The Tropical South Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Destinations:
India
Programmes:
Culture
Trip Code:
AIT
Activity Level: Leisurely
Leisurely

You are healthy, enjoy the outdoors and want a relaxing trip. No experience is required.

15 Days Flight Inclusive
14 Days Land only
16 Min age

Trip Overview

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.

At a Glance

  • 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

Trip 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 

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.

Group

Our Indian team of leaders have proved very popular with their incredible knowledge, passion and hospitality adding greatly to the experience. There is no better way to experience Indian culture than letting an Indian guide show you around their country.

Adult min age:
16
Min group size:
4
Max group size:
16

Itinerary

Land Only

Start City:
Cochin
End City:
Kovalam

Flight Inclusive

Start City:
London
End City:
London

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    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 2

    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 3

    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 4

    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 then descend back to 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 5

    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 6

    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 7

    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 8

    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 9

    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 10

    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 11

    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 12

    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 13

    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 14

    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

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. 

Single supplement from £340.00

Food & Transport

Eating & 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.  

Transportation

All transport, unless otherwise stated, is by private air-conditioned car or minibus, and backwater cruising in typical Keralan houseboat.

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

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.

Weather Charts

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 15 Days

The group flight from London is an overnight flight departing the day before Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of Jet Airways or Etihad Airlines (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be
confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.


Travelling land only: 14 days starting in Cochin and ending in Kovalam

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Cochin in the afternoon of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions ‐ sent approximately two weeks before departure.

Accommodation check‐in times are normally from around 12 Noon.

Regional Flights

The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please ask about flights from local or regional airports.

If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check-in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1.5 hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Transfers Details

Airport transfers are included for those on the group flights. Please note that transfers are not included for clients arriving on any other flight, even if Exodus has booked it.

If you require airport transfers, you may (by prior arrangement only) be able to join the group transfer. Transfers are arranged to coincide with the arrival time of the group flight - please check the group flight details 2 weeks before departure. If you do not take this transfer, or miss it, you must make your own way to the joining point at your own expense.

The cost of a taxi is likely to be about £15 (approx. US$24) should you decide to make your way independently.

Location start:
Cochin
Location end:
Kovalam

What to Take

Essential Equipment

Comfortable good walking shoes with good grip for the day walk in Munnar

Sandals/Flip-flops

Light casual clothing

Warm sweater/fleece

Sunhat

Sun cream

Torch

Day bag to carry cameras etc.

Anti-bacterial hand gel

Small personal first aid kit

Mosquito repellent

Swimwear and towel

Water bottle

Dark clothing (for the nature walk in Periyar)

Hotels with swimming pools provide towels at the poolside.

An old pair of socks for visiting temples is useful, as the ground can get very hot during the daytime.

Men and women's clothing should cover shoulders and be on or below the knee. Women especially should always dress conservatively to avoid unwanted attention and not to cause offence; vests, tight-fitting trousers, short skirts and shorts are not recommended.

It doesn't matter what type of bag or case you use on this trip although it is preferable to use a soft holdall (with wheels if necessary) or rucksack/travel sack as they tend to be easier to manage. You should also bring a small day bag for your valuable items.

At the time of writing the standard weight limit for hold baggage on the recommended international carrier for this trip is 20kg. We recommend packing only one piece of checked baggage.

As advice about luggage allowances for both hand and hold luggage is subject to change, we suggest you check the airline's website for the latest information prior to your departure.

Optional Equipment

Light Waterproofs

Umbrella (for sun and rain)

Reading List

Art and Architecture of India: Buddhist, Hindu, Jain
(Pelican History of Art, 1984)
Excellent, well‐illustrated introduction to Indian art.

Concise History of India
F. Watson (Thames & Hudson, 1974)
Very readable and well‐illustrated history.


