India, Sri Lanka & the Maldives

November 27, 2015
18 Days
Aboard the Island Sky
100 Guests
From $14,980


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.

India, Sri Lanka & the Maldives
Pre-Trip Extension
Wild India
November 22November 29, 2015

Depart USA / En Route

November 22November 23

Board your independent flight to India.

Delhi, India

November 24

Arrive in the very early morning and transfer to our hotel. After brunch, join a late-morning tour of both Old and New Delhi. Your tour of the capital begins at the Jama Masjid and the Red Fort in Old Delhi. A rickshaw ride through the colorful shops of bustling Chandni Chowk, offers an exciting look at locals shopping for everything from wedding jewels to spices, and silk brocades to sweets. After lunch at a local restaurant, explore the highlights of New Delhi. Drive along the ceremonial avenue, Rajpath, past the imposing India Gate, Parliament House, the President’s Residence, and Humayun’s Tomb. Dinner and overnight at The Trident

Delhi / Jabalpur / Bandhavgarh

November 25

Transfer to the airport for our flight to Jabalpur. Upon arrival, set out on a scenic drive, passing landscapes of forest, hills, and picturesque villages where you can witness women conducting their daily business clad in brightly colored saris. Arrive this afternoon at the remote and seldom-visited Bandhavgarh National Park. Formerly a maharajah’s private hunting preserve, the area was designated a national park in 1968 and is now famous for its healthy and stable tiger population. Enjoy lunch and an afternoon safari before dinner and overnight at Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge, your base for four nights. 

Bandhavgarh National Park

November 26November 28

Three full days are devoted to exploring this scenically diverse park set among the Vindhya hills of Madhya Pradesh. Travel in 4x4 vehicles over forested ridges, through thick bamboo and undergrowth, or across shallow rivers. In the lowlands of the park, the grassland and bamboo groves provide habitat not just for tigers, but also leopards, Indian bison, wild boars, and a wealth of deer species—the main prey of the tiger. These include muntjac, or barking deer; sambar, India’s largest deer; and chital, or axis deer, the tiger’s favorite prey. In the trees overhead watch for rhesus macaques and hanuman langurs. Birding in the area is phenomenal. In the lodge’s gardens, the flowers and fruit trees attract such species as green bee-eaters, white-bellied drongos, blossom-headed parakeets, impressive Malabar hornbills, and paradise flycatchers. There will also be an opportunity to visit a small village to witness daily life in rural India.

Bandhavgarh / Jabalpur / Mumbai / Embark Island Sky

November 29

Depart early this morning to Jabalpur and board your flight to Mumbai. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Embark the Island Sky this evening.

Day-by-Day Itinerary

Depart USA / Mumbai, India

November 27November 28

Board your independent flight to India, arriving late in the evening of the 28th. Transfer to the Hyatt Regency Mumbai for an overnight.

Mumbai / Embark Island Sky

November 29
Mumbai, India

Enjoy a morning at leisure before lunch, then 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 evening. 


November 30

This morning enjoy an orientation tour of Mumbai. 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 Island Sky this afternoon.


December 1December 2

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 3

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.


December 4December 5

A leisurely two-day 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. To better explore this maze of islands and waterways, board local houseboats for a cruise through Kochi’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 6

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.

Colombo, Sri Lanka / Kandy

December 7
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

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 8

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.

At Sea

December 9

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

Northern Maldives

December 10December 12
Northern Maldives

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 or dive 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 which may include:

Vangaaru & Utheemu Islands – 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.

Thulhaagiri Sandbank – This private sandbank offers opportunities for snorkeling, diving, water activities, and beach walks. We also enjoy a delicious barbeque lunch on the beach here.

Malé / Disembark

December 13

Disembark this morning for a sightseeing tour of Malé. Check in to day rooms at the Hulhule Island 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 14

Arrive in the USA and connect with homeward flights.