This Kerala & the Southern Highlights itinerary has been intricately designed for travellers who wish to explore the most iconic sites, delving into deep-rooted culture and dining on delicious cuisine. You'll travel with the assurance that all your arrangements are taken care of, with international flights, accommodation and all the touring listed below. You will be accompanied by industry-leading National Escorts, whose unparalleled knowledge and talent will turn your tour into an unforgettable experience.
Your holiday includes:
Your accommodation has been selected for convenience of location, comfort or character, and can range from a business hotel in one city to a family-run guesthouse in a smaller town or a heritage-type hotel.
In remote areas, accommodation may be of a lower standard and may not have western amenities. Hotels are generally rated as local three to four-star standard, but please note that there is no international classification system for hotels and differences in facilities and quality do exist between Australia and India. Please note double bed requests can be made at time of booking but can’t be guaranteed. All group tour hotels have private western bathroom facilities, air conditioning, TV and a telephone. Plumbing and electricity supplies can be erratic and quite often the power in hotel rooms is turned off while guests are out of the room.
On this tour, you will stay on a houseboat, or ‘Kettuvallam’, which has all the comforts of a good hotel including furnished bedrooms, modern toilets, cosy living rooms, a kitchen and even a balcony for angling. Parts of the curved roof of wood or plaited palm open out to provide shade and allow uninterrupted views. Please note: While on the houseboats, electricity can be intermittent. There is a generator on board, so keep this in mind when charging phones, cameras or other electronic items. The cabins on board are all air conditioned from 9;00pm to 6:00am, but the living areas and deck may be cooled with fans. If you are a light sleeper you may wish to bring ear plugs, as the generators may be loud at night.
Flexible Booking terms: Secure your tour with just a $99pp deposit per tour . No more to pay until 75 days before departure . Unlimited changes until 75 days prior
Various travel dates available in February, March, October and November 2023
Travel 2 - 18 November 2023
Twin share from $6,319 per person
To find out more about this immersive tour of Southern India contact our experienced travel team on 1300 414 198.
Please note prices are subject to availability at time of booking or until sold out and may change without notice. The prices above include flights departing Brisbane, airline fuel surcharges and taxes which are subject to change.
Please note that the following itinerary may change without notice due to festivals, events or weather.
Day 1 Fly to Chennai
Fly to the city of Chennai and transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is yours to start soaking up the local culture.
Day 2 Discover Mamallapuram
After breakfast and a 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.
Day 3 Chennai City
Return to Chennai, formerly known as Madras. This city was developed as a British trading post and 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 and the British-built St. Mary's Church. The final stop is the colourful Shiva Kapaleeswarar Temple.
Day 4 Train to Bangalore
Rise early to catch the Shatabdi Express to the garden city of Bangalore, where you will enjoy an afternoon city tour to see the Bull Temple, Tipu Sultan's Palace and Vidhana Soudha.
Day 5 Mysore
Head to Mysore, stopping at Srirangapatna Fort en route. Visit the magnificent Maharaja's Palace and drive 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.
Day 6 Coonoor Hill Station
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.
Day 7 Ooty Mountain Railway
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 to a small village where you will gain insight into the lives of the local people, as well as having incredible views back over Ooty.
Day 8 Travel to Coimbatore
Enjoy a city tour of Sim's Park in Coonoor this morning. It includes winding footpaths, gazebos and a dense forest. This afternoon continue on to Coimbatore and spend the night.
Day 9 Munnar
Travel to Munnar, a hill station enveloped by lush tea plantations. In the afternoon visit a tea plantation and the Tata Tea Museum.
Day 10 Travel to Thekkady
Today explore Eravikulam National Park and have the opportunity to spot the local wildlife (closed Feb-Apr, when an alternative light trek will be available). Continue your journey to Thekkady, home of Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary.
Day 11 Periyar Wildlife Reserve
Though designated as a Tiger Reserve in 1978, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary 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 before enjoying a traditional kalaripayattu (martial art) show this evening.
Day 12 Drive to Kochi
Travel to the coastal town of Kochi. This evening enjoy an exuberant Kathakali dance performance.
Day 13 Explore Kochi
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 will have excellent views of Chinese fishing nets. Finish the day by admiring the synagogue in the heart of the Jewish Quarter.
Day 14 Backwaters Cruising
Travel to Kumarakom, stopping en route at Kumbalangi, a village created to highlight the lifestyle of fisher-folk in the area. Later board a houseboat, a converted rice barge known as a kettuvallam. Sit back and watch life on the water and the surrounding, untouched wilderness while cruising unhurriedly along the canals. A delicious dinner of traditional cuisine will be served on board and spend a comfortable night on the water.
