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Trip Extensions

Kathmandu Hospitality

Duration: 3 days

Kathmandu is worth spending a few days before setting off on an Asia adventure.

Angkor Wat 3-Day Odyssey

Duration: 3 days

This excursion focuses on the amazing ruins of Angkor in Siem Reap. Angkor Wat, a spectacular architectural legacy of a period of bizarre regimes, is the most famous and confusing of the ruins in southeast Asia. This makes a perfect extension to any ... read more

Angkor Wat 5-Day Odyssey

Duration: 5 days

This excursion takes you to Siem Reap where you explore the magnificent Angkor sites followed by a ride on the Tonle Sap to see the local fishing villages. Then a short flight to Phnom Penh where you visit interesting museums, including Toul Sleng, a... read more

Delhi Hospitality Package

Duration: 3 days

The capital city of Delhi has a history that dates back to the sixth century BC.  In Old Delhi, you'll visit some of the most important ancient sites, many that are currently listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. New Delhi, which was built by the... read more

River Kwai & Erawan National Park

Duration: 4 days

This extension gives you a mixed variety of history and nature. You begin by exploring along the River Kwai stopping at important historical sites. You then travel to Erawan National Park, a unique and rugged landscape of high elevation plateau and s... read more

Anticipated itinerary; actual route may vary.

Day 1: arrive chennai

Welcome to beautiful South IndiaWelcome to beautiful South India

Welcome to India! Upon arrival at Chennai Airport, you'll be met and transferred to your centrally located hotel where you will be welcomed traditionally with Arti and Tikka - a Hindu Ritual where young women put a vermilion on your forehead and welcome you with a platter of auspicious items. This will mark your journey to India with good fortune. Afterwards, you'll be provided with a non-alcoholic beverage while you are being checked in.

Chennai (formerly Madras) is also known as the "Gateway to Southern India". The city was founded in 1639 by the East India Company and soon became a fortified trading post. Over the course of the next century, the city flourished, expanding rapidly and absorbing many surrounding villages becoming the modern and bustling city it is today.

Meals
None
Lodging
Design Hotel by juSTa or similar

Day 2: chennai

Visit the famous Kapaleeshwarar TempleVisit the famous Kapaleeshwarar Temple

Chennai is the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and home to approximately 7 million people. Spend the day exploring Chennai beginning with Fort St. George, built by the British as their stronghold. The fort was the first structure in Madras town and the first territorial possession of the British in India. It's 20 foot walls still encircle India's largest Anglican Church, St. Mary's and the Fort St. George museum. The Tamil Nadu Government Secretariat and the Legislative Assembly are also located inside. Next, visit the St. Thomas Cathedral, a Roman Catholic church built in the 16th century by the Portuguese. It houses the tomb of St. Thomas, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus. Afterwards, visit the Kapaleeshwarar Temple, a 16th century structure dedicated to Lord Shiva. The huge tower is covered with a multitude of brightly colored plaster figures, and the temple itself is filled with devotees coming to worship. 

Return to your hotel where you have the rest of the day free to do as you like.

Meals
Breakfast
Lodging
Design Hotel by juSTa or similar

Day 3: mamallapuram exucrsion

Visit the ancient Shore TempleVisit the ancient Shore Temple

After breakfast, make the scenic drive along the Coromandel Coast in the direction of India's stone-carving capital, Mamallapuram, also known as Mahabalipuram (approximately 1.5 hour drive). This charming ancient port town was known in Marco Polo’s day as the “Seven Pagodas" alluding to the seven-tiered towers that once stood on the shore. Today, only the Shore Temple still stands. The port is famous for its World Heritage stone carvings. Impressive cave temples, monolithic rathas (chariots) and sculpted reliefs built by the Pallavas in the seventh and eighth centuries form this group of monuments.

On the way to Mamallapuram, stop to visit Dakshin Chitra, an exciting cross cultural living museum of art, architecture, lifestyles, crafts and performing arts of South India. The main mission is to exhibit, promote and preserve aspects of the broader, more inclusive cultures of the states and to bring these arts to the public in a participative, enjoyable and engaging way. Dakshina Chitra has a collection of 18 authentic historical houses with contextual exhibitions in each house. All the houses bought and reconstructed at Dakshina Chitra had been given for demolition by their owners. The authentic homes in a regional vernacular style are purchased, taken down, transported and reconstructed by artisans (Stapathis) of the regions from where the houses came.

Continue on to Mamallapuram, which was granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1995. Admire the astonishing ancient monuments you'll find here, which include open air bas-reliefs, temples, man-made caves, and monolithic rathas or "chariots" carved in situ from single boulders. One of the structures you'll see is Arjuna's Penance, the world's largest bas-relief at 88 feet long and 30 feet high. It is considered one of the great masterpieces of Indian art, portraying hundreds of celestial beings humans and animals watching the descent of the Ganges from the Himalayas. Next, visit the eighth century Shore Temple, which is believed to be the oldest stone temple in South India. The temple boasts five separate freestanding sculptures that portray mythological tales. Also, a life-sized carved elephant stands nearby. 

