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79 Reviews

  • Reviewed March 2020

    Excellent Tour with superb Tour Guide

    My first trip to India and with Exodus, this certainly wont be my last. Everything ran smoothly and was so informative and magical due to the charismatic and thoughtful tour leader Sam G Benjamin.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So much culture! Impromtu detours courtesy of Sam which was so interesting and which if we were travelling solo we would of missed. For example the Hindu festival at a temple with elephants, magical. The tuktuk rides! The walk around the rural village.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Brilliant could not have wished for better.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go with the flow!
  • Reviewed March 2020

    A wonderful trip taking in a wide variety of locations and experiences.

    This taster of the tropical south of India offers the traveler a wide variety of locations and experiences, and while some may be more appealing than others there is always something to appreciate and enjoy every day. There are sharp contrasts between the manic street life of cities like Madurai and the peace and calm of the more rural locations such as Munnar, Periyar, and the backwaters of Kottayam. The pace of the trip varies and some days are more full-on than others, but there are opportunities to recover from the more strenuous periods and sufficient optional activities for those with the energy to keep going. The itinerary takes in plenty of interesting diversions, and more than a few extracurricular surprises. At the end you will be amazed by how much you have packed into the trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many unforgettable moments, it is very difficult to select just one. The trek through the tea plantations at Munnar was an early highlight, although the mists and low cloud obscured what should have been stunning views. The whole experience at Madurai was amazing: a constant wall of sound, with crazy drivers (and a rollercoaster of a tuk tuk ride at night), an unmissable early morning heritage walk (with such a diversity of activities unfolding), followed by a visit to the wonderful Meenakshi Temple, and dining out on street food in the evening. The stop off at the spice garden was informative and offered an opportunity to sample and buy the local products. The cookery demonstration at Thekkady got everyone involved and was highly entertaining (with some tasty food as the end result), while the homestay gave us some of the best food of the whole trip. The houseboat experience was possibly the most inspirational moment, so peaceful and relaxing and a splendid way to wind down towards the end of the itinerary.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We could not fault San in any way. He was an exceptional leader with excellent interpersonal skills, and he organised the whole trip in a professional and responsive way. His knowledge of all aspects of local Indian life, culture and society was amazing and he was always ready to offer just the right amount and level of information, whether explaining what we were experiencing or answering questions from the group. His sense of humour engaged with the group and helped to make us a unit. We were aware he was having to deal with a number of issues behind the scenes (the spread of coronavirus was a constant concern) but he managed them calmly and kept us informed about everything we needed to know. We were always confident that he was acting in our best interests and giving us the best possible experience.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You need to take a travel plug for the basins if you want to use them for washing or shaving, as few - if any - of the rooms have them. Make sure you take plenty of hand sanitizer and apply a rigorous hygiene regime at all times, to avoid any unwelcome bugs; if you are careful you should be fine. Take a travel toilet roll or tissues out with you as outside of the hotels few toilets have any toilet paper. There are plenty of opportunities for laundering clothes during the trip and they are very cheap. Using them could reduce the amount of clothes you need to pack.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don’t expect much from the visit to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary: it really is a matter of luck if you see any wildlife, let alone elephants (our guide tried valiantly but in vain to locate them), and you won’t see much from the boat cruise on the lake there unless you are seated right on the outside or the front. Day 6 in Madurai was very full-on and some in our group found it too tiring towards the end, after an early morning start for the heritage walk followed by visits to the temple and palace before a long evening out sampling the street food. All of these events offered wonderful experiences, however it might be better to have the street food walk on the previous evening (Day 5) to allow for a more leisurely end to Day 6.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Tyler Nixon