Day 15 Discover Trivandruma
Have breakfast onboard before disembarking and heading for the beach town of Kovalam. Stop on the way in Kerala's capital Trivandrum to see the Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple, the Observatory and Sri Chitra Art Gallery.
Day 16 Relax in Kovalam
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, before a farewell dinner this evening.
Day 17 & 18 Fly to Australia
Transfer to Trivandrum and fly to Australia, arriving home the same or following day.
Transfers: In the event that your flight departs outside of the majority group departure time, you will be transferred to the airport by a shared coach (not with other tour passengers). If you are on a shared coach transfer, you may have to walk for a few minutes to get to the coach.
The fitness level required for this tour is a level 2 - a reasonable level of fitness is required but it’s more about spending time on your feet rather than covering large distances. You’ll be getting on and off coaches and boats, walking around the sights and climbing some steps.
Entry visas are required by all visitors to India which are valid for 120 days from the date of issue and allow you to stay in the country for up to 60 days.
India has many religions, cultures and histories. Foreign tourists, particularly female travellers, may be stared at as Indian women in some areas generally do not go out without their father or husband. Please be considerate of this, the local beliefs and customs and dress with consideration and modesty.
When visiting temples or mosques, both men and women should dress in conservative, non-revealing clothing. Full-length trousers with a shirt or t-shirt for men; and trousers or skirts well below the knee with a top that covers the shoulders and upper arms for women. Women might also consider carrying a ‘modesty shawl’ in their day pack – this could be a sarong or light scarf – which they can wear over their shoulders and heads to feel more comfortable while sightseeing at mosques. Religious sites and homes throughout India – for Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Muslims or Buddhists to name a few – require all visitors to remove their shoes to enter. Even if you then need to walk outdoors, over hot or rough ground, you will not be allowed to wear shoes. You will often find shoe storage rooms near the entrance of a site where it is customary to leave your shoes near the entrance. Occasionally there are ‘shoe minders’ who will offer to keep your shoes safe for a ‘tip’ – this is not compulsory so each customer can choose to tip for this service or not. If you do not want to remove your shoes, you will have to remain outside. We recommend shoes that easily slip on and off, and carry a pair of thick, old socks in your day pack, which you can wear to protect your feet from any rough or hot surfaces.
Please note on Day 10 you will visit Eravikulam National Park which is at an altitude of 2700 metres. Altitude Sickness is a risk. Symptoms may include dizziness, fatigue, nausea and shortness of breath. There are no specific factors, such as age or fitness, that can cause you to suffer from altitude sickness. This can affect anyone at anytime and symptoms may vary. All hotels selected for this itinerary provide oxygen free of charge, please ask to use this. There is medication - that can help treat and prevent symptoms. Consult a doctor before taking any of these medications, before engaging in strenuous activity at high altitude and regarding any necessary vaccinations in plenty of time before travelling
Coaches with air conditioning are used on our group tours for city sightseeing, short excursions to the countryside and longer transfers where necessary. Due to Indian Government regulations the use of curtains, tinted glass windows are prohibited across India. Main and inner-city roads in India have a reputation for being very congested. For this reason, it may not always be possible to return to your hotel after sightseeing to freshen up before going to the restaurant for dinner. Roads in India have generally been improved over recent years, but traffic and/or weather conditions may extend driving times. Road construction work usually covers an enormous section of road - not just one or two kilometres as you may be used to. For this reason, the timings listed in the sections above are approximations only.
Internal flights are based on economy class, with reputable airlines. Pre-flight seat allocation is not available on international and internal flight sectors.
This trip involves a train journey in air-conditioned class cars. Getting on and off the trains in India can be quite disorderly as passengers will start boarding well before people have finished getting off! If your group is disembarking at a stop that is not the end of the line, the train will only stop for 10 minutes and you must have your luggage ready and by your side a few minutes before the train pulls into the station.
Most of our groups consist of 10 travellers or more and will be accompanied by both a National Escort. There will usually be no more than 28 travellers in each group. All departures are guaranteed to operate with a minimum of 8 travellers booked. For groups with fewer than 10 travellers,departures will operate with local guides.
Local tipping is customary in Asia and a local kitty system operates on this tour so that your National Escort will look after this aspect of your trip for you.Customary tipping amount of approximately US$96 (AU$139) is paid locally in India. Any additional tipping of any of your tours is welcomed at your discretion.
Travel at 60 and supplier booking conditions apply
No Solo Supplement Offer - valid for new bookings until 31 Jan 2020 on selected toursto China, India, Myanmar and Peru.