Change of Itinerary for 2016

This is for those of you who have been on this tour. We are signed up for a January 2016 tour, and Tauck has just finalized the itinerary. I am personally disappointed to see that they have eliminated the Khajuraho/Orchha piece. They have added an additional night in Udaipur with an optional (extra cost) balloon ride. I am very happy with the balloon ride and the extra night in Udaipur but was looking forward to Khajuraho. What say you, past travelers? Was the plane, bus, train just too complicated to go from Varanasi and/or do you feel that Khajuraho was not really worth the complicated travel day?? I have to believe (after 13 trips) that those "Hope & Trust Cards" reflected a discontent with that piece. Interestingly enough, the base price actually dropped. Go figure! Now if they could just figure a way to incorporate Jaisalmer into this tour, I would be a happy camper!! I've checked that out and the only "easy" way is on the Palace Train (repeating much of the Tauck tour) or an extension from A & K (shuush! Don't let Tauck know I checked that out!!!) from Mumbai for much longer (and, more money) than we want to spend there.

Comments

  • edited April 2015
    Joyce, we did the shorter Spotlight on INDIA tour just fourteen months ago that covers exactly the same territory but then finishes in Udaipur. I am so sorry the new tour eliminates Khajuraho and Orchha because they were both fabulous places to see and I think not to be missed. The only thing I can think of about the changes are because the roads were even more congested than maybe usual that day, the tour director was certainly really agitated.We only just made it in time to the station to catch the train--- but maybe that was not unusual, maybe it was happening a lot, maybe sometimes the train was missed. Also a shame because you will also miss out on the iconic scenery of an Indian train station, the porters scurrying about with suitcases on their heads, the rats running along the tracks, all the people, it was fun! We had enough time to see everything in Udaipur without requiring an extra day there, the additional things you get to do there seem quite lame in comparison to seeing K and O. However having said that, this is about the only time my husband felt the need to write to Tauck to expand on our disappointment in Udaipur---our Day to day documentation that we were given when we ARRIVED in India stated that on the last day in Udaipur we would 'Enjoy the morning at leisure in your hotel enjoying all it's facilities' Instead we had to be up to leave the hotel for an early flight back to Delhi where we were basically marooned in a hotel near the airport with few things to do there until our flights that departed about 3am at night. The tour director left early evening for a flight and we all remained in the hotel. My husband expressed disappointment in not being able to enjoy that fabulous Udaipur hotel and of course it meant we had all been up for almost 24 hours before we even got onto the planes for our long flights home, not good! Tauck did call me and offered quite a generous refund which we had not asked for, but it was grateully accepted and of course used for our next booking.
    We loved experiencing India but it took quite some time to process when we returned home. I think I wrote some of the most powerful pieces I have ever written about that trip for my personal photojournal. A good friend of mine from England visited Northern India and Himalayas area two months ago, she did a private tour with one other girlfriend. We have emailed, she talks about driving through pretty little villages, yikes I must have missed seeing those, all we saw were half built homes and women sweeping up piles of dust in between the cow patties they had made drying in the sun and the piles of trash everywhere, oh and one of my constant scenes, men peeing in the streets at every turn. She obviously did not go to Varanasi either, that place will never be forgotten for us. We are going to talk soon, must compare notes more thoroughly. Hope someone else who might shed a different light on the changes sees your posting, I would love to know why the change too.
  • Thank you so much, British! Looking forward to what others have to say about this piece being eliminated. I am not sure why Tauck sometimes makes certain changes. When we took the Grand Australia/NZ trip, we stayed at Silky Oaks in Queensland, which we loved, as did everyone else on our trip. Then it was eliminated from the itinerary for a few years, and now I see it is back again. When we did the Black Sea to Prague riverboat tour, we stayed at the Marriott in Bucharest and wrote that it was in the middle of nowhere and, while a nice hotel, the far-out location made it difficult to enjoy Bucharest. (We were told that Tauck moved from a more centrally located hotel because the Viking Cruise folks were staying there and crowding up the breakfast buffet!!). I notice that that is still the hotel of choice in Bucharest, so forget those Hope & Trust suggestions! Perhaps those who like the riverboat cruises do not like to wander far from the hotel and are not as concerned with location??? Which brings up another point about the type of travelers you meet on the different types of trips...I guess that is an entirely different topic of discussion. A funny story about that is our TD on Grand Aus/NZ saying she liked that particular tour as it attracted a more "rugged" sort. That didn't make sense until we met up with a Tauck group coming off the Australian cruise tour at Tjapukai Cultural Center near Cairns. They were neatly pressed, coiffed and floated in on clouds of perfume and aftershave. Us...? Not so much!! It was a real, "Ah, Ha" moment!
  • Cruises have never appealed to us. Friends who are like minded went on a cruise a couple of years ago. I decided to see how they thought it was because that might reflect what we might think. They did not care for it, so we still have not taken one. For example, I do not get the point of the new Australia and Japan cruises, I guess it keeps the standard of food and accommodation the same and increases the number of people who can go, but you miss so much not being in the thick of it!
  • Hi Joyce,
    We are looking at the Jan 14 2016 departure(small group) and have also been comparing 2015 to 2016 tours. Not familiar at all with India. What is the extra cost of the baloon ride? Surprised that is extra, as we have been in several other trips with Baloon rides included.
    When are you booked
  • Balloon rides are quite often an extra on a Tauck tour. For those who know nothing about balloons, it is weather dependent, that is, it can't be too windy. And the worse part, you have to get up about 4am to do it. Took the balloon on the Tanzania safari but on the Kenya and Tanzania tour it was cancelled two mornings running, yawn!
  • British wrote:
    Cruises have never appealed to us. Friends who are like minded went on a cruise a couple of years ago. I decided to see how they thought it was because that might reflect what we might think. They did not care for it, so we still have not taken one. For example, I do not get the point of the new Australia and Japan cruises, I guess it keeps the standard of food and accommodation the same and increases the number of people who can go, but you miss so much not being in the thick of it!
    I wondered about this trip, too. From the point of itinerary benefits, I would definitely praise the addition of the NZ South Island destinations. For Australia, the fleeting glance of Tasmania really does show off a secret gem. The flight excursion to Cairns is much the same as including a trip to Disneyland for a school holiday treat from Australia to LA for the kids. You have to include the sweeties (candy) for the fun factor, don't you!

