South India DISCOVERY
Small Group Adventure:
February 20 - March 4, 2023
14 days/13 nights for $3099 per person, double occupancy, land only,
starting in Mahabalipuram and ending in Kochi
2 nights at the Intercontinental in Mahabalipuram with breakfast daily and welcome, transfer from airport
Auto-rickshaw & walking tour of Mahabalipuram
1 night in Pondicherry at the Promenade Hotel with breakfast
Tour of Auroville & Pondicherry
Drive to Kumbakonam with visit to the temple of Gangaikonda Cholapuram
1 night in Kumbakonam at the Indeco Hotel with breakfast and dinner, activities at the hotel, evening Aarti Ceremony, and cultural dance performance
Bullock cart ride through Kumbakonam
1 night in Tanjore at the Great Trails River View hotel with breakfast
Tour of Thanjavur Palace & Brihadeshwara Temple
Drive to Madurai with tour of the Trichy Rock Fort Temple
2 nights in Madurai at the Heritage Madurai with breakfast and dinner daily
Walking tour of Madurai including the local markets, the Gandhi Museum, Meenakshi Temple, and a local orphanage.
2 nights in Periyar at the Cardamom Country Resort with breakfast daily
Spice plantation tour & Kalaripayattu martial arts performance
Wildlife cruise on Periyar Lake & guided walk with a naturalist guide in the Periyar Wildlife Reserve
2 nights in Kumarakom at Abad Whispering Palms Resort with breakfast daily
Visit to Philipkutty's Farm with cooking class & lunch
Day cruise through the Kerala backwaters on a house boat with lunch
Drive to Kochi with visit to the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
2 nights in Kochi at the Taj Malabar Hotel with breakfast daily and farewell dinner, transfer to airport
Tour of Jewish Kochi and a evening Kathakali performance
Walking tour of old Kochi
English-speaking guides throughout
Air-conditioned vehicles throughout
$3099 per person, double occupancy, land only
Single occupancy price: $4199
Pricing based on a minimum of 8 travelers
Arrive in Chennai
Arrive in Chennai and meet your guide before driving to Mahabalipuram, a town famous for its rock carvings and sculptures. Check into the Intercontinental. Welcome dinner at the hotel.
Breakfast at the hotel. Explore the traditional rural village of Mahabalipuram by auto-rickshaw and by foot before heading to the Shore temples, some of the oldest in South India. There you can see the world's largest bas relief carving and five unique monolithic temples called the Five Rathas. In the afternoon visit Dakshina Chitra, a living museum of Southern Indian arts, architecture, crafts, and performing arts.
After breakfast, drive to Pondicherry, a former French colony that still retains a lot of French influence. Visit Auroville, founded in 1968 by followers of the local spiritual guru Sri Aurobindo.
After arriving in Pondicherry, take an afternoon walking tour and rickshaw ride through the city.
Breakfast at the hotel. Drive to Kumbakonam, once the capital of the Cholas dynasty in the 7th century. Visit the Temple of Gangaikonda Cholapuram before checking into your hotel where you can do various activities on site. In the evening participate in an aarti ceremony with a Hindu priest before enjoying dinner and a cultural dance performance.
After breakfast, take a bullock cart ride through the village of Kumbakonam to see the daily life of Indian villagers. You will also see artisans working with brass, something that Kumbakonam is famous for.
Drive to Tanjore and spend the afternoon visiting Thanjavur Palace, with its many hand-painted dolls. In the evening, head to Brihadeshwara Temple to see an aarti ceremony.
Trichy & Madurai
Breakfast at the hotel. Head to Madurai, stopping along the way in Trichy to visit the Rock Fort Temple complex. Visitors must climb 400 steps to reach the top.
Dinner at your hotel in Madurai.
Breakfast at the hotel. Walk through the flower and vegetable markets of the city before visiting the Gandhi Museum, which features his artwork along with his writing. From there, head to Tirumalai Nayak Palace and Meenakshi Temple. Then visit a local orphanage. Return to your hotel for dinner.
After breakfast, drive to Periyar, the spice capital of Kerala. Take a tour of a spice plantation to see how many are grown in India. In the evening see a Kalaripayattu martial arts performance. Kalaripayattu is one of the world's oldest martial arts and is known as the mother of all martial arts.
Periyar Wildlife Reserve
Breakfast at the hotel. Take a wildlife viewing cruise on Periyar Lake in the Periyar Wildlife Reserve to see Indian elephants and other animals native to India. If you're very lucky, you might spot one of the very elusive tigers. After lunch, return to the Wildlife Reserve for a walk through the jungle with a naturalist guide, allowing you to see rare species of flora and fauna up close.
After breakfast, drive to Kumarakom, a coastal town in the backwaters of Kerala. Visit Philipkutty's Farm, a 50-acre farming estate. Here, you will get a unique opportunity to interact with a local family and take a cooking class. Enjoy lunch with the family before heading back to your hotel for an afternoon of relaxation.
Exploring the backwaters of Kerala
Breakfast at the hotel. Board a traditional houseboat and take a day cruise through the backwaters of Kerala, which consists of a complex network of lagoons, lakes, and canals. Enjoy lunch on board and return to the hotel for a relaxing afternoon.
After breakfast, visit the Kumarakom bird sanctuary on the banks of Vembanad Lake. From there, drive to Kochi, the largest city in Kerala, which was once a trading point for the Dutch, the Portuguese, and the British. Take a tour of the Pardesi Synagogue, which was built in 1568, a symbol of the mix of cultures that came to Kerala during its mercantile heyday.
Breakfast at the hotel. Take a guided walking tour through Old Kochi and visit Fort Kochi, the St. Francis Church, and historic Chinese fishing nets that are still used by local fishermen.
Afternoon is free to explore Kochi.
In the evening, see a spectacular Kathakali performance, one of the oldest theater forms in India with vibrant characters dressed in elaborate costumes. Dinner included with the performance.
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to the airport for your flight home.
International airfare available upon request.
Small Group Vaccination Requirements
Due to the increased potential for the spread of COVID-19 within a small group,
we require all travelers who sign up for our small group trips to be
fully vaccinated and boosted with the most recent booster.
We recommend getting your booster about one month before departure.