The Tropical South

15 days
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£1,839
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Traveller ratings
4.4 / 5 from 60 reviews >
Leisurely
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Trip code: 
AIT
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Cultural Wonders
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–16

Discover Kerala and Tamil Nadu; the two southernmost states of India

India's tropical south is a land full of fertile forests, sweeping grasslands and tea plantations. We visit the two southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, both with distinctive cultures and contrasting scenery. Kerala is a true tropical paradise with an idyllic coastline and lush tropical mountains, which is evident as we travel between the old spice town of Cochin and the beautiful hill station of Munnar. A trip to the wildlife sanctuary at Periyar boasts an array of wildlife and an abundance of colourful birdlife, and dinner with a local family provides a unique insight into Keralan life. In Tamil Nadu, we explore the state's most vibrant and colourful city, Madurai, and marvel at the intricately carved Sri Meenakshi Temple. The climax comes as the lagoons of Kerala are cruised on a traditional houseboat before relaxing on the sweeping beaches of Kovalam and the chance to try some delicious fresh seafood.

Highlights

  • Cruise the Keralan backwaters on a traditional houseboat
  • Explore the old spice town of Cochin
  • Sample traditional home cooked food in a family home
  • Discover the Sri Meenakshi temple of Madurai 

Key information

  • 11 nights hotels, 1 night homestay, 1 night houseboat
  • Travel by private air-conditioned private bus
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 1 lunch and 3 dinners included
  • All accommodation
  • Transfer for group flights

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visas and vaccinations
  • Single supplement
Call for general departures:
0208 772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

London
to
London
  • Day 1

    Depart London.

    Flights usually depart London in the afternoon.

  • Day 2

    Start Cochin.

    The group flight usually arrives in Cochin in the afternoon and we transfer to our hotel. Those clients not travelling on the group flight will make their own way to the hotel and will join us for the afternoon. Please note that if you arrive in the morning, you may have to wait to be allocated a room as normal check-in time is mid-morning.

    Set on the Malabar, or 'Pepper Coast', Cochin (Kochi) is one of South India's most interesting towns and is believed to have been the first European settlement in India. Rich in history despite recent growth it retains a relaxed, quiet atmosphere. Narrow spits of land and coconut covered islands jut out into the wide, almost enclosed bay whose neck is lined with the famous Chinese fishing nets. The afternoon is free to explore Cochin or simply relax at the hotel. There is the chance for an optional visit to see a display of Kathakali Dancing, a form of religious dance and play unique to Kerala.
    Standard Hotel

  • Day 3

    Sightseeing around Cochin; optional sunset cruise at Fort Cochin and explore historic spice port.

    Today we do a sightseeing tour of Fort Cochin and Mattancherry, where most of the historic buildings are located in amongst the narrow streets. The Portuguese Vasco de Gama landed here in 1498 and began trading with the Raja of Cochin. The Mattancherry Palace was built by the Portuguese in the mid 1500's and then was largely rebuilt by its second occupants, the Dutch. Built in traditional Kerala style the wooden architecture and wall paintings of scenes from the Ramayana are still well preserved. Jewish settlers first arrived in Cochin in 587BC and a synagogue dating from the late 1500's still stands in Fort Cochin. Although now there are only about half a dozen Jewish families, the synagogue is a real gem and the individual hand painted 18th century blue ceramic Cantonese floor tiles are evidence of past trading with China. St Francis Church is where Vasco de Gama died in 1524 and the building reflects the new European influence in the area. The Santa Cruz Cathedral is close by and was originally used as a warehouse by the British. The Chinese fishing nets line the entrance to the harbour and were introduced by the Chinese in the late 14th century. There is time to wander round the tiny back streets of Jew Town hunting for souvenirs in the many antique shops and warehouses. There is the option to join a sunset cruise at Fort Cochin too.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    To Munnar.

