There’s 1 more sleep until I go to India and I don’t think I have been this hyper about a trip since the early noughties.
The Taj Mahal has long been on my bucket list (show me a traveller who doesn’t want to visit the world’s most famous monument to love?) and so I’ve seized the opportunity to visit it not only once but twice next week. Keen? Me? Definitely!
I first went to India in 2010. I won 2 return flights to anywhere in India via a competition on Twitter (back when brands gave away awesome things in return for a tweet) and decided with my girlfriend that we would visit Mumbai, Goa and Kerala.
As it was our first visit to India we wanted to focus on the ‘less hectic’ areas and squeeze a bit of beach time in there at the end. We spent 2 weeks, travelling by local train and drinking many cups of sweet chai, having an unforgettable time but wanting a holiday by the end of it. (Not gonna lie!)
That first visit left me with such a bittersweet craving for India (bitter because it was intense, sweet because I couldn’t help but love it) and I’ve felt regret ever since that we didn’t have a few more days to squeeze in a visit to the Taj Mahal (at least!).
Great India Blog Train 2018
Fast forward to 2018 and my kind blogger friend (Christine from Adventure, Baby) gave me a heads up at the beginning of this year that India Tourism were running a contest to send 60 bloggers on a once-in-a-lifetime trip across India on 4 luxury trains. I immediately applied and tried not to get my hopes up when I saw all the awesome video entries rolling in.
But somehow (miraculously) both Christine and I won a place on this trip and our incredible adventure on board the Maharajas’ Express starts later this week.
The train will take us from Delhi to the Amber Fort at Jaipur, to spot tigers in the wild at Ranthambore, to Agra for the Taj Mahal, and onto Varanasi and Lucknow for palaces, bazaars and roti galore.
If I had an India bucket list THIS would be it!
Agra Independent Adventure With G Adventures
I’m so excited to finally see the Taj Mahal but because I don’t want to rush the experience I’ve extended my trip and am flying in early for an additional sunrise visit. As I’m travelling solo I scoured the internet for tour options that would give me piece of mind (Agra is 4+ hours from Delhi) and then in an ‘aha’ moment remembered the best time I had on a G Adventures tour in South America a few years back. I searched their website and sure enough they had an itinerary that matched my exact requirements.
The Agra Independent Adventure is designed as a bolt on for travellers in India who want to see the Taj Mahal and it includes a transfer from the airport with Women on Wheels, a youth-led walking tour of Delhi with a local non-profit, private vehicle to Agra, and some sightseeing at the Baby Taj and Agra Fort along the way.
G Adventures have very kindly agreed to host my trip and I’ll be bringing you lots of details about what exactly this itinerary entails for a solo traveller.
Packing & Prepping
Now, I need to get back to my packing – so far the suitcase is 30% medication and wet wipes but according to everyone I’ve asked these will be my new best friends. :p
There’s actually a lot of prep that goes into a trip to India. I needed to update my vaccinations (a cool $200 – ouch), apply for an e-visa ($75 USD), update insurance, print lots of confirmations and purchase some comfy yet conservative clothes (and layers as it will be chilly in the mornings). I can share some tips for first-timers going to India in upcoming weeks if you’re interested?
In the meantime, I’d love to know if you’ve visited any of the places I’ll be going to and which was your favourite?
You can follow along with my adventure on all the socials via #GTWIndia. Let’s do this!
Featured image with thanks to Arash Bal Insert me in it soon!