South India Explored

21 days
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£2,199
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4.6 / 5 from 41 reviews >
Leisurely
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Trip code: 
AIS
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Cultural Wonders
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–16

Explore the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka

A region of great charm, southern India offers travellers beautiful cities, colonial hill stations, colourful temples, a relaxed lifestyle, attractive scenery and some of the best food in India. The major cities of the south were once princely capitals of the maharajas, and their magnificent remains contrast dramatically with the cool, mist-shrouded hill stations established by the British Raj. The natural scenery is also immensely rewarding; forest-clad hills slope down to a shoreline of shady lagoons, wooded islands, ancient spice ports and sandy beaches. This is an exceptionally varied and interesting trip and gives a comprehensive view of the whole of South India.

Highlights

  • Explore the old spice town of Cochin
  • Marvel at the beautiful palace in Mysore 
  • Madurai's magnificently carved Sri Meenakshi Temple 
  • Cruise the Keralan backwaters on a traditional houseboat 

Key information

  • 17 nights hotels, 1 night houseboat, 1 night overnight train
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus local leader. Min. age 16 yrs
  • Travel by air-conditioned private bus and train
  • Diwali Festival departure available

What's included

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

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visas and vaccinations
  • Single supplement
Call us on
0208 772 3936
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

    Arrive Cochin.

    Those on the group flight will arrive in Cochin in the afternoon and transfer to the hotel. Those who have made their own flight arrangements will join us at the start hotel. 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. In the afternoon there will be a full trip briefing and the chance in the evening to see a Kathakali dance performance.
    Comfortable Hotel

  • Day 3

    Explore historic spice port.

    Today we do a sightseeing tour of Fort Cochin and Mattancherry, where most of the historic buildings are located 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 Keralan 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 also time to wander round the tiny back streets of Jew Town hunting for souvenirs in the many antique shops and warehouses.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Climb through Nilgiri Hills to Ooty.

    A long journey today as we leave the coast and make our way inland into the Niligiri Hills. We leave Kerala and catch the Express train from Cochin to Pallakad (approx. 2.5hrs). We then drive through forested hillsides to Coimbatore (approx. 4-5 hrs drive). The ghat journey up to Coonoor is one of the most scenic in South India giving superb views of the plains below and magnificent groves of the tall, slender areca nut palm trees line the road. Passing through the small hill station of Coonoor we continue winding our way through lush tea and coffee plantations to Ooty, where we stay for the next two nights. At some point during your time here is should be possible to take the narrow gauge steam Blue Mountain Railway from Coonoor to Ooty. This is a delightful one-hour train journey (please be aware that this isn't always possible if the weather is bad or if there are technical problems with the train).
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Relax, walk, ride or try the miniature steam railway.

    Ootacamund, or 'Snooty Ooty' is queen of the southern hill stations and was a refuge for British officials and tea planters in Southern India. At 2,286m, the climate is much cooler and evenings in winter can be quite chilly. In the morning we will drive to Dodabetta Peak. At 2,638m, it is the second highest in the Western Ghats. From the top on a clear day we can see as far as the Mysore Plateau. For those who want, there is a pleasant walk through a variety of woodland (eucalyptus, conifer, shola) to Snowdon Peak (2,450m) after which we walk back to the Botanical Gardens in town. The Botanical Gardens contain over 1,000 varieties of plants, shrubs and trees including orchids, ferns and alpines set amidst beautiful lawns. In the afternoon there will be free time to wander round the bazaar and maybe try some of the locally made chocolate.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    To Mysore through Mudmalai and Bandipur N.P.

    A beautiful drive of about five hours winds down the eastern side of the Niligiri Hills back to the plains. We drive through the Mudumalai and Bandipur National Parks as we cross the border from Tamil Nadu and into Karnataka. We may spot deer, elephant and monkeys on our journey. Just before we enter Mysore we will visit Chaumundi Hill where there is a temple dedicated to Durga. On the road up to the temple there is a giant stone Nandi bull carved in 1659. We arrive in Mysore in the late afternoon and spend two nights here.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Explore palaces and temples of Mysore.

