South India Explorer

 20 Day – Private tour with air-conditioned car and driver
From £3275 low season & £3495 high season
ABTA and ATOL protected holidays

This holiday will enthral you with the sheer variety of experiences on offer. The historic cities of Mysure and Cochin display the region’s rich cultural heritage. The Hoysala Temples near Hassan will mesmerise you with their most intricate rock carvings. Nagarhole and Bandipur are arguably the best national parks in South India with a wide variety of wildlife and birdlife. Kodagy and Munnar offer perfect getaways in the middle of vast plantations. Experience glamping on the slopes of Meesapulimalai with a range of interesting hikes. This is indeed one epic journey through South India.

Please remember all our private tours are designed to meet your exact requirements, and this tour is just an example to help inspire you. If you would like we can also arrange your flights for a fully ATOL protected holiday. Contact the team for more information on 01792 315499 or email info@aitholidays.com

Highlights of the South India Explorer

Nilgiris Toy Train, Ooty, Tamil Nadu
  • Game drives Nagarhole National Park
  • Game drives Bandipur National Park
  • Ride on the Ooty ‘Toy Train’
  • Visits to different monuments and temples in Hassan
  • Sightseeing tour of Mysuru and Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
  • Guided walks in the Western Ghats and overnight stays at Camp Footprint
  • Chinnar wildlife sanctuary
  • Plantation visits and tea tasting session
  • Tour of Cochin and sunset cruise

South India Explorer Itinerary

South India Explorer

You will be meet at the airport and taken Hassan, located in the heart of the Malanad region.

The district of Hassan provides the start of your tour with a culture injection.. It has a rich heritage, and was at the height of its glory during the rule of the Hoysala Empire between the 10th to the 14thcenturies. Here you will discover Hoysala Temples, as well as ancient Jain monuments.

Approximate travel time and distance: 4 hours, 210 km
Accommodation: Hoysala Village, Hassan

Today is packed with the fascinating history of the Hoysala Empire as you visit the heritage towns of Belur and Halabidu.

First, you will visit Belur, a UNESCO world heritage site. Here you will be amazed by the intricate carvings and statues of the Chennakeshava and Veeranrayana Temples, which should be top of any South Indian temples to visit.

This is followed by a visit to Halebidu, the regal capital of the Hoysala Empire in the 12th Century. You will have the chance to admire the ornate Hoysaleswara Temple, before returning to the Holsaya Village for a second night.

Accommodation: Hoysala Village, Hassan
Meals Included: Breakfast

This morning its a total change of scenery as you leave Hassan for the beautiful hill station of Kodagu, a tranquil area with green, tea-carpeted hills, misty forests and numerous coffee and spice plantations. Kodagu is well known as the place where most Indian coffee is produced, but it is also home to a large variety of animals.

On route there is a visit to the oldest Tibetan settlement in India, Bylakuppe, where colourful prayer flags flutter in the wind. Here you can experience the Golden Temple, ornately decorated both on the inside and out with vibrant friezes of Tibetan art, regularly used by the monks as a place of worship and prayer.

Approximate travel time and distance: 3 hours, 115 km
Accommodation: The School Estate, Kodagu
Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Today is free to relax and explore the tranquil 200 acre estate, where you will find cardamom, coffee, pepper and areca nut plantations. These plantations, are dotted with numerous native and rare trees, and attract a wide variety of birds.

Accommodation: The School Estate, Kodagu
Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

After breakfast you will travel to Mysuru, a city with a rich cultural heritage, which is located at the foot of the Chamundi hills. In the afternoon your tour continues with a short drive into the Chamundi Hills, where you will be able to get a panoramic view of the city and see the Nandi Bull – a huge statue carved from stone.

Any trip to India should include some souvenir shopping and Mysuru  is famous for its colourful silks. These can be purchased from shops around the city, including the Government Silk Factory. Centuries old Devaraja Market provides another unique shopping experience. This bustling market is a feast for the senses, with vibrant cones of coloured dyes, exotic fruits and fragrant flowers.

Accommodation: Royal Orchid Metropole, Mysore
Meals Included: Breakfast

In the morning you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city with a trip to the famous Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary. Enjoy a rowing boat cruise along the River Cauvery, where you will see hundreds of birds roosting on the rocks, gliding across the water, or fishing for food. Expect to see sleek black cormorants, river terns and black crowned night herons.

