Spice Trails of Kerala Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
Destinations:
India
Programmes:
Walking & Trekking
Trip Code:
TGK
Activity Rating - Moderate
Moderate

You are moderately fit and possess a spirit of adventure. Some previous experience is required for most activity based trips.

16 Days Flight Inclusive
15 Days Land only
Min age: 16

Trip Overview

Traversing the Western Ghats from the colonial hill station of Munnar to the colourful temple town of Madurai, we discover the two southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Kerala is a true tropical paradise with idyllic beaches, fertile forests and plantations of spice and tea, and it is here where we reach our highest point, Meesapulimala Peak (2630m). We then cross into the barren landscape of Tamil Nadu and marvel at the intricately carved Sri Meenakshi Temple at Madurai. A trip to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary boasts an array of wildlife and an abundance of colourful birdlife, and a cruise on a traditional houseboat offers the chance to relax on the tranquil backwaters of Kerala. Our journey ends in historical Cochin, a port which has been luring traders and explorers for over 600 years.

At a Glance

  • 8 nights hotels, 4 nights camping, 1 night homestay, 1 night houseboat
  • 5 days point-to-point trekking with full porterage; plus 2 shorter walks
  • Altitude maximum 2630m, average 1600m
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader. Min. age 16 yrs

Trip Highlights

  • The beautiful hill station of Munnar
  • Trekking through the historic tea plantations of Kerala
  • The colourful Sri Meenakshi temple at Madurai
  • A night on the traditional houseboats of Kerala

Is This Trip for You?

Activity Level: 3 (Moderate)

Although this is not a demanding walking tour, it is a busy and active itinerary with lots to see. Driving time is kept to minimum and the roads are generally pretty good, but local traffic and/or road damage can sometimes lengthen journey times. This trek is suitable for the average walker who is prepared to put in some physical preparation.

Most days are not overly taxing (apart from day 8 when there is the option for an easy walk) and most of the trails are on well made reasonable paths but are steep in places. Daytime temperatures can be very hot in the middle of the day and the sun is very strong. Nights will be cooler and 3 nights of the trek can be very cold, particularly during December and January, with temperatures just below freezing. Walking hours stated are given as approximates only. Timings stated include lunch and photo stops and will vary depending on the pace of your group.

You may find our Fitness Training Guide a useful reference: http://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/pdf/Exodus_WT_Fitness_Training_Guide.pdf

Please note that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is 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.

 

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Group

The trip is led by a local English-speaking leader along with a local driver. Local guides will be used at various sights. 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:
Cochin

Flight Inclusive

Start City:
London
End City:
London

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Cochin

    The group flight 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 there. The evening is free for dinner and for you to relax after your journey.
    Comfortable Hotel

  • Day 2

    Drive to the beautiful hill station of Munnar

    In the morning we drive away from the coastal plain to Munnar, set amongst Kerala's highest mountains, they form a jagged line due east of Cochin. The drive is approx. 160km and should take approximately 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 due to the fresh mountain air. 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 3

    Day walk through Munnar's surrounding hills; optional visit to a Tea Museum

    After breakfast, we take a short drive through old Munnar and travel down to Nagarmudi (1500m), a tiny village, where we start our trek accompanied by a local guide. The walk begins with a gradual ascent through the tea plantations and then climbs into the Seven Malai Hills. Just before reaching the summit (1700m) we enjoy walking through cardamom and coffee plantations. Our hard work will be rewarded with spectacular views over Munnar and other local villages. We then descend back to our vehicle. There is an optional visit in the afternoon to the Tea Museum.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 6.5 km / 4 miles
    Activity (hours):
    3-4
  • Day 4

    Trek in the Silent Valley with beautiful views of the tea estates

    We have a beautiful 1 hour drive to the Silent Valley, passing through some tea estates and plantations in a valley surrounded by hills. Our trek will start with a gradual walk on the plains of the tea plantations at approx 1600m, followed by a gentle climb to the grasslands. There are beautiful views all around, mostly of the tea estates, which gives us a good feel for the area. After lunch, we continue with the second part of our trek, which becomes steeper as we leave the tea plantation behind and finally reach our camp (2000m), where we spend two nights.
    Full-service Camping

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 14 km / 8.7 miles
    Activity (hours):
    4-5
  • Day 5

