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Exodus: The Tropical South
from £2049 pp

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India's tropical south is a land full of fertile forests, sweeping grasslands and tea plantations. On this tour, visit the two southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, both with distinctive cultures and contrasting scenery. Kerala is a true tropical paradise with an idyllic coastline and lush tropical mountains, which is evident as you travel between the old spice town of Cochin and the beautiful hill station of Munnar. A trip to the wildlife sanctuary at Periyar boasts an array of wildlife and an abundance of colourful birdlife, and dinner with a local family provides a unique insight into Keralan life. In Tamil Nadu, explore the state's most vibrant and colourful city, Madurai, and marvel at the intricately carved Sri Meenakshi Temple. End the tour on the lagoons of Kerala as you cruise on a traditional houseboat before relaxing on the sweeping beaches of Kovalam and the chance to try some delicious fresh seafood.

What's Included
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  • All breakfasts, 1 lunch and 3 dinners included
  • All accommodation
  • Transfer for group flights
Tour Highlights
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  • Cruise the Keralan backwaters on a traditional houseboat
  • Explore the old spice town of Cochin
  • Sample traditional home cooked food in a family home
  • Discover the Sri Meenakshi temple of Madurai 
Tour Itinerary
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Day 1: Depart London.

Flights usually depart London in the afternoon.

Day 2: Start Cochin.

On arrival at your hotel there is free time to either explore Cochin or simply relax after your travels.

Day 3: Sightseeing around Cochin

Today we do a sightseeing tour of Fort Cochin and Mattancherry, where most of the historic buildings are located in amongst the narrow streets. The Portuguese Vasco de Gama landed here in 1498 and began trading with the Raja of Cochin. 

Day 4: To Munnar.

After breakfast we drive away from the coastal plain to Munnar set amongst Kerala's highest mountains that form a jagged line due east of Cochin. The drive is 160km and should take approximately 5-6 hours. Munnar is a beautiful hill station on the Western Ghats at about 1600m above sea level. It was once a summer resort of the British Government in South India.

Day 5: Day trek through tea plantations and the hills of Munnar.

After an early breakfast, we take a short drive through old Munnar and travel down to Nagarmudi, a tiny village, where we start our trek accompanied by a local guide. The trek begins with a long gradual ascent through the tea plantations and then climbs into Seven Malai Hills. Just before reaching the top we enjoy walking through cardamom and coffee plantations.

Day 6: To Madurai.

Leaving Kerala behind we drive 165km through the hills to the colourful temple town of Madurai, in Tamil Nadu. The drive should take approximately 6-7 hrs and we should arrive mid-afternoon.

Day 7: Visit colourful Sri Meenakshi Temple

Today there is an opportunity to go on an early morning heritage walk through Madurai (approx. £15 or US$20 depending on group size), allowing us to observe the local community going about their everyday life; milking cows, women doing rangoli in front of their houses, breakfast being prepared on the roadside food stalls, and fruit and vegetable markets in full action. 

Day 8: To Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary

Leaving Madurai we drive in the morning to the small bustling village of Thekkady, from where we visit the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, one of the largest parks in India. The drive from Madurai is spectacular as the road climbs through the Western Ghats and we have fantastic views across Tamil Nadu. In the afternoon there will be enough free time to wander around in the village and explore the bazaar, where we can visit the numerous shops selling cardamom, vanilla, peppercorns, turmeric and other spices. 

Day 9: Explore Periyar 

In the morning, before breakfast, we join our local guide for a nature walk in the Wildlife Sanctuary (approx. 2-3 hrs) and return to our hotel in time for breakfast. In the afternoon there is the option to go on a boat cruise on the lake. This is an ideal way to get close to the animals and we have the opportunity of spotting elephant, otter, wild pig and buffalo. There is also an abundance of bird life - kingfishers, storks and hornbills are the most commonly spotted. 

Day 10: To Erattupetta Planters Homestay.

Leaving the hills, we make our way to Erattupetta Planters Homestay; a cosy eco-friendly mansion built 50 years ago, surrounded by tall rubber trees and tropical fruit trees. This is a fantastic opportunity to explore the rural life of Kerala, with a village walk and a visit to a spice plantation.

Day 11: To Muhamma; village walk.

Today we make our way to Muhamma, driving through tea and fruit plantations. Our hotel this evening is the Deshadan Backwater Resort, situated on the banks of the scenic Vembanad Lake. Later we have the chance to explore the surrounding villages by foot and gain an insight into traditional village life.

Day 12: Board houseboat for backwater cruise.

After breakfast and a visit to the coir museum, we board our houseboat at midday and begin our cruise along the backwaters of Kerala. The houseboat cruise is one of the highlights of the trip - these enchanting boats, built of Anjili wood and bamboo, were the traditional method of transporting goods for hundreds of years. Now they have been decorated and made into comfortable cruise boats.

Day 13: Leave houseboat and drive to Kovalam.

After breakfast we leave our houseboat in Alleppey and start the drive along the scenic Malabar coast to the beachside town of Kovalam (approx. 4/5 hrs), passing through Quilon for a tea break en route. 

Day 14: Free beach time.

A free day to unwind on the idyllic soft sandy beach, or visit the many shops for some last minute souvenirs. This is a great chance to enjoy the fresh seafood in the many small beach restaurants. Try some of the Tandoori dishes - the clay ovens give a more authentic taste to bread and curries. There is also the opportunity to do an optional day's sightseeing from Kovalam to Kanyakumari, the end point of India where 3 oceans meet, the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal.

Day 15: End Kovalam.

Those on the flight inclusive package wil transfer to Trivandrum airport early this morning for the daytime flight back to London. Land Only arrangements will finish after check-out from the hotel.

Key Information
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  • 11 nights hotels, 1 night homestay, 1 night houseboat
  • Travel by private air-conditioned private bus
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
Accommodation
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You will spend 11 nights in a mixture of standard and comfortable hotels, 1 night in a homestay and 1 night on a traditional Keralan houseboat. Our homestay is a cosy eco-friendly mansion built 50 years ago, surrounded by tall rubber trees and tropical fruit trees. Houseboats are comfortable and all cabins have ensuite facilities. The houseboat also benefits from a deck & dining area. The number of rooms per boat will vary depending on group size and availability. 

Price Information
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Please note, prices listed are guide prices only and are based on 2 people sharing and don't include any additional supplements. Holiday prices are fluid and dynamic and may be changed at a moment's notice, prior to booking, at which point they are confirmed. Please call the team free on 0800 707 6229 for more departure dates available and a quote. 

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