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Itinerary

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Tour Itinerary

Swaying palm trees, rolling emerald hills and tranquil backwaters make up the lush surface of southern India, but dig a little deeper and discover a land of charismatic people, ancient religion and cherished cuisine. This 13-day Premium adventure will take you into the home of a local family, down the French-inspired streets of Puducherry, through the maze of food stalls in Madurai and into the wilderness of the Periyar National Park, all with the passionate guidance of a local leader.

Countries Visited

India

Cities Visited

Chennai , Kochi , Madurai , Mamallapuram , Periyar , Thekkady

  1. Day 1
    Chennai
    Welcome to India! Your adventure begins in Chennai, India’s cultural heart and fourth largest city. You will be met on arrival at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Meet your fellow travellers and experienced group leader for an important 6pm welcome meeting. If you arrive in Chennai with time to spare, you may like to pay a visit to the colourful market stalls of the Georgetown Bazaar. After your meeting, join your leader and group for a welcome dinner at Chennai’s first chain restaurant, serving up an iconic array of south Indian vegetarian dishes like idly, dosa and poori. It’s never hard to find something fantastic to eat in south India, the only challenge is deciding what to order. Luckily your leader is on hand to help you navigate the flavour-filled menu.
    Meals:   Dinner
  2. Day 2
    Puducherry (Pondicherry)
    This morning you will leave the city behind and drive along the scenic East Coast Road to the fishing town of Mamallapuram, home to sprawling, relaxed beaches. Visit the 8th-century Shore Temple and its mandapams (carved pillars) and watch locals pay their respects to the deity Shiva. Later in the afternoon continue the drive to Puducherry. A French colony until 1954, the old parts of town retain a distinctly European feel. Leafy boulevards are lined with colonial-style houses and trendy boutiques – this place has a certain je ne sais quoi. On arrival, the rest of your evening is free to explore. Puducherry has a varied food scene with traditional Indian and classic French influences. Be sure to ask your leader for some tips on where to grab a fabulous meal.
    Meals:   Breakfast
  3. Day 3
    Puducherry (Pondicherry)
    Today you will visit the famous Auroville, an experimental township just outside Puducherry dedicated to the concept of human unity. With more than 80 rural settlements and home to over 1500 residents, half of the town’s population are foreign nationals. Auroville is also home to the world’s largest solid crystal, which you can examine, then make a visit to the spiritual community of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Return to Puducherry for a walking tour to see local temples and the charming French Quarter. Stroll past mustard coloured buildings draped with vibrant bougainvillea as your leader shares stories of the revolutionaries, generals and kings who once walked these streets. Stop by the pastel pink Church of Notre Dame, perhaps even more gorgeous than its Parisian counterpart. Evidence of the French colonial period is everywhere – the architecture, sprawling town squares and even in the police uniforms. The evening is free for further explorations.
    Meals:   Breakfast
  4. Day 4
    Madurai
    Today, continue to the city of Madurai, with plenty of chai stops along the way. Arrive in the late afternoon and head out on a short orientation walk to get acquainted with one of India’s oldest cities. Once you’ve got your bearings, join your leader on a trip for the taste buds – a tantalising tour of the city’s Tamil cuisine. Madurai is bursting with street food stalls, family-owned restaurants and plenty of regional delicacies – your leader will show you the dishes that aren’t on the tourist menus. Have a taste of mutton dosa or some fish gravy as your leader regales you with stories of centuries-old recipes and the passionate people who make them. Round off the night with some Jigarthanda; Madurai’s most celebrated dessert is a delicious and refreshing blend of condensed milk, almond gum and ice cream.
    Meals:   Breakfast
  5. Day 5
    Madurai
    Continue your walking exploration of Madurai today. Your leader will guide you through the Tailor's Market, the local bazaars and the Sri Meenakshi Temple. Still in use today, this ancient temple is a maze of lamp-lit corridors leading to shrines where traditional rituals take place. Next is the National Gandhi Museum, dedicated to the life and achievements of the 'Father of the Nation' and the leader of India's fight for independence. Stop by the extravagant Thirumalai Nayak Palace, built in the 17th-century by King Tirumala Nayaka. This evening you’ll have the unique opportunity to immerse yourself in Tamil culture when you join a local family for a traditional home cooked dinner. Chat with the family about their lives and try some more wonderful dishes such as chettinad chicken, egg paratha and vegetable korma.
    Meals:   Breakfast   Dinner
  6. Day 6
    Thekkady
    Make your way to the countryside town of Thekkady, driving past pineapple and rubber plantations on the way. Thekkady is the gateway to Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve, perched high in the ranges of the Western Ghats. Stop off at a spice plantation where you’ll speak with a local expert and taste, smell and learn about the brilliant array of spices that colour and flavour India’s famed cuisine. Put your new knowledge to good use as you sit down to a flavoursome lunch made with spices from the plantation. The evening is yours to enjoy in Thekkady. Perhaps wander the shops selling fragrant spices and organic tea, or relax in the palm fringed pool at your resort.
