My Pick of the Best India Backpacking Tours and Trips

My Pick of the Best India Backpacking Tours and Trips

India is undoubtedly one of the most exotic, fascinating and life changing travel destinations there is but backpacking India can be challenging, especially the first time and especially for a solo female! My first India backpacking trip was hard, I was with my then boyfriend but after we got scammed in Delhi I was wishing I’d booked a group tour! So if you want don’t want to backpack India alone and deal with the hassles and scams then taking an India backpacking tour, at least for the first week or 2, is a good way to ensure your first India trip is memorable for the right reasons!  You could then always continue to backpack the rest of the country independently after the tour, maybe even traveling with new friends you made on the tour.

At the Golden Temple in Amritsar

India is massive so it can be hard to decide which places to visit and which itinerary is best. Also, there are many India tour companies and it be difficult deciding which one is the best for you. Not all India group tours are specifically aimed at backpackers and the last thing you want is your backpacking trip of India ruined by being stuck on a bus with boring people and a slow itinerary – when I take a tour I want to be with like minded people my own age that want to have fun and hopefully even want to travel together after the tour has finished. This is why it’s important to choose the right tour and why I put together this post specifically about India backpacking tours and trips!

As I’ve been backpacking India for over 5 years and living here for 3 I’m often asked to recommend India backpacking tours, trips and routes so I thought it would be helpful to put together a list of my favourites India trips from the companies I know, use and trust and also from recommendations from friends and readers. This post is specifically for young travellers and backpackers – if you want to see my more general recommendations for India group tours for all ages click here.

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Why should you take an India backpacking tour

Of course, it is possible, and enjoyable, to backpack India independently, even as a solo female traveller (check out my tips for women here) However, if you are young and haven’t done much backpacking before then you could fall prey to a scam so it’s safer, easier and more enjoyable to take a tour or guided group backpacking trip. Taking a tour is a great idea if you are solo traveller looking for travel buddies, if you’re not feeling too confident or just want to relax and enjoy the trip and let the experts do the planning and navigating.

If you have limited time then taking a tour will allow you to see the best of India quickly without the hassle and without wasting time planning and organising things. If you’ve got less than 1 month for your trip then I recommend you only focus on either North or South India.

If you’re on a longer trip it’s a good idea to start off backpacking India with a group tour and then once you’re more acclimatized to the country you’ll feel more confident to move on and explore on your own, or maybe even with new friends that you met on the tour.

Check out my recommended itinerary for 3 months backpacking in India for inspiration on where to go.

Sunset at the Taj Mahal

My favourite companies offering India backpacking tours

As I said before, not all India tour companies will be right for a backpacking trip. For safety reasons you also need to make sure you choose a reputable company – there’s some scammy companies out there! I wouldn’t really recommend just finding a cheap deal with an unknown Indian company online, especially if its your first India trip it’s best to stick with a reputable global company that has been tried and tested by many travellers over the years,

My favourite companies that offer great India backpacking tours are award winning companies G Adventures and Intrepid. Both companies run awesome, adventurous, fun and socially responsible, small group tours of India.

They have a huge selection of tours and trips with something for all budgets, ages and interests – but be aware that not all of their tours are aimed at backpackers and young travellers so make sure you go for their 18 – 30 tours as these are the best for backpackers and are great value for money, for example Intrepid’s 18 – 29 Basix 11 day North India trip starts at only £383! But be aware that not all meals are included so you’ll need to bring extra money but eating in India is super cheap.

You can see all the 18 – 30 something India backpacking tours by G Adventures here and check out Intrepid’s 18 – 29 India backpacker tours here.  I also always check the G Adventures last minute deals and Intrepid last minute deals to check for money saving bargains.

Hampi

My Top 5 India Backpacking Tours

Here are my favourite India backpacking tour and trip itineraries that visit my favourite places in India for the best price and are all specifically aimed at 18 – 30 something backpackers. Perfect for enjoying a backpacking trip in India without the hassle.

