Just a quick post to share an extremely negative experience with Antrek Tours in Manali. We had booked a customized road trip from Manali to Ladakh, and travels within Ladakh with them, and did not argue the price charged. We wanted the convenience of an end-to-end solution, and took a chance of this company, and suffered a lot for this mistake. Although I tried researching this company prior to booking with them, there are few reviews online, and so I am relating our individual experience here for the benefit of others who may be considering the same.
We were very disappointed to find that this company is horribly disorganized and does everything at the last moment. There is poor anticipation of the travelers' needs, poor planning and extremely poor communication, and plans are changed at the last moment, supposedly in clients' best interest. After completing our trip I am forced to conclude that the only interest this company has is in taking your money, and there is zero attempt at providing any quality of service.
Substandard and atrociously poor quality hotels were booked, and at Pangong Tso lake the camp booked did not have even a half decent view of the lake prompting us to walk out and find a campsite closer to the lake. At Leh, the room booked in the hotel could not even accommodate 2 parent and 2 young children, although for the money paid we should have been in a 3-4 star hotel (the hotel staff did help and shifted us to a bigger room the next day, but it badly spoiled the mood). And the less said about the Tashi Delek hotel in Keylong, the better (at the time I researched this hotel on Tripadvisor, I was misled by the reviews and pictures as there is another hotel with the same name in Sikkim, and pictures posted in Tripadvisor were from that hotel); I have posted my experience of the Keylong Tashi Delek hotel in Tripadvisor along with pictures - suffice to say this was THE WORST hotel we have stayed in our lives - Antrek Tours claims to be in business for 30 years - they should have booked us into a better hotel. Out trip itinerary said that on one day we would have a tour of Manali - when we reached there we were advised to go walking and explore the city ourselves since there was too much traffic - so much for a tour of the city. When I requested a vehicle to travel the next morning to visit a local temple, this was promised by Mr. Naushad the owner, but the next morning I was asked by Mr. Naushad to book an auto rickshaw (tuktuk) and go by ourselves since there were no cabs/taxis available. When I lost my cool, a taxicab was there within 15 minutes. This man deceives and misleads - do not get taken for a ride!
Suffice to say that in every destination of our driving trip there were problems for me to solve, and became a really painful experience and really spoiled what was supposed to be a family fun holiday. When hiring a travel company to create a customized tour, a basic level of expectation is that there should be no problems with respect to hotel bookings, trip planning etc , especially when the tour company charges handsomely for it - I was badly mistaken in my expectations. After completing the trip, I wrote to the owner Mr. Naushad Kaludi highlighting the problems we had on the trip, and have not received the courtesy of a response.
1. Antrek Tours and travels is unreliable. Avoid this agency if you wish to have a trouble free trip.
2. Traveling within India can be a lot of fun, and you can get excellent value for money if you arrange it yourself. We did that last year in a drive across MP, and it was terrific.
3. For a Manali/Leh trip, you can easily find and book good quality hotels and transportation yourself, and have the satisfaction of knowing you had good quality control.
4. For me, a valuable lesson learned for all future travels.