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South India 'on a Shoestring'

The spicy sensation!

Book from € 799.-
GROUP SIZE: 4-24 | 16 DAYS


Enjoy a two-week expedition through tropical Southern India visiting picturesque cities, temples, animated markets and quiet lagoons. You'll get to experience a train ride and you can search for 'wildlife' in the Periyar National Park. Mysore provides some great shopping, enjoy a serene cruise through the idyllic Backwaters and finish your experience off perfectly by chilling on the beach of Mamallapuram.

Travel documents

Travelling with the correct travel documentation is your own responsibility. Please ensure your passport is valid for a minimum of 6 months beyond the finish date of your trip.

For India, a visa is required for many nationalities in order to gain entry. Please check this information in good time before your trip commences as this information is always subject to change. You can check this information through a site such as this one. To arrange your visa, you should either contact your nearest Indian embassy or use an agency such as CIBT.

It is now also possible for nationals of a number of countries to apply online for their India visa, in advance of travel using the E-Visa facility. Please check the following website for further information and online visa application:



Accommodation and transport

During the tour we have our own private air-conditioned bus to allow us to stop in beautiful places along the way. The arrival transfer from airport to hotel, is not included. The departure transfer from hotel to airport, is included. The boat ride in the 'Backwaters' on day 8 (approximately 3-4 hours) is included in your fare. The route between Kozhikode and Kochi is by train (the road condition has become quite deteriorated along this route).

Travel distances
Bangalore to Mysore: 160 km / 4 hours
Mysore to Wayanad: 130 km / 3 hours
Wayanad to Kozhikode: 90 km / 2½ hours
Kozhikode to Kochi: Ernakulum Express day train; scheduled times 16.05 - 20.00
Kochi to Alleppey: 65 km / 1½ hours
Alleppey to Thekkady: 165 km / 5 hours
Thekkady to Madurai 140 km / 4 to 5 hours
Madurai via Tiruchirapalli to Thanjavur: 160 km / 4 to 5 hours
Thanjavur to Pondicherry: 170 km / 4 to 5 hours
Pondicherry to Mammalapuram 100 km / 2½ hours
Mammalapuram to Chennai Airport: 55 km / 1½ hours

*All above times are approximate and will depend on local conditions at the time.

You stay in simple but comfortable mid-range hotels in 2-person rooms with private bathroom. Usually there is air conditioning in the rooms. In some cases there is a fan or a cooling system instead. Most hotels have a restaurant and usually a garden or terrace.

The planned hotel in Mamallapuram has a pool. In some cases we have to change our hotels and in the case that the replacement has no pool, our tour leader will try to find you another pool to use in an alternative location.

Participants who book individually share a room with another participant. We of course consider that travellers should be paired together according to their sex. If you want a room for yourself for the entire trip then it can be easily arranged. You should stipulate this on your booking form and you will pay a single supplement.


One of the major festivals in South India is the Dussehra festival. The Dussehra Festival is a Hindu festival during which, the victory of good over evil is celebrated throughout India. There are many legends that lead to Dussehra. The most famous story is about the goddess Durga riding a lion into battle, and killing the buffalo demon Mahishasura. He terrorized the Devas and their king Indra. Another story comes from the Ramayana, a Hindu text around the second century before Christ was born. The Ramayana tells the story of Rama (an incarnation of the god Vishnu), whose wife Sita is kidnapped by the evil demon king Ravana. After many wanderings Rama and his brother Laksman kill the evil king. They are aided by an army of monkeys, led by the monkey king Hanuman.

The Dussehra Festival has no restrictions on the castes. Everyone can participate and worship Durga in their own way. It is, therefore, a large popular party. The houses are repainted and the family is put in new clothes. Each district and village has a tent set up for Durga. Sometimes there is also a gateway built. Sometimes there are processions, accompanied by music, dance and fireworks. The date of the festival depends on the Hindu lunar calendar.

PLEASE NOTE: Festival trip itineraries are subject to change. Please see our latest news section for any updates.


Our tours are led by trained, local English speaking tour leaders. We know that our travellers appreciate being accompanied by these local tour leaders who, compared to their counterparts (living outside of the destination) have more detailed knowledge of their country. He/she knows the area well, can provide background information and ensure that the trip goes smoothly. He/she knows what to do if something were to go wrong, but is not a "walking encyclopedia". Therefore we would like to refer you to study a good travel guide (book) in advance of travel.

Your tour leader understandably expects a tip at the end, if she/he has completed the job well. Shoestring pay the tour guides a wage which is higher than that of most adventurous travel companies. Our guideline for tipping is between € 1, - and € 2, - per passenger per day (the equivalent thereof).


This tour is classified as Category B

The difficulty of our travels varies greatly. Added to this is the fact that travel difficulty is a very personal perception. To give an indication of the difficulty of a particular holiday, we have developed the following classification system:

Category A: Light travel for everyone to do. Short distances, good hotels, travel at a slow pace.
Category B: For everyone to do as well. Sometimes long distances. Good hotels and camping facilities, sometimes an adventurous overnight experience, travel at a normal pace.
Category C: Good to do for anyone who prepares themself well and is flexible. There are tougher parts of the journey, such as longer distances or walking tours. Several nights can be spent in basic accommodation.
Category D: A relatively difficult journey, travelling long distances, often primitive accommodation or tents, and challenging walking tours.

The South India Adventure is a Category B tour. It can be made by any reasonably healthy individual. In the summer the trip is considerably more difficult than during the rest of the year. Although in the cities we stay in simple medium-priced hotels, remember that you are travelling in a developing country with much lower living standards than you are used to at home. Also, roads may be temporarily blocked because of the weather or owing to their state of repair, in which case a detour is unavoidable. A flexible and positive attitude is just as important as a good physical condition.

Nature of the trip
A journey through South India combines the colourfulness of Hinduism with the good-natured and friendly attitude of the local population and a truly tropical landscape. On this trip you will be able to enjoy white sandy beaches, lively temple complexes, a boat trip through exuberant tropical vegetation and a safari along and through a rainforest populated with elephants, bison and tigers.


We know that travelling to remote corners of this planet has its effects. At Shoestring we really try to make an effort to keep our impact to a minimum. We try to avoid the use of plastic water bottles on our treks through Nepal and we do not dump our litter during our trips through Africa. All of our staff have been trained to take special care to ensure we make as little impact on the environment as possible. 

Furthermore we support a lot of local projects which are mostly related to clean drinking water or making sure that children get vaccinated against illnesses such as tuberculosis. On most tours you will be able to visit some of the projects we support through our local agents. Find out more about the different projects Shoestring are involved with, how you can make a difference and our environmental policies here


Travel insurance, including medical repatriation insurance, is mandatory. It is not included with our packages and it is your responsibility to purchase suitable travel insurance. Make sure that it covers all the activities that you are likely to undertake, such as rafting and trekking. Many ‘free’ insurances that come with banking packages, credit cards etc, are quite often inadequate to cover you on our tours, so make sure you check the policy before you travel. You should enter your travel insurance details via your my.shoestring account and you are required to give a copy of your insurance policy to your tour leader upon arrival. Without proper insurance like this, you will not be allowed to join the tour as we will not be able to respond adequately in case of an emergency if you do not have the right insurance.


Shoestring International
Entrada 223
1114 AA Amsterdam-Duivendrecht, The Netherlands.                    

You can call us on number +31 20 6850203 or +44 (0)1306 744797 and email us at           

Opening hours Monday to Saturday 10 AM to 5 PM (Local times in Netherlands).

Country information

More country information about India

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about India

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