Days
16
Price from
$1,020USD

Ready for an epic jaunt from Trivandrum to Goa? Of course you are.

A rollicking, rip-snorting jaunt through India’s lush interior. Head from Trivandrum up to Varkala for prime beach gallivanting. Take a boat ride through the Kerala Backwaters. Catch a kathakali dance in Kochi. Don the safari hat for Periyar National Park. Pig out on curries in Hampi and seafood in Goa. Take a break from the horns, the traffic, the cows and all those people. Beaches, ayurvedic massages, curries and coconut groves await. 

TRIP CHANGES FOR 2017:
From 1st January 2017 this trip will change in duration from 16 to 13 days and become GISS Simply South India. These changes allow for more efficient transport links between destinations and still plenty of time in Hampi and Goa. More details to follow in coming months, with the itinerary outlined below:
1 Trivandrum
2 Varkala
3 Varkala
4 Kerala Backwaters
5 Kochi
6 Bangalore
7 Mysore
8 Hampi
9 Hampi
10 Hampi
11 Goa
12 Goa
13 Depart


Start
Trivandrum, India
Finish
Goa, India
Country
India
Code
GIRS
Physical rating
Traveller’s rating
18 reviews
Ages
Min 15 , Max 39
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • Wipe the daal from your sleeves and the dhansak from your brow, as you get elbows deep in authentic southern Indian cuisine

  • Cruise along the calm backwaters of Kerala and bunk up with a local family. All you need now is to master the language of Malayalam (jokes)

  • Lions, tigers and bears, oh my! Well, there are no lions and bears in Periyar National Park, but you might see some tigers and elephants

  • Did you know that Madurai is more than just awesome markets? How bazaar! The Sri Meenakshi Temple is a tower of toy-like colours that deserves a place on your memory card

  • The spirit of Indianna Jones swings through the ruins of Virupaksha Temple in Hampi. You'll feel like you're moving through a movie set during the visit

  • Ready, steady, Goa (soz). There's actually no race element in this golden beach town. Chill your beans on the last leg of this sweet adventure

Is this trip right for you?

  • It’s important to prepare for hot sticky temperatures during the day and cooler climates in the evening. Layers are the best way to tackle this disparity in weather. Please also ensure that you use adequate sun protection and drink plenty of water.

  • We visit a number of temples on this trip, which requires a certain level of modesty. Please bring clothes that cover the arms and pants/skirts that go past the knee. A light scarf is also a good idea for covering shoulders and arms when it’s hot.

  • This trip involves some long overnight train journeys, including a ten-hour train to Hampi and a nine-hour train to Goa. While this can be tiresome, entertaining chaiwalas (tea vendors), food vendors and conversations with the locals make this a rewarding experience. For your own security, take a lock for your hand luggage on the sleeper train journey.

  • You will also be travelling by local bus on this trip. While conditions are basic, this is a great way to rub shoulders with the locals while enjoying the passing scenery.

Itinerary

Welcome to Trivandrum, India. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception as soon as possible. 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. There are no activities planned for today, so enjoy your free time exploring town. If Mahatma Gandhi refers to your hometown as the 'Evergreen city of India', you better make sure you keep it that way. Thankfully, Trivandrum is now considered as one of the ten greenest cities in India. Phew.

Note: 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).
Included Activities
  • Trivandrum - Orientation Walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
In the morning, head up the coast for around two hours to the town of Varkala. Once settled into your hotel, use some free time to explore the Keralan coast, which is home to some of India’s most awesome beaches on the Arabian Sea. Soaring cliffs protect Varkala’s sandy bay and, depending on the time of year, dolphins can be spotted from high up on the rocks. The main beach here is Papanasam Beach, which is long and golden with a backdrop of red laterite cliffs from which mineral water springs forth. Chill out here and witness fishermen pulling up their nets from the sea.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Enjoy a free day in Varkala. This is a great place to sit back and relax, but if you want to get active there are plenty of water activities on offer, such as surfing and windsurfing. Otherwise, kick back on the beach and enjoy some low key time.  Even though this is a popular destination for Indian tourists, as the beaches are quiet and laid-back. If you have time, perhaps rent a bicycle and ride through fishing villages to Varkala Light House.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today take a local three-hour train along the Keralan coastline to Alappuzha (Alleppey). Once an important trading port and now famous for the annual 'Snake Boat Race’ in August, Alappuzha is the starting point for most journeys into the backwaters. An auto rickshaw will take you from the train station to the boat boarding point. Explore the backwaters in a pole boat, before heading to an island village for an overnight homestay with a local family. Your guide will take you on a walk around the village and introduce you to the local community.
Included Activities
  • Kerala Backwaters - Pole Boat Ride
  • Kerala Backwaters - Village walk
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
In the morning cross the backwaters by private boat back to Alappuzha, which takes around one and a half hours. The group will then take a local two-hour bus to Kochi, arriving around midday. Once there, go on an orientation walk around some of the sights of the Fort Kochi area, including St Francis Church, Santa Cruz Basilica and the famous Chinese fishing nets. In the evening, there’s the option to attend a classic Kathakali dance performance at 5 pm.
Included Activities
  • Kochi - Fort Kochi sightseeing walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today, head to the Mattancherry part of Fort Cochin to explore the old Jewish quarter, synagogue and Dutch Palace (Kochi Palace) on a guided walking tour. The tour takes around three hours, with the rest of the day free to do as you wish. Why not join one of our Urban Adventures day tours, such as Fort Cochin by Bike, Home Cooked Kochi or Kochi Food and Culture Tour. Please check with your leader in advance if you’d like to book one of these trips.
Optional Activities
  • Kochi - Dutch Palace - INR5
  • Kochi - Kathakali performance - INR300
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
In the morning travel to Periyar National Park by private vehicle, which should take around four hours. There are plenty of stops to stretch your legs and for bathroom breaks. Make sure your music player is charged and your book is at hand. En route, stop for a tour tour of a local spice farm, sampling cardamom, pepper, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. The rest of your evening is then free.
Included Activities
  • Periyar - Spice farm tour & dinner
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
After breakfast, enjoy a free day with an optional walk around Periyar National Park. Be on the look out for tigers and other wildlife such as bison, wild boar, elephants and spotted deer. Set high in the ranges of the Western Ghats, this wildlife sanctuary surrounds a picturesque lake formed by the building of a dam in 1895. If you’re lucky, you might even see Indian elephants bathe playfully in the lake.
Optional Activities
  • Periyar National Park - Guided Wildlife Walk - INR750
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
In the morning take a local bus to Madurai, which should take approximately three to four hours. This buzzy city is crammed full of bazaars, pilgrims and cycle-rickshaws. Perhaps visit the Sri Meenakshi Temple. This ancient temple is still in use and features a labyrinth of lamp-lit corridors leading to shrines. In your free time, use the opportunity to wander the bazaars and tailors' market.

