Classic South India Trip Notes

Classic South India

These trip notes are valid for departures from 01 May 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the trip notes for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Last Modified: 29 Sep 2016
Classic South India
Trip code: HHKS
Validity: 01 May 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
Travel to India and embark on this classic southern Indian tour through Kerala from Chennai to Kovalam Beach. Discover a thousand shades of green, indulge in some of the continent’s freshest food, and share smiles with the friendly local people in this lush, tropical part of the country. Experience the culture, religion and history of this region and discover its small rural towns, quaint fishing villages and scented spice plantations. Follow the road less travelled through south India without sacrificing too many creature comforts. TRIP CHANGES FOR 2017: From 1st January 2017 this trip will spend one less day in Chennai and no longer visit Munnar. This is to allow us to visit the new destinations of Tanjavur (Tanjore) where we explore the Brihadishwara Temple, and Karaikudi, where we will enjoy a village walk. 1 Chennai 2 Pondicherry 3 Pondicherry 4 Tanjavur 5 Karaikudi 6 Madurai 7 Madurai 8 Periyar 9 Periyar 10 Kochi 11 Kochi 12 Kerala Backwaters - Kumarkom 13 Kovalam 14 Kovalam 15 Depart
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodation NotesFinish point
ThemesMeals introductionEmergency contact
Is this trip right for you?MealsVisas
Why we love itTransportWhat to take
MapMoney mattersClimate and seasonal information
ItineraryGroup leaderCommunications
Itinerary disclaimerSafetyHealth
Physical ratingJoining pointTravel insurance
Included activitiesJoining point descriptionA couple of rules
Important notesJoining point instructionsResponsible Travel
Group sizeAlternate joining pointThe Intrepid Foundation
Your fellow travellersAlternate joining point descriptionFeedback
AccommodationAlternate joining point instructions
Is this trip right for you?
- Train journeys can take up to six hours, but feature comfortable seating and western-style toilets.
- We’ll be visiting multiple temples during the trip so it’s important to wear appropriate clothing that covers the arms, legs and shoulders.
- Southern India can get very hot during the summer so remember to bring lots of water and a variety of clothing. Wearing layers is one of the best ways to tackle the heat.
- As we'll be walking through varying terrain in national parks, comfortable walking shoes are essential.
Why we love it
- Amid the ordered chaos of Chennai, find tranquillity upon visiting the magnificent Kapaleeshwarar Temple at its centre
- With its idyllic lifestyle and contemporary feel, Puducherry is a beautiful seaside town to explore
- Learn about the man who dedicated his life to the independence of India at The National Gandhi Museum
- Track footprints in search of wild elephants in the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
- The rolling hills and chai gardens of Munnar are a tea lover’s dream
- Ferry-hop between the islands of Fort Kochi to discover palaces, temples and Portuguese architecture at every turn

Day 1 Chennai
Welcome to Chennai, India. On arrival at the airport, head to the hotel via transfer. Your Indian adventure will begin with an important group meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. If you arrive in Chennai with free time to spare, wander around India’s fourth largest city and perhaps visit the local marketplaces and temples. In the evening, maybe head out for dinner with your fellow travellers.

Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
Included Activities
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
    Pride Hotel or similar (1 nt)
    Day 2 Chennai
    After breakfast head out for an included trip to Chennai’s Kapaleeshwarar Temple. With its multi-coloured gateway and pillared pavilions, this is one of India’s most impressive sights. Move onto the Government Museum to learn more about the history of Chennai. Perhaps head out for some delicious Chennai cuisine in the evening, such as Chettinad pepper chicken or ven pongal (spicy lentils and rice).
    Included Activities
    • Chennai - Kapileshwar Temple
    • Chennai - Government Museum
      Pride Hotel or similar (1 nt)
      1 breakfast
      Day 3 Pondicherry
      From Chennai, drive along the scenic East Coast Road to the fishing village of Mamallapuram. Take a guided tour around the town’s laidback beaches and temples, keeping an eye out for the sculptures and carvings dotted around the place. Visit the 8th-century Shore Temple and its mandapams (carved pillars) to pay your respects to the deity Shiva. Continue onto Puducherry in the afternoon where your evening is then free. Today's drive should take around three hours in total.
      Included Activities
      • Mamallapuram - Shore Temple
        Hotel Atithi or similar (1 nt)
        1 breakfast
        Day 4 Pondicherry
        On the way to Puducherry, visit the living project of Auroville, dedicated to the concept of unity. With more than 80 rural settlements and home to over 1,500 residents, half of the town’s population are foreign nationals. Auroville is also home to the world’s largest solid crystal, which you can examine. Continue on your journey to reach the united territories of Puducherry. Upon arrival, take a walking tour to see local temples, the French Quarter and the spiritual community of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. You’ll see evidence of French colonial influence in Puducherry's architecture, sprawling town squares and even in the uniforms of the police. Puducherry 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. Today's driving will take around three hours.
        Included Activities
        • Pondicherry - Auroville
        • Pondicherry - Walking Tour & Sri Aurobindo Ashram
          Hotel Atithi or similar (1 nt)
          1 breakfast
          Day 5 Madurai
          Today take a six-hour afternoon train to Madurai. The train will be air-conditioned with comfortable chairs and western-style toilets. On arrival, head out on a guided walking tour to see ancient temples and heritage sights of the city. Madurai’s recorded history dates back to third-century BC and has a fascinating story, with your guide being able to help you understand it. Venture out in the evening for some authentic Indian food.
          Germanus Hotel or similar (1 nt)
          1 breakfast
          Day 6 Madurai
          Wander through the markets and bazaars of Madurai before visiting the Sri Meenakshi Temple in the city’s centre. Still in use today, this ancient temple is a maze of lamp-lit corridors leading to shrines where traditional rituals take place. Explore the National Gandhi Museum, dedicated to the life and achievements of the 'Father of the Nation' and the leader of India's fight for independence. Your evening is then free to do as you wish.
          Included Activities
          • Madurai - Sri Meenakshi Temple
          • Madurai - Gandhi Museum
          • Madurai - Walking tour
            Germanus Hotel or similar (1 nt)
            1 breakfast
            Day 7 Thekkady - Periyar National Park
            Today, take a four-hour drive to Thekkady through rubber and pineapple plantations. Thekkady is the gateway to Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve, perched high in the ranges of the Western Ghats. 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. This afternoon, take a tour of a local spice plantation before sitting down to a delicious meal prepared by the owner’s family. If you have time, perhaps attend a demonstration of Indian martial arts (kalaripayattu) at the Kadathanadan Kalari Centre.
            Included Activities
            • Periyar - Spice farm tour & dinner
              Rangerwood Hote or similar (1 nt)
              1 breakfast, 1 dinner
              Day 8 Periyar National Park
              In the morning, take a guided nature walk in the acclaimed Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Encounters with animals in the wild are never guaranteed, but look out for tigers, spotted deer, Indian elephants or gaur - the world's largest species of buffalo. In the afternoon, unwind with an optional ayurvedic massage or just relax in this scenic setting.