    Mysore is the city of royal palaces, sandalwood and the manufacture of incense sticks; it is the former capital of the princely state and is Karnataka's second largest city. Today we have a sightseeing tour of Mysore and its surroundings. Just outside of Mysore is Srirangapatnam the capital of Haider Ali and his famous son, Tipu Sultan. Tipu's famous battles against both the French and the British are depicted in the murals of his delightful summer palace. Ruins of the fort and the Gumbaz, the family mausoleums are also here. Returning to Mysore we spend the afternoon exploring the beautifully restored City Palace. Designed by Henry Irwin and built in 1897, it is a remarkable building with domes, arches and colonnades of carved pillars and shiny marble floors. The stained glass, wall paintings, ivory inlaid doors and ornate golden throne are all remarkable. The rest of the day is free to wander round the bazaar.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    To Hassan via Halebid, Belur and Sravanabelagola temples.

    We leave early for the 1.5 hour drive to Sravanabelagola, a city sacred to the Jains. Standing on Vindhyagiri Hill, is the 17m high statue of Gommateshwara. Erected in the 10th century it represents the saintly prince Bahubali. Nearly 700 steps carved in the granite hill lead to the statue. The carved statue captures the tranquillity of much Buddhist and Jain art. The site is visited by hundreds of pilgrims daily. (Please note that climbing up to the statue is quite demanding as there are 700 steps to walk up in bare feet and it can be very hot. We recommend you take a pair of old socks for the temple visits. If you feel the climb is too much there will be the option to sit and wait and have a cup of tea). We have a typical Jain lunch in one of the many road side cafes (dhabas) in the town. After lunch there is the option to visit another Jain temple built on a rock on the opposite side of town. We then visit the temples at Belur and Halebid. Belur and Helebid were the centre of the great Hoysala dynasty, who ruled during the 11th to 14th centuries. Great warriors, they also patronised culture and art. Although small, these temples show some of the finest carvings to be found anywhere in India. Halebid is the largest of all Hoysala temples. Starting in 1121 it remains unfinished. The friezes on the outside are particularly well carved and show scenes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. After the temple visits, we drive to Hassan where we stay overnight.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Drive to Bangalore; explore the city before catching an overnight train to Chennai.

    This morning we transfer to Bangalore (the capital of Karnataka) in the afternoon (approx. 3.5hrs). We have time to explore this world-famous city, renowned as the IT capital of India and for its pubs and nightlife. We have dinner in Bangalore before boarding an overnight train to Chennai (train journey approx. 7 hrs).
    Overnight train

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Arrive Chennai; visit St Thomas Church before transferring to Mahabalipuram.

    We arrive in Chennai early in the morning. We meet our bus and visit St Thomas Church. We then drive 1.5hrs down the coast to Mahabalipuram where we stay for the next 2 nights. There will be time to relax in this quaint seaside resort after the previous few strenuous days.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Morning sightseeing; explore rock-cut caves; afternoon free.

    This part of Tamil Nadu was once known as the Coromandal Coast. It has a language over 2,000 years old and poetry dating back to before the birth of Christ. It also boasts some of the most remarkable temple architecture in India, and with a living tradition of music and dance, is culturally very rich. In the morning we visit the rock cut caves and temples at Mahabalupuram. Occupying a stunning position on a rocky outcrop between the beach and a lagoon, the port was made famous by the Pallava dynasty in the 7th century. There are numerous cave temples, monolithic carved shrines in the shape of chariots, stone temples and relief sculptured rock panels all dating back to the 7th century. Carving in stone is still a living art here and we will see stonemasons chipping away from dawn till dusk along the busy roadside, practicing the skills that flourished centuries ago. Afternoon free to enjoy the beach and local area. For those who want your leader can arrange an optional visit to a crocodile farm just outside of Mahabalipuram.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    To Pondicherry via Vedantangal Bird Sanctuary.

    This morning we leave the coast for a while and head inland for 52km to the Vedantangal Bird Sanctuary, an important breeding ground for water birds. Cormorants, egrets, herons, storks, ibises and pelicans come here to breed and nest for about six months from November to March. At the height of the breeding season in December and January there can be up to 3000 birds here. (Please note that the bird sanctuary is closed from 31st May - 31st October). We then head to Pondicherry. Pondicherry still enjoys a hint of its French colonial atmosphere in the grid pattern streets, distinctive police uniforms and the occasional colonial building. There will be a short orientation walk in the afternoon. Approx. 4/4.5hrs.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 13

    To Thanjavur through fertile Kaveri Delta.

    Today we drive to Thanjavur through the wonderfully fertile Kaveri Delta, an area lush with rice paddy fields. The journey today will take approx. 5 hours.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 14

    Explore Thanjavur; to Madurai.

