South India Explored

20 days
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£1,649
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4.6 / 5 from 58 reviews >
Leisurely
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Trip code: 
AIS
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailor Made Adventures
Activity:
Culture
Group size:
4–16
Min age:
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

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

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 for general departures:
052-4811569
Call for tailor made trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

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

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

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

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

Itinerary

Cochin
to
Kovalam
  • Day 1

    Start 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 by your leader. 
    Comfortable Hotel

  • Day 2

    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.  In the evening there is the option to see a Kathakali dance performance.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Climb through Nilgiri Hills to Ooty.

    A long but scenic 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. 
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Relax, walk, or ride 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.  Today we have a tour of various parts of Ooty including Dobetta Peak which at 2,638m is the second highest in the Western Ghats. From the top on a clear day we can see as far as the Mysore Plateau. A visit to the Botanical Gardens is relaxing and rewarding with  1,000 varieties of plants, shrubs and trees including orchids, ferns and alpines set amidst beautiful lawns.  We will also visit a tea factory for a guided tour.   A major attraction in Ooty is the narrow gauge steam Blue Mountain Railway from Coonoor to Ooty. There is time today to take this optional 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).  Your leader will provide details and make bookings for those who would like to experience this delightful trip. 
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    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 6

    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 7

    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 8

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

    This morning we transfer to Bangalore (the capital of Karnataka) arriving by lunch time.  We will take a drive around this IT capital of India and then take a train to Chennai.  We will board an afternoon train to Chennai where we will stay overnight.  
    Standard hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Tour of Chennai; visit St Thomas Church; transfer to Mahabalipuram

    After breakfast we will have a tour of Chennai and then visit St Thomas Church.  From here we drive for around 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 last few busy days. 

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    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 walk along the beach and explore the local area. 
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    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 of around 2 - 3 hours.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    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 13

    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 14

    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 15

    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 16

    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 17

    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 18

    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 19

    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 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 20

    End Kovalam.

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

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

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

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

Essential Info

Visas

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).

 

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, 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.

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.

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.

Call for general departures:
052-4811569
Call for tailor made trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

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

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

Accommodation

Hotels and houseboat

You will spend 18 nights in a mixture of comfortable and standard hotels and 1 night on a houseboat.

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. Customers should be aware that the gas water heaters used on all houseboats are open-flued systems, as used in many parts of India. While this complies with Indian law, it does not meet UK standards and therefore we must inform travellers that there is a risk (while minimal) of carbon monoxide emissions. We have asked our leaders to install a Carbon Monoxide alarm, and to brief your group about keeping their rooms ventilated at night (i.e. window open) to ensure sufficient air circulation. 

 

Call for general departures:
052-4811569
Call for tailor made trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

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

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

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed March 2019
    Ruth Durbano

    Wonderful trip

    A wonderful experience, very varied with a generally good standard of hotels. Excellent guide, bus driver and helper.Fantastic places visited, which combined historic places,temples,Ashram,caves and nature reserves where we saw lots of birds and animals. Also had a little time free to soak up the feeling of the areas and of course some retail therapy, ending up at a beautiful seaside resort to relax for the final day.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The beauty and tranquillity of the stay on the fabulous houseboat in the backwaters in Kerala, would have liked another night ! Also the whole experience of Mahabalipuram.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Lukose was amazing, very knowledgeable, very helpful and always looking out for everyone.He went the extra mile on so many occasions.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for a full on trip with amazing sights,food and nature full of wildlife.Quite a few hotels don't have fridges,hairdryers or safe boxes in the rooms.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I wasn't over impressed with cookery demonstration. I could have done with a little more free time,but overall an absolutely brilliant holiday and experience.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    robert lacey

    south india

    Well i preferred the South generally to the north, but I felt there where to many Temples etc, and I would have preferred more time visiting farming families and being involved with the land more. This was my 1st coach holiday,and I found that quite tiring. Kerala waterways was lovely.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Kerala waterways. And the people.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very good guide, cound'nt do enough for you to make you comfortable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a soft cushion. and be prepared for some long journeys.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I found the south more pleasing then the north, and although the trips where spread out it was a good way to see such a large area.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Geoffrey Leigh

