South Indian Odyssey Tour Trip Notes

 


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Group Size

Minimum 4, Maximum 10

Days

23 days / 22 nights

Tour Starts in

Panjim, Goa

Tour Finishes in

Mahabalipuram (Chennai)

Tour inclusions

Arrival and departure transfers
All accommodation as specified
All transportation between overnight stops and to and from included sightseeing
Entrance fees for all sites listed as part of the itinerary
Tips and gratuities for hotel staff, porters, guides and drivers
Meals as specified

Tour exclusions

Visa costs
Meals other than those listed
Drinks, meal tips, laundry and other items of a personal nature
International flights

Accommodation

Hotels (17 nights), Guesthouse/Homestay (3 nights), Houseboat (1 night), Sleeper Train (1 night)

This tour uses a variety of accommodation. From simple guesthouses and homestays, to heritage and 3-4 star hotels, we experience a wide range of accommodation styles.  Most hotel rooms are twin share with private bathrooms with western style toilets. Although many rooms will be air-conditioned, some may be fan-cooled.  During our home-stay at Chennamkary, accommodation is in simple guesthouse rooms either with or without attached bathrooms.

Optional single supplement

If you are a single traveller, you are not required to pay a single supplement as we will match you up with other travelers. However if you do not wish to share accommodation, but would like to guarantee your own room throughout the tour a single supplement of USD1250 will be payable. Note that on the houseboat, a single room may not be possible.

Transport

Train, private vehicle, boat, jeep, auto-rickshaw.

Train travel in India is essential considering it is such an efficient and extensive network, and is also such a part of India’s culture and heritage. For our overnight journey, we travel in air-conditioned sleeper carriages with either two or three levels of berths.  They are arranged in door less sections each of four or six berths.  Broad-gauge sleeping  carriages also have a row of two-tier (upper and lower) berths along one side. A conductor ensures that nobody without a reservation gets into the carriage.  Each carriage has “squat” style  toilets at either end.  Bedding is supplied and is clean, but for peace of mind, you may wish to bring a sleeping sheet. Meals are not included during our overnight train journey, but food is usually available.

Train journeys by day will give us an opportunity to experience Indian life by rubbing shoulders with the locals. Travelling locally is always  exciting and fascinating – you never know who you will meet.  We will be taking private vehicles or taxis for all other journeys.

Activities included

The following is a list of included activities on this trip. Other activities are optional and will be at your own expense.

Old Goa; Panjim Walking Tour; Sunset Boat Cruise (Goa)
Vitalla Temple; Royal Enclosure; Hampi Walking Tour (Hampi)
Mysore Palace; Palace Illuminations; Chamundi Hill; Keshava  Temple (Mysore)
Mattancherry Palace; Jewish Synagogue; Kathakali Dance (Cochin)
Village Walk; Canoe Ride; (Alleppey)
Day Trek through the Tea Plantations (Munnar)
Spice Plantation; Guided walk through Periyar Tiger Reserve, (Periyar)
Sri Meenakshi Temple (Madurai)
Heritage Walk (Pondicherry)
Shore Temple; 5 Rathas; Town Walk (Mahabalipuram)

Meals included

22 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 6 Dinners

Meals

Traveling with Incredible Indian Tours we ensure that you will experience a vast array of the gustatory treats available in India. Generally, meals are not included in the trip price when there is a choice of eating options. This allows you to choose where, and what to eat. More often than not however we eat together as a group. Your leader will offer suggestions for favourite restaurants throughout the trip.

Money Matters

Money exchange As at October 2017

AUD1 = 49 INR
CAD1 = 50 INR
EUR1 = 76 INR
GBP1 = 85 INR
NZD1 = 44 INR
USD1 = 64 INR

There are many ATM machines (which accept both Cirrus/Maestro debit cards and Visa and MasterCard) throughout India. This is a safe and convenient way to access money in India, however we suggest that you bring a small amount of money in cash (suggested $300) in case there are times that ATMs are not available. The major currencies, including AUD and CAD are no problem in general to exchange. Travellers cheques are no longer commonly accepted. Visa & MasterCard credit cards are accepted in major shops and restaurants in the bigger cities.

Spending money

Although entrance fees to specified sites are included in the tour price, there are additional sights that you may like to visit. Many sites levy camera fees.

Spending money requirements will differ from one person to the next. You will need to take into consideration your spending habits when allowing for drinks, shopping, and optional activities.

It is recommended you allow enough money for the following:

Meals – USD375 (or equivalent)
Optional Activities – USD75 (or equivalent)
Money for drinks, shopping and incidentals.

Tipping

Tipping is an integral part of Indian life and is essential to a smooth trip. To make things easier we cover tips for hotel room boys, local guides and for drivers of private transport we use. We do NOT cover restaurant tips. You will need to allow approximately 10% on top of your restaurant bill.

Physical rating 2/5

You may need to carry your bag/pack up and down railway station and hotel stairs. There will be plenty of walking around towns or sites, which due to the warm to hot weather in India at this time of year will make general sightseeing a little more strenuous.

Culture shock rating 3/5

Conditions in India are not always as comfortable as in other countries. You may need to occasionally deal with a squat toilet, cold showers or power failure.

Travel insurance

Travel Insurance is highly recommended whilst traveling to India and is compulsory for any group tour with Incredible Indian Tours.

Visas

All foreign nationals require a visa to enter India. Most nationalities can apply for an e-Tourist visa. The Indian Government is in the process of extending this e-Tourist facility to more countries so check this website to find out the latest eligibility details.

https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html

For the e-Tourist visa, you need to apply within 120 days of travel 60 days validity. The visa is issued online and takes up to 3 days.

