This is the third trip that we have taken that was arranged by Mario at Mondo Verde – Peru and Tanzania being the first two – and all three have been perfection. India was stunning, like we imagined it would be – and yet so down to earth as well. As we traveled all over the Rajasthan area, the sites and activities were incredibly varied – but the people we met were always amazing.
Some highlights of the trip:
Agra – what India trip would be complete without seeing the Taj Mahal? We’d seen it in pictures all our lives, but there is a magic to actually seeing it in person and walking through the grounds. If this isn’t the greatest love story I have ever heard, then I don’t know what would be – and the monument was an incredible last display of affection for a one true love. Simply gorgeous. (Stay at the Oberoi Amervilas, where all rooms have an amazing view of the Taj. It’s the only hotel with a view like this, and totally worth it.)
Ranthambore National Park – if you love nature, it’s worth your time to spend a couple days out at Ranthambore going on tiger photo safari. We totally lucked out in that we saw a huge male tiger on our very first outing, so all the rest was gravy after that. I consider that tiger encounter one of the highlights of the trip!
The cities – Jaipur and Jodhpur were both great, and we got to see beautiful old palaces and forts, plus check out the shopping at our leisure. We wound up in Jodhpur for the Hindu celebration of Holi, and the lovely heritage hotel that we were staying at had a fantastic party – the royal family of Jodhpur even attended. Not sure there’s a better way to celebrate than with lots of colored powder and the royal family – priceless. Make sure you do the zip line from the top of the fort!
Chhatra Sagar – I admit this was a place that I wasn’t sure about, and couldn’t even find it on a map – but so glad that Mario included it on the itinerary for several reasons. First, amazing relaxation in tents on a lake – just at the point of the trip when we needed a little down time. Second – totally all-inclusive, and they pampered us like we never expected (think wine at sunset by the lake and hot water bottles in your bed.) And third, the owners take you for an incredible tour of the little village nearby, in a way that you ordinarily don’t get to experience. We got to go into houses, watch people at work, and spend time in the primary school. This was a very primitive village, and diametrically opposed to what you see in the cities. We loved it and the people we met – especially the kids, who wanted to see all the pictures of themselves on the camera!
Jaiselmer – it’s a trek to get out there, and on the way I wondered why we did it. But then we arrived and I understood. About 50 miles from the Pakistan border and out in the desert, Jaiselmer is a walled town that has stood for centuries.It’s fun to walk around within the fort and explore, but the best part was the camel trek at sundown – not to be missed.
Throughout the entire trip, we were taken great care of by our guides and drivers, as well as Mario’s team in India. The hotels that we chose were honestly perfection, and spanned the spectrum from opulence to converted heritage palaces to luxury tents – which is exactly what we wanted. Even when our flight back to Delhi from the desert was delayed, we straggled into this luxurious hotel (reeking of camel) to be told that they had upgraded us to a fantastic suite to make our final night in India better, at the request of Mondo Verde. I can’t imagine better service.
If you have ever dreamed of seeing India – go. You’ll love it. And you can’t plan a better trip than what we experienced with Mario and team.
Karen, Scott and Lisa
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Images belong to Explora Lodges
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