    You know that I generally feel that Tauck's Antipodean offerings are superficial. To be fair, they do sell Australia & NZ as excellent "tasters" for a real trip. I know that so many US citizens are reluctant, on many levels, to go native to appreciate a travel destination in depth. That takes time and commitment and I many won't do that. But these Tasman cruises (the practitioners call it The Rock, because they rock and roll across the Tasman all season) are very popular. NZ is a very popular destination and if you can stomach the ditch why wouldn't you? I can see why Tauck would pick this well-established offering to add their special touches to. It is essentially a NZ cruise, with, depending on your direction, starting or ending points in Australia. As a small ship, part of a delightful line of specialist "destination" & "expedition" style ships, it's an attractive offering. And why wouldn't committed cruisers just adore it, darling! What's not to like if you are more committed to the frequent sailing miles and the life style experience than the destinations? Horses for courses, again.

    I can really understand why Tauck would want to have skin in this game. And again, this trip is another excellent amuse-bouche before le plat principal.

    Cheers,

    Jan
  • Hi Fernando,
    We are booked on the January7, 2016, tour. As of today (working on airfare with our travel agent) we are planning to arrive on the 6th at 1:30 AM! We are disappointed that the Khajuraho/Orchha piece has been eliminated. With that said, the extra time in Udaipur will be nice, and the balloon ride is a great addition. Actually the price is lower for the 2016 itinerary (I assume reflecting the elimination of those places reflecting that), and the extra price for the balloon ride ($240 pp, I believe) sort of makes this a wash. We have done several balloon rides (Napa, Australia, Africa) and love the experience. The ride was extra in Australia (Napa was done on our own as we live in the area) and Africa was included in the price of the tour. The Africa one was, by far, the very best, and we were thrilled the weather cooperated on that day! The early morning start is worth every sleepless moment! To experience the sunrise, then silently fly over the animals, the beautiful landscape, the Masai villages and then land among grazing wildebeests and zebras and have a "Fairmont Breakfast" with made-to-order omelets, mimosas and pastries awaiting us was phenomenal!
    Joyce
  • Hi Joyce,

    We took this tour in 2012. It was one of our very favorite trips. We did enjoy Khajuraho and Orchha and would have been sorry to miss them. I'm not sure everyone enjoyed them as much as we did. While enjoyable, they are definitely not the high points of the trip.

    That being said, I can see some advantages to the new itinerary. One downside to the tour was the amount of time spent waiting for planes and the train. So less time in traveling an more time in being somewhere would have been nice. Also, the hotel in Khajuraho is just OK (by Tauck standards - especially compared to the fabulous Oberoi properties). The additions in Udaipur sound good to me.

    It may also be that there were logistical or other problems (unknown to the guests) that led Tauck to make the changes.

