Border Information: If joining the trip in Mumbai, you will most likely enter India from Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (IATA code: BOM).There will be an important group meeting at 6:00pm at the joining hotel in Mumbai - please look out at the reception for a note from you tour leader with further details about this meeting. Otherwise, today is free to explore the sights and sounds of Mumbai.
Today will be a free day to explore this amazing city. This is also an opportunity to take a tour of the Dharavi slum areas of Mumbai.
We will start our journey by taking the train along the coast to Goa. We will stay for 2 nights at the relaxed beaches of Vagator in the northern part of Goa. Estimated Journey Time (on train) - 11-12 hours.
We will have a 2nd night in North Goa tonight. Most travellers are drawn to Vagator for the stunning sunsets, the laid-back atmosphere and the proximity of some other quieter beaches in the area such as Arambol and Anjuna.
After our 2 nights on the northern beaches of Goa, we head off in the truck to the southern end of Goa. En route we will stop off at the site of Old Goa to spend some time independently exploring the area's colonial buildings.
We will stay for a 2nd night on either the stunning beach of Agonda or Palolem, these beaches are the perfect places to sit back and watch the fishing boats landing their catch or sample the delicious local cuisine.
Leaving the beaches of Goa behind us, we set off on a full day drive into the state of Karnataka and to the village of Hampi. The village is located within the ruins of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the ancient Vijayanagara Empire.
Today we will have a guided tour of the historical sites around Hampi by rickshaw and on foot.
From Hampi we will have another full day drive to the city of Mysore, one of India's most attractive towns.
On our 2nd day we will have free time in Mysore to independently explore the city's beautiful gardens, palaces, and the Shir Chamarajendra art gallery.
Today we travel up into the cool highlands and head to the hill-station of Wayanad, a small settlement surrounded by tea and coffee plantations.Whilst in Wayanad we stay as guests of local families at a local guesthouse.
There are many optional actvities available in Wayanad which we will have time to do today, from hiking up Chembra Peak, visiting local waterfalls and tea plantations, or the chance to visit the nearby Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary.
Today we will continue our journey with a full day drive to the coastal city of Kochi.
This morning we will take a local boat to Fort Cochin and have free time to explore and visit various sites including the Jewish Quarter, St Francis Church and the iconic Chinese fishing nets. In the evening we will be able to see a performance from the famous Kathakali dancers, India's most spectacular dance drama.
Leaving the bustle of Kochi behind, today we embark on our included overnight houseboat cruise on the tranquil Keralan backwaters of Alleppey. We will often split into smaller groups to board our traditional 'Kettuvallom' boats which will take us around the scenic rivers and spend the night aboard.
After our fantastic overnight cruise along the Keralan backwaters, we continue our journey with a short drive to the beach resort of Varkala.
Today we have free time to explore the surrounding areas and relax on the beautiful beaches.
Our final day in Varkala today, spend more time relaxing the beautiful beaches or why not sample the justifyably-famous Keralan cuisine at one of the great local restaurants.
Today we will have a morning drive to Kanyakumari (also known as Cape Comorin), the very southern point of India. Here we will have free time to explore the Vivekananda Rock and the surrounding sites.
This morning we have the option to get up early to watch the sunrise from the southern tip of India with thousands of locals, what can be an incredible experience! From Kanyakumari we then start heading back north again, and drive to the holy city of Madurai. In the afternoon we will have an included visit to the Sri Meenakshi Temple in Madurai.
Today we head to the French-influenced town of Pondicherry, and will have a free time on arrival in the afternoon.
On our 2nd day why not spend the day relaxing and soak up the atmosphere or explore the town and its beautiful colonial architechture.
Today we have a short drive to the ancient city of Mahabalipuram, once the capital of the Pallava Dynasty in the 7th Century CE. On arrival we will have an included visit to the incredible Shore Temples and other monuments around the town ( time permitted ).In the afternoon we will finish the short drive to the bustling coastal city of Chennai.
Border Information: If you are joining in Chennai, you will most likely enter India in Chennai International Airport (IATA code: MAA).Today is a free day to explore the sights, sounds and flavours of Chennai. There will be an important group meeting at 6:00pm - please look for a note from your tour leader when you arrive at the hotel giving more details about this meeting.Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Chennai before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Chennai.*Important note* - if you are joining the trip in Chennai, please make sure that you send us a scan of your Indian visa as soon as you have obtained it. If you plan to take the e-visa option, please make sure you arrange this well in advance and send us a copy of your receipt as soon as possible. If we do not receive this in advance, then we will not have enough time to get your permits for the Odisha Region and you will not be able to visit this area.We will also need these to purchase your train tickets.
Today we start our journey with a drive to the bustling town of Tirupati. In the afternoon there will be an optional visit to the Sri Venkateswara holy temple in the nearby town of Tirumala. ( Please note if you wish to visit the temple there is a dress code of Dhoti with upper cloth for men and saree or half-saree with blouse or churidar with pyjama and upper cloth for women. It is also quite difficult to get tickets to visit the temple due to the high numbers of pilgrims visiting the temple during this time, if we can not get any tickets available we will visit Srikalahasteeswara temple instead ).
Leaving Tirupati, we will spend the next few days overlanding through Andhra Pradesh, one of the least developed states in India. This is real off-the-beaten-track overlanding, and we will arrive in the small city of Vijayawada this evening.
Today we continue our journey and drive through the back roads of Andra Pradesh. Our final destination tonight is the costal town of Visakhapatnam.
