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The Tropical South

Days
14
Our saving
$81
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US $ 1,625
Cost/day $116
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This tour is operated by
The Tropical South - Exodus Travels
The Tropical South - Exodus Travels
Good
67 reviews
Starts
Kochi (Cochin)
+6 Destinations
Southern India
Ends
Kovalam
Map

Highlights

  • Walk through tea plantations
  • Explore the jungle in Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Enjoy a home cooked dinner with a local family
  • Cruise the backwaters of Kerala
Age range
16 to 80 year olds
Accommodation
Hotel
Max Group Size
16
Transportation
Coach / Bus
Travel style
Adventure, Local Living, Wildlife
Start in Kochi (Cochin) and end in Kovalam! With the adventure tour The Tropical South, you have a 14 day tour package taking you from Kochi (Cochin) to Kovalam and through Kochi (Cochin), India and 6 other destinations in India. The Tropical South is a small group tour that includes accommodation in a hotel as well as an expert guide, meals, transport.

67 Reviews

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  • The Tropical South reviewer 1
    Written on November 5, 2013
    5.0 - Excellent

    A fantastic introduction to India and Exodus. Having been recommended to travel with Exodus by a friend, I chose the "Tropical South" - a two week tour of the most southern States in India: Kerala and Tamil Nadu.  It was the best holiday decision I have made. What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?There were many inspirational moments during the trip. It was my frist trip to India - and the rich diverse culture simply grabs you from the moment you arrive and enthralls you until you leave.There were many wonderful things, from walks in nature reserves and tea plantations, elephant rides, cruising the backwaters in a houseboat and by Canoe.., ancient and exotic Palaces and Temples, tuk tuks crammed with school children ( I mean at least 10!) all beaming and excitedly waving at you as they pass by, and now I'm onto that - the chaos of the roads - which actually seems to work - from the many tuk tuks, buses, wagons, carts, rickshaws, vespas, and yes elephants all vying for space, watching wild elephants grazing on rich grasses, sampling the excellent food which is just waiting to be explored - and sample I did! We even met a local family and cooked with them to learn how to make some of Keralas dishes and Paratta!Probably the most thought provoking was our day trip to the southern most tip of India. We took a ferry over to an offshore rock where we had two very significant views: Looking South, the meeting of three waters: The Indian Ocean, The Bay of Bengal and the Sea of Arabia.  Nothing between you and the Antarctic.  Looking North, the town of Kanyakumari and the start of the landmass of the subcontinent of India - and the rich, colourful, noisy, kaleidoscopic and charmingly chaotic life of 1.2 Billion Indians.I really appreciated that I could do so much and get so involve in the local culture and activities, which is down oto the fact you are going with Exodus - who know the country inside out and have the logistics and ideas of where to go thoroughly reseached / tried and tested.  There is room in the itinerary for you to decide if you want to relax or if you want to explore some more.  You can tailor it to what you want within your group.  The important thing is you can place all your trust with the Group Leader and waste no time in figuring out logistics / systems. You just get to immerse yourself and enjoy India to the fullest.What did you think of your group leader?Touffique was exceptionally friendly and really good with the whole group. He kept us on track and was really helpful throughout the trip.  The itinerary was already exciting, but he always had "a plan" - for some additional adventures - which I readily did and was so glad to do so...... Nothing was a problem for him and he went out of his way to make sure the trip was enjoyable and memorable for us all. He managed to strike a good balance of being informative but also not making you feel like you were on a school field trip and will be tested afterwards :-). Overall a very good Group Leader.Do you have any advice for potential travellers?Take hand sanitiser just to be sure, and use before you eat. It is not that people are "dirty" there, it is simply the fact that naturally you are exposed to bugs you are not exposed to in the cooler climbs of Northern Europe. I used Vicks First Defense hand foam, and did not experience any stomach upset at all.  Other than that, take a deep breath, and get ready to immerse yourself in one of the big adventures of our life.