    This morning we visit a beautiful 16th century palace which houses a huge library as well as the Rajaraja Museum with a collection of magnificent Chola bronzes. Thanjavur is famous for the Brihadisvara Temple, a World Heritage Site, and is one of the great monuments of southern India. The temple is the achievement of the Chola King, Rajaraja I, who was a great patron of the arts. It is built mainly from granite and has outstanding inscriptions and sculptures of Shiva, Vishnu and Durga. We have a snack lunch today and drive to Madurai in the late afternoon (approx. 4 hrs), past granite mountain ranges. Spread along the banks of the rocky bed of the Vaigai River stands the bustling city of Madurai, where we spend two nights.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

    Visit Meenakshi Temple; free time.

    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 in Madurai is the Meenakshi Temple, an outstanding example of Vijaynagar temple architecture. Built between the 16th and 18th centuries, 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 its sculptured ceiling, which depicts a wheel showing the 60 Tamil years. We also visit the Thirumalai Nayaka Palace, which was built in 1636 in Indo-Mughal style by the Nayak dynasty. The bazaars are colourful and lively and Madurai is a great place to take a cycle rickshaw ride. The town is also renowned for its silk and cotton.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 16

    Westward to Kerala and Periyar National Park.

    We drive westwards and enter the state of Kerala today. Nicknamed 'God's own country', it is the southernmost state of India. High levels of education and healthcare have given Kerala an enviable reputation elsewhere in India and its unique balance of Hindu, Muslim and Christian sets it apart from its neighbouring states. The journey takes about four hours through lush countryside to Thekaddy and the Periyar National Park. Set on the attractive Periyar lakeside the wildlife park is known for its elephants, sambar, wild boar and barking deer. This afternoon there is the option to do a tour of the spice gardens. Coffee, tea, rubber, cardamom and pepper are just some of the local crops.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 17

    Explore Periyar National Park; morning nature walk; optional afternoon boat trip.

    A full day to explore Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. We join our local guide for a short nature walk in the park (2-3hrs) before we return to town for lunch. In the afternoon there is an optional 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 a 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 18

    To Alleppey; board houseboat for backwater cruise.

    We leave early today and drive approximately 5 hrs to Allepey, where we board our houseboats around noon and begin our cruise along the backwaters of Kerala. The houseboat cruise is one of the highlights of the trip - these enchanting houseboats, built of Anjili wood and bamboo were the traditional method of transport of goods for hundreds of years. Now they have been decorated and made into cosy 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 differing perspective on village life. The cruise takes us around the lake and along palm-fringed waterways where coconut fibre and cashews are loaded on to dugouts. In the evening the boat is anchored in the lake and we can watch the sunset over the rice paddies. All the houseboats are comfortably equipped and one boat has between 3 and 5 twin or double bedded rooms with bathroom. There is a cook and boat 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 Keralite vessels.
    Houseboat

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 19

    Leave houseboat and drive to Kovalam; afternoon free.

    This morning we leave our houseboat and drive along the scenic Malabar Coast to Kovalam (approx. 5hrs), once a relaxing hideaway on the old hippie trail this beachside town has now been discovered, but the influx of tourism has not diminished this beautiful setting. Free afternoon.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 20

    Optional visit to Kanyakumari - the southernmost tip of India - or relax on the beach.

    We have a free day to enjoy the idyllic soft sandy beaches, warm clear waters and wide views of the ocean horizon that Kovalam has to offer. There is also the opportunity to do an optional day's sightseeing by taxi from Kovalam to Kanyakumari, the end point of India where 3 oceans meet, the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. 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).
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 21

    Fly to London.

    Those on the flight inclusive package will depart for London this morning, from Trivandrum airport, 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 1 dinner included.

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, it is still possible to buy alcohol in government shops. Some hotels and restaurants are vegetarian and do not serve alcohol. Mineral water is widely available.

Weather

The most important feature of the Indian climate is the monsoon. The main monsoon strikes the coast of Kerala in late May and sweeps its way northward over the next month or so. The midsummer months are very hot in South India. The ideal time to visit is during the dry season from October to March, although there can be some rain in Tamil Nadu from October to early December. Days will be hot and the nights warm, the average range of maximum daytime temperatures being 20ºC - 30ºC and 6ºC - 20ºC at night. In Ooty the temperatures can be considerably cooler and you can expect temperatures to drop to a few degrees above zero at night in winter. 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 itinerary with lots to see. Traffic and road conditions can significantly increase estimated driving time, so you should be prepared for some long days and some early starts. The times stated in the trip notes are actual driving times and do not include photo, tea, comfort or lunch breaks.

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.

