Trinetra Tours Review
This is the review for a trip I took with Trinetra Tours to India April 22nd through May 6, 2017. I should say up front I have travelled extensively, usually without the assistance of a tour company, so this was a learning experience for me.
I had tried to do all the research I could on tour companies who handled trips in India. As a U.S. citizen, I started with companies that were based here or in England, thinking they may possibly be more reliable (or at least easier to try to work something out with if I felt they had done me wrong). I quickly realized all those companies were well out of financial reach for me, with some of their package tours coming in at around $10,000 (U.S.) just for the tour.
So I began looking outward at companies based in India. I used several resources, but TripAdvisor was the most helpful. After a good deal of research and review of first-hand accounts, it seemed to me there was one company emerging with the highest consistently excellent reviews and more important, very recent ones. This was Trinetra Tours.
I began e-mailing them and was met with gracious and hearty responses from Mahendra, chocked full of information and good tidings. He was always prompt in his replies and helpful with my questions.
Trinetra started with a suggested itinerary. I was ambitious and wanted to do a lot of things in my two weeks there. The company was very flexible, basically taking the attitude that as long as it was a reasonable request, they would make it happen, be it an extra night here or skipping/including this place or that one. We came up with an itinerary that was primarily based in Rajasthan, but also included Delhi and Varanasi. There were seven total destinations, and Trinetra was to provide an air-conditioned car to travel to most of them, although there was an overnight AC sleeper train at one point (to Jaisalmer) and a domestic flight on Indigo Airlines (to Varanasi).
Trinetra had agreed to pick me up at the airport in Delhi. Due to air-traffic control issues in Washington D.C., I missed a connecting flight and lost a whole day of vacation. I was afraid this would totally throw off the plans and I would be trying to get to my hotel in Delhi on my own.
Not so. Trinetra rolled with the punches and there was a most helpful individual at the airport once I arrived who was to ensure everything went smoothly for me. Enter the gracious Mr. Kevin Miller, I hope he is doing well. Kevin had a car with a driver awaiting us, and took me to the hotel accommodations Trinetra had arranged for me as part of the package deal. Kevin was nice, informative, and had so much paperwork for me I thought I was applying for a federal job (this is not a critique though – when my life is to be in your hands for the next two weeks, I will take thorough).
My package included hotels for every leg of my journey, except my night in the desert. The hotels were all very nice (special shout-out to the Hotel Gulaal in Jaisalmer, which was an exceptional facility), air-conditioned, and would have cost a pretty penny in the States. Each offered an included breakfast. I think I helped myself too by going in what was nearly the hottest part of the year. It was 107 degrees my last day in Varanasi. Having said that, this is not for everyone: the crowds are few (at times I felt like the only tourist in a given area), but the sun could absolutely boil brass door knobs by 2:00 p.m. You have to weigh your priorities on that one.
Transportation was arranged between all city destinations, and I enjoyed the company of my drivers who kept me safe in the automotive chaos of Delhi and India in general. Special props go out to a couple who I felt a solid connection with. It was really cool riding around with Raj in Delhi and getting to chat a bit with him. I know he is friends with Kevin so I hope they will have a toast in my honor next time they are doing something fun. The bulk of my driving was done by the very capable Mr. Raju, and I thank him for getting me safely everywhere he did. It was my understanding that he was about to transition employment, so I wish him the best of luck with whatever endeavor he has undertaken.
At every destination, there was a Trinetra rep who basically made sure transitions were smooth, that check-in to the hotel was seamless, and to inquire as to my needs. Separate from this, there was a tour guide twice a day from the local area for each day of sightseeing. A special shout-out is in order for fellow attorney and overall cool dude Jai in Varanasi, he was an excellent guide. Trinetra arranged for everything. Once I decided to trust their company, I left most everything it in their hands, and they did not disappoint. The one other tour company I dealt with, Trotters, who Trinetra hooked me up with for the camel safari, was also great, and will be reviewed separately.
India can be daunting. It can be a challenge on your own. I am not saying it can’t be done, and props to those that do it. I am sure it can be very rewarding. For my situation, however, I had very limited time and several destinations I had to see. Just trying to figure out what train tickets and where to buy them at the madhouse that is the Delhi train station would have taken so much time my trip would have suffered for it. Trinetra arranged for everything.
Overall, I want to say I recommend Trinetra to assist you in planning your experience in India. The price was fair, the itineraries flexible and pretty much up to you, and there is typically always someone within easy reach who can help you if you have any issues. Kevin gave me his cell number and I knew at any time I could call him with issues or concerns. Also, one day, one planned excursion that had been an additional fee I ended up not going on. Kevin arranged for a prompt refund for that portion of the package.
So, in summation, Trinetra really exceeded my expectations and is a company I would trust to arrange my trip if I ever make it back to India (and I hope I will). I understand they are also expanding, and handling trips to some neighboring countries. India was amazing, I saw Delhi, Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Ranthambore, Agra, and Varanasi. Thanks guys, and keep up the good work!
Things to be Aware of:
Tipping, or baksheesh, is a serious consideration in India and seems to make the world go round. You will end up tipping frequently and many expect it. Most deserve it, though sometimes you may wonder if it is warranted. The drivers should be tipped, the tour guides too, the guys that handle your baggage, sometimes even the company liaison, etc. etc. I have seen some knock Trinetra for this, but two things I would point out. Trinetra sends you information indicating there is a culture of tipping in India, giving you notice, and then they further explain this once you arrive and you are given the “orientation.” They are clear that it is not mandatory and give you guidelines for what is an adequate and fair tip. Kevin reiterated this information to me at the “orientation” as they picked me from the airport. I knew this was coming so I had considered it an additional cost of the trip, and therefore had budgeted it in to the total amount of money I was prepared to spend. Secondly, I would point out, this is the case in the whole of the land of India, and Trinetra did not create this situation. It is very similar to places like Morocco and Egypt in this regard. It is just something one needs to be aware of when planning a trip here.
Lastly, there are the touts. Again, you have these in a lot of places I have been. People persistently trying to sell you something you don’t want or offering their questionable “expertise” on a tour of a landmark can be severely annoying. Please don’t let them ruin your stay in India. A firm “no” and a brisk and steady walk away is usually the best response.
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