16 independent reviews for South India holiday

Reviews for South India holiday

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review 11 Feb 2019

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Most memorable... our driver, Vinky, quickly recognise what we were most interested in. He took us for lunch to roadside restaurants/ cafes, workmen's eating places where we had the most wonderful food you could hope for...freshly cooked, spicy, full of flavour. He also got us a bicycle rickshaw ride, tuk-tuk ride all without us thinking of it but such great fun. Rajakkad Estate was delightful we would happily have stayed longer. The walk round the estate with Sudhan as our guide, showing us the birds, animals and plants, was something that we will always remember.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Talk to your agent...I was lucky to have Rajat who was patience incarnate as I changed my mind, my itinerary, my costings. Everything ran smoothly, thanks to him. Also talk to your driver...let him know your interests... food, museums, temples, markets and he will do his best to help. The guides of StoryTrails were superb a different take on the factual lectures of many guides... a wonderful mix of history, mythology, Hindu beliefs and practical demonstrations of art and life in South India.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I would certainly hope it benefited local people in the tourist industry, especially those who work outside the large Western type hotels and the guides who provided us with such an excellent service.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Our 12 days in Tamil Nadu were an excellent experience...the people were unfailingly cheerful, friendly and helpful. There is so much to see and enjoy: travelling independently, we were able to please ourselves without pressure, while feeling completely comfortable with our driver and organisation.

review 21 Jan 2019

Very good holiday everything well organised and good hotels. Our driver was extremely reliable and we really enjoyed the story tellers as guides.

review 9 Jan 2019

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

A one-night stay in a luxury houseboat on the Kerala Backwaters.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Two nights would be better, to really enjoy the luxury treatment. Three nights might be too much!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Since the houseboat crews are local people, I assume the houseboats are a good source of local employment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Our one-week trip to Kerala was a good first-time experience. It was, however, probably too short for us to really get into the way of this relaxed destination and its pleasant, laid-back people.

review 16 Apr 2018

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

All of our trip was a real delight. Highlights were the temples at Mahabalipuram and Madurai, the backwaters of Kerala and Nagarhole wildlife park.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Trust Rajat and your drivers-they will make sure everything goes smoothly and if you can afford it spend two days on the houseboat in Kerala.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

We definitely felt that we were connected to local people and that our spending benefited them.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

This was an amazing trip from start to finish-so much colour, such a variety of places, fantastic accommodation but most of all truly lovely people.

review 27 Feb 2018

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Wonderful interactions with fascinating local people, including story-teller guides, a classical dancer, a maker of beautiful bronze statues of gods from a prestigious family of temple bronze makers, an English literature student-guide in the Kerala backwaters, Rajat Kumar and his lovely family at their home and tea plantation in the Nilgiris,and our wonderful driver, Jose Anthony, an expert on a range of topics. Fortuitously, in Kerala we watched the skilful painting with natural powders of a family deity Kali killing a demon, being awoken for use in a ceremony, and then erased with a brush at the end.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Think deeply about your interests and what you especially enjoy and don't while traveling and convey that to Rajat as he will tailor the trip to your priorities. Make clear the balance you would like between scheduled activities/tours and downtime as well as city and country/village experiences.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

We stayed at Indian-owned hotels/home stays, including many heritage hotels, which preserve old buildings, some of them ancestral homes. Some prioritized conservation and sustainability.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

It was an exceptionally comfortable, informative and enjoyable month-long holiday, which gave us a rich exposure to people, practices, religions, agriculture, and flora and fauna of South India. We made friendships that we hope to sustain.

review 11 Feb 2018

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Most memorable was not a specific place or activity, but instead having the opportunity to meet a variety of people in southern India and getting a better understanding of south India's culture and daily living conditions.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take your time, stay in one place for longer than one night (in most cases), and plan only one or two major activities in one day. Also include a homestay visit and go on a houseboat tour of Kerala backwaters. Also, choose a travel agent who is easy to contact while on your journey (unforeseen events sometimes mess up the schedule). We were lucky to select our tour operator. He worked closely with us to develop a schedule that met our needs, and he contacted us frequently throughout the trip to make sure we were having a good time. When we asked for a major change in our plan, he immediately got onto the issue and resolved it with a minimum of fuss. Thank you, Rajat!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, it definitely benefited local people. For example, when we stayed at the resort near Nagarhole National Park, the hotel management emphasized hiring and training staff from surrounding villages and also supporting and encouraging traditional customs like dancing and local foods. At least some of our holiday lodging emphasized reducing environmental impacts and supported conservation efforts. For example, at our homestay near Coonoor in the Nilgiri Hills, we saw that the Kumar family had invested in solar technology to power their house and provide hot water to the rooms. Also, the owners, Ravi and Reni Kumar used organic produce and milk in preparing all the meals.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

