken the option of locally appointed guides, which is the less expensive option. In such a case, they met different guides at different locations, who were "experts" of their own region. Since, they have been appointed only for a part of the program, they are not really aware of the entire itinerary that Andrew and Kate were on, nor could it be really expected of them to answer questions relating to other parts of this vast country.
- The trip designed for Kate & Andrew was not really a round trip - she started her journey in Delhi and took a flight to Varanasi; from Varanasi, she again took a flight to Agra and drove to Jaipur - then on to Mumbai, her final destination before flying back home. The trip had many internal flights and almost at every location she has been received by a different vehicle and driver. Since the driver was the only one travelling with the client, they tend to build a great rapport with the travellers.
I have spoken with all the drivers who transported them - but knowing how the trade works, it would surprise me that there was any incident or overt action on any drivers part to put the travellers to discomfort.
- On the positive side - Kate seems to have enjoyed the visit to the Smile Buddha school in Varanasi that was specially arranged by our company. That plus some great reviews about her visit are on her blog site :
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