Border Information: If joining the trip in Mumbai, you will most likely enter India from Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (IATA code: BOM).
There will be an important group meeting at 6:00pm at the joining hotel in Mumbai - please look out at the reception for a note from you tour leader with further details about this meeting. Otherwise, today is free to explore the sights and sounds of Mumbai.
In Mumbai we will stay in a good quality hotel.
Hotel for the night:
36/38 1st Marine Street
Metro, Dhobi Talao
Take a guided tour of the backstreets, shops and schools of the Dhavari district, to experience a slice of the real Mumbai INR 1200
Take a Bollywood dance class in one of Mumbai's premier dance studios INR 500
Discover the marvellous collection of historical objects and art at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Museum, one of India's premier museums INR 300
Explore the labyrinth of cave-temples on Elephanta Island near Mumbai, some of the most impressive rock carvings in all of India INR 250
Mumbai is India's most cosmopolitan city, and lies on the west
coast. It's also home to the largest film industry in the world, Bollywood
- so if you've never seen an Indian movie before, this is the place for it.
Full of high-drama, romance, suspense, music and dancing, Bollywood
films are all-singing, all-dancing extravaganzas!
Combine India's version of LA with a hefty dose of traffic, busy streets,
lively bazaars, briefcase-clutching businessmen and some impressive
colonial architecture, and there you have Mumbai. The city is a mad
mixture of horrific poverty standing side-by-side with prolific
consumerism; this is the financial capital of the sub-continent and it
has the shopping centres, bars and restaurants to match - but more
than half the inhabitants live in the slums. Mumbai can be a bit of a
shock to the system and an assault on the senses. But once you get
your head around it, you'll begin to appreciate all the city has to offer.
There's tons to do here, wander the streets and discover some of the
beautiful old colonial architecture and Art Deco buildings, treat yourself
to a meal in one of the country's best restaurants, and shop until you
drop in the bazaars. In the evening, you can visit Chowpatty beach
where colourful crowds of people mill about in the cooler evening air.
Palmists, balloon sellers, magicians and acrobats all c
Today will be a free day to explore the city. This is also an opportunity to take a tour of the Dharavi slum areas of the city.
Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Mumbai before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Mumbai.
" Day 3 to 4 "
We will start our journey by taking the train along the coast to Goa. We will stay for 2 nights at the relaxed beaches of Vagator in the northern part of Goa. Most travellers are drawn to Vagator for the stunning sunsets, the laid-back atmosphere and the proximity of some other quieter beaches in the area such as Arambol and Anjuna.
In northern Goa we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities close to the beach.
Estimated Journey Time (on train) - 11-12 hours.
To many people, Goa is all about the beaches - and it's fair to say that the soft white sand and sparkling blue water of the Arabian Sea are definitely some of the main attractions here. But this is also an area rich in history and culture. The coastal state retains much of its old Portuguese colonial architecture, traditions, religion, and lifestyle, particularly in the old capital of Old Goa, where there are several churches, a cathedral and lots of great local markets, all well worth exploring. Relax under a palm tree on the beach, watch the dhows sailing out into the sunset and see the fishing boats landing their catch, or wander around the local spice plantations revelling in their heady scent - there's something here for all kinds of different travellers. The locals say that time moves more slowly in Goa, so if nothing else it's a brilliant stop for a few days, a great chance to enjoy a bit of tranquility in an often frenetic country. Goa is also home to some fantastic cuisine, including many fish-based curries, classic Goan pork vindaloo and Feni, a local spirit made from coconut and cashew nuts.
" Day 5 to 6 "
After our 2 nights on the northern beaches of Goa, we head off in the truck to the southern end of Goa. En route we will stop off at the site of Old Goa to spend some time independently exploring the area's colonial buildings.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).
We will stay for 2 nights in beautiful beach huts on the stunning beach of Agonda, which is a perfect place to sit back and watch the fishing boats landing their catch, sample the delicious local cuisine, or visit the nearby beach of Palolem with its many bars and restaurants.
About Old Goa:
Old Goa is a historical city in North Goa. The city was constructed by the Bijapur Sultanate in the 15th Century CE, and served as capital of Portuguese India from the 16th Century until its abandonment in the 18th Century due to plague. The remains of the city are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The population was roughly 200,000 by 1543. Malaria and cholera epidemics ravaged the city in the 17th Century and it was largely abandoned, only having a remaining population of 1,500 by 1775. It was then that the viceroy moved to Panjim. It continued to be the de jure capital of Goa until 1843, when the capital was then shifted to Panjim. The abandoned city came to be known as "Velha Goa" (in Portuguese, 'Old Goa'), to distinguish it from the new capital Nova Goa (Panjim). Velha Goa was incorporated into the Republic of India in 1961, together with the rest of Goa. Old Goa contains various churches, including the Se Cathedral (the seat of the Archbishop of Goa), the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, the Church of St. Caetano, and notably, the Basilica of Bom Jesus which supposedly contains the relics of St. Francis Xavier.