Return to Chennai (1.5 hr drive) for your overnight.

Meals
Breakfast
Lodging
Design Hotel by juSTa or similar

Day 4: flight to madurai

Encounter many friendly peopleEncounter many friendly people

In the morning, check-out of the hotel and transfer to the airport for the flight to Madurai, often referred to as "Temple City." Madurai is among the oldest continuously inhabited cities with a history that dates back roughly 2,500 years. On arrival in Madurai, you'll be met by your local guide and assisted with the transfer to your hotel to drop off your luggage. Afterwards, head out on a city tour beginning with a visit to the Gandhi Memorial Museum, established in 1959 to honor the Indian activist. The museum actually contains a piece of blood-stained cloth from the robe Gandhi wore when he was assassinated. Continue on to Thirumalai Nayak Palace, built in 1636 by King Thirumalai Nayak with the help of an Italian architect. The building is a classic fusion of Dravidian, Islamic, and European styles. Nearby is the Teppakulam, a pond used for devotional festivals.

This evening, head over to the Meenakshi Temple, a historic Hindu temple dedicated to Meenakshi, an incarnation of the Goddess Parvati, wife of Shiva. Here you'll witness the evening ceremony honoring Shiva and Parvati where the image of Shiva, in the form of Sundareswarar, is carried from his shrine to join Parvati, in the form of Meenakshi, at her shrine. Afterwards, return to your hotel for the night.

Meals
Breakfast
Lodging
Hotel Heritage Madurai or similar

Day 5: overland to periyar

Learn how peppercorn is grown and processedLearn how peppercorn is grown and processed

Today you'll check-out of the hotel and explore the Flower Market to see the colorful varieties of flowers such as marigolds, tuberose, rose, and jasmine. Continue on with the drive to Periyar (100 mi/4 hrs), the most famous wildlife sanctuary in South India. On arrival, check-into your hotel and freshen up before heading back out on a tour of a Spice Plantation to learn more about the spices used in Kerala cuisine, non-Ayurveda medicine, and cosmetics. Periyar, due to its location in the lower mountains around 3,000 feet above sea level, is blessed with a wide variety of spices. The tour gives you a chance to enjoy cardamom, pepper, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and many other varieties of spices and medicinal plants. It is also a great opportunity to see why the Kerala cuisine is so different from most of the other Indian cuisines.

Return to your hotel where the rest of the day is free to relax and perhaps take a stroll around the hotel's spice garden and enjoy the natural surroundings. The hotel has an excellent Ayurveda and Yoga center as well as a library with a fireplace if you decide to just curl up with a good book.

 

Meals
Breakfast
Lodging
Hotel Shalimar Spice Garden or similar

Day 6: periyar national park

Enjoy a nature walk through PeriyarEnjoy a nature walk through Periyar

You'll get up very early this morning for a fairly easy, two and a half to three hour nature hike at Periyar led by an experienced forest tribal guide. This two to three mile hike takes you through diverse habitats of the reserve, offering an opportunity to see the wildlife that live in the park, possibly including the Indian elephant, deer, wild pigs, lion-tailed macaque, and the stripe-necked mongoose. A large variety of amphibians and reptiles including some 30 variety of snakes can be found here. Bird life you might see are the endemic Malabar grey hornbill, thrushes, hornbills, darters, flycatchers, parakeets, and storks. The trail passes through evergreen forests and moist, deciduous forests, interspersed with marshy grasslands. After crossing a small creek on a hand-made Bamboo boat, you'll begin your walk from flat ground making your way slowly to the middle of of jungle. During the trek, your guide will explain the ayurvedic nature of the different types of plants and help you to spot birds. Though it is difficult to spot many wild animals, since wildlife covers a vast area, you will definitely see birds, butterflies and some other animals. 

Afterwards, you'll have a chance to interact with the elephants by giving them a bath and feeding them. Return to your hotel for a chance to freshen up and relax.

This evening, you'll be taken to the local theater to witness the Kadathanadan Kalari Kalaripayattu performance. This is the oldest form of martial arts and known as the mother of all martial arts. The theater has been built in such a way that the viewers get a clear view from a safe distance. Show time is between 5:30 and 6:30 pm.

Note: Long-sleeve shirts and pants are highly recommended on the nature walk. You'll be provided with leech-proof socks, but you can also bring your own. Be sure to bring a good bug repellent.

Meals
Breakfast
Lodging
Hotel Shalimar Spice Garden or similar

Day 7: drive to kumarakom

Cruise along the Kerala backwatersCruise along the Kerala backwaters

After having breakfast and checking out from your hotel, make the estimated four and a half hour scenic drive to Kumarakom, another worldly escape featuring the largest freshwater lake in Kerala. The slender coconut palms, never ending paddy fields, meandering lagoons, and dense mangroves will invigorate your mind. Along with the pristine beauty, enjoy the local people, boating, and fresh, tropical air. Check-in to your beautiful nature resort and spend some time relaxing or getting an Ayurvedic massage.

