Kerala Calling

India

Culture

Tropical mountains, tea & spice plantations, and backwaters

15 days £2,695 pp This is the price per person for a private tour (based on 2 people travelling) excluding international flights. Contact us for pricing for other group sizes including individuals.
Intro, Dates & Prices

Intro

In northern Kerala, discover ancient petroglyphs and tea and coffee plantations in Wayanad's tropical forests. Visit a shipbuilding yard in Calicut then head to the rural town of Chalakudy to get a real insight into Keralan rural life. Travel on to Cochin for an intriguing walking tour of Fort Cochin and learn about its pivotal role in the Spice Route. Explore Kerala’s fragrant tea and spice plantations in Munnar and Thekkady and enjoy a safari in Periyar Tiger Reserve. Spend the night on a traditional houseboat on the backwaters in Alleppey before ending your journey on the shores of Lake Chittar at the blissful Anantya Resort close to India's southern tip.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Ancient caves and tropical forests of Wayanad
  • Rural life in Kerala and local experiences in Chalakudy
  • Chinese fishing nets along Fort Cochin sea-front
  • Munnar's verdant tea gardens
  • Overnight cruise along Kerala's backwaters
  • Rest and relaxation by Chittar Lake near India's southernmost tip

Places Visited

Calicut - Wayanad - Chalakudy - Cochin - Munnar - Eravikulam National Park - Thekkady - Alleppey - Chittar Lake

What's Included

Arrival & departure transfers
Ground transport with driver
Accommodation
Meals (refer to itinerary for meal plan)
English-speaking guides
Entrance fees to sites & parks

Contact us today

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Itinerary
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Day 1 : Calicut - Wayanad

On arrival into Calicut Airport you will be met by a Travel The Unknown representative and transferred to Wayanad. En-route you will stop at Pookot Lake, before continuing your journey to the resort in Wayanad. You will have the rest of the day at your leisure. Overnight in Wayanad. 

Overnight in Windflower Resort & Spa, Vythiri

Meal plan: Dinner

Pookot Lake, also known as Pookode Lake, is a freshwater lake in the Wayanad district in Kerala. The lake is nestled in an evergreen forest, at an altitude of 2100m above sea level, which makes it the highest freshwater lake in Kerala.

Known as the "Land of the Paddy Fields", Wayanad district is located at altitudes ranging from 700 to 2100 metres above sea-level. Although the least populous district in Kerala, Wayanad is home to many indigenous tribes, as well as unseen tropical mountains, the Edakkal Caves and 4th century BC petroglyphs. 

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Day 2 : Wayanad

Today you will visit the Edakkal Caves and Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary. This afternoon you will have free time in Wayanad. Overnight in Wayanad. 

Overnight in Windflower Resort & Spa, Vythiri

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

The Edakkal Caves, are famous for their ancient rock etchings and drawings. There are various hunting scenes depicted on the walls of the two main chambers. The etchings date back to at least 5,000 BC, indicating the presence of a prehistoric civilization or settlement in this region. The ancient carvings of Edakkal are rare and are the only known examples from South India. 

Established in 1973, the Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary is rich in bio-diversity and an integral part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. Scientific conservation is key here, with special consideration for the general lifestyle of the tribes and others who live in and around the forest region. Elephants roam freely here, and if you are lucky you may catch a glimpse of a tiger. Deer, monkeys and birds are also found in this reserve, along with many species of butterflies and insects. 

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Day 3 : Wayanad - Calicut

After breakfast you will be transferred to Calicut. On arrival check into your hotel and have some free time at your leisure.

Later this afternoon you will be taken on a city tour visiting the Beypore shipbuilding yard, Calicut beach and a local bazaar. Overnight in Calicut. 

Overnight in The Gateway Hotel Beach Road, Calicut

Meal plan: Breakfast

Calicut, also known as Kozhikode, is the largest city in Kerala. In the past, it was dubbed the "City of Spices" for its role as the major trading point of eastern spices. In 2012, Calicut was given the tag of "City of Sculptures" because of the various architectural sculptures located in various parts of the city. 

