southern-india

Kochi to Kochi 15 days.

  • Route: Kochi to Kochi
  • Length: 15 days
  • Transport: 4x4 Safari Vehicle, Auto rickshaw, Boat, Bus, Ferry, Overnight sleeper train, Private vehicle, Train
  • Accommodation: Homestay (1 nt), Hotel (9 nts), Jungle resort (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt), Resort (2 nts)
  • Meals: 5 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners

Lush and tropical, southern India is inspiring and delightful. Beneath the green shade of a coastal paradise, meet the locals in their fishing villages and tribal homes. Join them in the bazaars, on buses and boats or even on pilgrimage in Madurai. Southern India's spirituality, mist-clad Nilgiri ranges, friendly people and wild animal sanctuaries make it a fascinating part of the country to explore.

trip-grade

 

Standard

For those of you who dream of experiencing a location in depth and comfort but are mindful of budget. Ideal for those that enjoy the quirkier side of a destination without roughing it. Join inquisitive travellers of all ages for an fun, informative experience.

Discovery

Discovery tours are all about exploring & experiencing the world with like-minded people, dipping your toe beneath the usual tourist surface & discovering the real essence of a region. They are genuinely innovative, exciting & imaginative tours that offer that little bit more to travellers.

countries-visited

India

India Street Delhi Traffic

India has shared so much of its wonderful culture with the rest of the world, so a visit to this diverse country is a chance to experience where it all began. India has so much to offer: from the beautiful landscapes of the Himalayas, to the amazing temples and coastlines, rich culture, not to mention the food!

Although India might be famous for it's flavours, often the wildlife is forgotten about. India is home to the Asian elephant, Bengal tiger and the Indian rhinoceros. It is also a hot spot for smaller beasts such as the praying mantis.

India's music scene is beautifully crafted, and the range is quite incredible. The range of folk music spreads across the country and it is also the genre which Bangra music falls into. This is possibly the most famous music to come out of the country. Although regions have their own style of music, there are types that bring the country together as a whole. The national anthem of "Jana Gana Mana" translates as "Thou art the ruler of the minds of all people".

New Delhi, the capital is a lively place and hosts many festivals throughout the year, including the idiosyncratic International Mango Festival - where over 500 different types of mangoes are found. Mangoes are only the start of the wonderful taste India has to offer. The blend of herbs, spices and other vegetables can create the aromas known all over the world. Across the country there are different assortments that are associated with each region. In the north, milk is the main ingredient which creates the wonderful bread, and the samosa is popular here. Deep in the south is where rice dictates the main proportion of a meal. Into the east you will find the places where popular Indian desserts are from. Finally, in the west of the country, rice and coconuts are just two of the ingredients that make their dishes so distinct.

Foremost a visit to India is probably best remember by the welcome you are likely to receive this combined with the seemingly endless variety is what brings travellers returning time and time again.

daily-itin

Days 1-2 Kochi

 

Namaste! Welcome to India.

Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.

You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

Spread over several islands, Kochi is a fascinating place full of Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and English influences.

Head out to explore the major sights of Fort Cochin and visit the spice bazaars and antique shops. The best way to get around the islands is by using the ferry network.

Visit the Dutch Palace, built by the Portuguese in the middle of the 16th century. It was taken over by the Dutch in 1663, who added some improvements before presenting it to the Rajas of Cochin.

Be part of a Kathakali dance performance. This classical dance is a highly charged and powerful drama that combines devotion and physical virtuosity with symbolic storytelling to produce one of the most impressive and vibrant forms of theatre in the world. It requires lengthy and rigorous training to attain complete control of the body and sensitivity to emotion so as to be able to render all its nuances through facial expressions and hand gestures.

Included Activities

  • Kochi - Fort Kochi sightseeing
  • Kochi - Dutch Palace
  • Kochi - Kathakali dance show

Optional Activities

  • Kochi - Jewish Synagogue, Kochi - INR5.00

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nts)

Days 3-4 Ootacamund

 

Catch a train to Coimbatore (approx 3.5 hrs).

Travel by private vehicle to Ootacamund (approx 4 hrs).

Ootacamund was the British hill station known as Snooty Ooty and it was here the game of snooker was named, if not invented.

Take a ride on the famous toy train - be sure to get a window seat.

Visit a tea garden in nearby Coonoor.

Stroll around the Botanical Gardens, home to over 650 species of plants and trees.