  • The Tropical South reviewer 2
    Written on October 22, 2013
    5.0 - Excellent

    A remarkable trip. So much to see and do.After each day my head was buzzing from all the experiences I had encountered. There was also many contrasts of landscape, from the coast at Fort Kochi, the mountains of Munnar to the plains of Madurai. What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?The Sri Meenakshi Temple was incredible. A huge edifice buzzing with people. The guide was superb informing us about the many aspects of their religion.The houseboat on the  backwaters starting from Allepey provided a contrast to all the bustle beforehand. Hugely relaxing but still a lot to absorb with all the vessels etc on the rivers.Watching the sunset at Kanyakumari after a busy day. So peaceful. What did you think of your group leader?Thoufeek was incredible. His local knowledge was superb and he offered lots of hidden extras. He was determined we were all going to have a good time and didn't let us down. He helped us with all the different dishes and even arranged a join in cookery session where we had to cook our own meals.Do you have any advice for potential travellers?Go with a sense of humour. India is quirky but take it as it comes.

  • The Tropical South reviewer 3
    Written on October 21, 2013
    5.0 - Excellent

    A wonderful colourful crazy frenzy of a trip. A good introduction to India if you've never been.What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?The highlights were the giant Hindu temple at Madurai, especially the elephant blessing! the magnificent scenery driving through the tea plantations, the house boat, and the cottages on the back waters, and also the optional trip to the Southern tip where the 3 seas meet, absolutely amazing, fun and a bit crazy. It was all made perfect by our tour leader who was very welcoming and hospitable and organised many great optional activities for us. It was sad to go home at the end, I would have loved to have stayed on for 2 more weeks!What did you think of your group leader?Our leader really made the trip special with great optional activities, helpfulness with difficulties such as communicating food allergies, obtaining medication etc, his patience and also being funny and entertaining. He really became part of the group which is really important for group camaraderie. Thoufeeq is an excellent tour leader who really goes out of his way for his groups, has a great sense of humour and is a lot of fun :-)Do you have any advice for potential travellers?Prepare to be overwhelmed!Is there anything else you would like to add?This trip is a constant barrage of colourfulness and craziness that you cannot help ending up loving, never a dull moment, and the people make it all worthwhile, genuinely welcoming and hospitable and pleased to see you.

  • The Tropical South reviewer 4
    Written on September 7, 2013
    5.0 - Excellent

    A great trip exploring the culture, landscapes, wildlife and food of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?There are so many, it's difficult to pick one! The highlights were the experience we weren't expecting and which were off the beaten track. Trekking through tea plantations and spotting a wild elephant, meeting tea pickers, exploring Fort Cochin washing ghats, fishing nets, fish market, Jew Town and finding the best chai of the trip, experiencing monsoon downpours in Munnar, sampling local food in Madurai, cookery class in a traditional Keralan home in Thekkady, being in Allepey for the annual Snake Race and partying with the locals, chill time at the end of the trip at Varkala and Kovalam. What did you think of your group leader?Charls could not have done more to make our trip the best possible experience. He checked out our interests at the start of the trip and taiolred the experiences accordingly. He was positive, fun, informative, managed our expectations and ensured that we had a truly local experience, especially in his home town of Madurai. Charls is a great ambassador for India and for Exodus. Do you have any advice for potential travellers?Keep your camera charged as there are so many photo opportunities, don't forget mosquito spray, waterproof jacket if you're there during monsoon, hand gel and loo roll!Is there anything else you would like to add?This trip is ideal if you want a gentler introduction to India as the south is more chilled than the north and the pace of the trip is fairly leisurely, even though you will pack so many activites and experiences in. My third trip with Exodus and I wouldn't travel with another company!