    A beautiful trip

    We had 15 people on our group tour. We were from various walks of life and occupations, we were made up of several single people; a couple, a mother and daughter, friends travelling together up to 3 people and a family, we were mostly female group with only two men and aged between 20’s up to 70’s. We all got along nicely and enjoyed sharing experiences. Many people were pretty well travelled and at least two of us had never been to India previously. Our trip was made up of people from Britain, Australia and Hungry which made group dynamics more interesting. Kerala and Tamu Nadu offer some of the most scenically beautiful countryside the world has to offer! There is great cultural diversity seen here too. Wildlife is present but perhaps not in the numbers you might hope. This area offers great experiences and some architectural and historical delights. You will see tea plantations, rivers, mountains, forests, wonderful back waters and beaches. It is very green and so can be wet at times which impacted on us at Periyar when walking in the forest so little seen due to mist other than black monkey’s and hearing a lone bull elephant breaking branches (so still exciting!). The hills at Munnar are a pleasant warm temperature, however if you like more sun and humidity you are likely to also experience this on your trip too. This is a fantastic trip although, I think leisurely may not be how I would categorise this as some people struggled a little with the treks and there are long travelling days ahead. 4 to 7 hours although you often stop to see things along the way such as fruit bats, brick factory etc. You will likely experience some cold showers from time to time in the always clean and decent accommodation furthermore, you are likely to have some periods whereby you might benefit from taking along snacks if you need to eat very regularly.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    - Seeing a wild bull elephant at a local village and the journey by jeep to reach it, the atmosphere was electric. - The trek up hill from the tea plantations, surrounding scenery and the magical dragonflies in their hundreds. - The cycle rickshaw ride weaving its way through the crowded streets towards an imposing and beautiful temple at Madurai. - Enjoying “a time that once was” on the backwaters and relaxing on a comfortable houseboat. - Tantalising the taste buds with delectable vegetarian curries and delicious sea food. My friend noted the early morning cultural excursion at Madurai was excellent and I an sorry to have missed it!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sam is a friendly guy who is helpful and tries to provide extra when individuals have specialist requests to see something specific i.e. cultural excursion, Although, he doesn’t appear as interested in nature (as I am!). Sam perhaps left plan updates a little late in the day for our group members, however we was knowledgeable and we felt always felt safe with him around.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Leave room in your case if you would like to buy gifts. This part of India is great for material, silk and cotton garments, textiles, wood carvings, metal and wooden ornaments and spices. Loose breathable fabrics as it can be very hot and humid. Pack an brolly/rain coat and a camera to capture the many splendours. A walking pole is useful when hiking if only to prevent slipping on muddy descents. Bring Snacks if you have a high metabolic rate and burn up calories fast as you might get hungry on the longer journeys. We experienced a few bites but nothing significant so cover up to avoid or use a little deet. Mainly bring with you a sense of humour and do all the activities on offer (although, note some suggested optional excursions in our case were not available. Also take sufficient cash or even better a card, Sam was great at ensuring ATM’s we’re regularly visited but if like me you take cash get plenty exchanged before you go on the one night stays as I had to borrow money off Sam our guide which was very kind of him but I did not ask for too much as I quickly realised others in my group had done the same and this meant I did not have my usual independence to spend as much as I wanted too! My friend and I did not get any sickness or diarrhoea but we ate where Sam recommended, I did not really eat meat but loved the fish. I consumed little in the way of diary although milk is said to be pasteurised and the water was filtered at the places we visited so take a water bottle and fill up on the bus. Have a massage when staying up in the hills at Periyar locality, a number of our group enjoyed them, you will get the same gender and it is worth every penny. Cover shoulders, chest and knees at temples. My friend and I would also recommend you do this in Kovalam too when walking to the harbour as to reduce undue male attention as men here can intensively stare! which can feel unnerving / unsafe at times, keep to tourist areas here too particularly if alone female and do not wander off the beaten track. There is a lot of rubbish outside and some unpleasant odours. The tourist bay itself has some great shops and restaurants. Wonderful sunsets can be seen here and the beach is pleasant but the sea can be a little choppy. The shop owners are friendly in the lovely tourist bay and there is access to tailors for those wanting clothes made up.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This trip was fun, enjoyable, interesting and I would recommend it! Hope you enjoy it as much as my friend and I did. We saw amazing things, met great people and took in some of the best scenery the world has to offer.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Lynne Porteous

    A great and varied trip!

