Lost in Wilderness with Serene Journeys
I arrived in Delhi on 16 Sep and was met by a representative as I stepped off the plane, something I was not expecting, but a pleasant surprise. Was escorted through immigration, assisted with luggage collection and then through customs, after which I was handed over to another representative who took me to the vehicle. This was a clean Toyota SUV and the driver was waiting for us. I was whisked to my hotel. OK maybe not whisked, as in Delhi, as elsewhere in India, the traffic is just beyond anyone’s imagination. My accommodation in Delhi was at the Hyatt Regency, a modern luxury hotel. My room was just perfect, spacious, with a large bathroom with all the amenities. The rest of my day was at leisure. I relaxed in the hotel’s spa and got over the 17 hours of travelling, by letting the jets in the Jacuzzi soothe away the aches. Next morning after a scrumptious breakfast, I was met in the foyer by a guide for my day tour. As I had been to Delhi before I stressed that I did not want to visit the same attractions twice. This was taken into account and there was no repetition. We visited a Sikh temple, where an elderly, extremely well spoke gentleman explained the doctrine of his religion, we then went to an Hindu temple and we were there in time to witness the ceremony. This involved dancing and chanting and was very interesting to see. We later visited a mosque, Swaminarayan Akshardam, a huge complex with the mist intricate, if not gaudy décor, the Bahai Lotus temple. The next day I was picked up early for my transfer to Paatlidun safari lodge, located outside Jim Corbett Tiger reserve. Although this is approx. 300kms from Delhi the journey took approx. 8 hours through some very interesting and varying landscape. The lodge is a piece of heaven. Very secluded, it can only be reached by 4×4. I was met by the entire staff, who introduced themselves and then shown to my accommodation. This consists of a huge bungalow, with a separate lounge TV room, a huge bedroom opening on its own courtyard. The bathroom is equally huge and this opens on a completely private courtyard with its own plunge pool and outside shower, and with the temperature hovering around 37 degrees and high humidity, this was most welcome and very well used. After a refreshing dip in the pool, tea, Indian style, was served under the trees. No scones or biscuits, but pakora which are vegetables fried in batter. Very tasty and much better than our sugar laden cakes. Dinner was of course a feast for the taste buds. The chef personally listed the options so that I could choose. The food is delicious but spicy so if you can’t handle that go for the MILD option. Next morning I was taken on an early morning bush walk. It turned out to be more of a hike than a walk, but was extremely enjoyable. They should warn guests that there is a bit of climbing up and down to be done, so the correct footwear is very important. Later in the morning I enjoyed a complimentary foot massage in the well appointed spa. That evening I wanted to see the sunset over the mountains, so again by 4 x4 I was taken to a place high up on the hills . Unfortunately a thick mist moved in, so no sunset, but it was still great to be up there. They set up a table with snacks and drinks and I just enjoyed the peacefulness of the place, as well as cooler temperatures. The next day I arranged a massage and in the afternoon, a safari at Jim Corbett. Because of the season, the gate nearest to the lodge was closed, so we had to drive approx. 90 minutes just to get to the entrance. There we were joined by a local ranger who escorted us for the approx. 4 hours we were in the park. The vegetation is very thick, so unfortunately there were no tiger sightings, but the landscape is beautiful, there are other animal species to be seen and an abundant bird life ( for you birdwatchers). Another excellent dinner. Unfortunately it came time to leave and face the long drive back to Delhi. I must commend the driver who managed to drive in what to most of us seems to be organized chaos without any incidents. There are no rules on Indian roads, so best is to close one eyes and pretend nothing is going on around you. Last day in Delhi, time for some shopping at Khan Market, followed by a high tea at the hotel and then transferred, in a deluge, to the airport. Again I had the services of an escort to the airport where I was handed over to another representative who helped me through check in and immigration. All arrangements were spot on, punctual and made to fit my requirements. India is a fascinating country, maybe not for everyone. Myself, I can’t wait to go back!!!
