A Portrait of India? Yes or No?

As my wife and I plan for our next Tauck trip, we have been considering India, but are getting mixed reactions reading old forum posts. The reviews all seem positive, but there seems to be more doubt cast in forum postings. We would appreciate thoughts from seasoned Tauck travelers (British, are you there?) as we are uncertain at this time. Other than Africa, which we have avoided because of prior back surgeries, we have done the most popular destinations and would appreciate honest views. Thanks!


  • Hello Sandman. We did the Spotlight on India tour because Mr B was still working and the Portrait was too long. This does mainly the “Golden Triangle” so although you would miss out on Mumbai, you would definitely see the important parts. The second half of the tour that becomes the ‘Portrait’ part is more leisurely and shows the wealthier but hottest part of India. As you are well traveled, I do not think you will have any problems and there is very little walking involved. If you are not sure, then why not do the shorter Spotlight?
    The sights will shock you and you will be glad of the fabulous hotels for refuge at the end of the days . We thoroughly enjoyed it although mentally it took us about a month to get over it. It is an unforgettable trip. We never found the food too spicy and anyway there are also Western choices. I do recommend going a couple of days to get over jet lag and because most flights arrive and leave in the middle of the night .
    The tour has changed a little since we took it, just be sure you are up to date with all your shots, oh and wear closed toe shoes you can wash when you get home. I just got a ‘this is what you were doing five years ago’ from Shutterfly, so it must have been five years ago if you want to find my posts. I hope Joyce Chew is reading this because I remember she had some good posts.
    We are still on the fence about Antarctica. Mr B was chatting to a former colleague who just got back from there. But anyway, we have four tours booked taking us to Sept 2020. Maybe we can go on one more but it won’t be Antarctica.
  • I strongly recommend the Portrait of India tour. Of our 14 trips to date, I would rank this in the top two. Fascinating country and spectacular sights. I would hate to miss Mumbai, so I recommend the longer trip. We stayed an extra day in Mumbai and took a private tour with another couple - well worth it. My wife was reluctant to go, she only went because it was high on my bucket list. She ended up loving the tour and raves about it more than I do. As British said, the hotels are fabulous - the Oberoi hotels are consistently ranked among the best in the world.

    The only negative is the long plane flights to get there and major jet lag.

    Really, truly, you should do this tour.
  • Thanks, British. You are a valuable resource of information. Would hope to meet up with you on a future tour Sandman

  • edited February 2019
    Out of 17 Tauck trips, Portrait of India is number two ( with K&T safari being #1, and Peru/ Galapagos, Grand Australia, etc. coming in close). We have a number of friends who did business in India and did not encourage us to take this trip. My husband went “ kicking and screaming” and, like Ken’s wife, ended up loving this trip. We were especially pleased we did the Portrait trip as the southern part is such a contrast to the northern part. Our walk through the village at Kumerakon (sp?) was a highlight, from the man doing his laundry in the river to the children, all pressed and polished, waiting for the tuk-tuk to take them to school. Walking through the outdoor markets in Udaipur and Mumbai gave us glimpses of all of the colorful products and foods India has to offer. The Taj Mahal is beautiful in photos, but when you get close you see the beauty of the symmetry, the raised marble and the inlaid stone work. India is a country of contrasts, and a whirl of activity ( think the Dhobi Ghat in Mumbai). We appreciated learning about the culture, seeing the beautiful architecture, and sampling all of the wonderful food. Our experience at Varanasi was very moving and meaningful, as we had the opportunity to set offerings into the Ganges in memory of those no longer with us. The religious rituals as well as the cremation process were fascinating. I found myself taking notes about customs, history and religion that I would incorporate into my travel journal each evening as I found everything so fascinating that I wanted to be sure to remember it. We did a number of side trips/ activities both on our own and through Tauck, and those only enhanced the trip for us. Our Tour Director and the local guides were outstanding. And, then there were all of the smiling faces that we encountered. Tauck has really nailed this trip!
  • Thanks Ken and Joycesw for your insightful comments. I value your thoughts and suggestions, but we are still on the fence. For some reason, like Joycesw, we were not enthusiastic about this trip, but hope to see more reactions to we can finally decide. As we age, we realize that there are not unlimited trips we will be able to do and want to be comfortable with what we chose to do. Thanks again for your insight. Sandman.
  • edited February 2019
    Samdman, would it be impolite to ask your age, do you have other health problems? If being on the fence is your only concern, I think in the Tauck bubble, as you have been to other countries, I think you will be fine. And you can’t always watch the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel to help you decide. And like I said, try the shorter tour. Many of the people on our tour were pooped out halfway through. I don’t know how it would have been for them on the longer tour. They were the ones who did not arrive early in the main.
  • Definitely do Portrait of India, from arriving at midnight, solo, to leaving Mumbai an absolutely wonderful tour with highlights every day. Varanasi amazing. Tauck look after everything, internal flights easy. It is fairly energetic, hot weather but experiences you’ll never forget.
  • HI All: I just booked this trip as a solo for January 2020. It looks amazing ! Did anyone have trouble with tummy and/or respiratory problems. Do I need to bring back-up food supplies ?

