Ekno licensed guides - Vikas & Ashish
Ekno licensed guides – Vikas & Ashish

According to the Good Tourism Institute good tour guides boost the travel experience and level of customer satisfaction of visitors. The guide is key in making sure the travel experience is run sustainably in that visitors rely on your expertise, your local knowledge and your ability to provide them with an amazing experience.

As a tour operator in India, we at EknoTravels would like to add that it is important to be licenced. By being licenced by the State and/or Central Government Tourism Boards you know that you they have undergone relevant training to become professionals.

There are many stories that circulate around people’s difficult experiences while travelling in India and that they were ‘taken for a ride’ by offering an experience that didn’t live up to the promise and they money that was exchanged for that experience. Such scams are rampant if booking through the internet.

It is important to always check the credentials of the travel company that you are engaging as this can ‘make or break’ your trip.

In India, to obtain a guide’s licence with either State and/or central government qualifications they have to undergo an exam and practical training to attain their qualifications. These need to be updated on a yearly basis. By having these qualifications, they are able to organise and run a travel experience following official guidelines (if required).

As well being trained and qualified other skills include:

1. Outgoing and engaging
2. Good communication skills
3. Knowledgeable and passionate.
4. Organised and punctual
5. Patient and able to manage a crisis
The Good Tourism Institute https://goodtourisminstitute.com/

Meet our Tour Guides

Vikas Kumar on safari
Vikas Kumar on safari

Vikas Kumar

Vikas has worked in the travel industry since he was at school. Since then, has worked in many roles and is since 2012 he has worked as Tour Manager at Ekno Travels. He has held a Himachal Pradesh State Government Tour Guide licence since 2007  and and more recently India Central Government Tour Guide Licence. This adds to his tertiary qualifications from from Himachal Pradesh University. Vikas regularly works with Photography, Trekking, Spiritual and Cultural groups from Australia, Europe and the USA.

Ashish Kumar trekking in Indrahara Pass
Ashish Kumar trekking in Indrahara Pass

Ashish Kumar
Ashish joined Ekno Travels in 2017 and plays a pivotal role lending his knowledge to itinerary building and guiding clients on various tours throughout India. Ashish holds a Bachelor’s degree, a Diploma of Computer Science, and a Masters of English. He has recently passed his Guiding exams to be licenced with the Himachal Pradesh State Government and India Central Government. Ashish works with Trekking and Cultural groups from Australia and Europe.

Reference: The Good Tourism Institute https://goodtourisminstitute.com/

We are excited to announce that we will soon be launching our new brand, TravelEK India

We understand that not everyone wants to buy a complete travel package, so TravelEK India will be offering individual services that cater to your needs. Our dedicated team will help you choose services which align perfectly with your requirements so that you can travel India with ease.

Our services for India include:

Before you leave – visa applications and travel insurance to get you started.
On arrival – airport transfers to your hotel or chosen location.
While travelling – transport bookings including flights, train tickets, and private vehicles with drivers; accommodation bookings including homestays and glamping; English-speaking guides; entrance tickets; travel extensions and bespoke experiences including cooking classes, music lessons, and wellness treatments.
On the ground support – you can feel secure in the knowledge that you will have the same advantages of purchasing a complete tour package, with our dedicated team in on hand 24/7 in case anything goes amiss.

Watch this space for details: www.travelekindia.com

As we say goodbye to 2023, we reflect on the year that was. For some of us, it was the year we regained the confidence to venture far from home again after a few short years of being locked in by borders.
For those who came to India, we were happy that you trusted us to keep you safe and healthy during your stay.
Together we experienced the Desert Festival of Rajasthan, the Hidden Gems of the Himalayas, pilgrimages to Ladakh, Spiti and Dharamsala, and a Himalayan Retreat. Thank you to everyone who travelled with Ekno Travels in 2023. 🙏✈️🏔️💜 #eknotravels #maketravelmeaningful #incredibleindia

Namaste! Welcome to our India. A country so huge and vast – from the jungles of the south to the Himalayas of the north and the deserts of the west, India has it all and so have we.

We have put together a range of tours, extensions and bespoke experiences that combine popular must dos like the Taj Mahal and Jaipur with more exotic and remote locations like Ladakh, the Spiti Valley and Northeast India.

Our offices in India and Australia are on hand from the moment you arrive in India until you leave, and we always have your safety and comfort in mind.

