India's Wildlife and Backwaters

From £4,599
Duration 22 Days
Departures from Nov 2020 - Nov 2020
Book now
From £4,599
Duration 22 Days
Departures from Nov 2020 - Nov 2020
Tour Overview

This Indian adventure combines our 'India's Tiger Trail' and 'Kerala – a Taste of South India' tours.

Over 22 days, your senses will be awakened as you set off on a thrilling adventure in India – one of the world's most intoxicating destinations. Your discoveries begin in two of the 'Golden Triangle' cities, Delhi, where you'll see iconic buildings and wide boulevards created by the architect Edwin Landseer Lutyens, and Agra, to view the incomparable Taj Mahal. You'll then leave the big cities behind and head to the India that inspired storyteller Rudyard Kipling's 'The Jungle Book' and the 'Just So Stories' – welcome to Madhya Pradesh. Here, you'll discover ornate palaces and temples built by mighty warrior kings but it's the wildlife you've come to see, not least the Bengal tiger. Of the three national parks you'll explore, Bandhavgarh boasts the largest population of these magnificent animals in all India, so a sighting is likely. Keep your eyes peeled too for sloths, leopards, monkeys and hyena, and many species of bird. After the excitement of thrilling game drives, let's slow the pace and journey south to the state of Kerala. Here, peaceful backwaters and fragrant spice plantations are the name of the game, as well as a few unique treats. Cook up Keralan dishes with a local chef and spend a night on a traditional rice boat, before you enjoy some well-earned rest and relaxation on Kovalam's gorgeous beaches.  

  • Classic Touring
  • All Breakfasts
  • Max Group Size 30

Your Holiday Includes

  • Just You Tour Manager as your host & Specialist Local Guide
  • Return flights from Heathrow with Emirates Airways
  • Dedicated Just You representative to greet you at selected UK airports
  • Use of an airport lounge in the UK
  • 20 nights in 4 & 5-star hotels & a houseboat plus 1 night in flight
  • 44 meals: 21 breakfasts, 8 lunches and 15 dinners including a welcome drink
  • Overseas transfers, other transportation & porterage

Included Holiday Highlights

  • Discover Lutyens' Delhi on a sightseeing tour
  • Visit Agrasen ki Baoli stepwell in Delhi
  • Visit the Taj Mahal & Agra Fort
  • See the Khajuraho temples & carvings
  • Look for tigers in Kanha National Park, the inspiration for The Jungle Book
  • Visit the sacred temples in medieval Orchha
  • Two game drives in Bandhavgarh, two in Kanha & one in Panna National Park
  • Cochin tour
  • Cooking demonstration & lunch with a local chef
  • Kathakali dance show
  • Traditional 'Sadya' dinner
  • Spice plantation visit
  • Game viewing by boat
  • Village tour in Kumarokam​

Itinerary

Day 1 UK to Delhi

​Today, you'll fly to Delhi on an overnight flight.​

Day 2 Delhi

Arrive in Delhi where you'll have free time to explore at your leisure. This evening we will gather at the hotel to meet our travelling companions over a welcome dinner and drinks. ​

Meals included: D

Day 3 Dholpur

This morning we will explore Lutyens Delhi, followed by a visit to the Agrasen ki Baori stepwell. We'll then head to Rajasthan, where we'll stay in a charming, sleepy little town called Dholpur, packed with historical forts and monuments. Rajasthan is thought to be the setting of 'Mowgli's Brothers', a short story penned by Rudyard Kipling. But first, we'll travel to Agra, where we'll realise many a dream as we make our pilgrimage to the wonderful Taj Mahal, described by Kipling as 'an embodiment of all things pure'. This beautiful white marble mausoleum was painstakingly built over 22 years by Emperor Shah Jahan to celebrate and honour Mumtaz Mahal, his beloved wife who tragically died in childbirth. It is a symbol of eternal love, and we'll share a magical moment when we see it at dusk when it transforms from sparkling white to blush pink. Whilst in Agra you will have the chance to try one of the most iconic foods of the city. Petha is a soft candy and is prepared from white pumpkin or ash gourd (winter melon), mixed with nuts to give its unique flavour.

