Updated: Oct 5
I visited India in October 2018 and it was my first time travelling solo outside of Europe. I was so incredibly excited, nervous of course, but overwhelmingly excited to spend the next month in India. I did the 15 day Delhi to Goa G Adventures trip and then spent another two weeks volunteering in Goa. In this review I will outline what I did in every place we visited and my thoughts on the trip as a whole.
The tour started in Delhi and although I wasn’t there long enough to explore the city properly, it really made me open my eyes to what living in India is like. It was hectic yet incredible, I’d never visited a country like it before. There were people everywhere, motorbikes behind you, in front of you, life was so fast paced and I loved just observing it all. After one night in Delhi which included the welcome meeting and dinner, we woke up early the next day to take a train to Agra.
Agra was one of my favourite destinations on the trip largely due to the Taj Mahal. Ever since I’ve developed a love of travelling and a desire to travel to all the wonders of the world, I’ve always wanted to visit the Taj Mahal. We spent the morning exploring Agra Fort before spending the late afternoon walking round and exploring the Taj Mahal. The experience was made even better by our visit being during the sunset which made the Taj Mahal even more beautiful than it usually is. I made sure to fully take in the experience and the surroundings as it’s not every day you get to walk around the Taj Mahal during sunset. We attracted quite a lot of attention at the Taj Mahal which was something none of us were used to! Several people asked for selfies and it felt like we were famous (a bizarre yet cool feeling!).
Jaipur is known as the ‘Pink City’ and is full of history, culture and adventure. As a group we took a walking tour of the city and we wondered past several street markers and vendors selling lots of different types of spices. We also tried a mango lassi which is a popular Indian yogurt based drink. We then walked up to a view point which gave us 360 degree views of the city and then went on a rickshaw ride to a local Bollywood cinema. Despite the film being in a language different to our own, the experience of watching a Bollywood film in India was something I’ll never forget. The cinema experience was so much more than it is in England, with everyone shouting and cheering when their favourite actor came on the screen. The next day, after a short tuktuk ride, we all went on a guided tour of Amber Fort. Amber Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the architecture is something I’ve never seen before – it was remarkable! It was also in Jaipur where I did something I have always dreamed of – a sunrise hot air balloon ride! It was such a special experience and I’ll never forget how peaceful it felt the glide over the outskirts of Jaipur and wave at the people below looking up in awe of what we were standing in. I remember never feeling fearful or scared, despite the great heights we were reaching, and that is due to the peaceful nature and silence of the experience.
After our time in Jaipur we visited Tordi Sagar, a small rural village south-west of Jaipur. It was so different to India’s busy cities and it was great to experience rural life in India. During our time in the local village we went on a guided walking tour and met many of the local people who showed us their homes and work that they do around the village. We also played a game of cricket which was something I was desperate to do as I am a cricket lover having played since I was very young. Cricket is so popular in India and is a massive aspect of Indian life which was why I was so keen to play out there. As we headed into the evening we went on a sunset jeep safari to the sand dunes. After a steep climb up to the top we all enjoyed a beer whilst watching the sunset. India’s sunsets are the best I’ve ever seen! After sunset we headed back to our accommodation and enjoyed some dinner and even got some henna tattoos!
Pushkar is India’s holy city and a pilgrimage site for Hindus and Sikhs. On arriving in Pushkar we went on an orientation walk around the city which included a visit to the lake. The lake is very significant as Brahma is believed to have built the lake by combining the waters of some Hindu holy sites. The Pushkar Lake is one of the most prominent spots of pilgrimage. Early the next morning, after a 4am wake up call, I decided to climb to the hilltop Savitri Temple to catch the sunrise. Despite not being a morning person I am so glad that I decided to go and would definitely recommend it to those going on the tour. The sunrise was over the Thar Desert mountains which was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever witnessed. We were also joined at temple by some monkeys which I did initially become fearful about but they were absolutely fine and kept their distance from us. For the rest of the day I went with some people from my group to explore the local markets and have a bite to eat. We ended up spending most of the day in a local restaurant using the free Wi-Fi – oops! In the evening I chose to do one of the optional activities which was a camel ride in the desert which led us to a local home where we had an evening of local food, dance and entertainment. We dressed in traditional Indian clothing and ate a variety of local, authentic food and were treated to some traditional dance and fire blowing!
We continued our journey south to Udaipur – named the Venice of the East and known as India’s most romantic city. After the orientation walk we all took a boat ride on Lake Pichola which was so relaxing and the surroundings were breath-taking. The next day most of our group took an art class which was fun despite my awful art ability! Some of the group also opted for a tarot reading session too. There was also an option to visit the hotel where The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was filmed. We all jumped at the opportunity the visit the hotel. On arrival we watched the first film and then were taken on a tour of the hotel. It was a great experience to see the set in which a very popular and successful film with many well-known actors was filmed. The owner of the hotel then took us around the local village where we got to meet many local families and some of them very kindly showed us into their homes. It was a very heart-warming experience to be personally invited into their homes and they were so welcoming and wanted to take photos with us all.
When I first looked at the itinerary for this trip I was particularly excited to visit Mumbai. We took an overnight train from Ahmedabad to Mumbai which was another aspect of the trip that I was looking forward to experiencing. On our first day in Mumbai we all decided to take a guided tour around the city. We all split up into several taxis and were taken to all the key landmarks in the city including the Gateway of India. We were also taken to Dharavi which is considered to be one of India’s largest slums. I had learnt about Dharavi at school and never thought I’d get to see it with my own eyes. I’ll always remember learning about their strong community spirit and how happy they are despite the poverty they are living in. There are huge social and economic disparities in Mumbai as just twenty minutes down the road from Dharavi is the house of India’s richest man. The house (which looks more like a hotel) is worth £630m. Mumbai is such a beautiful city and the tour allowed me to get an in-depth experience of life in the city. In the evening we got to experience Mumbai’s night life and we spent the evening at a local restaurant/bar which included some dancing with the locals!
The final destination on the trip was Goa. We took a short flight from Mumbai to Goa and spent the first day chilling in the pool at the hotel and at the beach for a beer during sunset. It was in Goa that we experienced the G Adventures ‘Big Night Out Moment’. The night out was so much fun and it ended the trip on such a high. We had a fantastic tour group and what I love the most is the diversity of the group as we came from countries all over the world. Goa is a super cool and fun place, fantastic for young travellers and a perfect place to end such an incredible tour.
Overall, I’d highly recommend this G Adventures tour as I got to visit so many places in India in just 15 days. The tour allows travelling in India to be stress-free and the tour leader (JD) was fantastic at looking after our group and ensuring we all had a good time! I felt safe at all times and the accommodation was always of a high standard. If you’re considering doing this tour, book it now, don’t wait any longer!