Asia

Luxurious India by Rail, Plane and Boat

written by | Posted on October 1st, 2010

Centuries of history, myriad cultures, exotic adventures, wildlife and an eclectic selection of transportation options await your high-end clients in India, where they can step back in history via modern-day deluxe train travel, private plane excursions and houseboat-style tours through a laid-back wonderland of Indian subculture.

Start off with the Maharajas’ Express—India’s newest rail product—on a 7-day rail sojourn through Rajasthan where your clients will experience all of the major cities, forts, wildlife parks and more—all in a kind of high-tech European river boat environment where you unpack on day one and don’t bother packing again until it’s time to get off at the end of the week.

We’re talking suite-style cabins here, with TV, WiFi, DVD players, hand-painted ceilings and more. But they don’t try to compete with the period-style rail properties like the venerable Palace on Wheels, or the Deccan Odyssey, which covers the state of Maharashtra; the Golden Chariot, which traverses the southern state of Karnataka, taking in the World Heritage site of Hampi; or the Indian Maharaja, which operates between Bombay and Delhi.

“The Maharajas’ Express has been very well received and we’re receiving quite a few inquiries. In fact, recently, over the past week-and-half or two weeks, we’ve been getting about three inquiries daily for the train,” explains Chris Grabar, marketing and public relations specialist for Greaves Tours. “So it’s very much coming to the forefront.”

Grabar points out that, “Train travel in general in India has always been at much more of a deluxe level, whereas the Maharajas’ Express—because of the facilities on board—it’s really brought general train travel to the brink of being luxurious, I would say, though, India trains in general are not very luxurious. But it is definitely a very comfortable mode of travel. But the advantage of the Maharajas’ Express is that it’s the newest train—it was newly built—and it does have the finest features and amenities on board. It’s very high-tech. It’s definitely a great way to travel and kind of maximize your time in India within a week without having to pack and unpack your suitcase.”

At the same time, she adds, at the end, or even preceding the 7-night trip, “We can add a little bit of pre and a little bit of post and because you’re coming back into Delhi, it’s a great gateway to the south or anywhere else in India, for that matter. There’s a great opportunity to see a lot of Rajastan on the Maharajas’ Express and then fly into another area.”

Which is one of the more unique things about booking with Greaves Tours in India—the availability of the company’s private plane means you can book more open itineraries that allows your clients to see more of India and enjoy more of its diverse attractions without wasting time in airports, trains or long overland trips by vehicle.

Prices for the Maharajas’ Express train are from $5,600 pp dbl, but since customization is at the core of the Greaves experience, Greaves can suggest pre- and post-train itineraries to enrich a traveler’s overall experience in India.

The company has another program called A Jungle Journey that showcases India’s selection of wildlife national parks. “The Jungle Journey is a fantastic trip,” Grabar effuses. “It’s a really great selection of parks up in Northern India,” and she adds, because it’s a Greaves Tour product, it’s easy to customize it to the client’s tastes and interests. “If a client or a traveler was looking to shorten up their trip but still wants to visit national parks, we do have that private plane and they can easily fly from park to park in essentially 25 to 35 minutes, depending on where they’re going. So that could be a very quick way to get from place to place without missing a beat because you can pretty much be on a game drive at one park in the morning, get on the plane, fly to another game park and be on another game drive in the afternoon. So it’s really a great way to kind of park hop, if you will.”

This is also a program where your clients might have the opportunity to spot an elusive Bengal tiger, but there’s no guarantees. Indeed, Grabar says, “Clients are always asking when’s the best time to see the wildlife. There really isn’t a best time, but I can tell you in the winter months—November, December and January—when it’s colder, the tigers will be out but they’ll often go in early to get comfortable for the night. When you travel in May, that seems to be the best time to see the tigers. The monsoons haven’t hit yet and the tigers are out on the prowl looking for water and food.” The Jungle Journey starts at $4,618 pp dbl and includes the train tickets but not domestic India air (or international air).