    Meals:   Breakfast   Dinner
  7. Day 7
    Thekkady - Periyar National Park
    This morning, take a guided nature walk in the acclaimed Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Your expert guide will help you look for tiger tracks, spotted deer, Indian elephants and gaur – the world's largest species of buffalo. You are most likely to encounter Bonnet macaques and the Malabar giant squirrel, a species native to India. After an exciting morning of wildlife spotting, the rest of your afternoon is free. You may want to unwind with an optional ayurvedic massage. In the evening, attend an exciting demonstration of kalarippayattu at the Kadathanadan Kalari Centre. Originating in Kerala, kalarippayattu is believed to be the oldest surviving martial art in India. Watching high-energy fighters leap several feet into the air is a truly thrilling sight.
    Meals:   Breakfast
  8. Day 8
    Munnar
    This morning drive north to Munnar, an old British Hill Station cradled in a picturesque valley. At 1525 metres above sea level, there’s likely to be dramatic drop in temperature here, so have your jacket ready! Munnar is one of India’s most important hubs for tea trade, and the rolling emerald hills that surround the town are an unforgettable sight. On arrival, take a tour of the tea plantation, where a resident expert will guide you through the steps of the tea making process. Follow narrow pathways and visit the workers picking the best tea leaves, learn how these leaves are transformed into the world’s most popular beverage, and sample some of the different varieties. There may be an opportunity to visit the tea museum, though opening hours are irregular so this cannot be guaranteed. This evening, relax at your mountain resort.
    Meals:   Breakfast
  9. Day 9
    Munnar
    This morning, take a guided walk around the lush hills of Munnar, often shrouded in ethereal clouds. Be sure to have your camera ready as the beautiful landscape unfolds in front of you. Learn how Munnar’s cool temperatures made the region a favourite summer retreat during the British Colonial era. In the afternoon, journey out to the scenic Mattupetty Dam where you’ll find a beautiful man-made lake and spectacular views of the surrounding valleys. Here you’ll have the chance to take an optional motorboat ride around the lake. After some time to appreciate the stunning scenery, return to Munnar for an evening at leisure.
    Meals:   Breakfast
  10. Day 10
    Kerala Backwaters
    Drive to the backwaters of Kerala this morning and discover Alleppey’s sleepy, palm-shaded waterways. Once a significant trading port, the town is now famed for the long ‘snake boat’ races that take place in August every year. Kerala’s backwaters were once busy with passing kettuvallams; large wooden boats used to transport rice and spices. Today these traditional vessels have been transformed into magnificent houseboats, offering guests the incredible opportunity to explore the lagoons in total comfort, as you will during your Feature Stay for the evening. Conversions are made using traditional and natural materials – bamboo becomes roofing, coir mats are turned into flooring and beds are carefully crafted from the wood of coconut trees. These floating cottages share the comforts of a first-rate hotel, including western toilets, private bedrooms, a dining area and open deck where you can watch the world go by. Sit back for a truly unforgettable evening floating through the dreamy waters of rural Kerala.
    Meals:   Breakfast   Dinner
  11. Day 11
    Kochi
    Enjoy a peaceful morning at the Kerala waters before driving to Kochi in the afternoon. Cochin, as it was formerly known, is spread over several islands and is a melting pot of Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese and British influences. Join your leader on an orientation walk to learn how these influences manifest in the city’s architecture, restaurants and daily life. In the afternoon, take some time out to enjoy the city – perhaps head to lively Princess street and kick back with a cup of coffee. Tonight you’ll have the special opportunity to watch a Kathakali dance performance. Kathakali is a classical Indian dance with roots in Kerala, combining symbolic storytelling with physical technique. It is one of the most vibrant and extraordinary theatre forms in the world and proficiency requires incredible commitment and rigorous training.
    Meals:   Breakfast
  12. Day 12
    Kochi
    Today you will explore the antique shops and spice bazaars of Kochi – your leader will show you how to haggle with the best of them. Visit the delightful Fort Kochi area and stop by the famous Chinese fishing nets – perhaps Kochi’s most photographed sight. Make a visit to the Mattancherry Palace, built in the 16th-century by the Portuguese and later claimed by the Dutch. Continue to the Paradesi Synagogue, the oldest existing Jewish synagogue in India. In the early evening you will meet with an ayurvedic doctor, a practitioner who uses ancient holistic techniques to promote a balance of body and mind, resulting in overall health and wellbeing. Learn all about Satvik Bhojan, the ayurvedic diet, and take part in a cooking demonstration followed by dinner using the methods and recipes discussed.
    Meals:   Breakfast   Dinner
  13. Day 13
    Kochi
    Your adventure comes to an end after breakfast this morning. Additional nights in Kochi and an airport transfer to Cochin International airport can be booked in advance.
    Meals:   Breakfast

