Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Group vs. Private Departure: A Personal Decision
My wife and I were signed up for two tours of India with a non-profit travel organization that subcontracts with Above the Clouds, one tour of the North and the other of the South.
I very much wanted to see India; however, my wife does not do well in extreme heat. Consequently we chose to go to India in January. Since the organized tour was not guaranteed to go, I asked Steve Conlon of Above the Clouds to come up with a backup plan of a private tour that would cover most of the places that our scheduled itinerary would have taken us.
Ordinarily I would not consider a private tour, because of the increased cost. As it turned out, our tour was canceled and we ended up with the private tour.
It was a fantastic experience. We had our own car with a driver and an excellent guide in each place. The whole process was wonderful. We started out with a standard tour of North and South India, with an add on to Nepal and Bhutan. I got regular emails from Steve telling me about possibilities for special adventures.
Perhaps the best of these was the ability to meet local people and have a meaningful connection with them that remains after our trip has concluded. We are in regular email contact with four people from these countries.
It was wonderful to be able to go at our own pace. That meant if something that we saw particularly interested us, we could spend an extra hour or two there; and if a place was not of interest we could spend less time there.
We had four different guides in India. Each guide was outstanding and gave us an understanding of the local history, art and culture. They also focused on what we wanted to learn and do, and they did it taking our rhythm into consideration. We got to participate in the wedding preparations of one of our guide's family members in Jodhpur. We had dinner in the home of the guide and his family. We met people with varied backgrounds and had an opportunity to see a segment of India that it would not have been possible to see with a group.
My wife went to India with me, although she had reservations about being subjected to the poverty and overpopulation of India. Within a week we were talking about the next time we would visit India. I developed a love for the country and its people and a depth of knowledge of the country and people that would not have been possible on a tour. Overall, it was really worth the extra cost.
~Richard & Dorothy Dorsay
Above the Clouds Alumni