Taste of South India

India

Culture | Culinary

Experience the flavours and exotic spices of South India

15 days £3,235 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

Start your culinary journey in the bustling city of Hyderabad renown for its heritage sites and mouthwatering biryani. Fly down to the temple town of Madurai then move on to Chettinad where expert chefs will have you serving up spicy dishes enjoyed in Tamil Nadu. Pluck and brew your own tea in Munnar, visit Thekkady's spice and pepper plantations, and sample fresh fish on board a rice barge on Kerala's backwaters. End your trip in the charming colonial town of Cochin, the centre of the spice trade.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Journey along the Spice Route
  • Savour spicy Chettinad dishes
  • Stay in luxurious heritage properties
  • Munnar's verdant tea gardens
  • Walking tour and cruise in Cochin
  • Sample Idli and Dosa dishes

Places Visited

Hyderabad - Madurai - Chettinad - Karaikudi - Pollachi - Munnar - Alleppey - Cochin - Jewish Synagogue - Dutch Palace

What's Included

Airport transfers
Ground transport
Internal flight & train transport
Accommodation
Cooking classes with expert chefs
Sightseeing
Entrance fees to sites & parks
Breakfasts and some meals (as per itinerary)
Drivers and guides

Contact us today

Please confirm your humanity

Itinerary & Map
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Day 1 : Hyderabad

Arrive into Hyderabad airport. You will be greeted by a Travel The Unknown representative and transferred to your hotel. Freshen up and relax. In the afternoon, enjoy a guided sightseeing tour. Overnight in Hyderabad.

Overnight in Radisson Blu Plaza, Hyderabad

Meal plan: n/a

The twin city of Hyderabad-Secunderabad, the capital of the Andhra Pradesh state, combines both Islamic and Hindu influences. It  is an important centre of Islamic culture and  was planned in a grid pattern with enormous arches.  Hyderabad was founded in 1589 by Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah, but Secunderabad (located beyond the artificial Hussain Sagar Lake) was established by the British only in the early 1800’s. 

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Day 2 : Hyderabad

Today, you will go on a tour to discover Biriyani, the 'Food of the Kings' and enjoy a traditional meal. You will have the afternoon to spend at your leisure. Overnight in Hyderabad.

Overnight in Radisson Blu Plaza, Hyderabad

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Biriyani  is a mixed rice dish made with an abundance of spices and meat. It i s a key part of Indian cuisine that is enjoyed by everyone, from sultans to poor villagers. The 'Food of the Kings' tour explores the many regional and foreign influences that make the dish so special. You will wander your way through Hyderabad's many Biriyani hubs to see giant handis of fragrant rice and secret combinations of meats and spices.

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Day 3 : Hyderabad - Madurai - Chettinad (Karaikudi)

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for a short flight to Madurai. You will be met on arrival and transferred to the Sree Meenakshi Temple. Note, the temple is closed from 12:00-16:00. During this time the temple can only be seen from outside. Afterwards, drive to Chettinad (Karaikudi) and check in to your hotel.
Evening free. Overnight in Chettinad (Karaikudi).

Overnight in The Bangala, Karaikudi

Meal plan: Breakfast

Madurai is one of South India’s great temple towns. It was an important cultural and commercial centre in 550 AD. Sitting on the banks of the river Vaigai, it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

Chettinad is best known for its unique ancient temples. Tamil Nadu was once ruled by the Chola Dynasty (9-13th centuries), who constructed some of the most ornate temples in South India. Dedicated to various Hindu gods, these temples contain intricate life-sized carvings, beautiful murals and are a display of master craftsmanship.

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Day 4 : Chettinad (Karaikudi)

After breakfast, set off to explore some of the ancient temples unique to Chettinad. You will also visit the famous Mansions of Chettinad, which is unique to this region. Lunch at a local restaurant/hotel. In the evening, join a local family for the preparation of a traditional meal. You will get to interact with them and learn about Chettinad/Tamil culture. Enjoy your cooking demonstration and prepare local delicacies with the chef, which you will then eat for dinner.
Overnight in Chettinad (Karaikudi).