By the way, there are affiliate links in this post, if you decide to take one of the tours I recommend I can earn a small commission at no extra cost to you which helps me to keep this blog going so thank you! 😊

Intrepid – Essential North India – 11 Days from £382

The most popular and famous sights in India can be seen in the Golden Triangle route which includes the capital Delhi, Agra (home of the Taj Mahal) and Jaipur. This Essential North India 18 – 29s tour with Intrepid covers the highlights of the Golden Triangle as well as the holy city of Varanasi and the charming, off beat gem of Bundi in Rajasthan.

You’ll be traveling like the locals on the overnight sleeper trains – a quintessential India experience. With prices from only £382 for 11 days this is also one of the cheapest India backpacking tours! Click here for more details and to book!

 

Intrepid – Real South India – 13 Days – £513

I often recommend starting your Indian adventure in South India as places like Kerala and Goa are much more chilled out and less chaotic than the cities in North India. This India backpacking tour visits many of my favourite destinations in South India. It starts in the easy going Keralan capital of Trivandrum before visiting the beaches of Varkala and cruising along the luscious, tropical Kerala backwaters and exploring the historic, multicultural town of Kochi (Fort Cochin).

Next you’ll see the flamboyant palace in Mysore before taking an overnight train ride to explore the magical ruins of Hampi and finishing the tour on the blissful beaches of Goa where you could easily hang out for a while and find new travel buddies to head north with. This is an 18 – 29 Basix tour thats amazing value from only £513 for 13 days. Click here to see more details and to book.

Cruising the Kerala backwaters on a houseboat

G Adventures – Rajasthan and Varanasi: Trains and Taj – 20 days – from £713

This is one of G Adventures most popular backpacking tours of India which is not surprising as the itinerary really has all the must visit places in Rajasthan and North India as well as some more off beat gems.  It’s a ‘yolo’ trip so it’s fun, adventurous and affordable and perfect for backpackers.

The tour starts in Delhi and visits all the highlights of Rajasthan – the most colourful, captivating state in India. Visit Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Pushkar, Udaipur and Bikaner, explore some of the best forts, palaces, temples and bazaars in all of India, go on a camel safari, camp in the desert and experience rural village life.

You’ll also visit Agra for the Taj Mahal and experience the holy city of Varanasi. I love how all of the highlights of Rajasthan are included in this tour, some tours skip the less well known places but this one really has it all! Prices start at £713. Click here for more details or to book.

Intrepid – Epic India – 23 Days – £970

This Epic India 18 – 29 Basix tour is my favourite India backpacking tour because it combines the very best of both North and South India into one amazing tour. Starting in Delhi you’ll visit all the essential sights of North India including spiritual Varanasi, Agra for the Taj Mahal and Jaipur. You’ll also visit charming, off beat Bundi in Rajasthan before returning to Delhi to take a flight all the way South to luscious, tropical Kerala.

Once down South you’ll explore the beaches, jungles and cruise the backwaters of Kerala before visiting the flamboyant palace at Mysore and the magical ruins of Hampi before ending up on the beaches of Goa where you just might not want to ever leave! This tour starts at £970 Click here for more details and to book!

 

G Adventures – North to South India on a Shoestring  – 21 Days – £1,399

This 18 – 30 somethings G Adventures tour shows you the highlights of North and South India on a budget with the company of other fun, like minded backpackers. The tour kicks off in the capital Delhi and visits Agra and Jaipur to complete the Golden Triangle. Next, take time out in a rural village where you’ll met local craftsmen, explore the desert and stay in the village.

Then you’ll head to the spiritual and charming town of Pushkar, fall in love with the romantic lakeside city of Udaipur before visiting Ahmedabad and Gandhi’s ashram. Take an overnight train to buzzing Bombay (Mumbai) and then hop on a flight to the beaches of Goa before flying to Kerala where you’ll explore Kochi, the backwaters, the beaches of Varkala and a local homestay. You’ll see so many different and diverse parts of India in a short time with this tour it might blow your mind! Prices start from £1,399.   Click here for more details and to book!  If you’ve got less time you can also just do the first half of this trip up to Goa. More info here. Or do it all with Sri Lanka too! See here.