Included Activities

  • Ooty - Tea factory visit and toy train ride

Optional Activities

  • Ooty - Botanical Gardens, Ooty - INR30.00
  • Ooty - Boating on lake, Ooty - INR150.00

Accommodation

Resort (2 nts)

Day 5 Mudumalai National Park

 

Continue on by private vehicles to Masinagudi (approx 2 hrs).

Set against the picturesque backdrop of the enchanting Nilgiris with their mist-covered peaks, Mudumalai National Park was once the Mysore Maharaja's private hunting ground. It was brought under Project Tiger in 1974 and is one of the best game sanctuaries in India to observe and photograph wildlife in close proximity. Some animals you may see here include tigers, leopards, elephants, sloth bears, sambars and spotted deer. There's also an amazing variety of birdlife, some of the most notable birds being the heron, stork, egret, kite, falcon, peafowl, woodpecker, drongo and warbler.

On our arrival at the foot of the Nilgiris (Blue Mountains), embark on a short wildlife-spotting safari in the Mudumalai National Park.

Our family-run accommodation in Masinagudi is dormitory style.

Included Activities

  • Madumalai - Wildlife safari

Accommodation

Jungle resort (1 nt)

Days 6-7 Mysore

 

Travel by private vehicle through the scenic Karnataka plains to Mysore (approx 3 hrs).

Stop en route to enjoy a biryani lunch with our local friend Raju and his family.

Mysore is an easygoing town with a pleasant climate, perfect for wandering around on foot.

Your leader will take you out to get your bearings.

A visit to Mysore isn't complete without a look around Mysore Palace. One of the most ornate palaces in India, its interior is a riot of colour, mosaics and mirrors.

Visit the Keshava Temple in Somnathpur - a stunning example of Hoysala temple architecture (approx 1 hr from Mysore).

You have plenty of time to explore the surrounding countryside, so head out and climb Chamundi Hill - site of the Sri Chamundeswari Temple, which is dedicated to Goddess Durga.

Catch an overnight train to Chennai (approx 11 hrs). Sleeper trains are clean and air-conditioned, a great way to travel long distances and still get maximum time in each place. Beds are padded berths with sheets, pillow and blanket provided but some people prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. Please note you may be sharing with locals in a same/mixed gender situation.

Included Activities

  • Mysore - Home cooked lunch & family visit
  • Mysore - Maharaja's Palace
  • Mysore - Keshava Temple
  • Mysore - Chamundi Hill temple

Optional Activities

  • Mysore - Cinema, Mysore - INR100.00
  • Mysore - Palm Reading, Mysore - INR350.00
  • Mysore - Tipu Mausoleum, Mysore - INR500.00

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)

Day 8 Mamallapuram

 

Arrive in Chennai and take private vehicles along the scenic East Coast Road to the laidback beaches of Mamallapuram (approx 2 hrs).

Mamallapuram is a scenic fishing village.

Embark on a bicycle tour, visiting the World Heritage-listed 7th-century Shore Temple and the massive bas-relief rock carving known as Arjuna's Penance.

There's also time to inspect the numerous mandapams (carved pillars in front of temples), watch stone carvers at work, see the fishing fleet or simply relax at a beachside restaurant.

Included Activities

  • Mamallapuram - Cycling tour
  • Mamallapuram - Shore Temple

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

Day 9 Pondicherry

 

Travel by private vehicle through a landscape of palm trees and rice paddies, visiting Auroville en route to Pondicherry (approx 5 hrs).

Auroville is an amazing experiment in international living. Made up of 80 rural settlements and home to over 1,500 residents, more than half of whom are foreign nationals, this living project dedicated to human unity also houses the world's largest solid crystal.

Once a French colony, there are still reminders of French influence in Pondicherry's architecture, the wide town squares and even in the policemen's uniforms.

Take a walking tour and visit the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, the local temples and the old French quarter.

Included Activities

  • Pondicherry - Auroville
  • Pondicherry - Walking tour and Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

Day 10 Madurai

 

Take a local taxi to the railway station at Villapuram (approx 40 mins).

Board a train to the temple city of Madurai (approx 6 hrs).

Crammed full of bazaars, pilgrims, cycle-rickshaws, beggars and street markets, Madurai showcases southern India at its colourful and lively best.