    After breakfast we drive away from the coastal plain to Munnar set amongst Kerala's highest mountains that form a jagged line due east of Cochin. The drive is 160km and should take approximately 5-6 hours. Munnar is a beautiful hill station on the Western Ghats at about 1600m above sea level. It was once a summer resort of the British Government in South India. The town is situated at the confluence of the three mountain streams (Mudrapauzha, Naliathanii and Kundala) and is surrounded by lakes, reservoirs, forests and several tea estates. Anamudi (2695m), the highest peak in South India dominates the skyline and the many smaller peaks are a walker's paradise.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Day trek through tea plantations and the hills of Munnar.

    After an early breakfast, we take a short drive through old Munnar and travel down to Nagarmudi, a tiny village, where we start our trek accompanied by a local guide. The trek begins with a long gradual ascent through the tea plantations and then climbs into Seven Malai Hills. Just before reaching the top we enjoy walking through cardamom and coffee plantations. Our hard work will be rewarded with spectacular views over Chittrapuram Dam, Changulam Lake, Annamudi Peak, Munnar and other villages. We descend using the same route and meet our vehicle. There is an optional visit in the afternoon to a Tea Museum. Please note that there are a couple of steep ascents and descents on this trek. Approx. walking time 4 hrs.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    To Madurai.

    Leaving Kerala behind we drive 165km through the hills to the colourful temple town of Madurai, in Tamil Nadu. The drive should take approximately 6-7 hrs and we should arrive mid-afternoon. In the evening there are many restaurants to choose from: some of the best are on rooftops, which in addition to allowing us to sample some of the specialities of the region, offer fantastic views over the city.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Visit colourful Sri Meenakshi Temple; optional cycle rickshaw ride through town.

    This morning there is the opportunity to go on an early heritage walk through Madurai (approx. £15 or US$20 depending on group size), allowing us to observe the local community going about their everyday life; milking cows, women doing rangoli in front of their houses, breakfast being prepared on the roadside food stalls, and fruit and vegetable markets in full action. Coffee and a snack are provided on this optional tour. Madurai is one of Tamil culture's most vital centres and the temple and bazaar are at the heart of this vibrant and colourful city. The most famous sight is the Meenakshi Temple, an outstanding example of Vijayanagar temple architecture. Built between the 16th and 18th century, it is at the heart of the city and the life of the town revolves around it. It is a hive of activity and the scene of an almost continuous religious festival. The temple's nine towering gopurams stand out with their colourful stucco images of gods, goddesses and animals. There are about 4,000 granite sculptures on the lower levels and numerous pillared temple halls surrounding the Golden Lotus Tank. The main temple is dedicated to Meenakshi, the 'fish-eyed goddess' and the consort of Shiva. One of the spectacular parts of the complex is the 16th century Thousand Pillared Hall with exquisitely carved columns and a sculptured ceiling, which depicts a wheel showing the 60 Tamil years. There is also time to visit the Thirumalai Nayaka Palace, which was built in 1636 in Indo-Mughal style by the Nayak dynasty. Or why not take a cycle rickshaw ride through the town. The colourful and lively bazaars are also wonderful to visit and Madurai is renowned for its silk and cotton.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    To Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, home to wild elephant and many other animals and birds. Dinner and cooking demonstration in a local family home.

    Leaving Madurai we drive in the morning to the small bustling village of Thekkady, from where we visit the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, one of the largest parks in India. The drive from Madurai is spectacular as the road climbs through the Western Ghats and we have fantastic views across Tamil Nadu. In the afternoon there will be enough free time to wander around in the village and explore the bazaar, where we can visit the numerous shops selling cardamom, vanilla, peppercorns, turmeric and other spices. The whole area is a centre for spice growing, and this evening there will be a short walk around a spice garden, where we can see many different spices growing. We then have a special dinner and a cooking demonstration with a local family in their home. (Driving time approx. 4-5 hrs)
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 9

    Explore Periyar; morning jungle walk followed by an optional boat trip on the lake.

