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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

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  • Reviewed April 2019
    Ruth Chew

    Great Trip

    Rajasthan is an amazing place. The people, the colours, the chaos! This was my first visit to India and it has left me wanting more. The itinerary covered all the highlights, but our guide, Ajay, added walks in the villages and towns to add to the experience. We even visited the home of an Indian family which was lovely. The only minor negative was that there was less free time than the itinerary promised and little, if any, time to look round the markets and generally absorb the atmosphere.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Taj Mahal was breathtaking! I will never the moment I first got sight of it. A memory that live with me forever.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ajay, our group leader, was very good. He was knowledgable, helpful, humurous and a lovely person. He could not do enough to make sure that we all had a great time. We had some wonderful food and the location for our final meal was excellent. It seemed to be his sole aim to make sure that his group had the best experience in his beautiful country.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Annie Kirk

    Colourful and fascinating!

    The trip was throughly well managed and led by Mayank, our tour leader. Information about all kinds of aspects of Indian religious groupings, caste & social issues; marriage and weddings... he used the time so well in long coach journeys to keep us up to date with our understanding, in excellent and clear English. Fabulous sights - and sites - and a range of hotels that defied our expectations in comfort, cleanliness and cuisine.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Apart from the Taj Mahal (even in a pall if grey mist evening and dawn!) The forts and palaces were all different, and differently fascinating. The Udaipur City Palace was probably the pinnacle of opulence and lavishness. But on a more human level, Mayank’s “birdwatching trip” by the lakeside in Deogarh that actually turned into tea with the charming Maharajah, his beautiful fashion designer wife and the former Queen, the Rana - THAT had to take the prize for sheer add-on extra points!!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Mayank was excellent - a lovely man, with expert knowledge largely way better delivered than any of the local guides, some of whom were more difficult to understand, especially when rapping out high-speed information with no fine-tuning it for their audience. Mayank made the trip work for everybody in the group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring a fruit/vegetable peeler and biscuits etc, so you can concoct your own lunches at least occasionally with plentiful excellent potato snacks, carrots, apples, bananas etc on the market. There really doesn’t need to be two long-drawn out sessions in a day sitting in restaurants being served with too much food. We also found as a couple that ordering one main dish each and one or two sides was plenty for an evening meal (curry of course!) often eaten later than 8pm. In the early few days we were wasting food, which tended to be on the overgenerous side.
  • Reviewed December 2018
    Jessica Staniland

    Fantastic trip

    Our trip in India was great- the best part was our guide who was very informative as well as being patient and kind and fun!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The people - all our guides, our bus driver and the bus boy. The people of India that we met and saw. The history, all the historical sites

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Incredible- he made the trip

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a good medical kit for tummy upsets (which we didn't get) and also for colds and coughs (which we did get!)
  • Reviewed December 2018
    Kate Nattrass

    Trip of a life time

    I have waited 30 years for this trip of a life time to India and I was not disappointed. It is an explosion of all your Senses. The beauty and the colour stays with you. The people are humble and gentle. This was a well organised and supported tour of Rajasthan. We felt well informed throughout and the pastoral care given to fellow travellers on the tour who succumbed to illness was second to none. I would recommned it to anyone.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being part of the camel fair at the end of the first week. It will never leave my head or my heart. You were in the "bowels of India" and privileged to be part of this event.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We could not have wished for anyone better. So lucky to have "Moon" looking after us! He was a super star. the driver Amid and Sammy were amazing and never let us down.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Dont give it a second thought .. book. if you have respiratory problems then it may not be a good time of the year to go as the air pollution is high, with fog hanging about in the morning and evening.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    thanks for this opportunity.
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Sandra Thompson

    You won’t be disappointed t

    This is an incredible trip. The group size of 9 was perfect. We stayed in amazing hotels, each one different from the last. Organisation was impeccable. I was concerned about the travel distances but the coach was extremely comfortable and there was so much to see it was not a problem. We saw all the promised sights with local guides and many unexpected extras such as a cooking lesson and a Bollywood movie. I can’t recommend this trip highly enough

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Taj Mahal. Unforgettable

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Could not have been better. Very friendly guide, made sure we had the perfect holiday

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Ladies need to keep shoulders and knees covered so pack accordingly
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Sandra Thompson

    You won’t be disappointed t

    This is an incredible trip. The group size of 9 was perfect. We stayed in amazing hotels, each one different from the last. Organisation was impeccable. I was concerned about the travel distances but the coach was extremely comfortable and there was so much to see it was not a problem. We saw all the promised sights with local guides and many unexpected extras such as a cooking lesson and a Bollywood movie. I can’t recommend this trip highly enough

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Taj Mahal. Unforgettable

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Could not have been better. Very friendly guide, made sure we had the perfect holiday

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Ladies need to keep shoulders and knees covered so pack accordingly
  • Reviewed November 2018
    David Wade

