Put India on your list!

In 1986 Barry Gorringe had me booked to fly into Bombay one morning on a winter’s day, it was unlike anything I’d ever seen, and it was only a day stopover but it had a lasting effect on me that I never forgot. People were quite literally sitting on the tarmac as our plane touched down on the runway whilst people casually removed themselves as though our arrival was but a minor inconvenience to their day.

Here I was again, Barry had me touching down in India 31 years later realising my dream to explore this fascinating country.

My husband’s words briefly rung in my ears…..”Don’t go wondering off on your own!” Well that didn’t last long, I was on my own in Dehli and my tour with Insider Journey’s wasn’t due to start for a few days. I was set to explore this remarkable vibrant city that groans under the weight of 20 million people and that’s the ones the government know about. I easily hired a driver for the day who took me on an extraordinary snapshot journey of his city. Aside from some irritation from touts constantly harassing tourists for business I felt completely safe.  As my days progressed I quickly learnt to move through the congested streets in India with confidence and a smile, I found people always happily engaging, a pure delight if you are open and ready to engage with them.

Barry provided me with the perfect small tour, Insider Journeys ‘Iconic India’ tour featuring the destinations I longed to see.  Varanasi is said to be one of the oldest cities in the world, with ancient alleyways wandering through to the cremation Ghats or take a privileged view of the pilgrims bathing rituals in the Holy waters of the Ganges. My journey lead me to a splendid trip to see tigers in the more remote Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh through to the hectic delights of train travel in the Indian countryside up to the superb Taj Mahal at dawn. Bouncing over rough dirt roads or zigzagging through pot holed main roads there was always something of interest to see. Winding our way through primitive villages we were amazed to see time had stood still, as if we had stepped back in time.

We were constantly on the move, Jaipur to Jodhpur, through to the stunning city of Udaipur on Lake Pichola we were travelling amongst Rajasthan’s picturesque cities and villages it was all there to explore. Mighty forts, striking palaces to congested cobbled bazaars with bright textiles, fragrant spices, ancient grains, colourful plentiful fruit and vegetables displayed so precisely, in dispersed with mangy dogs, wandering cows, calves and bulls moving freely through the streets and alleys. India’s bustling streets are a sight to behold and at times an assault to your senses. I had no preconceived ideas about India, some things can be confronting, but taken as a whole, India is a delight of sight and sound, it is what it is and certainly worth of your consideration as a destination.

All our needs were met by our western tour guide from Insider Journeys. We were a small cheerful group of 7 British and Australian travellers, I’d never been on a tour in the past and I naturally had reservations about travelling with a tour. I was unnecessarily concerned, we all got on terrifically well, in fact we shared all our meals together, we had such a wonderful time together sharing some of the most touching moments in this extraordinary country with all its diversity, and many times we witnessed triumph over tragedy, but we all came away wishes to return again. Our local guides were knowledgeable and engaging, our drivers were amazing considering India has the highest road deaths per capita in the world, the traffic in India is on its own a slight to behold. Thank you Insider Journeys but most of all place your trust in Travel Diversity, pack your bag and enjoy!

Francie MacLean

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