Our India travel company got a lot of important things right on my two week tour of northern and central India with my daughter. Their hotel and lodge recommendations were very good....particularly for the wonderful properties in Bandhavgarh and Kanha National Parks. There were many properties to choose from in those two places, but I think those that they recommended have to be among the very best. Outstanding! The hotel choices in Delhi and Agra were very good matches for us. The only property that was a bit below average was the hotel in Varanasi, but it was certainly adequate.
I also appreciated that the company met us at each airport location and drove us promptly to each hotel after tiring travel days.
I also have some negative comments, and I am NOT a picky traveler. I realize that India is a difficult and and at times exhautingly unpredictable destination for travelers, but there were simply too many important errors of commission and omission by our travel agency. One error was their statement that internal Indian airlines had weight restrictions of 20 kilos for checked bags, and 7 for carry ons. That proved to be true for one of the airlines they booked us on but not for two others. Those had restrictions of 15 and 4 kilos, and thought they should be knowledgeable enough to get that right.....we found up paying fines, as we were under the 20 kilo limit, but not the 15.
Far more seriously, they had two different times for a flight to Delhi from Jabalpur....one on our voucher that left at 12:20 pm and one on the itinerary that left at 16:40 pm. When we SPECIFICALLY asked the agency to get this right, they got it WRONG....and caused us to sit around for four needless hours and leave Kanha National Park at a very early, and unnecessarily early hour. I also found as part of an annoying pattern with this company, that they never owned up to a mistake, but simply tried to pass the blame off on a bad telephone connection or a mistake by a driver or guide. Somehow, every other person who wound up on this flight managed to find out it was at 16:40, not 12:20. Yes, the agency did comp a meal for us....but they need to be a bit more concerned about the right hand knowing what the left hand is doing with discriminating travelers. I would probably not use them again for this reason alone.
They got other things wrong on our itinerary as well. Our itinerary at Kanha National Park stated that we only got morning safari drives, but that turned out not to be true. Our package included afternoon drives as well, at least according to the folks at Kanha.
As I stated earlier, the company got the lodging right, and all our DRIVERS were kind, considerate, and outstanding at their jobs. I can't say the same for our guides. Our guide in Varanasi was super smart, and very good. Our guide in Delhi was very knowledgeable but talked too much, and made it somewhat difficult to ask questions. The local guide in Agra was an underhanded sleaze who made every effort to blame ME for the fact that he got in trouble for taking us to a marble store, under the guise that we were going to a marble factory demonstration. I don't know who made that decision, but the travel agency blamed the guide, and the guide chastised me for "getting him into trouble". I've traveled a lot....and I've done the big tour scene where tourists are lured into factory stores and somebody is getting paid off. This shouldn't happen at a company like this one, and I refuse to feel guilty for complaining about it. Once again, the agency accepted no responsibility and blamed the local guide. The guide then took my daughter aside, and talked her into writing a note in which she said she did realize we were going to a store. I think she now realizes that paying what she did for a small end table was certainly a mistake!
One last thing....I realize that India is a poor country relative to the US, and that tourism is a small part of addressing that. However, is it really necessary to have one person greeting us at the airport, and then another person to greet us at the hotel? I was handing out a lot of 100 rupee tips....seemingly for no good reason. I also know how to get in line at the airport, and didn't really need any "help" with that. It got to be annoying.
1) fine hotels in Delhi, Agra, and fantastic lodges at two national parks.
2) seeing the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort
3) watching cremation ceremonies at Varanasi
4) seeing three tigers, and several different sightings in Bandhavgarh and the beautiful Kanha National Park
5) the warmth and dignity of our drivers and hosts at the national parks.
I would probably use a different travel agency, and also provide a little more time for rest and relaxation in between tours.
TRAVEL COMPANY COMMENTS:
We thank you or submitting your review on Zicasso. It is unfortunate that you did not like a few things during the trip. Please find answers to some of the concerns raised by you:
1. Baggage Allowance: We send a general “India Travel Tips” document, which has a mention of baggage allowance. We have stated in that email, that generally baggage allowance is 20 KG but is subject to change. We have clearly stated the following "We request you to contact the airline or us for getting the right figure during your India tour and travel as this may change”. Just for your example, Baggage allowance for Air India flight has recently been increased as a part of their special offer to 25 Kgs. The baggage allowance of SpiceJet and Jet Airways is 15 Kgs. But, we shall send an email to all our future clients highlighting specifically the baggage allowance for their flight connections.
2. Guide in Agra: We did an inquiry into the guide service in Agra. This is the same guide that has been used for many of our past clients without any complaints. The guide simply asked the client whether they would like to go see Marble factory. The daughter accompanying her father replied yes and only then she was taken to the store. There they saw how marble artefacts are made but the personnel of that factory asked whether they would like to shop something to which the daughter replied yes. We do not indulge in any forced shopping and our company does not earn a single rupee or dollar for this. We have further directed the guide not to ask any such questions to any clients during the trip. The guides also have fear of losing license if they indulge in such acts. Our company has a very stringent mechanism to ensure that this does not happen.
3. Safaris in Kanha National Park - As clearly stated in our proposal 4 Safaris in Kanha national park were included and offered over a period of 3 Nights. 2 morning and 2 afternoon safaris were provided.
4. Pick-up and Drop hassle at Jabalpur airport - One of our earlier clients also faced an issue with SpiceJet at same Jabalpur airport. Please note that there was a different time on e-ticket and itinerary because the time of the flight was re-scheduled much after the e-ticket was issued. The moment you make the deposit payment, we book all the internal flights and send e-tickets to you. But airlines in India frequently change their times closer to travel dates. Such changes are not reflected in e-tickets. In order to avoid this problem, our team checks the flight departure time at local airports and informs the chauffeur accordingly about the pick-up time. In your case, the driver was not reachable over phone as you were in remote jungle location. Hence, we called the hotel in which you were staying (we have a proof of this) and asked the personnel to inform our driver about the changed time. We have done this earlier with the same hotel as in Bandhavgarh the driver phone (many times) is not reachable due to Jungle area and poor connectivity. But unfortunately, the hotel personnel forgot to pass the message to driver and hence you were picked up 3 hours earlier due to which you reached the airport much before the revised scheduled time. Please note that we have raised this issue with senior management of the hotel as this caused a huge inconvenience to you. Any travel company, in this scenario, would have called the hotel and asked to forward the message. But, as this has occurred for the first time with us, our team shall double-check with the hotel and ensure that the message is passed on to driver. In order to compensate for this, we offer a free vehicle/ lunch in Jabalpur for you. Please note that we are not trying to pass on blame from ourselves. We were just trying to let you know the accurate picture of things that have happened. For us your comfort and satisfaction matters the most and hence offered a free lunch and vehicle for use in Jabalpur.
Our team really regrets the inconvenience caused because of the above issues. We shall take the below steps and ensure that we get 5 Star rating from you.
Steps Taken to ensure that above problem does not occur
1. We shall explicitly state the baggage allowance for each airline2. We shall double check with hotels whether the message has been communicated to the driver or not.
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