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Day 4 : Calicut - Chalakudy

Today you will be transferred to Chalakudy, on arrival check in to your hotel and have the rest of the day at your leisure. Overnight in Chalakudy. 

Overnight in Rasa Gurukul, Chalakudy

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Chalakudy is a town in the Thrissur District of Kerala, situated on the banks of the River Chalakudy. Chalakudy was once famous all over India as a place for conducting sacrifices, which makes the area very sacred. Chalakudy is blessed with scenic beauty and refreshing weather, making it an ideal destination for nature and wildlife lovers. 

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Day 5 : Chalakudy

Today you have a free day to spend as you please at the resort. Overnight in Chalakudy. 

Note: The following activities are availbake at the resort; Visit to the organic farm, yoga and meditation classes, bullock cart ride, interactive session with the cooking team, a visit to see the process of making Uruli (Bronze vessel) and blacksmith sharpening knives.

Overnight in Rasa Gurukul, Chalakudy

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

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Day 6 : Chalakudy - Cochin

Today you will be transferred to Cochin, on arrival check-in to your hotel. Later this afternoon you will have a sightseeing tour of Cochin, including the Fort Cochin area. You will visit; The Jewish Synagogue, The Dutch Palace, St Francis Church and the Chinese fishing nets. This evening you will have a sunset cruise on the harbour. Overnight in Cochin.

Overnight in Tissa's Inn, Cochin

Meal plan: Breakfast

Cochin, the 'Queen on the Arabian Sea', is a major port city that was once a much-prized pawn for the English, Portuguese and Dutch due to its strategic location and prominence in the lucrative spice trade. This history of foreign colonies has resulted in a diverse culture, with European influences visible in much of Cochin's architecture and overall development, aiding it to become the commercial and industrial capital of Kerala. 

The Jewish Synagogue in Cochin, also known as the Paradesi Synagogue, was built in 1568AD.There are a number of antiquities of interest in this synagogue including, the Great Scrolls of the Old Testament and the 10th-century copper plates of privileges given to Joseph Rabban, the earliest known Cochin Jew. The floor of the synagogue is tilled with hundreds of hand-painted 18th-century Chinese tiles, each of which is unique. 

The Dutch Palace, also known as Mattancherry Palace, was built by the Portuguese and presented to the Raja of Cochin in 1555AD. It acquired its current name after 1663 when the Dutch carried out extensions and repairs on the palace. Its interiors are decorated with murals from the Ramayana and there are some lively displays of royal costumes and palanquins.

Saint Francis Church, in Fort Cochin, is a Protestant church originally built by the Portuguese in 1510AD. It is believed to be the oldest church built by Europeans in the whole of India.

The Chinese fishing nets line the sea-front in Fort Cochin and exhibit a mechanical method of catching fish by local fishermen. They are said to have been brought from China by traders of Kabalai Khan's Court.

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Day 7 : Cochin - Munnar

Today you will be transferred to Munnar,known for it's rolling hills and lush tea plantations. On arrival check-in to your hotel. The rest of the day will be at your leisure. Overnight in Munnar. 

Overnight in The Tall Trees Resort, Munnar

Meal plan: Breakfast

Munnar, located at 1,650m above sea-level, is the most breathtakingly-beautiful hill station on the Western Ghats. The area's pristine green valleys and mountains provide the perfect setting for anyone in search of peace and tranquility. Believed to mean ‘three rivers’, Munnar used to be the favourite summer resort of the British rulers during colonial days. It is the tea plantation capital of India and the local Eravikulam National Park, home to the endangered Nilgiri Tahr mountain goat, is a popular destination for visitors.

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Day 8 : Munnar

Today you will have a sightseeing tour around Munnar, including the Tea Museum, and Eravikulam National Park. The park offers magnificent views over the tea plantations of Munnar, and once in every twelve years the Neelakurinji flower blooms, which is endemic to this part of the Western Ghats. Overnight in Munnar. 