    In the morning, before breakfast, we join our local guide for a nature walk in the Wildlife Sanctuary (approx. 2-3 hrs) and return to our hotel in time for breakfast. In the afternoon there is the option to go on a boat cruise on the lake. This is an ideal way to get close to the animals and we have the opportunity of spotting elephant, otter, wild pig and buffalo. There is also an abundance of bird life - kingfishers, storks and hornbills are the most commonly spotted. Tickets can be purchased online in advance (approx. £8 or US$10). We recommend doing this in order to avoid possible long queues at the ticket office. Please inform your leader if you wish to book this in advance. Other activities available today include an Ayurvedic Massage (approx. £10-15 or US$13-20), a tribal dance show (approx. £5 or US$7), Kathakali Dance Show (approx. £3 or US$4), Bamboo Rafting (approx. £20-30 or US$27-40) or Martial Arts Show (approx. £3 or US$4).
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    To Erattupetta Planters Homestay.

    Leaving the hills, we make our way to Erattupetta Planters Homestay; a cosy eco-friendly mansion built 50 years ago, surrounded by tall rubber trees and tropical fruit trees. This is a fantastic opportunity to explore the rural life of Kerala, with a village walk and a visit to a spice plantation. With the songs of birds, the cool breeze and the rustle of trees, this is also a great place to relax. Further activities can be organised here, such as yoga, Ayurvedic massage, country boating and cooking lessons.
    Homestay

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 11

    To Muhamma; village walk.

    Today we make our way to Muhamma, driving through tea and fruit plantations. Our hotel this evening is the Deshadan Backwater Resort, situated on the banks of the scenic Vembanad Lake. Later we have the chance to explore the surrounding villages by foot and gain an insight into traditional village life. There is also the opportunity to go on an optional shikara boat ride on the backwaters (approx. £4 per person). Further activities that can be arranged are village cycling and the opportunity to see coir-making or carpet weaving.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    Board houseboat for backwater cruise.

    After breakfast and a visit to the coir museum, we board our houseboat at midday and begin our cruise along the backwaters of Kerala. The houseboat cruise is one of the highlights of the trip - these enchanting boats, built of Anjili wood and bamboo, were the traditional method of transporting goods for hundreds of years. Now they have been decorated and made into comfortable cruise boats. The network of rivers, streams, lagoons and canals occupies the alluvial plain between the Western Ghats and the Indian Ocean. As our boat meanders through areas of lush tropical vegetation we have the opportunity to view not only the prolific bird life but also gain a different perspective on village life. The cruise takes us along shallow, palm-fringed canals where coconut fibre, copia (coconut meat) and cashews are loaded on to dugouts. In the evening the boat is anchored by a bank and we can watch the sunset over the rice paddies. All the houseboats are comfortably equipped and have 2-5 twin bedded rooms with a bathroom. There is a cook, driver and assistants for each boat and the food served is traditional Keralan fare using local produce. No trip to Kerala would be complete without the wonderful experience of the backwaters aboard these traditional vessels.
    Houseboat

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 13

    Leave houseboat and drive to Kovalam.

    After breakfast we leave our houseboat in Alleppey and start the drive along the scenic Malabar coast to the beachside town of Kovalam (approx. 4/5 hrs), passing through Quilon for a tea break en route. Once a relaxing hideaway on the old hippie trail, Kovalam has now been discovered, but the influx of tourism has not diminished this beautiful setting.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 14

    Free time for relaxing on the beach or optional trip to Kanyakumari

    A free day to unwind on the idyllic soft sandy beach, or visit the many shops for some last minute souvenirs. This is a great chance to enjoy the fresh seafood in the many small beach restaurants. Try some of the Tandoori dishes - the clay ovens give a more authentic taste to bread and curries. There is also the opportunity to do an optional day's sightseeing from Kovalam to Kanyakumari, the end point of India where 3 oceans meet, the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. If it's open, the trip also takes in the old wooden palace of the rulers of Travancore at Padmapuhamban - a marvellous building with fantastic woodcarvings, and the Hindu temple at Suchindran with its amazing stone carvings. This trip can be booked and paid for locally - please note it is a very long day and the road conditions are not very good. The cost of this excursion depends on group size, but it is usually INR 4800 (approx. £58) between 4 people travelling together, or INR 6400 (approx. £75) if more than 4 people travelling together. If visiting Padmanabhapuram Palace en route it's an extra INR 300 (approx. £4) per person.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

    End Kovalam.