Overnight in The Bangala, Karaikudi

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Chettinad cuisine is typically spicy and pungent, and consists  mainly  of non-vegetarian food. The dishes contain freshly ground masalas, and are often topped with a boiled egg, which is considered an essential part of a meal. They also use a variety of sun-dried meats and salted vegetables, reflecting the dry environment of the region. Meat dishes are restricted to fish, prawn, lobster, crab, chicken and lamb. People from this region do not eat beef and pork. Exciting Chettinar dishes include the fried murrell, a delicately-spice lamb dish, as well as robust curries with hints of fresh pepper and raw mango.

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Day 5 : Chettinad - Pollachi

Set off early for Pollachi in Kerala. Drive through towns, villages and lush tropical countryside. Stop off en-route for lunch. Arrive mid-afternoon and check into the hotel. Dinner at your hotel. Overnight in Pollachi.
 

Overnight in Coco Lagoon by Great Mount, Pollachi

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

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Day 6 : Pollachi

After breakfast, you will have a village tour, where the residing farming family will serve you a traditional sumptuous lunch. After lunch, you will be able to interact with the family for a while, who will show you their farm. You can even milk a cow if you want!
Return to your hotel in time for your interactive cooking demo with the hotel’s chef followed by dinner. Together you will prepare some typical food from the
Kongunadu cuisine, which derives its unique flavours from the extensive use of sesame seeds, groundnuts, dry coconut, dry ginger and roasted turmeric.
Overnight in Pollachi.

Overnight in Coco Lagoon by Great Mount, Pollachi

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

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Day 7 : Pollachi - Munnar

After breakfast, drive to the beautiful Munnar, known for its rolling green hills, and check in to your resort. You will have the afternoon to wander around the nearby tea plantations. 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

Enjoy a relaxed breakfast before going to the Talayar Tea Factory. Here, you will learn how to pick tea leaves (choose stems with a mother leaf and two leaf buds). While your tea leaves are drying in machines, you will go on a tour of the factory and you will get to mix your own tea followed by lunch. End the experience with a tea tasting. Overnight in Munnar.

Overnight in The Tall Trees Resort, Munnar

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

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Day 9 : Munnar - Thekkady

After a leisurely breakfast, check out of your hotel and drive to Thekkady, the spice capital of India. You will have the afternoon free to explore the surroundings, do some bird watching or take a nap. Overnight in Thekkady.

Overnight in Carmelia Haven, 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

After an early morning breakfast, set off for a boat ride on Lake Periyar. Look out for local wildlife (elephants, deer and sloth bears) that come to the lake for water. Afterwards, go for a two-hour jungle walk. In the afternoon, you will visit one of Thekkady's many spice plantations. Learn all about the spices that are grown here - pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves and more. Return to your accommodation and rest of the afternoon free at leisure. Overnight in Thekkady.

Overnight in Carmelia Haven, Thekkady

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 11 : Thekkady - Alleppey

After breakfast, drive to Alleppey. Stop en route at Kanjirapilly for lunch at a traditional Christian homestay. You can join your host in the kitchen as she prepares a mouthwatering South Indian platter of meat and vegetarian dishes. After lunch, take a walking tour of the owner’s spice and rubber plantations. Continue on to Alleppey. Dinner at the hotel. Overnight in Alleppey.

Overnight in Punnamada Resort, Alleppey

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.

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Day 12 : Alleppey

Free morning at your leisure. In the afternoon, board the houseboat for a ride through Kerala's enchanting backwaters. You will see various birdlife, rice barges and Chinese cantilever fishing nets. You can watch the onboard chef prepare a local fish dish - Karimeen (pearl spot) fry. In the early evening, return to the hotel, visit a market or simply rest. Dinner at the hotel. Overnight in Alleppey.

Overnight in Punnamada Resort, Alleppey

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

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Day 13 : Alleppey - Cochin

After an early breakfast, check out and drive to Cochin. Upon arrival, you will visit the Synagogue followed by check-in at the hotel. You will have the afternoon to explore the beautiful surroundings of Cochin, after which you will go on a sunset cruise in Cochin 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. 

