You will have many opportunities to interact with the friendly locals in your visit through southern India. In the Alleppey backwaters, the group is split between a few of the village homes for a couple of nights – a great opportunity to meet the local families and learn about how they live in the unique landscape. You can support individuals in this community by going punting with some of the locals who come from poorer families, having the local women sing for the group, or buying local handicrafts to provide extra income and ensuring these skills do not die out. In Mysore, our local friend Raju may take you into his home for lunch, where you can meet his family and learn the Muslim customs his family maintain.
Our jungle retreat in the Nilgiri Mountains makes the most of its natural environment in having created a charming getaway made totally from eco-friendly materials and powered by solar panels. You can take a walk in these beautiful surroundings, led by the retreat’s owner, who is also a passionate naturalist and environmentalist and shares a strong relationship with the local Badaga and Toda tribespeople. There is the possibility of purchasing some of the shawls that are made by the Toda tribes. On a visit to Periyar National Park, you will be supporting the park in its work to protect the many endangered species that live there, including the majestic Indian elephant.
You will have the option of visiting ‘Little Angels’ in the fishing village of Mamallapuram – a project that works with orphans and under-privileged children run by our guide, Stephen. By meeting some of the kids and buying some of the delightful Christmas cards they make, or making a donation, you can help support the resident 32 children to complete their schooling. In December 2004, this seaside town (along with many Indian coastal towns) suffered much damage and some loss of life during the devastating Tsunami. Visiting this area and supporting local businesses helps them get back on their feet.
At the end of our journey, travellers may donate any unwanted clothing, medicines and bandages, which are distributed to an appropriate local charity or support group in Kochi.