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13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
BUYER BEWARE! On my very recent trip, I found that Vantage’s EXOTIC INDIA, NEPAL & THE SACRID GANGES RIVER TOUR to be anything but exotic. These are the things you can expect: On the advertised 4 day, pre-tour Nepal ... Read More
BUYER BEWARE! On my very recent trip, I found that Vantage’s EXOTIC INDIA, NEPAL & THE SACRID GANGES RIVER TOUR to be anything but exotic. These are the things you can expect: On the advertised 4 day, pre-tour Nepal supplement, you will spend the better part of 2 days just traveling from Delhi to the hotel in Kathmandu and return to Delhi. Once there, due to an earthquake in 2015 and the lack funds for quick rebuilding, there was the worst pollution imaginable. There is thick dust everywhere; the city is like a giant construction site. Most of the historic buildings we had come to see had either been destroyed, were being propped up or slowly worked on. Many locals wear face masks. After a day or so, most everyone on our bus was wheezing and coughing. Roads were broken down and traveling from one place to another was on dirt roads, slow and intolerable. After Nepal we arrived in Delhi. Pollution here was also extremely bad and the poverty was worse. Families were sleeping in the streets covered with blankets during the day while they huddled together over fires to keep warm at night. The streets were toilets for the men. Things were getting worse on our bus as people were getting sicker. We were labeled the ‘hospital bus’. The advertised dinner visit with a local family turned out to be a meal, on an outdoor patio of a Maharaja’s house, on a cold and windy evening, with about 40 of my fellow travelers; not what I expected. I saw very little of Delhi because travel time to and from the hotel. I could have walked faster. Another day of traveling took us to Ranthanbore where we were going on a ‘safari’. On the first evening, I sat through a boring slide show before dinner and after dinner prepared for the pre-dawn wake-up the next day. We weren’t promised to see Bengal tigers, the major enticement for this tour, but our guide seemed to imply that hardly anyone EVER sees them; the brochure doesn’t mention that the estimated number of tigers in this very large park is around 50. I spent the very early and cold morning hours, with my fellow guests, hunting for them. All we saw were a few birds, deer and crocodiles. Some ‘safari’! The next destination was Agra; another half day of traveling. Agra was similar to Delhi, polluted and very poor, same old, same old. One of the main reasons I took this trip was that the Taj Mahal was on my bucket list. The bus left our hotel early in the morning for the visit to the Taj Mahal and, on arrival, it was veiled in low clouds, mist and the ever pollution. No one’s photographs showed its real beauty. I did enjoy going inside the magnificent Taj Mahal where no photographs were allowed. By the time we left, the sky was lighter but certainly not clear. A photographer took individual and group pictures with a faint Taj Mahal in the background. Another long day of traveling took us to Kolkata where we boarded our river boat for a 7 day cruise on the Ganges. The boat was very nice and the crew and staff very friendly like most people we encountered. The cabins were roomy and fairly well appointed. The large viewing windows in the room were excellent, so traveling on the Ganges was enlightening. A negative - the dining room was above the engine room and the noise, from the motor, made having a conversation over a meal almost impossible - while the boat was traveling. As far as the daily tours were concerned, if you liked visiting old temples and hearing about their history, you would enjoy them. There were a few very good tours to local villages where we saw the daily lives of people in these remote areas. Now for the worst part. Even though everyone was from North America, almost all the dishes, except breakfast, were Indian. I liked Indian food before I went on this trip but now I never want to see an Indian restaurant again! One day, almost everyone on the boat became very sick. It was very debilitating. I was still sick after arriving home and finally sought medical attention. After a number of tests, I was diagnosed as having a parasite in my system. I’m still on medication. I never drank the (tap) water and used bottled water for anything that passed my lips so I am confident that it came from the food, especially since almost everyone became sick the same day. Another thing that caused me a problem was that the towels came to the cabin damp (not fully dried). I came home with an eye infection. In no way was the boat up to Western standards; there are many problems that would not allow this boat to be operated in Europe or the US. After reading previous reviews, it would appear that this is not the first season that stomach type problems have been experienced with passengers on past tours. The trip home, from the boat to arriving home, took 35 hours to Eastern U.S; it took many of my fellow travelers, longer. I was impressed with the amount of security at the airports. Before entering an airport, each person had to show a passport and a boarding pass. These were examined and if the boarding pass did not show on the airline manifest, you could not enter the terminal. Armed soldiers were everywhere. Once in the terminal, your luggage and carry-on was screened before proceeding to the next area. You then had to go to the ticket counter to check-in and then through to the gates. Women were on separate lines going through security. I was patted down so often that I felt I was getting a massage. Passing that area, your hand luggage was tagged and your boarding pass was stamped. And you think our security is cumbersome and adequate in the USA? Do you still want to take this tour? Good luck! Read Less

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