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India's Intoxicating South

Karnataka & Kerala - spice hills, coast & backwaters
This fascinating journey, with your own local guide, reveals life in four different village communities. Visit plantations, temples and forests in the hills of Wayanad, relax by the Indian Ocean, explore the Maharaja’s palace, and glide along Kerala’s backwaters.
India's Intoxicating South. 16 nights
India's Intoxicating South. 16 nights

Holiday information


A journey in Karnataka & Kerala with a guide

As you travel south from the melting pot that is Mumbai, the pace of life noticeably slows under wide, blue skies. To the first-time visitor, the tangible exoticism of Karnataka’s palm-lined coastline, spice plantations, the Wayanad Hills and the Keralan backwaters is enthralling, from the vibrant greens of the dense vegetation to the aroma of spices growing on vines and from coffee plantations to ostentatiously coloured birds. This is India slowed down, all the more magical thanks to the verdant terrain, which spills down from the mountainous Western Ghats towards the Arabian Sea, creating a landscape of undeniable beauty.
This mellow region will entrance you like nowhere else, and your stays among rural communities are complemented by time in the enchanting city of Mysore and the historic port of Kochi to create an enticing adventure on which the exotically flavoured cuisine – from spicy vegetable curries to delicately flavoured fish dishes – is a real highlight.

Surrounded by vast forests and rarely visited by outsiders, the spice village of Hulgol, where your adventure begins, seem worlds apart from Mumbai. Here, the sensory bombardment is thrilling: aromas wafting on the warm air, mounds of spices of seemingly every colour of the rainbow, delicious vegetarian curries and the tropical soundtrack provided by birds in the forest. The same can be said of your second base, the small fishing village of Pavinakurva, set on a coastline characterised by sandy beaches framed with palm trees.

The enthralling city of Mysore offers a very different experience – and a fascinating regal heritage – before you immerse yourself deep within the plantations coating the Wayanad Hills.

Journeying further south, you reach the Keralan backwaters, the very embodiment of the south’s laid-back atmosphere. Trees overhang the blue-green water of the intricate network of rivers, canals and lagoons which nourish countless rice paddies and coconut groves. You can watch life being played out before you during a leisurely cruise on a specially crafted houseboat: women washing clothes, fishermen diving for mussels, buffalo grazing, duck herders punting, and more. You finish in Kochi, a city renowned for its tastebud-tingling cuisine and which makes a fitting finale to your adventure through the hills, coast and waterways of Karnataka and Kerala.


We are currently unable to take new bookings for this holiday, but hope to be able to do so again soon.


We provide you with your own local guide who accompanies you as you explore. Because it's privately guided, you get to set the pace and have a say in how you spend your days, and can pause as often as you like to take photos and admire the views. 
  • Arrival in Mumbai
    You arrive in Mumbai, amid all the heat, colour, noise and energy you would expect from the world’s sixth most populous city. At the airport you are met by a driver and taken to your accommodation.

