If I could give this travel company 6 stars, I would--it was that good an experience in every possible way! I went alone to India for two weeks, despite friends' concerns about my traveling solo as a woman, but absolutely every single detail of the trip went smoothly, easily, and safely. I felt free to enjoy my experiences fully without any practical worries nibbling at the edges, and felt very safe and protected at all times. My guides were all very knowledgeable, but more than that, they were lovely people with whom I enjoyed spending time. My drivers were extremely skillful, and that counts for a lot--driving in India is not for the faint of heart! Someone from the company called me at each new location to check in and make sure everything was going well, and would have immediately addressed any issues, had there been any; but all I ever had were glowing thanks and praise at each call. They even sent a representative or courier to help with each of seven hotel check-ins and/or negotiating flights within India! I also appreciated their responsiveness to my desire to stay in heritage hotels (former mansions and even palaces) rather than anonymous-style big hotels that could have been anywhere. Some of the amazing places I stayed in were a significant part of the pleasure on this trip. You just can't ask for (or even imagine) better than all that. The way the company functions takes all the worries out of traveling alone anywhere, and I'm certain I'll use the company again and again now that I feel empowered to do more traveling on my own.
Your overall comment on Zicasso
I discovered Zicasso from searching online for tour companies that go to India; one site would lead me to another and another. When I finally fetched up at Zicasso I felt I'd arrived at last where I wanted to be. And the entire experience really was exactly what I hoped for but didn't know existed.
I actually loved best some of the more modest, ordinary experiences--lunches at workers' cafes (take note: they often served better food than fancy restaurants or hotels, and certainly a lot cheaper!) or garden terraces; strolling around the various marketplaces, especially the food markets; visiting the tiny shops that were like literal holes in the wall; having a jeep tour through the villages and farmlands culminating at a lake for al fresco tea, English style.... I was tickled that the male guides even knew all about the details of women's clothing (I was fascinated by what people were wearing; it's hugely variable and colorful in northern India). And they were endlessly patient when I would sit or browse for ages at fabric warehouses or weaving workshops or jewelry shops, which were of tremendous interest to me as a former weaver and jewelry designer. I was really happy with every shop or art gallery I was taken to whenever I asked to look at something particular: they weren't just of exceptional quality, the vendors' integrity was also very evident, and I really appreciated that.
I would try to learn at least a little Hindi! And I would make sure my cell phone camera had more memory on it for pictures, and that I knew more about how to get online with it, etc.! Really, my struggles with the phone were the only less-than-perfect aspect of the trip, and that was entirely my own doing. I hadn't thought I'd want to take endless pictures, but the place is so gorgeous and fascinating I just couldn't help photographing everything, till lack of photo storage put an end to that. In addition, I think I would take more notes on a nightly basis, since things can become jumbled in the course of a very busy trip. Correlating place names with the photographs would be easier then, for instance.
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