How was your Explore Tour Leader?
Abi was outstanding. As you would expect, all the complex logistics were seamless and he remained unfazed by diverted trains, 10 hour delays and punctures. However stressed he must have felt occasionally, he never lost his friendly approach and great sense of humour and dealt with “difficult” Explorers with his inclusive and laidback manner. When we were faced with a demonstration, riot police and all my mum’s pet nightmares, he was cool – giving quick instructions without causing any panic. He dealt well with our local staff in Bangladesh and gave great attention even to small matters – such as sourcing tonic for a medicinal g & t!
A superlative tour guide really does make a huge difference to your trip and we were really lucky to have Abi with us from Dhaka to Delhi
What tips would you give to someone else booking this tour?
"“Basic” is key and in Bangladesh the infrastructure is still developing, so keep smiling. Mozzie nets weren’t necessary, some used sheet sleeping bags.
If you’re going off piste in Calcutta, get a map beforehand. The hotel’s walking distance from Seddur Bazaar and, if you bring favourite clothes with you, the tailor next door can reproduce these. Getting around on your own is easy and a visit to Mother Teresa’s House and the flower market were real eye openers.
In Varanasi I visited Baba Black Sheep silk shop . This is VERY dangerous as he takes plastic. I also recommend Spashi spa in Assi , but avoid the waterboarding massage! In Agra, I went swimming at the Retreat Hotel and had a massage at the spa opposite. Sadly, due to train delays, we didn’t get to sightsee in Delhi."
Do you have anything else to add?
"Explore goes back to its roots - off piste travel without all the mod cons. It’s a very busy trip, so you make your own free time (perhaps skip the Kinatjee temple and explore the local town?) Hopefully Explore will set up a school linke , as an unscheduled stop in a Bangladeshi village proved a highlight.
The Indian train experience was fun (if endless!) and porters are available. Luggage travels on top of the bus in Bangladesh, so you might want to waterproof your belongings (they’re covered with a tarp anyway). No booze in Bangladesh was no hardship (some restaurants CAN source relatively costly imported booze).
The sheer variety of different experiences (plus my lovely fellow Explorers) made this one of my favourite Explore trips ever – can’t wait until the next one!"