  • Nancilyn- We had a few people with some minor tummy upsets. Only one person had serious problems. She spoke English as a second language and I don't think she understood or followed the recommended precautions (I know for sure that she ordered ice in her drinks and ate off-tour food). Just eat the tour food and drink only bottled water (even for brushing your teeth) and you should be fine. Bringing back-up food supplies is unnecessary. How would you know when to eat it? As to respiratory problems, they shouldn't be an issue unless you already suffer from asthma, COPD or some such. While the air in the cities (especially Dehli) is pretty bad, it shouldn't be an issue for a healthy adult. Consult your doctor if you have an existing respiratory condition.

  • milmil
    edited June 2019

    I did the Spotlight on India , it was fabulous ! full of history and culture .... amazing trip, all the hotels are incredible (Leela P. amazing!) food was excellent.- I would do it all over again..... Did not go on Portrait of India tour because, first it was a little too long ( I work) and I was more interested on the cultural part of the trip which is up North - "The golden triangle". I'm from a tropical country so beaches are nothing new... Indian culture , traditions and monuments it's what wanted to see. Not one person got sick in my group, it all depends on your stomach, be careful with the water and NO!! street food..... also, I recommend to take 1 pill of Immodium every morning even if you don't need it. I took one while in India, Africa and other places in Asia... never a problem.
    Best advice ,do it! whether is the Spotlight or Portrait , do it. :))

  • I had the runs for half a day. To suggest taking Imodium daily is utterly ridiculous.
    Everyone, please consult your doctor about medicines you may take while in this location. Our tour director told us to consult her as soon as any issues developed and she would get a doctor for us. She herself had issues and had to get an IV one day.

  • Everyone I have talked with who has done the India trips has loved them. I flew for Air India for a year on a contract, and I was based in Bombay (Mumbai) and traveled frequently to Delhi, Madras (Chennai), Calcutta, and Goa. I am trying not to say anything too negative, but I think it is important to stay inside the Tauck ‘bubble’. If you wander off on your own, you will likely see the India that exists outside of the Tauck ‘bubble’. And, avoiding spicy food is not the answer. The spices kill the ‘bugs’. I ate a lot of Tandoori chicken, which is quite spicy and I never had a problem during my year in India. In spite of the rave revues I read here, India is not on my list. That being said, I think Tauck does a wonderful job of shepherding their flock to the beautiful places, and avoiding the squalor. If I had not already seen the other side, I might also be interested.

  • We saw plenty of squalor on the tour Sealord

  • Well, I guess you blew that one out of the water British. (;-). I spent two years in Southeast Asia ... I’m not going back. I spent a year in India ... I’m not going back. That is not to say that those places might be totally ‘charming’ to people who have not been there. Both places are normally hot or wet or delightfully sometimes both. There are beautiful sights to see in both. After I have been every place else in the world that I have not been, and I have been to most in twenty-five thousand hours of flying, I might consider India and Southeast Asia. But, I will probably go to Lake Tahoe instead. (;-)

  • P.S. I’ve never been to Antarctica ... but we are going in 2021. My seventh continent. Have you ever been to Kota Kinabalu?

  • Sealord - You have life experiences, having lived in India and SE Asia for extended periods, that 95% of Tauck travelers don't have. I would rank both the Portrait of India tour and the Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand tour just below the Kenya/Tanzania tour and the Peru/Galapagos tour. My criteria is based on uniqueness of wildlife and differences in the cultures. This is why the European tours we've taken, although fun and enjoyable, rank slightly lower. Note - we toured China and Australia/New Zealand prior to discovering Tauck. My rankings are limited to my Tauck experiences. Bottom line, I'd recommend both the Portrait of India tour and the Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand tour. I'm with you about desire to keep seeing new places before doing repeats.

  • Take your anti malaria pills if your (travel) doc recommends. Bring Imodium. Also bring a round of antibiotics (like a ZPac) in case you do get ‘hit’ with stomach ills. Your doctor can prescribe. Don’t drink or eat anything in the street and don’t eat or drink anywhere that the guide doesn’t recommend! I did not eat meat or fish until we got to the coast, where the fish was fresh. Ate Indian food and learned to order yogurt to help manage the spices. If you order ‘bland’ Indian food, it’s ‘blah’! Went in January 2018, and the weather was great — sometimes hot, not sweltering. Delhi was very polluted (but I didn’t like Delhi) - the rest okay.

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