We found India to be extremely affordable on the South Africa rand, as often travelling is so expensive once you do the exchange rate sums. So we decided to add on a few days to make our trip a little longer. We also bought this trip through On The Go, when there were specials on Travelstart.
Learnings? Don’t choose the cheapest airline as its cheap for a reason.. We travelled on Ethiopian Airway to Delhi, stopping in Addis Ababa for a few hours. Horrendous airport, with lots of mozzies (thankfully we had our Peaceful Sleep with us) and no seats so we sat on the dirty floor for the 4 hours we had to wait until our flight. Longest two hours of my life. Plus it was the middle of the night so you can imagine how grumpy I was. The aero plane we flew on didn’t have tv’s and was so small, like a normal internal flight plane – like you were flying Kulula for example. Food was also not great – and for the first time in my life, I got airsickness and was vomiting in the plane and passed out walking to the loo to vomit again. Lovely. Thankfully there were lovely passengers waiting for the loo too that picked me up and held me till I came to. My boyfriend? Slept through the whole thing..!
So we arrived in Delhi, and our tour company had someone to collect us and take us the hour long trip to the hotel. It was early morning and traffic was hectic! You will always hear about the traffic in India and yes, it is really as crazy as people say it is. No exaggerations. Cars, buses, scooters, rickshaws and people.
Please remember, to avoid Delhi Belly, don’t drink water from the tap or ice provided from restaurants etc. ask for a sealed bottle of water. Use the complimentary bottled water in your hotel room to brush your teeth. Keep hydrated, its hot in India!
We ventured out to a local mall, taking the metro there. It’s amazing you can be half way around the world and there is still a Jamie’s Italian restaurant and Spar to buy groceries. We had dinner at the mall and then early to bed.
On the morning of day two, the Welcome Meeting took place and we met the wonderful great of ladies and gents that we were going to travel with for the next few days. We left the hotel in our lovely air conditioned bus and went to enjoy a full day sightseeing tour of Old and New Delhi, taking in Humayun’s Tomb, Jama Masjid – India’s oldest and largest mosque and Raj Ghat – the site of Gandhi’s cremation in Old Delhi, and in New Delhi Rajpath and India Gate. That night we enjoyed a group dinner at our hotel.
Next day we left Delhi early and headed to Agra, the erstwhile capital of the Mughal empire. Our first stop here was the Taj Mahal. It was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz. What a labour of love this was! Was very busy but WOW. You have to wear this little booties they give you when you walk around the Taj Mahal so you do not ruin or destroy the marble floors.
Bright and early the next morning we visited the Red Fort. This was an absolute highlight! So very beautiful.
We then started our journey to Karauli, which was a princely state of India from 1348 until 1949. We spend the night at the beautiful Palace Bhanwar Vilas, which is the home of the current Maharaja and Maharani of Karauli. The hotel was awesome, really felt like we were on a movie set!
The next morning we walked around the local town, untouched by tourism and so beautiful to just see the daily lives of the locals.
Then we drove on to Jaipur, the vibrant capital of Rajasthan. The rest of the day was free so we spent it shopping and looking at local handicrafts. Cotton, batiks, silk carpets magnificent jewellery – we ordered jewellery (hand picked the stones and design) and was made and delivered to the hotel same day!
The following day we travelled beyond Jaipur to the 16th century Amber Fort, and then in the afternoon, we went to Jantar Mantar – an old observatory.
The next morning we drove back to Delhi. We got back to the hotel and had free time, and that signaled the end of the tour. We decided to stay on for another day to explore a little more, before flying back home.
We spent the next day sight seeing at our leisure. We went shopping and went to the beautiful botanical gardens where we bird watched and enjoyed the outdoors. We went out for a lovely dinner and then off we went to catch our 2am flight back to SA! We bought the cheapest tickets we could find to India and that was a bad move – we flew Air Kenya and it was not great.. the food was awful, the airport was awful, the flight times were awful – nothing good to say about it so rather pay the extra and fly with a reputable airline with onboard entertainment and decent airports.
This was the tour we did: https://www.onthegotours.com/India/Taj-Express-8-days#itinerary
We were lucky enough to buy a special so got 2 for the price of 1 ie R13,950 for both of us! So on top of that, we needed to buy our flights and then pay for the extras mentioned on the itinerary on the website ie: Some meals, a lump some for entrance fees and for tips. The tour company collects this money from you on the first day and then you don’t have to worry about tipping (for bell boys, bus driver etc) and pays all entrance fees etc so you don’t have to queue!
We found the trip very reasonable, even with the South African rand conversion, and would highly recommend it.
For more photos of our trip, look at my previous article here!
And for my tips for travelling in India, click here.