    Our first Visit to India

    We had some concerns to start with about our visit to India. We were anticipating being assailed by beggars at every step but were pleasantly surprised that this was not the case. We were riveted by the noise, the movements and the colours which was a lot more than we expected but ever so exciting. As premium travellers, we stayed in the most stunning hotels and locations, some palaces and forts. None of our small group suffered from Delhi belly in spite of having our occasional lunches in roadside cafes. This can be put down to our group leader personally inspecting and quizzing the actual kitchens before giving his seal of approval.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Our leader took us for a walk in a very poor village and we had the privilege of coming across a wedding, groom on horseback on a very colourfully decorated horse. The music was very loud and joyous and the children wanted to shake our hands and have photographs taken with us. What stick in my memory are the friendliness and bright smiles. We were invited into someone's house/courtyard and shown her kitchen with spotless and shiny stainless steel utensils. Not forgetting the Taj Mahal naturally! and all the temples, forts and palaces. Two other eye openers were the train ride with the locals, and the visit to a rural school. We also had some hair-raising tuk tuk drives, more exciting than the big dipper!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ajay was utterly brilliant. He was very patient answering all our questions about religion, culture, language (we managed to learn a few hindi words) etc... In spite of my allergy to green and red chilli, Ajay managed to find me some very tasty curries. We all ate together and sometimes had our lunches in some roadside cafes, and as a testament to his care, none of us got delhi belly. The settings he chose for our evening meals were stunning. He went out of his way to make our holiday very enjoyable. Because of his care and obvious love of his country, I am now considering going to southern India for an other treat.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't take too many clothes! the hotels have an excellent laundry service at a very reasonable price. We have come back home with clean clothes! Take the normal precautions regarding ice cubes, hygiene etc... and you will avoid any upset.
  • Reviewed March 2018
    Susan Read

    Trip of a lifetime

    A two week experience which will inspire and live in your memory for years to come

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the Taj Mahal bathed in the softest of lights as day broke brought tears to my eyes. Moving closer and contrasting the pale marble against the dep and dynamic colours of the saris worn by Indian women was simply stunning

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Exceptional...a ‘one off’....but I do love a blue shirt!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If possible fly out a day or two before the trip starts in order to acclimatise and recover from any jet lag

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you like shopping, travel lightly with a large suitcase. Listen to your guide and follow his/ her advice.
  • Reviewed March 2018
    Stephen Smith

    Classic Rajasthan - including Holi Festival

    An absolutely super trip which gives the traveller a good introduction into Rajasthan. If you are interested in old palaces, hill forts and the exploits of the Maharajas prior to the arrival of the British then this could well be for you. You take in the sights, sounds, taste and yes, smell of northern India very little of which is unpleasant. The hotels used are of a good standard and vary between old palaces with plenty of character to modern, more clinical establishments. If you enjoy (British) Indian food then the real stuff will make your taste buds explode with delight. The food tends to pack flavour, not heat as per the Indian Restaurants in the UK. I use to always go for meat dishes but being a predominantly Hindu faith country there is a greater selection of vegetarian dishes on offer and they are wonderful - even dahl. The most important thing to remember is that this is India. Keep an open mind and be patient.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Holi Festival is wonderful bit of fun but you are going to get covered in coloured powder - and some will not come out of your clothes! Our guide Ajay took use to a family friendly temple event where there were young children and then onto an official event located in a park area. Both were safe and had a very friendly atmosphere. It is not recommended that you 'play' with the locals as anything goes. In contrast a sterile hotel event where they provide white coveralls and loud 'bangin music' bears little resemblance to the real thing. Go in old clothes and expect to throw all or most of them away afterwards. Ladies, don't wear expensive underwear the coloured powder gets everywhere especially if you are wearing a low necklinedue to the heat. Blond hair is unusual in India so this atracts colour. Expect to get covered (sunglasses are useful in keeping some or most out of the eyes). Protect your photographic equipment but most of all enter into this with open eyes and accept it for what it is. A very friendly and colourful event which you hopefully should treasure for years.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ajay Gupter is one of the best guides we have ever had on holiday. His English is excellent, he projects his voice making it easier to hear and understand him in a noisy environment - and most places visited are! His sense of humour is very good and is happy to share a joke ( especially about British cricket and Geoffrey Boycott). Most important though are his leadership and tour management skills. He does try to please everyone all of the time and it is generally we tourists who make this hard for him if we start expecting to all do different things - at the same time. Ajay will go out of his way to massage the itinerary to ensure the maximum can be gained from the tour and will. Whilst shopping he will endeavour to watch over everyone's safety, financial and physical. Overall I would rate him as exceptional.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is India, not America, Caribbean, Far East or Mediterranean. The culture, safety and accommodation standards are different. Do not expect everything to be pristine, to work immediately or to happen quickly, if you want that then go somewhere else. That said India does have a wealth of culture, sights sounds and tastes to excite your palate. Here is a simple example: Some of the hotels are modern, comfortable, marbled floured with comfortable beds. Great, you'll get this anywhere in the world - I find them clinical, noisy (marble does echo) and uninteresting. However you will also stay in some fantastic old forts and palaces. Some are 350 years old, have bits falling off, not as comfortable a bed, dodgy electrics but are absolutely magical. Where else can you lie in your bed and see old pictures, patterns and frescos which where painted on the ceiling and walls to adorn your ex-harem room? Wi-Fi is available in most hotels but even in the modern ones it can be slow/limited. Live with it! Drinks may take slightly longer to arrive at the pool side or on the terrace - live with it. Go with an open mind and don't be in a rush. If you embrace the country for what it is then you will take the most away from this trip and look back with very fond memories.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would encourage Exodus and all would be travellers to keep up the drive towards sustainable and responsible tourism. The meeting of families and school children - arranged by Ajay was well worth it.
  • Reviewed March 2018
    Ros Newnham

