A fantastic chance to explore one of the world's most remote and fascinating countries. Only open to tourists since 1974, Bhutan's philosophy of Gross National Happiness and entrenched Buddhism makes it a place like no other.
John Dexter – a writer for Australia’s Adelaide Review tried our brand new Incredible India Tour. We sat down with him to find out his thoughts.
The Incredible India tour was everything I had expected it to be and much, much more. It was definitely a change of pace from living in a regular city in Australia.
In terms of activities, I think my absolute favourite was the early morning bike tour through Old Delhi. We skipped most of the busy midday traffic, and saw what life was like in the wee hours for people of the city. It was bustling and vibrant even at 6am as we weaved through alleys and streets. People were doing things like cooking thousands of rotis, praying at the Jama Masjid mosque or just having a meal. We even went to a rooftop right in the centre of town to look out over the gigantic spice market at work.
I also really loved just driving along and watching the remarkable world that is India pass by and chatting to our driver about what we were looking at. Just about every time we looked out the window, there was something totally different to see, be it a colourful, noisy festival procession, people herding cattle alongside a highway, traffic slowing down because of an elephant or caravan of camels, dozens of huge brick kiln chimneys scattered across the landscape or huge flowing rivers, with people fishing or bathing in them.
Our accommodation was always comfortable and clean, and sometimes unforgettably unique. The staff in each hotel were very helpful and courteous too, while having the option between traditional Indian and continental breakfasts was great.
We had our own personal driver taking us between every city and the sights distant from each other within the cities. He was great, and had ice cold water waiting for us each time we came back to the van to move onto the next spot. A fun guy to chat with on the longer trips between cities, too.
The food was delightful and really interesting to try and explore. Each of the restaurants we went to were clean and served reasonably priced food with a good range of authentic Indian dishes to discover. They also varied from region to region, with some serving up specialties.
We also did some cooking classes with Indian families on our trip, which were really fantastic experiences. Not only eating brilliant home-cooked, loving meals, but learning some of the secrets to make a perfect chai or roti bread was unforgettable.
We went in the end of September, which is just at the end of the monsoon season, so things were hot and balmy for most of our time there. We enjoyed it since it didn’t rain once, the plant life was quite green and the rivers were running, but if you’re looking for cooler, drier weather, maybe head long in the Indian winter.
Our guides were awesome. We had a different guide in each city, so each one of them was a local and knew the spots they were taking us to and local culture top to bottom. Plenty of great anecdotes outside of the regular, stand-and-deliver-history-lessons type tourist guide. The only sad thing was when we had to say goodbye to them!
We really enjoyed the itinerary since it showed us the contemporary, current side of India alongside the really astonishing history. At the end of it all, it was hard to believe we had undertaken so many activities and visited so many wonderful places in just over a week.
I’d love to head along to India again and explore different parts of the country. I fell in love with Rajasthan, so it would be awesome to explore more of that remarkable state. We’d also love to head up into the mountains and explore some of the incredible landscapes up north.