Aurelia's Family Adventure Across Rajasthan

Journal

Despite having been to India many times, when Aurelia (our Director of Travel) visited the subcontinent again last year it was a completely different experience. Traveling with her 18-month-old son, she got to experience India in a new way – through the eyes of her child.

Aurelia, her husband, and her son picnicking on a cliff

India is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, but it’s not just an abundance of people – it’s also incredibly rich in culture and wildlife.

First visiting at the age of 18, Aurelia has been back multiple times since, falling in love with the country a little more each time. While it’s changed and developed, much has still retained its original charm.

Traveling to India last year, she was accompanied by her husband and 18-month-old son Caspian. Starting in Delhi and ending in Mumbai, they spent most of their time in Rajasthan, moving between cities and the countryside to really experience the best India has to offer. “My husband had never been, and Rajasthan has some of the most iconic cities in India as well as incredible culture, history, and of course all the palaces, so it was important for him to see that. But the other reason why I returned to this region was because of SUJÁN, which are these extraordinary tented camps we were lucky enough to experience and a reason to visit India just in themselves.”

Dispelling myths

When planning her family trip, Aurelia came across several preconceptions that others held about traveling with a young child. At Pelorus, every trip we plan is completely bespoke and can be tailored to suit the ages of those traveling with you. So Aurelia was determined to dispel some of those common myths.

“One myth was that India is not a family-friendly destination, and that came up a lot. People think it’s noisy and hectic (which it can be), but we spent a lot of time in rural areas which are the complete opposite, and I did that on purpose because I think they are much better suited to children. Indians adore children, and they are so sweet and caring and that makes traveling really fun. The great thing was that everywhere we went the hotel staff were extra kind and my son was so well looked after.”

Traveling across such a large state with a young child, many parents would naturally be concerned. Will they complain the whole time? Will they be engaged? Will they be comfortable? But, as Aurelia found out, there was no need to worry.

“I had traveled domestically in India before so I knew what to expect, but this time we were in a really comfortable car with a phenomenal driver and guide, so it was much more pleasant. Traveling on the road is an experience in itself and you can learn so much about the country by just looking out a window. For a young child, the roads are a feast for the eyes: cows napping in the middle of the road, camels pulling colorful tractors (which our driver called 'disco taxis') and whole families dressed in colorful saris all traveling together on one motorbike. And so, while kids need to be entertained with books and toys, they can actually just love seeing the world go by.”

Aurelia horseriding

Incredible experiences

From slow safaris spotting tigers and leopards and horse riding across the Rajasthani countryside to wellness pursuits and immersing yourself in bustling cities and rich culture, India has so much to offer travelers of all types. Rajasthan offers the best of both worlds, allowing you to stay in the countryside while accessing some key cities, palaces and temples, but being able to return to the oasis of your luxury property and not be too overwhelmed.

“What I love about the rural Indian experience is the countryside: it’s so varied and offers so much. When we were staying at SUJÁN Jawai Camp, we were surrounded by these huge granite boulders, on which leopards love to nap. To the west you have the magnificent Thar desert and the fort city of Jaisalmer, while further south you have Udaipur and its seven magical lakes. And in the countryside you can do so many activities: hiking, biking, quad biking, various forms of safaris. Rajasthan is also famous for its Marwari horses which are absolutely beautiful, and horse riding is a really lovely way to see the countryside. So from an active perspective, there's so much to do. And it's great for all ages too.”

Baby looking at a leopard
Aurelia on a horse at sunset
Pool

Making family memories

Reflecting on her time in India, we asked Aurelia what her experience was traveling with a young child and what she would recommend to other parents considering visiting the country. 

“The countryside is probably best suited, but if you want to visit the cities, there are some amazing hotels which can act as a base for you to explore and do a tour for example of the old city. We can arrange excellent nannies to look after younger kids, but older kids will probably find it fascinating to get an insight into what real city life is like. 

“While we were staying at SUJÁN Jawai, we had the chance to go out on game drives to find the (not so, it turns out) elusive leopard. My husband and I weren’t sure how Caspian would feel, and I was initially a bit nervous about him joining us, thinking he wouldn’t like how bumpy and dusty it was. But he absolutely loved it! We were about a meter away from a leopard who was drinking from a stream, and when Caspian suddenly made a noise, she turned around and looked at us and it was just incredible. I don't think there are many 18-month-olds that you can say have been on safari and seen a leopard. I’m so glad we pushed our boundaries and took him with us.”

As anyone who is desperate to visit India would rightfully ask, the first thing out of our mouths was to ask about her favorite place and stand-out experience.

“I love Udaipur and it’s probably my favorite city in Rajasthan. It's grown a lot, but the old town still has its charm. It's more peaceful compared to Jaipur and Jodhpur. The lake takes center stage here, with the famous Lake Palace where James Bond's Octopussy was filmed. Sometimes you get elephants walking down the street. We stayed at Raas Devigahr which is about 45 minutes outside the city and it provided a great countryside base to do a day trip into Udaipur.”

“One of my favorite moments was at SUJÁN Sher Bagh, which is in Ranthambore National Park. On the first evening, when we went down for dinner, we were told we were actually having dinner in a surprise location. The staff led us down a path and we arrived in a forested area lit by hundreds of lanterns, with a boma and various small food stations. It was staggeringly beautiful. That’s what these camps do so well; every evening you dine somewhere else and have a completely different, unexpected experience. They truly have the best service there and make you feel so at home.”

How to do India right

There are so many ways to see and experience India, but for those who are visiting for the first time or who want to visit multiple areas, it can be hard to know where to start. That’s where we come in. There are the classic routes across Rajasthan ticking off the major cities, palaces, and other tourist hot spots, but we’ll see you weaving in some of the more remote locations and exclusive experiences to take your trip to the next level. 

“It’s about being creative with how you see, travel, and experience India. It can be exhausting if you’re constantly going from place to place, hectic city to hectic city. Finding balance is key and we can do that really well. There are ways of exploring India and the richness that it has to offer, and that’s where we come in. We create bespoke hyper-personalized trips, elevating it with specialists and insider access, so we can ensure that our clients see some of the highlights but have a complete balance and can also relax.”

Aurelia and Caspian holding hands

“Our military planning and logistics are also key, getting people from A to B smoothly and ensuring that there are contingency plans in place. People want to try and do everything and sometimes it can be overwhelming, so you need to make sure that the pace is right. And if they want to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time, then we ensure that we include private jets to save time. 

“Add to that, the relationships on the ground we have set us apart, and the guides we bring in offer a different perspective and can open your eyes to a new side of India. We can privatize some of the forts and pull off extraordinary private dining experiences to make it feel extra special. We also know the best markets and places to buy beautiful Indian homeware.”

Leopard

Aurelia's top tips

Aurelia recommends visiting between October and the end of March before the heat begins to creep up and the rains come. Her top tips for anyone thinking of visiting India?

“Be open. Expect to be surprised. It’s such a special place. It's different in so many ways from the West: it's noisy, the smells are different, the air is different. So be ready for that. But I think if you embrace it, you will love it.”

Lantern-lit tented bar
Palace against a clear blue sky
Tiger-themed library
Lantern-lit tented bar
Palace against a clear blue sky
Tiger-themed library

Inspired to visit India?


Get in touch with Aurelia and our Travel Team to start planning your own unforgettable experience in India.


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