Subject: Trip Report
Finally the trip report! Apologies for taking so long to get round to this.
Firstly thank you very much for arranging a fantastic holiday for us. Everything went very smoothly and we enjoyed the holiday very much. Most importantly of all we saw tigers in the wild!
The arrangements at each destination and transfers were all very good. The guides were good, in particular, My Janesh in Delhi, Mr Mueen Khan in Agra and the guide in Mumbai - unfortunately I can't remember her name. Our driver for the first part of the trip, Umesh, was excellent. Unfortunately we don't know who his boss is - so we were not able to say how pleased we were with his services but if you can, we would appreciate it if you could inform his company how pleased we were with his driving.
The hotels were great - in particular the Rambagh Palace in Jaipur. We were quite pleased that we could spend an extra morning there (since Ranthambore was closed).
We were disappointed with Tiger Den - mainly because we had a bit of a disaster when we got there. We arrived after an overnight train journey (which, by the way was fine. It would have been a lot better if we could have had the 4 berth sleeping bit - instead of beng scattered around - but it was fine). Anyway when we got to the hotel they put us in the new "deluxe suites" - which were anything but deluxe! The buildings had obviously just been completed and smelled of wet paint, the floors were just concrete with some vinyl placed on it, it was freezing, and the rooms weren't connected to the generators so there was no electricity and no hot water come out of the shower (the room didn't have a bath).
I was horrified - and must confess burst into tears! After breakfast I met the the managing director (Shalendra?) and asked to be shown the rooms in the cottages which was infinitely better so we moved into those rooms. We had them in separate cottages for the first night and then next to each other for the next two nights. According to Jennie and Doug Palmer (who are also using you, I believe) the rooms were a mere foundation when they got there a few days before. They really were uninhabitable. If you send other clients there make sure you ask that they be placed in the old cottages. Once we were settled in the older rooms everything was okay. I did try to call you when we got there but my mobile phone didn't work and the receptionist - who I couldn't really communicate with- connected me to someone else! On the plus side our guide at Tiger Den was fantastic. The resort was completely packed (with some unfortuante people staying in the new rooms) and the park was very crowded too so our guide kept us away from the melee and we managed to see a tigress with her 3 cubs who were terrrified of cars. We were the only ones on our side of the road when we saw this. It was amazing.
I'm surprised at the difference in the standard of accomodation at the other parks (Ranthambore and Kanha) and Bandhavgahr. I see that you have another resort. Royal Tiger Resort, at Bandhavgahr on your web site. Is Tiger Den better than Royal Tiger Resort? Also I believe the new Taj resort, Mahua Kothi, opened in November. I'm sure that would be up to usual Taj standards. Although we did see the extremely large Taj vehicle several times in the park and according to our guide nobody on it had seen a tiger!
It was a pleasure to get to Kanha and the luxury Tuli Tiger Corridor tents. We were the only people in the tents on the first night and the solitude was real pleasure. Again our guide at Tuli, Inderjit, was really good. I'm not sure whether you asked for specific guides - and if you did, thank you, they were both excellent.
The other hotels were all great. As I told you on the phone, The Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai didn't have 2 sea-facing rooms so gave us the Neptune Suite instead which was fantastic.
So, all in all, it was a great holiday. The only disappointment was, as I mentioned before, not doing the trip the other way round - i.e. first to Mumbai, then Kanha and Bandhavgar and finally Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore and New Delhi. According to the guides the park always gets extremely busy between Christmas and New Year and this year was even worse. The worst effect is that all the animals keep away from the roads. There were no tiger shows on 2 of the days we were at Kanha and one at Bandhavgahr. The guides said the time to come back is a week after New Year. Everything quietens down after New Year and after about a week the animals start coming out again.
However we did see tigers - so we were happy with that. I think the parks must be really amazing places to visit when they are not so crowded so we shall have to make a return trip at some time!
I think the only other thing we would do differently is try to spend more time in the various places and even skip something out if we were short of time. Two reasons for this: firstly I'd forgotten that the kids do like doing nothing except sitting at the pool on their holidays and secondly I would have liked to have got more of a feel for some of the places. I would have liked to have spent more time in Delhi - I don't think I really got a feel for the place. The extra night in Agra was a real pleasure. It gave us a bit of time to relax between travelling and the kids really enjoyed the facilities at Amarvilas. I think everything would have been extremely tiring if we had gone to Ranthambore for 3 nights as planned.
Anyway, we had a great time and again thank you so much for arranging the holiday for us. Please don't hesitate to use us as references and I will certainly recommend your company to anyone I know coming to India.
Please give my regards to Manjeet and do keep in touch. I will take a look at your website from time to time and we will be back in India at some time in the future. We will be in touch then.