Monday, November 2, 2009

Pandaw's Maiden Ganges Cruise

by Paul Strachan, Founder Pandaw Cruises

Now both the upstream and downstream voyages are over, I am taking stock and trying to work out if they were a success or not. My own feelings are mixed, as are the evaluations and reports we receive from the intrepid who came with us. Some say it was brilliant and others are asking for their money back. Where do I begin?

First of all we made it. For the first time in living memory, certainly since the 1920s, a passenger vessel made it all the way from Calcutta to Varanasi. That is 1,280km in 14 days. Given the challenges of low hanging power lines, bridge restrictions, high flow rates, dealing with bureaucracy through three separate states, etc, this was an achievement. Many said it could not be done. They said the same when we started on the Irrawaddy in 1995 and on the Mekong in 2002. Once again we cracked it.

On the plus side I would say the excursions are fascinating – there is a lot to see and do along the banks of the Hugli and Ganges, more than on the Mekong and as good as the Irrawaddy. The riverscape really is amazing – varied and full of contrasts. There are lots of dolphins and bird life is rich. The village people are warm and welcoming and there is none of the hassle you would expect of India. There is no doubt this is one of the most beautiful river cruises in the world. Given the mess of India’s land infrastructure surely the only way to see this wonderful country.

Read the rest of Paul's blog here

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