We'll also visit the Agra Fort, just across the Yamuna River. Created by several rulers of the Mughal Dynasty, the fort was transformed into a glittering palace by Shah Jahan. Many years later, the Fort became a gilded cell, where he was imprisoned for eight years when his son Aurangzeb overthrew him in 1658.​

Meals included: B

Day 4 Dholpur

After breakfast together, we'll drive to Chambal and explore the rich heritage held within its valley. Join your fellow travellers on an optional excursion where you can catch your first sight of a majestic Sarus crane or graceful Ganges River dolphins leaping in the air on an exciting river cruise. We'll sail along the Chambal River with a trained naturalist who will teach us about the river's wildlife. You might spot turtles enjoying the sun, and keep a lookout for gharial and mugger crocodiles. Expert boatsmen will carefully take us near the wildlife without disturbing the animals.
If you choose to spend today at leisure, your hotel features a swimming pool, indoor/outdoor games, a library, shopping arcade and horse-riding facilities. It's also well placed for a day of exploration if you prefer. Close by you can discover a stepwell, an ancient water storage system, and the ruins of the Shergarh fort. ​

Meals included: B

Day 5 Orchha

We've got a fantastic day ahead of us. After breakfast, we'll drive to laid-back Orchha, which lies on the Betwa River. Flying a little more under the radar compared to its neighbour Khajuraho with its erotic sculptures, Orchha has a relaxed vibe and plenty of medieval charm. En route, we'll make a stop at Gwalior, an imposing sandstone fort set on a picturesque hilltop overlooking the city.
Reminiscent of a bygone royal era, Orchha is a feast for the senses, dotted with vibrant ochre palaces and ancient forts. We'll indulge in some sightseeing, absorbing the town's famous sacred temples. These surviving relics were built by the Bundela rulers in the 16th and 17th century.
Next, we'll visit the ornate, multi-storey palace of Jahangir Mahal. The expansive 136-room citadel boasts eight elegant domes, walls adorned with intricate panels and stylish hanging terraces. Built by Akbar, the third Mughal Emperor, he named the palace after his son, Jahangir, and mainly used it for his Rajput royal wives. We'll take photos under the beautiful arches and marvel at the glorious palace, carved from a single piece of stone.
Next, we'll make our way to the magnificent Ram Raja temple, enclosed within the grand square. Up to 3,000 Hindu worshippers pray here every day. As the only temple in India that features Lord Rama as a king, it's said that those who look at his left toe will have their wishes come true. We might even experience an invigorating arti ceremony, where light is offered to deities within the temple.​

Meals included: B

Day 6 Panna National Park

We'll make our way through central India to Panna today. First, we'll stop at the Khajuraho temples within India's Vindhya Mountain Range. According to local legend, gods and deities - including Shiva the destroyer - enjoyed praying here.
The temples were creatively built by mighty warrior kings from the Chandela dynasty. However, the temples are well-known around the world for their intricate carvings featuring erotic poses from the Kama Sutra, of which only 22 of the original 85 carvings have survived. We'll tour the monuments and will have plenty of opportunities for photos.
When we arrive in Panna, we'll get some much-needed rest as we'll be up bright and early tomorrow for our morning safari in Panna National Park.​

Meals included: B,L,D

Day 7 Panna National Park

After breakfast together, we'll drive to Chambal and explore the rich heritage held within its valley. Join your fellow travellers on an optional excursion where you can catch your first sight of a majestic Sarus crane or graceful Ganges River dolphins leaping in the air on an exciting river cruise. We'll sail along the Chambal River with a trained naturalist who will teach us about the river's wildlife. You might spot turtles enjoying the sun, and keep a lookout for gharial and mugger crocodiles. Expert boatsmen will carefully take us near the wildlife without disturbing the animals.
If you choose to spend today at leisure, your hotel features a swimming pool, indoor/outdoor games, a library, shopping arcade and horse-riding facilities. It's also well placed for a day of exploration if you prefer. Close by you can discover a stepwell, an ancient water storage system, and the ruins of the Shergarh fort. ​