Overnight in The Tall Trees Resort, Munnar

Meal plan: Breakfast

At the Tea Museum you will see tea pickers busy with their jobs picking up tea leaves. You will be able to meet a few of the workers at this Tea Plantation, and follow the process from picking the tea leaves to sorting and weighing the leaves. Take a relaxing walk through the lush Tea Plantations. 

Eravikulam National Park is situated along the summit of the Western Ghats in the high ranges of Idduki district in Kerala. This is the land of the "Neelakurinji", a flower that blooms once every twelve years. The park is breathtakingly beautiful and is easily comparable to the best mountain ranges in the Alps. The highest peak in India, south of the Himalayas - Anamudi is located here, therefore nature enthusiasts have ample opportunities for trekking expeditions and wildlife spotting. The park holds the maximum viable population of the endangered Nilgiri Tahr (a species of mountain ibex), Nilgiri Marten (only species of marten found in southern India), rudddy mongoose, small clawed otter and dusky striped squirrel. 

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Day 9 : Munnar - Thekkady

Today you will be transferred to Thekkady, the gateway to Periyar and the best spice plantations in India. On arrival you will check-in to the resort and day at leisure. Overnight in Thekkady. 

Overnight in Poetree Sarovar Portico, Thekkady

Meal plan: Breakfast

Centred around a large artificial lake, Thekkady is the location of the Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary -  one of India's largest wildlife sanctuaries, which spans across the entire district. Declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978, the sanctuary supports 62 species of mammals (many of which are rare and endangered) and 320 species of birds, as well as a host of reptiles, amphibians and fish. 

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Day 10 : Thekkady

This morning, before breakfast, you will be taken on a nature walk. This program is unique as it is being conducted by a team of poachers turned protectors of the forest. You will return back to the resort for breakfast. 

This afternoon you will have a guided tour of the spice plantations. You can expect to see, cloves, nutmeg, pepper, cinnamon and cardamom. Afterwards you will return to the resort and the rest of the day will be at your leisure. Overnight in Thekaddy. 

Overnight in Poetree Sarovar Portico, Thekkady

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 11 : Thekkady - Alleppey

This morning you will be transferred to Alleppey where you will board a houseboat for the night. Kettuvallams, rice barges, provide the best way to experience the colourful, backwaters of Kerala. Overnight onboard. 

Overnight in Houseboat, Vembanad Lake

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Also known as the 'Venice of the East', Alleppey is a town with a large network of picturesque canals, backwaters, lagoons and beaches. In the past, Alleppey was one of the busiest trade centres along the Malabar coast. The way of life on the backwaters is based around fishing and the cultivation of rice, coconuts and cashew nuts. Birdwatchers will have a great opportunity to spot lots of exciting species, such as kingfishers, bee-eaters, bulbuls, darters, herons, cormorants and 2 types of kite. There are almost 2000 kilometers (1250 miles) of 'backwaters', interconnected lakes, lagoons and canals, which are mostly just inland of the Kerala coast. This is a unique and fascinating water world, enclosed by palm trees.

Vembanad Lake is the longest lake in India, and the largest in the state of Kerala, where it spans several different districts. Vembanad Lake has been identified under India's National Wetlands Conservation Program, and forms the heart of Kerala's backwaters. The lake is also home to more than 20,000 waterfowl and is an excellent habitat for shrimps. 

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Day 12 : Alleppey - Chittar Lake

After breakfast onboard you will return to land and be transferred to Anantya Resort situated on Chittar Lake, Kanyakumari District. On arrival you will check-in to the resort and have the rest of the day at your leisure. Overnight at Anantya Resort. 

Overnight in Anantya Resort, Chittar Lake

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 13 : Chittar Lake

Today you have a free day at the hotel to spend as you wish. Overnight at Anantya Resort. 