Today we will begin our guided tour through the rarely-visited Odisha Tribal Regions, which we will comprehensively visit over the next 6 days. In these regions the itinerary has to be kept fairly flexible, allowing us the freedom to alter things slightly if we hear of any special events or market days in particular villages. However, we will generally follow the plan below:This morning we will have an early start from Visakhapatnam to arrive in a small village called Goudaguda in time to visit the Monday markets. Beautiful earthen pottery is skillfully produced in this area and you may even get the chance to try this for yourself.
Today we will have a guided walk in the morning through the countryside around Goudaguda, visiting the neighbouring Mahali and Kondh tribal villages. This evening we will return to our guesthouse in Goudaguda for the night.
After breakfast at our guesthouse we will drive to the lively Chatikona Market, which is a weekly highlight for the Dongria Kondh tribe. We will then continue on and travel through the hills to the village of Muniguda, our destination for tonight.
Today we will continue our journey north driving through a well known Elephant Range. We will then have a chance to stretch our legs and walk into the Desia Kondh indigenous community. They are distinguished by the unique facial tattoos of the women. After a village visit and picnic lunch we will continue to Baliguda.
Today we are going to continue on to the fascinating fishing town of Gopalpur, a once major port for the East India Company which has an interesting decaying charm. We will have plenty of free time here to be able to explore this fascinating town.
Our tour of the Odisha tribal areas comes to an end today as we drive on to the small town of Puri.Puri is one of the holiest pilgrimage places in India, and has a wonderful long sandy beach. On arrival we will explore the old pilgrim route by cycle-rickshaw, taking in ashrams, Hindu monasteries, a palm leaf manuscript library and the awesome Jagannath temple.
Our first full day here in Puri, we plan to take a short drive back to visit Chilika Lake and explore the lake by boat and take a walk through some of the surrounding fisherman's villages.
Today we will begin with a cycle ride through rice paddies and rural hamlets, meeting local craftsmen and women and watching them demonstrate their unique crafts. In the afternoon we will have a guided tour of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Konark Sun Temple.
It will be an early start today as we will travel by train to Kolkata, the largest city in India. We will have free time today and tomorrow to explore this remarkable city, or take an optional photographic tour.Estimated Journey Time (by train) - 7-8 hours.
Border Information: If you are joining the trip in Kolkata, you will most likely enter India at Kolkata Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (IATA code: CCU).Today is a free day to explore the sights, sounds and flavours of the incredible city of Kolkata. There will be an important group meeting at 6:00pm - please look for a note from your tour leader when you arrive at the hotel giving more details about this meeting.Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Kolkata before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Kolkata.
During the day we will have free time to explore Kolkata, and we have the opportunity to take an optional photographical tour of the city.Whilst in Kolkata, your leader will assist you in arranging your Sikkim permit (you will need to bring passport photos and a photocopy of your passport photo page).We will meet in the evening to head to the train station and board our overnight train to Siliguri - accommodation tonight will be on the train, where there are basic bunk beds with sheets provided.
We will arrive into Siliguri at around 9:00am this morning, meeting our jeeps and drivers at the station for our onward journey through the narrow winding roads to Darjeeling. The town of Darjeeling is really more a collection of villages situated on a high ridge, linked by a series of steps and winding lanes and surrounded by rice and tea terraces.Jeeps are used in this region rather than our overland truck as they are perfect for the narrow, steep and winding roads of the area. We will continue with the jeeps all the way until the trip returns to Siliguri (after Gangtok).
Today is a free day to explore Darjeeling. Perhaps take a scenic train ride through the Darjeeling foothills or visit the museum at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute.
We have another day here in Darjeeling to relax and take in the sites of Darjeeling and its surrounds.
Today we will have one last free morning to explore Darjeeling. After lunch we will leave in our jeeps for Karmi Farm, a tea plantation located in a remote rural area nearby.
During our stay at Karmi Farm we will have plenty of free time to enjoy some fantastic hikes around the region.
If we haven't already we can visit the Karmi Farm Clinic charitable project this morning. In the afternoon why not spend the afternoon relaxing and take in the stunning views from the lodge.
After breakfast we will leave Karmi Farm in our jeeps and continue to Gangtok, the hilltop capital of Sikkim.
Today we will have an included visit of the nearby Rumtek Dharma Monastery in the morning, leaving the afternoon free for you to explore Gangtok.
Border Information: Exit India at Kakarbhitta, enter Nepal at Kakarbhitta.Today we travel in our jeeps back to Siliguri, where we will finally join our overland truck! We will then drive over the border into Nepal and continue onto Koshi National Park Wildlife Reserve.
After a good breakfast to set us up for the day our guide will take us through the options of what you can do today. There will be the chance for bird watching, jeep safaris or simply exploring the local villages.
Today we will leave the plains of the Terrai behind and head towards Chitwan National Park.
This morning there will be time to do a safari around the national park and after lunch we will journey to Khatauti Khola, home to the Royal Beach Camp eco-adventure camp in the Nepalese mountains. There are several optional activities on offer here such as kayaking, rafting, hiking and mountain bikings or simply relax in the quiet surroundings.
This morning we will spend some free time at the Royal Beach Camp to give us more time to take part in the optional adventure activities there, then after lunch we will drive the last stretch up to Kathmandu, the evocative capital of Nepal.
Border Information: If you are finishing your trip in Kathmandu, you will most likely exit Nepal at Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport (IATA code: KTM).Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Kathmandu. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact your sales agent if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.