Meals included: B,L,D

Day 8 Bandhavgarh National Park

Today, we've got a long but very enjoyable drive ahead of us that really gives us an insight into the remoteness and peaceful tranquillity of Central India.
Hopefully, we'll be rewarded tomorrow, when we visit Bandhavgarh National Park in search of an elusive Bengal tiger. Upon arrival, we'll check into our hotel and get some sleep, as we've got a big day ahead of us.​

Meals included: B,L,D

Day 9 Bandhavgarh National Park

A dizzying array of wildlife awaits us in Bandhvagarh National Park. Boasting the highest population of tigers in India, this is perhaps your best chance to see one in its natural habitat.
Although we'll hope to see an elusive Bengal tiger, it's not all about the big cats here. You're likely to spot a grazing great gaur – an Indian bison. When we get to more open swathes of wilderness, look out for nilgai, a fascinating species of Asian antelope, and barking deer roaming free across the land. A plethora of bird species also call the park home. You're certain to take some amazing photographs and make memories you'll treasure forever.
The lush green landscape is framed with steep, 800-metre-high cliffs and dotted with deep valleys. At the highest point, we'll find the park's namesake Bandhavgarh Fort, standing proudly over an auburn forest floor and a mottled canopy of trees. The fort is considered to be over 2,000 years old. Scattered around the park there are also numerous caves shrouded in mystery and housing shrines and ancient Sanskrit inscriptions.
On arrival back at our hotel, you can spend the rest of the day relaxing with your fellow travellers.​

Meals included: B,L,D

Day 10 Kanha National Park

We're really getting into the swing of jungle life now, and after breakfast, we'll journey by road to Kanha. Relax as you admire Central India's superb scenery and when we arrive, we'll enjoy a leisurely day exploring our new surroundings.
Tomorrow, we're off in pursuit of the King of the Jungle once more - majestic tigers await you in Kanha National Park, where 'The Jungle Book' comes to life.​

Meals included: B,L,D

Day 11 Kanha National Park

Today, fans of Rudyard Kipling's iconic childhood stories are in for a real treat. Arguably India's most impressive wildlife reserve, Kanha National Park is widely considered to be the inspiration for 'The Jungle Book'. This thrilling park is also known as the Kanha Tiger Reserve, so you're likely to see your very own Shere Khan here. We're going on morning and afternoon safaris, where we'll look out for royal Bengal tiger footprints and listen for their magnificent roars.
Amongst the 950 square kilometres of peaceful rivers and lush rolling hills, we might spot pythons slithering through the grass like vengeful Kaa, wolves reminiscent of those who raised Mowgli and sloth bears just like Baloo. Get up close and imagine yourself in the 'Just So Stories', with savannah that stretches as far as the eye can see.
Although Kipling never visited Kanha, he was enthralled by his friends' photographs and the writers who travelled to the Seoni region – we'll see for ourselves how the park inspired every page. When we've soaked up the evocative atmosphere, we'll retreat to our hotel for a delightful evening meal together.​

Meals included: B,L,D

Day 12 Mumbai

Mumbai, the birthplace of Rudyard Kipling, is our final destination. Lapped by the Arabian Sea, the city that the writer would have known as Bombay, lies on the coast of Western India.​

Meals included: B

Day 13 Cochin

Today we fly south to Cochin, Kerala's cosmopolitan capital. Known as the 'Queen of the Arabian Sea' thanks to the beauty of its natural harbour. The city is made up of a series of picturesque islands and boasts unique houses built on stilts and tranquil backwaters.
After settling in at your hotel, get to know your travelling companions over dinner this evening.​

