Great trip for a short stay in India. I am a first time La Vacanza Travel user as I normally travel the world independently. I needed a last minute tour to fit my travel partners limited schedule which visited the highlights I wanted to see - Taj Majal and tigers. This was my first time in India and first 'tour' with private driver. The tour operator provided a great experience - I was not keen on many aspects of India society and food - but overall this was a smoothly run tour.
Pros: My driver: Mr. Sharma was awesome. Excellent clean and maintained vehicle, very safe driving skills, prompt pickups and good communications. Always had cool water and local stories and advice. A good connection with the driver is paramount - this tour includes a great deal of on the road time. The lodgings: Agra - Ramada is a very new, well run hotel, comfortable modern room, friendly service, and great breakfast buffet. Ranthambore - Regency showing it's age but well maintained, rooms are dated, service was excellent. This portion included all meals based around safari drives: food service was good, staff really tried to please. Considering I spent almost 8 hours on dusty safaris but did spot a tiger drives - Regency was more than adequate. Lodging in Jaipur Lemon Tree was a letdown. By all appearances a modern city business hotel, but very worn out rooms, mediocre breakfast, unfriendly staff. The guides: this tour provides a driver for the entire trip plus local guides at various major stops. 50/50 rating on guides: the guides in Delhi and Jaipur, while informative and knowledgable seemed to be bored going thru the motives of the job. My guide in Agra, a female, was excellent - engaging, knowledgable, lively personality. The guides on safari drives were hit and miss - morning guide took time to explain Ranthambore Park, tracking tiger techniques, pointed out birds and other animals, and understood photo angles. The afternoon guide again simply went thru the motions, no narrative or tracking skills, we just drove around until we got lucky with a tiger sighting.
The Con's - this culture is very sexist as the guide experience reflected with my female traveling partner - the Agra guide female and the morning safari guide male and our driver treated her with respect, the Delhi and Jaipur guide males would not speak to her directly unless absolutely necessary, and usually with a sigh and smirk.. Whist I understand cultural differences, modern western people - where women are treated equal - provide the bulk of tourists in India and should reflect in tour company training. The lodging in Jaipur was 3 star in any other country. The culture and food require adaptation as we were on sensory overload from all the people, noise, traffic and filth of India. No fault to the tour company - and the food in India was dodgy at best - and places our tour guide suggested very expensive. Be prepared for many hours of seat time in a car navigating the chaotic and bumpy India landscape. Unless you really want to spend a lot of money - simply tell the insistent guide you do not want to visit cultural exhibits of crafts which is a lead to ripoff high pressure sales tactics at carpet stores, gem factories, textile weavers, etc. I avoided these entirely, there was plenty of shopping elsewhere.
The sites: all of the included tour sites followed the itinerary and ranged from spectacular Pro-Taj Majal to odd Con - the smelly, sewage filled lake in Jaipur.
Overall I was very pleased with my tour service provided by the tour operator. The tour description on La Vacanza Travel was accurate and comprehensive and communication with the tour operator went smoothly. I highly recommend this tour at the price point I paid for those with limited amount of time or desire to spend in this area of India.