    This was such a good trip! I've wanted to go to Kerela for a long time and I wasn't in the least bit disappointed when I finally got there. This trip had something for everyone in it: wonderful scenery, wildlife, food and people! We covered a lot of ground, literally, and the itinerary was wonderfully varied in content.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    One of my highlights was the trek in the Munnar hills where we walked up through the tea plantations to gain breath-taking views of the surrounding area including the highest peak in South India, Anamudi. Made me want to come back and trek next time!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader, Santo, was a star! Knowledgeable, flexible, and engaging with a good sense of humour and attention to detail. Nothing was too much trouble!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is a great way to experience India, especially if you haven't ever been before - the people are so friendly and welcoming and the itinerary offers so many opportunities to learn about the country, its history and its culture.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Lawrence Wheeler

    A fabulous triñ

    An excellent, very well-balanced tour around Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It provided a good insight into the life, culture and landscapes of these two states.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The day spent walking through beautifully green tea plantations in the Kannan Devan Hills from our base in Munnar, and then up up up!! The views were stunning, and actually attaining a summit that at first appeared to be way too high provided a fantastic sense of personal achievement.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader, Philip Rojan, was excellent. He was very knowledgeable about the history of the region, its culture, its people, architecture, geography and food! He did a great job, which made for a wonderful holiday.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A highly recommendable and thoroughly enjoyable tour. You will not be disappointed. However, you should be prepared for rather poor English by some hotel employees, and the occasional lack of hot water in some accommodation.
  • Reviewed December 2018
    Martin Kingdom

    A trip packed with interesting experiences

    It’s hard to imagine that so many varied activities could be squeezed into a two week holiday, and our guide Santo James was excellent for the local knowledge that he provided. I came away with a much better understanding of Kerala, its culture and the problems that it has to deal with. Just one tip - don’t bother with the Kathakali dancing unless you have a serious interest in religious rictuals. I’d rather watch paint dry!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    A trip to see a Tollywood movie (the Tamil equivalent of Bollywood). Brilliant entertainment.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Santo James was excellent. Helpful, well organised and knowledgable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for high humidity as well as heat - except in the hills where it’s still quite warm.
  • Reviewed December 2018
    Su Wheeldon

    Kerala is open to tourists! A memorable trip not to be missed !!

    When I booked I hoped for a good memorable holiday, what I came home was an amazing experience that will live with me forever! It exceeded my expectations

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many too mention all of them! However need to mention ( no particular order) the visit to a local school, the overnight stay on the backwater, the lady making bricks, going to the cinema, the flower market, tuck tuck ride, the food, the people and everything on the itinerary. The overnight stay on the back was extremely relaxing, comfortable accommodation and we where served delicious food for lunch and dinner. Prior to dinner we had a short walk to an uninhabited island on the way seeing local people going about their lives . Visiting the school (3-8year olds) we where given the warmest welcome from the adorable children. They welcomed us by singing songs, in return we sang to them (Old McDonald had a farm!! ) We all had big smiles as we left ... impossible not too!!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Santo was a great ambassador for Exodus, always well presented, professional, friendly with smile no matter what. Knowledgeable, always offering interesting alternative suggestions to try not on the itinerary. Being responsive to the group wishes, an awareness of each member of the group and ready to accommodate their needs. Whether it was assisting with food suggestions or finding a working ATM (Mondays they often run out of cash), nothing was too much trouble for him.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Grab every opportunity to experience not only what’s on the itinerary but the amazing non scheduled events offered. This gives you a real insight into this amazing country ! All too good to miss! Go with an open mind and be willing to embrace every experience you can even if it takes you out of your comfort zone. You may like me enjoy something new and learn a lot about yourself, Don’t expect it to be perfect, nowhere is and therefore you will be disappointed. Change is good !