 

The Dragon Trip – Ultimate India Tour – 26 Days – £1,499

The Dragon Trip run epic, adventurous and affordable backpacker tours to China and Japan and I’m excited as they have just announced plans to start an India backpacking tour too in April 2019! The epic 26 day ultimate India tour covers the best of North and South India and the route is very similar to my perfect India itinerary – they really hit all the best spots and sights! Plus they are offering Global Gallivanting readers 10% off the tour when you use the code GG/TDT18! 

The tour starts in Delhi and wastes no time before taking an overnight train ride to the holy city of Varanasi before checking out the Taj Mahal in Agra and the sights of Jaipur. Take a camel safari through the desert and visit the grand forts in Jaisalmer and Jodhpur and fall in love with the  romantic lakeside city of Udaipur. Next head to buzzing Mumbai and relax and party on the beaches of Goa before visiting magical Hampi. The modern city of Bangalore, the scenic tea plantations of Munnar, multicultural and historic Kochi and the Kerala backwaters complete this epic India tour. Click here for more details and to book!  Don’t forget the code GG/TDT18 to get 10% off.

If you’ve got limited time then you could just do the 13 days North India tour from Delhi to Mumbai or the 14 Days South India tour from Mumbai down to Kerala.

 

I also like Geckos Adventures and Contiki. All their tours are specifically designed for younger travelers and backpackers and they have really fun and cheap India backpacking tours that are perfect for 18 – 35 year olds. For more companies you can also compare itineraries, reviews and prices from loads of different tour companies and find great deals on Tour Radar – check out this page where you can get 60 % off Asia tours.

Have you been on an awesome India backpacker tour? Which one did you take and how was it? I’d love to hear your experiences so leave a comment below 🙂

 

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57 comments

Sange Tsering April 3, 2017 at 7:51 am

No north east ?☹️

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Global Gallivanting April 3, 2017 at 8:34 am

Read to the bottom – your name is there! 🙂

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Carla Roberts-Goves April 3, 2017 at 5:29 pm

I used India icon tours with Sabu Ram Prajapati

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Susan January 17, 2022 at 4:14 pm

Eek, I almost choked when I read this…..Please be careful with Sabu Ram Prajapati/Icon India tours – my girl friend and I had a terrible experience with him. He sexually harassed us endlessly despite the fact he was married a little over a year beforehand.
Our driver told us that he has had complaints in the past from other western women that had used his services. He tries to come across as helpful and charming, but believe me it’s creepy and borderline dangerous, especially for anyone travelling alone.

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Damien January 18, 2022 at 6:18 am

Hi Susan!

Sad to hear abut this but thanks so much for sharing your experiences so that others can avoid being in the same position.

Sadly, I’m not surprised to hear about your experience – that’s why I recommend taking a tour with a reputable worldwide company like Intrepid or G Adventures like I mentioned.

Strange that many people recommended Icon India – I hadn’t heard of them before and haven’t travelled with them and will not be recommending them after your comment.

Hope you have happier travels in the future!

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Enid Ireland April 3, 2017 at 6:25 pm

Sabu Ram Prajapati of Icon India my favourite tour operator too !!!

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Linda Richeson Baldwin April 3, 2017 at 6:39 pm

Icon India arranged a fabulous northern and southern India tour for us. Sabu is the best!!!!!

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Global Gallivanting April 4, 2017 at 5:18 am

Great to hear I’ll have to check them out I haven’t travelled with them

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Global Gallivanting April 4, 2017 at 5:19 am

Cool, sounds like Icon India are popular, I’ll have to check them out

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Mike April 12, 2017 at 2:01 pm

I’m hoping to visit India later this year and this list has been really useful to me! Thanks a lot Anna!

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Anna April 14, 2017 at 10:10 am

Thanks Mike! Glad it helped – there are so many places to visit in India and so many tours it can be hard to find the best one. Hope you enjoy your trip – let me know how is goes?