  • The Tropical South reviewer 5
    Written on September 6, 2013
    5.0 - Excellent

    This was a wonderful trip. The tour included a wide range of experiences and the group really jelled well. Our leader Charls wanted us to love Kerala and Tamil Nadu and added all sorts of little touches to the advertised programme. Who'd have thought how much we'd love visiting a laundry, for example. The food was wonderful particularly if you like vegetables and fish! What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?There are several contenders: watching the ceremony at sunset at the Sri Meenakshi Temple in Madurai;  the houseboat cruise; all aspects of the Nehru Trophy Snake Boat Race at Alappuzha (Alleppey) and sunrise at Kanyakumari - plus sunset at Varkala and the wild seas at Kovalam! I knew we were going to see the Sri Meenakshi Temple, but returning at sunset was memorable. Similarly I'd not realised we'd go to Kanyakumari to see sunrise over the end point of India. What did you think of your group leader?Charls Gnanaraj was absolutely brilliant. He was unfailingly cheerful and helpful (even when monsoon conditions attempted to undermine the schedule). At the beginning of the holiday he checked out everyone's interests and found we shared a lot of things (eg photography, animals and birds, sights of interest, local culture, food, gin) - and also that we weren't interested in (eg gold jewellry). He was very sociable and also mindful of individual needs and preferences. Do you have any advice for potential travellers?The day walk in the tea plantations and jungle walk at Periyar Sanctuary require you to wear leech socks. They are necessary: there are lots of leeches. If you've got swollen feet due to the heat to start with, you'll never get leech socks AND normal socks into your boots. However leech socks and walking sandles (provided you don't mind getting them wet and muddy) are fine. I'd suggest not bothering to take walking shoes at all: stick with sandles.   Is there anything else you would like to add?None of the guidebooks tell you that Kerala has brilliant umbrellas which form good - albeit unlikely - gifts to bring home. Popy's and John's are both designer quality. John's range include umbrellas with UV protection, 5-fold telescopic umbrellas which fold up very small but open to be generously sized and umbrellas which double as walking sticks. Take pens to distribute as appropriate - and also take miniature toiletries (like the ones available in hotels): the tea pickers whose photos we took (with their agreement) were more interested in perfume rather than pens.

  • The Tropical South reviewer 6
    Written on March 30, 2013
    3.0 - Average

    A beautiful area, colourful, fascinating, noisy yet with times of peace and tranquility.

  • The Tropical South reviewer 7
    Written on March 16, 2013
    5.0 - Excellent

    Kerala was everything I had hoped it would be. The trip was very well organised and our hotels and transport were all very goodWhat was the most inspirational moment of your trip?I persoanally loved out bus trip from Cochin to Munnar, to the Tea Plantations in the Hill Station. The bus trip, thoug lenghty, was relaxing, and gave me the opportunity of seeing stunning country side I wouuld have been nable to see otherwise.The tea plantations were so green and lush. To be able to see the sheer size of the plantations so high up the hillsides, and see how hard the wowmn worked at so diligently taking the leaves was a sight I shall never forget. Visiing the tea museum,and watching the whole process of how tea leaves are processed from picking the leaves to tea cup , wasreally interesting. I have the greatest respect for the humble cuppa now      What did you think of your group leader?Santosh was a superb group leader. He was so warm and friendly , and a walking encyclopeadia of knowledge. He made the trip so interesting, and added his little suprises for us along the way..Nothing was a bother for himDo you have any advice for potential travellers?Make sure that your clothing is as  light as possible. Kerala is extremely humid, there is little escape from it. Drink plenty water at all times, and have a hat. Take India as you find it. It is noisy and chaotic in some of he larger cities, but it all worksIs there anything else you would like to add?Just enjoy the food, culture, and the lovely friendly people. It will whet your appeteite, and make you want to go back to explore more of India

  • The Tropical South reviewer 8
    Written on January 14, 2013
    4.0 - Good

    Fabulous, relaxing trip in beautiful, tropical southern India.What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?Enjoyed the contrasting experiences of floating around the backwaters in the houseboat and then manic Madurai and the beautiful Sri Meenakshi Temple.What did you think of your group leader?Lukose Thomas was a most efficient and friendly tour leader.Do you have any advice for potential travellers?It is very hot and humid with lots of mosquitoes - make sure you take plenty of repellent and a plug for your room.Is there anything else you would like to add?This is a well paced tour with plenty of free time which you can fill with optional visits and activities or simply relax. We used the local bus to get into Thrivandrum from Kovallem to visit the temple and palace - which was well worth the effort. We did not manage to see much wildlife on our Periyar walk - so if you are looking for variety it could be worth the effort to take the boat trip which we didn't do.

