Culture, Cuisine & Wilderness Tour of South India

A 12 day trip to India 
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The majesty of India’s deep south comes from ancient cities and secluded jungle, flavorful cuisine and immaculate beaches. On this custom tailored tour you will lounge in a private plantation surrounded by tranquil jungle and cruise along a river in search of elephants and tigers. Relax in a private resort on the golden sands of the Arabian Sea and experience the locals’ grand smiles and gregarious lifestyle. You can watch the sun peek through forests and reflect off of the sea. It shines on palaces and temples alike and illuminates the nature of South India. 

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General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Bangalore, Hassan, Mysore, Kabini, Fringe Ford, Nileshwaram, Calicut

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: The Way to India

The images of India run through your mind on repeat as you make your way to the airport. Your flight to Bangalore will soon have you touring the streets that mix history with cosmopolitan luxury. You will find palaces and spices, tigers and culture. Every minute reminds you of what you of the possibilities that you will find during your time in Southern India. As your flight continues to bring you closer to remarkable history and unparalleled tradition you can rest your eyes and ready yourself for the wonders to come. 

Day 2: Impressive First Impressions

Your flight arrives in Bangalore and you depart the plane filled with excitement. The city is vibrant with modern luxuries that stem from its contemporary connection to the IT industry. You can see the progressive cityscape apparent in the skyline. No matter how cosmopolitan Bangalore has become it has continued to preserve its rich colonial heritage and vibrant greenery. You are collected at the airport by a private transfer and soon wrapped in the comforts of your luxurious accommodation. When you look out your window you can see the streets filled with vibrancy. The skyline rises above a flourishing tree canopy. The scent of fried banana emanates from local homes and apartments. In Bangalore you have found the quintessence of the country.

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation

Day 3: History Now

The morning sweeps over the city and the sun hides behind the high-rises. You find the scent of Chow Chow bhath is alluring. The collection of spiced semolina, coriander, ghee, and chilies brings together sweet and spicy flavors served with coconut chutney. After your meal your guide will escort you through a tour of the city’s treasures. Find yourself in Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, home to over 1,000 species of flora covering over 240-acres of land. The garden was constructed in the 18th century and continues to boast a variety of exotic and rare plant life from all around the world, including Persia and Afghanistan.

Lalbagh is surrounded by four gates. You can see the lovely library of the Indian Institute of World Culture from the garden’s entrance. The glasshouse is an opulent structure with an elegant curvature design. You can find images, from dinosaurs to pandas, constructed from flowers within the impressive open display. Each one is shaped and designed like a float in the Rose Parade, with individual flowers that collectively build a mesmerizing art piece. In the evening you can find the energy brimming around Brigade Road, the largest commercial center in the city.  

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 4: Sacred Statues and Villages

You wake up in the morning and find the captivating aroma of poori saagu in the air. The paper-thin bread is lightly fried and accompanied by a coconut-vegetable curry. The combination of sweet and savory form a perfectly balanced breakfast flavor. After breakfast you will leave Bangalore behind. En route to Hassan you will come to Shravanabelagola, home to the towering statue of Jain. The image was constructed in the 10th century and stands as the world’s largest monolithic statue at 58 feet tall. Shravanabelagola is a town filled with ponds and temples. The city pulses with devotion and appreciation of its towering statue, demonstrating the people’s dedication with garlands and hymns. You can find Chandranatha Basti, a temple that contains well-preserved paintings that depict the ample legends of Jain. You continue your journey to Hassan and arrive in the tranquil comforts of your rural village lodge in the late afternoon. 

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, accommodation

Day 5: The Home of South India

Delight in the morning with at taste of vada, a savory donut that brings a fabulous flavor to the morning. Soon you will come to the remarkable city of Mysore. The ancient city has roots dating back over 600 years and continues to be one of the most flamboyant cities in India. Visit Devaraja Market, one of the most colorful and traditional bazaars. The scent of exotic fruits lingers in the air. You find conical piles of colored powders used for bindi dots, adding a rainbow of hues along pathways.

The market is always bustling with locals doing their daily shopping. You find yourself blending into the vibrant routine, looking at the banana leaves and pineapples. You find the flower market irresistible. The scents of rose and jasmine are luscious. Garlands made from the flowers are used for weddings and religious festivals. The Dufferin Clock Tower connotes the end of the market. The tower was built in the 19th century and continues to add an extra touch of sophisticated beauty to the colors of the market.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 6: Opulent Palaces to Lavish Wildlife

The morning over Mysore comes with the delicious aroma of masala dosa, similar to an Indian crepe, which is delightfully crispy and fluffy at the same time. Your guide meets you at your hotel and takes you on an early tour of the Mysore Palace. The structure was rebuilt in 1912 and remains one of the grandest examples of India’s royalty. When you come to the palace through the main entrance you find an incredible tripartite gateway. The palace itself supports a five-story tower that stands 145 feet. The sensational exterior is matched by the lavish interior. Step through the ornate rosewood doorway and into the Abavilasa where the king held private audiences. The doorway is inlaid with ivory and the columns are gilded beneath the stained glass ceilings. The elegant design and the lavish décor are nothing less than inspiring.