This evening, enjoy a shared, one hour Sunset Cruise on Vembandu Lake and through the narrow canals to small islets tucked away among the waters and get glimpses of typical Kerala villages. Watch the sun set as you cruise along Vembandu Lake past coconut groves swaying in the wind - an experience sure to give you lasting memories. 

Note: Sunset Cruise is weather permitting.

Meals
Breakfast
Lodging
Aveda Resorts and Spa or similar

Day 8: backwaters houseboat cruise

Explore the backwaters on a houseboatExplore the backwaters on a houseboat

The backwaters of Kerala are a network of five large lakes linked by canals and fed by some 38 rivers creating a labyrinth system of more than 550 miles of waterways. Today you will enjoy a relaxing, four-hour backwater cruise on Vembandu Lake. The lake is rich in marine life, such as spotted fish, kanju, tiger prawns, crabs, and more. During the monsoon, the shores of the lake are transformed into a rich fertile land and the streams and lagoons break their banks to nourish the shrubs that sprout. Float through majestic canals, streams and distributaries while appreciating the fringed palms, blue water, and utter tranquility. Return to your hotel in Kumarakom for the night.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch
Lodging
Aveda Resorts and Spa or similar

Day 9: kochi fort

Kathakali dance is unique to this areaKathakali dance is unique to this area

After breakfast, make the estimated hour and a half drive to Kochi (formerly known as Cochin), a trading port founded during the Roman times. Kochi boasts a relaxed, seaside ambience that has changed little over the centuries. Experience the bustle of commerce in and about the city's courtyards, the vendors of betel nut, ginger, peppercorns, and coconut husks. The air is filled with the scent of exotic spices and shouts of vendors pushing heavy carts. It's easy to forget that one is in the 21st century. Fort Kochi is thought to be the oldest European settlement in India. A mixture of Portuguese, Dutch, and British houses line the streets and the St. Francis Church, built in 1503 by the Portuguese, is one of South India's National Monuments.

In the evening, proceed to a local theater to see a traditional dance performance called Kathakali, one of the oldest forms of dance in the world. This dance-drama originated in Kerala and depicts characters from the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. The performers don extraordinarily elaborate costumes to bring the myths to life in the temple courtyards.

Your boutique hotel features contemporary styled rooms with magnificent views of the harbor. 

Meals
Breakfast
Lodging
Hotel Fragrant Nature or similar

Day 10: kochi city tour

Observe local fishermenObserve local fishermen

A full day of sight-seeing in Kochi begins at "Jew Town" where you visit the Jewish (Paradesi) Synagogue (visits are between 10:00 am and 1:00 pm; closed to the public on Fridays, Saturdays, & holidays), the oldest active synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations. First built in 1568 after the first synagogue was destroyed during the Portuguese persecution of the Jews, the Paradesi's unique design consists of Belgian glass chandeliers, a brass-railed pulpit, and the floor of the synagogue is composed of hundreds of 18th century hand-painted Chinese porcelain tiles. Next, visit St. Francis Church, the oldest European church in India followed by the Mattancherry Dutch Palace (closed on Fridays), built by the Portuguese and gifted to the king of Cochin around 1555. It became known as the Dutch Palace in 1663 after the Dutch made renovations and extensions on the palace. The 16th century Santa Cruz Basilica, originally built by the Portuguese, is one of eight basilicas in Kerala and considered to be one of the finest and most impressive churches in India. You'll also drive past the graceful Chinese fishing nets that line the shore of Fort Cochin. The nets are believed to have been brought to Kochi by Chinese traders.

In the evening you will enjoy a cooking demonstration with Nimmy & Paul. Nimmy is a professional cooking instructor that has been teaching for more than twenty years, while her stockbroker husband Paul, offers food and hospitality to their guests. Nimmy will teach you the nuances of traditional Kerala recipes. Afterwards, you will dine on your creations.

Meals
Breakfast, Dinner
Lodging
Hotel Fragrant Nature or similar

Day 11: depart kochi

Consider adding on a relaxing beach stayConsider adding on a relaxing beach stay

Transfer to the airport in time to check-in for your international flight onwards, or perhaps add a few extra days to spend relaxing at a beach resort in Kerala.

Meals
Breakfast
Lodging
None

Price and Date Details

Land Cost:
From
$2,900
2-3 people: $3450 4+ people: $2900 Local flight Chennai/Madurai: $130 (estimated)
Single Supplement:
$900
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Custom & private on your dates

Need to Know

Temples in Tamil Nadu have a strict dress code and only those wearing traditional dress will be allowed to visit. Men are required to wear dhoti shirt and full lenght pants, kurta and pajama, or sherwani (knee lenght coat) and pajama. They will not be allowed to wear a lungi, shorts, or vests. Women will be required to wear a traditional saree with a blous, pavadai thavani (long skirt with blouse), or long kurta and payama with a scarf to cover the head and shoulders. They will not be allowed to wear jeans, pants, t-shirt, vests, skirts, mini-skirts, leggings, shorts, or bermudas. 

