Best of Southern India

TRIP OVERVIEW:

TOUR OPERATED BY: G Adventures
TRIP CODE: AHBS
DEPARTURE DATE: 19th February 2016

From steamy Kerala backwaters and spice plantations to incredible temples and searching for tigers in the wild, have your camera ready as you experience the highlights of Southern India. This 2-week adventure offers a great balance of guided excursions and free time to explore on your own. Travelling by train, bus, rickshaw, and country boats will bring you closer to the locals and is a fascinating way to gain insight into the peaceful backwaters of Kerala and stunning temples of Tamilnadu.



TRIP REVIEW:

To maximise our 30 day e-Visa we needed to start the G Adventures‘ Best of Southern India tour the day our Essential India tour finished. Due to our flights between Delhi and Kochi we did not arrive at our staring hotel until almost midnight, but luckily it is quite common for people to arrive late for the start of this tour and the usual evening welcome meeting had already been rescheduled for after breakfast the next day.

What was immediately apparent was the change in pace of life. We had come from the crazy northern states with congested cities, animals in the roads and the non-stop honking of car horns to a much more relaxed vibe, not a cow in sight and lots of palm trees and coconuts.

The Best of Southern India tour matches the pace of life in the south and there seemed to be more time to relax and do your own thing. This was both good and bad; A couple of days into the tour and we were still waiting to see a must see attraction. This tour is more rural in nature and there are lots of chances to explore villages and plantations and explore some interesting temples but it does lack any of your typical bucket list attractions.

That being said we had one of our best travel experiences of all time on this tour, purely by luck, as one of our local guides heard that a Theyyam dance performance was taking place at a nearby village and we changed our scheduled plans to go see it. This was amazing, we were the only westerners at the mesmerising performance and it was a real treat to be welcomed and involved. I must stress this was not part of this tours schedule, we were very lucky to be in the right place at the right time to see this rare event.

Accommodation was good throughout the tour, transportation was comfortable and everything ran smoothly.

Once we had adjusted to the slower pace we really started to enjoy ourselves and finishing up at a home stay on the Kerala Backwaters was just excellent.

WHAT WE LOVED:

  • Unique cultural experiences – Theyyam dance performance
  • Friendliness of the locals
  • Relaxing
  • Homestay on the Kerala backwaters
  • The Indian markets

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:

  • Trip not as active as some of our other tours with G Adventures
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FULL ITINERARY:

Day 1 – Kochi

Arrive at any time.

Day 2 – Kochi

Take a orientation walk to the Dutch Palace, Jewish synagogue, and town. Enjoy a kathakali performance.

Day 3 – Kochi/Kalpetta

Take a morning train followed by a scenic drive to reach Kalpetta, in the Wayanad district.

Day 4 – Kalpetta

Walk the nature trails in Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and prehistoric Eddakal Caves.

Day 5 – Kalpetta/Mudumalai

Spend the night at the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary provides one of the most important refuges for elephants and bison in India.

Day 6 – Mudumalai/Mysore

Visit the Chamundi Temple and Mysore Palace.

Day 7 – Mysore/Māmallapuram

Enjoy a full day of train travel to Chennai before a short bus ride to Mamallapuram. Visit the Shore Temple.

Day 8 – Māmallapuram

Free time to explore Mamallapuram.

Day 9 – Māmallapuram/Puducherry

Continue to Pondicherry (now known as Puducherry) and learn about Sri Aurobindo Ghose at the ashram.

Day 10 – Puducherry/Madurai

Travel inland to Madurai, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

Day 11 – Madurai

Hope on a cycle rickshaw for a tour of the city before visiting the famous Meenakshi Temple.

Day 12 – Madurai/Periyār Sanctuary

Drive to Thekkady. Take a guided tour of spice plantations in the Cardamom Hills.

Meals included: Dinner

Day 13 – Periyār Sanctuary/Kerala Backwaters

Take a private bus to Alleppey followed by a riverboat to a homestay. Experience local life and a guided walk along the lagoon.

Meals included: Lunch | Dinner

Day 14 – Kerala Backwaters/Kochi

Travel back to Kochi where the trip ends upon arrival.

Meals included: Breakfast