Thank you very much for guiding Sirje to work up such a wonderful trip. We loved it. We now are totally amazed that more people do not travel to India to “Explore India”. The accommodations, guides meals etc that you arranged were wonderful. We have great respect for the capabilities of Explore India and will be happy to (and already have) recommend that friends work with Explore India to develop their trip. Having a contact in Canada that one can work with and a team in India which can manage all the details is a wonderful concept. We even shared your contact info with some friends in the USA who are looking for a North American contact to help them design a trip like ours.
As a result of decades in management I am a strong believer in “continuous improvement” and so we would like to offer the following thoughts/observations that you might consider to make other people’s trips even better. We are not looking for reasons why things were not done the way we had anticipated but wanting to share our observations with you so that you can consider our thoughts when arranging future guests bookings.
On the trip, many things stood out as much better than expected but the biggest ones (in my mind) were:
1) Having arrived on Saturday afternoon and having the tour start on Monday morning. By the time we got to the hotel we were exhausted and so it was great to have a day to sleep in and “recharge the batteries” so that on Monday morning we were ready to tour.
2) Going to Darjeeling. I know it was “Plan B” and put in near the last minute but your team did a fabulous job and we still cannot get over what a wonderful place it was to visit. A special vote of thanks to the Mayfair hotel which was excellent (by the way, talking with other tourists, they ranked the Cedar Hotel as number 3 or 4 and felt it smelt of mold). I would highly recommend continuing to use the Mayfair as the first choice.
3) At Varanasi, your team inserted an evening “walk through the market streets of old Varanasi) before going and hiring a boat to cruise the Ganges and watch the evening ceremonies. The walk included being able to see the Islamic Mosque built on the site of a Hindu Temple and the “new” Hindu Temple. The evening boat ride was a highlight and a much better viewing platform than watching from the shore. We were a bit worried because the write up in our itinerary (from you) did not explicitly say to watch from a boat and we were worried that the guide was going to skip the boat and watch from the shore. We were so pleased that he got the boat (as he did the following morning per the plan). Khalid’s idea to put the walk into the late afternoon itinerary was wonderful.
4) Having a Private tour for the two of us was wonderful. We could ask the guides all the questions that we wanted and not worry about holding up the others on the tour. We could also pause for photos and not worry about falling behind.
5) The quality of the guides greatly exceeded our expectations. In every city/site, they were great. They generally had mastered the slower speech so that we could follow what they were saying and they took a time to help us keep the various historical rulers in order in our minds, even when it meant repeating something they had said before. In addition, the guides at Agra and Fatehpur Sikri were great photographers who showed us some new angles and tricks for taking photos with cell phone cameras.
6) The sites like Darjeeling, Sarnath (with the Ashok Capital), Fatehpur Sikri, the Amber fort and the Astronomical Observatory were all sites that we had never heard of but should be included in tourists plans for India.
7) Having Heera Singh as our driver for Delhi and most cities close by was wonderful. He was superb and in addition to being a great driver, was very interested in making sure that he did everything he could to make our trip the best possible. In 2017, Sirje would like to personalize a small gift for him that hopefully, someone can take over on one of their trips to India.
Again, I hope you understand that we had a wonderful trip, are very positive on the bookings that you and your team made, are already recommending that people talk with Explore India when planning their trip. I just wanted to give you some of our thoughts and observations.
Wishing you and your team the very best during the holidays and for 2017.