Take a look at our 2024-2025 e-Brochure for more information.

Extensions and Bespoke Experiences
Why not add one of our extensions or some bespoke experiences to your tour?

We have designed a range of short stays that take in the many not to be missed destinations throughout India. These packages are designed to be used either as an extension to your existing Ekno Travels itinerary, or as independent travel. With several exciting cities and experiences to choose from, we hope you will find a short stay to suit you.

See the full range of extensions here

Bespoke Experiences
Our bespoke experiences are added bonuses that are designed to align perfectly with your interests. These locally curated experiences offer you the chance to delve deeper into daily Indian life.

Our bespoke experiences include early morning heritage walks through the streets of Jaipur and Jodhpur, a sunset boat ride with local musicians in Varanasi, home cooking classes with locals, and nature walks in the lower Himalayas around Dharamsala.

Experiences can be arranged at a time that suits you, in addition to your tour or independent travels. We believe these experiences are part of creating a memorable visit to India.

See the full range of bespoke experiences here


Diwali is truly a magical time to explore North India. Come with Ekno during this special time and explore the sights of India, including the Taj Mahal, majestic Rajasthani forts, ancient Mughal ruins, spectacular palaces and medieval spice markets.

We’ll celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights, in the blue city of Jodhpur. Diwali is one of Hinduism’s most important festivals, and is celebrated across India with lights, firecrackers, sweets, and joyous festivities. Join us as we participate in the celebrations with locals from across the city, before enjoying a special Diwali feast to ring in the occasion.

Take in the twisting bazaars filled with spices and fabric, the early morning sun glistening off the spectacular white marble of the Taj Mahal, the twinkling lights of Diwali, and the cobbled streets of Udaipur with views of Lake Pichola in the background. This trip is not to be missed.

Tour Highlights:

  • Explore the colourful bazaars and markets of Delhi
  • Visit the Taj Mahal at sunrise
  • Take in the sights of Jaipur, including Amber Fort and Hawa Mahal
  • Enjoy a heritage walk through Mehrangarh Fort, one of the largest in India
  • Experience Diwali celebrations in Jodhpur, including a Diwali feast
  • Travel to Udaipur, the ‘Venice of East’

View trip details and the complete itinerary here

A$3,400 per person twin share

A$2,950 per person, twin share

The mighty Himalayas are home to some of India’s most spectacular hidden gems. Get off the beaten path and discover this charming and visually stunning region. This tour has it all – quaint hill stations, tea plantations, heritage villages, Buddhist temples, breathtaking mountain views and a journey into the plains of the Punjab.

Start with a visit to Shimla, the picturesque capital of Himachal Pradesh, home to breathtaking mountain views and fascinating British era architecture. Then travel to Dharamsala, home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile, and universally known as ‘Little Lhasa’. Finish the tour with a visit to Amritsar, home of the Golden Temple, Sikhism’s holiest shrine.

Our expert Ekno guide, Vikas Kumar, lives and breathes Himachal Pradesh, ensuring that you are in safe and capable hands for the duration of the tour. As with all Ekno experiences, we select our hotels and locations with an eye on combining luxury and comfort into one truly unforgettable experience.

Tour Highlights:

  • Enjoy the many sights and wonders of Delhi
  • Travel to the hill station of Shimla on the world famous ‘toy train’
  • Tour and stay at a family-owned tea estate in Palampur
  • Visit the heritage village of Pragpur and stay in a palatial country manor
  • Journey to Dharamsala, home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile
  • Experience the Golden Temple, Sikhism’s holiest shrine, in Amritsar

View trip details and the complete itinerary here

A$2,950 per person, twin share

With the new year upon us, it is time to start dreaming of new adventures. Is India on your bucket list for 2023? Or are you interested in a completely different kind of holiday? India might be just what you are looking for.

On a personal note, I have just spent a wonderful month in India. There were many happy reunions after three years away from my Ekno Travels family. This is the longest I have been away from my second home in twenty years. It was a wonderful return, with many highlights, including a rooftop welcome lunch with the Ekno team, seeing Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo at her nunnery, C41FA99F-D2A1-4253-BC68-79ED41D98CCAa trip to the Palampur tea gardens and a final hurrah visit to Amritsar including dinner at the Golden Temple with the Ekno team and their families. I can’t wait to return, hopefully in 2024.