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Randy April 28, 2017 at 2:33 am

Thanks for this post. I read about India about Varanasi but this one is the place I should have started. So happy to see the tour recommendations, timeframe and the maps. This is fantastic. I’m looking at a long trip so might end up combining a lot of this. Appreciate the love you put in this!
Cheers,

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Anna April 28, 2017 at 6:31 am

Hi Randy, glad you liked the post, yes Varanasi is a must visit place in India and often taking a tour allows for a more enjoyable and easier experience of traveling in India. Happy Travels 🙂

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Ashfina May 8, 2017 at 6:56 pm

Such an informative post! Have never used any tour before was thinking to try out G Adventures for my next one.
http://www.thewickedsoul.com

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Anna May 9, 2017 at 6:53 am

Thanks Ashfina, yes its important to choose the right tour company and G Adventures are really good – I def recommend them. Glad you enjoyed the post.

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abhijagner June 12, 2017 at 2:12 pm

What a wonderful and informative post! Great adventures. So stunning pics you shared. Thanks for sharing it.

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Anna June 13, 2017 at 12:28 pm

Thank you 🙂

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Wingo Cabs July 12, 2017 at 1:34 pm

In the same way, I used Indian icon tours. This is the best trip to visit in India. It is very informative and adventures.

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Anna July 16, 2017 at 11:12 am

Cool, I’ll have to check them out – glad you had a good experience 🙂

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Shakil Khan July 13, 2017 at 10:55 am

Nice Post!! Thanks for sharing this post. Thanks a lot.

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Anna July 16, 2017 at 11:15 am

Thanks, glad to hear you liked it 🙂

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Arefa Tonny August 2, 2017 at 7:38 am

Hi Anna,
Great post for backpackers. Personally I also love backpacking and G Adventures – Southern India and Karnataka by Rail– 10 Days looks interesting 🙂
Thanks for sharing.

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Anna August 4, 2017 at 4:30 pm

Thanks, yeah G Adventures are great and Karnataka is a cool, more offbeat region to explore 🙂

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Veronica Cavanaugh October 28, 2017 at 12:33 am

You have given me so much to think about! Thank you Anna!

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Anna October 28, 2017 at 11:12 am

Awesome! Glad you liked the post 🙂

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Anna October 31, 2017 at 7:56 am

Great! Hope it was useful 🙂

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Amit September 15, 2017 at 10:31 am

Hey Anna!!!! you have covered India very well… I would like to suggest you to visit to Haridwar and Rishikesh as well. These are good places to visit.

Thanks for visiting India!!!

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parth rathod September 21, 2017 at 7:28 am

Amazing post, good work
keep up
thank you

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Anna September 25, 2017 at 4:01 pm

Thanks 🙂

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Jordan Travel to India September 28, 2017 at 1:08 pm

You are right, the company you know is well enough to go from the company. You have given excellent information about backpacking. Nice to read your blog. Thanks for sharing this so interesting post! I want to be thankful for the way you have put it here.

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shubham sharma November 3, 2017 at 6:37 am

India is beautiful country for travelling and It has so many good places for travelling. You shared amazing experience of your trip but you missed taj mahal from that list. It is most visited place of india and stunning photos you shared of your trip.

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Alina Jolly November 7, 2017 at 8:39 am

India is a beautiful country for backpacking tours. You shared good things about it and Taj Mahal is most visited destination of india. An amazing guide you shared to plan a perfect trip to india and stunning photos you shared.

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Crystal Reed November 10, 2017 at 8:56 am

This Backpacking thing that you have detailed in this blog, m going gaga over it as m already checking out the dates for Varanasi Tour with India Trip. The number of plans you have suggested in this post sounds great and am definitely going to plan a long trip to India. Thanks for this information.

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Anna November 10, 2017 at 5:22 pm

Hey Crystal

Cool, glad you liked it. Hope you have a good trip 🙂

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shabil November 23, 2017 at 10:24 am

Hi ANNA,

Amazing post, As an Indian I can confidently tell all the people who read this that you covered almost every Must Go places in India.

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Isabella Jones December 7, 2017 at 1:48 pm

I’ve always been fascinated with India. It’s on my wish-list but haven’t been there yet. Thanks for all the info. Definitely made it easier for me to plan my India trip.