              Notes: Leech socks will provided for the nature walk around the wildlife sanctuary.
              Included Activities
              • Periyar Green Walk - Guided Nature Walk
                Rangerwood Hote or similar (1 nt)
                1 breakfast
                Day 9 Munnar
                In the morning drive to Munnar, which should take around four hours. Munnar is on an old British hill station cradled in a picturesque valley. At 1,525 metres above sea level, there’s likely to be dramatic drop in temperature here so be sure to pack warm clothing. Relax for the evening in your accommodation in the mountain resort.
                Deshadan Mountain Resort or similar (1 nt)
                1 breakfast
                Day 10 Munnar
                This morning take a guided walk around the lush hills of Munnar, India’s largest tea-growing region. Indians are the highest consumers of tea in the world and the second highest exporters after China. Visit a nearby tea garden and the Tea Museum to get your fill of this delicacy. In the afternoon, journey out to the scenic Mattupetty Dam where you can take an optional motorboat ride. The town of Mattupetty is known for its Indo-Swiss livestock project devoted to cattle development. Your evening is then free.
                Included Activities
                • Munnar - Tea Garden visit
                • Munnar - Town Walk
                  Deshadan Mountain Resort or similar (1 nt)
                  1 breakfast
                  Day 11 Kochi (Cochin)
                  In the morning drive to Kochi, which should take around five hours. Cochin, as it’s more commonly known, is a melting pot of Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese and British influences. If you decide to island hop, the ferry network is the best way to get around the town’s numerous islands. On arrival, visit the region of Fort Kochi and explore its antique shops and spice bazaars. The Chinese fishing nets lining the coast can be seen in full operation early in the morning. Use your free evening to wander down the beach at sunset.
                  Included Activities
                  • Kochi - Fort Kochi sightseeing walk
                    The Grand or similar (1 nt)
                    1 breakfast
                    Day 12 Kochi
                    In the morning visit the Dutch Palace (Mattancherry Palace), which was built in the 16th century by the Portuguese before the Dutch renovated it. Then check out the oldest functioning Jewish synagogue in India, the Paradesi Synagogue. In the evening witness a classic Kathakali performance, a dramatic dance that combines storytelling with physical technique.
                    Included Activities
                    • Tour
                    • Kochi - Dutch Palace
                    • Kochi - Jewish Synagogue
                    • Kochi - Kathakali performance
                      The Grand or similar (1 nt)
                      1 breakfast
                      Day 13 Alleppey (Kerala Backwaters)
                      Drive to the backwaters of Kerala this morning and discover sleepy Alappuzha, which should take around three hours in total. Once a significant trading port, the town is now famed for the long ‘snake boats’ races that take place in August every year. Alappuzha is a common starting point for journeys through the backwaters. Tonight, you'll sleep on a traditional Kettuvallam (houseboat). These floating cottages have western toilets, private bedrooms, a dining area and sundeck for you to relax on.
                      Houseboat (1 nt)
                      1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
                      Day 14 Trivandrum - Kovalam
                      In the morning, take a four-hour drive to Kovalam via Kerala’s capital, Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram). Kovalam was once a quiet coastal village known for its export of fresh fish and coconuts, but is now one of India’s more popular beach resorts. Visit the ancient temple of Attukal Bhagavathy in the afternoon. If you have free time, explore the old signalling station of Anchuthengu Fort or the 16th-century Koyikkal Palace. Your evening is then free to do as you wish. Perhaps head out with the group for a farewell meal.
                      Included Activities
                      • Kovalam - Attukal Bhagavathy Temple
                      • Kovalam - Walking Tour
                        Optional Activities
                        • Kovalam - Anchuthengu Fort - INR50
                        • Kovalam - Koyikkal Palace - INR50
                          Sagara Beach Resort or similar (1 nt)
                          1 breakfast
                          Day 15 Kovalam
                          Today, your Classic South India adventure ends after breakfast and you’re free to leave the accommodation at any time. The nearest airport is Trivandrum - your tour leader can assist you in arranging a transfer. If you’d like to book a transfer before travelling to India, please let your agent know.
                          1 breakfast
                          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
                          Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
                          Chennai - Kapileshwar Temple
                          Chennai - Government Museum
                          Mamallapuram - Shore Temple
                          Pondicherry - Auroville
                          Pondicherry - Walking Tour & Sri Aurobindo Ashram
                          Madurai - Sri Meenakshi Temple
                          Madurai - Gandhi Museum
                          Madurai - Walking tour
                          Periyar - Spice farm tour & dinner
                          Periyar Green Walk - Guided Nature Walk
                          Munnar - Tea Garden visit
                          Munnar - Town Walk
                          Kochi - Fort Kochi sightseeing walk
                          Kochi - Dutch Palace
                          Kochi - Jewish Synagogue
                          Kochi - Kathakali performance
                          Kovalam - Attukal Bhagavathy Temple
                          Kovalam - Walking Tour
                          Important notes
                          1. A single supplement is available on this trip. See under the Single Traveller section of your Trip Notes for more information. The single supplement is available for all nights on tour
                          2. An airport arrival transfer is included. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking.

