14 days from £3650pp plus international flights.
This two week holiday is a superb introduction to the diverse state of Karnataka. You are introduced to the history of the region through guided tours of cities and sites. Learn about its culture as you observe scenes of day-to-day life. Experience nature as you follow walking trails through plantations and take river boat rides, and watch wildlife while on safari.
From Bangalore you head southwest to Mysore, the second largest city, where you see the main sites and enjoy a walking tour in the relative quiet of the early morning. You spend the night at a homestay as a guest of the family and are treated to some flavoursome Kodava cooking and warm hospitality. Your next destination is Kabini where you have morning boat rides and afternoon jeep safaris to see the varied wildlife including large herds of elephants. In Coorg you have a choice of activities revolving around nature and plantation life. At both locations you stay in beautiful, stylish sister hotels, each with its own Ayurveda spa, infinity pool and choice of restaurants.
The beach beckons and Neeleshwar Hermitage is just the ticket. Located on the Malabar coast this lovely resort is set in several acres of gardens, and your home is in the form a fisherman's hut, albeit a rather grand one equipped with a modern en-suite bathroom and air conditioning. You can be as busy or idle as you like over the next few days, with a plethora of activities and excursions on offer, vying with time to relax by the pool, in the spa and strolling along the beach.
The distances covered are considerable, but as you have your own driver and a private air-conditioned vehicle, you can sit back and enjoy the rides, observing the changing scenery and stopping en-route as and when you wish.
A representative is waiting to meet you when you arrive at Bangalore airport to welcome you to India and transfer you to your overnight accommodation, Movenpick Hotel. Nothing else has been arranged for today, allowing you to rest after your journey and make use of the hotel facilities. These include two restaurants, a bar, spa, gym and pool. Relax and settle into holiday mode.
After breakfast you are collected by your driver for the 160km ride to Mysore. There are stops along the route, including Srirangapatna. This was once the capital of the Mysore kingdom in the 18th century under Hyder Ali and then his son, Tipu Sultan, before coming under British rule. Today you can see the dungeon where Tipu Sultan imprisoned British officers, and view the impressive Sri Ranganathaswamy Hindu temple. The drive continues to Mysore, total journey time about 3.5 hours, and your homestay. Relax and enjoy the family's hospitality for a while before heading out on a guided tour of Mysore, visiting the vast palace, art gallery and hilltop Chamundeshwari Temple where you get superb views over the city. Return to the homestay to freshen up and you are then treated to a demonstration of Kodava cooking followed by a delicious dinner. Breakfast, dinner
You are woken early today, taking advantage of the comparatively clear streets for a walking tour of Mysore, passing the town hall, clock tower, medical college and a number of churches, with a brief history of the city from your guide. The walk covers about 6km and takes about 90 minutes and ends with breakfast at a nearby restaurant. From Mysore you are driven to Kabini, which takes around 2.5 hours, with stops along the way if you wish. In the afternoon you set off on safari in Nagarhole National Park. The park has tracts of tropical forest and is home to one of the largest populations of Asiatic elephants in the world, as well as Indian bison, jackal, hyena and sloth bear. Your guide helps you spot and identify different species from the jeep. The safari lasts about 4 hours and you get back to your hotel in time to shower and change for dinner. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Your days in Kabini begin at first light, as you awaken and prepare for the early morning boat trip along the river. This is a lovely way to begin the day, as the light begins to build and animals and birds become active. Sit back and watch egrets, herons and cormorants. Elephants roam on the riverbanks, as do spotted and samba deer, and with the assistance your eagle-eyed guide you may detect marsh crocodiles. The boat ride ends just after 9am, in time for breakfast at the hotel. During the middle of the day you can go for a walk in the grounds, take a ride in a traditional coracle or simply relax, and in mid-afternoon you board the jeep for some more wildlife viewing in the park. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
It's time to leave Kabini, driving to your next destination, Coorg, a journey of some 4 hours. As usual there are stops along the way, including one at Bylakuppe, one of the biggest Tibetan settlements outside Tibet. It feels like entering another world, and consists of several villages as well as monasteries where you can see frescoes and thangka paintings depicting Buddhist mythology. From here the drive continues to your hotel in Coorg set on a coffee and spice plantation. You stay in a secluded villa with its own garden and lily pond, a tranquil place where you can unwind. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
You can enjoy a leisurely start to the day with a relatively late breakfast. At around 10am you are invited to take part in a coracle ride on the river. These small circular vessels have been used by fishermen in the area for centuries and are well suited to river voyages. Relax as you are paddled along the water, travelling a gentle pace that allows you to watch for wildlife and see other people going about their daily lives. The ride lasts for about 45 minutes and then returns to the hotel. You have free time until 4pm when a guided walking tour of the plantation is scheduled. You see and learn about different spices and varieties of coffee, and find out about the history of the Chikanhali Estate. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