Call us on
0208 772 3936
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, overnight train and houseboat

You will spend 17 nights in a mixture of comfortable and standard hotels, 1 night on a sleeper train and 1 night on a houseboat.

The overnight train from Bangalore to Chennai will be booked in 2-tier (or 3-tier if 2-tier is not available) sleeper A/C. There are many excellent trains in India but the standard of seating and sleeping is not in line with European standards. All seats are pre-allocated at the time the tickets are issued, meaning that we cannot guarantee the whole group are together on the train: your leader will manage this as best as possible and will always check on you during the journey. Indian trains are safe to travel on but we recommend that you keep valuables with you at all times. Whilst some trains have western-style facilities, the majority of services are equipped with squat toilets. 

The houseboats are comfortable and all rooms have toilet facilities. Each boat has 3 to 5 twin bedded rooms. The houseboat also benefits from a deck & dining area. The number of boats will vary depending on group size and availability.

 

Call us on
0208 772 3936
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
    Tim and Lesley Elgood

    The Magic Bus from Exodus

    We have not undertaken any tours previously so were apprehensive but this was unfounded. Our fellow travellers proved great fun and enhanced the tour and it was an amazing and varied trip with a great guide.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Everyday included something that was inspirational. Incredible India is the strap line and it really is the most amazing country . We have now been travelling 4 months through Asia and India remains in our memory as the most beautiful country. The towns and cities, the Temples , Palaces , the architecture through all the colonial periods of history, the friendly people so welcoming , the beautiful countryside the lakes , rivers and agriculture , teeming with wildlife and birds. The tranquility of the bird sanctuary stands out.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sam George Benjamin was a great guide. He was very conscientious and extremely thorough , everything ran very smoothly. He went the extra mile to make sure everyone needs were met and was very inclusive. He was happy to answer our many questions about India during the long drives which kept us all entertained .He found some varied places to eat and introduced us to lots of delicious meals that we would not have tried without his guidance . He was also enormous fun and a great asset to exodus Tours. He sums up what a good guide should be as he made it seen easy , but we acknowledge how hard he worked to achieve this result. He was assisted by an excellent driver and co driver and excellent local guides.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Our guide had a phrase this is India my friends remember lower your expectations. We would say remain flexible open minded and enjoy the moment , India is very humbling exciting inspirational and memorable.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you are undecided whether to travel to India, a tour is a good way to undertake this as you learn so much about the culture and customs and any confusions anxieties are soon ironed out by the guide.
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Donna Heinle

    South India Explored

    Interesting exploration of this area of India. Some lengthy bus rides, but they were offset by frequent stops to drink coffee or eat at local diners (great food even on plastic plates), and other stops to watch rice planting or sugar cane harvesting or brickmaking, etc. Our guide also gave mini-lectures about education, religion, planned marriages, or any other topic we wanted to ask about.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    seeing temples that were built 1000 years ago.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sam was terrific. He made it look so easy, but I know that behind the scenes he was working hard to make sure that everything (accommodation, local guides, restaurants) functioned smoothly.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't be afraid to try different foods. The children always asked for pens.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I'm glad we were able to visit during Pongal, and also witness the controversy over jallikatta (bull wrestling).
  • Reviewed January 2017
    Christine Ker

    South India Explored

    Very good trip - quite relaxing compared with the frantic pace and culture and crowds in North India

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Staying on the houseboat - would have liked longer. Visiting the tea plantation and seeing the old India of the Raj.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Suresh was excellent and look after us very well

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Every day is very busy and full on and we covered a large area. There is a lot of time spent on the road which annoyed some people. I do not think that 5-6 hours in the bus every day is hard when compared to some trips which have 12-14 hours driving. The roads were good and the driver did an excellent job.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Would have liked more time in Bangalore and Chennai as I like visiting bazaars
  • Reviewed December 2016
    Stephen Akehurst

    South India Explored

    Was a brilliant trip, enjoyed it all. Travel a bit hectic but made it seem such a long holiday. The guide Lukas was very good and was extremely good at explaining history of monuments and places. He also enabled group to cope with the withdrawal of 500 Rupee and 1,000 Rupee notes. Can't praise him high enough. Hotels were fine, not 5 star but very good value for price of holiday.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing elephant coming down to drink in Periyar wildlife sanctuary.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Can only discribe him as brilliant.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Try and mind read Indian politicians and what their financial policies will be.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It is a wonderful place but it's just best to relax and let it happen.
  • Reviewed November 2016
    Theresa Worth