Check out our upcoming tours for 2023, and we hope to see you in India again soon, Sharon

There is so much to consider when travelling to a new place – getting the lay of the land, finding the best attractions to visit, discovering where the great food and coffee is etc. The list is personal, but as a lifelong traveler, going for nature walks is my favourite way of connecting to new places. I love breathing in the surroundings, admiring the views and finding stillness amongst the local flora and fauna. The sights, sounds and smells of a forest, or the openness of the sky against a backdrop of mountains are experiences that I treasure. The Japanese have a wonderful term called ‘forest bathing’, and this practice has been found to lower blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of harmful stress hormones. Being amongst nature can help put you in a more calm and relaxed state. 407A9D51-801A-4BF0-B12B-DFD3BF9063DE

One of my favourite places to do just this is in the Dharamsala area of India. The deodar forests and walking tracks take in the Himalayas as a magnificent backdrop to any day or overnight walk.
We have partnered with local company Dharamsala Adventures and now offer unique nature walks as part of out Bespoke Experiences.

SharonBillyI can finally contemplate my return to India at the end of 2022 – it will be three years that I have been away, the longest in 20 years. I have missed the instant transition of being in India mode, alive and alert as soon as I hit Delhi airport. I always feel as though I have to hit the ground running with my senses in full throttle, as I leave Delhi and begin negotiating and navigating my way to the next destination – usually Dharamsala. The plane trip is very scenic and once I hit the tarmac it feels as though I am home again. I still regard it as my second home, even now that I have returned to Australia to live.

The first thing I am looking forward to is the sight of the mountains, a constant presence from the moment the aircraft lands on the short tarmac. I look forward to being reunited with my two dogs Billy and Maddie, who are being cared for by Kalpana and her two children. It goes without saying that I am looking forward to seeing my friends and their families, including Vikas and Shiv. Whilst we see each other often on Zoom, it will be an added bonus to see them in person with a class of chai in our hands.

Who could forget the shopkeepers of Dharamsala, who always comment on my return, ‘Long time away, Madam’. I’m always astonished that they remember how long I’ve been away for. I wonder what they will say after this long stint away.   – Sharon (founder of Ekno Travels)

As a photographic tour leader for Luminous Journeys, a provider in world class photo tour adventures, I lead groups of photographers around various countries in South Asia, including India, where I have the pleasure of teaming up with Vikas and Ekno Travels. They are ground handlers for our India tours and make them run comfortably and smoothly. I created our Incredible India Photo Tour Workshop alongside Vikas in 2017, after we researched the best destinations for landscape, people and culture photography. We worked together to create the best itinerary we could for a photo tour that was both original and rich in photographic opportunities. We had fun doing it too, and in working with Vikas I appreciated how lucky I was to have the best guide anyone could hope for, who is both professional and very personable. I miss working together, but in 2022 I believe it will be possible once again to travel throughout India, and that is an exciting prospect.

After a lot of research and brainstorming, Vikas, myself and Bennett Stevens from Luminous Journeys ultimately created the perfect 15-day photography tour in the north of India. We picked the best rock to stand on for a sunrise shot of the impressive Mehrangarh Fort overlooking the blue city of Jodhpur. We worked out how to shoot the Taj Mahal from the nearby Mehtab Bagh (literally ‘Moonlight Garden’) while including a human subject in the shot. We organised photographing a Saddhu (holy man) on a wooden boat on the River Ganges in Varanasi at sunrise, as well as bringing camels and dancers into the Thar Desert near Jaisalmer for both sunset and sunrise shoots while arranging for guests to have the opportunity to camp and spend a night on the sand dunes with musical entertainment and delicious Rajasthani food. Not to mention researching the best places to be during the Holi festival of colours for the most action-packed and exciting shots, and how to protect expensive cameras while being in the heart of the powder throwing action.

We’ve conducted our India photo tour three times since its creation, and we were so fortunate to still do the 2020 tour in February/March, just before the Covid pandemic impacted the world. During this early 2020 tour news of the virus was starting to get some buzz, and the Delhi international airport staff were taking everyone’s temperature on arrival while asking us if we felt any fever at all. But no one could have predicted what would soon follow – an almost two-year end to world travel in Asia, especially to India.

As an Australian living in Brisbane, I am excited that there is talk of the borders opening again this year, meaning India tours in 2022 will be possible again. And I can’t wait to return to this land that elicits so much emotion and excitement in me. I first travelled to India in 2004 for six weeks, and I then met Ekno’s founder, Sharon, in Nepal. I since continued returning to India and will do so throughout my life, learning a little bit more about it each time I go, exploring new places and aiming to take even better photographs than the previous time.