I highly recommend Serene Journeys if you are looking for a bespoke tour to India. www.serenejourneys.co
Even though I am an independent traveler and usually make all of my own travel plans, I decided to find a travel agent for my first trip to visit India. I was looking for someone to make the most of my time as I would only have 4 days to visit Delhi and Agra. Robin prepared a detailed daily itinerary that covered the highlights of the city along with private tour guides. I had the same driver from the time I arrived until I was dropped back off at the airport. He was very friendly and knowledgeable on the drive to and from Agra. The tour guides had pre-purchased tickets for every venue so we never had to wait in line. A representative met me at the airport when I arrived and again on my departure. Robin negotiated great rates at the 4 star hotels which were conveniently located. The complete tour package was less than I expected and I will definitely use Serene Journey’s again for my next trip to India.
I took the Serene Journey Rajasthan Tour in October 2016 with my regular travelling companion. I am wary of tours because I fear finding myself ‘trapped’ with rigid itineraries or irritating travel companions. However, I was blown away by Robin’s tour. Not only did he choose remarkable hotels and forts that gave us an authentic but luxurious taste of Indian life, but he added in many free optional activities tailored to suit our interests and tastes. Nothing was too much trouble. The pace was perfect. No exhausting journeys, no very early starts, plenty of time to settle, relax and explore. Our other travel companions were also a delight. It seems that Serene Journeys attracts a discerning and sophisticated clientele. Robin is a true professional Tour Operator, but more than that he is an outstanding host. His charm and humour were enough to make the trip worthwhile. I hired a Tour Operator and ended up with a cherished friend. I intend to travel again with Robin. Meanwhile, I heartily recommend Serene Journeys and their bespoke tours.
We had a wonderful 18 day tour of Rajasthan designed by Robin of Serene Journeys. This was our first visit to this spectacular area and it could not have been better organised. The driver and tour guides selected were all excellent and we were given the time and information to appreciate the wonders of the main cities that we visited.A highlight of our stay was the inspired choice of accommodation, often outside but close to the main tourist centres. The hotels we experienced were eclectic and wonderful – ranging from the rather eccentric joys of the hotel used to film the ‘Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ to a stunning Relais & Chateau property and a magnificent fort overlooking the spectacular Chambal River. Our hosts were often members of the families who had ruled the areas in which we stayed. They were knowledgable and gracious and we were afforded a wonderful insight into the lives of the local villagers – who turned out to be the absolute highlight of the trip.Rajasthan is a visual paradise and I have never before taken so many photographs on a holiday. Robin, being a great photographer in his own right, knew how to take us to the places that were the most visually interesting as well as culturally fascinating. The whole trip was overwhelmingly wonderful and I can happily recommend Robin’s company Serene Journeys to any other travellers seeking a carefully tailored tour of India.
Just home and settling back to normality after 3 magical weeks in India with Bee Thompson mostly touring Rajasthan with excursions to Amritsar and Agra. I cannot complement Serene Journeys and Robin enough for the immaculate organisation of every single detail as it was flawless.There was not a single issue with any of the arrangements and we had exceptional guides and a wonderful driver in Ram. In addition, for where we stayed and what was included, the trip was exceptionally good value. We saw the great sites but also the day to day life of India. The pace was measured so we never felt overly hurried but I would certainly recommend a few days rest and relaxation towards the end of a long tour. We had 4 nights at Mihir Gahr in absolute luxury to recharge batteries, absorb and discuss all we had seen and done and prepare for our UK return.Without a doubt we will be back as we have only scratched the surface of this truly amazing country and whenever we do return there is no question that we will again put our complete trust in Robin and Serene Journeys to organise another amazing adventure. Thank you Robin – it was truly exceptional and I only wish I could return each time you organise a tour!
Robin with Serene Journeys did an excellent job planning our week long trip in India. Robin did a great job making sure we saw all the beautiful sites with great guides and a fantastic driver for our week long trip. Robin checked in with us often and took care of any concerns we had. It was truly a fantastic experience. Thank you Robin.