    South India Explored

    Thoroughly enjoyed this trip to South India but be prepared to accept the hustle and bustle of travelling on the roads of India! Our local bus driver Joshi and his assistant Babu kept us safe throughout our journeys. There is just so much to see, from attractive sceneries of Ooty and the tea plantations, to the Temples at Belur and halebid and the colourful Brihadisvara Temple in Madurai, along with the stunning Palace in Mysore. Having a brilliant group of fellow travellers also enhanced this wonderful experience and finishing the trip at Kovalam Beach, Kerala was a perfect way to end this busy but enthralling trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I would say the whole trip was inspirational, but the spectacular scenery as you leave Kerala and enter Tamil Nardu is breathtaking in parts. The trip on the narrow gauge Blue Mountain Railway from Coonor to Ooty is an experience not to be missed. Climbing nearly 700steps to the 17m high statue of Gommateshwara in Sravanabelagola was inspirational and well worth the climb. The Kerala backwater cruise aboard the houseboat was very relaxing and gave you an Insite to everyday living along the waters edge. Mahabalipuram with its cave temples and rock carvings is stunning.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Eugene Gevarghese is a very good group leader and had the best interests of the whole group at the heart of our trip. He ensured that on the long road journeys that there were ample coffee/tea and toilet breaks, along with opportunities to see true everyday life in India. His organisation of local guides at Mysore, Sravanabelagola, Mahabalipuram and Madurai enhanced our experiences at such historic wonders. Eugene enhanced our experiences of South India with his knowledge and eagerness to ensure we experienced the different cuisine available and everyday life experiences of the people of South India.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go with an open mind and you will enjoy this trip. There is a lot to see, be mindful that there are parts of the country that are very poor and you will see that a lot of the villages you travel through, tend to throw their rubbish on the roadside but I understand from Eugene that the Government is working hard to educate and improve things.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There is a lot of reconstruction of the roads going on but this can only be a positive thing. South India has a lot to offer the traveller and although it was quite hectic in parts there were times when you could relax. The houseboat trip and relaxing at Kovalam beach were an excellent way to end the holiday.i
  • Reviewed November 2016
    Jonathan Stoneman-Merret

    Southern India tour by coach

    A good way to see Southern India, every day was different as we travelled in a spacious air conditioned coach with plenty of room, taking in the sights, sounds, smells, the culture and history of the people who never failed to flash a smile or wave back - even if on the back of crowded moped.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Not one thing stood out as everything was thoroughly enjoyable as new to me and so different. I enjoyed the train ride from Ooty and the back waters of Karala by boat, also the optional day trip to the most southern tip was a very good experience.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Engine was excellent. He had a very friendly and humorous approach to the group that enabled us all to quickly relax and engage with each other. He always put us first and went out of his way to make sure we were ok and enjoying ourselves, he arranged small extras along the way that broke up the journies that were not on the itinerary. He could improve by giving the group the option of rather than shopping in Emporiums he took us to on several occasions by giving us free time to venture into local shops nearby.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    When ordering food explain exactly what you want, rather than ask, tell them!! If you ask them if the food is hot or spicer and they say no, be prepared, they put chilly or pepper into everything, if unsure ask for a side dish of yoghurt with no chopped raw red opinion as a side dish to cool your food. I did this several times and enjoyed some fantastic local meals, especially the lunchtime tallies. Be prepared for lots of vegetarian meals and no alcohol at majority of hotels and restaurants. Make sure you take hand wipes and gels and be prepared for some very basic toilets!!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We didn't see very much wild life, in my opinion the trip notes are a bit misleading. At the start of the trip ask your guide to book ahead for the boat trip in Thekkady, we didn't and I think we really missed out as it was fully booked, we did an alternative option of a jeep safari that was really not very good, more a jeep adventure over steep bumpy ground. The hotels are varied, some very good, others very basic but the common theme is the people and food we're always excellent. The train ride from Bangaolre is a good experience, drink Chai along with the many locals commuting. Exodus should look at the scheduling for travel to Bangalore as we arrived very late and a had a very early start to catch the 6:30 train, the hotel should be nearer the station. The last hotel, although not luxurious, is in a good location to extend your trip to chill out after 3 weeks on a coach, also gives you time to take the option of going to the most southern tip, not a lot in the area suggest no more than 2 or 3 days.
  • Reviewed November 2016
    Christine Stoneman-Merret

    Brilliant India!