Regular tourist visas (issued by the Indian Embassy or Consulate) for those nationalities who do not yet have availability of the e-Tourist facility, or for those who require a visa longer than 60 days, are usually issued for 6 or 12 months and are either Single, Double or Multiple Entry. As the validity begins from date of issue, be sure you do not apply for your visa too early. For information, or assistance with obtaining a visa, check out the following websites.

Australia http://www.vfsglobal.com/india/australia/visa_services/index.html
New Zealand https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/Registration

USA https://www.in.ckgs.us/visa/
UK https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/Registration
Canada http://www.blsindia-canada.com/touristvisa.php

Health

We recommend that you consult your doctor for current medical travel information about before departure. Your leader will be carrying a basic first aid kit, but we suggest you bring along your own as well as any personal medical requirements .

The following websites have up-to-date information about health requirements.

Australia https://www.travelvax.com.au/
New Zealand http://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/healthy-living/travelling
USA 
https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/

UK http://www.travelhealth.co.uk/
Canada https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/health-safety/vaccines

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Communications / Keeping in touch

Most of our hotels have Wifi, as do many restaurants and cafes. You can also purchase a local prepaid sim card (for unlocked cell phones) and data sticks (for mobile internet on your laptop) easily and inexpensively in India. Recommended are Vodafone, Airtel and Reliance. You will need extra passport photos for this as well as photocopies of your photo and visa page from your passport.

Your tour manager

Your tour manager is there to organise and streamline your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Whilst they are not a guide per se, they will share their local knowledge, give you suggestions for your free time and manage the day to day running of the tour. They will introduce you to their local friends and recommend great local restaurants and experiences. They will have a broad general knowledge of India, so do feel free to tap into their wisdom. At some sites, local guides may be hired where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting.

Responsible travel

We believe strongly in responsible travel. This includes being respectful to the local culture (ie dressing appropriately, and learning a few basic cultural do’s and don’ts), being mindful of the environment, and leaving a positive image behind. Remember we are ambassadors for our country. Bringing a few photos of your family and home with you is a great way to interact with the locals by giving them a glimpse of your world whilst you visit theirs.

Joining hotel

Panjim Inn
E-212, 31st January Rd
Fontainhas, Panjim, Goa 403 001
Ph: +91 0832 222 6523/7169/8136
Fax: +91 0832 243 5220

Transfer/joining instructions

Your airport transfer pickup will await you holding a sign with your name when you exit the baggage claim area of the arrivals hall. There may be large crowds here so please look carefully for your transfer.

Arriving early

Panjim is the atmospheric small capital of Goa, situated on the banks of the Mandovi river just 3 km from the closest beach. There is plenty to do in Panjim from wandering the Latin Quarter areas of Fontainhas and Althino as well as side trips further afield to the beaches or national parks of Goa. Our hotel is situated in the heart of Fontainhas and is surrounded by quaint by-lanes, and aristocratic houses. The Panjim Inn has a fantastic restaurant serving local Goan/Portuguese fare and also has an atmospheric outdoor bar area. Rooms are equipped with minibar and tea/coffee making facilities.

Early arrival information

If you are arriving earlier than day 1, extra accommodation in Panjim is available at USD100/115 Single/Double (or equivalent) per night per room. Please notify us as early as possible if you require extra accommodation as this hotel can be booked up well in advance.

Finishing hotel

Ideal Beach Resort
Mahabalipuram 603 104, Tamil Nadu
Ph: +91 044 2449 5161

Mahabalipuram is situated 60km (1 hours drive) south of Chennai.  Ideal Resort is just a short walk north of Mahabalipuram. With a beautiful setting right on the beachfront, Ideal Resort is a peaceful oasis with a beautiful swimming pool, gym, spa, various dining options and a bar.

Staying on

If you are staying on in Mahabalipuram after the tour, extra accommodation at Ideal Resort is available at USD110/120 Single/Double (or equivalent) per night per room. If you do require extra accommodation in Mahabalipuram, please advise us as early as possible as rooms get booked out quickly at peak season times.

What to take

We will be on the move a lot, so try to pack as lightly as possible. The smaller your bag in India the better, as the various modes of transport we use tend to have limited storage space.

India is very conservative and we ask that you dress accordingly. As a guideline, shoulders and knees should always be covered. The wearing of shorts is looked upon by locals as akin to wearing your underwear and will limit your entry into mosques, temples and other places of worship. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool.  Singlets, tank tops and shorts are not suitable attire for India. 

Laundry

Inexpensive laundry facilities are offered by most hotels we use. You will be able to avail of these services wherever we have a minimum 2-night stay.

Weather

The weather during our journey should be great. Daytime temperatures will be warm to hot, in the range 23-35oc and humid. Bring an umbrella and also sun protection and a hat.  Bring a jacket or sweater for the cooler nights in the hills.

Checklist

Travel documents: passport, visa, travel insurance (don’t forget your emergency insurance contact details), air tickets.
Photocopy of above documents
Day pack
Health vaccinations/medication
First aid kit
Money: ATM card (widely available and easy to access); credit cards (widely accepted in big cities); cash (for emergencies)
Money pouch
Alarm clock and torch/flashlight
Mosquito repellent
Ear plugs can be very useful if you are a light sleeper
Lock for your bag or suitcase
We recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt to store your passport, air tickets, credit cards and cash. Avoid bringing valuable jewellery with you. Some hotels we use have safety deposit boxes. A lock and chain are useful for securing your luggage on overnight train journeys.