Gecko adventure tour ‘Ain’t no Mountain High Enough’ 12th July – 30th July 2014
To start off our travels we booked a Gecko’s tour which began in Kathmandu, Nepal and finished in New Delhi, India. As we lacked in travel experience we chose to go on this tour for the following reasons:
- Have a smooth introduction into our travels
- The tour is a great combination to visit two countries which we knew little about in regards to arranging transportation, language barrier, safety etc.
- An easy way to meet other travelers
Rather than a day-by-day review of our experience I’ve summed up my highs and lows from the tour.
Meeting new people – a tour is the easiest way to meet like-minded people and gain friendships. In total there were 12 of us (3 Brits, 8 Australians and 1 Italian) on the tour and we all got on really well. Most of us are still in touch via social media.
Safety – a comforting prospect I found during this tour. Traveling as a collective meant we were never too far from each other.
Medical help – this particularly applies to me as I fell ill during the 2nd day into the tour. I was taken to the nearest clinic where I was diagnosed with mild dehydration/food poisoning and put on a drip. The tour leader was very sympathetic and kept in touch with us regularly. Gecko’s were informed of my condition and arranged free transportation to catch up with the group as soon as I was discharged. Although I missed out on the opportunity to visit Chitwan National park I was so grateful to have received the support from the tour leader and Gecko’s (not to mention my travel insurance!).
Being a ‘passenger’- it was a nice feeling to know that you just needed to wake up at a certain time and know that someone else has arranged the days activities ahead.
Though our journey was little over a fortnight, we visited the following places in Nepal and India-
Chitwan National Park (I unfortunately missed out due to food poisoning)
Lumbini, Birthplace of Buddha
Varanasi, Ganges river (including sunset boat ride)
Tordi Gardh and Nimaj Bagh
Transportation in India is unreliable and tricky to book, so having that arranged was such a relief (our transport involved public buses, sleeper trains, Jeeps and boat rides).
Getting off the beaten track – the highlights of this tour in particular were visiting the local villages which was an insight into the traditional India. The villagers we met were beyond incredible, a true example of people who don’t have much but are grateful for all they have.
Downtime- There were days where we had the chance to explore an afternoon on our own or to relax at the hotel. It’s not compulsory to join in every activity, and it was nice to take some time out to rest and recuperate.
Money – now this is something which needs big consideration before you decide to join a tour. As well as the initial cost of the tour, a budget needs to be planned for food and additional activities. Our tour had additional activities almost daily, it didn’t take long before we were starting to spend more than anticipated. Be prepared to budget slightly more in advance so it’s not a such a shock when you’re on tour (a good tip would be to read the T&C’s found in the tour itinerary to budget for the extras).
Tip: read through the tour itinerary fully and check out the average costs for additional activities. Definitely ‘over budget’ if you can – it’s easy to say before you go which activities to do but your mind will change when you’re actually on tour!.
Fast Paced – naturally a tour will cram in a load of activities within a short period. However I felt there were times where activities were too rushed to be enjoyed. For example there were occasions where visits to ancient forts and palaces would be so rushed that if you didn’t keep up with the tour guide you’ll miss out listening about its history. Now this is really a given and cannot be improved, its just more of a personal preference.
Would I recommend this tour?
It’s not impossible to do this itinerary without a tour, I just think it would require a LOT of patience and willpower.
India and Nepal are challenging countries and unfortunately it can be unsafe for solo female travelers. It is also very common to encounter ‘delhi belly’ and other gastro-related illnesses due to the poor hygiene standards.
I was happy with the majority of hotels we stayed at. All of them had basic amenities including air con, a real bed and Western toilets.
Based on the experience I had I would happily recommend this Gecko’s tour for anyone looking to travel to Nepal and India – it’s a great way to meet other travelers, there is plenty of activities to join in and it’s a great way to explore two countries!
Tours are expensive so it’s important to make sure that you understand the itinerary, T&C’s and plan a budget. However they are still a brilliant way to travel and meet like minded people.
Have you been on a group tour? How did you find the experience?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!