    Night 1: at the Suba Palace Hotel (where you spend one night).
    As your first night's accommodation is on the day of travel, Day 1 is your first day of exploration/sightseeing.
  • Travel to Hulgol
    In the morning, you are transferred to the airport for the short flight to Hubli, from where you are transferred by car (approximately 2 hours) to the spice-growing village of Hulgol, near the market town of Sirsi. Surrounding the village is a landscape of grassland and lush plantations, lakes and waterfalls, that is home to an array of birds such as hornbills, parakeets, peacocks, bee-eaters, jungle babblers and mynahs. All manner of spices are cultivated on these hills: vanilla pods, peppercorns, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom, to name but a few. You have three nights at the aptly named Spice House.
  • Explore Hulgol
    Your guide will be happy to show you around the local area, where there is much to see and do: pay a visit to farmers amid their hillside plantations to learn about spice cultivation; watch a demonstration of spice cookery by village women (one of whom has more than a hundred recipes for curry alone!); and witness the colourful and aromatic market in Sirsi – it’s great fun to see how the spice auction is carried out. You can also use the guesthouse bikes to visit a sacred river, complete with remarkable rock carvings and waterfalls; or meander on guided walks along shady paths through the exotic-feeling forest, admiring betel nut production methods. You can choose to hire a car and driver on one or more days (pay locally), for a chance to visit the ornate Banvasi Temple and Yana Caves.
    Exploring Hulgol
  • Travel to Pavinakurva; free afternoon
    You are transferred by car (3 hours) to the quiet fishing village of Pavinakurva on a secluded stretch of coast lined with palm trees. You arrive at the Coast House, your base for two nights, in time for lunch, and can spend the rest of day relaxing or exploring. The village is home to a friendly community of farmers and fishermen, dependent on land and sea for their livelihood. The main crops are cashew nuts and rice, which feature strongly in the cooking, along with the fresh fish that is landed early each morning for the market. Pavinakurva is accessible by a wonderful wooden footbridge where you will be sure to meet fishermen, children on their way to school and women carrying baskets of cashews. It’s a perfect place to relax as you slowly melt into the rhythms of village life – take time out to sit on the beach and watch the waves rolling in from a deep blue sea; wander round the remarkable Parameshwari Temple; or bask in the sunshine as you watch a local game of cricket. Discover, too, the Tarabligi Estuary where the river meets the sea, and visit the nearby fishing village of Honavar where you can see boats being made using traditional crafts.
  • Explore Pavinakurva
    You have a second day to enjoy this quiet coastline.
    Exploring Pavinakurva
  • Travel to Mysore
    After lunch, you are transferred to Talguppa (1 hour) in time to catch the afternoon train to Mysore. Arriving here at night, you are met by a driver and car who will take you to your hotel, a luxurious former palace, where you stay two nights.
  • Explore Mysore
    Enjoy exploring this flamboyant city and its fascinating regal heritage, ably guided by your friendly and knowledgeable driver. You will no doubt wish to take in the staggeringly opulent Mysore Palace – lit by 100,000 light bulbs on certain nights – though you are just as likely to find yourself captivated by the bustling markets selling sandalwood and silk. You may also wish to venture out of the city to the nearby Chamundi Hills to admire the beautiful hill-top Sri Chamundeswari Temple.
    Exploring Mysore
  • Travel to Mothakkara
    Leaving Mysore after breakfast, you are taken by car to the village of Mothakkara in the hills of Wayanad (4 hours). The village consists of pretty houses scattered amid dense forest and spice and coffee plantations. You have three nights at Hill House.
  • Explore Mothakkara
    Accompanied by your guide, you explore the local area, perhaps paying a visit to farmers amid their hillside plantations to discover the secrets of banana and pepper growing; enjoying fantastic walks towards Banasura Mountain; or taking a day trip to the nearby village of Thrikkaipetta to visit the cooperative of wonderfully skilled ladies who make bamboo handicrafts.
    Exploring Mothakkara
  • Travel to Vayalar
    After a three-hour transfer to Kozhikode, you take the day train to Ernakulam (4 hours). You are met here for the hour-long drive to Vayalar, amid the enchanting backwaters of Kerala. This is a famously easy-going and relaxed state, populated by a well-educated and hospitable people, and its bucolic and labyrinthine backwaters are arguably the jewel in the crown of southern India. Intricate networks of rivers, canals and lagoons nourish countless rice paddies and coconut groves, among which entire communities live out their lives. In Vayalar, you board a specially built houseboat, the Kayal Kettuvallam, which – through its unique construction – allows you to visit areas that remain ‘off limits’ to the larger tourist vessels. (You can also use its canoe to travel even deeper into this magical land.) This boat is your home for the next three nights as you embark on a slow-paced, leisurely and laid-back cruise that you will never forget.
  • Explore the Keralan backwaters
    You see quiet, rarely visited backwaters, mooring each evening at a different village where you are welcomed enthusiastically before enjoying Keralan specialities for dinner. The three villages are all strikingly beautiful, but each has a very individual character and focus, whether it be coir-rope making, in the case of Vayalar, or the fish and seafood farming of Kodamanthurthu. Each morning and evening you are free to explore with your guide, perhaps witnessing farmers herding their ducks down the backwaters or learning how prawns are cultivated. The cruise itself takes place during the heat of the afternoon, a chance for you to sit back and watch the world go by as you drift languidly beneath a shady canopy to your next port of call.
    Exploring the Keralan backwaters
  • Travel to Kochi; free afternoon
    You bid goodbye to the Kayal Kettuvallam after breakfast and are taken by car to Kochi (1 hour), where you spend your final two nights in the centre at a homestay. Resplendent and serene on the Malabar Coast, Kochi was once the centre of India’s lucrative spice trade where Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama set up the first European trading post.
  • Explore Kochi
    Spend your final day taking in more of the historic splendour of Kochi. Where else could you find enormous, cantilevered fishing nets from China; a 400-year-old synagogue; ancient mosques and Portuguese houses – all mixed in with the crumbling remnants of the British Raj? Combined with some of the most tastebud-tingling cuisine in the whole of India, this makes for a suitably grand finale to your memorable southern Indian adventure.
    Exploring Kochi
  • Travel to Mumbai
    You are transferred from your hotel to Kochi airport for the flight back to Mumbai and your flight home...


Please bear in mind that your accommodation is much simpler than on other Inntravel holidays, and although the facilities are not what you might expect to find in Europe, this is more than made up for by the uniquely welcoming atmosphere.