    Those on the flight inclusive package wil transfer to Trivandrum airport early this morning for the daytime flight back to London. Land Only arrangements will finish after check-out from the hotel.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Vaccinations

India

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Some of our India trips spend time at altitude. In regions over approx. 2000m, there is low to no risk of mosquito-borne diseases. For trips going to altitudes of over 3000m there is a risk of being affected by Acute Mountain Sickness. Our itineraries are designed to enable everyone to acclimatise to these altitudes, but you should be aware that it is still possible for you to be affected. Please see the TRIP NOTES for further information.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 1 lunch and 3 dinners included.

Dinner is included at the homestay, and we also include a dinner and cooking demonstration with a local family in Periyar. The houseboat is full board. You should allow at least £15 (approx. US$24) per day for lunch and dinner. You can eat out very cheaply in India, but if you go to the more expensive restaurants most of the time, you will spend more than the suggested amount. In most of the towns there is a good choice of restaurants and a choice between Indian and Western style food. If you are a vegetarian, India is probably one of the best destinations to travel to. Tea and soft drinks are very cheap. Please note that hotels (apart from 5-star hotels) and bars in Kerala are no longer allowed to sell alcohol, but it is still possible to buy alcohol in government shops. Mineral water is available in the bus in 20ltr containers so please bring a bottle with you to refill. Please note that service in restaurants can be quite slow.  

Weather

The most important feature of the Indian climate is the 'wet season' or monsoon. The main monsoon strikes the coast of Kerala in late May and sweeps its way northward over the next month or so. The ideal time to visit is during the dry season from October to March. Days will be hot and the nights warm, the average range of maximum daytime temperatures being between 21ºC - 30ºC and from 6ºC - 20ºC at night. However, in the hills temperatures can be considerably cooler and you can expect temperatures to drop to a few degrees above zero at night. We ask you to note that frequent rainstorms can be expected throughout the tour on November departures. However, the storms are usually of quite short duration and the sun normally comes out fairly quickly afterwards. Please note that swimming in the sea at Kovalam is not always possible, depending on recent weather conditions, however the hotel we use in Kovalam will always have a pool.

Is this trip for you?

Activity Level: 1 (Leisurely). Although this is not a demanding tour, it is a busy and active itinerary with lots to see. Driving time is kept to a minimum and is not normally longer than 4-5 hours except on Day 5 (Day 6 ex-London) when the drive can take up to 7 hours. You should also be prepared for some early starts. The roads are generally pretty good, but traffic and/or road damage can sometimes slow us down.

The moderate trek in Munnar requires a good level of fitness, as the trail can be steep in places. Walking shoes with a good grip are essential for this trek and you may also wish to bring walking poles or get hold of a stick locally if you have problems with your knees. Approximate walking time is 4 hrs.

Please note that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) are responsible for the conservation of many monuments in India and very occasionally this may mean that work is taking place at sites visited on this trip. The ASI’s schedule is never published so it is not possible to forewarn our clients of when work will be taking place. 

Diwali Festival

Some departures will be in India during Diwali, the festival of lights. This is a great festival to witness and some very minor itinerary alterations may be made locally in order to make the most of this occasion. During Diwali, people typically light up their houses, shops and streets, and celebrate on the streets with fireworks.

