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Southern Spice

5.0
11 reviews
See full itinerary

The one that journeys through Keralan backwaters and beyond, discovering elephants, temples, and a different side of India

Travel Style

In-Depth Explorer

Take your time and explore in-detail each destination on this trip. Find out more

  • Duration

    11 days

  • Places

    8 places

  • Meals

    10 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 2 Dinners

  • Transport Style

    Mini-Coach + Houseboat

  • Team

    Expert Trip Manager and Local Guides

Chennai, Pondicherry, Kumbakonam, Madurai, Periyar, Kumarakom, Kerala Backwaters, Cochin

Southern Spice

15 Inclusions

Experiences that are included with your trip

  • Sightseeing tour of Chennai with local guide
  • See Mahabalipuram Shore Temple + Krishna's Butterball
  • 'Eat my Cake' visit (coffee + cake included)
  • Visit Auroville township includes lunch at a Solar Kitchen
  • Visit Silk Weavers home and Bronze casting school
  • Visit Dharasuram Temple
  • Visit to Brihadeeswarah Temple
  • Sightseeing tour of Madurai with local guide
  • Rickshaw ride
  • Experience a night time procession at Meenakshi Temple
  • Visit a spice plantation with a local guide
  • Kalaripayattul Martial Arts performance
  • Wildlife boat Safari along the Periyar River
  • Visit to Connemara Tea factory and Plantation
  • Sightseeing tour of Cochin with local guide

4 Free Time Add-Ons

Optional experiences that you can choose from and pay for on your trip

  • Heritage Walking Tour 1550INR
  • Dress up in a Saree (ladies) or Dhotti (men) From 350 INR
  • Local family cooking demonstration and dinner 2155INR
  • Sunset Boat Cruise 850INR

Where I'll Stay?

Learn more about the accommodation available on this trip

  • 10 nights

    All accommodation is included on this trip

    9 nights in Hotel, 1 night in Special Stay - Houseboat

    10-nights: Plush hotels with twin share rooms will see our tired selves well-rested. One special night will be spent adrift in the arms of a traditional Keralan houseboat, the quintessential South Indian experience.

About this trip

Take a sojourn to where the spices grow and the palm trees slope, under the beam of India’s southern sun. We’ll prance the streets of the delightfully French Pondicherry, and drift in a bamboo houseboat through the backwaters of Kerala. Temples, tea plantations and a tiger reserve – the phrase “Incredible India” must have been coined in the south. 

Buy With Confidence

  • Only $99 deposit to book*

    For a limited time, reserve your space now with a deposit of only $99, pay the rest 45 days before departure

  • Pay over time, interest free

    Can't pay in full? We've got you covered with our Part Pay Program

  • No booking fee, no change fees

    Change your travel dates or even your trip for free

  • Financing available with UpLift

    Book now, pay later when you're eligible for Uplift

Map & Itinerary

  • Start location
  • End location
  • Trip day
  • Via location
  • River route
  • Plane route

Nights spent per location

  1. 1 1 night

    Chennai

  2. 2 2 nights

    Pondicherry

  3. 1 1 night

    Kumbakonam

  4. 1 1 night

    Madurai

  5. 1 1 night

    Periyar

  6. 1 1 night

    Kumarakom

  7. 1 1 night

    Kerala Backwaters

  8. 2 2 nights

    Cochin

+-2 more

DAY 1 - Arrive Chennai

Chennai

Welcome people of pilgrimage! A hub of South Indian arts & traditions, Chennai will play the perfect host to our trip’s introduction. Unite with the team for a 6pm pow wow before having a free evening to unwind in our hotel or take to the streets to suss out this city. 

Stay

Grand Chennai by GRT Hotel (or similar)

DAY 2 - Chennai to Pondicherry

Chennai

This morning we’ll peel back the layers of Chennai, seeing Kapaleeswarar Temple and St Thomas’s Church, driving along Marina Beach & walking through the markets by the Chennai Fort. Now starting to feel acclimatised to life in India, we kick on to our second destination. 

Pondicherry

Our journey through Tamil Nadu will see us stopping at Mahabalipuram Shore Temple & the peculiar boulder of Krishna's Butterball. Arriving in ‘Pondy’ we’ll find a delicious fusion of French beauty & Indian soul, and have a free evening to enjoy it how we see fit. 

Stay

The Shenbaga Hotel (or similar)

INCLUDED EXPERIENCES

  • Sightseeing tour of Chennai with local guide

  • See Mahabalipuram Shore Temple + Krishna's Butterball

DAY 3 - Pondicherry

Pondicherry

Today you can jump onto an optional Heritage Walking Tour to go deep into Pondicherry’s unique history. You can then devour cake and coffee at ‘Eat My Cake’, a café run by local widows, and visit the progressive experimental township of Auroville. A vegetarian lunch in a solar powered kitchen will warm us up for some zen vibes by the breathtaking gold dome of Matrimandir.