Travel times are estimated and may vary depending on traffic or the number of stops required.

Duration:
11 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost.
Comfort Level:
●●●○○
(see full descriptions)
Charming lodges to 4-star Western hotels Upgrade to 5-star hotels available
Activity Level:
●○○○○
(see full descriptions)
Group Size:
Most custom trips can accommodate groups of any size, from one person to as large of a group as you'd like. Some exceptions apply; ask your Adventure Specialist for details.
Terms & Conditions: 

Standard

Below is a summary of our complete Trip Terms & Conditions, which explains each of the items below in more detail. 

Expenses covered

Normally, our stated land costs include the cost of all guides, leaders, permits obtained after arrival, lodging accommodations, food and entry fees as specified, and all surface transportation associated with the planned itinerary. We do our best to avoid increasing prices after receipt of your deposit, but, rarely, factors beyond our control might require us to change our prices without prior notice, even after you have signed up. 

Expenses not covered

Costs not included in the price may include: meals not indicated as included in itineraries; meals prior to arrival in starting cities; transfers, if not arriving or departing on the scheduled group flights; soft drinks, bottled water, and alcoholic beverages; medical expenses, costs of hospitalization, or evacuation from remote areas; laundry; airport departure taxes not included on your airline ticket; accommodations en route to starting cities; visas; airfares; gratuities; and insurance. 

Pricing and Payment

For most group departures, the booking deposit is $500 per person per trip, though for some trips it may be more, as noted in the trip description. The minimum booking deposit requirement for custom trips is $800 per person, and this deposit is non-refundable. A trip-planning fee of $250 per itinerary is also charged to cover costs of preparing itinerary proposals for custom trips. This fee is credited to the cost of the trip, but is nonrefundable if you do not take the trip. Custom travel during holiday seasons may require a deposit prior to trip confirmation.

For both group departures and custom trips, a second deposit of $1,000 per person is due 120 days prior to departure or at the time of booking for reservations made fewer than 120 days before departure. The balance as shown on your invoice is due 60 days prior to departure regardless of whether extensions or other arrangements are pending. Late payments may jeopardize confirmation of your itinerary and in some cases may result in additional fees. If we have not received final payment 30 days prior to departure your reservation may be canceled and subject to our Cancellation & Refund Policy stated in the complete Terms & Conditions.

We accept payments by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or check drawn on a U.S. bank account. Payment for airfare is required at the time of ticketing. Discounts that may be available for some trips are not available toward bookings made through travel agencies.

Airfare

We can help you secure air travel arrangements to correspond with land travel booked through Journeys International. We work with an airfare consolidator to assist in booking the flights that suit your needs. If you decide to make your own flight arrangements, you must provide Journeys International with a complete copy of your itinerary showing departure and arrival flights and times. You should plan to arrange your own air travel if you are using mileage credit or originating outside North America, but please be in touch with our office before you finalize ticketing so that we can help you to coordinate the correct arrival and departure dates and times.

Insurance

When you make your application, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Itinerary Change Fee

There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

From the Bird's Word Blog

India Travel Tips: Exploring Kerala, Karnataka & Goa

South India is a great winter destination for sunny weather, warm hospitality and a delightful taste of Indian culture, nature and cuisine. Here, Will Weber shares impressions and travel …

Observe local fishermen
Observe local fishermen
Explore the Kerala backwaters
Explore the Kerala backwaters
Kathakali dance is unique to this area
Kathakali dance is unique to this area
Hike through Periyar N.P.
Hike through Periyar N.P.
Meet the friendly locals
Meet the friendly locals
Sail past colorful village homes
Sail past colorful village homes
Local transportation in the backwaters
Local transportation in the backwaters

South India Treasures

Chennai, Madurai, Periyar Nature Reserve, Kumarakom, Kochi

overview

Southern India is a very different world from the North, and this trip features the best of this greener, gentler India. You'll be welcomed into the country by the "gateway to Southern India," the city of Chennai. Explore various monumental buildings and forts here, including the former British stronghold Fort St. George. Learn about Gandhi at the Gandhi Museum and see Thirumalai Nayak Palace in Madurai. Take a leisure nature hike at Periyar National Park and possibly see wildlife. Continue on to the beautiful backwaters of Kumarakom and get a glimpse of the lives of the locals that live along the waters of the largest freshwater lake in Kerala. Finally, end in Kochi (Cochin) where you will learn about the rich history of this vibrant city. Experience the artistic culture by watching a Kathakali dance performance, a dance form which depicts characters from epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata. The picturesque villages, gracious people, and beautiful countryside of South India await you on this serene and insightful guided adventure.

