Southern India Family Holiday Trip Notes

Southern India Family Holiday

Last Modified: 03 Aug 2016
Southern India Family Holiday
Trip code: HHFR
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
Rich in diversity, language, culture and religion, India is fuelled by the energy of some 1.25 billion people, a place where the air is warm and sweet from countless sticks of incense, and the cries of street vendors sound day and night. Explore the south and feast on biryani with a local family on the Karnataka Plains, discover myriad temples in Mysore, Puducherry and Madurai, and seek out tigers and leopards in Periyar National Park. Ride tuk-tuks, drive and take a sleeper train as you criss-cross the country, and then swap it all for the serene glide of a houseboat on the Kerala backwaters. You will encounter incredible sights, sounds and people, and leave with a heart full of experiences and memories on this southern India family adventure.
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodationEmergency contact
ThemesAccommodation NotesVisas
Is this trip right for you?Meals introductionWhat to take
Why we love itMealsClimate and seasonal information
ItineraryMoney mattersTravel insurance
Itinerary disclaimerGroup leaderA couple of rules
Physical ratingSafetyResponsible Travel
Included activitiesJoining pointThe Intrepid Foundation
Important notesFinish pointFeedback
Group sizeFinish point description
Your fellow travellersFinishing point instructions
Is this trip right for you?
- It’s important to prepare for hot sticky temperatures during the day and cooler climates in the evening. Layers are the best way to tackle this difference in weather. Please also ensure that you bring and use sun protection, and drink plenty of water.
- We visit a number of temples on this trip, which requires a certain level of modesty. Please bring clothes that cover the arms and pants/skirts that go past the knees. A light scarf is also a good idea for covering shoulders and arms when it’s hot.
- This trip involves a long overnight train journey. While this can be tiresome, entertaining chaiwalas (tea vendors), food vendors and chats with locals make this a great adventure experience.
Why we love it
- You haven’t really been to a movie until you’ve watched a Bollywood blockbuster in an old-school Indian cinema!
- Cruise around the Malabar backwaters on board a traditional Keralan houseboat, complete with carpets – have fun with locals, and maybe try your hand at fishing
- Race each other up the 1,008 stone steps to the summit of Chamundi Hill, and check out the imposing statue of ‘Nandi’ the bull
- Experience an adventurous sleepover on an Indian train – mix with the locals, play games, enjoy the fabulous hospitality, and watch the colourful landscape fly by as the chai wallah walks down the aisle singing about his tea
- Get back to nature as you safari for rare animals in Periyar National Park – a prize for the one that spots the tiger or leopard!