    Chaos, colour and cacophony

    A full-on three weeks, travelling around 3,000km by road, rail and water in the three southern most states in India. The trip took in contrasting landscapes, languages, culture, religion, wildlife, history, heritage and daily life.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I think inspirational maybe a little too OTT. There were many times we were brought face to face with the complexity and seeming timelessness of many aspects of India - the way religion is part of the daily life of so many with temples, mosques and churches everywhere and well attended. The enormous gap between rich and poor. The hard work so many people carried out to earn a living and the number of people it took to perform a simple task, each one earning a small amount for a small task. Whereas we would have one person multi-tasking.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    PK was fun and well organised. His English was sometimes confusing but not seriously so. He never became frayed even tho' there were times he was under pressure. and in the beginning dealing with a difficult situation.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do your homework beforehand! Look at the itinerary, buy a decent map and do some reading. Be prepared for seeing abject poverty. Try to keep an open mind.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Highly enjoyable three weeks. A really fun group we were with.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Joanna Birt

    Brilliant experience of Southern India

    Our first experience of India, what an unforgettable trip. Such a wide mix of history, culture & wildlife. A very busy 2 weeks, very little spare time, but so worth it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    On exiting Chennai airport the atmosphere hits you, the sights, the sounds & the aromas! (Of course the heat) So much poverty, the women bathing, & washing in the river was so moving but I felt like an intruder. At the other end of the spectrum Mysore Palace was amazing. Bandipur Tiger reserve was a brilliant experience despite no tiger making an experience, witnessing the wild life both at dawn & dusk. See elephants in the wild. Eating with the locals, trying local dishes, I loved it. The back water of Kerala just stunning!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sam was a very good leader, excellent English, very knowledgable. He had a good sense of humour, was very helpful.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go for it! Read the itinerary, & the trip notes. It is a full on tour, with a few very early starts & long days, but it’s all worth it. Not much time for relaxing. Timings our only a guide & are flexible
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Anne-Marie Robinson

    Fascinating trip

    This trip has an interesting and varied itinerary, with plenty of excellent cultural visits. There is quite a lot of travel involved, as stated in the trip notes, but it's a big country and there's loads to see....palaces, temples, nature reserves, tea plantations, markets, backwaters and beaches.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I enjoyed the whole trip, but the highlight was the day and night spent on the backwaters in Alleppey. Just wonderful!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was outstanding. He was brilliantly organised, totally efficient, thoughtful, and charming. He made the trip a real pleasure to be on.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for a lot of travel between places. If you don't like temples, don't do this trip!
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Romaine and David Byers

    South India Explored

    A thoroughly enjoyable trip which went according to plan with excellent leader Sam Benjamin and with excellent safe driver. Sam went out of his way to show us all the little "incidentals" which make the trip, such as tile making , rubber tapping, rice plantation and spice plantations. The quality of the hotels was excellent. The only real problem we all faced was the slow service at restaurants, whether at hotels or elsewhere, where some people had finished their meal before others had even been served - but realise that this is a problem outside anyone's control.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The train trips were thoroughly enjoyable and sociable. Engaging manner of local people with our group. The beautiful Hindu temples - too numerous to mention. The houseboat stay.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sam was very knowledgeable, engaging and ensured the group was always satisfied, and happy and attentive to our needs. We would thoroughly recommend him as a group leader and it was interesting that he was prepared to learn from us as well as us from him. He was prepared to engage in topics on the bus when we asked him if these were of general interest.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Water - there was plenty of water to drink on the bus from a water cooler. Hotels supplied bottled but we tried to limit using these because of plastic disposal. We were advised that cleaning teeth with tap water was OK. Food - we found the food a little too spicy and found we had to ask for less spice when this was possible.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Deborah-Jane Lear

    Absolutely fantastic, this really is a holiday I shall never forget!

    An excellent itinerary, a great variety of architecture, religions, culture, scenery and food all in one holiday. Fantastic!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It is very difficult to choose as there were a lot of wonderful sights and experiences during the trip. Visiting Brihadishwara Temple, built in the 10th century, which involved absolutely amazing craftmanship. It was great to revisit it in the morning when it was quiet and just enjoy the view. Meenakshi Amman temple is amazing too, the opulence of Mysore Palace- staggering!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sam, our group leader, was excellent. He is very knowledgeable about the area and India in general. He also had a very good sense of humour which we all enjoyed. He had excellent social skills, circulating amongst the group and chatting easily with us all regularly. He always kept us informed about the itinerary for the day. Every meal time he helped those who needed advice about the menu, he always made sure that everyone had their food before he started eating. He was also punctual and endlessly patient. He did a great job.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We travelled over 2000 kilometres during the tour, there is lots to see, things of interest en route and regular stops, in order to do this, it does mean you are on a coach a lot. When we were travelling we were on the road by 8.00 each morning. Much of this trip is in the tropics, it is hot, humid and dusty, make sure you have water, there was some on the bus everyday.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I am very impressed by the Exodus Travels, the thought and preparation that goes into the itinerary to give customers the best experience possible. I also like teh company's ethics of trying to support the local people through tourism rather than multinational companies.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Paul Sullivan