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Anna January 9, 2018 at 6:16 pm

Great! Hope you get to visit soon!

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Pooja Thakur December 26, 2017 at 11:17 am

Great job! Wonderful and informative post indeed! Great adventures. Pics are amazing. Thanks for sharing it!

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Vidya December 29, 2017 at 8:21 pm

This post on India is so beautiful. Every picture looks so real.

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Anna January 9, 2018 at 5:15 pm

Thanks 🙂

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Riddhi March 26, 2018 at 11:56 am

You are certainly a travel addict as your knowledge and research are just amazing. I have read one of your articles regarding how to book a train ticket for foreigners. Keep sharing your experience with us.

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Anna May 13, 2018 at 8:57 pm

Thanks, glad its helpful

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Pari March 29, 2018 at 10:10 am

What a wonderful read it was. I really enjoyed looking at the pictures of Indian beauty

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Anna May 13, 2018 at 7:51 pm

Thanks 🙂

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Aditi April 18, 2018 at 4:16 pm

Wonderful places with beautiful photos indeed. Wish I visit there someday, thanks for making my travel wish list a long one.

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Anna May 13, 2018 at 7:42 pm

Thanks Aditi 🙂

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Juliette June 19, 2018 at 5:11 pm

India looks incredible! Beautiful pictures!

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Juliette June 19, 2018 at 5:13 pm

India looks beautiful! Stunning place!

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Rohit Singh June 22, 2018 at 5:56 pm

Thanks for the great job you have done, Nice Details…

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Michelle Brazier July 10, 2018 at 10:44 am

Hi Anna,
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences on all that is India! As a solo female traveller hoping to get there later this year, your blog has been incredibly helpful.
Based on my research, I feel that a group tour will be the best way to go, but I can’t help feeling a little apprehensive after a bad experience with a poor travel guide in Africa some years back.
I’m eyeing off the “Wonders of India and Nepal” tour with Tucan Travel right now…do you happen to have you heard anything about the overall quality of these tours within India?
If you can’t comment on this, that’s totally fine – but I felt the need to try and ask anyway!
Either way, thanks again for this amazing blog and keep living your best intrepid life! I’m seriously so envious.

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Anna August 16, 2018 at 9:16 pm

Hi Michelle, so nice to hear you like my blog. I’m afraid I haven’t travelled with Tucan Travel and don’t know anyone who has personally so I can’t really comment. Hope you have a great tour though – it’s def an easier and less hassled way to see India!

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Sabharwa July 13, 2018 at 3:34 am

The way you wrote everything that’s so good. Thanks for sharing this with us.
Great information and explain everything properly about beautiful places.

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ryan December 12, 2018 at 2:12 pm

Wow Wonderful post…Nice plan to trip…

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Candice Sakref April 20, 2019 at 11:09 am

Thank you so much for sharing all these info, it is very usefull.

However, a friend and I would like to make The Dragon Trip run epic tour. But we can not find the right link in your post, and neither find it in their webpage.

Could you help us to find the right link? Also hopping that it will bring you some benefits too if we pass by your website.

Best regards!

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Anna April 21, 2019 at 1:16 pm

Hi Candice, thanks for getting in touch. That’s a shame, it looks like they are only advertising this 18 day India tour now – https://thedragontrip.com/adventure/18-day-ultimate-india-tour#full-itinerary. Maybe you should contact them and ask. If you use the code GG/TDT18 on another Dragon Trip tour I’m sure they’d still honor the 10% discount.

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Ryan September 17, 2019 at 1:02 pm

Hi

Very interesting plan. Thanks for share this itinerary. Its useful to us..

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12 Handpicked Best India Group Tours, Routes and Itineraries  - Global Gallivanting Travel Blog May 12, 2022 at 1:36 pm

[…] There are so many India group tours it can be difficult to decide which company to go with, which places to see and which itinerary is best. After traveling in India for 5 years and living here for 3 I’m often asked to recommend the best India group tours so I thought it would be helpful to put together a list of my favourites from the companies I know, use and trust and also from friends and readers recommendations. I also wrote a post specifically on the best backpacker tours of India. […]

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