2 independent reviews for Central and Western India vacation, rural life

Reviews for Central and Western India vacation, rural life

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review 14 Nov 2023

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

My vacation took me quite literally off the beaten track (on an e-bike and on foot) where I was able to meet wonderful people, learn about their lives, see stunning wildlife, and get a unique and authentic sense of this part of rural India.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Sophie offers outstanding service, has an amazing knowledge and network and will really support you, so be daring and try things you might not normally try, for example, taking an overnight train instead of flying.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

My vacation benefited local people at every location, especially women. This included the extremely helpful female taxi driver in Mumbai, and all of the amazing staff at Sherghar tented camp and all of our other accommodation around Kanha. Most people seemed to visit Kandahar just to go on Tiger Safaris, but my vacation included visiting local communities and NGOs in addition to seeing the wildlife. During my two weeks stay I visited local womenís social enterprise Pashoo Pakshee for a wonderful workshop, and local NGO Earth Focus to learn about the balance between farming and conservation through education. Sophie encouraged me to take the train instead of an internal flight. I cycled miles around the tiger reserve on an E bike, instead of sitting in a car, and I saw so much more as a result (notable moments were being invited to attend a wedding when we stopped at the side of a road with the bikes, eating delicious snacks from village restaurants along the route, talking to people manufacturing bricks out of sand, and buying scarves in an extremely rural local market). At every opportunity, we tried to reduce our impact, be sensitive to the local environment, and support conservation. We even visited the local tree nursery set up to improve the lives of local tribal communities, and visited water conservation projects.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

It was superb. This was a very special and memorable vacation. I felt extremely lucky to have had such a wonderful experience. Sophie's well organised, thoughtful and sensitive approach gave me access way beyond the normal tourist experience. The bike tour was challenging and completely exhilarating but there was a lot of pampering included on the vacation as well. And I havenít even mentioned the tigers Ö I had the most spectacular sighting of a mother and cub, which lasted over 20 minutes and we were the only jeep in sight - thanks to the expertise of our guide. I met lovely people who were on the same trip, and I felt really welcomed by everyone. So all in all I thoroughly recommend it!

review 18 Jan 2020

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Early morning safaris at Kanha reserve (I saw several tigers and cubs and a mesmerising variety of birds, mammals, butterflies), and a fascinating guided nature walk through the forest to the tiger's den, while staying at the delightful Shergarh tented camp; a boat safari in the Sunderbans - crocodiles, storks, deer, monitor lizards, wild pigs, birds galore etc etc; a long walk with Sunny through the local villages around his beautiful Bhoramdeo Jungle Retreat, likewise walks and bike rides with various members of his amazing local team; sitting round their campfire on Christmas Eve; trips to markets; drinking chai just about everywhere, the noise of cowbells and monkey calls at night, meeting the local people, messing about with the gangs of children who seem to appear out of nowhere...

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

This was tailor made and wonderful and so my main tip would be to talk to Sophie, who runs the travel company in India. She is a rich source of local knowledge and, as I discovered, absolutely everyone knows her and values her good opinion; she's very popular and so you are very well looked after, under her mantel.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, at all stages local people were either running the show or integral. All the guides were local and various city walks etc were run by charities, which put the money back into the community. It definitely supported conservation. Tourists are necessary. On the other hand, it involved a lot of travel, flights, cars etc..

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

A remarkable three weeks and a beautiful mix of safari, villages, a couple of nights in Mumbai and, under my own steam, Kolkata. I loved this trip and am already dreaming of a return.

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