This is a free day. There are various activities available. If you want to stretch your legs you can accompany a guide on a morning trek in the Dubare Forest Reserve. Find out about the different trees and watch birds and animals as you immerse yourself in nature. If you want to experience life on the plantation in greater depth, whetted by yesterday's tour, you can spend time with the staff, taking part in daily tasks such as pruning and harvesting. Going behind the scenes gives you a real insight into the work that goes into producing your cup of coffee! You are also welcome to take life easy, choosing a quiet spot in which to read a book, spending time by and in the pool and resting at your villa. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
It's time to leave Coorg for the final destination of your holiday: Neeleshwar. The drive takes the best part of 5 hours, punctuated by stops en-route. Neeleshwar Hermitage is your home for the next 5 nights. It's set in almost 5 hectares of gardens overlooking the ocean in Malabar, and is a wonderful place to relax. You have your own cottage in the gardens. modelled on a traditional fisherman's hut, with teak floors and handmade furniture plus the advantages of contemporary touches like air conditioning, a music system and en-suite bathroom. Use the remainder of the day to explore your new surroundings, as you look forward to the days ahead. Breakfast
Enjoy breakfast as you ponder the day ahead. Your days at Neeleshwar have been left free, letting you use the time as you wish. You might want to spend the day at the Hermitage, maybe paying a visit to the spa which specialises in time-honoured Ayurveda therapies and has an in-house Ayurvedic doctor to oversea all treatment plans. Yoga and meditation are also available on site. The grounds and beach are ideal for strolling. If you'd like to explore further afield the hotel has bicycles you can use to travel along the lanes and quiet roads, passing paddy fields, temples and shrines, and there's a coastal route through fishing villages. The Hermitage offers insights into the local culture through informative evening talks and occasional performances of dance and music, giving you a feel for life for life in northern Kerala. Breakfast
While at Neeleshwar there are several excursions you can take. Wildlife and nature lovers should enjoy a trip to the lush hills of the Western Ghats, rich in both flora and fauna. Those especially interested in birds can visit Madayipara, a small hill with diverse birdlife including sandpipers, buntings and pipits, as well as many flowers and plants including some insect-eating species. History buffs should head for Bekal Fort, the largest fort in all of Kerala. It has been standing guard over the Arabian Sea for over 350 years and has played a part in many battles as well as having been a possession of the East India Company. Of course you are more than welcome to do no more than relax at Neeleshwar, maybe spending some time on the beach. Breakfast
Two more days at lovely Neeleshwar. Relaxation is at the core of your stay, as you succumb to the unhurried pace of life. Enjoy an easy morning by the infinity pool, sited to appear as though it merges with the sea, wander down to the beach or find a hammock in the garden and let yourself be lulled by the sound of the breeze in the trees. The hotel is justly proud of its cuisine, a fusion of eastern and western influences. You can sample Indian food inspired by Ayurvedic practises and feast on fresh fish by the shore. If you feel inspired you can join a cookery class to hone your culinary skills. At the end day retreat to one of the two bars to enjoy a refreshingly chilled glass of beer or wine as the sun goes down. Breakfast
Finally your time at Neeleshwar draws to a close. Your driver collects you at the appropriate time for the 2 hour journey to the airport at Mangalore and your flight home.
Guide price from (pp sharing): £3650 (ex. international flights)
13 nights twin share accommodation; transport in an air-conditioned private vehicle as per itnerary; services of an English-speaking guide and entrance fees for sightseeing in Mysore; cookery class at Gitanjali Homestay; morning walking tour of Mysore including breakfast; 3 evening and 2 morning safaris at Kabini; guided visit of Bylakuppe (subject to permit); coracle ride and plantation walk at Coorg; coracle ride at Hampi; drinking water during drives; arrival assistance at Bangalore and departure assistance at Mangalore; meals listed as included
International return flights and taxes; travel insurance; visas; high season supplements; optional excursions including all excursions and activities at Neeleshwar; meals not listed as included; drinks; personal expenditure; tips
Getting there: This holiday starts in Bangalore and ends in Mangalore. Return flights from the UK cost from around £700, depending on season and availability. We usually book these flights for you.
Stay in a private villa on an estate in the hills, a perfect setting for relaxing far away from the crowds and enjoying rural life.
Experience the peaceful location and sumptuous accommodation at Evolve Back Kabini and enjoy jeep and boat safaris in this great wildlife habitat.
Stay with a local family in a tranquil setting, learning about Kodava culture and cuisine, a short way from Mysore.
Well equipped, modern hotel with a choice of restaurants, a spa and rooftop gym and pool.
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Find the best time to visit India
Time: GMT +5 hours
Flight time: Flight time from London to Delhi is 8 hours 30 minutes and to Mumbai is about 8 hours.
Language: The official language is Hindi, which about 30% of the population speaks. English is very widely spoken and is used for official and commercial purposes.
Visas: Required for British travellers. Other nationalities should obtain advice from their embassy.
Health: There are no compulsory vaccinations.