" Day 7 to 8 "
Leaving the beaches of Goa behind us, we set off on a full day drive into the state of Karnataka and to the village of Hampi. The village is located within the ruins of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the ancient Vijayanagara Empire.
Estimated Drive Time - 9-11 hours.
On the following day we will have a guided tour of the historical sites around Hampi by rickshaw and on foot.
In Hampi we will stay in a comfortable local guest house.
Discover the lost kingdom of Vijayanagar in the magnificent ruined city of Hampi : Included in Kitty
The city of Hampi bears exceptional testimony to the vanished civilization of the kingdom of Vijayanagar, which reached its apogee under the reign of Krishna Deva Raya between 1509 and 1530 CE. The type of structure illustrates a significant historical situation, that of the kingdoms of South India which, menaced by the Muslims, were occasionally allied with the Portuguese of Goa. The grand site of Hampi was the last capital of the last great Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar. Its fabulously rich princes built Dravidian temples and palaces which won the admiration of travellers between the 14th and 16th Centuries. Conquered by the Deccan Muslim confederacy in 1565, the city was pillaged over a period of six months before being abandoned.
" Day 9 to 10 "
From Hampi we will have another full day drive to the city of Mysore, one of India's most attractive towns.
Estimated Drive Time - 10-12 hours.
On the following day we will have free time in Mysore to independently explore the city's beautiful gardens, palaces, and the Shri Chamarajendra art gallery.
In Mysore we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
Climb the 1000 steps to the summit of Chamundi Hill, to visit the famous Sri Chamundeshwari Temple and take in the views of the city below : INR 100
Freely explore the amazing and elaborate Mysore Palace : Included in Kitty
Mysore is one of India's most attractive towns. Unlike some of India's biggest cities, it feels quite manageable in size, and its beautiful buildings are packed full of history - the Maharaja’s Palace, the Lalitha Mahal (Summer Palace) and Shri Chamarajendra art gallery are all definitely worth a visit. Historically the town was the capital of the mighty Maharaja kingdom of Mysore, ruled by the same family from 1399 until 1947. There was a brief period where the throne was usurped by one of the most colourful of Indian rulers, Hyder Ali and then by his famous son Tipu Sultan. Today the city is the state capital and one of the centres of the silk trade. It's well laid out with wide streets and many gardens, making it a pleasant place to wander around. It is 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.
" Day 11 to 12 "
Today we travel up into the cool highlands and head to the hill-station of Wayanad, a small settlement surrounded by tea and coffee plantations.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.
Over the 2 days that we have in Wayanad we will have the chance to hike up Chembra Peak, visit local waterfalls and tea plantations, visit the petroglyphs at the Edakkal Caves, and to visit the nearby Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary.
Whilst in Wayanad we stay as guests of local families at a home stay, where they have set up rooms for visitors in their homes.
See the 7000-year-old Neolithic petroglyphs at the Edakkal caves en route : Included in Kitty
Enjoy genuine Indian hospitality at a community home stay guest house amongst the hills of Wayanad : Included in Kitty
Take a strenuous day-hike up the 2100m Chembra Peak, the highest peak in the Wayanad area : INR 1000
Take a walk through the scenic Wayanad countryside to visit the Meenmutty or Kanthanppara waterfalls : INR 60
Take a short jeep safari through the Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary near Wayanad : INR 800
The lush hill station district of Wayanad is nestled at the foot of the Western Ghats. Rolling green hillsides, surrounded by misty-clad peaks and dotted with luxurious tea, coffee and spice plantations, the small communities here are the perfect place for a spot of rest and relaxation - the area is famous with locals for its spectacular natural beauty. Part of the region is designated as a wildlife sanctuary in order to protect the many animals that live here, and its possible to trek through the forest reserves. This is one of the few places in India where you may see wild elephants, and if you're lucky you may also be able to spot deer, bison and langur monkeys.
" Day 13 to 14 "
Today we will continue our journey with a full day drive to the coastal city of Kochi.
Estimated Drive Time - 7-10 hours.
On the following day we will take a local boat to Fort Cochin and have free time to explore and visit various sites including the Jewish Quarter, St Francis Church and the iconic Chinese fishing nets. In the evening we will be able to see a performance from the famous Kathakali dancers, India's most spectacular dance drama.