Note: The following activities can be arranged; Fishing, cycle ride, night sky walk, rubber tapping walk/visit to rubber plantation, elephant ride/elephant bathing, culinary workshop, bird watching with guide, yoga & meditation. (Please be advised some of these activities will incur an extra charge)

Overnight in Anantya Resort, Chittar Lake

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 14 : Chittar Lake

Today you have a free day at the resort to spend as you wish. Overnight at Anantya Resort.

Overnight in Anantya Resort, Chittar Lake

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 15 : Departure

Transfer to Trivandrum airport at an appropriate time for your departure flight. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Accommodation

Accommodation

All accommodation subject to availability. Final accommodation choices will be confirmed after booking.

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Windflower Resort & Spa

Vythiri (2 nights)

The Wildflower Resort and Spa is set atop a small picturesque hill with mesmerising views of the Chembra peak. The Wellness Spa offers an opportunity to experience signature Ayurvedic therapies, in wait of which you can relax and take a break while you float in our swimming pool surrounded by Silver oaks.The resort has an on-site restaurant, as well as an activities room with board games. 

Visit hotel's site
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The Gateway Hotel Beach Road

Calicut (1 night)

The Gateway Hotel is located in the centre of Calicut, close to all the local sights and sounds. The hotel has a swimming pool, and a badminton court, as well as a spa offering Ayurveda and massage. There is a 24 hour restaurant at the hotel, offering regional dishes made with fresh local produce. 

Visit hotel's site
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Rasa Gurukul

Chalakudy (2 nights)

Rasa Gurukul is a stunningly beautiful riverside retreat among the tranquil coconut and spice groves of Kerala. A number of activites are offered, including; traditional methods of cooking, farming and gardening.

Visit hotel's site
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Tissa's Inn

Cochin (1 night)

Set in beautiful, colonial Fort Cochin, Tissa’s Inn is a boutique hotel.  The mansion has air conditioned rooms, a restaurant serving fresh seafood- Indian and Continental style, an open-to-the-sky swimming pool on the deck, and a yoga and meditation centre that nestles among the verdant tree tops.

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The Tall Trees Resort

Munnar (2 nights)

The Tall Trees Resort is nestled in the valleys of the Western Ghats. The resort is surrounded by almost 70 acres of natural forest land. The comfortable bedrooms provide a space to relax after a day of exploring your surroundings. Hill Spice restaurant serves traditional delicacies from the Kerala region, along with national and international options. Guests can also choose to dine in the Nature Restaurant, where food is served in open, thatched-roof huts. 

Visit hotel's site
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Poetree Sarovar Portico

Thekkady (2 nights)

Poetree is located at a unique vantage point on the top of a hill and embraced by acres of untouched land and forest. Set in the midst of these high ranges, you will be able to take in unparalleled views of Thekkady’s dazzling sunrises either from the comfort of your room or from our viewing deck atop the main block.

Visit hotel's site
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Houseboat

Vembanad Lake (1 night)

Staying on a houseboat provides a unique experience for those travelling through the backwaters of Kerala. Vembanad Lake is one of the best places to spot migratory birds, explore mangrove forests and visit scenic paddy fields. The wooden cabins provide guests with access to basic necessities to allow for a comfortable stay. The dining facilities on board serve a combination of traditional Kerala cuisine alongside international favourites. 

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Anantya Resort

Chittar Lake (3 nights)

Anantya is a quiet, lush, tropical retreat nestled within 1000 acres of rubber plantations. Anantya is perched on the banks of the Chittar Lake where the Western Ghats give way to “Alli Kulams” and “Tamara Kulams” (Lily and Lotus Ponds) in beautiful Kanyakumari district. All of Anantya’s Villas face the lake and have gorgeous views of the water. The resort offers a number of experiences and activities, as well as two restaurants. 

