Overall, the trip was excellent and the company kept in contact even throughout our trip to make sure everything was on track. If I had any concerns, I knew that we could text the company.
The initial process was great. We were always able to contact the company about the itinerary and they were willing to make necessary changes.
I appreciated the caliper of hotels that we stayed at and felt very taken care of and special along the journey. Overall, our guides/drivers were fantastic.
Hotels for the most part were excellent, very distinctive and special. Food was great. We saw a lot of great sites and did a lot of fantastic things. We loved Hampi and Mysore especially in India. We especially loved the Lion's Paw and Galle (kind of wished we could have stayed there instead Udewalawe).
Lots of driving in India. Wished we could have broken up the driving a bit intermixed with a site or 2 along the way. I felt like we had a lot of down time, and wished we had filled that time with site seeing opportunities. For example, we arrived at the airport in Bengalore 5-6 hours before the flight. Our intinerary said that we could have seen sites in Bengalore, which we did not get to do. It was not always evident that the drivers and/or guides were aware of the itinerary we were given. With the language barrier it was often difficult for us to ask these questions of them.
Sri Lanka was great overall, just a few timing issues as well. For example, we took the train from Kandy to Hatupale and then drove to our hotel. The next day we ended up driving back the way we came to go to the tea factory. Didn't quite understand why we just didn't do the tea factory after getting right off the train instead of all the extra driving and maybe fitting something else in.
Overall, I just felt like I could have seen more if things had been coordinated somewhat better.
All of what you have listed is relevant:
- Yes, there is a lot of driving to get around India. Not always in miles and kilometres, but in the time spent on the road. And not all of this time is stress-free - given how our traffic sometimes operates and navigates - especially since we drive on the left of the road!! That said - I think it is a great idea to offer the possibility of site-visits along the route in our program descriptions which makes it interesting - though there is always the urgency of getting to the destination for the night well before it gets dark, and this tends to be limiting...
- The "down-time", both planned and unplanned...It is always a dilemma - and we are never sure whether to pack in the days, or keep them liberally paced. I have received similar feedback from some of our other travellers too - and based on this, I will hereafter make it a point to mention the various options available instead of down-time - as well as site seeing possibilities along a route. I realise that it is important that you know what the various options are - and that you can choose to include and exclude things based on your preferences for the day.
- I know how frustrating it must have been for you to arrive way too early for your international flight out of Bangalore. This was really a case of over-insurance to counter the risk of encountering rush-time traffic which is always a worry. The more important issue is really to be keeping you - the traveller - informed of all the changes and reasons for doing what we're doing and changes being made. I personally feel this goes beyond the language barrier...
- Finally, I am delighted that you liked your stay in Sri Lanka right through. An added advantage is that driving distances are short! Of course - the inexplicable drive back to visit the tea-factory is a valid point that you had made; our propensity to over insure seems to be ingrained in our DNA. We assumed that packing in a train ride + factory visit on the same day would be a little "too-tiring"...We will in future, give our travellers the choice!
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