Traveling with Serene Journeys was an excellent experience for us. Each stop was a wonderful surprise with so many unique experiences (the sunset elephant ride, historic home stay in Palakkad, tea picking experience, etc.). The hotels were fantastic and each one unique. It was a treat meeting so many local guides and staff who were experts in their home regions. There was only 1 or two bumps which were solved within hours. We’re so appreciative of Robin‘s gift to us of a lifetime experience in India.
I have just returned from a Grand Tour of Rajasthan, the Golden Triangle, Khajurahao and Varanasi organised and facilitated by Robindro Saikhom of Serene Journeys. The whole trip was a truly incredible experience and one I shall remember and treasure for many years to come. Robin meticulously planned our itinerary which we agreed prior to my travelling to India and he paid attention to every detail including all internal transport, hotel bookings, local guides and all tours and activities throughout our journey. This created a stress-free experience from the minute I was greeted at Delhi airport and throughout the trip. Robin had provided me with a detailed plan for the journey prior to arrival but no words could have described the amazing and unforgettable experiences that lay ahead. We travelled extensively in Rajasthan through the Great Thar Desert to the lush green, mountainous terrain around Udaipur and Jaipur revelling in the amazing colours, smells and tastes of India. We visited many of Rajasthan’s ancient forts, havelis and temples, experienced the bustling activity in the local markets and bazaars and enjoyed sharing stories with desert villagers over a cup of chai. From camel-cart and elephant rides to tiger-spotting on jungle safaris in Ranthambore wildlife sanctuary; from bird watching in the Keoladeo National Park to camel trekking through the natural golden sand dunes, I left Rajasthan with unforgettable and cherished memories. After our journey in Rajasthan we visited Agra and the majestic mausoleum of the Taj Mahal then travelled to Khajurahao to visit the temples of the Kama Sutra and on to Varanasi to witness the incredible Aarti ritual and cremations on the River Ganges and the birthplace of Buddhism at nearby Sarnath. Again, Robin had arranged all internal flights, hotels, local guides, boat trips and entrances to local monuments ensuring that the whole experience was fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable. I would have no hesitation in recommending Robin and Serene Journeys to anyone who wants to experience the very best of India with a travel company who will offer a truly personalised and professional service.
I am happy to say I had a marvelous experience in India–from start to finish–due in great part to Robin and Serene Journeys. My involvement with Robin and Serene Journeys began in the planning phases in early 2015. I, and a traveling companion, were first booked to travel and work with Habitat for Humanity, beginning in Chennai, India. Once our responsibilities to Habitat were complete, Robin and Serene Journeys took over. Step one was flying from Chennai to Delhi. Once we arrived at the Delhi Airport, we were met by a representative of Serene Journeys, and even though our flight was delayed, Serene Journeys waited until we arrived and very happily greeted us! At that late hour (after midnight), the rep from Serene Journeys was cordial, pleasant and quite helpful. At the airport we met our driver, Dennath, and Dennath was to be our driver until our journey was complete! And, this one aspect-the same driver throughout the trip–was to make the biggest difference in the whole trip. Our drive took us to our pre-arranged hotel in Dehli, and there at the hotel we were met by Robin–a very pleasant experience. Robin greeted us and arranged to meet us for dinner that evening. Throughout the day and the remaining days in Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, and our return trip to Delhi, we had very competent guides, were in constant communication with Robin, and were excellently escorted and well taken care of by our driver, Dennath. In each of the cities we visited, our tour guide was knowledgeable, spoke English well, and knew all the facts (and more) about the many, many places we visited. Overall, Robin and Serene Journeys made our trip to India an experience to remember and treasure forever.
I had a very pleasant weekend in Jaipur. It was a great introduction to lovely Rajestan. My guide was a long-standing Jaipur resident and so very helpful and knowledgeable. The driver provided by Serene Journeys was reliable & safe. The car was large and comfortable and the Elcesior Hotel was very pleasant and peaceful. It was lovely with the pool to go back to the hotel garden and relax after a busy day out. I decided not to attend the elephant festival as it was too crowded, but the fort was great to see and there was plenty of other stuff to see and do. Shops, colour, historic sights, the lake, good food – a great weekend away. Well organised, thanks.