We had a great trip. A special shout-out to our drivers who got us safely through the most chaotic traffic experience of our lives.

review 23 Feb 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Meeting locals, staying in small local accommodations for the most part, visiting locales with City Walker guides who were knowledgeable and so enthusiastic about their area. We also enjoyed the vibrant colors the food and the warm and friendly people in South India. Our stay in Aarkriti Homestay in the Nilgiris was definitely a highlight.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Rajat Kumar at the operator was great to deal will, responsive and attended to minute details before and throughout the trip. The allayed some anxiety on the part of one member of the group who had never travelled in that part of the world before.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, definitively. We enjoyed meeting local people, exchanging ideas with them, savouring local food, the homestays were just wonderful for that purpose. Except in Mysore, all accommodation was in homestays or smaller local hotels - so enjoyable.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

It was just wonderful; well organized; filled with activities we really enjoyed; the accommodation was lovely and we have great drivers. All in all a very memorable trip.

review 2 Feb 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

There were so many it us hard to pick one but the most outstanding was the friends and acquaintances we made along the way. From the drivers. Guides and of course Ravi and Rajat's family hospitality was second to none. A lovely family who made our stay relaxed, comfortable and thoroughly well looked after. They are very special people who feel like friends now.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Trust Rajat to deliver a very well planned and supported trip. The city walker guides and story tellers were brilliant and would highly recommend along with opportunities to do cooking lessons - we learnt so much.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

As we only had contact with local South Indian people and stayed in local hotels or guest houses, the economic benefit we offered went straight to them. We stayed in the hotel in Alleppey rather than staying on a diesel engine Rice barge that would of polluted the waterways. The added benefit was it was very quiet and peaceful and we avoided crowds.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

We chose and were very pleased with an exceptionally busy itinary; that along with the engagement with friendly local people, great drivers and guides made it one of the most informative and hospitable holidays we have been on.

review 5 Jan 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

All of Kerela was stunning. My favourite was the tea estate in Munnar and my family loved the houseboat.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Try to spend longer in Kerela if you have the time. There is so much to do and see and the road travel takes a long time (6+ hours in a car in winding roads). Also pack extra motion sickness medication if you get car-sick.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes. At all the places we stayed the people were really amazing. They were happy to share their experiences with us and we didn't feel like we were intruding or imposing on their lives. They actually invited us to many unplanned places like a temple festival and a hike to a waterfall when they saw we were interested.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Very good. Quite disappointed we didn't make it to Chennai because of the cyclone. Will have to definitely go back soon!

review 23 May 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

So many great memories but perhaps the pick was the day we spent visiting temples in Kumbakonam. We had an engaging and knowledgeable guide who really brought things to life. Two days cycling through the hills of the Western Ghats comes a close second and loads of things came a close third...

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Don't be shy about asking questions and changing itineraries. Rajat is so flexible and will come up with a fantastic itinerary to suit whatever it is you are interested in.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

In general yes. The majority of hotels picked out by Rajat had strong environmental credentials and a number filtered their own water so we got through far less plastic bottles than on previous visits to India. On occasion, drivers or guides took us to western hotels for tea/lunch etc but once we explained that we'd prefer to go to places that locals might eat/drink, they were happy to do that.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

The holiday was fantastic. There isn't anything we could fault, I wouldn't hesitate in recommending the company to anyone. The organisation, attentiveness and flexibility to suit our preferences was second to none.

review 7 Apr 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Kerala was incredible from start to finish. As we came to each destination the only word that fit was ' paradise'

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take the chance with smaller hotels and homestay. It means you get to see more of everyday Kerala. Also make sure you experience auyurvedic massage.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Local owners, sustainable whenever possible

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Amazing

review 20 Dec 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Trekking in the Western Ghats

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Don't try to travel around too much. Take time to see the sights and view the country and interact with the locals