    Fantastic historical tour with India insights

    Great tour of royal palaces and forts, staying in very comfortable hotels including former maharajahs palaces. Lots of opportunities to see local life and interesting school visit. Wildlife and flowers a bonus. Delicious, mostly cheap food.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Numerous but Fatehpur Sikri, Udaipur's Lake Pichola and City Palace, the Mandore Gardens, the Jodhpur Hotel's garden grounds & wildlife (Balsamand Garden Retreat), meeting the school children and their teachers stand out, as well as the wild animals, birds and flowers and Sitar players in garden restaurants.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader got us round most of the itinerary, with comfort stops on most drives every 2 hours. But I and several other group members were rather disappoimted that his explanation of the history of places was rather superficial. He also underestimated the drive time to Deogarh, (we arrived at 5pm, not 2.30pm, without road congestion) and the evening coach drive to the Delhi restaurant. And insisted we leave the hotel on the last day at 0400 for an 0650 flight as the airport would be crowded - it was deserted when we arrived! I also felt he was poor on practical aspects of some sites - eg where there were handrails to go up forts, whether you needed an umbrella for shade on the Lake Pichola's boat trip - if doing it in the middle of the day you DO for the boat queue and your time on the island. He also did 't give us an overview of the day's plan and likely timings at the start of each day, (unlike other tours /treks I've done.) Eg on one day we had an unexpected 2nd lunch stop. He didn't fully explain what would happen on the school visit, which was rather chaotic. But for this, I would have unreservedly given the tour a full 5*.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    1. May be obvious but check expected weather (eg it was 34 deg in Udaipur by 27/02/18 - so April is likely to be very hot) and check if there are any Festivals it would be worth extending your stay to experience. 2. Seriously consider flying out a day early, to recover from the journey. 3. Jet Airways seating is rather cramped and due to the return Group flight times (meaning you have to get up at 3.15 for an 0650 flight), then have a 4+ hour gap between flights at Mumbai and are travelling overall for 24 hours to Heathrow - check out other flight options. Eg visiting Mumbai, returning via Delhi and with other flight providers & their premium economy options 4. Take energy bars and buy bananas and oranges from stalls for pre breakfast visits, should lunch be late, to avoid eating at road side restaurants or when you don't want a large lunch. 5. Take sandals and walking shoes with vibram pattern soles (walking boots and poles not needed). Beware slipping on wet marble paths, where gardens have been watered. A small scarf to tie over your mouth and nose may be helpful against pollution (Delhi) and dust (on game drive). 6. Take a guidebook, eg DK, to read just before you visit a site, plus book/kindle & music for the drives. 7. Minimise clothes you take - washed out, they're dry by the middle of the night! Most ladies toilets at sites are 'sit down'. 8. All hotels have kettles and free wifi. 9. If staying in Delhi at the Jaypee Vasant Continental, just 3 minutes to the R the Basant Lok shopping precinct comes alive in the evening and includes fruit stalls, the 'Asia Kitchen' and another restaurant offering reasonably priced N Indian and Oriental food and the tiny 'Krips' eatery with the tastiest, cheapest food. (see TripAdviser for Basant Lok). The restaurant suggested by the Guide, '25-30 minutes' coach drive away, is actually 40+ minutes in Delhi's evening rush hour, PLUS return drive! If wanting a snack or meal outside mealtimes after flight arrival, 'BL's' McDonalds(!) offers indian alternatives and is far cheaper than the Hotel's 24 hour brasserie. 'BL' has an ajoining green area, relaxing to walk around, after a flight and see local life. 10. It was helpful to visit Delhi's Red Fort, with its audio guide, to understand forts' usual components, on our pre-tour day, (accessed via tuk tuk, metro & cycle rickshaw) 11. Deogarh is a good place to buy narrow, long silk scarves from shops near the hotel - we bargained to 200 Rupees Enjoy!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Exodus customer support was oustanding, especially re the Indian e-visa. The trip notes were mostly accurate, but where they say 'afternoon free' may well be 5pm plus. The school does not accept monetary donations due corruption risk. The coach has good air con, but only 17 seats, so if your Group has 16 members some will have to sit on the back seat, which has poor suspension - indian roads can be bumpy in places! Spending money - I spent just £350 (without drinking alchohol) and including £34 on gifts and an extra day & visits in Delhi & 2nd L. Pichola boat trip (300R by 2pm). Changing money - the guide recommended changing only £50 at the Delhi hotel. ATMs may have no money left, especially on Sundays.
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