Thanks to Serene Journeys & Robin. My 5 days trip to Kathmandu was even better than I expected. Dwarika’s hotel is really good and the city is small enough to get a real flavour of it in a few days. It was good to meet a few local people and talk about their life. The guide and driver were friendly and helpful. Altogether a great trip.
………..especially compared to my previous Serene Journey!!!!!!!!!!
Serene Journeys & Robin did a fantastic job arranging my visit to Goa earlier this month. I told him my price range and that I was interested in staying where I could walk to the beach and to local shops and he arranged for me to stay at a hotel that is just off the main shopping area in Candolim and a five-minute walk to the beach – it couldn’t have been better. The guides he arranged were excellent: they were friendly, helpful and well-informed and I came away feeling I’d made friends as well as learned about the local areas. Robin checked with me regularly throughout my visit to ensure things were going well which impressed me a lot. I recommend him highly for his ability to set up individualized tours which match personal interests and his excellent contacts with hotels as well as local guides, which made my visit to Goa – which I wanted to visit for years and was hesitant as I had no personal contacts there – a most memorable one.
Robin was amazing in India, we really felt like we had a personal assistant who could help us with everything. From changing flights to small details like providing us and a sim card, Robin made everything so much easier on our tip. When I got sick and needed hospital attention Robin arranged everything and I\’m sure I would not have got the care I received without him. We can\’t thank Robin enough for an amazing vacation and we hope to return again soon.
I am very happy to recommend the services of Serene Journey in organising a fabulous, interesting and yet relaxing holiday. Robindro arranged several holidays for me including a great holiday for me and my mother around Rajastan – setting out from New Delhi on the grand ‘Palace on Wheels’ train and ending up staying at the glorious Oberoi hotel overlooking the beautiful lake in Udaipur. Transfers, flights and arrangements were provided with great service and aplomb by Robin. The holiday was interesting, easy, relaxing, comfortable and fun. A great trip and great organisation.
Thank you EVER so much for your wonderful assistance with planning our 4 day Golden Triangle journey. Whilst we had such a short lead time and a few limitations were were absolutely delighted with your service levels during this planning and then to top it off you were amazing at ensuring we were happy and comfortable every step of the way! From our wonderful and caring driver, expert guides and all the airport service managers we never had any doubts for our safety and touring plans at any stage. We have highly recommend your services to our friends and very much look forward to the day that we can plan another amazing journey with you. India is such a fabulous destination and I only wish that we had more time to really be able to immerse ourselves these amazing places and indulge in the heritage luxury of the hotels! Warmest regards, Sarah and Scott
A big thank you to Serene Journeys for compiling and coordinating a fantastic trip to Southern India during my holiday September 2013. Robin was a wealth of knowledge on India and able to answer questions I may have! He helped me to have a vacation I will never forget. I look forward to working with Robin again and would recommend Serene Journeys to people who want a relaxed carefree holiday.
Thank you to Serene Journeys and especially to Robin. You have given me a most exciting and pleasant time while travelling in Delhi, to Taj Mahal and Fahtepur Sikri. Besides your fundamental knowledge about history and culture it is just a pleasure to discuss all matters of daily life in India with you. I have learned a lot and no question has been left unanswered. All matters of my trips were planned precisely and all my desires in seeing special places in Delhi have been taken in consideration. You have given me a most special moment taking me to so many stunning places of Delhi, but especially the Raj Ghat (Gandhi memorial site), the old market Chandni Chowk (in which I would have been lost without you) and the Dilli Haat – unforgettable. Since I do like cooking I also will not forget the dinner at Karims and at Swagath in Defence Colony. So, I am looking forward in having you and your company for another Serene Journey. After being in Mumbai and Varanasi you made my stay in Delhi the cream topping of my India tour. Thank you so much Robin.
Robin at Serene Journeys made my Hong Kong trip easy and fun and interesting! From his selection of the Crowne Plaza East Kowloon, a great hotel with a reasonable price, to his navigation of the subway, to his recommendations of places to see (which ranged from restaurants to reptiles), Robin has excellent judgment and taste to make a memorable visit.