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Day 14 : Cochin

After breakfast, set off on a two-hour walking tour of Fort Cochin to wander its narrow lanes and discover its many colonial influences. You will visit the Dutch Palace this morning. For lunch, you will proceed to Francis Residence, a homestay, where you will also experience a cooking class using unique South Indian recipes. After leaving, you will go on a food tour of Cochin, which will take you through some of the most popular eating places of the local community, where you will get to see Idli and 36 varieties of dosa. Overnight in Cochin.

Overnight in Tissa's Inn, Cochin

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

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.

Idli is a soft and fluffy savoury cake made out of rice and steamed lentil batter. It is a traditional breakfast dish prepared by many south Indian families. As it is very healthy and easy to digest, it is an absolute staple food of southern cuisine. Perfect pairings for idli include any kind of chutney (coconut, tomato, tamarind or green chili mint) and sambar (a tangy lentil soup with vegetables).

Dosa is a thin long crepe made out of fermented rice and black lentil batter that can be stuffed with a wide variety of fillings, like spiced potatoes, green gram bean or masala curry. It is another staple of Keralan cuisine.


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Day 15 : Departure

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport at an appropriate time for your outbound flight. If you have a flight later in the day, you could spend time exploring more of Cochin or browsing the markets for handicrafts and wares. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Accommodation

Accommodation

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

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Radisson Blu Plaza

Hyderabad (2 nights)

Situated in a great position, near the city centre, the Radisson Blue Plaza Hotel has 2 restaurants, a bar, an SPA, an outdoor pool and a fitness centre. 

Visit hotel's site
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The Bangala

Karaikudi (2 nights)

Enjoy the famous Chettinad hospitality at this traditional heritage stay. 

Visit hotel's site
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Coco Lagoon by Great Mount

Pollachi (2 nights)

Located close to Pollachi Junction, Coco Lagoon Resort by Great Mount has a restaurant and an outdoor swimming pool. It also organizes a number of activities and games such as boating, archery, billiards, table tennis, cricket and others. 

Visit hotel's site
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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. 

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Carmelia Haven

Thekkady (2 nights)

Carmelia Haven is an eco-friendly resort set amidst a tea and cardamom plantation. It offers a multi-cuisine restaurant, a games room, a coffee shop and a swimming pool. 
 

Visit hotel's site
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Punnamada Resort

Alleppey (2 nights)

Punnamada Resort is the best luxury resort in Kerala, located next to Punnamada Lake Alappuzha. It offers an Indian restaurant, a swimming pool and a Yoga & Ayurveda centre. It offers its guests the possibility to enjoy a number of different activities and games, such as minigolf, volleyball, basketball, cycling, chess, table tennis, cards and many more. 

Visit hotel's site
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Tissa's Inn

Cochin (2 nights)

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.

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 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 just took the Food Tour of Kerala and Malabar Coast and it was purely unforgettable. The accommodation was superb as was the food and hospitality. I essentially came back feeling like a baby hippo - that should tell you you NEED to take this tour ASAP!

Anupy is the author of best-selling Indian cookery book - The Indian Slow Cooker - which is available for purchase on Amazon.

Anupy Singla Gupta , Taste of South India, 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

An excellent introduction to South India. The itinerary was varied and interesting and the accommodation and food excellent. The real highlight for me was going to many places that were very much off the beaten track and getting the opportunity to meet local people in their homes, at local markets and cultural events.

Julie Hindmarch , Taste of South India, 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

I`m sure I could not have found a better operator for the type of complicated Indian tour I wanted to undertake on a limited budget. India is an intimidating country to visit, and I suspect that some operators look down on the first time visitor, or disparage their requirements. Travel the Unknown, by contrast, helped me all the way, and their local guides were superb.

Andrew Martin , Tailormade North East 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

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

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

This trip was very well put together and ticked all the boxes that we had requested. The accommodation throughout the tour was of a high standard and our experiences in the national parks was wonderful spotting many different animals including tigers, leopards, sloth bears, lions, jungle cat plus countless number of birds. Thank you Rahul for tailoring this trip to our requirements.

Nigel & Margaret Turner , Tailormade India Wildlife & Birding tour

We went on the Spirit of South India Tour and had a great time on our honeymoon. There was a good variety of places visited and the hotels, drivers and guides were all very good. We would definitely recommend this tour.

Rachel , Spirit of South India, India
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