itinerary

See Trip Extensions
View Map

overview

Southern India is a very different world from the North, and this trip features the best of this greener, gentler India. You'll be welcomed into the country by the "gateway to Southern India," the city of Chennai. Explore various monumental buildings and forts here, including the former British stronghold Fort St. George. Learn about Gandhi at the Gandhi Museum and see Thirumalai Nayak Palace in Madurai. Take a leisure nature hike at Periyar National Park and possibly see wildlife. Continue on to the beautiful backwaters of Kumarakom and get a glimpse of the lives of the locals that live along the waters of the largest freshwater lake in Kerala. Finally, end in Kochi (Cochin) where you will learn about the rich history of this vibrant city. Experience the artistic culture by watching a Kathakali dance performance, a dance form which depicts characters from epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata. The picturesque villages, gracious people, and beautiful countryside of South India await you on this serene and insightful guided adventure.

Continue to detailed itinerary...

itinerary

Anticipated itinerary; actual route may vary.
  • Day 1: arrive chennai
    Welcome to beautiful South IndiaWelcome to beautiful South India

    Welcome to India! Upon arrival at Chennai Airport, you'll be met and transferred to your centrally located hotel where you will be welcomed traditionally with Arti and Tikka - a Hindu Ritual where young women put a vermilion on your forehead and welcome you with a platter of auspicious items. This will mark your journey to India with good fortune. Afterwards, you'll be provided with a non-alcoholic beverage while you are being checked in.

    Chennai (formerly Madras) is also known as the "Gateway to Southern India". The city was founded in 1639 by the East India Company and soon became a fortified trading post. Over the course of the next century, the city flourished, expanding rapidly and absorbing many surrounding villages becoming the modern and bustling city it is today.

    Meals
    None
    Lodging
    Design Hotel by juSTa or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 2: chennai
    Visit the famous Kapaleeshwarar TempleVisit the famous Kapaleeshwarar Temple

    Chennai is the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and home to approximately 7 million people. Spend the day exploring Chennai beginning with Fort St. George, built by the British as their stronghold. The fort was the first structure in Madras town and the first territorial possession of the British in India. It's 20 foot walls still encircle India's largest Anglican Church, St. Mary's and the Fort St. George museum. The Tamil Nadu Government Secretariat and the Legislative Assembly are also located inside. Next, visit the St. Thomas Cathedral, a Roman Catholic church built in the 16th century by the Portuguese. It houses the tomb of St. Thomas, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus. Afterwards, visit the Kapaleeshwarar Temple, a 16th century structure dedicated to Lord Shiva. The huge tower is covered with a multitude of brightly colored plaster figures, and the temple itself is filled with devotees coming to worship. 

    Return to your hotel where you have the rest of the day free to do as you like.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Design Hotel by juSTa or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: mamallapuram exucrsion
    Visit the ancient Shore TempleVisit the ancient Shore Temple

    After breakfast, make the scenic drive along the Coromandel Coast in the direction of India's stone-carving capital, Mamallapuram, also known as Mahabalipuram (approximately 1.5 hour drive). This charming ancient port town was known in Marco Polo’s day as the “Seven Pagodas" alluding to the seven-tiered towers that once stood on the shore. Today, only the Shore Temple still stands. The port is famous for its World Heritage stone carvings. Impressive cave temples, monolithic rathas (chariots) and sculpted reliefs built by the Pallavas in the seventh and eighth centuries form this group of monuments.

    On the way to Mamallapuram, stop to visit Dakshin Chitra, an exciting cross cultural living museum of art, architecture, lifestyles, crafts and performing arts of South India. The main mission is to exhibit, promote and preserve aspects of the broader, more inclusive cultures of the states and to bring these arts to the public in a participative, enjoyable and engaging way. Dakshina Chitra has a collection of 18 authentic historical houses with contextual exhibitions in each house. All the houses bought and reconstructed at Dakshina Chitra had been given for demolition by their owners. The authentic homes in a regional vernacular style are purchased, taken down, transported and reconstructed by artisans (Stapathis) of the regions from where the houses came.

    Continue on to Mamallapuram, which was granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1995. Admire the astonishing ancient monuments you'll find here, which include open air bas-reliefs, temples, man-made caves, and monolithic rathas or "chariots" carved in situ from single boulders. One of the structures you'll see is Arjuna's Penance, the world's largest bas-relief at 88 feet long and 30 feet high. It is considered one of the great masterpieces of Indian art, portraying hundreds of celestial beings humans and animals watching the descent of the Ganges from the Himalayas. Next, visit the eighth century Shore Temple, which is believed to be the oldest stone temple in South India. The temple boasts five separate freestanding sculptures that portray mythological tales. Also, a life-sized carved elephant stands nearby. 