    Regardless, I am sure you will have a great trip.
  • Thank you so much, Ken! That is just what I wanted to hear!!
  • Mr. B enjoyed taking all those photos of the naughty carvings way too much in Khajuraho. Hotels are the best available, so no, it was not an Oberoi, but perfectly adequate and as long as hotels are clean, they really are so less important on these type of tour and it was only for one night so as not to miss these incredible temples, wonderful vultures and flocks of parrots too. Also a wedding, mendi and walking through market stalls selling wedding related gifts. I'd rather be in the thick of it than in a sterile hotel even though I admit I enjoy them, we really are in hotels for very little time on these tours unless you take the time to arrive early or stay later for tours when you can enjoy a hotel more thoroughly. Our extra days prior to the tour at the Oberoi in Delhi, we were treated like royalty, even making regional Indian breakfasts just for us and the chef giving me his email so we could send for recipes any time.
    I still think the logistics was the rush to get the train in time, I never thought we spent time waiting for planes, but we will never know I guess. Joyce, you will miss those saucy carvings!
  • Yes, British, I am disappointed to miss these carvings. The internet version of 1000 Places to See Before you Die describes Khajuraho as "Erotic Tableaux in the Middle of Nowhere"! While I am lamenting the loss of "Erotic Tableaux," Tauck is probably breathing a sign of relief to get away from ..."the Middle of Nowhere"!!
  • It is a real pity that Tauck will delete Khajarao from the tour. For me, travelling last October, that was the highlight of the entire trip, especially when I returned early the following a.m. when the gate opened at 0630 (the hotel is just a 15-minute walk away), and had the site virtually to myself amid the fascinating temples. It is true that a long day's bus ride followed, but that too was interesting (except for an unfortunate accident that slowed things down), with the stop at Orcha, and it also provided our only opportunity on the tour to enjoy (??) a train ride - to Agra. Hopefully Tauck will reconsider its itinerary.
  • It is a real pity that Tauck will delete Khajarao from the tour. For me, travelling last October, that was the highlight of the entire trip, especially when I returned early the following a.m. when the gate opened at 0630 (the hotel is just a 15-minute walk away), and had the site virtually to myself amid the fascinating temples. It is true that a long day's bus ride followed, but that too was interesting (except for an unfortunate accident that slowed things down), with the stop at Orcha, and it also provided our only opportunity on the tour to enjoy (??) a train ride - to Agra. Hopefully Tauck will reconsider its itinerary.

    Yes. Exactly what my opinion was!
  • The travel from Varanasi to Khajuraho, then vehicles to Orcha and on to Agra was a long drag day. Khajuraho was very interesting. We had very little time in Orcha and were off to Agra by car as the train was running very late. Both Khajuraho and Orcha are very interesting. The travel on Indian roads was not like on US roads and was long and somewhat tedious but interesting. The Oberoi in Udaipur is a flagship property and very nice. We had enough time in Udaipur but extra time at that hotel would not be unwelcome. Most balloon flights are early AM. Early AM in India when we were there was dense fog. While I like balloon rides, its nice to see what's below you. I'm not sure what will be visible. On our trip it was rainy and foggy for the Taj. It was hidden from the hotel and the photos we took at the Taj were ethereal but .........

    I suspect that most of the 2015 tours had problems on that Khajuraho/Orcha leg. That may be why it was dropped. Missing those two places is unfortunate. I'm personally glad we saw what we did albeit I didn't love the travel day from Khajuraho to Orcha to Agra.

