09 November, 2022
The aroma of a freshly brewed Ceylon tea at the lap of a charming town Nuwara Eliya, the endless expanse of sky, sea and sand and the sheer thrill of watching whales and dolphins in the beach town Mirissa, a beautiful sight of elephants wandering in the wild at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, an exhilarating jet-ski ride gliding through the waters at Lake Gregory, a spellbinding 3-hour rail journey to Ella that cuts the stunning scenery of majestic mountains and luscious tea plantations, a simple stroll on the streets of Fort Galle lined up with best boutiques, cafes and restaurants, divine interventions at St. Lucia’s Cathedral, Seetha Amman Temple and Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, the first bite of a delicious and sweet red tropical fruit Rambutan and treating the taste buds to the authentic flavours of Sri Lanka – overall, the most transformative holiday experience with women-only travel group by Jugni Travels to Sri Lanka from 26 December 2021 to 2 January 2022. I belong to a reflective type and have always been hesitant about travelling in groups. All the more, I do not understand the language that would be widely spoken during the trip. I researched a lot and spoke to different travel agency representatives – what I missed was empathy. In my view, travel is a very personal thing and I wanted my travel agent to understand what I am hesitant about and what I look for – and Nitesh Chauhan, founder of Jugni Travels was spot on to empathize. He was kind and patient and answered all my questions. His calls and messages continued to build the excitement for the trip. I truly appreciate his support in booking tickets and visa process (which isn’t part of the package) and excellent coordination to ensure that everyone reaches Columbo nearly at the same time. I met Nitesh and 13 women at Columbo Airport, who travelled from across India and set out on my first women-only group tour. It took me some time to open up – but they gave me space as well as pushed me out of my comfort zone and ensured that I felt included – all lovely ladies adorned a Hindi to English translator hat at some time or the other. The stay was comfortable; I believe all six hotels were well-researched and handpicked by Jugni Travels. They were the finest and had a charm on their own with spectacular views of gardens, beaches and skyscrapers. It is vital to mention that Jugni Travels lives the values of generosity and kindness – at every hotel and after every meal, all hard labour and warmth of local hospitality was appreciated with generous tips. We will never know the impact of tipping – it could turn as a birthday cake for a son, a painting kit for a daughter, a cane for a mother or an eyeglass for a father. It’s a great feeling to give rather than receive and I was glad to be a part of it. Nitesh is also incredibly generous towards us – from a complimentary train ticket to teaching roulette at the casino and capturing all precious moments to take back home. One of the best parts I loved was the spontaneous plans that emerged when our bus broke down, the mandatory RTPCR COVID-19 test and different preferences for New Year celebrations. We took the journey in the Sri Lankan public bus transport, colourful auto-rickshaws and wished every single soul on the road ‘Happy New Year’ as their faces lit that perfectly matched with fireworks on the sky. Nitesh, as an organizer and a guide, was phenomenal. He kept us engaged with his (though I didn’t understand completely, I could grasp the essence of it and his expressions made it easier), adopted unique photographic techniques to make every picture look stunning (when I viewed the pictures on Instagram, it created a connection to the viewer), made all efforts to make us feel comfortable, ensured that we enjoyed to the fullest and experience the life of Sri Lanka to the core. All the more, he was with us throughout the trip – even on leisure days – and the safety of the group was on top of his mind all the time. I am extremely happy to have landed on Jugni Travels during my research and overjoyed to have gone on this trip. My deepest and heartfelt thanks to Nitesh and Jugni Travels. If you ask me, would I travel again with Jugni? The answer is yes. Would I recommend Jugni? Yes, it will be one of your best travel experiences. You will appreciate all the kindness you receive from Jugni and the inspiring women who are destined to travel with you. Thank you very much for reading. Best regards, Kalpana.
09 November, 2022
Magical Vietnam: 9-17 NOV 2019 *Booking & visa process*: Mr. Nitesh Chauhan, founder of the company, not just responded back almost immediately, but answered all my questions and inhibitions patiently. I made the initial payment and then paid the balance amount in parts before the trip. Since I was travelling from Bangalore to Kolkata, he even helped me to figure out the flights that other women from Bangalore were travelling by so that I’d have company. Visa was on arrival and the document needed for it was provided by him. The visa fee and insurance is excluded from the package. . *Itinerary & places selected*: Each place of tourist interest on the itinerary is thoughtfully selected keeping in mind the three most important aspects- safety, fun quotient and accessibility. In my opinion, the two most important and awestruck places that are highlight of this tour package are Paradise Cave and The Dark/ Mud cave! Bana Hills will take your breath away, while cruising on Ha Long Bay will make you value the amazing feeling of doing absolutely nothing! . *Inland travel*: The travel is well planned and executed excellently! You get to experience inland flight, overnight train journey, two nights on a mesmerising cruise, and if you’re a little more on the adventurous side, you can even go for a motorbike ride in Hanoi. The mini-buses that we went around locally were comfortable, clean, well air conditioned. . *Hotels*: Hotels were centrally located. The rooms were good and had all the necessities. My personal favourite property was the one in Dong Hoi- Chap Lay Farms. In a very close proximity to Paradise Cave, nestled at the foothills and surrounded by the mountains, the rooms are quaint little wooden cottages. The bar and restaurant served some surprisingly scrumptious spread that you can sit and have besides the pool while swaying to music. All the hotels properties we stayed at were just fantastic! . *Food*: Nitesh made sure that we got to experience the local Vietnamese food (including street food). We also dined at an Indian restaurant that made us miss home a little less. There were times when we couldn’t find anything that would suite our appetite, but Nitesh made sure that we didn’t go to sleep hungry. . *Overall safety*: Safety tips were provided at regular intervals by Nitesh. He kept a close watch on the group and didn’t compromise on this aspect. He made sure that we were always connected with each other. . *Tips*: We tipped quite generously, because not only the local people went out of their way to help us, but because they deserved every bit of it. It’s a good drive started by Nitesh in which we, as responsible travellers realise to truly appreciate and value labour and their hard work not just when we travel to other countries, but also when we travel in our own country. . *Personal opinion *: Being travelled solo extensively in India, and never travelled via an organised tour since I dislike following a timetable during travel, I was highly skeptical how I’d like this. BUT, IT TURNED OUT TO BE ONE OF THE BEST TRAVEL DECISIONS I’VE MADE! Yes, you can always travel to solo Vietnam. Yes, it’s safe for solo women travellers. Although, I’d HIGHLY ADVISE to travel to Vietnam with Jugni Travels, because as we all know, it’s not about the destination, but the journey, and your journey is GUARANTEED to be THE BEST one till date- all thanks to Nitesh. He is the heart and soul of the group who adds life with his goofing around, silliness, HILARIOUS jokes and witty sense of humour- something that you just have to take my word for because you’ll read this in almost all the other reviews. It’s just impossible to not have fun when he’s around. And if his jokes fail to make you laugh, his voice will win your heart over! Basically, there’s no escape from him! So you might as well get along with the ride while it lasts! As for me, I don’t feel like this is the end of my tour, in fact it’s a beginning of a new journey with Jugni! Thanks Jugni Travels and Nitesh to have become a part of my life! ❤️