Call for general departures:
0208 772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels, Homestay & Houseboat

You will spend 11 nights in a mixture of standard and comfortable hotels, 1 night in a homestay and 1 night on a traditional Keralan houseboat. Our homestay is a cosy eco-friendly mansion built 50 years ago, surrounded by tall rubber trees and tropical fruit trees. Houseboats are comfortable and all cabins have ensuite facilities. The houseboat also benefits from a deck & dining area. The number of rooms per boat will vary depending on group size and availability. 

Please note that single rooms are very limited at the homestay and cannot be guaranteed. 

Call for general departures:
0208 772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
0208 772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

The mountains will always draw us back to this majestic country: and now, with the return of a very special trip, the

  • Reviewed March 2017
    Lynda Parry

    The Tropical South

    What a fantastic trip this was. Our guide Lukas was so knowledgable and willing to share his own opinions of his native country with us as well as his extensive academic knowledge. The holiday was a mix of local, cultural and energetic experiences from walking through tea plantations and spice gardens, cruising on the boat, visiting temples, local shops and markets to cooking and eating our own curry and seeing elephants in the wild and monkeys on our hotel balcony!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The most fascinating experience was visiting a local fish market and watching the morning catch come in with all the local hoteliers and restaurants and individuals bartering and buying. I shouldn't think this has changed for centuries!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent leader. Friendly, knowledgeable and able to deal efficiently with every eventuality.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We were concerned about "Delhi Belly" but sensible precautions of hand washing, use of gel and avoiding ice,salads and drinking bottled water kept us all well. We felt very safe in Southern India and only came across friendly people. I cannot believe that with this varied tour wouldn't have highlights for everyone.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go for it. Nothing to dislike!
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Mary Clarke

    The Tropical South

    Fantastic trip, lots of variety.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The time spent on the Houseboat.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The leader was fantastic, giving lots of information stopping the bus to show us sights of interest and finding places to eat.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Come and see the south, it is amazing!
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Kathryn Barrow

    The Tropical South

    An amazing and wonderful insight into beautiful Kerala.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many to narrow down to just one! The fishing nets at Cochin, the walk into the tea plantations in Munnar, the houseboat on the backwaters.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sam was a brilliant group leader. The group got on very well, and am sure this was down to Sam. His knowledge of everything from politics to history to wildlife was excellent. Nothing was too much trouble, and he ensured we were always happy and safe.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take lots of mosquito repellent, and change money at any opportunity you can - the ATMs could be a little temperamental.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you're considering this trip - go!
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Gillian Mcaloon

    Tropical south

    A fascinating two weeks, seeing and learning so much about the area.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The trek through the tea plantations was wonderful.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sam was excellent. He was so knowledgable about everything, from plants to politics of India. He was entertaining to listen to, and built a good rapport with the group.
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Adrian Cooper

    The Tropical South

    Good company, just the right sized group. The tour guide was excellent, the driver and his assistant were helpful and safe. The route was well chosen with a combination of large and small towns / cities with interesting history and sites. The restaurants we visited were good with varied menus. Scenery was excellent. There was something for everyone: scenery, culture, wildlife, history and many varieties of kingfisher (of both types!)

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Difficult - I think probably the the evening walk to the fishing harbour at Kovalam with the sun setting behind the mosque. But the optional boat trip on Periyar Lake in the evening was a close runner up when we were fortunate to see wild elephants, otters, large turtles, many kingfishers, monkeys, deer, bison and wild boar. Actually perhaps this was the best. But then there was the morning boat trip with sun rising behind the chinese fish traps.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sam was an excellent group leader and was able to provide much interesting background on all the places visited as well as the normal information you would expect. The group as a whole got on very well and I'm sure that this was in part thanks to him. Very humorous and diplomatic.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Some of the party stayed on at the end for a few relaxing days at the beach - we could not manage it on this occasion but it was a very good idea and would definitely try to do it on a future trip.
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Carole Mullender