After your tour of the palace you will venture onward to the Kabini Forest Reserve. When you come to the river you will board a boat and begin your afternoon river cruise. You can see locals paddling through the water on coracles. They smile and wave with sincere excitement. The water is calm. There is a long stretch of grassland between the riverbanks and the lush forest. At the edge of the tree line you see a large fluffy animal making its way to the water. Your guide tells you that it’s a sloth bear. Their arms are lankier and their hair is shaggier than a black bear and they can weigh up to 290 pounds. Their long snout sniffs at the air. You continue to drift down the river but can’t stop watching the animal lumber closer to the water.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, dinner, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 7: The Elephant and Tiger Experience

The flavors of the morning are scented with sweet and spicy masala chai tea. You can taste the allspice and cinnamon mixed with the coconut milk. When breakfast ends your early morning guide, an elephant, meets you. You climb atop the elephant and begin to explore the surrounding prairie along the Kabini riverbank. Every step the elephant takes is controlled and calculated. You sit in a large box on the elephants back a sway with every step. The birdlife is vivacious in the canopy, chirping and soaring through the open sky before returning to the comfort of the trees. In the afternoon you say goodbye to your elephant and continue deeper into the expansive jungle of Nagarhole National Park.

The park extends over 247 square miles and is home to many endangered species, such as the tiger. Leopards dangle their limbs off of tree branches. Bison graze on the luminous grass. As you spend the day looking through the towering trees you spot a tiger’s orange glow. The tiger steps in long and slow strides and you can see the black stripes marking its back. The moment feels like slow motion, giving you more time to take in the largest of the big cat family; they can grow to over 10 feet long and weigh over 500 pounds. In the tiger’s elegant presence you don’t think about its size, you only think about its beauty.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, dinner, tour, accommodation

Day 8: Early Morning, Best Morning

The blissful quiet of the surrounding jungle is blended with birdcalls. Active monkeys sprint through the trees. You begin the day with an early morning game drive once more around Nagarhole National Park. The wildlife is most active in the cool air of the early daylight before the sunlight creates a warmer afternoon. Your guide takes you through the diverse grounds of the park, from floodplains to forestry. Each movement forward is another chance to see the majestic fauna in a natural and undisturbed habitat. Deer stroll along the meadow. Their fur is decorated with white spots that look like snowflakes. You see a collection of wild boar speed into the brush.  Just as you think you may not find any more wildlife in the beauty of the emerald trees, you spot a troop of elephants in the distance. They step cautiously near the riverbank and dip their trunks to the water.

After breakfast you will make your way to Fringe Ford. The plantation stretches over 520 acres and shares borders with both the Wyanad and Tholpetty wildlife sanctuaries. The surrounding Wyanad Mountain Range rolls up to 6,300 feet above sea level. The olive and teal trees shine in the wide sweeping sunlight. A cozy fire flickers in the warm colors of the dwindling day. In the quiet solitude of the plantation you find the scenery comforting, the luxuries soothing, and the location unlike anywhere you have ever seen.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, dinner, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 9: Your Own Private Wilderness

The silence of your morning is similar to the tranquil quiet of the previous night. The scent of fresh, wet earth emanates from the surrounding forest. You look out over the rising hills and sunken valley and find a trapped mist draped over the lower foothills. The sun shines brighter and the mist recedes. The day is at your leisure, meant for you to enjoy however you wish. You can set out along one of the plantation’s innumerable trails that lead into the hillsides and watch the golden light seep through the foliage. Soon you will hear the trickle of water. Twenty-seven separate streams careen through the forest; some of them eventually become waterfalls. The trickle becomes a thunder. You find the rocky terrace flush with beaded water  falling and pooling below.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, dinner, tour, accommodation

Day 10: Jungle Plantation to Beach Resort

Today you will step away from the immense jungle and sprawling mountains outside of Fringe Ford to find a gem alongside the Arabian Sea. In Northern Kerala is the Neeleshwar Hermitage located in the seclusion of palm groves and within earshot of the sea’s soothing waves. In the afternoon you can put your feet in the warm gold sand and lounge on a hammock beneath the overhanging palm trees. The water is sapphire and calm. When you stand on the shore the water is cool as it laps at your toes. You can feel the rejuvenating effects of the hotel working on you already.  

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, dinner, transfer, accommodation

Day 11: The Unique and the Flavorful

The sunlight glistens along the Arabian Sea bringing clear sky and a beautiful morning. The day is at your leisure to discover the splendor in and around Neeleshwar Hermitage. You find an intoxicating aroma emanating from one of the two restaurants on the property. Meenakshi is the beachside eatery known for superb fish caught fresh that morning. The aroma comes from the unique Malabar cuisine. The mussel dish, known as kallummekaya, is floral and rich, mixing chilly powder and coriander, fennel, and ginger. The bright and slightly spicy flavors are blended with the sweetness of mango and coconut. Whether you prefer to relax on the beach or venture to the local Shree Palichon Krishna Temple to experience Kerala’s spiritual culture the remainder of the day is yours. The walkways are lined with sculptures. Fierce spirits are carved into the walls guard the entrance. You find the interior bright with images of deities, from Brahma to Shiva.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, dinner, accommodation  

Day 12: Your Journey Onwards

The luscious scents of the morning have you seated in Meenaskhi listening to the rolling waves and enjoying the aromas of the simmering food. The morning is yours to delight in, from breakfast to lunch, indulging in the comforts of the resort and the beachside. In the afternoon your private transfer will escort you to the Calicut Airport to begin your journey home. You have seen tigers and lounged on beaches, tasted fabulous local cuisine and explored elegant jungle. Your trip may have ended but the wonder never ceases.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, transfer

Price

Starting Price 

$1,795
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.