From steamy Kerala backwaters and spice plantations to incredible temples and searching for tigers in the wild, have your camera ready as you experience the highlights of Southern India. This 2-week adventure offers a great balance of guided excursions and free time to explore on your own. Travelling by train, bus, rickshaw, and country boats will bring you closer to the locals and is a fascinating way to gain insight into the peaceful backwaters of Kerala and stunning temples of Tamilnadu.
Day 1 KochiThere are no planned activities before the evening welcome meeting, so check into the hotel and enjoy the city. After the welcome meeting, visit the harbour to enjoy sunset over the Chinese fishing nets.Day 2 KochiEnjoy an early morning orientation tour of Fort Kochi. Enjoy free time to explore before an evening performance of Kathakali.Day 3 Kochi/KalpettaTake a morning train followed by a scenic drive to reach Kalpetta, in the Wayanad district. Day 4 KalpettaHere, we go on nature trails in Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and visit the Edakkal Caves, which are believed to have been a shelter of neolithic people.Day 5 Kalpetta/MudumalaiWe leave the hills for the plains, and stop for the night at the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary. Spend part of the afternoon on a short safari and spot the variety of wildlife within the park. Day 6 Mudumalai/MysoreImagine life as a Maharaja on a guided tour of the Mysore Palace. Later, join the throngs of pilgrims at Chamundi Hills, with its temple on top, and Nandi the Bull (ridden by the Hindu god Shiva) a short walk below. Day 7 Mysore/MāmallapuramArrive by train to Chennai before continuing south for a short ride to the small village of Mamallapuram. Visit the 7th century Shore Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Day 8 MāmallapuramFree time to explore Mamallapuram.Day 9 Māmallapuram/PuducherryIn the morning, drive to Pondicherry (now known as Puducherry), formerly the the largest French Colony in India and an important trading town. There is a strong French influence in the city's layout, with wide boulevards and French-style houses, but the city is undoubtedly Indian. Day 10 Puducherry/MaduraiTravel inland to Madurai, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Day 11 MaduraiAfter visiting the temple complex, opt to visit the handicraft shops or duck into the cool shade of the covered, stone tailor’s market where, for a few rupees, rows of expert tailors will whip you up a custom shirt in minutes, all done on antique foot-pump sewing machines. Day 12 Madurai/Periyār SanctuaryThekkady, adjacent to Periyar National Park, is the spice capital of India. On arrival, enjoy a guided tour of the spice plantations and a tea factory. Opt for a boat ride on the Periyar Lake. Day 13 Periyār Sanctuary/Kerala BackwatersTravel down to the backwaters from Thekkady to catch a private boat for the short journey to the village homestay. In the afternoon, explore the island with a local person to observe the different facets of local life. Your main bags will be transferred directly to the hotel in Kochi. Day 14 Kerala Backwaters/KochiThe morning is spent enjoying the last of our host family's hospitality with village activities. Depart the homestay and travel back to Kochi. The trip ends on arrival to Kochi in the early afternoon.