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I hope it benefitted local people by staying in homestays. Not sure that I can say that it supported the aim to reduce environmental impacts and/or support conservation. While such aims very worthwhile, it would be insincere for me to claim such, given the negative environmental impacts of air travel.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent

review 22 Mar 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

We have lots of wonderful memories from our first trip to India through Kerala. The warmth of hospitality and friendliness of everyone we met; the guides and driver who looked after us; the colours; the delicious foods; the varying scenery; the various villages we drove or walked through; the bird life; the homestays - but a highlight would be the two day trek in the Nilgiri hills, walking along the edge of Meespulimala with a our very knowledgeable and friendly guide Abid. Also including the walk through the beautiful patterned tea plantations. The refreshing ginger sodas!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Definitely stay in home stays or small guest houses. The camp facilities at Rhodo Valley and Anaerangal were both fine. Say 'yes' to all experiences offered. A good way to see the smaller canals of the back waters and village life on them is to canoe, or be canoed, along the waters. Our agent Rajat couldn't have been more helpful.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, in part: Learning about the way of life from local people and tipping them for their help whenever possible. Using the canoe on the backwaters rather than the rice boats (no fuel discharge into the waters). Eating locally produced and resourced produce especially the fish. Being able to leave 'house' tips for everyone. Purchasing locally made gifts. A bigger impact would be to somehow help with the enormity of the litter problem in this beautiful part of the world. There seemed to be no public facilities for disposing of litter including the every present plastic bottle - not a public bin to be seen anywhere.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

A holiday to suit a wide age range. Safe, friendly and we were able to learn so much about the culture of Kerala. One of the best holidays. 10/10

review 8 Feb 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Tamil Nadu temples in all their glory: amazingly intricate stone carvings from 7th - 15th century, pillared halls, colourful gopurams, intense devotion by throngs of people. Highlight of all these was probably the Airatesvara temple in Darasuram (from around 1150). Also stunning were the bronze statues in Thanjavur and in Chennai museums. We did several walks with an Indian outfit and liked both the various guides and the trails themselves, esp. the visit to the Ptter's Village (Villachery, near Madurai). Our Indian travel agent, Rajat, was excellent in helping us plan our trip, and while we were there, keeping in regular touch, providing local guides and an excellent chauffeur (Shiva) throughout.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

This was not a set holiday, but tailor-made to suit our interests (temples, arts, crafts) and wishes. The key tip I would give others is that travelling is much more arduous than I expected. The roads are mainly narrow, potholed and dusty, trains (even an express) are slow and not very comfortable (even first class aircon), we did not try buses but we saw how overfull they were. Originally it had seemed a ridiculous luxury to have a private, aircon car, but I am very glad we did. Food-wise, my tip is to eat where the locals do (it was easy because we ate vegetarian): tasty, fresh and cheap.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, because our travel agent had local drivers and guides, stayed in locally owned guest houses/hotels, ate local foods, bought souvenirs from co-ops and government stores. We only did drink bottled water though.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

It was marvellous, but physically more challenging than I had expected.

review 12 Feb 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Riding on the elephant and seeing some crocodiles within a few feet, also the accommodation was interesting, and beautiful, we wished we had stayed longer in some of them, especially the ones in the countryside. We would not of missed Mysore it was lovely, seeing the silk factory and visiting someone's house for a recital on an earthenware pot was amazing.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Stay as long as you can, it will be too short. We had three weeks and wished it was longer.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

The local people we met were lovely so friendly and welcoming and yes the places we stayed employed local people and the drivers were great. We hope that the wildlife conservation in India will look after the many animals that live there and seeing them in the wild was brilliant.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

It was fantastic and we hope to repeat it in a couple of years time, hopefully sooner.

review 11 Feb 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The whole holiday was memorable beyond expectation but if I have to chose one element that was most memorable it's the organiser Ravi Kumar and his wonderful family at Aakriti who treated me like a loved family member. Ravi put together a fantastic cooking tour that covered different elements of South India and introduced me to many warm and lovely Indian people.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Because you won't have to buy anything except souvenirs, make sure you have plenty of small currency for tips; 100, 50, 20 and 10 Ruppe notes. There are lots of people you will want to tip.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

The holiday was organised by an Indian travel company and all interaction was with Indian people so only benefited local people. There was an emphasis on the conservation of India's beautiful natural resources.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

The holiday was completely wonderful in every way.

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