Visit hotel's site
Extensions

Beaches (1-7 days)

After exploring the busy cities, there's no better place to relax than one of India's paradisiacal beaches

Treks & Walks (1-12 days)

Himalayan treks, village walks and more

City Extensions (1-4 days)

Visit the must-see sights and the hidden depths of India's most vibrant cities.

Kolkata & Sunderbans (6 days)

Discover colonial Kolkata and the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve

Hill Stations & Mountains

Escape the city and unwind among some of the most breathtaking mountain and hill scapes the world has to offer.

Himalayan Extension: Ladakh to Kashmir (5 days)

Travel across the spectacular Himalayan Highway

Kolkata & Darjeeling Snapshot (7 days)

Ideal extension to Bhutan

The Golden Triangle (5 days)

Marvel at India's most incredible forts and palaces

Indian Odyssey (29 days)

Experience the best of North and South India

Highlights of the Subcontinent (22 days)

Discover iconic sights of India, Nepal & Bhutan

Journey through the Indian Himalayas (20 days)

Travel through the Himalayan foothills via Shimla & Amritsar to Ladakh

Monks, Tribes & Rhinos (20 days)

Himalayan mountains, unseen tribes & amazing wildlife

Classic Bhutan & Assam Cruise (18 days)

Experience Bhutan's rich culture, colonial Kolkata and rural life in Assam

Essential India & China (17 days)

Visit the two most populous countries on Earth.

UNESCO Sites of South India (17 days)

Discover South India's ancient archaeological wonders

Textiles & Artisans of Gujarat & Rajasthan (16 days)

Nomadic tribes, traditional textiles, crafts & Mewar Festival

Glimpse of India & Nepal (16 days)

Golden Triangle and the Himalayas

Essential India & Sri Lanka (16 days)

India's Golden Triangle & the best of Sri Lanka.

Kerala Calling (15 days)

Tropical mountains, tea & spice plantations, and backwaters

Nagaland: Festival of the Headhunters (15 days)

Aoling Festival, wildlife in Assam & natural beauty of Manipur

Assam & Nagaland Hornbill Festival (15 days)

Wildlife, tribes & rural life in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur

Taste of South India (15 days)

Experience the flavours and exotic spices of South India

Big Six of India (15 days)

Spot tigers, lions, leopards, buffalo, rhino & elephants

Rajasthan Explorer & Pushkar Camel Fair (15 days)

Fort cities, rural villages & camel fair

Best of Bengal & Sikkim (14 days)

Colonial Kolkata, Darjeeling toy train & Buddhism

Spirit of South India (14 days)

Temple towns of Tamil Nadu to backwaters of Kerala

Kerala & Karnataka Explorer (14 days)

Idyllic backwaters, tropical forests & ancient temple towns

Taj, Tigers & Temples (14 days)

Perfect mix of classic sights and off-beat places for first-timers to India

Hampi and Beyond (14 days)

Discover Karnataka's stone temples, wildlife and coffee farms

Tribes of North East India (14 days)

Remote tribal cultures in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam & Nagaland

Sacred India (14 days)

Uncover the religious diversity of India

Delicacies of North India (14 days)

Discover the huge diversity of North India's cuisine

Big Cats of India (14 days)

Experience the thrill of the Indian jungle ...

Wildlife of North East India (14 days)

Diverse wildlife in Assam and the Sunderbans

Heart of India (14 days)

Take in the highlights of central India

Tribes of Rural India (14 days)

Visit remote tribal villages of Orissa & Chhattisgarh

Kashmir, Ladakh & The Hemis Festival (14 days)

Experience dramatic Himalayan scenery, Islamic & Buddhist cultures

Kerala - Trekking the Western Ghats (13 days)

Explore this UNESCO biodiversity hotspot on foot

Treasures of Gujarat (12 days)

Villages, temples, salt flats & the world's last Asiatic lions

Glimpse of India (12 days)

Golden Triangle, tigers & exotic Kerala

Markha Valley Trek (12 days)

Set foot in Ladakh's hidden Himalayan valleys

Classic Kerala (10 days)

Tea, spices, backwaters & beaches

Essential Rajasthan (10 days)

Discover the forts, palaces, villages and desert of Rajasthan

Living Bridges of Meghalaya (7 days)

Waterfalls, hills and living bridges in North East India

Reviews

I have no hesitation in recommending Travel the Unknown to other travellers. This was our first experience and the quality of organisation, service and back up was excellent.

