Rough Guide to India described our tours as “The most original, hands-on and ethical itineraries on the market” - we’re proud of this and like to think that the quote sums up our ethos neatly. When you take a tour with us, around 70% of your money stays in India - supporting the social/environmental work of our partners and the projects they support.
We feel particularly strong that guides should be local, giving you the opportunity to spend time with people local to the country, supporting their livelihoods and assimilating the local culture. All tour partners, tour guides and hosts involved in the South India Food Tour come from the host country. In most cases, your guide is from the specific village in which you are staying (usually the owners, or an employee of the owner). This may mean that your host has imperfect English but we like to think that the benefits are worthwhile.
Particularly special for this tour is the lunch provided at home of Sam & Anu Samuel - friends of our tour partner. This offers the chance to visit a local home as guests. An example is the bullock cart ride in Periyar. Not long ago the riders of the bullock carts were part of a 24-strong gang who logged the reserve for sandal-wood. Just one sandal-wood tree can bring rich earnings for these people. Now, with the security of income offered by the bullock cart rides, they have become the forest protectors.
Most of the food in this tour is cooked specifically by your hosts and is grown locally, thereby benefiting the local community. Home stays create local employment to work on the farm and to help in manage the home stays. An example is Spice Plantation homestay, based on a farm and forest gardens using traditional organic farming methods. Plants and spices grown on the farm supply the vegetarian cuisine prepared for the homestay - coconut, pineapple, bananas, different types of yam, tapioca, spices such as pepper, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric, vanilla and other tropical fruit trees and medicinal herbs.
In terms of transport - you’ll see from the itinerary that we’re keen to cut the driving and encourage guests to stay several days in any one place with a local guide (rather than continuously driving from one place to another), guests will participate in lifestyles that are themselves sustainable - you'll eat locally produced food, use local transport, cook dinner with your host, and visit local environmental projects.
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