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Southern India offers an intensely tropical and laidback experience compared to the north. Travel from the stunning hill stations to the tranquil backwaters on this in-depth journey.
Our Kerala and the Southern Highlights tour will see you exploring the most iconic sites, delving into deep-rooted culture and dining on delicious cuisine.
Explore the colonial buildings of this wondrous city
Take a ride on the Ooty Toy Train
Discover South India’s extensive wildlife at the Periyar Wildlife Reserve
Take a cruise on the Kerala Backwaters on your private houseboat
Our Kerala & the Southern Highlights Tour has been thoughtfully designed and thoroughly researched to bring you a range of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, many of which are entirely exclusive to us.
Glimpse the traditional lifestyle of Kerala's fisher-folk with a visit to Kumbalangi, where you can see the villagers going about their day to day activities and discover traditional handicrafts.
Marvel at the strength and agility of Kalaripayattu practitioners at a performance of Kerala's traditional art form. This old martial art combines defensive steps and stances with weaponry such as daggers, spears, maces and bows and arrows.
Hosted by a local family in their home, take part in a cooking demonstration of tasty, traditional treats, learning the skills and techniques needed to prepare delicious Keralan dishes.
This tour is suitable for those with a reasonable amount of time and who are interested in travelling to the main sights of southern India. This tour includes travel on train, by road and a night on a houseboat, all of which will give a different perspective on the beautiful and exotic landscape of southern India.
Fly overnight to the city of Chennai and transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is yours to start soaking up the local culture.
After breakfast and tour introduction, you will travel to Mamallapuram. On arrival you will explore this coastal temple town, seeing the fascinating 7th and 8th-century rock carvings including the magnificent Shore Temple and the impressive Varaha Cave.
Return to Chennai. Formerly known as Madras, the city was developed as a British trading post and so is home to a number of colonial sights. A city tour begins at the 13 kilometre Marina Beach before a stop at Fort St. George, established by the East India Company, and the British built St. Mary’s Church. The final stop is the colourful Shiva Kapaleeswarar Temple.
Rise early to catch the Shatabdi Express to the garden city of Bangalore. Take an afternoon city tour to see the Bull Temple, Tipu Sultan’s Palace and Vidhana Soudha.
Head to Mysore, stopping at Srirangapatna Fort en route. Visit the magnificent Maharaja's Palace and drive up to Chamundi Hill to admire the 12th-century Sri Chamundeshwari Temple and Nandi Bull. Tonight, enjoy a traditional cooking demonstration hosted by a local family.
Journey up into the cool climes of the Western Ghats to the beautiful hill station of Coonoor. Relax and appreciate the peace and natural splendour of this quaint town.
All aboard the miniature, narrow gauge 'Toy Train' to Ooty, nicknamed the 'Queen of Hill Stations'. Upon arrival you will visit the botanical gardens and walk up to a small village where you’ll be able to gain insight into the lives of the local people, as well as getting incredible views back over Ooty.
This morning you will enjoy a morning tour of Coonoor before lunch. After, you will drive through the hilly roads for 3 and half hours to Coimbatore. Here you will spend the night.
Travel to Munnar, a hill station enveloped by lush tea plantations. In the afternoon visit a tea plantation and the Tata Tea Museum. This day is at altitude.
In the cooler climes of Sri Lanka's Central Highlands, tour a tea factory and plantation to learn all about the cultivation and production of the refreshing tea grown in the area.
Today explore Eravikulam National Park where you will have the opportunity to spot the local wildlife (closed Feb-Apr, an alternative light trek will be available). Continue your journey to Thekkady, home of Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. This day is at altitude.
Though designated a Tiger Reserve in 1978, the Periyar Wildlife Reserve is best known for its elephants. Take a walk through the reserve, keeping an eye out for its resident elephant population, as well as wild dogs, barking deer, mouse deer and the elusive Bengal Tiger. Visit a spice village and browse a local market before enjoying a traditional Kalaripayattu (martial art) show this evening.
Travel to the coastal town of Kochi. This evening enjoy an exuberant Kathakali dance performance.
