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“There’s never a dull moment on a trip here…” Trip of the Week: Eternal India

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India is the dream. All the foods and flavours, the beautiful white and gold architecture, the colours and the festivals and the holidays. It just doesn’t seem to ever stop and by visiting India, you’re really jumping right into the deep end. I mean, where do you start?

Lucky for you, our Eternal India trip has everything planned out for you so you don’t have to worry about getting lost in the busy streets or missing any of the main attractions. Experience 12 days of sunshine and bliss and let yourself be taken (by coach, rickshaw, and tuk tuk) to some of the world’s most coveted wonders. From the Taj Mahal, to Jaipur’s pink utopia, to a very meaningful stay supporting local women (and Bengal Tigers) at the Dhonk Centre, you’ll be left utterly slack-jawed from all the ‘Oh Wows’ spilling from your mouth.

We talked to our Trip Manager Rhi to get all the details on this summer’s biggest hit.

A woman is selling flowers at an outdoor market.

Image source:Contiki

Hi Rhi. First up, can you give me 3 reasons why I’ll love this trip?

Navigating with ease. The street food. India’s landscape diversity.

“You get to travel through busy cities with ease, helped by your trip manager and a local tour guide. One of the best examples is the rickshaw ride through Old Delhi, venturing through the spice market, and stopping in an alleyway for chai. Alone it’s pretty daunting, but you’ve got the experts to help you feel more confident.

“The Khau Guly street food tour is amazing – it paints the history of Mumbai and Bombay’s influences on India’s strong food culture. Delicious street food stands are found at all our stops anyway – it’s the best time for food lovers.

“From the chaotic cityscapes of Delhi, to the barren plains of Ranthambore, to the brilliant pink walls of Jaipur, to serene lakes in Udaipur, and finally sunsets over the beaches in Goa. This trip is so diverse and has a stop for everyone.”

This trip is for me if I want…

Food.

“If you like tasting new foods or you want to step out of your culinary comfort zone a little more, then this trip is 100% for you. Every day you get to experience something new: new flavours, new textures, new regional specialties, as we travel from Central to Southern India, and you get to chat with locals every step of the way.”

What’s the most spellbinding view?

The Red Fort, Agra.

“All the views are spectacular of course, and Jaipur, aka Pink City, is also a fan favourite, but for me it’s the Red Fort in Agra. You can stand there and look over the river to see the Taj Mahal hiding behind the hazy horizon in the distance. It’s something really magical.”

Is the Taj Mahal really as good as it seems?

100%.

“It’s amazing. Just amazing. It’s a mausoleum, and it’s incredible – it just gets bigger and bigger the closer you stand to it and when you remember that it was built in dedication to a loved one, that just makes it even more special.

“And, the entire site is perfectly symmetrical, which makes it even more impressive.”

What’s the tastiest food experience?

Everything at the Khau Gully street food market.

“Indian food is just the best really, all the different curries and kebabs, and all the rice! It’s enough to make anyone’s mouth water just thinking about it. It’s a free time add-on that just cannot be missed.”

Sweetest Stay?

Ranthambore.

“We really get treated here in Ranthambore: we stay at the Regency Hotel which is so special as it’s situated right by Ranthambore National Park, a vast wildlife preserve. So, if guests are lucky, maybe they’ll spot a few tigers lurking in the shadows…”

How about the best spot for culture vultures?

All the festivals.

“There’s never a dull moment on a trip here, honestly. India always has some kind of festival, celebration, or holiday happening, so any time you visit you’ll be sure to witness something unique. The colours of Rajasthan paint the perfect picture of India, and there’s no better way to experience another culture than just passing through the cities and villages on the coach and simply observing and taking everything in. 

“I suppose if I had to pick a specific spot for culture-culture though, it would be Jaipur, the pink city, or Udaipur and the lakes.”

What’s the most jaw-dropping included experience?

Agra’s city tour.

“The city tour in Agra is my answer. We start off the day viewing all the stunning architecture of Agra Fort (Red Fort) and then we finish off the day with golden hour at the Taj Mahal. You really don’t realise how big it is until you’re standing there under it, watching it shine like the jewel it is.”

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Which Free Time Add-On will give my friends the most FOMO?

The tiger safari.

“One word: Tigers. Who doesn’t want to see that? We’re lucky enough to be able to accompany our crew on a tiger safari through Ranthambore national park, which promotes education and awareness around tiger poaching and these endangered species. 

Currently they’re working on increasing the local population, which is a great effort, and we all get to discuss this with guides and professionals, while driving through the national park in a jeep. There’s so much more flora and fauna to learn about as well, not just the tigers.”

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What will surprise me about the trip?

All the activities.

“Obviously they’re part of the trip description, but seeing just how many activities are jam packed in a day, in real life, while still having loads of free time, is pretty wild. 

Free time in India is amazing as well because I, as your trip manager, have loads to recommend to really make sure your trip is a memorable one. You can go for an astrological palm reading, loads of boat trips, all the shopping, Bollywood theatre bars (a must), and rooftop bars to overlook the entire city and enjoy the dying day.”

What is the Bollywood Dance experience like?

So. Much. Fun.

“The class is run by Mumbai Millenials who incorporate traditional Bollywood dance moves and styles with hiphop! So, I guess it’s not your traditional class, but it’s so much fun. The dances are set to the best songs in the current charts, so don’t worry, you’ll probably know the words, as well as some old Bollywood classics.

It features a lot of Punjabi music as well and if you’ve never heard or danced to Punjabi music, you’re in for an absolute treat!”

Contiki-Eternal India-Food

Image source:Contiki

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If this trip was a song, it’d be:

“By your side by Imad, Offrami.”

If this trip was a drink, it’d be:

“A fresh lime and masala soda, or a chai. Take your pick.”

Describe the trip in 3 words:

“Chaotic, charismatic, colourful.”

What’s the funniest story you’ve heard/seen happen on this trip?

“During a flash rain storm in Delhi on our second night, we got caught in the rain and could only wave down one tuk tuk…

We didn’t know how we would all fit, but luckily, and with some tight squeezes, we managed to fit 7 people plus our driver inside the tuk tuk. The ride was just full of laughs, saturated clothes, and an overpriced cab fare. Definitely a memory that won’t be forgotten.”

Which part of this trip makes you love your job?

“Hearing passengers talk about how amazing their experience has been and that their trip was so much more than they’d expected it to be. It makes me really proud and I know I’ve done a good job, but also India just speaks for itself.

“It’s also great to see how quickly everyone becomes comfortable. The uncertainty of safety is eliminated within the first few days as people realise India is a kindhearted country that just wants to share its culture with everyone.

“I also really love seeing everyone’s Instagram stories and all the photos they post – I get to experience the Eternal India trip through their eyes and I know it won’t be forgotten.”

Is there anything I haven’t asked about this trip you think I should know?

“Pack a lot of electrolytes, you’ll need them, and plenty of patience, the traffic can be mad.”

Here’s what our travellers say:

“From start to finish, everything was brilliantly planned out. Our trip manager, Rhi, was fantastic – she genuinely cared about everyone in our group and brought the best out of the experience.”

“This was my first Contiki and it was incredible. I had always wanted to travel to India and the team went above and beyond to make it special for our group, especially the trip manager who filled every moment with special memories for us!”

“Our guides and trip manager were amazing!! So knowledgeable, fun, engaging, and just wonderful. They tailored little things to our interests, gave great advice and information, and really helped the group come together! Hotel in Ranthambore was AMAZING, and Udaipur was quite nice too.”

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