This is followed by an exciting afternoon for all for culture lovers with a  tour of Mysuru. As the former capital of the Kingdom of Mysuru, it is known as the ‘City of Palaces’. The most spectacular of these is Mysuru Palace, with its high domed ceilings, ornate marble pillars and towering stone arches. After visiting the palace, we drive to the Sri Rangapattanam district to see the Tipu Sultan’s lavish Summer Palace and the ruins of the Tipu Sultan’s Fort, both of which boast large, manicured gardens.

Accommodation: Royal Orchid Metropole, Mysuru
Meals Included: Breakfast

The next couple of days is a real treat for nature lovers. After breakfast, you travel to Nagarhole National Park, which is amongst the most popular national parks in India. It’s an area of lush forest threaded by the Kabini River and backwaters, which provides water for hundreds of different animals. Here you can spot wild elephants and sometimes even a tiger.

In the afternoon, explore a forest track in a jeep, looking out for animals hidden in the undergrowth, You will spend the night in a luxury safari lodge, giving you the opportunity to pamper yourself whilst surrounded by nature.

Accommodation: Kaav Safari Lodge, Kabini
Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Enjoy a full day of jungle activities with early morning and afternoon game drives.

An early morning game drive is recommended, as the animals are most active at this time of day. You will be travelling in an open-top vehicle, so make sure you bring something warm to wear. Look out for elephants, tigers, spotted deer, mongoose, peacocks and jungle fowl.

Later you can go on an expedition with a local naturalist, so make sure you pack sunscreen and a hat.

Accommodation: Kaav Safari Lodge, Kabini
Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

After an early morning game drive your journey continues to Bandipur National Park.

After lunch you can relax and enjoy the local facilities.

Approximate travel time and distance: 2 hours, 80 kms
Accommodation: Dhole’s Den, an eco-conscious jungle lodge, Bandipur
Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Enjoy a full day of jungle activities with early morning and afternoon game drives

Early morning game drives in an open vehicle can feel quite cold and proper protection is recommended including layers of clothing, that can come off as the sun comes out, and something to cover your head, ears and hands.

Accommodation: Dhole’s Den, an eco-conscious jungle lodge, Bandipur
Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

This morning, there is time to enjoy another game drive before setting off to Ooty, known as the ‘Queen of Nilgiris’. It’s a short 2 hour drive through the Mudumalai National Park and scenic Masinagudi before arriving at this former Raj hill station.

The evening is at leisure to explore the town. There is plenty to do and see in this beautiful historic town.

Approximate travel time and distance: 2 hour 30 mins, 70 kms
Accommodation: Taj Savoy, Ooty
Meals included: Breakfast

The morning is at leisure, giving you time to visit St Stephen’s Church and the botanical gardens. After lunch you will be taken to Ooty Train Station to board your first class carriage on the Nilgiri Hill Train.

The mountain railway, or ‘toy train’ as it is most commonly known, was built by the British in 1908 and still relies on its fleet of trusty steam locomotives. This long journey on the original narrow gauge tracks is for many a trip highlight with its spellbinding scenery.

This heritage ‘toy train’ will take you across quaint bridges and through small hillside tunnels, passing by undulating green hills and shady forests. At Mettupalayam Railway Station you will be met by your driver (and your luggage) and taken to your hotel in Coimbatore.

Approximate travel time and distance: 3 hour 30 minutes train travel and 1 hour road travel, 90 kms
Accommodation: The Residency Towers, Coimbatore
Meals included: Breakfast

After a leisurely breakfast it’s a late morning start for the scenic drive through the plains of Tamil Nadu and forest lands of Chinnar wildlife sanctuary before reaching majestic Munnar, home to lush tea plantation in the mountainous Western Ghats.

In the evening, you can stroll through the cardamom and spice plantation at the estate.

Approximate travel time and distance: 4 hours 30 mins, 150 kms
Accommodation: Windermere Estate, set in the middle of vast plantations, Munnar
Meals included: Breakfast

After a leisurely breakfast an hour’s journey will take you to Yellapetty Village, From the village it’s a chance to stretch your legs with a 3 kms walk to the camp site. The walk begins through the tea pickers village, the tea estates and a Shola forest. The last bit of the walk is up the mountain slope that does have a couple of short steep bits but should be fine for a healthy person who is used to walking.