Meals included: B,D

Day 14 Cochin

Today begins with a morning tour of Cochin. We'll head to the centre of Jew Town, a bustling port area and centre of Cochin's spice trade, where we will see the oldest Jewish Synagogue in the commonwealth, dating back to 1568.  Next stop is the Mattancherry Kerala Palace, renamed the Dutch Palace after Cochin was taken from the Portuguese by the Dutch. Admire the splendid murals that adorn some of the rooms, said to be amongst the best in India. We round off our tour with a visit to St Francis Church, where Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama died and was buried.
At lunchtime we are invited to a cooking demonstration in the home of a well-known local chef and food journalist. Here, you'll learn how to use Kerala's aromatic spices in your own cooking and get to sample the dishes you create.
Another speciality of Kerala is Kathakali dance and we'll learn about this unique art form this evening before enjoying a 'Sadya' vegetarian feast with the group. This shared meal will take you on a gastronomic journey through Kerala as you try a tempting selection of dishes from many different regions. Each is served following local customs and come in an order which is said to help digestion. You'll eat from a banana leaf, which points in a certain direction, with rice served on the bottom half, and other items placed in clockwise order. You'll find that your hosts serve dessert mid-way through the meal.  ​

Meals included: B,L,D

Day 15 Thekkady

A long but rewarding drive is on the cards today as we head to Thekkady. There's a treat for all the senses as we journey past rice paddies, tea and rubber tree plantations and aromatic gardens of coffee, cardamom and pepper plants, while the Western Ghats mountain range provides a beautiful backdrop to the surrounding rainforests and backwaters.

As the sun goes down we'll head to a spice plantation where we'll enjoy a tour. Superb peppers are grown here on the Malabar Coast and as such are referred to as 'black gold'.​

Meals included: B,D

Day 16 Thekkady

We're heading into Periyar Game Reserve today. A boat trip will give you the chance to look for elephants, bison and deer on the shoreline, as well as all manner of exotic plants that, if you're very lucky, may be hiding the elusive tiger. ​

Meals included: B,L,D

Day 17 Alleppey

Our drive this morning takes us to Alleppey, where we'll board one of Kerala's famous houseboats for an overnight stay with a difference. Your 'kettuvallom' – modelled on the area's traditional rice boats – offers an unforgettable experience. Head on deck for a cruise through the backwaters to see how the locals live, then enjoy a tranquil evening as our boat anchors in a quiet spot.

Meals included: B,L,D

Day 18 Kumarakom

Breakfast served on our houseboat is a great start to the day. We'll then take to the road and head to Kumarakom, cutting a route through coconut farms and fragrant spice gardens. A village tour and stop for lunch give us a chance to stretch our legs before arrival at our hotel.​

Meals included: B,L,D

Day 19 Kovalam

The final leg of our journey takes us to the Kovalam beach area today – a stunning location with magnificent beaches on which to relax and soak up the sun.​

Meals included: B,D

Day 20 Kovalam

You've another full day to relax in the beautiful coastal resort of Kovalam. You could choose to stay put and enjoy the facilities at your hotel, which include three swimming pools, a spa and health club.​​

Meals included: B,D

Day 21 Kovalam

The day is yours to do as you please. Be sure to head to the beach to see the fishermen pulling in the huge Chinese fishing nets for which this area is famous. Join your fellow travellers this evening for a farewell dinner.​

Meals included: B,D

Day 22 Kovalam to UK

You'll transfer to the airport for your flight back to the UK. ​

Meals included: B

Accommodation

The Grand

Raj Niwas Palace - Dholpur

The Raj Niwas Palace is one of the most spectacular examples of Dholpur's historic grandeur.The beautiful architecture of the property is accompanied by an outdoor swimming pool and lush gardens. Air-conditioned rooms are furnished with a TV, complimentary toiletries and a phone. The in-house restaurant offers a range of cuisine, whilst room and laundry services are also available.

Amar Mahal Hotel

Historic Architecture and an authentic Indian charm are two aspects that truly personify the Amar Mahal. At the property, the beautiful interior décor is matched by the marvellously kept gardens. Guests can enjoy some time in the stylish swimming pool or even relax with a massage. Rooms are air conditioned and come with private facilities, complimentary toiletries and a minibar. Further services include a restaurant offering a range of specialities as well as 24-hour room service.

