Most Inspirational Moment
So many to mention - a true sensory experience. Varanasi was a huge highlight - people watching, the Ganges, the Ghats and the various ceremonies we saw - including beautiful weddings. The mountain scenery in Nepal was breathtaking - including the drives to get to Pokhara and Kathmandu, the Pokhara paragliding experience and Everest flight from Kathmandu. The Pashupatinath complex and Bodnath temple in Kathmandu. Learning about the Hindu and Buddhist history, beliefs and traditions was fascinating (including the Bodhgaya stay and day trips). Finally, our 13 strong group and Jatin were very special people to share this experience and adventure with.
Thoughts on Group Leader
Jatin was absolutely brilliant - this would have been a tough and complex trip to manage and Jatin worked tirelessly to make sure everything came together, that we were all safe and well, and that we had a brilliant time. Whether someone needed meds, first aid, money, recovery of a misplaced/lost/left-behind item, souvenirs ... Jatin was always on hand and happy to help (he even rolled his sleeves up to help fix the bus!). Jatin's knowledge and experience was superb, he cared and his happy nature made us smile. A huge credit to Exodus.
Advice for Potential Travellers
Bring plenty of hand sanitiser (and use it regularly!), drink loads of water, bring an open-mind and be prepared to go with the flow. This is a really fun adventure trip - there are some early morning starts (for activities or to travel), rough and bumpy roads, long days, squat toilets and often facilities which might not meet our usual standards - go with it, it's really worth it. The long travel days weren't so bad as the views and outside life was fascinating to watch.
Try and carry some snacks to keep the energy levels going - Jatin and the drivers often stopped at street vendors to get us fruit or other snacks during the day. During the long journeys, we stopped every couple of hours for a leg stretch, cuppa and a loo break. We were always told to shout if anyone needed an earlier stop. We encountered an unscheduled 6 hr delay, due to protests, on the morning train to Varanasi and many of us were very grateful for saving some our breakfast box leftovers which kept us going.
The overnight train was an adventure. We made sure we had a good feed at lunchtime and we stopped off at the shop for some snacks. I carried a lightweight sleeping bag liner for the overnight train - I used it because I carried it, but the bedding provided seemed clean enough to use without the liner. However, it did get a little chilly during the night so the extra layer was welcomed. One thing I wished I'd packed was some cards or small games, but we made our own fun in the end.
US $ are very useful to carry - crisp and un-torn notes. Indian rupees can be carried into and used in Nepal.
Don't overpack - hotel laundry facilities were cheap and good, and best used on 2 night stays. I used the hotel laundry facilities in Bodhgaya and Varanasi. Bodhgaya was slightly cheaper, but neither expensive at all.
Get over the cappuccino love! Mainly instant coffee all the way until Pokhara - but the Masala Chai is a good substitute.
This is a superb trip for an India first-timer or someone wanting to get a taster of Nepal and North India- It gives a taste of so much - people, ways of life, forts, palaces, mountains, countryside, nature, temples, Hindu and Buddhist insights/learning, trains, roads etc. The trip visits many UNESCO world heritage sites. It requires a bit of stamina (for the travelling days and early starts). Both India and Nepal are challenging and daunting countries and this trip made the experience do-able, straighforward and easy.