    We had an amazing 3 weeks touring southern India. We saw the place warts and all! From the beauty of the mountains and backwaters to the hustle and tooting of the city and the small poor villages we past, to the mass of rubbish everywhere and the stray dogs in every street. I would thoroughly recommend this trip but go with an open mind and expect lots of hours travelling.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I loved being on the houseboat in the backwaters of Kerala, it was so quiet and watching the locals go about their every day life was brilliant

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Eugine was a brilliant leader he truly went out if his way to help and please everyone and I can honestly say he made the trip for me and my husband.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take plenty of Imodium, hand cleaning gel/cleansing wipes and be prepared to squat to go the the toilet whilst out in some VERY basic places. There were virtually no western style toilets in most places and no toilet tissue in any of them. We soon got very used to this but best to be prepared. Quite a few of us had poorly stomachs at some point during the stay

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just go prepared to try anything and embrace the country and it's lovely people
  • Reviewed April 2016
    Maurice Hurst

    South India Explored

    This was a fantastic trip but quite tiring. This was my first Exodus trip and I was duly impressed. I will recommend the company to my friends and will certainly book another myself - North India Explored.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing an elephant from our boat enter the water quite near to us and then swim 300yds to the other bank before continuing its journey.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Santo, our group leader was very good. He was helpful and had a wealth of knowledge. I would rather not have been taken by him to the three gift emporiums during the trip as there were always cheaper options nearby. We often had no real choice with regard to where we ate the evening meal. We were led as a group to establishments that clearly were not to everyone's liking or budget. Commission may have played a part here with regard to these two issues.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Obtaining the e-visa took a week! Either the website was down, or when it was running the link to make the payment to the bank in India would not work. After 3 attempts to pay, it's necessary to complete another 4 page form (this seems unnecessary). I think Exodus could put pressure on the India travel section to make the e-visa site more robust, more user friendly and payments to be made to a European bank.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It would have been better had we had a night in Chennai. Also, whilst I appreciate that we had a schedule to keep up with, we missed many opportunities where a 10min photo stop would have been appreciated.
  • Reviewed April 2016
    Susan Ralls

    southern india explored

    All in all a great holiday, you don't realise just how big India is, lots of temples but all are different, make sure you take a sun hat as it gets really hot. and the food is just excellent such a good selection of dishes even if you are not keen on spicy food we never got fed up. the people are friendly and polite, but as our tour leader said just above relaxation is your holiday,tour bus was excellent with lots of room and air con.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing a wild elephant, monkeys, deer, wild boar, as well as seeing an indian way of life. the tea plantations are amazing a flow of bonsai tea trees is like a green sea sweeping down the hills. the ooty train is a great ride with scenery to gaze at makes you feel like a kid on your first train trip. And the best is the backwaters a great way to sit back and chill.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Chandra Jeet was one of the best tour leaders we have met and we have met afew. His passion for India showed each day greeting us at breakfast checking how we slept and felt, each day he explained about life in India and the culture and their ways, it was very interesting and we learnt alot, he checked if we were drinking enough water, it was Chandra that made our holiday even better as we were a full group nothing was to much trouble whether it was a pair of trousers that was being made or recommend a new dish to try.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    On visiting temples make sure your dress code is correct, drink lots of water and enjoy the delights of India

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    take advantage of hotels safes in your rooms.
  • Reviewed March 2016
    Anthony Heal

    Such a long journey

    This trip covers a lot of South India but this unavoidably means that you spend an awfully long time on the road. The published Exodus itinerary doesn't disguise this and the travel times it provides are about right but it's one thing to read that a day's journey takes 8-10 hours and another to actually endure it. That said you see many of the important cities, temples, hill stations, beaches and wildlife sites. Hotels are a bit variable; some pretty good, others not. With one outstanding exception local guides were quite poor, able only to recite a script. Shopping opportunities were contrived too frequently and I got thoroughly fed up with them.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Wildlife.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very good organiser and knowledgeable about anything agricultural but cld do with improving his knowledge about cultural aspects.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a couple of extra days at the end of the trip to rest before traveling home.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The tipping arrangements are unsatisfactory and got some people quite worked up. If Exodus's advice on tipping is followed it adds about £150 per person to the price. This is quite a lot and understandably some people don't want to pay that much extra. On the other hand those who do pay it feel they are subsiding those who don't. It wld be better for Exodus to charge a bit more and relieve customers of the tipping burden. Incidentally, no account was provided for the kitty that the leader collected from customers to tip guides and hotel staff. This was a substantial amount in total, over £500, and customers are entitled to know how it was spent and to have returned anything left over

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!

Call us on 0208 772 3936