    Return to Chennai (1.5 hr drive) for your overnight.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Design Hotel by juSTa or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 4: flight to madurai
    Encounter many friendly peopleEncounter many friendly people

    In the morning, check-out of the hotel and transfer to the airport for the flight to Madurai, often referred to as "Temple City." Madurai is among the oldest continuously inhabited cities with a history that dates back roughly 2,500 years. On arrival in Madurai, you'll be met by your local guide and assisted with the transfer to your hotel to drop off your luggage. Afterwards, head out on a city tour beginning with a visit to the Gandhi Memorial Museum, established in 1959 to honor the Indian activist. The museum actually contains a piece of blood-stained cloth from the robe Gandhi wore when he was assassinated. Continue on to Thirumalai Nayak Palace, built in 1636 by King Thirumalai Nayak with the help of an Italian architect. The building is a classic fusion of Dravidian, Islamic, and European styles. Nearby is the Teppakulam, a pond used for devotional festivals.

    This evening, head over to the Meenakshi Temple, a historic Hindu temple dedicated to Meenakshi, an incarnation of the Goddess Parvati, wife of Shiva. Here you'll witness the evening ceremony honoring Shiva and Parvati where the image of Shiva, in the form of Sundareswarar, is carried from his shrine to join Parvati, in the form of Meenakshi, at her shrine. Afterwards, return to your hotel for the night.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Hotel Heritage Madurai or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: overland to periyar
    Learn how peppercorn is grown and processedLearn how peppercorn is grown and processed

    Today you'll check-out of the hotel and explore the Flower Market to see the colorful varieties of flowers such as marigolds, tuberose, rose, and jasmine. Continue on with the drive to Periyar (100 mi/4 hrs), the most famous wildlife sanctuary in South India. On arrival, check-into your hotel and freshen up before heading back out on a tour of a Spice Plantation to learn more about the spices used in Kerala cuisine, non-Ayurveda medicine, and cosmetics. Periyar, due to its location in the lower mountains around 3,000 feet above sea level, is blessed with a wide variety of spices. The tour gives you a chance to enjoy cardamom, pepper, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and many other varieties of spices and medicinal plants. It is also a great opportunity to see why the Kerala cuisine is so different from most of the other Indian cuisines.

    Return to your hotel where the rest of the day is free to relax and perhaps take a stroll around the hotel's spice garden and enjoy the natural surroundings. The hotel has an excellent Ayurveda and Yoga center as well as a library with a fireplace if you decide to just curl up with a good book.

     

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Hotel Shalimar Spice Garden or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 6: periyar national park
    Enjoy a nature walk through PeriyarEnjoy a nature walk through Periyar

    You'll get up very early this morning for a fairly easy, two and a half to three hour nature hike at Periyar led by an experienced forest tribal guide. This two to three mile hike takes you through diverse habitats of the reserve, offering an opportunity to see the wildlife that live in the park, possibly including the Indian elephant, deer, wild pigs, lion-tailed macaque, and the stripe-necked mongoose. A large variety of amphibians and reptiles including some 30 variety of snakes can be found here. Bird life you might see are the endemic Malabar grey hornbill, thrushes, hornbills, darters, flycatchers, parakeets, and storks. The trail passes through evergreen forests and moist, deciduous forests, interspersed with marshy grasslands. After crossing a small creek on a hand-made Bamboo boat, you'll begin your walk from flat ground making your way slowly to the middle of of jungle. During the trek, your guide will explain the ayurvedic nature of the different types of plants and help you to spot birds. Though it is difficult to spot many wild animals, since wildlife covers a vast area, you will definitely see birds, butterflies and some other animals. 

    Afterwards, you'll have a chance to interact with the elephants by giving them a bath and feeding them. Return to your hotel for a chance to freshen up and relax.

    This evening, you'll be taken to the local theater to witness the Kadathanadan Kalari Kalaripayattu performance. This is the oldest form of martial arts and known as the mother of all martial arts. The theater has been built in such a way that the viewers get a clear view from a safe distance. Show time is between 5:30 and 6:30 pm.

    Note: Long-sleeve shirts and pants are highly recommended on the nature walk. You'll be provided with leech-proof socks, but you can also bring your own. Be sure to bring a good bug repellent.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Hotel Shalimar Spice Garden or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: drive to kumarakom
    Cruise along the Kerala backwatersCruise along the Kerala backwaters

    After having breakfast and checking out from your hotel, make the estimated four and a half hour scenic drive to Kumarakom, another worldly escape featuring the largest freshwater lake in Kerala. The slender coconut palms, never ending paddy fields, meandering lagoons, and dense mangroves will invigorate your mind. Along with the pristine beauty, enjoy the local people, boating, and fresh, tropical air. Check-in to your beautiful nature resort and spend some time relaxing or getting an Ayurvedic massage.

    This evening, enjoy a shared, one hour Sunset Cruise on Vembandu Lake and through the narrow canals to small islets tucked away among the waters and get glimpses of typical Kerala villages. Watch the sun set as you cruise along Vembandu Lake past coconut groves swaying in the wind - an experience sure to give you lasting memories. 