Maps

Bartholomew's Indian Subcontinent. Nelles Maps of India, sheet 4. For further information contact
Stanfords at Long Acre, London, WC2E 9LP. Tel: 020 7836 1321. Website: www.stanfords.co.uk

Practical Information

Passport

India

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

India

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Vaccination

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.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

Dengue fever and/or Chikungunya are known risks in places visited on this trip. Both are tropical viral diseases spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for either, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

The risk of malaria on this trip is slight, but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

India's Timezone:
Asia/Kolkata IST (GMT +05:30)

Electricity

India's Electricity:

230/240 volts AC, 50 Hz.

There are recharging facilities at all the hotels, the electricity supply is not 100% reliable but it is usually only off for short periods of time.

Money

India's Currency

The national currency of India is the Indian Rupee (INR), with an exchange rate at the time of publication of approximately 85 to the UK£ and 65 to the US$.

Exchange rates are correct at the time of publication.

It is illegal to import or export rupees. Do not accept torn or (very) dirty Indian banknotes from banks or in change as they will almost certainly not be accepted as legal tender in India. Please ask for low denomination notes of 100 and 500 Rupees as the new 2000 Rupee notes can be difficult to use out of Delhi. You can change money back from Rupees into Pounds or Dollars at Delhi airport (before going through security), but you must produce an exchange receipt showing that you changed money in India.

ATM Availability

ATM machines are now widely available in the course of the trip (Visa and MasterCard are best) though you should not rely on these 100% of the time, so please take some cash with you as well. Please inform your bank before departure that you are travelling to India and carry the relevant telephone number with you in case they put a block on your card.

You can pay with credit cards in bigger shops all over India.

Well-known brands of travellers cheques can be exchanged but we advise against taking these now as changing them is often difficult.

You can bring Sterling or US Dollars.

 

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

Many sites now charge a small fee for camera use. It is recommended that you allow at least £5 (approx. US$7) per day for personal expenditure such as stamps, postcards and soft drinks.

India has very good opportunities for shopping, especially for locally made goods, and during your trip it is highly likely that your local guides will take you to emporiums as well as workshops where these goods are made. Many people find this a great opportunity to buy local handicrafts, silk, jewellery and carpets. Guides will often assume that visitors will want to go shopping, it is very much part of the culture, but if you do not wish to go please make this clear to your local guide at the time.

Optional Excursions 

Entrance fees to monuments, museums and Periyar Park are included. The optional extras are a visit to a tea factory and tea museum (which are sometimes closed) as well as a Kathakali Dance Show, Martial Art Show, boat trip on Periyar Lake and Ayurveda massage. These cost very little and prices are provided in the detailed itinerary. The optional Heritage Walk in Madurai is approximately £15 (approx. US$20), and the optional trip to Kanyakumari at the end of the trip depends on how many people wish to go. For example, the cost of a car for 4 people travelling is INR 4800 (approx. £58). If more than 4 people are travelling it would be INR 6400 (approx. £75). These are total costs, not per person, which can be divided based on how many people are travelling together. If it's open, we can also visit Padmanabhapuram Palace en route, which costs INR 300 (approx. £4) per person.

 

Tipping

Tipping is very much part of the culture in India and is expected. Tipping can often be an awkward affair, especially when in an unfamiliar country where you are not sure when or how much to tip. As such, your tour leader will offer to arrange and look after a group tipping kitty which will be used to tip hotel staff, local sightseeing guides, bus drivers as well as any other support staff used throughout your trip. Your leader will suggest how much to contribute, depending on group size, but it is usually in the region of 2500 INR (approx. GBP£28 US$38) per person. At any time during the trip your leader will be happy to show you an account of how the kitty is being distributed. Please note that for smaller groups the leader may have to collect more than the above amount.

Tipping of leaders is not included in the kitty and is at your own discretion. If you wish to show your appreciation a tip of around £2-£3 (US$3-4.50) per person per day would be appreciated.

By definition, gratuities are not something that can be included in the tour price.

Responsible Tourism

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… 

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

 

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 16 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE –STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to www.exodus.co.uk for online booking, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.