South India Highlights
HEAD FROM TRIVANDRUM UP TO VARKALA FOR PRIME BEACH GALLIVANTING. TAKE A BOAT RIDE THROUGH THE KERALA BACKWATERS. CATCH A KATHAKALI DANCE IN KOCHI. DON THE SAFARI HAT FOR PERIYAR NATIONAL PARK. PIG OUT ON CURRIES IN HAMPI AND SEAFOOD IN GOA. TAKE A BREAK FROM THE HORNS, THE TRAFFIC, THE COWS AND ALL THOSE PEOPLE. BEACHES, AYURVEDIC MASSAGES, CURRIES AND COCONUT GROVES AWAIT. WORD OF WARNING, BEWARE THE BHANG LASSI.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS TRIP IS RUN BY OUR EXPERIENCED SISTER COMPANY INTREPID.
DAY 1 - TRIVANDRUM
If Mahatma Gandhi refers to your hometown as the 'Evergreen city of India', you better make sure you keep it that way. Thankfully, Trivandrum is now considered as one of the 10 greenest cities in India. Phew.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
There are no activities planned for Day 1, enjoy exploring Trivandrum.
South Park Hotel or similar
DAY 2-3 - VARKALA
If you love beaches you’ve come to the right place. If you don't love beaches, then we feel quite sorry for you. But not sorry enough to replace this day with something else. Because Varkala is incredible.
Spend a couple of days in Varkala - a beautiful beach town on the Arabian Sea.
The main beach here is Papanasham Beach, which is long and golden with a backdrop of red laterite cliffs from which mineral water springs forth, chill out here and witness fishermen pulling up their nets from the sea.
The tour guide can take us to various beaches in the surrounding areas and advise us on optional activities - maybe witness an evening Kathakali or Kalaripayatt show.
This place is also known for its Ayurvedic massage centres.
Dream Beach Resort or similar
DAY 4 - KERALA BACKWATERS HOMESTAY
Take a local train along the Keralan Coast to reach Alleppey (approx 2.5 hrs).
Auto rickshaws take us from Alleppey train station to the boarding point for our boats.
Alleppey's sleepy, palm-shaded backwaters are Kerala's hidden treasure. Once an important trading port and now famous for its August 'snake boat' races, Alleppey is the starting point for most journeys into the backwaters and also hosts a mid-December musical festival.
Crossing the backwaters, head to an island village to stay with local families (approx 1 hour).
Explore the backwaters with a local guide to observe the different facets of local life - this is a great chance to meet and talk with the people who live here. Strolling under palm trees and weaving in between the rice fields that cover the island, learn about their lifestyles.
Take a leisurely pole boat ride around the lake and enjoy the outstanding scenery.
Accommodation is on a multishare basis and all the families live within a few hundred metres of each other, with at least one person in the family speaking a reasonable standard of English. Food is traditional Keralan home cooking.
Kerala Backwaters homestay
DAY 5-6 - KOCHI
Crossing the backwaters by private boat, head for Alleppey (approx 1.5 hrs).
Take a local bus to Kochi (approx 2 hrs).
Spread over several islands, Kochi is a fascinating place full of Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and English influences.
Stay at Intrepid Kaliveedu. This is a special lodge offering very different ambience with large landscaped gardens, air-conditioned rooms and a central location close to most of the sights in Fort Cochin.
We will reach Kochi around midday. Today we will go on an orientation walk with our leader and take in the sights in the vicinity of our accommodation.
Some of the sights to see include St Francis Church, Santa Cruz Basilica and the famous Chinese fishing nets.
There's the option of attending a Kathakali dance performance tonight at 5pm. This classical dance is a highly charged and powerful drama that combines devotion and physical virtuosity with symbolic storytelling to produce one of the most impressive and vibrant forms of theatre in the world. It requires lengthy and rigorous training to attain complete control of the body and sensitivity to emotion so as to be able to render all its nuances through facial expressions and hand gestures.
The following day we will head to the Mattancherry part of Fort Kochi where we explore the old Jewish quarter, Synagogue and Dutch Palace. The tour takes approximately 2-3 hours after which the rest of the day is free.
In your free time why not join one of our Urban Adventures such as Fort Kochi by Bike, Home Cooked Kochi or Kochi Food & Culture Tour. Please check with your leader in advance if you would like to book one of these tours and they can assist in making arrangements.
Kochi - Dutch Palace - INR5
Kochi - Kathakali performance - INR300
Intrepid Kaliveedu Lodge or similar
DAY 7-8 - PERIYAR NATIONAL PARK
Set high in the ranges of the Western Ghats is the Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve. This wildlife sanctuary surrounds a picturesque lake, formed by the building of a dam in 1895, which meanders around the contours of the wooded hills and provides a permanent source of water for the local wildlife. Though it's a tiger reserve, tourists come here to view the Indian elephants in the act of ablution and playfulness by the lake.
Ambadi Hotel or similar
DAY 9-10 - MADURAI
Crammed full of bazaars, pilgrims, cycle-rickshaws, beggars and street markets, Madurai showcases southern India at its colourful and lively best.
Visit the Sri Meenakshi Temple, which lies at the heart of the city. This ancient, still active temple is a labyrinth of lamp-lit corridors which lead to shrines where some mysterious and interesting rituals are performed.
Wander the bazaars and the tailors' market.
The Pearls Hotel or similar
DAY 11-12 - MYSORE
You’ll remember the City of Palaces for sandalwood, rosewood artefacts, palaces, temples and landscaped gardens.
Board a local bus to Mysore (approx 3 hrs).
Mysore is an easygoing town with a pleasant climate, perfect for wandering around on foot.
A visit to Mysore isn't complete without a look around Mysore Palace. One of the most ornate palaces in India, its interior is a riot of colour, mosaics and mirrors.
Visit the Keshava Temple in Somnathpur - a stunning example of Hoysala temple architecture (approx 1 hr from Mysore).
You have plenty of time to explore the surrounding countryside, so head out and climb Chamundi Hill - site of the Sri Chamundeswari Temple, which is dedicated to Goddess Durga.
Catch the bus to Bangalore (approx 3 hrs).
Board an overnight train and head up to Hampi, via northern Karnataka (approx 10 hrs).
Bombay Tiffany Hotel or similar
DAY 13-14 - HAMPI
Arrive in Hampi and cross the river to our guesthouse by canoe.
Hampi is a beautiful ancient temple town situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra River. Giant granite boulders litter the landscape and make great vantage points to view this incredible town.
Explore the Vittala Temple - the architectural highlight of Hampi's Vijayanagar ruins.
We drive to Hubli (approx 3 hours) and jump on an overnight train to Goa (approx 8-9 hours). Make sure you get your snacks situation sorted early. Try not to eat them before the train has pulled out of the station.
Shanti Guesthouse or similar
DAY 15-16 - GOA
If you like it hot this is the place to be – in terms of both the curries and the weather.
Between the beaches, the seafood and the nightlife you’ll probably never want to leave. But sadly, you have to.
Famous for the sandy beaches that line its coast, Goa is a fascinating and distinctive region in India's southwest. Brimming with Portuguese influences and bursting with fresh food, this region has earned its idyllic badge.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
The trip ends on Day 16. Stay awhile though, Goa is pretty sweet.
Hotel Santiago or similar
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