Ruth Stead , Kerala Calling, India

Thank you for organising our holiday in Kerala. I certainly wouldn`t have had the time or the knowledge to put together such a trip. Munnar was my favourite and the accommodation throughout was excellent.

Vik , Kerala Calling, India

I would highly recommend Travel the Unknown to anyone visiting India. The service we received both prior to, during and following our travels was always timely and excellent. We were able to customize our trip to our liking and to enjoy a wide variety of activities. The guides in every location were outstanding! Honestly. Having travelled through much of the world I can truly say that we have never been more impressed with the quality of the guides arranged for us in each location, as well as the service we received. Similarly, the hotels were excellent and allowed us to live very comfortably while, at the same time, enjoy an authentic Indian experience. If you haven`t already booked your trip with Travel the Unknown, then either do so now....or at least give them a chance to show you what they can offer.

Tracey & Gary , Tailormade India

I have been on 3 tailor made trips with Travel The Unknown and have found them to be knowledgeable and reliable. We`ve stayed in some wonderful places and have had some unusual and satisfying experiences that go beyond the standard tours.

Joan Edmunds (USA) , Tailormade India

We were 4 women in our 60`s travelling to India, not for the first time, we had all been before, but the trip was so good, well organised and we never felt uneasy, just had a really good time.

Sue Clyde , Tailormade Rajasthan & Kerala

Another fantastic trip with this company. WE really managed to get off the beaten track and have seen some amazing sights. Well put together. We will travel again with Travel the Unknown

Hazel & James Frost , Tailormade India

A really well planned trip. We experienced life in Northeast India in just the way we wanted to. We loved the game reserves and saw a rock python which thrilled our guides as it is even rarer than the tiger! We visited villages and were able to interact with local people and loved the busy markets in Delhi and Calcutta. A special highlight was the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland; shown to us by our very own Naga guide Kezo. Kezo accompanied us for 15 days of our trip and ensured that we had many very special experiences - even taking us to the home of one of his Aunts where we spent a couple of hours sitting by the bonfire chatting.

Ann Holgate , Tailormade India

What an excellent service! Rahul adapted, extended and improved our trip so many times without a qualm and we ended up with the trip of a lifetime. The destinations are unusual and interesting but everything has been checked out by the team and works brilliantly. I can`t wait to do another trip.

Penelope Smith , Assam & Nagaland Hornbill Festival, India

The tour was an amazing experience for our first visit to India. The country, its people and its cuisine were friendly,delightful, colourful and exceeded all our expectations. Travel the Unknown have put together a superb unique package that we have no hesitation in recommending to anyone with an interest in food and culture.

Elaine & Neil Smith , Delicacies of North India, India

This was a very varied and interesting trip to a forgotten part of India. If you like off the beaten track travel it is definitely worth the effort but go with an open mind and keep a smile on your face.

Richard Williams , Monks, Tribes & Rhinos, India

This was my first experience of using Travel the Unknown having enjoyed small group adventure holidays for many years. I was attracted to the company because it seeks out the more unusual and lesser known areas of a country and I was not disappointed by my visit to Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. There is a clear contrast between the people and the scenery of these two regions and we saw very few western tourists particularly in Arunachal Pradesh. The tour was well organised with plenty to see and do.

Keith Lewis , Monks, Tribes & Rhinos, India

A fantastic trip to Arunachal Pradesh. Very well organised exactly to our requirements. Superb local guide. Would recommend this trip. Hazel and James.

Hazel Frost , Tailormade North East India
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