Wonderful, amazing, glorious India! Crazy tuk tuk driving, beautiful colours, scented flowers, cows casually strolling across busy roads, masala chai, the best lassi’s, chana masala heaven, incredible architecture, glorious temples, super duper heat, and certainly much much more.
This trip was inspired by my mums desire to see the Taj Mahal. We couldn’t have done it without a tour, and the trip with G adventures is one I definitely, highly recommend. The tour was a fantastic mini introduction to the country, for fab highlights of 3 main cities in Rajasthan. It could easily have felt rushed or that we didn’t get to see as much as we wanted- but we did a lot, without ever feeling that we needed more time or that we were not getting enough downtime. G adventures have obviously thought about this a lot: it was set at the perfect pace. There were 8 of us in the group, between 19-64 in age! A great mix.
Mum is in her 60’s and actually has pretty limited mobility. She relies on an electric scooter for distances longer than walking for 4-5 minutes at a very slow rate. Therefore it was crucial for us to pick the “right tour”, but who really knows in reality what will happen, and so really we went to India kind of winging it in regards to her mobility, and hoping for the best. Luckily it was perfect for us and mum was able to manage really well, also thanks to the help of our amazing CEO/group lead who made that really easy. We grabbed Tuk Tuks easily- for around 50p to £1.00 for most journeys and this really helped.
We selected the GAdventures classic Golden Triangle tour for our first time to the country, due to its good size length (7 days), very reasonably priced trip (we went end March and the basic rate at this time was around £528 per person for the week, which included the tour and private mini van transport, as well as accommodation). The exercise level was marked as “light” which was key for mum. The heat was approaching 40 degrees when we were leaving India on the 7th April, so we were really happy we had a comfortable AC private mini bus to chauffeur us about! It felt like the ultimate luxury.
You can find the full itinerary of what we did on the GAdventures website here: https://www.gadventures.co.uk/trips/golden-triangle/4364/itinerary/ and I’m going to share photo highlights from some of our favourite experiences of our super special week.
Our first proper day in Delhi: Sikh temples, City Walk tour with Salaam Baalak Trust (supporting the lives of street children) , mums first Tuk Tuk journey, and the Red Fort
Taj Mahal, Agra
We arrived at the Taj for around 5.30am to miss the crowds- totally worth it to see the sun rise over it.
We then took in the Agra Fort after breakfast back at the hotel. Mum was the star of the show here- this photo of her with the all the children made us all laugh that day!!
And then we saw the Baby Taj, built before the Taj Mahal itself
Dhula Valley- a glamping extraordinaire experience! Run by a family, and these gorgeous monuments built to commemorate past family members. Surrounded by mountains, we had a campfire that evening, the most gorgeous home cooked food and G and Ts and singing. It was blissful and a big change from the busy cities we had been travelling through.
The romance of Fatehpur Sikri Visit and the nearby abandoned city, where King Akbar built 3 palaces for each of his favourite wives (some discrepancy in palace sizes, so there must have been some arguing!)
First sightings of Jaipur: group trip to the old market and a hilariously scary/fun evening rickshaw ride! I loved the way there didn’t seem to be that many road rules, but also little evidence of road rage either!
City Palace, Jaipur
Amber Fort, Jaipur. So so stunning.
The nitty gritty:
The money: We spent around £450 between the two of us for a week for all of our food costs, drinks (including alcoholic drinks), spending on occassional tuk tuks, and for the tips for the week, the driver and for our CEO. We bought minimal souvenirs I have to say- most of this money just went on food, drink, water bottles, additional tipping, wheelchair hire…so be prepared you will spend more if you are a souvenir lover!
Our flights were just over £400 (Air India- great food and service), our standard rate tour was £528 each, we paid an additional £200 for our own rooms and £100 for the visa- all of this with spending came to around £1200 each for the week.
The tour we chose: The link to our week programme with G adventures: https://www.gadventures.co.uk/trips/golden-triangle/4364/ If you are short on time, I can’t remember this enough. Once the tour is finished, you are offered to complete a survey, and get 5% off the next trip too.
The accommodation: our favourites were the Hotel Orange in Jaipur and the glamping of Duala village. Each hotel has AC as standard. The first hotel is maybe not in the nicest of areas, and the last could perhaps do with modernization. All in all my most favourite was the glamping, and I was most comfortable in Hotel Orange.
The food: I ate a ton of channa masala and it was delicious! Most breakfast’s, even for buffet style, were between £1.00-2.50, most dinners cost us around £5.00 per person. It’s obviously so cheap. You go to very good places- I think there was only one place that I didn’t think was as good quality, but our CEO advised us of that in advance, and explained it was just tricky on that day with logistics from and where we were travelling. All in our- brilliant food and restaurant choices. Burgers, omelettes and other things are also on many menus for variety. It’s food heaven for veggies.
The visa: was a total pain to independently organise via the main Indian site. The link to the visa company I used, whom I would heartily recommend as the site is super user friendly and staff came back to me quickly when I asked questions: https://apply.joinsherpa.com/home Our visas were ready and emailed to us in a week. Mums was slightly cheaper, I believe for having an Irish passport!
My tips: as usual, don’t take too many clothes. You ALWAYS end up wearing the same things (apart from underwear!) and although we did visit a couple of lovely roof top restaurants, you won’t go anywhere super super fancy enough to worry about anything too formal. a lot of our tips were included, but it’s still a good idea to try and get small change. Take rehydration salts with you! And try and go before the end of March if you can, it was so so hot and you think it will be fine, but you forget how it wipes you out energy wise.
Disability information: depending upon your level of disability, this tour could be suitable- always best to discuss with your doctor first. Mum walks with a walking stick indoors and for longer distances uses an electric scooter outdoors. At the Taj Mahal we paid around £5 for a hire of a wheelchair and man to push it (they come together- no option for you to take it yourself) and we were there for 3 hours. We did the same at the Agra Fort in the afternoon. We asked about taking a travel wheelchair from the UK to India, but were advised that the pavements in many areas wouldn’t be suitable for a wheelchair and this was true. Instead, tuk tuks are so cheap and we used these on many occasions when it was too far for mum- literally paying on average between 50p and £1.00 for what would cost you 10-20 times as much in London. We arranged disability assistance both at Heathrow (a dream) and on arrival in India, men with wheelchairs are waiting to meet people off of the plane. The walk would be horrendous if you have mobility issues, and the additional bonus is that you skip the queues on arrival, by having an attendant get you to the front of the line everywhere!
If I was to summarize how it was re going to India with G Adventures, I would use the word “transparency” to sum it up the best. Everything was clear, detailed and upfront. There were no shock surprises, changes of rates on the way, or hidden add ons. This is a key part of the reason why I’m recommending them. Mum and I also liked the ease and organisation of the tour- to be honest it was both of our first time doing a tour, and there is something totally wonderful as just “letting go” and being told when and where and knowing the fine details have been organised for you 🙂 You worry in advance you might be marched about or deliberately taken to tourist traps- it’s not like that at all. There was downtime, so people went out or rested as they needed to.
We also struck gold with the most humble, generous and knowledgeable CEO, whom we all had such a great rapport with. Nothing was too much for Abhi, a natural people person and a great lover of his beautiful country and sharing of that with us. We loved his restaurant initiative in Delhi, where you will be taken to as part of the tour- and where we asked to return to, as we enjoyed it so much. Kitchen With a Cause helps former street children get ahead by completing traineeships in the restaurant, and the food was absolutely gorgeous.
Any questions or comments? Please let me know!!