India, Sri Lanka & the Maldives

November 30, 2015 - December 17, 2015

Based on the expeditionary nature of our trips, there may be ongoing enhancements to this itinerary.

Below please find the day-by-day itinerary for this expedition. Unless otherwise noted, daily excursion options are included in the cost of the trip. We do our best to adhere to the scheduled itinerary, but in the spirit of our expeditionary style of travel we may deviate slightly to take full advantage of encounters with the destination and its people, culture, and wildlife.

Nov 30 - Dec 1 Depart USA / En Route

Board your independent flight to India.

December 2 Mumbai, India

Arrive in Mumbai and transfer to the exquisite Taj Mahal Palace Hotel for a morning at leisure. This afternoon enjoy an orientation tour of this bustling city. In the former British fort area, see elegant colonial buildings such as the Gothic Victoria Terminus railway station, and the Prince of Wales Museum. Drive along famed Marine Drive, passing Chowpatty Beach, to Malabar Hill with its superb views, parks, and Hanging Gardens. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.

December 3 Mumbai / Embark Island Sky

This morning, board local boats at the doorstep of the Gateway of India triumphal arch monument for a ride across the bay to visit Elephanta Island. This World Heritage Site has caves with elaborately carved depictions of the Hindu god, Shiva, in various manifestations as destroyer, creator, and preserver. Views of Mumbai’s skyline from the bay are superb. Embark the Island Sky this afternoon.

Dec 4 - Dec 5 Goa

Goa’s Portuguese heritage commenced with the establishment of a trading colony in 1510, led by explorer and later viceroy, Vasco da Gama. The successful spice-trading colony endured for centuries, and today its colonial remnants lend a European charm—cobblestoned lanes, whitewashed Catholic churches, and balconied, tile-roofed homes. Explore the distinctive churches, museum, and convent of Old Goa. Visit a traditional Goan home for a cooking demonstration and enjoy a lunch of delectable local cuisine. You will also enjoy time at leisure to wander through the old Portuguese district of Fontainhas in the small capital of Panjim.

December 6 Mangalore

This morning drive through the countryside surrounding Mangalore, a pleasant landscape of rolling hills dotted with tea, coffee, and cashew nut plantations. Visit Karkala’s monolithic Gomasteshwara Statue, dedicated to a Jain saint. Then tour a cashew processing plant followed by a lunch of local specialties at a rural pineapple farm.

Dec 7 - Dec 8 Cochin

A leisurely two-day exploration of Cochin reveals this delightful community’s mélange of international influences: Portuguese houses, the Dutch Palace (Mattancherry), the Anglican St. Francis Church, and the cantilevered Chinese fishing nets that grace the beaches. To better explore this maze of islands and waterways, board local houseboats for a cruise through Cochin’s backwaters to observe daily life along these languid canals. You will also have the opportunity to attend an evening performance of classical Kathakali dance.

December 9 Trivandrum

Located near India’s southern tip, Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala, is a pedestrian-friendly town spread out over seven hills. Visit the village of Pongumoode and its surrounding rubber plantations to observe the various stages of rubber processing. Then attend a Kalari Payattu demonstration, Kerala’s ancient form of martial arts.

December 10 Colombo, Sri Lanka / Kandy

Today disembark in the bustling city of Colombo for an excursion into the highlands of Sri Lanka, passing through lush, rolling countryside dotted with tea plantations. In Kandy, explore the stunning Temple of the Tooth which houses the tooth of Buddha. This World Heritage Site was originally part of the Royal Palace complex of the Kandyan Kingdom and is one of the holiest places of worship and pilgrimage for Buddhists around the world. You will also visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and, time permitting, the Botanical Gardens.

December 11 Galle

Galle’s historic district is one of the best preserved examples of a European-built fortified city in South Asia, reflecting both colonial and South Asian architectural styles. After breakfast on board, enjoy a tour of this charming city visiting the Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Art Museum and Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built by the Dutch in the 16th century. As we drive along the coast, keep an eye out for the iconic fishermen of Koggala, who perch precariously on stilts in the surf. Return to the Island Sky for lunch and set sail for the Maldives.

December 12 At Sea

Spend a relaxing day at sea as lecturers introduce you to the cultural heritage and natural wonders of the magical Maldives.

Dec 13 - Dec 15 Uligamu, Maldives / Baa Atoll / Olhahali Island

Due to the expeditionary nature of this trip, daily weather and tide conditions will dictate our stops in the Maldives. We plan to step ashore on uninhabited islands for nature walks and beachcombing, meet with friendly locals in traditional villages, and snorkel in warm, translucent waters. Over the next three days, we plan to visit the special, lesser-visited places in the atolls of the northern Maldives.

Uligamu – The northernmost island of the Maldives, superb snorkeling is a hallmark of the area. The underwater topography of the region is fascinating—a dramatic landscape of thilas, pinnacles and submerged coral structures enveloped in brilliant corals and sea fans, and kandus, deep channels that run between atolls and coral-terraced reefs.
Baa Atoll – Made up of about 50 islands, this atoll offers rich biodiversity including large mangroves and unique ring-shaped reef forms known as faru. Recently designated as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, large numbers of manta rays, hawksbill turtles, and frigatebirds can be found here.
Olhahali Island – Covered in lush vegetation, Olhahali boasts broad white sand beaches and one of the finest wide lagoons in the region.

December 16 Malé / Disembark

Disembark this morning for a sightseeing tour of Malé. Check in to day rooms at our hotel and enjoy lunch. The remainder of the day and evening are at your leisure. After dinner at our hotel, transfer to the airport for your independent overnight flight.

December 17 USA

Arrive in the USA and connect with homeward flights.