Day 1 Bangalore
Namaste! Welcome to India. A fusion of modernity and tradition, the vibrant colours of India are truly captivating. Be at one with bustling cities, surrender to the simplicity of villages, and be touched by the spirituality of this land. A journey through India is enriching, inspiring and unforgettable. Your adventure will usually begin with a welcome meeting in the joining hotel. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception as soon as possible. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. Your trip starts in Bengaluru (aka Bangalore), the capital of Karnataka State. Bangalore is the centre of India's high-tech industry but is also known for its abundance of parks and green spaces. If you arrive early and you have the time (and a hankering for adventure and excitement) then the Wonderla Amusement Park will deliver the goods. Or you could spend an afternoon visiting one of the many local green parks or lakes, or former Royal residences like the 19th century Bangalore Palace, which was modelled on England's Windsor Castle. Today your leader will take you on a quick orientation walk around the city.
Included Activities
  • Orientation Walk - Bangalore
    The Pride Hotel - TWIN (with breakfast) (1 nt)
    Day 2 Mysore
    This morning, travel across the undulating Karnataka plains to Mysore (approximately 3 hours). You’ll stop en route to have a memorable locally made biryani lunch with our local friend Raju and his family. Mysore is one of India's most attractive towns. Unlike some of India's biggest cities, it feels quite manageable in size, and it's beautiful buildings are packed full of history. The Maharajah’s Palace, the Lalitha Mahal (Summer Palace) and Shri Chamarajendra art gallery are all definitely worth a visit. There’s plenty to see, so take an orientation walk with your leader to get your bearings. The town was once the capital of the might Mysore Maharaja kingdom, pretty much ruled by the same family from 1399 until 1947. Today it's the state capital and a silk trade centre. It’s well laid out, with wide streets and many gardens, making it a pleasant place to wander around. It’s also one of the major incense manufacturers in India – some call it "The Sandalwood City" and you will find yourself enveloped by the aromas of sandalwood, jasmine, rose and musk. A visit to Mysore isn't complete without a look around Mysore Palace. One of the most ornate palaces in India, its interior is a riot of colour, mosaics and mirrors. Tonight you could enjoy the unforgettable experience of a Bollywood movie at a local cinema.
    Included Activities
    • Mysore - Maharaja's Palace
    • Mysore - Orientation Walk
    • Mysore - Keshava Temple
    • Mysore - Home cooked lunch & family visit
      Sandesh The Prince - DBL (with breakfast) (1 nt)
      1 breakfast
      Day 3 Mysore
      This morning after breakfast, travel about an hour to the small town Somnathpur and its intricate Keshava Temple, which is an excellent example of Hoysala architecture. The ornate temple’s outerwalls are bedecked with intricate designs, and the stonework throughout is stunning. For a better look at the surrounding countryside, you’ll then walk the 1,008 ancient stone steps to the summit of Chamundi Hill – site of the Sri Chamundeswari Temple, which is dedicated to Goddess Durga. Stop halfway to look at the huge statue of the bull Nandi. This vahana, or ‘vehicle’, of Lord Shiva is 4.9 metres tall and 7.6 metres long and carved out of a single piece of black granite. Later you’ll catch and overnight train heading directly east to the coast and Chennai (approximately 11 hours). Trains are an integral park of Indian life and a true adventure. On a sleepover like no other, sleeper trains are clean and air-conditioned, a great way to travel long distances and still get maximum time in each place. Beds are padded berths with sheets, pillow and blanket provided, but some people prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. Please note you may be sharing with locals in a same/mixed gender situation.
      Included Activities
      • Mysore - Chamundi Hill & Temple
        1 breakfast, 1 lunch
        Day 4 Pondicherry
        After alighting the train in Chennai, drive along the scenic East Coast Road to the fishing village of Mamallapuram, home to sprawling, relaxed beaches (approximately 2 hours). When you arrive, saddle up for a bicycle tour, visiting the World Heritage-listed 7th-century Shore Temple – a magnificent rock cut building that over looks the sea – and the massive bas-relief rock carving known as Arjuna's Penance, which is one of India’s greatest ancient art works. There's time to inspect the numerous mandapams (carved pillars in front of temples), watch locals pay their respects to the deity Shiva, or lookout at the fishing fleet. The stone carving tradition from the 9th century continues to this day, with the sound on hammers and chisels still filling the air. You can admire the handiwork of the numerous talented masons that line the streets, and when you’re keen to slow the pace, perhaps simply relax at a laid-back shorefront restaurant, or at the wide stretch of beach. Then continue onto Puducherry (approximately 3 hours), where your evening is then free.
        Included Activities
        • Mamallapuram - Shore Temple
        • Activity
          Hotel Atithi or similar (1 nt)
          1 lunch
          Day 5 Pondicherry
          The united territories of Pondicherry (now Puducherry) are unmistakeably and charmingly French, complete with a Hotel de Ville, French consulate and police who wear red “kepis” hats and belts. The city is also a duty free zone, reputed for its quality leather and hand crafted paper products. You'll notice the French influence of the area extends to the European feel of the shopping, and it’s a great place to satisfy any croissant cravings! Puducherry still retains its Indian roots though, making it one of India's more surprising and delightful cities. Explore the shorefront city on a guided walking tour to see local temples, the French Quarter and the spiritual community of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, one of the most affluent and most popular ashrams for tourists and ex-pats alike. The rest of the day is free for your own exploration. Perhaps try out one of the city's French-infused restaurants, visit the Museum or Joan of Arc statue, try a yoga class, relax on the beach, or admire the Franco-Tamil architecture of the charming city centre.
          Included Activities
          • Pondicherry - Walking Tour & Sri Aurobindo Ashram
            Hotel Atithi or similar (1 nt)
            1 breakfast
            Day 6-7 Madurai
            Hop back on the rails today for a train ride westward to Madurai, a city with an illustrious past (approximately 6 hours). Arrive at your accommodation around lunchtime. Madurai is the largest of what are collectively known as ‘The Temple Towns’ – town’s full of temples! South India’s temple architecture is very different to that of the north, but these are iconic structures in their own right. On the northern plains, temples are graced with slim sikaras (towers), but here in the south, immense gopurams (gateways) carved with thousands of painted Hindu gods are the most striking elements of the Dravidian temples. In the afternoon head out to explore this scenic city, full of temples, markets and even the occasional passing elephant! Walk the intricate halls and sanctuaries of Meenakshi Amman Temple – the heady fragrance of incense is everywhere, as is the chanting of priests whose deities are garlanded with colourful flowers. Then take a look at Pudhu Mandapa’s Thousand Pillared Hall, Art Museum and shrines. In the evening, return to Meenakshi and follow along as an icon of Shiva is ‘put to bed’ – held up in the air and taken on a frenetic, joyous procession to the shrine. Return to your hotel by cycle or auto rickshaw.