Stay

The Shenbaga Hotel (or similar)

INCLUDED EXPERIENCES

  • 'Eat my Cake' visit (coffee + cake included)

  • Visit Auroville township includes lunch at a Solar Kitchen

FREE TIME ADD-ONS

  • Heritage Walking Tour

    1550INR

DAY 4 - Pondicherry to Kumbakonam

Pondicherry

Though our affection for charming Pondy will be sky high, our great voyage must continue. Kumbakonam – we’re coming for you. 

Kumbakonam

Arriving in Kumbakonam in the bounds of two rivers, we’ll begin uncovering South India’s artisans by visiting a bronze casting & silk weaver’s home. By night you can dress to the inspiration of our Dharasuram temple visit, wearing a Saree or Dhotti to our included dinner. 

Stay

Paradise Resort (or similar)

INCLUDED EXPERIENCES

  • Visit Silk Weavers home and Bronze casting school

  • Visit Dharasuram Temple

FREE TIME ADD-ONS

  • Dress up in a Saree (ladies) or Dhotti (men)

    From 350 INR

DAY 5 - Kumbakonam to Madurai

Kumbakonam

Devour a hearty breakfast and throw your worldly possessions back in your bag. A city of mesmerising history is waiting for us, and there’s a locally guided trip to Brihadeeswarah Temple in Tanjore en route. 

Madurai

One of the oldest cities in India, Madurai is the pride & soul of Tamil Nadu. Here we’ll see a palace of great pillars, ride a rickshaw, & witness an evening procession at the awe-inspiring Meenakshi Amman Hindu Temple.

Stay

The Regency Madurai by GRT Hotel (or similar)

INCLUDED EXPERIENCES

  • Visit to Brihadeeswarah Temple

  • Sightseeing tour of Madurai with local guide

  • Rickshaw ride

  • Experience a night time procession at Meenakshi Temple

DAY 6 - Madurai to Periyar

Madurai

Another state hop awaits us this morning, as we journey out of Madurai to Kerala, the West coast state that sways by the Arabian Sea.

Periyar

After our cross of the state of Tamil Nadu we’ll arrive in Kerala, ‘the land of coconuts’. We’ll pull up by the elephant & tiger reserve of Periyar National Park where we can explore a spice plantation & watch an ancient style of Martial Arts called KalaripayattuI.

Stay

Elephant Route Hotel (or similar)

INCLUDED EXPERIENCES

  • Visit a spice plantation with a local guide

  • Kalaripayattul Martial Arts performance

FREE TIME ADD-ONS

  • Local family cooking demonstration and dinner

    2155INR

DAY 7 - Periyar to Kumarakom

Periyar

After a wildlife boat safari along the Periyar River, we’ll take a leisurely journey to our next destination. En route we’ll frolic through a tea factory & plantation, enjoying one of Kerala’s proudest exports.

Kumarakom

Dreamy sighs all round as we arrive in the lake region of Kumarakom. We’ll have a free evening here amidst the fresh country air, trying to contain our excitement for tomorrow’s water adventure. 

Stay

Lakesong Resort Hotel (or similar)

INCLUDED EXPERIENCES

  • Wildlife boat Safari along the Periyar River

  • Visit to Connemara Tea factory and Plantation

DAY 8 - Kumarakom to Kerala Backwaters

Kumarakom

Waving goodbye to the agricultural lands of Kumarakom, we’ll trade one quaint setting for another. A day of boating on the beautiful backwaters are waiting on the other side of this bus ride.

Kerala Backwaters

Arriving in the tranquil backwaters of Kerala, we’ll board a traditional houseboat made of wood, bamboo & palm leaves. Drifting past slow grazing cows, we’ll see Kingfishers darting through the forests & season our sightings with many spicy fish curries.

Stay

Houseboat Special Stay (or similar)

DAY 9 - Kerala Backwaters to Cochin

Kerala Backwaters

Shed a few tears & snap your last “local climbing coconut tree” pics. Our boat will be sailing back to the shores so we can poke our way through Cochin.

Cochin

Back on solid ground we’ll soon find ourselves amidst the bustling spice markets and fort lands of Cochin. Here we can eat keralan delicacies, marvel at palaces, and watch the golden sun drop behind the Chinese fishing nets known as Cheena vala.

Stay

Number 18 Hotel (or similar)

INCLUDED EXPERIENCES

  • Sightseeing tour of Cochin with local guide

FREE TIME ADD-ONS

  • Sunset Boat Cruise

    850INR

DAY 10 - Cochin

Cochin

It’s our final full day on tour. Wander through saree filled markets, marvel at monuments, eat your body weight in street food, or simply sit in a bookstore or café and watch the chaos and charm of Indian life passing by.

Stay

Number 18 Hotel (or similar)

DAY 11 - End Cochin

Cochin

Our time on tour will end in the Southern spice lands of Cochin. Having bonded deeply in these spiritual lands, we’ll say heartfelt goodbyes before going our separate ways. 

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