In Kochi we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
See an evening performance of the classical Indian dance-drama of Kathakali, a signature tradition of Kerala : Included in Kitty
Kochi, in Kerala state, is a town split between the mainland and a group of islands just off the coast. For this reason, a boat-trip is the best way to tour the main sights, which include the oldest church in India and Vasco de Gama's final resting place. Opposite Fort Cochin you can watch fishermen working their cantilevered Chinese fishing nets, a typical feature of this region. Interestingly, the town is also home to a dwindling Jewish community that has roots going back as far as 1000 CE, and there is a synagogue here that was built in the 16th Century. This is also the home of Kathakali dancing, India's most spectacular style of dance drama. The hundreds of different arrangements are based on stories from the Ramayan and Mahabharata - the two epic stories of Indian mythology.
Leaving the bustle of Kochi behind, today we embark on our included overnight houseboat cruise on the tranquil Keralan backwaters of Alleppey. We will often split into smaller groups to board our traditional 'Kettuvallom' boats which will take us around the scenic rivers and spend the night aboard.
Travel through the serene Kerala Backwaters on an overnight trip aboard a beautiful traditional 'kettuvallam' house-boat : Included in Kitty
Alleppey is the gateway to the Keralan backwaters. The network of waterways here extends over hundreds of kilometres, so it's no surprise that Alleppey is sometimes described as "The Venice of the East". Life revolves around the water here - children often learn to swim before they can walk, and they row boats before they ride a bike! Of course, the best way to explore the region is by boat - jump on board a typical Keralan houseboat and meander down the waterways, try your hand at fishing, and just lay back and enjoy this unique landscape.
" Day 16 to 18 "
After our fantastic overnight cruise along the Keralan backwaters, we continue our journey with a short drive to the beach resort of Varkala.
Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.
We will have 3 nights here with free time to explore the surrounding areas and relax on the beautiful beaches. Varkala is well known for its beaches, and there are also lots of great local restaurants where you can sample the justifiably famous Keralan cuisine.
In Varkala we will stay at a beach resort.
Get a traditional Ayurvedic massage in the Keralan town of Varkala : INR 1200
Head out for an evening performance of traditional Keralan Kathakali dancing : INR 300
Varkala sits on India's Keralan coast, and is home to some of the whitest and most pristine beaches in the whole country. The sandy bay here is protected by soaring cliffs, the beach sits below the rock face, whilst the town itself sits prettily along the cliff edge above - a string of laid-back bars, restaurants, guest houses and hotels. It's a great place to just kick back and relax, but there are plenty of activities to involve yourself in, including yoga, boat rides, massages and cooking classes. Sitting on the sand and watching the sun dip below the horizon is the perfect way to end a day here.
Today we will have a morning drive to Kanyakumari (also known as Cape Comorin), the very southern point of India. Here we will have free time to independently explore the Vivekananda Rock and the surrounding sites.
In Kanyakumari we will stay in a local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.
Take the ferry over to Vivekananda Rock and explore the memorial to the Hindu monk Swami Vivekananda : INR 150
Kanyakumari (sometimes referred to as Cape Comorin) is a town in the state of Tamil Nadu in India. Located at the southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula, it is the geographical end of the Indian mainland and the confluence of the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, and the Indian Ocean. Kanyakumari takes its name from the Kumari Amman Temple, situated in the town. Just off-shore, on Vivekananda Rock, is a huge statue of the Hindu holy man Swami Vivekananda - this is a wonderful place to join the locals to watch the sun rise in the early morning.
This morning we have the option to get up early to watch the sunrise from the southern tip of India with thousands of locals, what can be an incredible experience! From Kanyakumari we then start heading back north again, and drive to the holy city of Madurai.
In the afternoon we will have an included visit to the Sri Meenakshi Temple in Madurai. In Madurai we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.
Visit the historical Meenakshi Amman Temple, one of the most impressive and colourful Hindu temples in all of India : Included in Kitty
Madurai is Tamil Nadu's third largest town and has been populated since the 3rd Century BCE - there is mention of the city in the works of ancient Greek and Roman historians such as Pliny the Elder and Ptolomy. Madurai is recognised as the centre of Dravidian culture with its main attraction the famous Shree Meenakshi Temple in the heart of the old town. Its many gopurams are covered with profusions of multicoloured images of gods, goddesses, animals and mythical figures, and the views from one of the temple towers are breathtaking. The city is also synonymous with the Tamil language, and is one of the centres of Tamil culture in India. It is one of southern India’s liveliest cities, yet small enough not to be overwhelming