Visit the Sri Meenakshi Temple, which lies at the heart of the city. This ancient, still active temple is a labyrinth of lamp-lit corridors which lead to shrines where some mysterious and interesting rituals are performed.

Visit the moving Gandhi Memorial Museum, which displays the blood-stained dhoti he wore when he was assassinated, along with an impressive and detailed account of the country's struggle for independence.

Included Activities

  • Madurai - Sri Meenakshi Temple

Optional Activities

  • Madurai - Gandhi Museum, Madurai - INR200.00

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

Days 11-12 Periyar National Park

 

Travel by public bus along a winding road to the spice plantation town of Thekkady and Periyar National Park (approx 5 hrs).

Set high in the ranges of the Western Ghats is the Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve. This wildlife sanctuary surrounds a picturesque lake, formed by the building of a dam in 1895, which meanders around the contours of the wooded hills and provides a permanent source of water for the local wildlife. Though it's a tiger reserve, tourists come here to view the Indian elephants in the act of ablution and playfulness by the lake.

In the evening, enjoy a tour around a local spice plantation and a delicious meal prepared by the owner's family.

Venture into the acclaimed Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary for a guided nature walk in the hope of glimpsing sambar, bison, elephant, spotted deer, tiger and leopard.

Included Activities

  • Periyar - Spice farm tour & dinner

Optional Activities

  • Periyar - Lake boat tour, Periyar - INR650.00

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nts)

Day 13 Kerala Backwaters Homestay

 

Travelling by private vehicle, head for the backwaters of Kerala (approx 4.5 hrs). It's a great ride through plantations of rubber, tea and coffee to the boarding point for our boats.

Crossing the backwaters, head to an island village to stay with local families (approx 1 hour).

In the late afternoon, we explore the island with a local English-speaking guide or your homestay host to observe the different facets of local life - this is a great chance to meet and talk with the people who live here. Strolling under palm trees and weaving in between the rice fields that cover the island, we have a chance to learn about the lifestyles of the locals.

Take a leisurely pole boat ride around the lake and enjoy the outstanding scenery.

Accommodation is on a multishare basis and all the families live within a few hundred metres of each other, with at least one person in the family speaking a reasonable standard of English. Food is traditional Keralan home cooking.

Included Activities

  • Backwaters - Pole Boat Ride
  • Backwaters - Guided walk

Accommodation

Homestay (1 nt)

Days 14-15 Kochi

 

Get up early and start your day to the sound of bird songs, before crossing the backwaters by private boat to Alleppey (approx 1.5 hrs), and a local bus to Kochi (approx 2 hrs). The rest of the day is free for some last-minute sightseeing or shopping.

There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

Also available to purchase

For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.

  • Southern India - Single Supplement

what-else

Itinerary Disclaimer

Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.

Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.

Culture shock rating

 

Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.

Physical rating

 

Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.

included

Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.

optional-extras

 

A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Imaginative Traveller nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Imaginative Traveller. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.

money

Money Exchange

The official currency of India is the Indian Rupee (INR).

 

The most convenient and cheapest way to obtain local currency in is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM), which are readily available in most towns.

Foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded can be very difficult to exchange, so please bring clean bills, and small denominations are most useful.

While traveller's cheques have security advantages exchanging them can be a lengthy process, commissions can be high and they can be difficult to change in rural areas, on weekends and public holidays. The use of credit cards is restricted, mainly to major hotels/establishments.

Spending Money

Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.

Tipping

If you are happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Imaginative Traveller destinations. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.

The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest INR20. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.

Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest INR100 per day for local guides.

Porters: Throughout your trip you may at times have a porter in addition to your leader. We suggest INR50 per day for porters.

Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of INR100 per day is generally appropriate.

Local transport: For a city tour we suggest INR50 per day.

Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline $US 2-4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

Departure Tax

All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.

 

other-important-information

OOTACAMUND/CONOOR

Please note that on Day 3-4 we will be staying in Conoor, rather than in Ootacamund.

FESTIVALS IN INDIA

Please note travelling during major festivals such as Holi and Diwali can, at times, cause disruption the the published itinerary. Please see the 'Safety' section for more details.

Group-Size

Maximum of 12 travellers per group.

your-fellow-trav

As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.

Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

Single-Travellers

Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

A single supplement is available on this trip. On the following nights a single room is not available:
Days 1, 2 & 14 - Kochi Lodge (limited rooms)
Day 7 Overnight Train
Day 13 Homestay

Accommodation

Hotel (9 nts), Resort (2 nts), Homestay (1 nt), Jungle resort (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)

OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS

Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Imaginative Traveller trips than your own.