    Note: Sunset Cruise is weather permitting.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Aveda Resorts and Spa or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 8: backwaters houseboat cruise
    Explore the backwaters on a houseboatExplore the backwaters on a houseboat

    The backwaters of Kerala are a network of five large lakes linked by canals and fed by some 38 rivers creating a labyrinth system of more than 550 miles of waterways. Today you will enjoy a relaxing, four-hour backwater cruise on Vembandu Lake. The lake is rich in marine life, such as spotted fish, kanju, tiger prawns, crabs, and more. During the monsoon, the shores of the lake are transformed into a rich fertile land and the streams and lagoons break their banks to nourish the shrubs that sprout. Float through majestic canals, streams and distributaries while appreciating the fringed palms, blue water, and utter tranquility. Return to your hotel in Kumarakom for the night.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Aveda Resorts and Spa or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 9: kochi fort
    Kathakali dance is unique to this areaKathakali dance is unique to this area

    After breakfast, make the estimated hour and a half drive to Kochi (formerly known as Cochin), a trading port founded during the Roman times. Kochi boasts a relaxed, seaside ambience that has changed little over the centuries. Experience the bustle of commerce in and about the city's courtyards, the vendors of betel nut, ginger, peppercorns, and coconut husks. The air is filled with the scent of exotic spices and shouts of vendors pushing heavy carts. It's easy to forget that one is in the 21st century. Fort Kochi is thought to be the oldest European settlement in India. A mixture of Portuguese, Dutch, and British houses line the streets and the St. Francis Church, built in 1503 by the Portuguese, is one of South India's National Monuments.

    In the evening, proceed to a local theater to see a traditional dance performance called Kathakali, one of the oldest forms of dance in the world. This dance-drama originated in Kerala and depicts characters from the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. The performers don extraordinarily elaborate costumes to bring the myths to life in the temple courtyards.

    Your boutique hotel features contemporary styled rooms with magnificent views of the harbor. 

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Hotel Fragrant Nature or similar
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  • Day 10: kochi city tour
    Observe local fishermenObserve local fishermen

    A full day of sight-seeing in Kochi begins at "Jew Town" where you visit the Jewish (Paradesi) Synagogue (visits are between 10:00 am and 1:00 pm; closed to the public on Fridays, Saturdays, & holidays), the oldest active synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations. First built in 1568 after the first synagogue was destroyed during the Portuguese persecution of the Jews, the Paradesi's unique design consists of Belgian glass chandeliers, a brass-railed pulpit, and the floor of the synagogue is composed of hundreds of 18th century hand-painted Chinese porcelain tiles. Next, visit St. Francis Church, the oldest European church in India followed by the Mattancherry Dutch Palace (closed on Fridays), built by the Portuguese and gifted to the king of Cochin around 1555. It became known as the Dutch Palace in 1663 after the Dutch made renovations and extensions on the palace. The 16th century Santa Cruz Basilica, originally built by the Portuguese, is one of eight basilicas in Kerala and considered to be one of the finest and most impressive churches in India. You'll also drive past the graceful Chinese fishing nets that line the shore of Fort Cochin. The nets are believed to have been brought to Kochi by Chinese traders.

    In the evening you will enjoy a cooking demonstration with Nimmy & Paul. Nimmy is a professional cooking instructor that has been teaching for more than twenty years, while her stockbroker husband Paul, offers food and hospitality to their guests. Nimmy will teach you the nuances of traditional Kerala recipes. Afterwards, you will dine on your creations.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Dinner
    Lodging
    Hotel Fragrant Nature or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 11: depart kochi
    Consider adding on a relaxing beach stayConsider adding on a relaxing beach stay

    Transfer to the airport in time to check-in for your international flight onwards, or perhaps add a few extra days to spend relaxing at a beach resort in Kerala.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    None
    Show on a map

Price and Date Details

Land Cost:
From
$2,900
2-3 people: $3450 4+ people: $2900 Local flight Chennai/Madurai: $130 (estimated)
Single Supplement:
$900
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Custom & private on your dates

Need to Know

Temples in Tamil Nadu have a strict dress code and only those wearing traditional dress will be allowed to visit. Men are required to wear dhoti shirt and full lenght pants, kurta and pajama, or sherwani (knee lenght coat) and pajama. They will not be allowed to wear a lungi, shorts, or vests. Women will be required to wear a traditional saree with a blous, pavadai thavani (long skirt with blouse), or long kurta and payama with a scarf to cover the head and shoulders. They will not be allowed to wear jeans, pants, t-shirt, vests, skirts, mini-skirts, leggings, shorts, or bermudas. 

Travel times are estimated and may vary depending on traffic or the number of stops required.

Duration:
11 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost.
Comfort Level:
●●●○○
(see full descriptions)
Charming lodges to 4-star Western hotels Upgrade to 5-star hotels available
Activity Level:
●○○○○
(see full descriptions)
Group Size:
Most custom trips can accommodate groups of any size, from one person to as large of a group as you'd like. Some exceptions apply; ask your Adventure Specialist for details.
Terms & Conditions: 

Standard

Below is a summary of our complete Trip Terms & Conditions, which explains each of the items below in more detail. 