Witness an exuberant performance of the traditional dance-drama that is Kathakali. Kerala's best-known performing art, it is an extravagant retelling of Hindu epics complete with colourful costumes and elaborate make up.
Take a full day tour of Kochi. Start at St Francis Church, the first European church built in India, before a visit to Santa Cruz Basilica, where you can get excellent views of more Chinese fishing nets. Finish by admiring the synagogue in the heart of the Jewish Quarter and a stroll around the nearby markets.
Travel to Kumarakom where you’ll board your houseboat, stopping en route at Kumbalangi, a village created to highlight the lifestyle of fisher-folk in the area. Later board your houseboat a converted rice barge, known as a kettuvallam. Sit back and watch life on the water and the surrounding, untouched wilderness as you cruise unhurriedly along the canals. A delicious dinner of traditional cuisine will be served on board and you'll spend a comfortable night on the water.
Take breakfast on your boat before disembarking and heading for the beach town of Kovalam. Stop on the way in Kerala's capital Trivandrum to discover the Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple, the Observatory and Sri Chitra Art Gallery.
This morning take a walking tour of the town and visit the lighthouse. The rest of the day is yours to relax, or head to the beach, until a farewell dinner this evening.
Fly to the UK, arriving home the same or following day.
We draw from a wide range of hotels on our holidays, each one is chosen to suit the tour you are travelling on meaning your accommodation can range from a smart business hotel in one city to a family run guesthouse in a smaller town. Here are some examples of the type of hotel you can expect to find on this tour.
The Residency Hotel is a short distance to the city’s corporate and shopping areas. The en-suite rooms feature modern amenities including, TV and and tea/coffee facilities. A breakfast buffet is served daily in the Spice Bar, which also offers lunch and dinner, with guests also having the option to order a la carte from the Chin Chin restaurant.
Situated in a quiet neighbourhood off Richmond Circle in the heart of Bangalore's Central Business District, Adarsh Hamilton Hotel offers luxurious en-suite rooms featuring modern amenities including, TV, tea/coffee facilities and a safety deposit box. Superb facilities include a restaurant, free Wi-Fi and fitness centre.
The Gateway Hotel Conoor is a 5-minute walk from the City Centre. Elegant en-suite rooms at Gateway Conoor come with modern interiors and amenities including a TV and personal safe. This 4-star property features a restaurant, ayurvedic massage centre and air-conditioned rooms with views of the garden. The hotel also boasts a superb restaurant serving delicious international cuisines.
With its convenient location, The Silvertips hotel offers easy access to Munnar’s must-see destinations. The hotel features 60 beautifully appointed en-suite rooms, many of which include a balcony/terrace, complimentary bottled water, TV and a coffee/tea maker. The hotel also offers access to a vast array of services, including free Wi-Fi, a fitness centre and spa.
4* Cardamom County resort is conveniently perched on the gradient of a gently sloping hill facing the Periyar Tiger Reserve. Accommodation includes spacious en-suite rooms featuring modern amenities including a minibar, TV and fitted work desk. The hotel’s onsite restaurant is set by the open pool side, serving superb Indian, Continental and Chinese flavours.
Just a 10-minute ferry ride from Fort Cochin, the Casino Hotel combines relaxed Keralan style with modern comforts. There is an outdoor pool, gym, lounge and shop, whilst the restaurants serve Indian, Chinese and continental cuisine and specialise in fresh fish dishes. There is also free Wi-Fi and an Ayurveda massage service. Bedrooms are bright and spacious with typically Keralan aspects and offer air conditioning, safe, minibar, television and en suite bathroom.
The best time to visit India is from November to March when you’ll enjoy pleasant warm dry days and low humidity.
Places Visited: UK - Chennai (2N) - Mamallapuram (1N) - Bangalore (1N) - Mysore (1N) - Coonoor (2N) - Coimbatore (1N) - Munnar (1N) - Thekkady (2N) - Kerala Houseboat (1N) - Kochi (2N) - Kovalam (2N)
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