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Kerala is open for business following the floods! The infrastructure has been restored. Experienced no problems with travelling or accommodation, everything went smoothly. It’s a beautiful country, well worth seeing don’t hesitate. You will not regret it, I didn’t!
  • Reviewed April 2018
    Jackey Phillips

    A wonderful trip - Highly recommended

    An action packed two weeks in an India I was not expecting. Kerala is a beautiful state (apart from the rubbish everywhere) and seems a more affluent part of India. We were not hassled for money all the time and the local people were all really friendly. We filled every day with new experiences, from going to the laundry in Cochin, to stopping on the road to meet locals making bricks with their hands and feet, then watching the tea pickers working in the hot sun for very little money. Once you get used to the traffic, the cities were fascinating and there was so much to see. The Bollywood film we saw was dreadful, but a great experience. Had to be done. Most of the hotels were of a good standard but the rooms at Kovalan, described as a Comfort Hotel, which I thought was supposed to be better than Standard, were very tired and most of the electric sockets didn't work. I was disappointed that due to a forest fire, we were unable to do the morning jungle walk and the only option was a packed boat trip along the river, where we did see wildlife, but mostly at a distance. The food was very good on the whole trip, and so cheap! I was not aware of anyone being unwell.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The houseboat was wonderful, made better by buying freshwater prawns from the local fish market. The best meal of the whole trip and our boat was the only one which had them. The early morning walk in Madurai was great, seeing the wholesale traders selling their wares. It seemed like no other tourists went there, so it was more special. I loved the Muhamma Backwater Resort we stayed at, but I had the best room, overlooking the lake. It was such a peaceful, beautiful place to stay. I could have stayed there longer. I was lucky to travel with such a fun group. Even though we were of different ages, we shared a sense of humour and adventure and they made the 2 weeks very special

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sibil was an excellent local leader. He filled our days with sights and activities and had a lot of local knowledge. He was not always easy to understand and sometimes he did not understand us, but with a little patience everything worked out OK and he made sure we were all where we were supposed to be. He was very helpful and always cheerful. Even when we arranged our own activities and he had time off, he always was at hand to assist if we needed transport or anything else.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't take too many clothes, you can buy very cheap cotton items everywhere, which are ideal in the tropical heat. I took my walking poles for the morning trek amongst the tea plantations, but it was very easy and more of a stroll than a trek and I didn't need them. Take European plug adaptors, they are most commonly used. The Martial Arts display at Thekkady is recommended, but if you book for the Kathakali dance display, don't expect Bangra music and dancing girls! You have been warned! Only one room had a hairdryer, but they were available on request. Be prepared for long drives, travel always took longer than anticipated. Though the bus was comfortable and air conditioned. Take snacks. At the Homestay, take care in the bathroom as the floor is very slippery and one of our group fell and broke her arm. I was advised by people at home to only eat vegetables during the trip, but I did eat fish and chicken with no problems. You can ask for food less spicy, so the heat was never a problem.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would highly recommend this trip
  • Reviewed April 2018
    Moira Cerny