Day 10 is a free day in Madurai. Perhaps head to the Ghandi Museum to learn about the man who fought for India’s independence or wander through the 1,000 pillars of Aayiram Kaal Mandapam. In the evening, take an overnight sleeper train to Mysore (approximately seven hours). Sleeper trains are clean and air-conditioned, and beds are padded berths with sheets, pillow and blanket provided (although some people prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet). Please note that you may be sharing with locals of the same or opposite gender
Accommodation
  • The Pearls Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Madurai - Walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Madurai - Sri Meenakshi Temple - INR50
  • Madurai - Aayiram Kaal Mandapam - INR50
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
In the morning, board a local bus from the train station to your hotel in Mysore (approximately three hours). Mysore is an easy-going town with a pleasant climate, perfect for wandering on foot. 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. There’s also the option to visit the Keshava Temple in Somnathpur, which is a stunning example of Hoysala architecture.

Day 12 is free to explore 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. In the evening (approximately 7 pm), board an overnight train from Mysore and head up to Hampi, via northern Karnataka. This should take around ten hours, arriving early in the morning.
Accommodation
  • Bombay Tiffany Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mysore - Orientation Walk
Optional Activities
  • Mysore - Keshava Temple - INR200
  • Mysore - Maharaja's Palace - INR200
  • Mysore - Chamundi Hill & Temple - INR100
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
In the morning, arrive into Hampi and cross the river to your guesthouse by canoe. Hampi is an ancient temple town situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra River. Once you’re settled in, make an optional visit to the architectural masterpiece of Vittala Temple. This 16th-century temple contains mandapas (pillared pavilions), a pool, a palace and the popular stone chariot, which according to Hindu mythology was the vehicle of the Lord Vishnu.

After breakfast on Day 14, perhaps explore the ruins of the Vijayanagar Empire and the huge boulders on the outskirts of town. Use the rest of the day to explore. In the early evening, drive for around three hours by private vehicle to Hubli, where you’ll board an overnight nine-hour train to Goa.
Accommodation
  • Shanti Guesthouse or similar (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hampi - Vittala temple - INR500
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Once the train arrives in Goa, head to the hotel and check in. Brimming with Portuguese influences and famous for the sandy beaches lining its coast, Goa is a fascinating region in India's southwest. The day is free to do what you like. Perhaps relax on the beach, sip a cocktail at a local bar or go for a final dinner in the evening with the rest of the travel group.

There are no activities planned for the final day and you’re able to depart the accommodation at any time. Goa is a great place to end the trip – if you can, we recommend staying on for a couple of nights to relax and explore.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Santiago or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner

Transport

Auto-rickshaw, Boat, Canoe, Private vehicle, Public bus, Sleeper train, Taxi, Train

Accommodation

Guesthouse (2 nights), Homestay (1 night), Hotel (7 nights), Overnight sleeper train (3 nights), Resort (2 nights)

Included Activities

  • Trivandrum - Orientation Walk
  • Kerala Backwaters - Pole Boat Ride
  • Kerala Backwaters - Village walk
  • Kochi - Fort Kochi sightseeing walk
  • Periyar - Spice farm tour & dinner
  • Madurai - Walking tour
  • Mysore - Orientation Walk

Reviews

Our South India Stylin' trips score an average of 4.83 out of 5 based on 18 reviews in the last year.

South India Stylin', November 2016

Tamsin Leah

South India Stylin', November 2016

Jessica Horne

Dates & availability

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Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.