“A superb 16 day tour, traveling in a small group and fully guided throughout, of North India’s cultural and spiritual highlights. ”
Amritsar | Golden Temple or Sri Harmandir Sahib | Pragpur | Dharamsala and McLeod Ganj | Norbulingka Institute of Tibetan Culture | Palampur | Mandi | Shimla | Toy train to 'Toy Train' to Kalka | Agra | Itmad-Ud-Daulah | Fatehpur Sikri | Agra Fort | Taj Mahal | Delhi
Please feel free to email the Help Desk team if you need any advice on your vacation plans. We're always happy to help!
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, traveling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week vacation, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.
The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travelers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.
We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.
Make the most of your vacation time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!
Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travelers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your vacation.
Solo travelers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those traveling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.
Less confident travelers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travelers their own room.
“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.
“The accommodation will be basic” Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.
“I won’t like the other travelers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.
“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson
Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando
Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travelers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.
Responsible tourism: India tour, mountains, temples & hillstations
Accommodation & Meals: The accommodation for this trip is a mixture of hotels and you will notice that our hotels employ locally and use local produce from markets in the area wherever possible. The hotels are also waste and energy conscious and have their own policies like asking guests to turn off the power when leaving a room in order to save electricity. Where meals are not supplied, our group leaders always encourage people to try local restaurants and street food vendors. They can make recommendations which will help boost small businesses and celebrate local specialties- for example, Amritsar is a great place to try Lassi (Yogurt Drink) , Faluda (Ice cream), Aloo Paratha's, Samosa's and Chai. One of the hotels is family run, so clients can even walk into the kitchen and see how meals are prepared.
Charity For years we have been involved in campaigning for tiger conservation in Bandhavgarh. In late summer 2014 we teamed up with The Corbett Foundation, an Indian charity dedicated to conservation-oriented research. They have proved instrumental in enabling us to get the funds to where they are needed. Through this we have now completed the building of a community hall at Tala Village, solar pumps in the park for wildlife and staff in the dry season, bio gas plants and smart stoves for villagers and provided the salary for 2 full time teachers at the government school. Our work in India continues to be of great significance and most recently we have been able to purchase a 4 wheel drive medical vehicle and pay for outreach medical support.
Local Craft & Culture: There are several opportunities to support local people and their crafts throughout this tour by buying handmade products and souvenirs. In Dharamshala, we visit the Norbulinka Institute of Tibetan Culture, where Tibetan refugees are provided with training, education and employment. Here we stop by different workshops where students are learning Thangka painting, wood and bronze statue making, carving etc. At the end of the tour clients can purchase items manufactured in the Institute, which provides a huge support to the initiative and its students.
Community: Our Himalayan Community Support Projects have been helping people in the Markha Valley, Ladakh since the floods in 2006, when we helped people rebuild homes. Since then we have been involved with the local women’s groups and Youth Organisation for the Conservation and Preservation of the Hems National Park in building and running a successful Eco Café. The focus is using only locally made or organic produce and eliminating the plastic bottles littered around the Valley with the use of a UV water filter for trekkers. The Ladakhi women have been trained in needle and flat felting in order to make and sell felt snow leopards, ibex and blue sheep as souvenirs. This has had great economic, social and environmental benefit for the area.
Reviews of India tour, mountains, temples & hillstations
You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations.
I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
It was OK
A bit disappointing really
Reviewed on 07 Apr 2017 by Linda Godfrey
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?
As to be expected it was the Golden Temple and the Taj Mahal, but we really loved the amazing scenery in Himachal Pradesh, we hadn't expected it to be so beautiful and awe inspiring. We had some stunning views from our hotel rooms. Our walk round Andretta was particularly good, just a pity the start was delayed so we arrived back I the dark.
2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?
Let them know the temperatures are perfect for walking, take a kettle and teabags, ask about footware before you set out on a walk, we often found we were in sandles when trainers would have been more suitable and make sure you use plenty of insect repellent when visiting the Taj Mahal at dawn.
3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
We always chose small family run hotels or B&Bs ourselves so on the whole we were very happy with the accommodation, though the hotel at Pinjore was the exception, it was poorly run and very dirty, we had to ask for sheets and make up our own beds with undersized sheets. We always refill our own water bottles so we were pleased to able to do this. We tried to buy gifts from local organisations. We were interested to find out how people live. We were appalled by the piles of rubbish in Garli.
4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?
We had an excellent time thanks to the efforts of our local guide who did his best to make it into the walking vacation we wanted, luckily the other couple were of the same mind! It was nice to get out into the countryside as well as visit the more popular sites. I can see why so many Indians vacation in Himachal Pradesh, we were really glad we had the opportunity to follow their example.
Read the operator's response here:
Dear Linda, Firstly, thank you for your comments, we are delighted that overall you had a great trip. We would like to thank you for your feedback regarding the hotel in Pinjore. We are investigating the issues here and working with the hotel to improve the issues of cleanliness and service. We believe in firstly trying to work with our accommodation providers so that a better understanding of tourist’s requirements are gained.
If this is not fruitful however, we will look for alternatives so it is good for us to be aware of any issues. We are delighted that you were happy with the provision of fresh drinking water on the trip. This has been a new initiative for 2017 and the amount of waste reduction already achieved has been superb. We welcome travelers such as yourself who understand the importance of such an initiative.
We do hope that this explanation provides an adequate response to your review and offers you reassurance that we are continuously working on ensuring our trips are as responsible as possible. We hope to welcome you back to India one day.