            Day 7 is set aside for you to choose your own activities – as much or as little as you like. You might choose to laze by the hotel pool, or if you're feeling more energetic, take an auto rickshaw to the impressive Thirumalai Nayak Palace. Built in Indo-Mhugal style, the Palace was restored by the British in the 19th century and retains some beautiful examples of Tamil decoration. Alternatively, maybe get further out of town with a visit to Trichy. The focus of Trichy is the towering Rock Fort Temple. Here you can make your way to the entrance and then climb the 400 plus steps, past several shrines, onto a rock plateau. From the plateau there are stunning views over the city, coconut palms and paddy field patchwork of the Cauvery River plains. Retrace your path back down the steps and make your way to the old town, where the labyrinth of narrow 18th century streets are lined with craft workshops and small textile shops – perfect for shopping for trinkets and keepsakes.
            Included Activities
            • Madurai - Aayiram Kaal Mandapam
            • Madurai - Sri Meenakshi Temple
            • Madurai - Sri Meenakshi Temple Guide
            • Cycle Rickshaw Ride in Madurai
              Optional Activities
              • Madurai - Gandhi Museum - Free
                Germanus Hotel or similar (2 nt)
                2 breakfasts
                Day 8-9 Periyar National Park
                This morning cross from Tamil Nadu to Kerala, driving into the countryside along a winding road past rubber and pineapple plantations and thick jungle to the spice plantation town of Thekkady (approximately 5 hours). Thekkady is the gateway to Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve. Periyar is one of the main wildlife sanctuaries of southern India and one of the countries largest. Perched high in the Cardamom Hills region of the Western Ghats, in 1973 the park became part of Project Tiger in an effort to save this wonderful animal from extinction. You’ll have some free time to relax and get used to the sounds of the wildlife in the park before exploring the local area. This region is well known for its spice growing, so this evening prepare for a fragrant tour of a spice plantation and discover local ginger, cardamom, vanilla, pepper, cinnamon, clove and more. Finish up the day testing your taste buds on an included dinner, which will use many of the spices you’ve seen today.

