Holiday review by Mr. Laurie Fentimen

Name: Mr. Laurie Fentimen

Date of trip: 06/12/2012

Number of people: 2

Sitting high in the Western Ghats looking out over ridge after ridge of mountains fading into the distance

The overwhelming majesty and wonder of the temples, alive with the energy of pilgrims.

Tribes Overall:

An excellent and varied itinerary, some delightful accommodation, especially the homestays, superb food, cultural visits, camping in the forest at Chimonee Dam, good vehicles and drivers and a wonderful introduction to Kerala and to the temples and historic sites of Tamil Nadu. The colour, energy and welcome of the people we met across southern India - a smile was always ready but also we were accepted and left in peace to get on with whatever we were doing if that was what we wanted.

Guides:

Very varied. Both drivers were good. Our guide in Chimonee was excellent and very knowledgeable; the local guide in Peryar was good, but otherwise the quality of wildlife guiding was disappointing. The guides in Pondicherry and Kochi were ok, but just doing a job. The two temple guides in Madurai were very good and got us into places to experience wonders that we would never have found for ourselves. However, the other temple guides were frankly irritating, patronising, trotting out their set pieces. We could have done better with just our guide book and time and space to experience the atmosphere. There seems to be an assumption that one needs a guide, and to refuse - as we tried eventually - obviously would leave the driver losing face and damaging his working relationships.

Social & Environmental Responsibility:

Positive: The homestays and Our Place are the outstanding example; also the cgh hotels: Marari Beach, Spice Village and Pondicherry with their strong environmental policies. The cultural visits in the Nila Valley, putting money directly back into the local community.
Less positive: we did a lot of miles adding to traffic pollution - we wonder if there is some way of reducing this, eg more use of public transport. We didn\'t feel we did anything to help reverse the environmental degradation we saw due to pollution and litter (plastic). And the Indian approach to wildlife viewing in the three parks we visited could leant a lot from the East African approach


The places you stayed