    Great & unforgettable introduction to India

    A very busy tour schedule but the option is there to opt out of some of the activities: I decided against the 4 hour walk in Munnar because I felt it would be too much for me and didn't want to slow others down. There was no pressure to do everything. On the longer journeys we made frequent stops to look at things & have a snack or drink so it was always interesting with lots of points of interest. This is a real experience of the culture and life of Kerala and the guide was fantastic in the way he shared his knowledge with us, answering questions and acting as interpreter of food people & culture , A great intro into India in one of the most beautiful areas that in comparison to the north seems relatively affluent. The tea plantations and mountains are outstandingly beautiful.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Loved the day spent on the boat - such a relaxing and fun time just watching the world go by, culminating in a group meal in the evening with music - and the men dressed in Keralan Lungis.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader was brilliant - nothing was too much trouble and he gave time to every member of the group helping us to change money, buy drink and advising on all sorts of things - even helping me phone my partner in the UK.. When the tour schedule was affected by a 3 day strike in Madurai he improvised and changed the plans so that we got the most out of our time. He helped the group gel together and always smiled.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is a great intro to India. Advice for women - sleeveless tops are ok providing you bring something to cover up when needed - like a shawl or thin cover - sometimes you get stares for wearing different things!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This tour is great for solo travellers because you have the safety and backup of the group
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Ruth Green

    Intense, exciting and fabulous!

    My first trip to India was everything I hoped it would be. This was my 4th Exodus trip and I knew I would be in good hands. I was a woman in my 60's, travelling solo for the first time, but had no fears or worries. Everything went smoothly and I was in good company from start to finish.The whole experience was incredible and I have over 600 photos to prove it! If you've never been to India before, this is a great trip, avoiding the big cities like Delhi & Mumbai for the gentler pace of Kerala & Tamil Nadu. That's not to say you won't encounter mad tuk tuk drivers and incessant horn tooting - but that's just India! I'd recommend this trip 100% - an adventure of a lifetime. Definitely want to see more of this fascinating country now!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many to mention. For me a lifelong dream of watching the Kathakali theatre and visiting the fabulous Meenakshi temple in Madurai have to be at the top of the list. But lots of other cultural experiences, like visiting a local laundry in Fort Kochi, eating palmyra palm fruit from a seller at the side of the road, trying out the tea picker's tool near Munnar, travelling through the Western Ghats with it's fantastic tea bushes. The journey on the houseboat was wonderful too as was visiting local markets and eating parathas and drinking masala chai at roadside cafes and my Ayurvedic massage in Periyar! As an ex teacher,the visits to 2 local schools were an eye opener, I even got to sing a song to the children, who were very appreciative!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ajith Kumar was amazing. A kind, helpful, generous guide, with a great sense of humour who was passionate about his area of India and who wanted us to experience as much as we could in the 2 weeks we were with him. Nothing was too much trouble, he was especially helpful when I developed a nasty cold and cough, seeking out appropriate medication for me. I'm sure it was only due to him that we saw so many incredible sights. From visiting a site to see how clay bricks were made, to buying samosas and fruit for picnic lunches and for me - interpreting the menus in restaurants and hotels, so I didn't have to eat too much chilli! Aji as he liked to be called was a fabulous role model for other tour leaders, I know I wouldn't have had such an amazing time with so many brilliant memories had it not been for him. He gave us an amazing amount of information, but I didn't feel I had information overload, as can so often happen. We were caught up in the Jallikattu demonstration in Madurai, which meant we didn't see the Gandhi museum which was disappointing, but couldn't be helped. Aji handled the situation brilliantly and there was never a time when we felt overwhelmed by the huge crowds of demonstrators.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The pace is quite full on, but feel free to drop out of experiences if you need to, it's your holiday after all. When I was ill, I missed the jungle walk but needed the time to relax and felt better for it. However if you can, embrace everything that's on offer as it will enrich your experience. Be prepared for some hotels to be basic eg the eco homestay. The beds at Sona Palmshore in Kovalam are rock hard too! I took a small feather travel pillow, which I was grateful to have as many of the hotel pillows aren't comfortable but maybe that's just me! I didn't need the suggested £15 a day for food, the food is extremely cheap, - I took £300 sterling and came back with £75! I did buy some souvenirs & I would suggest Periyar & Kovalam as the best places. We mainly changed cash at money lenders so didn't have to shfow our passports. Be prepared to haggle! Otherwise take plenty of hand gel or antibac wipes. No one in our group had an upset stomach as far as I'm aware.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you're debating whether to go to India - just book it! There is a wealth of experiences awaiting you and you won't regret it. I would especially recommend it to any solo female travellers and first timers to India.
  • Reviewed January 2017
    Angela Redfern

