Wild Southern IndiaJanuary 1, 2015 - January 17, 2015
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.
Jan 1 - Jan 2 Depart USA / En Route
Board your independent flight to India, losing a day as you cross the International Date Line.
January 3 Bangalore, India
Arrive Bangalore and transfer to our hotel, Taj West End, for overnight.
January 4 Bangalore / Mysore
This morning depart by coach for Mysore, with the chance to search for our first colorful Indian birds, such as rose-ringed parakeets and white-throated kingfishers en route. This evening visit the stunning Mysore Palace, the most famous attraction in India after the Taj Mahal, and observe the thousands of lights that illuminate the structure as twilight descends. Dinner and overnight at the Lalithamahal Palace.
January 5 Mysore / Nagarhole National Park
This morning visit Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary, which is comprised of six islets on the banks of the Kaveri River. These lush green islands are home to an astonishing variety of migratory birds. Board boats to view trees crowded with multiple species—spoonbills, open bill storks, egrets, herons, cormorants, and peafowl, to name a few.
Continue to Nagarhole and enjoy lunch at The Serai Kabini, your base for two days of exploration. After a chance to settle in, board boats for a jungle safari to search for the park’s notable species, such as wild elephants, bonnet macaques, gray langurs, wild boar, sambar, spotted deer, gaurs, and Indian giant squirrels.
January 6 Nagarhole National Park
Spend a full day exploring Nagarhole, its lush forests and undulating river valleys are home to a wide range of birds including woodpekcers, barbets, rollers, bee-eaters, and flycatchers. Search stands of teak, sandalwood, rosewood, and bamboo for wildlife by 4x4 vehicle, while a cruise along the serene Kabini River reveals cormorants and egrets.
January 7 Nagarhole National Park / Bandipur National Park
Enjoy one last jungle safari, then depart overland for Bandipur National Park, part of the massive Nilgiri Bioshpere, passing through cotton-growing areas on the way. Check in to The Serai Bandipur, situated close to a wide range of habitats, including dry deciduous forest and shrublands, which support a diverse range of flora and fauna. Several endangered and vulnerable species are found here including gaurs, sloth bears, dholes (wild dogs), mugger crocodiles, and Indian rock pythons. Over 200 bird species have been recorded here including red-headed vultures, Indian rollers, crested serpent eagles, and brown fish owls.
January 8 Bandipur National Park
Spend your day searching for wildlife by vehicle and by elephant-back—a truly unique way to explore this lush wilderness.
January 9 Bandipur National Park / Wayanad
After a morning safari in Bandipur, depart for the Wayanad district. Here you will have the opportunity to explore the Muthanga and Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuaries. Each offers the opportunity to see elephants, gaurs, deer, and, with extreme luck, tigers. Overnight at the Tranquil Resort.
January 10 Wayanad / Kochi
This morning drive from Wayanad to Kochi, breathtaking scenery and strategic location have earned this city the sobriquet, “Queen of the Arabian Sea.” Upon arrival check in to the Brunton Boatyard—resurrected from the remains of a Victorian shipbuilding yard and your base for two nights. After lunch at the hotel enjoy an afternoon at leisure.
January 11 Kochi
An exploration of Kochi 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. Board a local houseboat for a leisurely cruise through Kochi’s maze of backwaters. Watch locals going about their traditional day-to-day lives and see cottage industries such as rope-coir-making and toddy tapping. This evening attend a performance of Kathakali dance.
January 12 Kochi / Periyar National Park
After breakfast, drive to Periyar National Park, situated in the hills of the Western Ghats. The centerpiece of this park is ten-square-mile Periyar Lake, a rich habitat for large mammals, providing excellent cover and an abundance of succulent shoots and grasses for grazers. Here it is possible to see large herds of wild elephants as well as the Nilgiri langur. There are more than 30 species of mammals and the vibrant birdlife includes numerous aquatic birds and forest species. Check in to Spice Village and enjoy lunch. Game viewing is only allowed from the water, and this afternoon you will board local boats to search for wildlife while cruising Lake Periyar.
January 13 Periyar National Park
Board boats this morning to seek out resident birds including hanging parrots, crimson-fronted barbets, treepies, hornbills, and numerous colorful butterflies and wildlife. In the afternoon visit one of the many tea estates and a spice plantation. This region is famous for the production of cardamom, cinnamon, and pepper. Return to the Spice Village for dinner and overnight.
January 14 Periyar National Park / Lake Vembanad
Today we depart for Lake Vembanad, located in the heart of Kerala, often hailed as “God’s own country,” and board the luxurious Oberoi Houseboat. Cruise the tranquil waterways and picturesque canals and lakes of this unique ecosystem where freshwater rivers meet the saltwater of the Arabian Sea.
January 15 Kerala Backwaters / Kumarakom
This morning, visit a spice plantation and explore a local village. This afternoon, visit the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary to search for a variety of waterfowl and migratory birds. Return to the Oberoi Houseboat for dinner and overnight.
Jan 16 - Jan 17 Kumarakom / Kochi / USA
Drive to Kochi this morning and enjoy free time to stroll the bustling streets or shop for last-minute souvenirs. Enjoy dinner at our airport hotel where you can relax until your independent late evening flight. Arrive in the USA on January 17.