Located high on the slopes of Meesapulimalai with the verdant forests on one side and the stunning views of the valley below, Camp Footprint is beautifully located. Camp Footprint is perfect  for the young at heart who are looking for an adventure but appreciate some comfort.

At Camp Footprint you will get a cosy bed, private en-suite facilities, great local food, personalized service and an unbeatable view right from your room. Learn more about Camp Footprint.

Approximate travel time and distance: 1 hour, 28 kms
Accommodation: Camp Footprint, Yellapetty
Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

This morning you can enjoy a walk in the hills with a local naturalist. The walk starts at the camp with a short briefing and typically lasts for about 3-4 hours. This area is home to a few endemic and a wide variety of birdlife. Most people find the walk a very will rewarding experience and we are happy to arrange shorter or longer walks

Later, it’s time to enjoy a tea tasting experience where you will be shown the various types and grades of tea. You will be taught how to tell if the tea is of good quality and how to brew your own perfect cuppa.

Accommodation: Camp Footprint, Yellapetty
Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

The day begins with a walk back to Yellpetty village where you will be met and taken to Paniyeli Poru in the Malayattoor forest range. A short ride from the forest check post on a 4X4 vehicle followed by a canoe ride brings you to Quiet By The River, a boutique riverside accommodation, where you stay for two nights.

Approximate travel time and distance: 4 hours, 120 km
Accommodation: Quiet By The River, Malayattoor
Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

The are various activities you can enjoy today including a forest walk, bird watching, a night trek, a country boat ride on the Periyar River or why not take a dip in the pools formed by the natural streams.

Accommodation: Quiet By The River, Malayattoor
Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

If you are feeling active you can enjoy a canoe ride this morning before being taken by 4WD back to the forest check post to meetup with your car and driver. You’ll then be taken to the cosmopolitan port city of Cochin for your final adventure.

Accommodation: Eighth Bastion, Cochin
Meals included: Breakfast

Today, you get to explore Cochin, a melting pot of cultures, religions and nationalities. You’ll see St Francis Church, which is the oldest European church in India, as well as the lavish 16th century Jewish Synagogue. Then you can explore the Mattancherry Palace, also known as the Dutch Palace due to its colonial influences. It also houses colourfully painted murals depicting the ancient Indian poem Ramayana.

The afternoon is at leisure, so you may wish to wander around the quaint cobbled streets which house a number of interesting antique and souvenier shops.

In the evening, enjoy a boat trip past Cochin’s island shores. As the sun sets, you’ll see the famous cantilevered fishing nets. It’s fascinating to watch the fishermen skilfully dip the hammock-like nets into the water, silhouetted against the orange and pink sky.

Accommodation: Eighth Bastion*, Cochin
Meals included: Breakfast

You will be transferred to Cochin airport for your flight back to the UK

Meals included: Breakfast

South India Explorer Holiday Images

Shettihalli Rosary Church, Hassan, Karnataka
Gomateshwara Statue, Shravanabelagola, Hassan, Karnataka
Gomateshwara Statue, Shravanabelagola, Hassan, Karnataka
Priest at Shravanabelagola, Hassan, Karnataka
Hoysaleshwara Temple, Halebidu, Karnataka
Hoysaleshwara Temple, Halebidu, Karnataka
St Annes Church, Madikeri, Kodagu (Coorg), Karnataka
Golden Temple, Bylakuppe, Kodagu (Coorg), Karnataka
Golden Temple, Bylakuppe, Kodagu (Coorg), Karnataka
Fort of Madikeri, Kodagu (Coorg), Karnataka
Nandi Bull Statue, Chamundi Hills, Mysuru (Mysore), Karnataka
Mysore Palace, Mysuru (Mysore), Karnataka
Mysore Palace, Mysuru (Mysore), Karnataka
Devaraja Market, Mysuru (Mysore), Karnataka
Devaraja Market, Mysuru (Mysore), Karnataka
Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Mysuru (Mysore), Karnataka
Nagarhole National Park, Kabini, Karnataka
Nagarhole National Park, Kabini, Karnataka
Wild Elephants at Nagarhole National Park, Kabini
Indian Bison, Nagarhole National Park, Kabini
Bandipur Reserve Forest, Bandipur, Karnataka
Nilgiris Toy Train, Ooty, Tamil Nadu
Ooty, Tamil Nadu
The Toy Train, Ooty, Tamil Nadu
Rose Garden, Ooty, Tamil Nadu
Food Stall, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
Mountain Velliangiri, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
Thuvanam Waterfalls, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala
Grey Langur, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala
Tea Plantations between Yellapetty and Munnar, Kerala
Paniyeli Poru, Kerala
Wayanad, Kerala
Tea Plantation Workers, Munnar, Kerala
Tea plantations, Munnar, Kerala
Tea Estate, Munnar, Kerala
Fishing Boats, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala
Santa Cruz Basilica Church, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala
Kathakali Performance, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala
Jewish Synagogue, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala
Shopping in Jew Street, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala
Dhobi Khana, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala
Street Vendor, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala

Shettihalli Rosary Church, Hassan, Karnataka

Gomateshwara Statue, Shravanabelagola, Hassan, Karnataka

Gomateshwara Statue, Shravanabelagola, Hassan, Karnataka

Priest at Shravanabelagola, Hassan, Karnataka

Hoysaleshwara Temple, Halebidu, Karnataka

Hoysaleshwara Temple, Halebidu, Karnataka

St Annes Church, Madikeri, Kodagu (Coorg), Karnataka

Golden Temple, Bylakuppe, Kodagu (Coorg), Karnataka

Golden Temple, Bylakuppe, Kodagu (Coorg), Karnataka

Fort of Madikeri, Kodagu (Coorg), Karnataka

Nandi Bull Statue, Chamundi Hills, Mysuru (Mysore)

Mysore Palace, Mysuru (Mysore), Karnataka

Mysore Palace, Mysuru (Mysore), Karnataka

Devaraja Market, Mysuru (Mysore), Karnataka

Devaraja Market, Mysuru (Mysore), Karnataka

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Mysuru (Mysore), Karnataka

Nagarhole National Park, Kabini, Karnataka

Nagarhole National Park, Kabini, Karnataka

Wild Elephants at Nagarhole National Park, Kabini

Indian Bison, Nagarhole National Park, Kabini

Bandipur Reserve Forest, Bandipur, Karnataka

Nilgiris Toy Train, Ooty, Tamil Nadu

Ooty, Tamil Nadu

The Toy Train, Ooty, Tamil Nadu

Rose Garden, Ooty, Tamil Nadu

Food Stall, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu

Mountain Velliangiri, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu

Thuvanam Waterfalls, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala

Grey Langur, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala

Tea Plantations between Yellapetty and Munnar, Kerala

Paniyeli Poru, Kerala

Wayanad, Kerala

Tea Plantation Workers, Munnar, Kerala

Tea plantations, Munnar, Kerala

Tea Estate, Munnar, Kerala

Fishing Boats, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala

Santa Cruz Basilica Church, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala

Kathakali Performance, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala

Jewish Synagogue, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala

Shopping in Jew Street, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala

Dhobi Khana, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala

Street Vendor, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala

Places on the South India Explorer

Pricing and Inclusion

  • All internal road travel by a private chauffeur-driven air-conditioned vehicle.
  • All scheduled sightseeing expenses and entrance fee at monuments.
  • All game drives at national parks as mentioned in the itinerary.
  • Accommodation for 19 nights on double occupancy/twin share.
  • First class train ticket for Ooty – Mettupalayam train travel.
  • Meal Plan: The School Estate, Kaav Safari Lodge, Dhole’s Den, Camp Footprint and Quiet by the River on Full Board; Bed & Breakfast elsehwhere.

Please remember all our private tours are designed to meet your exact requirements, and this Bengaluru (Bangalore) to Cochin (Kochi) South India Holiday is just an example to help inspire you.

For more information please email info@aitholidays.com or call our India specialists on 01792 315499.

ABTA and ATOL Protected Tour Package

Authentic India Tours is a member of ABTA and ATOL. All the holidays on this website are ABTA protected. If you would like us to arrange your holiday including flights we will be happy to provide a quote and your holiday will also be ATOL protected.