    Ascend Meesapulimala Peak (2630m), the highest in the area

    Today we trek to Meesapulimala Peak (2630m), the second highest in south India (Anamudi is the highest but it is in a restricted area). From our camp, the trail ascends through the rough shola grassland until we reach open ridges, bringing us to Meesapulima Peak. From the top (which is also the border between Tamil Nadu and Kerala) there are breathtaking views all around. After a break at the top and our packed lunch, we will descend to our camp (2000m).
    Full-service Camping

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 15 km / 9 miles
    Activity (hours):
    7-8
  • Day 6

    Trek to Yellapetty Village; on to campsite

    In the morning we start our trek through the thick forest land of Silent Valley and then through pine forests and along the streams of the Rhodo Valley. After this, we pass through grasslands and shola forest where we may be lucky to spot giant squirrels, wild boar and the Indian Gaur. Following a packed lunch en route, we will reach Yellapetty Village, arriving late afternoon. From here we will be taken by jeeps, for approx. 20 - 30 mins, and then walk to our campsite at Oorkadu. (1750m
    Full-service Camping

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 16 km / 10 miles
    Activity (hours):
    7-8
  • Day 7

    Trek to Koviloor via Vattavada village (1900m)

    Today we have a fairly easy walk with some slight ups and downs as we trek to the beautiful village of Koviloor (1900m). Along the way we will pass through the lush vegetable farming region of Pazhathottam and the ever-present tea plantations in this part of India.  We will find a shady spot for our lunch stop and then continue our trek to the tribal village of Vattavada.  The customs, art forms and natural remedies of the tribes in this area make it an interesting place to trek.  Our visit to Vattavada village will be an opportunity to meet the tribal people and learn about their lifestyle.  If we are lucky we may also observe some rare butterfly species fluttering around. Continuing our trek we will cross a small canal before reaching our campsite at Koviloor village.  It is here that farmers converge from miles around to sell their produce. 
    Full-service Camping

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 7 km / 4 miles
    Activity (hours):
    4-5
  • Day 8

    Trek through the plantation ridge, drive on to Mundhan

    This last day of our trek we head through the plantation ridge. From our vantage point we have views over beautiful Koviloor village. This whole area is known as the 'market of India' because of the amount of fruit and vegetables grown.  As we enjoy the scenery we may meet farmers busy with their crops.  We will end our trek with a packed lunch under the trees while enjoying the natural beauty that surrounds us.   After lunch we take jeeps for approximately 5 to 6 hours (depending on traffic) to our hotel in Mundhan. (650m) 

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 7 km / 4 miles
    Activity (hours):
    4-5
  • Day 9

    To Madurai; visit the colourful Sri Meenakshi Temple

    Leaving Kerala behind we drive for approx. 2-3 hrs through the plains to the colourful temple town of Madurai, in Tamil Nadu. Madurai is one of the oldest and most fascinating cities in south India. The great Sri Meenakshi Temple, most of which was built during the Nayak period between the 16th and 18th centuries, 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. Worshippers bathe in the tank of the Golden Lily and throng the Hall of a Thousand Pillars, where each one is uniquely carved. Madurai is a perfect place to wander around and experience Hindu culture.
    Comfortable Hotel

     

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 10

    To Thekkady (Periyar National Park); evening walk through spice gardens

    Leaving Madurai in the morning we drive to the small village of Thekkady. The drive is spectacular as the road climbs through the Western Ghats and we have fantastic views across Tamil Nadu. Thekkady is a small bustling village from where we visit the Periyar National Park. This whole area is a centre for spice growing and after lunch, there will be a short walk around a spice garden, where we can see many different spices growing. There is plenty of time in the afternoon to explore the bazaar, where we can visit the numerous shops selling cardamoms, vanilla, peppercorns, chillies, turmeric and other spices. Total driving time approx. 4-5 hrs.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Morning nature walk; optional afternoon boat ride on Periyar Lake to see wild elephants

    The Periyar National Park is one of the largest in south India and is set around a large man-made lake. In the early morning we will have a short nature walk in the surrounding tropical forest and in the afternoon an optional boat trip and cruise on the lake (tickets for the cruise can be purchased online in advance. We recommend this in order to avoid long queues. Please inform your leader if you wish to purchase tickets in advance). This is an ideal opportunity to spot birds, such as kingfishers, storks and hornbills, and occasionally we may spot an elephant, otters, wild pig and buffalo. There is also the opportunity of an Ayurvedic massage (optional), which can be arranged in the nearby Ayurvedic massage centre, and also a cooking class (optional). The park will most likely be your last chance for souvenir shopping. Card payments are taken and there is also an ATM.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 5 km / 3 miles
    Activity (hours):
    2-3
  • Day 12

    To Alleppey for overnight stay on a traditional Keralan houseboat

    Today we begin by transferring to Allepey on the coast. We board our houseboats 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 transporting of 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 differing perspective on village life. All the houseboats are comfortably equipped and have 3 or 4 twin bedded rooms with ensuite bathrooms.