CHECK-IN TIME

Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION

If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

Some of the accommodation along the way is very basic, staying in local guesthouses and homestays with limited facilities. Some facilities are shared and some accommodation has cold water only. We use a mixture of air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned rooms.

SLEEPER TRAINS IN INDIA:

Sleeper trains are clean and air-conditioned (fan-cooled at times), a great way to travel long distances and still get maximum time in each place. Beds are padded berths, sheets, pillow and blanket are provided but some people prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. Please note you may be sharing with locals in a same/mixed gender situation. Most trains have a dining carriage where food / snacks / meals are available.

meals

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.

Meals

5 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners

Budget for meals not included:

USD 300.00

transport

Train, Bus, Boat, Ferry, 4x4 Safari Vehicle, Auto rickshaw, Overnight sleeper train, Private vehicle

There are some long travel days and some of the transport can be quite cramped and without air-conditioning.

OVERNIGHT TRAINS

Sleeper trains in India have berths on both sides of the carriage, with some also having 4-6 berth compartments (dependant on seasonality and the journey). The carriages are multishare, with bunk beds and curtains that close over the beds. Most compartments are air-conditioned.

group-leader

All Imaginative Traveller group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Imaginative Traveller endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Imaginative Traveller we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

joining-point


Intrepid Kaleeveedu Lodge

1/387 Pattallam Road (near Police Quarters)

Kochi

Kerala

INDIA

Phone: +91 4842218980

Join-point-desc

The Intrepid Kaleeveedu Lodge is a traditional 1940's Kerala home located in the heart of Fort Kochi, within walking distance to all of the major attractions, and five minutes from the Basilica Church. The Lodge comprises eight air conditioned rooms with ensuite bathroom and hot water. The property also features a beautiful garden and pond bringing a great escape after a days site-seeing.

Check-in time is 12 noon.

Please note that we do not offer additional accommodation at the lodge and any pre / post accommodation will be booked at a different hotel - enquire with your agent.

Join-point-instruct

Kochi's (Cochin) International Airport is 50km north east of the city. Taxis are the only available transport, and the journey takes approx. 90minutes. An air conditioned taxi costs approx. INR 1000 from the prepaid taxi booth in the arrivals hall. DO NOT hand your receipt to the driver until you have arrived at the hotel. Ignore any suggestions that "the hotel has burnt down" or "the hotel is full". Rest assured the hotel is there as is your booking.

An arrival transfer from the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 30 days prior to your departure. If you plan to arrive earlier, this arrival transfer can only be offered in conjunction with pre-tour accommodation booked through Imaginative Traveller.

If you have pre-purchased an arrival transfer look for our local operator that will be waiting for you holding a sign with your name and Intrepid logo.

Arriv-complications

We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.

If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.

No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.

finishing-point


Intrepid Kaleeveedu Lodge

1/387 Pattallam Road (near Police Quarters)

Kochi

Kerala

INDIA

Phone: +91 4842218980

Finishing-P-Desc

The Kaleeveedu Lodge is a traditional 1940's Kerala home located in the heart of Fort Kochi, within walking distance to all of the major attractions, and five minutes from the Basilica Church. The Lodge comprises eight air conditioned rooms with ensuite bathroom and hot water. The property also features a beautiful garden and pond bringing a great escape after a days site-seeing.

Check-in time is 12 noon.

Please note that we do not offer additional accommodation at the lodge and any pre / post accommodation will be booked at a different hotel - enquire with your agent.

Finish-point-instruc

A departure transfer is available - enquire at time of booking.

A taxi to the airport takes approx. 90 minutes and costs approx. 1000 INR for an air conditioned car. Ask the hotel reception to help you arrange a taxi.

Normal check out time is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.

emergency

Emergency Contact

In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency the local India office can be reached on +91 1145 006 400 during business hours (9.30am to 6pm) or after hours on +91 9999 916 229.

We also have a dedicated 24 hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left the UK and in the event of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in these trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked. Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564

Emergency Funds

Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.

visa-information

Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.

We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.