                On the morning of Day 9, venture into the acclaimed Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary for a guided nature walk, with hopes to encounter the park’s rich variety of wildlife. The sanctuary surrounds a picturesque lake, which was formed as result of a dam that was built in 1895. It ambles through the contours of the wooded hills and is a permanent source of water for local wildlife. Wildlife encounters are never guaranteed, but if luck is on your side you may see some elephants, deer, tigers, leopards or gaur – the world's largest species of buffalo. You're more likely to see Bonnet macaques (who are often found near the entrance to the reserve), the Malabar giant squirrel (a species native to India), and of course the odd leech!

                Notes: Leech socks will provided for the nature walk around the wildlife sanctuary.
                Included Activities
                • Periyar - Spice farm tour & dinner
                • Periyar - Guided Nature Walk
                  Ambadi Hotel or similar (2 nt)
                  2 breakfasts, 1 dinner
                  Day 10 Kochi
                  This morning after breakfast, say goodbye to Periyar and head south to Kochi for the next leg of your adventure. This is quite a travel day, and the journey will take 5-5.5 hours on good roads. There’ll be plenty of places to stop and stretch your legs before you arrive at your hotel in Kochi for the night. Cochin, as it’s more commonly known, is a melting pot of Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese and British influences. If there’s any time when you arrive, you could hop on one of the ferries that cruise between the island to visit Fort Kochi and explore its antique shops and spice bazaars. In the evening you can wander down the beach at sunset, seek out the best coconut curry in town, or perhaps witness a Kathakali dance performance. This is a classical, powerful and dramatic dance style that combines symbolic storytelling with physical technique. It is one of the most vibrant and extraordinary theatre forms in the world, and requires incredible commitment and rigorous training physically, as well as incredible emotional sensitivity to properly express the nuances of expression required.
                  Included Activities
                  • Kochi - Dutch Palace
                  • Kochi - Fort Kochi sightseeing
                  • Kochi - Jewish Synagogue
                  • Kochi - Kathakali performance
                    Grand Hotel - TWN (with breakfast) (1 nt)
                    1 breakfast
                    Day 11 Alleppey
                    This morning, descend from the hills and make the three-hour drive to Alleppey (Alappuzha). Once a significant trading port, the town is now famed for the long ‘snake boats’ races that take place in August every year. Here you will board a typical Keralan houseboat to cruise through the complex system of beautiful lagoons and canals known as the ‘Malabar Backwaters’. The backwaters are best explored by boat as life revolves around the water here – children often learn to swim before they can walk and they row boats before they ride a bike. These waterways are the principal means of communication and trade for scores of homes and villages. Along the banks, at jetties and ferry stops, there's often a wonderful array of produce ready for market, with sacks of cashews piled high next to coconuts. Meander down the waterways, try your hand at fishing, and just lay back and enjoy this unique landscape.
                    Overnight Boat (1 nt)
                    1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
                    Day 12-14 Kovalam
                    Swap the water for the road today as we drive to Kovalam this morning (approximately 5-6 hours). When you arrive, you’ll transfer to your accommodation for the next two nights at Kovalam Beach (approximately 45 minutes). Here you’ll get a slice of some royally sanctioned paradise – Kovalam was once a quiet coastal village known for its export of fresh fish and coconuts, but it was developed and promoted by the Godavarma Raja, who fell in love with its beauty when honeymooning here in 1934. Move from sun lounger, to beach, to hotel pool, and back again, perhaps squeezing in a traditional ayurvedic massage. Oils extracted from plants with medicinal properties are worked into the head, arms, shoulders and back – a perfect trip end for parents! If you’re keen to explore, there’s plenty to do in and around this coconut tree-ringed spot: the nearby town of Vinhinjam has a wide array of Hindu temples and churches; maybe hire bicycles and explore the streets, or take a traditional wooden boat ride out on the bay to go snorkelling. Or what about making a full day journey to the very south of India, to Kanyakumari, and look south towards Antarctica! Enjoy a traditional farewell dinner with the group on your last evening, and your family adventure concludes on the morning of Day 14. There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
                    Sagara Beach Resort or similar (2 nt)
                    3 breakfasts
                    Itinerary disclaimer
                    ITINERARY CHANGES Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.