    There is a cook, 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 13

    To our homestay on the Malabar Coast; explore local fisherman's village

    After a relaxing breakfast on the houseboats, we will disembark and drive along the scenic Malabar Coast to our homestay, which is situated near a beautiful stretch of beach. There is plenty of time to relax here and explore the local fisherman's village.
    Homestay

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 14

    To Cochin; afternoon sightseeing; Kathakali dance show (optional)

    We head back to Cochin and during the afternoon there will be a guided tour; this will include Mattancherry Palace built by the Portuguese as a gift for the Raja of Cochin, the Jewish synagogue dating from 1568 and St Francis church. We also explore the town of Cochin, its bazaars and old harbour area. Fort Cochin is believed to be the earliest European settlement in India and was founded by the Portuguese in 1503. Warehouses filled with the smell of tea and spices are lime-washed bright green, yellow and blue; rickety old bikes and hand-painted trucks, piled high with goods fill the narrow streets and food stalls stand on every corner. Further along the road, you come to Mattancherry and the Dutch Palace. Next to the Palace is the synagogue, built in 1568 for the Jewish members of Cochin's trading communities (please bear in mind that the synagogue is closed on Saturdays). Most people choose to stay in Fort Cochin and wander around its fascinating streets. In the evening there is the chance for an optional visit to see a display of Kathakali Dancing, a form of dance unique to Kerala.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 15

    End Cochin

    If you are on the group flights you will have an early morning transfer to the airport for the flight back to London. Those not flying with the group will leave us at the hotel in Cochin.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

Accommodation

Hotels, Camping, Homestay & Houseboat

You will spend 8 nights in hotels with ensuite facilities, 4 nights in full-service camps, 1 night in a homestay and 1 night on a houseboat.

Hotels in India usually do not have heating as there are really only a couple of months in the year when the weather can be cooler.  You can however request more blankets or the hotel may be able to provide a standing heater for your room.  Please talk to your tour leader if you need help in this matter.  

Houseboats are comfortable and all cabins have toilet facilities. The houseboat also benefits from a deck & dining area. The number of rooms per boat will vary depending on group size and availability. Whilst camping (full-service), the group will be provided with 2 man tents, mattresses, a dining tent, kitchen tent including all equipment, toilet tents including toilet rolls and camping chairs.

Please note that single rooms may be limited at the homestay.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single will only guarantee a room for single use. It does not necessarily mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Please note that a member of the group may be allocated a single room by default if the make-up of the group means there isn’t anyone for them to share with. Paying the supplement in advance is the only way to guarantee a single room.

Single supplements cannot be refunded retrospectively.

Single supplement from £310.00

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 6 dinners included.

On day 1 you should be given breakfast on the flight. It is full board on trek (5 days) and on the houseboat (1 day). You should allow at least £12 (approx. US$16) per day for lunch and dinner when not included. 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. A (large!) bottle of beer is approximately £3 (approx. US$4.80). 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. Mineral water is available. Please note that service in restaurants can be quite slow. All meals are included on the houseboat, where traditional Kerala cuisine is served. If you require any other cuisine, please inform us in advance.

Transportation

All transport is by private air-conditioned minibus plus a backwater cruise in a traditional houseboat from Kerala.

Please note while on trek your main luggage is transported by jeep to each of the campsites. 

 

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 late November to March. Days will be hot and the nights warm, the average range of maximum daytime temperatures being between 21ºC-30ºC and from -2ºC-20ºC at night. However, in the hills and on trek temperatures can be considerably cooler and although the days on trek will be hot you can expect temperatures to drop to a few degrees above zero or just below at night for 3 nights on trek. We ask you to note that frequent rainstorms can be expected throughout the tour on November departures. The storms are usually of quite a short duration but have been known to be persistent as well. This can mean that campsites can sometimes be affected by these adverse weather conditions.

Weather Charts

Cochin, India

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 16 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 Emirates (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. Please note when transferring flights in Mumbai you will need to collect your luggage and check in again for your on‐going flight.