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Inclusions

  • Complimentary Arrival Transfer
  • Chennai - Welcome dinner
  • Mamallapuram - Shore Temples guided tour
  • Auroville - Experimental township
  • Puducherry - Leader-led French Quarter walking tour
  • Puducherry - Sri Aurobindo Ashram
  • Madurai - Leader-led street food tour
  • Madurai - Sri Meenakshi 1000 Pillar
  • Madurai - Sri Meenakshi Temple
  • Madurai - Gandhi Museum
  • Madurai - Leader-led walking tour
  • Madurai - Thirumalai Nayakkar Palace
  • Madurai - Local family visit and home-cooked Tamil dinner
  • Thekkady - Expert-guided spice plantation visit and lunch
  • Periyar - Kalaripayattu (Indian Martial Art) performance
  • Periyar - Guided nature walk
  • Munnar - Tea plantation
  • Munnar - Tea Museum
  • Munnar - Mattupetty Dam
  • Munnar - Leader-led town walking tour
  • Kochi - Kathakali performance
  • Kochi - Jewish Synagogue
  • Kochi - Ferry to Mattancherry
  • Kochi - Leader-led Fort Kochi walking tour
  • Kochi - Dutch Palace
  • Kochi - Ayurveda-inspired dinner
  • Kochi - Converstation with an expert on Satvik Bhojan (Ayurvedic food)

Meals
12 Breakfast(s) Included
2 Lunch(es) Included
4 Dinner(s) Included

Style: Premium

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Accommodations

Hotel (9 nights), Houseboat Feature Stay (1 night), Kochi Feature Stay (2 nights)

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Questions & Answers

Question: How many suitcases can I take with me on my trip?

Each person is allowed one "check-in," and one "carry-on." Remember to take all valuables with you as "carry-on", because electronic equipment, cameras, laptops, jewelry, business documents and money are not covered by the airlines' liability, so always carry them aboard with you.

Question: Is Airfare Included in the Price?

Airfare from your point of origin to and from the trip is not included in the land price.

Intrepid Tours Customer Reviews

Overall Rating
4
Accommodations
3.6
Itinerary
4.2
Professional Staff
4.4
Repeat with Operator
4.1
Value for Money
3.8

Ratings based off 205 reviews about Intrepid Tours - currently showing 9 reviews with comments only

Intrepid is awesome. Our guide was superb. Everything went smoothly!

Our tour guide was wonderful. She was knowledgeable, fun, energetic, and made our week run very smoothly. The trip itself was fantastic! We saw a lot and the islands are absolutely beautiful. Great food, great new friends made on the tour, and would absolutely book with Intrepid again.

Intrepid tour is great company. Will use this company again.

The trip was both both educational and exciting. I very much enjoyed the sights and culture.

The itinerary was just as I expected! The guide was very good as were the accomodations

Intrepid did such a great job. I never had to worry about where I was supposed to be and it felt so good not to worry about a thing but just to enjoy myself. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about culture and history.

Taiwan people very friendly. Accommodation were centrally located and easily accessible. Did extra activities then in brochure which was greatly.

Larus our tour guide did an excellent job and was very attentive to our needs. He is very knowledgeable and has a great sense of humor.

Our guide Tarang chandola was exceptional. Courteous, knowledgeable, organized, polite, professional and went above and beyond taking care of our needs and requests offen anticipating what that might be. He made sure we all had the best possible time and offered suggestions to meet the needs of everyone on the tour. This made the trip even more enjoyable.

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