                    OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
                    Physical rating

                    Included activities
                    Orientation Walk - Bangalore
                    Mysore - Maharaja's Palace
                    Mysore - Orientation Walk
                    Mysore - Keshava Temple
                    Mysore - Home cooked lunch & family visit
                    Mysore - Chamundi Hill & Temple
                    Mamallapuram - Shore Temple
                    Pondicherry - Walking Tour & Sri Aurobindo Ashram
                    Madurai - Aayiram Kaal Mandapam
                    Madurai - Sri Meenakshi Temple
                    Madurai - Sri Meenakshi Temple Guide
                    Cycle Rickshaw Ride in Madurai
                    Periyar - Spice farm tour & dinner
                    Periyar - Guided Nature Walk
                    Kochi - Dutch Palace
                    Kochi - Fort Kochi sightseeing
                    Kochi - Jewish Synagogue
                    Kochi - Kathakali performance
                    Important notes
                    Please note that these trips are for adults and children travelling together and there must be at least one child under 18 with you.
                    Minimum age for children on this trip is 5 years old.
                    A discount of 10% applies on this trip to children 14 years and under at time of travel.

                    Group size
                    Maximum of 20 travellers per group.
                    Your fellow travellers
                    GROUP TRAVEL
                    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

                    SINGLE SUPPLEMENT
                    A single supplement is available on this trip, please refer to your booking agent for further information.
                    Hotel (11nt), Overnight boat (1nt)
                    Accommodation is clean and simple. You'll mainly stay in small, locally-run, 2-3 star hotels and guesthouses, which reflect the character of the area,generally these will be a twin room with private facilities. Sometimes you'll stay in larger, more comfortable hotels or occasionally rustic accommodation with basic facilities. We use a variety of accommodation on most trips; chosen for their value for money, location and atmosphere. We also try and incorporate unique accommodation experiences, such as a night with a local tribe, or sleeping under the stars in the desert.

                    Family of two - All family groupings of two will be put into a twin room.

                    Family of three - Wherever possible we will put you in a triple room. Please be aware that in some places triple rooms are in short supply. This means that, in practice, a triple room will often simply be a twin room with a mattress on the floor or a further bed squashed in. Where it is impossible to provide a triple room, you will have to decide which of your party takes the single room.

                    Family of four or more - You will most likely stay in two twin rooms. If and wherever possible we will aim put you in a quadruple room. Whilst we will do our very best to ensure that families are roomed close together (in some cases, we can arrange adjoining rooms), we can’t guarantee this. Most family holidays occur during peak season and we sometimes have little to no control over where you will be put. You need to come prepared for this.
                    Meals introduction
                    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.

                    Your group leader will endeavour to cater for specific dietary requirements where possible, and vegetarianism and gluten intolerance will be catered for in most instances. There are, however some meals and activities that are fixed in advance and therefore cannot be modified to suit dietary requirements. These instances will be indicated in the ‘trip notes’ itinerary. Please notify your group leader of any dietary requirements in your group meeting at the start of the trip.

                    For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader will endeavour to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic.

                    Generally you can eat out very cheaply in India. There is a good choice of restaurants and sometimes there is a choice between Indian and Western style food. If you are a vegetarian, India is an ideal destination. Included lunches on riding days are usually taken in local roadside cafes. Please note that service in restaurants can be quite slow.
                    12 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners
                    Overnight sleeper train, Private Bus

                    LONG TRAVEL DAYS
                    As we cover lots of ground on this trip, expect some long travel days on local trains and buses. This is an opportunity to mix with the locals and enjoy the scenery out the window. Travel schedules are known to change with little notice. Not all transport may have air conditioning.
                    Money matters
                    India has very good opportunities for shopping, especially for locally made goods, and during your trip it is highly likely that your local guides will take you to emporiums as well as workshops where these goods are made. Many people find this a great opportunity to buy local handicrafts, silk, jewellery and carpets. Guides will often assume that visitors will want to go shopping, it is very much part of the culture, but if you do not wish to go please make this clear to your local guide at the time.