Expenses covered

Normally, our stated land costs include the cost of all guides, leaders, permits obtained after arrival, lodging accommodations, food and entry fees as specified, and all surface transportation associated with the planned itinerary. We do our best to avoid increasing prices after receipt of your deposit, but, rarely, factors beyond our control might require us to change our prices without prior notice, even after you have signed up. 

Expenses not covered

Costs not included in the price may include: meals not indicated as included in itineraries; meals prior to arrival in starting cities; transfers, if not arriving or departing on the scheduled group flights; soft drinks, bottled water, and alcoholic beverages; medical expenses, costs of hospitalization, or evacuation from remote areas; laundry; airport departure taxes not included on your airline ticket; accommodations en route to starting cities; visas; airfares; gratuities; and insurance. 

Pricing and Payment

For most group departures, the booking deposit is $500 per person per trip, though for some trips it may be more, as noted in the trip description. The minimum booking deposit requirement for custom trips is $800 per person, and this deposit is non-refundable. A trip-planning fee of $250 per itinerary is also charged to cover costs of preparing itinerary proposals for custom trips. This fee is credited to the cost of the trip, but is nonrefundable if you do not take the trip. Custom travel during holiday seasons may require a deposit prior to trip confirmation.

For both group departures and custom trips, a second deposit of $1,000 per person is due 120 days prior to departure or at the time of booking for reservations made fewer than 120 days before departure. The balance as shown on your invoice is due 60 days prior to departure regardless of whether extensions or other arrangements are pending. Late payments may jeopardize confirmation of your itinerary and in some cases may result in additional fees. If we have not received final payment 30 days prior to departure your reservation may be canceled and subject to our Cancellation & Refund Policy stated in the complete Terms & Conditions.

We accept payments by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or check drawn on a U.S. bank account. Payment for airfare is required at the time of ticketing. Discounts that may be available for some trips are not available toward bookings made through travel agencies.

Airfare

We can help you secure air travel arrangements to correspond with land travel booked through Journeys International. We work with an airfare consolidator to assist in booking the flights that suit your needs. If you decide to make your own flight arrangements, you must provide Journeys International with a complete copy of your itinerary showing departure and arrival flights and times. You should plan to arrange your own air travel if you are using mileage credit or originating outside North America, but please be in touch with our office before you finalize ticketing so that we can help you to coordinate the correct arrival and departure dates and times.

Insurance

When you make your application, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Itinerary Change Fee

There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

Trip Extensions

Kathmandu Hospitality

Duration: 3 days

Kathmandu is worth spending a few days before setting off on an Asia adventure.

Angkor Wat 3-Day Odyssey

Duration: 3 days

This excursion focuses on the amazing ruins of Angkor in Siem Reap. Angkor Wat, a spectacular architectural legacy of a period of bizarre regimes, is the most famous and confusing of the ruins in southeast Asia. This makes a perfect extension to any ... read more

Angkor Wat 5-Day Odyssey

Duration: 5 days

This excursion takes you to Siem Reap where you explore the magnificent Angkor sites followed by a ride on the Tonle Sap to see the local fishing villages. Then a short flight to Phnom Penh where you visit interesting museums, including Toul Sleng, a... read more

Delhi Hospitality Package

Duration: 3 days

The capital city of Delhi has a history that dates back to the sixth century BC.  In Old Delhi, you'll visit some of the most important ancient sites, many that are currently listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. New Delhi, which was built by the... read more

River Kwai & Erawan National Park

Duration: 4 days

This extension gives you a mixed variety of history and nature. You begin by exploring along the River Kwai stopping at important historical sites. You then travel to Erawan National Park, a unique and rugged landscape of high elevation plateau and s... read more

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× comfort level
Choose accommodations and amenities that fit your personal style
●○○○○ Simple
Our most natural accommodations. Bath facilities often shared, sometimes rustic.
●●○○○ Delightful
Comfortable and especially personal. Small to mid-sized lodges, typically with private bath.
●●●○○ Superior
Lodges and hotels with additional amenities, refined artistry, or extra-special settings.
●●●●○ Deluxe
Exclusive or luxury lodges, hotels, or safari camps with fine dining options.
●●●●● Uncommon
The most indulgent accommodations arranged specially for private trips.
× activity level
Match the trip’s intensity to your ability and motivation.
●○○○○ Gentle
Easy walking, with opportunities for low-key physical activity.
●●○○○ Active
Energetic exploration with optional day hikes, leisurely cycling, or light canoeing.
●●●○○ Vigorous
Day-long active excursions and options for demanding activity in varied environments.
●●●●○ Challenging
Strenuous hiking or other intense activity that may be at high altitude or over rough terrain.
●●●●● Demanding
Multi-day trekking and other activities requiring endurance or strength. Steep trails. No technical expertise necessary.
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