  • The Tropical South reviewer 9
    Written on January 10, 2013
    3.0 - Average

    This trip takes you to cities, beaches, wildlife reserves - all in two weeks.  What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?For me, the best bits weren't on the itinerary; they were the incidental adventures that inevitably happen when you leave the group behind and go and explore.  Having said that, the Munnar day walk is fabulous and a great contrast to the hustle and bustle of Cochin.What did you think of your group leader?Our leader, Jatin, was calm and professional. However, I did feel he took a very 'coach trip' approach, in that information was usually limited to how long toilet breaks where, directing us to shopping co-operatives and leading us to ok but very 'safe' restaurants for group meals.Do you have any advice for potential travellers?The trip is billed as 'leisurely' - and I'd just say be mindful of the type of people this may attract.  If you want to look at India through a coach window, be shepherded around and not have to think for yourself, and complain about not getting biscuits with a cup of tea, you'll be in your element.If, like me, this is not your thing, use the trip as a means of having your  transport and accomodation arranged, then take yourself off on your own, open your ears and eyes and get set to have the most fabulous adventures.  A word about meals: while the group dinner arrangements are handy in places like Munnar and Madurai, there are MUCH more exciting places to eat (for a fraction of the price) - so I'd urge you to get a guide book, look at the local recommendations and venture out.  As the trip notes warn, the service in restaurants is painfully slow, so the group dinners actually made for quite a painful frustating experience with 14+ people ordering, fiddling with bills etc. I'd also suggest that if you want to make the most of your time in Periyar, book extra activities in advance. It's a fair old drive to get there, so it was desperately frustrating to find, on arrival, that all of the extra hikes/safari options (other than the boat) were booked up.  We did manage to book ourselves on to an extra day hike and a hight hike too after a lot of fluttering our eyelids, but it was quite a stressful doing so.  Skip the stress and book ahead. Oh - and the morning hike arranged with the group isn't much to write home about, so if another activity clashes with the times (like the all day river rafting option, for example) I'd skip the morning walk and get out on the water. Do explore in Kovalam too - there's a much nicer beach than the main one lined with all the shops past the LightHouse - it looks like it belongs to a hotel, but it doesn't. Get yourself up the lighthouse and you'll see the track leading you down there.  A great place for watching the sun go down.Is there anything else you would like to add?Go to the temples (ladies - take a shawl/scarf for shoulders for all, and you'll need full length trousers or a full length skirt for the Madurai temple - you won't be allowed in otherwise) and take it all in.  They're just mesmerising - but you need to spend time there to absorb it; a whistlestop tour won't cut the mustard.  Explore, get off the ubiquitous streets selling tourist tat and let things happen. Yes, be sensible with sanitisation but don't let this put you off having fun discovering new fruits in the markets, sipping coconut water and ordering dishes you've never heard of for the sheer delight of trying something new.  Wander, chat, ask and try - it's all there, you just need to let it happen!

  • The Tropical South reviewer 10
    Written on January 4, 2013
    4.0 - Good

    This is a relaxing trip with plenty of interesting things to see and do. There is a lasting impression of a riot of colours and lush greenery, mad roads and cheeky monkeys.What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?I was inspired by the Keralan backwaters as it is hard to find places to completely unwind and simply drift along in the sunshine with not a care in the world, only think about where you will find your next coconut to drink.What did you think of your group leader?Ajith is a wonderful human being, very caring, intelligent and openminded. Nothing was too much trouble for him and he surpassed all expectations. He probably knows more about history and culture than the local guides!Do you have any advice for potential travellers?Feel free to scream as much as we did during the jungle walk through leach infested bush. I am sure it is very therapeutic and funny afterwards! If you are offered leach socks, take them and the leach powder. Yes, elephant droppings that are damp usually mean that there could be one in the vicinity. You are not in a safari park.Is there anything else you would like to add?I was somewhat disappointed with the standard of spoken English by the local guides at the historical and cultural places such as palaces, temples and dance/martial arts displays. I found it frustrating to not understand what I was experiencing without getting irritated. Our tour leader Ajith would have done a much better job.

