We returned today after a five week trip of the North of India. After much research (and reading many of these great reviews) we contacted Deepa with a rough idea of what we wanted to see and from that moment we were confident we were in good hands.
Deepa was thorough and fast with her responses to all of our questions and quickly put together an amazing trip for us at a price we could afford, this was very competetive with every other tour we looked at even though it was custom built for two!
We were amazingly well looked after from the moment our plane landed in Delhi until we were put on our last plane out from Kolkutta. Our trip included Delhi, Jaisalmer, a desert camel trip, Jodphur, Ranakapur, Udaipur, Bundi, Jaipur, Bharatpur, Agra, Orchha, Khajuraho, Varanasi and Kolcutta. Thoughout the trip Gaurav checked in with us to ensure things were going smoothly and a we were happy with everything which was wonderful. Deepa and her team ensured we had the same driver, Roop Sing, from Delhi to Khajurho, even though we took an overnight train from Delhi to Jaisalmer (920 km & 19 hours... We wouldn't recommend this to anyone!) our driver left the day before and drove to Jaisalmer so he could be there in time to meet us... In hindsight, he may have had a more comfortable trip than we did! Roop Sing had good English and was always on the lookout for interesting things along the way, from an 8th Century step well in a tiny village that was just 50 km detour to amazing forts and a beautiful lake that Roop Sing enquired about and found a wonderful smiling farmer to lead us to, who found two crocodiles and other birds and wildlife to show us (this simple thing was one of the highlights of our trip for me, it was spontaneous and delightful!)
All of our guides were great and each one was careful to ensure we understood the history and culture of the places they showed us. I agree with other reviewers about the places the guides like to take you to show how carpets are made, gem stones cut, rugs woven etc... We asked our guides to make it VERY clear at these places that we were NOT interested in buying anything, but were genuinely interested in seeing how things were made. This did make a difference to the hard sell attitude at these places (the first couple if places we hadn't worked this out yet and it was very difficult to escape without buying anything as they put on a lot of pressure to buy!) We found that if they thought we are not buying anything, they just showed us how things were made and offered to show us some of the things they were very proud of, we sometimes decided to buy things anyway, but it was at our own discretion and without pressure.
Our accommodation in Khajourho fell through and we were upgraded at no charge to the Radisson, which was a wonderful hotel, we were met there by Javid who looked after us and made sure our time in Khajurho went smoothly, he touched base with us frequently to ensure all went well, took us to a sound & light show at the western temples and delivered us to the airport for our fight to Varanasi.
We were picked up in Varanasi by Shashi who looked after our itiniery there, then arranged an escort to deliver us to our last overnight train to Kolkutta, this was great as the train station was very complicated and our escort ensured we caught the correct train, escorting us on to the train and locating our berths. Pradeep was an excellent guide who looked after us very well and was really interesting to talk to. Our accommodation was also upgraded in Varanasi when our original accommodation was being used for a wedding & Gaurav was concerned it may be a bit noisy :) We were very happy with the alter native they found here too.
A couple of days before we left for Kolkutta we checked on the Hotel we had booked there to find that the last 3 reviews on Tripadvisor were pretty terrible... We asked Gaurav if he could find us alternative accommodation as we didn't wish to risk ending our holiday on a sour note when it had gone so well... Gaurav bent over backwards to find us a great Hotel, for this one we paid for the upgrade and we were very pleased we did:) Ajay picked us up from our berth in the train and helped us to get our luggage off the train then delivered us to our hotel for breakfast & arranged for our guide to meet us there. We had a couple of interesting tours there and one day with a general strike where everything was closed, no ATMs functioned for a couple of days & no shops or taxis etc... It was very different to see the quiet side of Kolkutta! Ajay finally delivered us safely to the Airport for our flight home.
We cannot praise Magic Tours highly enough, they absolutely made our trip one to remember, magic!
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