Travelling land only: 15 days starting and ending in Cochin

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 £12 (approx. US$16) should you decide to make your way independently.

Location start:
Cochin
Location end:
Cochin

What to Take

Essential Equipment

3/4 season sleeping bag (whilst on trek each individual will be provided with a thick sleeping mattress)

Warm jacket

Fleece jacket

Lightweight leather or waterproof synthetic boots with ankle support

Socks (walking and thin)

Waterproofs

Headtorch

Sunglasses

Suncream

Wide brimmed sun hat

Warm hat and gloves

Waterbottle

Travel towel

Insect repellent

Anti-bacterial hand gel

Small personal first aid kit

Water filter for the trek (boiled water will be provided when possible)

Daypack - see note below

Dark clothing (for the nature walk in Periyar National Park to help avoid mosquito bites)

Please note while on trek your luggage is transported by jeep to all the campsites so you just need to carry a small pack with what you need for the trek each day.  You will then be able to access you main luggage on arrival in camp. 

We believe in reducing our negative environmental impacts wherever possible, this goes for when you need to spend a penny in the great outdoors! If no facilities are available there may come a time when you need to go to the loo behind a tree/bush/rock. To avoid leaving toilet paper behind we recommend taking biodegradable dog poo/sandwich bags with you. Once you have done your business you can pop the used toilet roll in here and take it off the mountain or trail at the end of the day and dispose of it when there are appropriate facilities available.

Please note:

As of November 2019 the Indian government has announced a ban on e-cigarettes and related products.  You will be unable to buy e-cigarettes in India or bring them into the country. Please ensure you do not pack these in your luggage.

Optional Equipment

Walking poles

Umbrella (for sun and rain)

Swimwear and towel

Earplugs

Travel pillow

Reading List

Art and Architecture of India: Buddhist, Hindu, Jain (Pelican History of Art, 1984)
Concise History of India, F. Watson (Thames & Hudson, 1974)

Bartholomew's Indian Subcontinent. Nelles Maps of India, sheet 4.

Practical Information

Passport

India

All nationalities require a full passport which must be machine readable, with 2 blank pages for your visa and valid for a minimum of 180 days at the time of your visa  application. However, the guidelines regarding passport validity on arrival in India are unclear. To avoid possible problems at immigration, make sure your passport is valid for a minimum of 180 days at the time of entry into India.  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

Visas are required if you are British and for most other nationalities. For UK residents full details of the visa process can be found here. Other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies.

If your trip visits Ladakh, in the very north of India, or Sikkim in the northeast, do not mention this on your Indian visa application. This can sometimes slow down or even cause the embassy to reject your visa.

When you reach immigration, you are required to pick up an immigration form. If you have an e-visa, ensure you stand in the correct queue - please follow the signs to the e-visa booth (in Delhi this is at the back of the immigration hall). You will need to fill out an additional form at the booth - please make sure that you have the details of your start hotel ready (these details can be found on your Final Joining Instructions).

 

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, therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. 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.

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. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

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.

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.

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:

In India the voltage is 230/240 volts AC, 50 Hz.

Power plugs and sockets are of type C, D and M. It varies greatly which is used in different locations. M is the least used. There are recharging facilities at all the hotels, though 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 rates at the time of publication (September 2019) GBP£1 - 88 INR, CAN$1 - 54 INR, US$1 - 71 INR, AUS$1 - 48 INR.

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

Entrance fees to monuments, museums and sites mentioned in the itinerary are included, except where it says 'optional'. The optional extras are a visit to a tea factory and tea museum (which are sometimes closed) as well as a Kathakali Dance Show in Cochin. These cost very little and you only need to allow a few pounds in total. The optional boat trip in Periyar is approx. £8 (or US$10).

Most museums charge extra if you take in a camera. It is recommended that you allow at least £5 (approx. US$7) per day for personal expenditure such as stamps, postcards and soft drinks. 
Shopping opportunities throughout this tour are endless and we suggest that you take as much as you can afford for souvenirs - even if you are generally not a keen shopper we have found that most people succumb to some of the wide variety of handicrafts on offer.

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, however, if you do not wish to go please make this clear to your local guide at the time.

Tipping

Tipping is very much part of the culture in India and is usually 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 3000 INR (approx. GBP£34 US$45) 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. 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 (CAD $3-5, USD $3-4, AUD$4-6) 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

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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.

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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 14 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 & Development 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 our website for online bookings, 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.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.