                          Group size
                          Maximum of 12 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 TRAVELLERS:
                          Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
                          Hotel (13nt), Houseboat (1nt)
                          The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

                          Throughout the trip we request that our lodgings prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

                          If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

                          The hotel accommodation on this trip has air-conditioned rooms.
                          Meals introduction
                          Food is a way of life in India. You can snack for a bargain or dine in the finest Indian restaurants.  

                          Generally you can eat very cheaply in India. There is a huge choice of restaurants and street stalls serving traditional and local Indian food. In bigger restaurants in areas frequented by more tourists there is a choice between Indian, Chinese and Western style food.

                          India caters very well towards vegetarians and vegans with almost all restaurants having a veg and pure veg section of the menu. If in doubt please check with your tour leader.

                          Your tour leader will be able to direct you towards restaurants that are known to have better hygiene, especially in tourist areas where they are travelling with our groups regularly 

                          Some tips that will help you stay well when eating in India include.

                          - Stick to restaurants and street stalls busy with locals - local families eating there are a good bet.
                          - Wash your hands before eating (most restaurants will have a hand basin or bathroom)  or use a sanitising hand gel
                          - give yourself a few days to get used to local food, especially spicy food.
                          - if in doubt,  stick to the veg meal
                          - avoid salads and peel fruit to avoid eating skin that may be washed in local water
                          - steer clear of ice unless in higher end restaurants
                          - fresh lime and soda is an excellent (and cheap) drink for hot days
                          - drink more chai

                          Please note that service in restaurants can be quite slow so patience is a must.
                          14 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners
                          Boat, Private vehicle, Train

                          Main roads in India are usually very busy with an assortment of vehicles from the biggest trucks (who always have right of way) down to bikes (and chickens). Overtaking on blind corners at speed is common as is the total use of the horn as a form of communication. Our leaders have complete authority to remove groups from local public transport if the driver is not driving safely. Drivers of our private vehicles are experienced well trained. If you are uncomfortable with your driver, please always let your tour leader know in the first instance. Please always wear your seatbelt

                          Distances in India do not reflect the driving time. (In Australia for example 100km is usually an hour on the highway) Patience and a sense of humor (as well as a music player or books) is a must on long travel days.

                          Money matters
                          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).

                          The receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops, services or activities is ingrained in the culture of the Indian tourism industry.
                          In an effort to best control and monitor shopping and activities with an aim for the best experience possible, Intrepid has established a system of carefully selected shopping experiences and activities based on positive feedbacks from our previous travellers. On occasion these will be as part of included walking tours or outside of included activities in free time. Please note that if you feel that you do not wish to join in on these shopping experiences we assure you there is no obligation and if you indicate your desire to not partake your group leader will help to facilitate a suitable alternative during this time.
                          Intrepid have set up a centralised system of receiving payments from these recommended suppliers, of which are then distributed towards local Responsible Travel projects (such as 'say no to plastic' cotton bags for our travellers and drinking water refilling stations), traveller information packs, and leader bonuses. Further details of these arrangements can be provided by your group leader on request.
                          While Intrepid endeavours to ensure that these suppliers and services maintain reasonable levels of quality, please note recommended suppliers are chosen based on past travellers feedback and experiences and Intrepid cannot explicitly guarantee the quality of the product. A priority in establishing this fund is that the experience of you our traveller is not compromised in any way. Please let us know via the feedback after your trip if we are successfully meeting this objective.

                          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:

                          Your Group Leader: You may 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.

                          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 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.

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

                          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.

                          Gratuities aren’t compulsory on your trip, but they can make a big difference to locals employed in the tourism industry. We suggest carrying small notes of local currency around as you go. It’ll make tipping easier.

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

                          Budget for meals not included: 180.00

                          EMERGENCY FUNDS:
                          We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you bring an extra USD500 for emergencies (e.g. natural disasters or civil unrest). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to our itineraries, and we can’t guarantee there won’t be some extra costs involved.
                          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.

                          PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
                          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.

                          HERITAGE HOTELS:
                          On this trip you will be staying in some heritage hotels and traditional guesthouses - these are one of the charms of this trip, but occasionally their staircases, balconies and passages etc don't always comply with western safety standards. Please don't expect elevators in these properties as they are preserved in their original state.