Tendu Leaf

Bandhav Villas

Bandhav Vilas is an ideal lodge to stay at, because it is situated in a great location to explore the Bandhavgarh National Park. Amenities at the property include a swimming pool which is surrounded by tall trees , as well as an outdoor seating area with a firepit. There are both local and more western cuisines available here, in addition to a bar for guest to enjoy. The rooms are air conditioned and come furnished with a fridge.

Kanha Jungle Lodge

Amidst the Sal forests, the lodge is about one kilometer from Kanha National Park’s Mukki entrance. The Lodge has 18 spacious double–bed rooms and two independent deluxe cottages, overlooking the lush green forest. A spacious thatched dining room serving home cooked Indian food.

Sea Princess Mumbai

The Sea Princess is a modernly designed hotel that is in one of the premier locations in Mumbai. Some of the excellent amenities on offer at this property include several eating options, an outdoor pool as well as a fitness centre. Guest rooms boasts a TV, minibar , en-suite facilities and complimentary toiletries. There is also a money exchange service available at the Sea Princess, in addition to free WIFI.

Trident Cochin

The 4-star Trident Hotel is situated in Cochin.

Hotel facilities include a restaurant, bar and a swimming pool. Bedrooms have private facilities, safe, hairdryer, tea/coffee-making facilities and a TV.

The Elephant Court

Houseboat

Enjoy an overnight stay with a difference on a Houseboat, modelled on the area’s traditional rice boats.

Vasundhara Sarovar Premiere

The 4-star Vasundhara Premier Hotel is situated by the serene backwaters of Kerala in Vayalar.

Hotel facilities include a restaurant, bar and a spa. Bedrooms have private facilities and air-conditioning.

Travancore Heritage Hotel - Kovalam

The 4-star Travancore Heritage Hotel is situated on a high cliff overlooking the Arabian Sea in Chowara.

Hotel facilities include a restuarant, health club and a swimming pool. Bedrooms have private facilities, air-conditioning, mini-bar, tea/coffee-making facilities and a TV.

Discover more on an epic India adventure

  1. A boat on a river in India

    Kerala - A Taste of South India

    Peaceful backwaters, aromatic spices and some of India’s best beaches, this is what you’ll find in Kerala, alongside a lush landscape and incredible wildlife. You’ll spend the night on a houseboat and you may even spot the elusive tiger. ​

    11 days from
    £2,149
    Explore
  2. Bengal tigers in India

    India’s Tiger Trail

    An invigorating mix of stunning wildlife and historical allure, India's dazzling diversity is a feast for the senses. 

    13 days from
    £3,049
    Explore
  3. Traditional indian costume

    Contrasts of India

    If you want to see India in all its glory, this journey from east to west, north to south, is for you! Highlights include the 'Golden Triangle' cities of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, Gangtok, nestled in the Himalayas, the national parks of Madhya Pradesh and the peaceful waterways of Kerala.  

    36 days from
    £6,899
    Explore

If you've booked this tour and the departure date is not showing, it is because we are no longer taking new bookings for this date.

Just You have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the hotel images provided on this website and images of room types displayed may vary to those offered on your tour. Therefore due to the possibility of inadvertent errors we do not guarantee their accuracy. Hotels, airlines used and flight times are subject to change and will be confirmed in your final documents.

Reasons to Book with Just You

  • Over 15 Years of Expertise
  • Unrivalled Guarantees
  • A Room of Your Own
  • Incredible Experiences
  • Expert Tour Managers

100% Protection

All Just You holidays are financially protected via ATOL (flight-inclusive holidays) and financial insurance (non-flight packages). Additionally, all customer money is held in a Trust Fund, governed by independent Trustees. This means your money is 100% protected no matter what. If your travel plans change, you can use your initial deposit against another holiday at a later date.