  • edited April 2015
    Isn't the whole reason we bother to travel BECAUSE it will not be the same as the U.S. I found the so called long day of travel absolutely wonderful passing all the sites that are so different from home. Quite frankly the roads here in the U.S. are so dreadful with pot holes that we often laugh and think how much better the roads are in Africa in comparison these days.
    My favorite day of our India tour was the one where we took the optional tour, gosh just now I forget the name, but only three people bothered or had the energy to do it, so my husband and I and the other solo traveller were transported in a limo and then a tuk tuk to the wonderful temple. When the road was too busy in the streets, the driver mounted the sidewalk to go around things, it was so awesome and the guide took expert photos of us, so we had plenty of great photos of us together with very well composed backgrounds. The three of us felt so sad that others missed this part. I think you mistook fog for pollution.
  • British: I had to chuckle at "mistook fog for pollution". I'm from LA, we're very familiar with smog, fog, vog and air you can see and taste. What we experienced in Delhi, Agra, and elsewhere there was AM fog. I must say we do appreciate our walks here where dog patties are much smaller than the cow patties there all over. India is a fascinating country. I agree with you that you really can't learn about the world unless you get out into it. If one doesn't get out of the U.S. and meet people elsewhere you really get a severely limited worldview. :)
  • Wow, I've never seen a dog pattie here in PA, don't you have to poop scoop there? Best wishes!
  • Well, the Khajuraho/Orcha stop elimination is a "done deal" and now I have a new concern...fog! Yikes! Wambli, we are from San Francisco (East Bay) so we KNOW fog!! What time of year were you there? I don't want to shell out $500 for a balloon ride and see nothing! I am starting to think I have too much to ponder and should just let the chips fall where they may! After 13 trips, I have rarely been disappointed by Tauck and don't see why this trip should be any different! So, we will happily "go with the flow!"
  • edited April 2015
    Joyce, you are a seasoned Tauck traveller and I guarantee you will not be disappointed with this tour. If you are like us, or rather like most of the people on our tour, the magnitude of what you see and experience just takes a long long time to recover from mentally when you get home. We met up with a couple from our tour several months later for dinner in New York and they said the same.
    Having discussed the 'fog' in Delhi with my husband, we are still of our personal opinion that it was from the huge piles of trash burning in the large open areas around the city. The burning of cow patties and the traffic that rivals LA. The air was quite yellow when we were there in February 2014 and we distinctly remember watching the huge numbers of vultures soaring in the skies but they were hard to see clearly because of the pollution. And of course Delhi is not near the coast.
    If you google Air Pollution in Delhi, as I did just now after I posted this, you can read all about it.
  • Hi: When we landed in Delhi Jan. 2015 there was dense Fog and the AM fog was present through Udaipur. There was some even in Mumbai near the end of the trip. I don't remember it being down south. With deference to 'British', there most certainly are clouds of smog and smoke also. In Varanasi, of course, its most impressive. I wouldn't worry much about the balloon ride, you'll be able to judge from the early AM skies you experience if you want to do it. If I recall the entry about it, the ride was in Udaipur and you'll likely have an AM or two there to make your decision. The Portrait of India trip is excellent and you needn't be concerned about it. If my experience with the Tauck TDs is general, you can take your TDs advice on things like the balloon ride and most of the other experiences in India. By way I have kids in the East Bay and the fog we saw in Delhi when we landed far outdid anything we've experienced either in the East Bay or Muir Beach(another kid).
    I am somewhat surprised that British has never seen a dog patty in Pa. If she meant Pennsylvania, I grew up and lived there till I moved to Ca. I certainly saw dog droppings in my travels around the Keystone state. In N.E. Pa. there still are coal fires burning underground though I only remember smoke rising from them around Honesdale in the Scranton area. Not sure other areas of Pa produce smog.
    Your comment about 'go with the flow' is right on.
  • Hi, Since I wrote my impressions of Delhi pollution, the next day I noticed a big on-line article about Delhi being the most polluted city on the planet, could not believe the co-incidence . Wambii, I live near Philly, still never been to Scranton but aware of the on -going underground fires. When I found out I was going to be living in the area, the first references I found and my old geography lessons reminded me of all the industry, steel and coal, I was quite nervous about it all, but times change. And, I guess if you can't hang a laundry line in our neighborhood, you sure as heck can't let your dog leave poop on the street, but instead I walk around my garden avoiding all the poop the deer leave behind after eating my flowers, oh, the sacrifices I have to make for calling Valley Forge my neighbor. I became quite a history buff of the local area on arrival because none of my American neighbors knew much, it's all so fascinating to think that dear old George Washington must have marched right by my street. You are certainly correct about listening to the Tauck guides about anything, on this trip in particular. It will just make the trip so much more enjoyable. Our poor guide had a couple of high maintenance guests and you could tell she was glad to be on her way back to the US after she had finished leading our tour. After going out of her way to do so many above and beyond things for some guests and not even get a thank you.
  • Well British you certainly live in a beautiful area. We lived in North Wales not far from the train station, not far from 309. Valley Forge is great and there's so much US history nearby or just a short drive by 'out west' standards. There is a lot of history up in the Wyoming Valley just south of Scranton but not many people are aware of that history. The state of 'Wyoming' was named for that Valley. If you've never been to either the Valley or the State, I recommend both. While the US lacks the length of history of a country like India, it doesn't lack for scenery to compete with anywhere. Enjoy the greenery around you. The draught in California has many of us exchanging our green lawns for cacti, hopefully we'll still be able to water ourselves.......
  • Already did and it disappeared quickly.

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