Classic Southern India holiday

“From calm Kerala backwaters and beaches to cool hill stations and safaris, have your camera at the ready as you experience Southern India’s top highlights.”

Highlights

Chennai | Mahabalipuram | Kanchipuram | Mysore | Bandipur National Park | Ooty | Coonoor | Nilgiri Mountain Railway | Cochin | Alleppey | Varkala

Description of Classic Southern India holiday

On this classic Southern India holiday you’ll take in the highlights and secret spots of both Kerala and Tamil Nadu while staying in comfortable hotels and moving at a manageable pace. Kicking off in ancient Mahabalipuram, home to some of India’s best temple architecture, you’ll visit Kanchipuram, one of Hinduism's seven most sacred cities, and explore enchanting palaces in the historic settlement of Mysore.

Then it’s time to check out the region’s lush natural beauty, through a safari in Bandipur National Park, where you should hopefully see Gaur (Indian bison), wild elephant and Sambars. Next, there’s a drive up to the southern hill station of Ooty (also known as 'Snooty Ooty'), which was once a favoured spot for British colonial officials. Nearby Coonoor sits in the misty Nilgiri hills, a landscape of bright green tea estates and charming former planter’s bungalows.

Down at the coast you’ll experience of the region’s must-dos and spend the night on a houseboat on Kerala’s backwaters, before chilling out in the laid-back town of Varkala, your last stop.

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Responsible tourism

Classic Southern India holiday

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.

Environment

Accommodation and Meals:
On this trip you will spend 11 nights in a range of locally staffed hotels, and one night aboard a deluxe houseboat at Alleppey, which is a direct form of income support for local people. Several of the lodgings on this trip have strong policies regarding waste management, energy conservation and local sourcing. At Bandipur National Park, we stay in a government owned lodge, which provides employment opportunities for local communities and strengthens local businesses by using small suppliers from within the region. Where meals are not supplied, our group leaders always encourage people to try restaurants and street food vendors. They can make recommendations which will help boost small businesses and celebrate local specialties. There will even be instances where clients can see the food being made themselves e.g. chicken and veg biryani in Mysore, fresh seafood dishes in Cochin, Masala Chai, Dosa, Iddly etc.

Activity:
We visit a number of palaces and temples including the rock cut caves and temples at Mahabalipuram, Ekambaresvara Temple with its Thousand Pillared Hall, Mysore Palace and Mattancherry Palace. By making donations, buying souvenirs or paying entrance fees, we financially contribute to the upkeep of these magnificent sites. Similarly, at Bandipur, the park fees we pay to enter this area go towards paying the wages of those who work there, development of park facilities, wildlife research and protection projects. We understand that it is important for us to operate with a strict ‘leave no trace policy.’ This extends to our activity in and out of game drive territory and means we are vigilant with disposing of litter properly and careful not to intimidate or harm flora and fauna.

UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

Community

Local Craft & Culture
We are keen to encourage guests to engage with the culture of Southern India and to purchase local crafts and services where possible. Your local guide will be able to recommend the best of the area’s colourful and vibrant markets and small businesses and through our commerce, tourist wealth is more evenly distributed. Cochin is famous for the spice shops & antique items, Ooty for different kinds of tea and coffee, Mysore is famous for silk, perfumes and incense sticks and Madurai for silk and tailor made cloths. There are locally crafted gifts and souvenirs available by most of the landmarks we visit, and your guides will be able to advise you on which to buy and which to avoid. For example, some bangles and other decorative items on sale may claim to be made of ivory - we are against the popularisation of this kind of product and make a point of including a warning in the briefing.

Charity
For years we have been involved in campaigning for tiger conservation in Bandhavgarh. In late summer 2014 we teamed up with The Corbett Foundation, an Indian charity dedicated to conservation-oriented research. They have proved instrumental in enabling us to get the funds to where they are needed. Through this we have now completed the building of a community hall at Tala Village, solar pumps in the park for wildlife and staff in the dry season, bio gas plants and smart stoves for villagers and provided the salary for 2 full time teachers at the government school. Our work in India continues to be of great significance and most recently we have been able to purchase a 4 wheel drive medical vehicle and pay for outreach medical support.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

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