We chose this trip because the itinerary was interesting and varied and it more than lived up to our expectations in every respect. We have been on lots of Exodus holidays and this was our first "Premium" holiday. It ranks as one of the best we've done.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
It's really hard to pick the best from this fantastic trip. Southern India is wonderfully fertile and we loved seeing everyday activities in the countryside - tea picking, the rice harvest, carrots being washed (yes really!), sugar cane converted to sugar. Our guide Lukose often just stopped our minibus to pick up on activities as we passed by on the road. We were a small group of six and the group dynamics worked well, always a bonus. Accommodation was excellent throughout. Cruising along the backwaters in a houseboat is a very special experience too.
I should mention that at "Ooty" we found ourselves involved in a celebration of 140 years of the railway and were the VIP guests being interviewed for the newspapers and TV - we have press cuttings of our moment of fame!!
- What did you think of your group leader?
Lukose Thomas is a really professional leader who takes his job and responsibilities seriously. He is clearly a leader of many years experience and not fazed by any difficulties - for example when we found I'd left my credit card in the machine at the previous hotel! He worked hard at following our interests and was keen to research any areas where he didn't know the answer. This doesn't mean he lacked a sense of humour either - we all really enjoyed his company for our two weeks and felt privileged to have such a great leader.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
The climate is REALLY humid and you have to get used to being permanently damp. Because you stay in some hotels for two nights it's possible to get laundry done and we all found that necessary - it's returned beautifully pressed, and on one occasion in a lined basket with flowers on top! It was quite cold and very wet up in the hill station so a waterproof and/or umbrella is essential. Some of the hotels have good swimming pools and there was time on this trip to take advantage of them.
There is a lot of curry - it's possible to eat it 3 times a day, but if you're not keen on spicy food it is possible to find alternatives.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
It was our second visit to India, the first with Exodus and it was good to be back with our favourite travel company! Travelling with Exodus you get a real feel for the people and the way of life as well as the country itself. There is a fair amount of driving on this trip and Lukose had some ideas for improving the one very long day's drive which are worth following up.
We were just six in a nine seater minivan, not counting driver and guide so were comfortable - with nine it would have been a bit cosy. Train travel in India is just a brilliant experience, not to be missed.