You stay in an eclectic mix of accommodation, the highlights being Coast House in Pavinakurva, Spice House in Hulgol, Hill House in Mothakkara and the specially constructed kettuvallam (houseboat) in Kerala, where you will be welcomed as honoured guests, staying in simple but comfortable accommodation and sampling the tasty local cuisine. You get to experience the rhythm of village life as few others see it.
What is included
  • 16 nights
  • 11 dinners
    10 lunches/picnics
    16 breakfasts
  • own local guide
  • car and driver in Mysore (1 day)
  • all transfers
  • domestic flight Mumbai - Hubli
  • rail tickets (Talguppa-Mysore & Kozhikode-Ernakulam)

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If you have any questions relating to this or any other Inntravel holiday, our friendly travel experts will be happy to help.
  • All British citizens require a tourist visa to enter India.
    An E-visa system operates for tourists requiring a visa for stays of up to 60 days. You must apply for the E-visa no earlier than 120 days prior to arriving, but also a minimum of 4 days prior to your arrival in India. The visa will be valid for 60 days from your date of arrival. Your passport must be valid for a minimum of six months from your date of arrival in India and have two blank pages. You can apply for the visa here:
    If you are travelling to India for more than 60 days then visa applications are submitted and processed by post; we advise that you allow up to 3 weeks to obtain your visa by this method. You can find full details and obtain an on-line Visa Application Form by visiting If you or any member of your party is not a British citizen or holds a non-British passport, you should check passport and visa requirements at
  • The TravelHealthPro website gives a general outline of the immunisations you are likely to need, though you should seek advice from your doctor or practice nurse in good time before your holiday for more tailored information. There are no reciprocal health agreements between the UK and India. It is therefore all the more important that you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover you in the case of illness or an accident. You will need to take sensible health precautions while travelling in India, and we will send you full details with your holiday documentation.
  • The region has a warm tropical climate with three distinct seasons – monsoon, winter and summer. June to September are the main south-west monsoon months, with the effects of the north-east monsoon also being felt in coastal Kerala during October and early November. The winter (October to March around Sirsi in Karnataka; mid-November to February in Kerala) is cooler and drier, and is generally the best time to travel, with warm sunny days, little rainfall and clear, cooler nights. During the summer season (April-May around Sirsi; March-June in Kerala), temperatures are warmer with rain showers and some thunderstorms, but the weather is still generally good and brings a flush of new growth in the forests. Temperatures average between a minimum of 14-18°C and a maximum of 30-35°C during the months in which our holidays operate. You will need light layers to wear when the sun goes down, and an umbrella or light waterproofs plus a waterproof daypack would be useful, especially during April and May.
  • English is widely spoken in Delhi and Mumbai, but much less so in the rural villages where the local dialects are most prevalent. Most villagers will be delighted to try to communicate with you, while your guide will act as interpreter and even instruct you in the rudiments of the local dialect of Hindi spoken in Madhya Pradesh, Kumaoni (Himalayan foothills), Marwari (Rajasthan), Malayalam (Kerala) or Kannada (Karnataka)!
  • India is five-and-a-half hours ahead of GMT all year round, and is therefore four-and-a-half hours ahead of BST.
  • We can book a wide range of routes from the UK with a variety of airlines (but not, currently, with Ryanair). As well as being more convenient for you to book all elements of your holiday together, it also means that we’ll accept liability for your travel arrangements, so if things go wrong, such as the airline going bust, we’ll make suitable alternative arrangements for you. For Europe, there’s a £35 booking fee per person (£15 for children aged 2-11). For India and Nepal, the booking fee is £60 per person. More information on flights >
  • We can’t book flights that originate outside the UK, but if you wanted to book your own flights to London (or elsewhere in the UK), we can make all onward travel arrangements (including flights) from there. Alternatively, if you are booking your own flights to an airport in continental Europe that’s appropriate for your holiday, we can book onward rail travel and/or taxis. More information about how we can tailor holidays for customers outside the UK >
  • Once you’ve decided on your exact itinerary (our travel experts will be happy to offer advice), you need to provide us with your party’s details, either by phone or via our booking form. At this point we also ask you to pay a deposit so that we can secure a room for you immediately on confirming availability with the hotel(s). If it turns out that we can’t secure the accommodation for the holiday you’ve requested, or offer an acceptable alternative, we’ll refund your deposit promptly and in full. After booking your accommodation and other key elements, we'll then book your travel (or you can do so if you’re making your own arrangements) and send you a Booking Confirmation and Invoice.

    More information about the booking process >
    Information about accommodation, general practicalities and more >
    Booking conditions >
  • Yes, it’s something we insist on, even for holidays in the UK. The vast majority of holidays go smoothly, but when things go wrong, it can be expensive to put them right. Buying a new pair of walking boots after your suitcase is stolen mightn’t seem so bad, but the bill for being airlifted down from a mountain with a broken leg or flown home while still recovering from an illness or accident can cost tens of thousands of pounds.

    You don’t have to take out our recommended travel insurance policy (if you live outside the UK you’ll definitely need to make your own arrangements, as the policy is only for UK residents), but you do need to make sure that you’re covered for medical emergencies – including falling ill with Covid-19 while on holiday – and repatriation. We also recommend that you are covered for other eventualities, such as cancellation and loss of luggage and passports.

    We'll ask you for the details of your policy (insurer, policy number and medical emergency phone number) so that we can help out if the worst happens while you are on holiday. It's up to you, though, to check that your policy covers the activities you'll be doing on holiday and that it is adequate for your own individual needs; we don't check alternative policies.
  • The UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides up-to-date, country-by-country travel advice, as well as information on security, local laws, passports and visas for UK citizens.
    If you live outside the UK, see our essential travel information page for a list of relevant websites.
Last fetch time is : 10/21/2021 2:54:57 PM