Itinerary

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  1. Introduction
  1. Day 1: Start Cochin.
  2. Day 2: Sightseeing around Cochin; optional sunset cruise at Fort Cochin and explore historic spice port.
  3. Day 3: To Munnar.
  4. Day 4: Day trek through tea plantations and the hills of Munnar.
  5. Day 5: To Madurai.
  6. Day 6: Visit colourful Sri Meenakshi Temple; optional cycle rickshaw ride through town.
  7. Day 7: To Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, home to wild elephant and many other animals and birds. Dinner and cooking demonstration in a local family home.
  8. Day 8: Explore Periyar; morning jungle walk followed by an optional boat trip on the lake.
  9. Day 9: To Erattupetta Planters Homestay.
  10. Day 10: To Muhamma; village walk.
  11. Day 11: Board houseboat for backwater cruise.
  12. Day 12: Leave houseboat and drive to Kovalam.
  13. Day 13: Free time for relaxing on the beach or optional trip to Kanyakumari
  14. Day 14: End Kovalam.

Travel guide

Prepare for an adventure in this stunning destination with our travel guide.

What's included

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  • Accommodation

  • Guide

  • Meals

  • Transport

Not included

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  • Additional Services

Questions & Answers

Here we have collected and answered the most frequently asked questions about this tour.

  • How hard is this tour?

    We just require you to be in good enough shape to perform planned activities on trip of choice.

    This is one of our more leisurely trips.

    "Although this is not a demanding tour, it is a busy and active itinerary with lots to see. Driving time is kept to minimum and is not normally longer than 4‐5 hours except on Day 5 (Day 6 ex‐London) when the drive can take up to 7 hours. You should also be prepared for some early starts. The roads are generally pretty good, but local traffic and/or road damage can sometimes slow us down. The moderate trek in Munnar requires a good level of fitness, as the trail can be steep in places. Walking shoes with a good grip are essential for this trek and you may also wish to bring walking poles or get hold of a stick locally if you have problems with your knees. Approximate walking time is 4 hrs."

  • Do you arrange flights?

    TourRadar is an online booking portal for group tours only, we are not a travel agency so we cannot arrange flights for you, we reccommend using skyscanner.com or kayak.com to find the best possible price for international flights.

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About the countries

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Visa

Here is an indication for which countries you might need a visa. Please contact the local embassy for help applying for visas to these places.

Vaccinations

These are only indications, so please visit your doctor before you travel to be 100% sure.
Typhoid
Recommended for India. Ideally 2 weeks before travel.
Hepatitis A
Recommended for India. Ideally 2 weeks before travel.
Cholera
Recommended for India. Ideally 2 weeks before travel.
Tuberculosis
Recommended for India. Ideally 3 months before travel.
Hepatitis B
Recommended for India. Ideally 2 months before travel.
Yellow fever
Certificate of vaccination required if arriving from an area with a risk of yellow fever transmission for India. Ideally 10 days before travel.
Japanese B encephalitis
Recommended for India. Ideally 1 month before travel.

Policies

Location
Kochi (Cochin) is the starting point and Kovalam is the endpoint.
Hold my space
TourRadar can request Exodus Travels to hold spaces for you for up to 48 hours without any credit card details.
Deposit
TourRadar only requires a deposit of 20% to confirm this Exodus Travels booking. The remaining balance is then payable 60 days prior to the departure date. For any tour departing before 16 December 2018 the full payment of $1,625 is necessary.
Cancellation policy
No additional cancellation fees! You can cancel the tour up to 60 days prior to the departure date and you will not need to pay the full amount of $1625 for The Tropical South, but the deposit of 20% is non-refundable.
Credit Cards
The following cards are accepted for Exodus Travels tours: Visa - Master Card - American Express

Destinations

Covering a total distance of approx 697 km.
  • Kochi (Cochin) (India)
  • 88 km
  • Munnar (India)
  • 118 km
  • Madurai (India)
  • 119 km
  • Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary (India)
  • 90 km
  • Alleppey (India)
  • 141 km
  • Kovalam (India)
  • 71 km
  • Kanyakumari (India)
  • 71 km
  • Kovalam (India)

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