INDIA:

Australia: Yes - in advance

Belgium: Yes - in advance

Canada: Yes - in advance

Germany: Yes - in advance

Ireland: Yes - in advance

Netherlands: Yes - in advance

New Zealand: Yes - in advance

South Africa: Yes - in advance

Switzerland: Yes - in advance

United Kingdom: Yes - in advance

USA: Yes - in advance

There is NO visa on arrival in India. Indian visas can NOT be obtained in Nepal. Tourist visas are available in Single and Multiple Entry. Be sure to check the date you require a visa from and the length of time you will need to cover, especially if you change countries during your trip.

Issues

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

what-to-take

What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.

Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.

TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT:

It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary to store your luggage separately (and unattended) from the group. The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers, for when it comes to travelling on local buses and trains it's often only the smaller bags that will fit into the storage areas. If your bag does not fit in these areas then often the only place to put it is on your bed or seat. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.

Where Imaginative Traveller covers the cost of luggage storage for included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense.

WATER BOTTLE:

Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day

WARM CLOTHING:

Temperatures can be low in the winter months, especially at altitude, so bring a set of warmer clothes including thermal underclothes and a fleece jacket.

Please make sure you have 'natural' coloured clothing to wear on the jungle walk in Periyar.

IMAGES FROM HOME:

During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos / postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc.

PASSPORT COPY:

Please bring a photocopy of your passport main page and airline ticket if you will require airline reconfirmation at the end of your trip.

fitness

Health

All Imaginative Traveller travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Imaginative Traveller reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

safety

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.

We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Imaginative Traveller itinerary, and Imaginative Traveller makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:

While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:

Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!

SEAT BELTS:

Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.

LIFE JACKETS:

While life jackets are generally available on water craft, there may be occasions where they are not provided and child size life jackets are not always readily available. If travelling with children and this safety issue concerns you we will be able to advise alternative methods of transport (where available) for you to travel to the next destination. You can choose to travel independently for this leg of the journey. This would be at your own expense.

FESTIVALS - HOLI & DIWALI:

Travelling in India and Nepal during the Holi festival, a lunar festival next held in March 17, 2014 and generally held in March each year, can at times be dangerous - a lot of locals participate in consumption of intoxicating substances. The day has been associated with physical violence and danger. Your leader/guide will be advising you and your group on what places to avoid on this day and it may even be necessary for us to alter your itinerary for the day to avoid putting you or our group leader/guide in high risk situation.

Travelling during the Hindu festival Diwali (a lunar festival next held on 03 November, 2013 and generally held from mid October to mid November every year) can also be dangerous. During this time there are many displays of fireworks in the streets. It can be very noisy for several days and there is also a lot of pollution caused by the fireworks. As there are no restrictions on buying fireworks in India there are often injuries caused by people exploding them inappropriately. During this festival your leader/guide may be required to alter your itinerary to avoid any dangerous areas to avoid putting the group at risk.

HERITAGE HOTELS:

On this trip you will be staying in some heritage hotels and traditional guesthouses - these are one of the charms of this trip, but occasionally their staircases, balconies and passages etc don't always comply with western safety standards. Please don't expect elevators in these properties as they are preserved in their original state.

BALCONIES:

Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.

FIRE PRECAUTIONS:

Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

SWIMMING POOLS:

You may stay at hotels with unfenced pools and no life guard on duty.

travel-insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.

If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

Please go to our website for more information:

www.imaginative-traveller.com/travel-insurance

 
responsible-travel

 

At Imaginative Traveller we love helping our clients experience the beauty and cultures of the destinations we visit. However, hand in hand with this we have always been aware that we have a responsibility to minimise any negative impacts that tourism can bring.

Responsible Travel is twofold. It's about taking people to the places they want to go in a safe and responsible manner but also about respecting and maintaining the natural and often delicate balance of the destination. Economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, but should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment.

Our Aims

  • It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit.
  • We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.
  • Whilst it is our aim to show destinations and cultures in a positive light, we do not believe in papering over the cracks or shielding visitors from the realities of life. This does not mean, however, that we condone or endorse certain situations or regimes that may be in place.

Our guidelines are meant not as rigid instructions but rather as suggestions to make our holidays more enjoyable – for everybody. As cultural and environmental sensitivities vary from country to country more specific guidelines can be found in our individual country and trip dossiers.

LOCAL DRESS:

Dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in areas of predominantly hot climate. In many rural areas women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.

Rules

Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Imaginative Traveller travellers. Imaginative Traveller's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

Carbon

Carbon Offset C02-e 338.00 kgs per pax.

 

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