    AIS: South India Explored

    This trip is a great way to cover a steady stream of varying, contrasting and engaging sights spread across southern India, in lush landscapes, undulating hills, ornate temples and impressive palaces to name but a few.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    No one single thing for me, purely the sheer range of places visited, almost every day bringing something new and enjoyable. If pushed to choose, it'd probably be between the cruise around the Kerala backwaters (a fantastic way to see another side of the country and people's lives there), and the village visit from Mahabalipuram on a festival day (again, a special way to see how much the event brought to the people there and how they celebrated it)

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Lukose is a highly competent tour leader and guide, as we've come to expect, yet someone who also brings a freshness and vitality to each place we visited, ensuring we got the most from every day, including extra visits and activities which we all very much appreciated. His depth of knowledge and willingness to impart same to the group were two more areas he scores very highly on. Combined with this, his hugely positive attitude, enthusiasm, sense of humour and cheeky grin make him an outstanding ambassador for his country and patently reflect well on his employers and Exodus.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A superb way to see a huge amount of the southern part of the country, in an itinerary I could find no parallel for with other operators. If you want to experience the essence of the region, this is certainly a trip deserving serious consideration.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Standard of accommodation was on the whole very good, with well-appointed rooms in hotels of very standing, which is not always the case on such trips, and something quite important on a 3-week trip covering a lot of ground.
  • Reviewed December 2018
    Jerry Dawson

    Comprehensive exploration of the sights of South India

    If you have three weeks to spare and want to see the highlights of South India, this is the trip for you. Comprehensive coverage of the main temples, palaces, hill stations and other attractions of the region. Although the trip packs in all the sights, it did not feel rushed and there is enough time left free to explore on your own. South India seems much less frenetic than the north and the food is amazing! There is a lot of driving but the bus is air conditioned and spacious and from time to time the group travels by train, which is a fascinating experience.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    In terms of sights, the highlights for me were driving through the tea plantations near Ooty and Periyar, exploring the streets of former French colony Pondicherry, having lunch during a small cyclone in the "Rick Stein" beachfront restaurant in Mahabalipuram, exploring the various flower and vegetable markets, the waterfront at Kovalam, and the overnight houseboat trip in the Kerala Backwaters near Alleppey. The real highlight for me, however, was the food - Indian food all day from breakfast (puris and iddlys) through to dinner - including the several stops at roadside restaurants for thalis at lunchtime, the wonderful seafood in Mahabalipuram and Kovalam, and the cooking demonstration (with active participation) in Thekkady/ Periyar.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rajesh P.K. did a great job. He had a kind and caring personality and was very open with information about India and its customs, religions and culture. All the trip logistics worked out well - which is quite an achievement for India!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There are some very long journeys on the bus so do bring a book to read. Although western food is available at all the hotels and most restaurants, it will add greatly to the enjoyment of the trip if you throw caution to the wind and eat the local food - lot of amazing veg and non-veg options! If you want a cold beer with dinner, call ahead to the restaurant to make sure there are beers in the fridge (many restaurants seem to serve beer at room temperature!)

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would have liked more time in Pondicherry with a more comprehensive city walking tour to include information about life during the 300 years of French occupation; and also time to see the main sights in Chennai.
  • Reviewed December 2018
    Mindy Grantham

    Great trip! Covered a lot of ground

    I was already traveling in India and made a fairly last minute decision to join this tour. I’m very glad I did. We had a small group which made it easy to move around, see things, hear the guides, and have a more personal experience. The guide (Santo) was great! He’s very personable, knowledgeable, and tries to make sure that we have a local experience to the extent possible.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being at Periyar and having the guide start telling our group to be quiet and move quickly as we started running through the forest in order to get to the place where an elephant was spotted.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Santo was wonderful. He’s super nice (all of the time even when there’s a difficult member of the group), he explains things well so we all understand in advance what to expect, he makes sure the trip is seamless for us (even though I’m sure there’s always issues) and he tries to give us local experiences too, which really makes the difference. I highly recommend him! I’d do another trip of his.

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 

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