    The Tropical South

    The trip's title really sums up our impression of Kerala. The vegetation is lush and every tree or plant seems to bear medicinal and /or edible spices,delicious fruit or vegetables. It was a very varied trip - some long journeys, but to see as much as we did, they were necessary and our bus was air conditioned and very comfortable. Our walk through the tea plantations was most enjoyable . I think we will appreciate a cup of tea even more, having seen the pluckers at work. The drive over the mountains to Tamil Nadu was spectacular. Relaxing on our houseboat as we floated past villages was a very pleasant experience. We didn't see tigers or elephants, but still enjoyed our boat trip in the Nature Reserve, although we were slightly surprised by the numbers of humans we saw! Our group was interesting and fun to be with. and we never felt like we were merely following a disinterested guide. Sibil did his best to answer our many questions and every venue had a local guide.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many to single out one in particular. We found the people of Kerala very friendly and genuinely welcoming. If I had to then... the spice garden walk, the tea plantations and the houseboat would be my favourite experiences. However, I also really enjoyed our last day relaxing by the sea, the trip over the mountains and the early morning walk through the market.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sibil was anxious to help and tried his best to answer all our questions. He was sometimes a little difficult to understand, but he is able to speak four languages well, so who am I to criticise? He had a couple of tricky situations to deal with and could perhaps have benefitted from some a more supportive back-up in India able to make their own decisions. However one of our group fell and broke her wrist and he dealt with that superbly.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It was 'unseasonably hot' and humid we were told. I wished I had packed a long skirt ,as I think that might have been cooler than trousers at times. However the bus is air conditioned, as were all the hotels, except for the homestead, so it was all quite manageable. Be prepared for long journeys. Kerala is not the trip for you if you want to see ancient forts and palaces, but it is if you enjoy Nature, spectacular scenery, delicious food and relaxing on a houseboat, watching the world go by.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This was our second trip to India with Exodus. On both occasions we have travelled with a friendly, interesting and fun group. No-one was ill or eaten alive by mosquitoes. Go with an open mind and you will love it.
  • Reviewed February 2018
    Helen Burrell

    Tropical South - An Adventure

    Our visit to Kerala and Tamil Nadu was a busy and enjoyable experience. There are several long journeys, but our bus was very comfortable (there were only 9 of us so we could spread out!) and there was so much to see on the way, the colourful towns, the traffic! the busyness of India. Cochin was a lovely start ; we arrived a day early. A tuk tuk driver gave us a grand tour of 2 hours for 100 rupees! The drive to Munnar was lovely through the mountains, but to describe Munnar as a beautiful hill station is stretching it - we thought it a most unattractive town. However the trek through the tea plantations and hills was wonderful. It is quite a strenuous climb and good grip shoes are essential. The picnic at the top was memorable. The rest of the trip unfolded with some visits not on the itinerary, a visit to a family brick making enterprise, heavy work in incredible heat, a school, a lovely temple on the roadside.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The trek in Munnar The early morning walk around the markets in Madurai. It's early, but don't miss this! The early morning jungle walk in Periyar. Some climbing to spot a wild elephant! The homestay with lovely home cooked food. The houseboat, peaceful, so much bird life to see, people living on the banks, fishing, washing clothes and themselves in the river. Boats carrying various cargoes, fruit, shopping, canoe ferries transporting families and schoolchildren across the river, even small boats carrying bricks and stones. Kovalam, much nicer than we expected, lovely shops, good beach, friendly people.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Manoj was an extremely efficient, informative and friendly guide. He set high standards everywhere we went, hotels, restaurants and trips. He advised us on menu choices so that we had a full appreciation of local food. No matter how early we got up, he was there! He gave us an insight into Indian culture that no guidebook can give. We were very impressed.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Southern India is hot and extremely humid in the evenings. Don't forget sunscreen and a hat. The sun is very strong and sunburn can happen in minutes. Mosquitos are pretty well everywhere so spray well! I got a more natural spray in our health food shop called Incognito. It worked just as well. Bring tissues everywhere, there's never any loo paper on coffee/lunch stops! And hand gel, often no soap . The masala chai is lovely, I had it at every stop.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The Indian people are very friendly, and if you engage with people, you get a lot back. I could never remember the Indian phases we'd been told, so a Good Morning will always be returned. We were frequently asked where we were from (Ireland) and a conversation often followed. In cases where I asked if I could take a photo, it was always agreed, and I'd usually show them the photo I had taken. The friendliness of the Indian people was one of the highlights of the trip for us. The hotels are fine, standard and comfortable (which only means as far as we could see the 2 that had a swimming pool). Every hotel had a redeeming feature. The Ayurvedic massage is lovely, I had two, and the last hotel in Kovalam was particularly good. The cost is very low.