                    The receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops or services is ingrained in the culture of the tourism industry. Rather than turning a blind eye to this unavoidable issue in some areas, Intrepid has established a centralised fund whereby contributions from recommended suppliers are collected and distributed back into the business. Intrepid aim to provide the best value trips in the market, and this fund assists in keeping operating costs and trip prices low to you.

                    A priority in establishing this fund is that the experience of our traveller - you - is not compromised in any way. Please let us know via the feedback form completed after your trip if we are successfully meeting this objective.

                    The official currency of India is the Indian Rupee (INR).

                    The most convenient and cheapest way to obtain local currency in is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM), which are readily available in most towns.

                    Look for Bank of India or ICICI ATM's. Our experience has shown they are the most reliable ATM's to use for withdrawals. Your tour leader should be able to direct you to these banks.

                    Foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded can be very difficult to exchange, so please bring clean bills, and small denominations are most useful.

                    The use of credit cards can be restricted, mainly to major hotels, shops and establishments.

                    SPENDING MONEY
                    When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

                    If you are happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.

                    The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

                    Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest INR20. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.

                    Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest INR100 per day for local guides.

                    Porters: Throughout your trip you may at times have a porter in addition to your leader. We suggest INR50 per day for porters.

                    Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of INR100-INR150 per day is generally appropriate.

                    Local transport: For a half day city tour we suggest INR50 per day. For a full day city tour we suggest INR100 per day.

                    Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline $US 5-7 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

                    All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.

                    Budget for meals not included: 180.00

                    EMERGENCY FUNDS
                    Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
                    Group leader
                    All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

                    Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
                    Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.

                    We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

                    Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

                    For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:


                    FESTIVALS - HOLI & DIWALI:
                    Travelling in India and Nepal during Holi can at times be unsafe - drinking and drug use is more widespread during this holiday. Your leader/guide will advise your group on what places to avoid on the day.
                    It may be necessary to alter your itinerary for the day.

                    Diwali (a lunar festival generally held from mid October to mid November every year) is celebrated by local people letting off fireworks in the street. It can be very noisy for several days with extra pollution caused by fireworks. As there are no restrictions on buying fireworks in India there are often injuries caused by people exploding them inappropriately.
                    During this festival your leader/guide may be required to alter your itinerary to avoid large crowds gathering and using fireworks.

                    Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!

                    While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

                    UNFENCED CAMP SITES:
                    On some trips you will at times stay in unfenced camp sites within national parks. While this is a fantastic experience, there are a few safety rules to follow. While staying in national parks it's important that you listen to any advice given by your tour leader and the park rangers regarding responsible and safe behaviour.
                    Joining point
                    The Pride Hotel
                    The Pride Hotel
                    Finish point
                    Sagara Beach Resort
                    Light House Road
                    Phone: +91 471 2481995
                    Finish point description
                    Sagara Beach Resort facilities include laundry, doctor on call, currency exchange and safe deposit. The hotel also has an Ayurvedic Centre, swimming pool and a restaurant on the roof.
                    Finishing point instructions
                    A departure transfer is available - please enquire at time of booking.

                    A taxi to Trivandrum airport takes about 45 minutes and should cost between INR600-800. Hotel reception or your leader can help you arrange a taxi.

                    Normal check out time is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.
                    Emergency contact
                    For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at

                    For transfers and accommodation issues, Intrepid's India office can be reached on their 24 hour numbers:
                    +91 9599 914 852 ; +91 9999 005 019

                    In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on: +91 9599 914 852

                    For general contact details please use the following page:

                    While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

                    We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

                    You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

                    India Ops: +91-9599914852
                    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.