    The Tropical South

    A great variety of experiences: churches, temples, palaces, museums, tea plantations, spice plantations, rubber plantations, cookery demonstration, wildlife park, houseboat on Keralan backwaters, beach resort. The accommodation was a good deal better than expected with 4 hotels sporting swimming pools and the staff unfailingly helpful and welcoming. Food throughout was delicious.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The day walk at Munnar was stunning; the houseboat on the backwaters was idyllic as was the Deshadan resort; the Gandhi museum was very moving; the final 2 days on Kovalam beach was delightful.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Lucose was an absolute joy: very knowledgeable about the history, culture and politics of the region, very well organised, ready to go the extra mile to ensure we were all contented, always courteous, friendly and helpful. Our driver Santosh and his assistant Venky were likewise extremely helpful at all times and we felt we were in safe hands.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The trip notes supplied all the information needed however I would suggest that there is no need to take a towel with you as all the hotels provided them and those with a pool provided further towels at the poolside.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I have been on over a dozen trips with Exodus over the years and have loved every one of them and this was no exception. Bravo Exodus!
  • Reviewed January 2017
    Linda Brown

    A perfect balance of culture, leisure and activity

    This trip was exactly what we needed. There was a good mixture of things to see and do, whilst being able to relax and not feel rushed.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The morning walk to see the wildlife at Peryar. The cooking lesson was great fun and the whole group got involved

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Lukose was exceptional. What more can I say?

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The pace of the holiday was exactly right. This holiday has been planned very well and provides a blend of cultures and activities, which were varied. Staying in hotels for two consecutive nights always helps to relax and this trip had a number of two-night stays. The walks were really enjoyable and the sites were fascinating. I thoroughly enjoyed this holiday and I would recommend it to anyone who would like to see Southern India and wants to have a relaxing time as well.
  • Reviewed December 2016
    Arran O'Kane

    The Tropical South

    This was my first trip to India. I chose this area in particular because I'd heard good things from others who had been there. I wasn't disappointed, Kerala and Tamil Nadu were so much more colorful, lush and relaxed than I'd anticipated. We saw so many different things, from the tea plantations to the beach, with a cruise on the backwaters in between.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Meeting the local people. Everywhere we went people were so friendly and welcoming. The hotel and houseboat staff, strangers we got chatting to in cafes, shops and museums. We rarely went anywhere without being invited for tea of having a photo taken!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Phillip was conscientious, knowledgeable and had a great sense of humor. We were a small group and he looked after us amazingly, his attention to detail was incredible. He was passionate about the area and it was infectious.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go to the Gandhi Museum in Madurai, a fascinating place. Leave with plenty of empty space in your suitcase, there are some great shopping opportunities. Do bring shoes with good grip for the walks, it can be muddy.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I thought two weeks seemed like a long time to spend in an area this small when India is so enormous. I was totally wrong, I wish I could have stayed longer there is so much to see.

Dates & Prices

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An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

 

Private Adventures 

Not found the date you’re looking for? We can organise this itinerary as a Private Adventure – just click on the tab above the list of dates and prices, let us know your preferred dates of travel and how many people are travelling, and we’ll do the rest!

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