For the visitor the south is a visual feast, with natural beauty wrestling with the brilliance of human creation for your attention. Winding north from Kerala to Karnataka, this gently paced tour of tropical India provides a perfect counterbalance to the desert landscapes and more quickly paced Rajasthan tour. We invite you to experience both.
Awe-inspiring temples, vast rice fields, mesmerising historical ruins, combined with delicious food cooked by the most hospitable people you are likely to find anywhere in the world – you wont want to leave.
Group size: max 15, av. 10
Tempo: soak it up.
Included: accommodation, transport, local escort and local guides, two meals per day, entrances
Accommodation: conventional and heritage hotels and resorts, 3 or 4/5 star depending on departure
Transport: 18 seater air-conditioned mini-coach
Notes: a slower paced trip with some romantic accommodation makes it ideally suited to couples
Combines with: ends in time for start of Rajasthan Fixed Departure Tour
Day 1: Arrive Cochin Arrive Cochin where you will be met and transferred to your hotel in the historic area of Fort Kochi.
Day 2: Cochin Morning sightseeing tour of historic Fort Kochi including the Chinese fishing nets, Dutch Palace, ‘Jewtown’ and Synagogue; in the afternoon enjoy a private harbour cruise before seeing a traditional Kathakali dance performance. For members of the group who have already spent time in Cochin as part of our Tamil Nadu and Kerala tour, an alternative sightseeing program will be offered, including a cooking class and meal with a local friend of ours, and later in the afternoon visit the Hill Palace, a short drive from Cochin.
Day 3: Cochin – Alleppey – Kumarakom After breakfast drive 2 hours to Alleppey, en route visiting a coir (coconut fibre) factory. Afterwards continue on to Alleppey jetty, where we board a houseboat. We start the cruise through the canals and lagoons around Alleppey before crossing Vembanad Lake, with lunch prepared in traditional Kerala style from local ingredients by our crew. Disembark in the afternoon and transfer to backwater accommodation.
Day 4: Kumarakom There is something about the Kerala backwaters that makes one want to relax; today is a free day to sit by the pool, enjoy a walk in the local area, have a massage, and generally just takes things easy.
Day 5: Kumarakom – Trichur After breakfast we drive 4 hours north to Trichur. Trichur is the cultural capital of Kerala, with schools keeping the strong tradition of performance art in Kerala alive. In the afternoon relax by the hotel pool or enjoy a drink at the river side restaurant at our hotel.
Day 6: Trichur – Calicut In the morning, visit Kerala Kalamandalam School of performing arts, with a traditional lunch. In the afternoon drive 3 hours to Calicut with a stop en route at wooden ship building yard. Afternoon free by the beach at our resort in Calicut.
Day 7: Calicut Today there are a range of possible activities: Visit Kerala’s oldest spice bazaar, where first the Chinese, and then the Arabs and Europeans came to trade for the legendary spices of Malabar. Visit the beach where the first European to visit India, Vasco de Gama, landed in 1498; a picturesque beach perfect for a swim or for viewing the sunset over the Arabian sea. Other options include Ayurvedic massage or a cooking demonstration.
Day 8: Calicut – Wayanad After breakfast drive 3 hours to Wayanad and check into hotel. The hilly Wayanad region of north Kerala is covered by moist forest, rice paddy, and coffee plantations. In the afternoon visit Pookot Lake and walk through the surrounding areas or free to enjoy the beautiful rainforest setting of the hotel.
Day 9: Wayanad Early start in time for morning visit to Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuary, where there is a good – but not guaranteed! – chance of seeing elephants, deer and possibly sloth bears. Afterwards walk up to Edakkal Cave, where there are prehistoric cave drawings. Afternoon free.
Day 10: Wayanad – Mysore After breakfast drive 4 hours to Mysore. A laid back town with wide tree lined avenues, Mysore is the former capital of the region, and was one of the first cities in the world to be electrified. In the afternoon head into the centre of town for a casual stroll and cup of chai.
Day 11: Mysore Full day tour of Mysore including the fantastically kitsch Maharajah’s Palace, a photographers paradise at the Devarajah fruit and flower market, giant monolithic Nandi Temple on the Chamundeshwari Hill and visit to a Silk weaving factory. (Tours will be timed so that you are in Mysore on a Sunday when the 100 000 lights of the palace are switched on!)
Day 12: Mysore – Bangalore Afternoon departure for 3 hour drive to Bangalore, visiting Sri Rangapatanam, the garden palace of Tipu Sultan en route. On arrival in Bangalore the group will have a final meal together before transfer to the airport for flights home or to onward city for the next leg of your India trip.