Day 1: Depart U.S. for Mumbai, India
Day 2: Mumbai Upon arrival, we transfer directly to our hotel.
Day 3: Mumbai Today we encounter India’s most populous city, as well as its commercial and entertainment capital. We begin at the Gateway of India monument then visit the modest – and revered – Mani Bhawan, Mahatma Gandhi’s headquarters here from 1917–1934. This afternoon we tour the acclaimed Prince of Wales Museum; tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. B,L,D
Day 4: Mumbai We embark on an unusual yet rewarding excursion this morning to Dharavi, Mumbai’s giant slum considered a “city within a city” where cottage industries and small businesses thrive. We learn about life here, including the resilience and resourcefulness of the residents. After lunch at a local restaurant, we visit Crawford Market, the huge Raj-era arcade selling everything from produce to pets, cosmetics to clothing. B,L
Day 5: Mumbai/Bangalore/Mysore Early this morning we transfer to the airport for the flight to Bangalore. Upon arrival we board a coach for the journey to Mysore, stopping en route in the key religious and cultural town of Srirangapatna. Here we visit Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, built in the 9th century to honor the Hindu god Ranganatha and an important pilgrimage site. Then we continue on to Mysore and our hotel, where we dine tonight. B,L,D
Day 6: Mysore Today we travel to the Chamundi Hills, site of Chamundeshwari Temple with 1,008 ancient steps leading to the summit. Next we visit Mysore Palace, the Indo-Saracenic blend of Hindu, Muslim, Rajput, and Gothic styles that remains the home of the Maharajahs of Mysore. B,D
Day 7: Mysore/Coorg We travel today to Coorg (also known as Kodagu) and our excellent accommodations at the Evolve Back Chikkana Halli Estate set on a 300-acre working coffee and spice plantation. After lunch here, we take a guided walk of the extensive grounds with the resort’s resident naturalist. Later we enjoy a cultural dance performance. B,L,D
Day 8: Coorg We encounter everyday life up close on this morning’s visit to a nearby village, as we wander the narrow lanes, see a traditional coffee pour, and experience the round “coracle” boats used by local fishermen. Back at our lodgings this afternoon, we learn about the coffee grown here on a walking tour of the plantation. B,L,D
Day 9: Coorg/Kabini After an early morning bird-watching walk, we leave Coorg for Nagarhole National Park, whose abundant wildlife, including Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, Indian bison, wild dog, deer, antelope, and hyena, make it one of India’s finest preserves. We enjoy lunch at our safari lodge, named one of National Geographic Traveler’s 25 “world’s best” eco-lodges, then set out on a boat safari. B,L,D
Day 10: Kabini This morning we embark on a safari by vehicle through Nagarhole in search of wildlife, including the elusive Bengal tiger, India’s national animal that is now an endangered species. We return to the lodge for lunch and to see Orange County’s Butterfly Park. Later we drive through the rural landscape to the village of Gundathur, where we visit with a local family in their home. B,L,D
Day 11: Kabini/Calicut This morning we set out on the five-hour drive to Calicut, known as the Kerala region’s “City of Spices” for its role in the spice trade, stopping for lunch along the way. Upon arrival in Calicut, the remainder of the afternoon is at leisure. Dinner tonight is on our own. B,L
Day 12: Calicut/Kochi/Houseboat Cruise We board an early morning train for the journey to Kerala’s backwaters then travel by coach to our well-appointed houseboat. Later today we begin our leisurely cruise along the palm-fringed canals of the Arabian Sea. B,L,D
Day 13: Houseboat Cruise Today we see Indian life up close as we slowly cruise past small farms and villages, and old temples and churches, stopping on occasion to go ashore. B,L,D
Day 14: Kochi We disembark and return to Kochi, “Queen of the Arabian Sea,” where this afternoon we take a walking tour of Fort Kochi, with its mix of Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonial houses and other historic buildings. Then we attend a performance of Kathakali dance, where facial expressions and hand gestures combine with movement to create this traditional Kerala art form. Tonight we celebrate our journey at a farewell dinner at our hotel. B,D
Day 15: Kochi This morning’s walking tour reveals Kochi’s multi-layered past, a rich brew of Arab, Portuguese, British, and Dutch influences. After lunch together we are free to explore Kochi’s Old Town as we wish. Tonight we enjoy a sunset harbor cruise before dinner on our own. B,L
Day 16: Depart for U.S. Very early this morning we depart for the airport and our return flight to the U.S., where we connect with our flights home.
Please note: This trip involves considerable walking, as well as some lengthy coach rides. You should be in good physical condition to enjoy the tour to its fullest.
B = Breakfast included L = Lunch included D = Dinner included