Summary : This India expedition takes you from Mumbai’s bustling streets to the charming former Portuguese trading center of Goa and the emerald landscapes of Mangalore. A two-day tour of Cochin reveals a mélange of international influences; board local houseboats for a cruise through Cochin’s backwaters. In Trivandrum, cultural travel opportunities include a visit to the village of Pongumoode and a traditional martial arts demonstration. The India tour continues to Sri Lanka, where you discover the Temple of the Tooth and the port of Galle—both World Heritage Sites. Three days of Maldives adventure travel feature snorkeling and diving amid large pelagic fish and stunning coral gardens.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Diving, Hiking, Snorkeling
$999,999,999 to $0
Depart the USA on your independent flight to 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.
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.
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.
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 visit a cashew processing plant followed by a lunch of local specialties at a rural pineapple farm.
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.
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.
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. Also, visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and, time permitting, the Botanical Gardens.
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 you 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 Clipper Odyssey for lunch as you set sail for the Maldives.
Spend a relaxing day at sea as lecturers introduce you to the heritage and natural wonders of the magical Maldives.
Arrive at Uligamu, the northernmost island of the Maldives, in the early morning. Superb snorkeling and diving are hallmarks of the area and 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 atoll and coral-terraced reef. Over the next three days, discover the special, lesser-visited places in the atolls north of Male.
Following is a sampling of the sites planned to visit, with daily weather and tide conditions dictating the actual itinerary: Step ashore on Utheemu, the most famous of the northern Maldives, a cultural treasure trove and the birthplace of a 16th-century sultan who fought to drive out the occupying Portuguese. The Baa Atoll, made up of about 50 islands, 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. Serene Olhahali Island is covered in lush vegetation and boasts broad white sand beaches and one of the finest wide lagoons in the region.
Disembark this morning for a sightseeing tour of Male. Check in to day rooms at your hotel and enjoy lunch. The remainder of the day and evening are at your leisure. After dinner at your hotel, transfer to the airport for your independent overnight flight.
Arrive in the USA and connect with homeward flights.
Accommodations in hotels and on board as outlined in the itinerary; all onboard meals and group meal ashore, including soft drinks, beer, and wine with lunch and dinner; arrival and departure transfers on group dates; services of the expedition staff, including lectures, briefings, slide/film shows; all group activities and excursions; landing and port fees; all gratuities; emergency medical coverage (maximum benefit per paying passenger of $25,000)*; evacuation coverage (maximum benefit per paying passenger of $100,000)*.
All air transportation; excess baggage charges; airport arrival and departure taxes; transfers for independent arrivals and departures; passport and/or visa fees; travel insurance; items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar charges, alcoholic beverages, email/Internet/fax/telephone charges.
*Emergency Medical & Evacuation Insurance:
Emergency medical coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $25,000 is included in the cost of this expedition, as well as evacuation coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $100,000. Insurance is underwritten by National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA. The policy will contain reductions, limitations, exclusions and termination provisions. All coverages may not be available in all states. Please note this coverage does not cover you against trip cancellation or for additional days of travel prior to and/or after the expedition trip dates. ExpeditionTrips strongly advises all clients to purchase travel insurance which includes trip cancellation and interruption coverage for the entire duration of your trip.