                    An E-Tourist Visa (eVT) Facility is available for holders of a passport for a number of countries. This facility allows travellers to pre-register and pay for their visa prior to travel to India. The Visa is collected upon arrival at one of 16 designated airports in India. Please note strict guidelines on the below website.


                    An E-Tourist Visa (eVT) visa on arrival is available for select nationalities including but not limited to the following

                    Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, German, UK and USA passports.

                    Passport holders from these countries can apply for an E-Tourist Visa (eVT) to have their visa issued upon arrival at 16 major airports in India.

                    Please follow the instructions at - and complete the application for your E-Tourist Visa.

                    - Please be aware of strict conditions regarding application and travel (check under ELIGIBILITY section).

                    - E-visas are only available for entry of up to 30 days. If you plan to be in India longer you will need to apply for a tourist visa at an Indian visa application centre in your home country.

                    - Please note that travellers entering India overland from Nepal are required to apply for a visa in advance their home country. Visas will not be issued on the Nepal/Indian border.

                    - The E-Tourist Visa DOES NOT apply to travellers entering India overland. Please check your trip notes if you are crossing a border between India and Nepal.

                    - Indian visas are difficult and time consuming to obtain in Nepal.

                    Tourist visas are available in Single and Multiple Entry. Be sure to check the date you require a visa from and the length of time you will need to cover, especially if you change countries during your trip.

                    For your visa application you need to include the following information under the local contact section towards the end of the application. :

                    PEAK India
                    25/3 East Patel Nagar
                    New Delhi 110008
                    Phone: +91 11 4500 6400

                    Please note that this information can change at any time. Please always refer to . This is the official visa online site. There have been reports of other non-official websites that travellers should be aware of.
                    What to take
                    What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes).

                    Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.

                    Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:


                    During the wildlife drives in open jeeps/canter (especially from October to mid March) it can be rather chilly so please pack warm clothing. It may also be a good idea to take a smart casual outfit for an evening out.

                    WATER BOTTLE:
                    Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. We recommend at least a 1.5litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.
                    Climate and seasonal information
                    HOT WEATHER:
                    Heat and humidity during summer (Apr-Jun) in India can be particularly oppressive with temperatures reaching 45 degrees C/113 degrees F.
                    All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

                    You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

                    DRINKING WATER:
                    As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water, even in hotels, as it contains much higher levels of different minerals than the water you may have at home. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for visitors drinking the tap water can result in illness. Generally this isn't serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it's enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday. Bottled water is widely available and your leader can recommend safe alternatives when available. Water consumption should be about three litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies.
                    Travel insurance
                    Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

                    When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.

                    If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

                    A couple of rules
                    Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

                    Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
                    Responsible Travel
                    We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller.

                    When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative and you should dress accordingly. To respect the local culture and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. As a guideline, shoulders and knees at the minimum (and everything in between including midriff and cleavage) should be covered at all times. Wearing shorts and singlet tops is not appropriate and may well restrict your entry into sites of a religious nature, family homes, and will limit your local interaction opportunities in general. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in the predominantly warm climate.


                    LOCAL DRESS:
                    When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in the predominantly hot Asian climate. In many rural areas in Asia women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.

                    The Intrepid Foundation
                    Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.

                    The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:


                    Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in India include:

                    * Pollinate Energy is a social business with a simple mission – to improve the lives of India’s urban poor by giving them access to affordable, clean energy products. Pollinate identifies and trains local people, their Pollinators, who have provided solar lights and cook stoves to over 8,000 families and counting.

                    * Asha Ka Jharna (AKJ) provides services to disabled children and adults. They run three special schools, currently assisting around 160 children, and an old-age home for the short-stay of elderly people. AJK also provides vocational training, participates in diagnostic camps and distributes aids and appliances to physically disabled persons.

                    For more information, or to make a donation please visit:

                    After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.