Our next India photo tour that we have scheduled to run with Vikas and Ekno Travels is ‘Luminous Ladakh’ on July 6 2022 – a newly researched tour that covers the Himalayan north of India. Our ‘Incredible India’ tour is slated to run in February 2023, and will include the Jaisalmer Desert Festival and photographing wild tigers in Ranthambore Tiger Reserve.

Visit: www.luminousjourneys.net for more tour info.
David Lazar’s India photography can be viewed at his website: www.davidlazarphoto.com.
Follow him on Instagram: www.instagram.com/davidlazarphoto

In March 2020, as I was touring Dharamsala, local tourist attractions were literally starting to close around me. While I had an inkling things were getting serious, it wasn’t until I got the official text from DFAT telling everyone it was time to get home, that I realised the seriousness of the situation. And as I stood in Delhi Airport, with more people than you can begin to fathom, never would I have imagined that 19 months later we would still not be able to travel.

I will never again take for granted the hustle, bustle and madness of the streets of an Indian city. The incessant tooting of horns, the endless stream of traffic. The sensory overload of so many smells and colours. The people going about their business here, there and everywhere, winding between vehicles, animals and other people.

I will never again take for granted the peace and tranquility of an Indian village, with its open space and smells of earth, nature and smoky fires. I will even welcome the discreet stares, and the sometimes not so discreet stares, of the locals.

I will never again take for granted the opportunity to spend time with the people I have come to know and care about during my Indian travels over the past few years. Yes, technology is great! And we can Zoom, Skype and WhatsApp but NOTHING will ever replace sitting down to a meal of dahl, rice and roti or a steaming hot chai with your friends, chatting about what’s going on, how the kids are going and having a laugh together.

I have booked a return ticket for the end of June. I’ll be there, savouring every sound, sight, smell and whatever else India throws my way.

Danielle has two tours planned for 2022:

Supporters of Samadhan Delhi Tour: 15-21 October 2022,
Jaipur add-on tour: 23-25 October 2022
Dharamshala immersion tour: 27 October-4 November 2022



It has been good news this past week with both India and Australia Governments announcing that dates for international borders to open.

The Indian Government has issued a directive that they will be issuing 30 day tourist visas from 15 November 2021 (people arriving on charter flights a month earlier). The first 500,000 visas will be issued free of charge. This means that people from countries where there is no travel restrictions will be able to visit – if they are double vaccinated.

For Australians wanting to travel, a definite date has not been announced.  The press are reporting that people will be able to leave from mid November but the devil is in the detail.  Everyone will have to wait a little longer to find out exactly what leaving Australia and returning will mean.

Just wanting to let our clients and friends that are open for business.  The India office, which will now be our headquarters  is still operating with Vikas in charge of tours and Shiv in charge of the operational side and Sharon is in Australia.

Please be assured we are navigating of all the new terms and conditions in an opened up COVID world.  We will ensure that travel to the India and the subcontinent – Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan will be a safe and wonderful experience.

We are in the process of updating our website and can’t wait till we are doing what we all love – travelling.

We look forward to seeing you soon.

Sharon, Vikas & Shiv




While on a visit to Jodphur, India last year,  a mystery was uncovered.  The significance of turbans worn by Rajasthani men and how to wrap and tie one.

Turbans are an important part of their attire and are referred to as the Pagari. They vary in style, colour and size and indicate the person’s caste, region and the occasion it is being worn for. The wearer starts out with a length of material usually 9-10 meters long and in some cases can be up to 15 meters long too.Rajasthani turbans 1

Single colour turbans are worn by farmers and shepherds, these are big in size and tied loose to adjust to the heat of the desert region. Colorful turbans are worn by the elite or indicates festival, wedding or a special occasions.Rajasthani turbans 4

Turbans are known by different names in Hindi like Paag, Safa and Pagri and there is a saying in Rajasthan that every 15 km you travel the style changes. Theh prominent ones being Pencha, Sela and Safa.

I loved seeing the men wearing their turbans as I travelled throughout the rural areas of Rajasthan,and now understand the significance of the Pagari (turbans).  You may get a chance to wear one like my travelling companion Brooke and I did in a small village just outside of Jodphur. I loved the experience and am confident you will too.Rajasthani turbans 3