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Going on an organised tour around India is a pretty popular thing to do. WHY? Because India is huge! It can seem daunting to some travellers- the chaos, the size, the many places to visit in just one trip!
I have been travelling India independently and solo and I can tell you that it is very possible to do, however I am rich in time so I don’t have to rush, and I have travelled to a lot of places in Asia before so I feel like I have handled the chaos well.
If you want to travel to India and you’re on a tight timeframe, you don’t want to travel alone, or you just want to have a holiday and not have the stress of sorting things out (there is a lot of booking involved when travelling India independently) then going on a tour around India is a good option!
I wanted to be able to give you some ideas of the best tours around India so I asked some fellow bloggers and friends what tours of India they have done, what they thought and what they recommend. Here is what they said:
The Best Tours of India!
Who Went? What The Pho!
What Tour? Real South India Tour for 13 Days with Intrepid Travel (was Geckos Adventure when they did the tour.)
What Did They Think?
Our South India tour was with Geckos Adventures (18 – 35s) who are part of the Intrepid Group (now merged). It started in Trivandrum in the far south and finished in Goa. We enjoyed this tour but we actually missed the madness of North India. The South is far more chilled, plus the major Indian landmarks like the Taj Mahal and the Palace of Winds are all in the North. I think these are the things you want to see when you visit India.
The culture, food and languages of South India are also different to the North, so it is almost like visiting another country, so worth visiting we guess!
Anyway, the highlights of this trip included the beautiful Backwaters of Kerala, the chilled hippy beach town of Varkala, the epic rocky landscape of Hampi, and the parties in Goa. We were pleased with Geckos Adventures. They seemed organised and our tour guide Afshar was fantastic!
What The Pho have a Podcast and they did an episode about their South India Tour in Series 2, you can check it out here on their website! It will make you want to visit for sure!
Who Went? The Earth Travellers
What Tour? Epic India to Nepal for 20 Days with Intrepid Travel (was Geckos Adventure when they did the tour.)
What Did They Think?
In 2017 my partner Toby and I decided to go somewhere out of our comfort zone for our annual overseas holiday. Toby’s wishlist included hiking and wildlife spotting, while I preferred a more cultural approach to overseas travel. As an excellent compromise we decided on the Epic Nepal to India tour offered by Geckos Adventures, who are owned by Intrepid Travel as it had it all.
Our trip started with a view of Mount Everest thrusting up through the clouds as we started our decent into Kathmandu. Nepal is amazing, the people are so friendly and welcoming and the scenery was breathtaking. We did a three day hiking circuit in the Annapurna Ranges that tested my endurance but it was definitely worth it for the views of the snow capped ranges alone.
Pokhara and Chitwan National Park are Nepalese highlights of this tour. Pokhara is on the shores of a lake and, on a clear day, affords spectacular views of the Annapurna’s. Unfortunately, we did not spot any of the tigers that live in Chitwan National Park but there is a multitude of elephants, wild hogs, gharials and bird-life to find.
Heading into India, I was excited to learn more about the Hindu religion and India’s history. Floating on a boat down the Ganges River at sunset in Varanasi was probably the highlight of India for me. Listening to our tour leader’s tales of Hindu gods and goddesses and then making wishes over lighted candles to set afloat on the water was definitely a bucket list moment.
We visited the Red Fort and the Amber Fort (where a Bollywood movie was being filmed!) and the Taj Mahal of course. The Taj Mahal is one of those places that is not truly appreciated until it is seen in person. Pictures do not do it justice.
India is dirty, overcrowded and polluted but it seems to hold the essence of what it is to be human. It captures hearts through its history, architecture, religions and people. It is a destination all avid travellers will appreciate.
Who Went? Passports and Pixels
What Tour? Southern India for 15 Days with Intrepid Travels
What Did They Think?
Over Christmas 2016 I took Intrepid’s Southern India trip for two weeks around Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The trip starts in Kochi and takes in all the big-hitting sights of Southern India, including the Maharaja’s Palace in Mysore, the French-inspired town of Pondicherry, the jungles of Periyar and the idyllic Kerala backwaters. As someone who’s not a huge fan of Christmas, the idea of getting away from the miserable winter and the over-indulgence, and spending a couple of weeks exploring this beautiful and crazy country with a group of like-minded people, sounded perfect.
Things I loved about this trip: As a solo traveller I’m a huge fan of group travel. I love the fact that everything is organised for you, so you don’t have to plan anything or waste time getting lost, waiting for buses, or being ripped off. I’m also quite sociable and find travelling alone can be pretty lonely, so being in a group works well for me. I got lucky on this trip in that the group was a good mix of ages and backgrounds, and our guide, Tony, was super helpful and knowledgeable.
My favourite moments were taking the night train, floating gently along the Kerala backwaters in a houseboat, and experiencing Southern Indian hospitality in a traditional homestay.
Things I didn’t love: My main criticism of this particular trip was that it tried to do too much. Southern India is HUGE, so in order to be able to squeeze in all the highlights we had to spend hours and hours every day on the bus. Most places we only stayed one night, so it became a bit of a relentless routine of getting up early, spending 6 hours on the bus to get to the next location, spending a few hours looking at the main attraction, then dinner, sleep, and up again early to do it all again the next day.