                          FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
                          Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

                          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!

                          SEAT BELTS:
                          Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.

                          LIFE JACKETS:
                          While life jackets are generally available on water craft, there may be occasions where they are not provided and child size life jackets are not always readily available. If travelling with children and this safety issue concerns you we will be able to advise alternative methods of transport (where available) for you to travel to the next destination. You can choose to travel independently for this leg of the journey. This would be at your own expense.
                          Joining point
                          Pride Hotel
                          216 E V R Periyar Salai, Poonamallee High Road
                          Tamil Nadu
                          600 010
                          Phone: +91 44 43989898
                          Fax: +91 44 43989888
                          Joining point description
                          Located near the city centre of Chennai, each room has air conditioning, en-suite bathrooms and an electronic safe.

                          Joining point instructions
                          An airport arrival transfer is included. This transfer is only valid if arriving on day 1 or if you have booked pre-trip accommodation through Intrepid. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 15 days prior to travel (note - we may not be able confirm request made within 15 days of travel). Once you have provided your details a transfer representative will be booked to meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel.

                          The taxi ride from the airport to our starting point hotel should cost between INR 500 - 600 (prepaid traffic police booths) depending on your arrival time and whether it is at the Domestic or International airport.

                          If you miss your transfer please advise your group leader at your group meeting.
                          Alternate joining point
                          For trips departing on the following dates, use this joining point.
                          24 Oct 2016 (HHKS161024), 14 Nov 2016 (HHKS161114), 23 Nov 2016 (HHKS161123), 04 Dec 2016 (HHKS161204), 21 Dec 2016 (HHKS161221)
                          My Fortune Hotel
                          Cathedral Road
                          Tamil Nadu
                          600 086
                          Phone: +91 4428110101
                          Alternate joining point description
                          Alternate joining point instructions
                          Finish point
                          Sagara Beach Resort
                          Light House Road
                          Phone: +91 471 2481995
                          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.

                          Intrepid Emergency contact: +91 9599 914 852, +91 9999 005 019
                          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:


                          TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT
                          It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary that your luggage gets stowed separately (and unattended). The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers, for when it comes to travelling on local buses and trains it's often only the smaller bags that will fit into the storage areas inside the bus or your cabin. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.

                          LUGGAGE STORAGE
                          Where Intrepid covers the cost of luggage storage during included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense.

                          WARM CLOTHING:
                          Temperatures can be low in the winter months, especially at altitude, so bring a set of warmer clothes including thermal underclothes and a fleece jacket.

                          WATER BOTTLE
                          Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. 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 ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.

                          IMAGES FROM HOME:
                          During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos / postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc.

                          PASSPORT COPY:
                          Please bring a photocopy of your passport main page and airline ticket if you will require airline reconfirmation at the end of your trip.
                          Climate and seasonal information
                          December to March
                          Pleasant weather – warm days, cool nights.
                          December and January bring chilly nights in the north.
                          Temperatures climb steadily from February.

                          April to June
                          April is hot; May and June are really hot and dry.
                          From June, the monsoon sweeps from south to north, bring high temperatures and humidity
                          Cooler in the hill and mountains across the country

                          July to November
                          Monsoon begins until November.
                          The southeast coast and southern Kerala see heavy rain from October to early December.
                          Internet cafes are widespread in India and connections are usually reasonably fast, except in more remote areas. Wifi access is widely available; it's usually free in public areas of hotels but some properties will charge for in room use.

                          Public phones are rare with the exception of airports. Private STD/ISD/PCO call booths do the same job, offering inexpensive local, interstate and international calls at lower prices than calls made from hotel rooms.

                          Calling internationally from India: dial 00 (the international access code), then the country code of the country you’re calling, then the area code (without the initial zero) and the local number.

                          Posting airmail letters to anywhere overseas costs ₹25/15.
                          International airmail postcards cost around ₹12.
                          For postcards, stick on the stamps before writing on them, as post offices can give you as many as four stamps per card.

                          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.
                          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.


                          LOCAL DRESS:
                          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 by wearing sleeves and long trousers. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in areas of predominantly hot climate. In many rural areas 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.