If you’re a solo traveller, and especially if you don’t have much time, I’d definitely recommend group travel. It takes all the hassle out of the experience, which frees you up to just go with the flow and enjoy it. I’ve already booked my next trip, to Morocco at Christmas!
View Bella’s India posts here!
Who Went? Flora the Explorer
What Tour? Iconic India – Flora went on a 50 Day Trip but this seems not to be on sale anymore. The Iconic India tour is now 37 Days.
What Did They Think?
I went on an organised tour around India with Intrepid Travel which was seven weeks long — fifty days in total! We started in Mumbai and did a big loop around the north of the country, before moving through Rajasthan and the Golden Triangle, and then we eventually flew down to the south and visited places like Kerala, Chennai, Kolkata, Hampi, and Goa.
Travelling on an organised tour in India was a great idea for me at the time. I was nervous of travelling in India by myself as a woman, and although I planned to travel solo around India later I wanted to take the pressure off myself for my first weeks in the country.
The positive aspects of this trip were multiple. Intrepid always have quite small groups of travellers and I immediately got on with everyone in my group, which meant I had ready-made friends to explore with. Our guide was Indian and took care of researching, booking and directing us to our transport and accommodation, so I didn’t have to worry about organising any travel logistics and was free to simply enjoy what India had to offer.
The negatives of a group trip weren’t as obvious, but still bear mentioning. You’re likely to get sick in India, and on tours like this it’s not really possible to slow down or stop the itinerary. We visited twenty eight different locations during the seven week trip which meant staying in a different destination approximately every two nights – so there was no chance of spending four days in your sick bed if you contracted Delhi Belly!
Overall I think this trip gave me a somewhat rushed yet really fantastic overview of India. There were some destinations I’d have loved to spend more time in, but equally some places I’d never have found if they hadn’t been on the Intrepid itinerary.
Who Went? Vicky Flip Flop
What Tour? Golden Triangle Tour for 3 Days with Delhi Tourism
What Did They Think?
Who Went? Kat (Kat’s actually my friend and not a blogger but her Instagram is here and she loved her tour so much that I had to ask her to contribute!)
What Tour? Uncover India – Delhi to Goa for 15 Days with G Adventures.
What Did They Think?
Myself and my 5 friends did lots of research into tours – STA Travel, Intrepid Travel, G Adventures etc, we actually opted for a Black Friday deal with STA Travel due to the price (20% discount) and also how easy it was for each person to be responsible for their own payment, it later transpired that the actual trip to India was run by G Adventures anyway.
The Best part of the tour for me was the fact that it was all organised for us. I work a busy role in events and I just wouldn’t have had the time to do all the research but also it was so easy for a group of us. My highlight of the trip was the amount of culture we got to see and also to experience some real projects that G Adventures have funded such as visiting an Indian Family and cooking in their home, the work in some rural villages and supporting the development of a local hotel in Tordi Sagar.
Of course the Taj Mahal is a highlight too, a once in a lifetime opportunity but I have to admit I wasn’t impressed by the inside and the amount of litter from the shoe covers!
Out guide CP was amazing, I have a nut allergy which isn’t ideal in foreign countries but knowing I had a guide to check everything was so much more reassuring.
My lowlight if I had to pick one would be the camel rides. G Adventures told us they support this particular company as they help in reducing camels from poor conditions however I just didn’t get the feeling it was right to ride a camel for a few hours through the desert as a tourist and wasn’t needed on this trip. It was an experience to travel through the desert and pass some of the families and see different living conditions though.
This Organised Tour around India with G Adventures was my first ever backpacking trip and to see as much as possible in two weeks I would really recommend this tour. It’s still authentic and vert budget dries to give you a real taste of India!
Who is Going? Clare from Loving Living London
What Tour? Golden Triangle Classic For 8 Days with G Adventures.
Why Did She Choose This Tour?
My mum has been so keen to visit India for so long, but her mobility is not so great as she’s gotten older. Therefore we knew we would benefit from a tour to help take us about, even if there might still be a couple of things trickier for her to do. It also takes some of the pressure off me to organise everything for us as my mum would leave the finer details to me and I thought it might get a bit stressful otherwise! I have never been on a tour before as I generally like to wing it and see what happens, so this will be a first for me, however now I can feel at ease knowing that if mum needs to sit and rest, there’s probably going to be others needing to do the same in a group so she’ll always have company and someone else to look out for her.
I chose G Adventures because I was highly recommended them by a friend who had done a mother and daughter trip with them and loved it! I liked the fact that their tours were so reasonably priced and everything seemed really transparent. Everything is REALLY clear on their website, so you know fully how things are going to work, what’s included etc, and it just makes me feel assured that we are going to be taken care of.
They offer extras but they are not pushy with it- e.g. I said I wanted to book our flights ourselves, and that was that, no sale approach with them which is so so fab!
Our advisor always gets back to us quickly and initially you pay just a deposit and they give you a month to pay the rest, which is also super handy!
I loved reading these contributions from fellow travel bloggers and friends. I found it so nice to read about tours in India seen as this is something I have not yet experienced but I can see why it is a great way to travel India!
You may have also noticed that a lot of the tours are Intrepid, this is a total coincidence but I think it also shows that Intrepid are a great tour company to travel to India with!
Their groups are generally small with local guides and they have so many different tours on offer visiting so much of India!
For more information on India see my posts: