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Bangalore to Kochi - Eclipse
10 days
India - Trip code BKE

Bangalore to Kochi - Eclipse

Travelling from Bangalore to Kochi, we'll view the solar eclipse at the colonial hill station of Ooty, as well as searching for wildlife in Bandipur National Park, relaxing for a day and a night on a traditional Kerala house boat, and riding the famous Nilgiri Toy Train through lush mountain scenery. The trip ends in the wonderful port town of Kochi, with its blend of Portuguese, Dutch and British historic influences.

Trip highlights

  • Annular eclipse - Watch the solar eclipse from the colonial hill station of Ooty
  • Mysore - Visit the Maharajah's Palace, one of the largest and most elaborate palaces in India
  • Houseboat - Drift through the backwaters on a traditional Keralan houseboat
  • Toy train - Ride the 100 year-old 'toy train' through the Nilgiri Mountains
Accommodation grade:
Standard
Our standard, mid-range accommodation offers a good level of service, often with other amenities such as a restaurant, bar, garden or swimming pool. Generally rooms will be comfortable with en suite facilities.
Trip pace:
Moderate
Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a holiday which combines exciting activities and experiences with plenty of time to relax and unwind. Typically you’ll be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries.
Group Size:
12 - 18
Maximum group size ranges from between 6 to 20 people, depending on the type of trip, the transport and accommodation used and activities included. We rarely have groups that are smaller than five or six people and the average is 12 people plus an Explore leader.

Itinerary

Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.

Day 1 - Join trip in Bangalore

Our trip begins today in Bangalore.

Accommodation: Hotel Hindusthan International Bangalore(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: None
Day 2 - Drive to Mysore and discover its magnificent palace

We have a journey of around four hours by road to reach Mysore which offers the interested traveller a great deal including the huge Maharajah's Palace. Originally built in the 14th century, the palace has undergone two subsequent re-buildings and is today an opulent mixture of Hindu and British architecture. After exploring the palace we visit the enormous monolithic sculpture of the sacred bull Nandi, standing halfway up the Chamundi Hill. There will be some free time in the afternoon to explore at your own pace and you may wish to visit the Srirangapatnam Palace just outside the city, or see the historic art gallery in Jaganmohan Palace.

Accommodation: The Quorum(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast
Day 3 - Take a game drive in Bandipur National Park

Leaving Mysore, we drive to nearby Bandipur National Park. The park is home to a variety of animals such as the chital (spotted deer), monkeys, mongoose, panther and the Indian bison. The park's elephant population is one of the largest in the country and we may see some of them working in the forest. We take a game drive this afternoon before spending the night at a lodge on the outskirts of the park.

Accommodation: Tusker Trails(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast
Day 4 - Morning game drive before driving to Ooty

An early start today as we take a second game drive in to the park. After returning to our lodge for breakfast and to freshen up, we drive to Udhagamandalam, better known as Ooty, a journey of around 4 hours. The most famous of all South India's hill stations, Ooty (2270m) was first adopted by the British and then by wealthy Maharajas, earning itself a reputation as 'Snooty Ooty'. It is still regarded as the 'Queen of Hill Stations' and is a mixture of Hindu temples and beautiful gardens.

Accommodation: Fortune Sullivan Court Ooty(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast
Day 5 - Explore Ooty and enjoy Christmas Lunch in the Taj Savoy Hotel

We take a walking tour of the town this morning visiting the Botanical Gardens, St Stephen's Church and Ooty Lake, before enjoying Christmas lunch at the colonial era Taj Savoy hotel. In the afternoon we'll meet our expert astronomer who will give us an insight in to the annular eclipse and what to expect the next day.

Accommodation: Fortune Sullivan Court Ooty(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast & Lunch
Day 6 - View the Annular Eclipse, travel on the Toy Train and drive to Coimbatore

India is a place steeped in ancient myth and legend, and as you might expect from a culture also obsessed with the stars and planets, Hindu mythology offers us an interesting story to explain this natural phenomenon of an eclipse: The deity Rahu was beheaded by the gods for drinking Amrita, the gods' nectar. Rahu's head flies off into the sky and swallows the Sun which is what causes it to disappear for a short time. The eclipse takes place at 09.30 and we'll be in the right spot in plenty of time to see the whole event. Our astronomer will be with us to provide an insight in to the science underpinning the eclipse, and help us make the most out of our opportunity to see it. Weather conditions cannot be guaranteed, but the chance of clear, mostly clear or partly cloudy skies is around 50%, with a 50% chance of it being cloudy. In the afternoon we take a ride on the famous Toy Train through the lush Nilgiri mountains to Coonoor. Traditionally the Toy Train was pulled by steam engines, but these days diesel engines are often used. It is not unknown for the train to be out of service due to maintenance or poor track conditions, if this is the case we will transfer to Coonoor by bus. From Coonoor we drive to Coimbatore, a journey of around 3 hours.

Accommodation: Hotel Vibe Coimbatore by GRT(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast
Day 7 - Morning train to Kochi, evening Kathakali dance performance

We catch the morning Sabari Express train to Kochi, a gathering place of merchants since antiquity and still full of bustling traders. Fort Kochi is the oldest European settlement in India, and has a mixture of English, Dutch and Portuguese influences. We will take a tour by river to Fort Kochi, passing Bolgatty Island and seeing the cantilevered Chinese Fishing nets. In the evening we watch a spectacular Kathakali performance. A form of Indian classical dance, it is characterised by elaborate costumes and makeup, and by the very intricate movements of body and face which convey the story to the audience.

Accommodation: Hotel Casino(or similar)

Premium Hotel
Swimming pool available
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast
Day 8 - Spend the night on a houseboat in the backwaters

Today we drive to the most beautiful stretch of inland waterways in Kerala - over 80km of Malabar backwaters winding under the lush leaves of coconut palms. We board our houseboat for an exotic journey, chugging in unhurried style on waterways used by villagers commuting from village to village. The traditional houseboats are simple vessels, with en suite twin rooms, and the pace is relaxed, enabling us to see riverside village life in its entirety. The people that live along the backwaters are a colourful mix of high born Nayas, traditionally inheriting property through the mother; Brahmins, once priests but now mainly professional workers; Dravidians, speaking their own language and Christians, Jews, Muslims and Chinese - an attractive, friendly melée of different types, often looking somewhat incongruous with their black umbrellas to ward off the tropical sun. Keep an eye open for the rich variety of birdlife along the water's edge. We dock in the middle of the waterways and relax as we watch the sun go down.

Accommodation: Kerala Houseboat(or similar)

Simple Boat
Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 9 - Explore Kochi

After a relaxed breakfast we disembark from our houseboat and return to Kochi where we visit the Mattancherry Palace. Built by the Portuguese in the 16th century, it earned the name 'the Dutch Palace' after extensive renovations by the Dutch some hundred years later. It has some of the best murals in India, depicting scenes from the Ramayana and other great legends. The afternoon is left free for you to explore Kochi.

Accommodation: Hotel Casino(or similar)

Premium Hotel
Swimming pool available
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast
Day 10 - Tour ends Kochi

Our tour ends this morning after breakfast.

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Why book this trip

This short trip to southern India is timed take us to the colonial hill station of Ooty for the annular eclipse of 26th December 2019, with an amateur astronomer on hand to explain the phenomenon and help us to make the most out of it. An annular eclipse happens when the moon lines up perfectly with the sun, but is at just the right distance from the earth that it doesn't quite cover it completely, leaving a ring of sunlight known as the 'ring of fire'. We'll travel through hill country of tea plantations, travel on an ancient railway and spend the night on the famous Keralan backwaters.

What's included?

Included meals
  • Breakfast: 9
  • Lunch: 2
  • Dinner: 1
Transport
  • Bus
  • 4WD
  • Boat
  • Train
Trip staff
  • Explore Tour Leader
  • Astronomer
  • Driver(s)
  • Local Guide(s)
Accommodation
  • 1 nights simple boat
  • 6 nights standard hotel
  • 2 nights premium hotel
Award Winning Explore Leaders
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Price Guarantee Promise
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Airport Transfers
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FairFX currency card
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Trip information

Country information

India Holidays & Tours

Climate

There is considerable variation between the different regions of India but, in general, the climate is tropical. Summer temperatures on the plains are very hot, but cooled by the South-West Monsoon, which lasts from June- September. During these months it can be very wet and therefore very humid. At altitude, temperatures can become quite cool at night even in the summer and may drop below freezing between December and February so warm clothing is necessary. In the winter, northern and mid India can be very cool, with cold evenings, so warm clothing, including plenty of layers, are essential. The south of India remains warm and sunny during the winter months.

Time difference to GMT

+5

Plugs

3 Pin Round

Religion

Catholicism, Hindu, Islam and Sikhism

Language

Hindi and English.

Budgeting and packing

Optional activities

Thekkady - Spice plantation £5 (Including transport) Udhagamandalam - Tea Factory £2.00; guided walk to tribal village £7.00.

Clothing

Bear in mind that the area is tropical with high humidity. Light weight clothing is needed all year round with some warmer clothes for cooler evenings, particularly in winter (November-March) in the Nilgiri Hills. Due to the high chance of rain between October and December, it is advisable to take a rain jacket or umbrella during this time. Casual clothes are the most practical: tight fitting garments, brief shorts and skirts should be avoided, since they attract unwelcome attention. Shoes must be taken off for temple visits and you must always cover up arms and legs when going inside. You may want to take an old pair of socks to the temples as the floor can get very hot and difficult to walk on.

Footwear

Comfortable shoes and sandals.

Luggage

20kg

Luggage: On tour

One main piece of baggage and a daysac. Remember hotel porters are not always available, so don't overload yourself. Soft bags are preferable.

Equipment

Eclipse vewiing glasses will be provided for you.

Tipping

Explore leader
At your discretion you might also consider tipping your Tour Leader in appreciation of the efficiency and service you receive.
Local crew
Although entirely voluntary, tipping is a recognized part of life in this region of the world. Some local staff will look to members of the group for personal recognition of particular services provided. In order to make things easier for you, the Tour Leaders may organise a group's tips kitty and if this is the case, they will account for it throughout the tour. Accordingly, you should allow £30 for tipping.
Country Information

India Holidays & Tours

Food and drink

The costs for meals may vary depending upon location, type of restaurant and number of courses eaten and so the prices given are an average guide. Local restaurants located off the beaten track may be less expensive, whereas an upmarket restaurant located in the centre of a major city may charge more.


Lunch price
£6
Dinner price
£8
Beer price
£1.4
Water price
£0.5
Foreign Exchange
Local currency
Indian Rupee Recently new 500, 1000 and 2000 rupee notes have been bought in to circulation and as the old notes are no longer accepted there have been some cash flow issues. You don't need to worry about being given old notes as it's very easy to tell the difference, the new notes are pristine in comparison with most Indian money which is fairly tatty.
Recommended Currency For Exchange
GBP/US$ are the best currency to change into local currency.
Where To Exchange
The Indian rupee is a restricted currency and it is best not to obtain in the UK as rates are very poor. You can either change money at the airport on arrival or in major towns during the tour. Your Tour Leader will advise you on the best places in each town. Both GBP and USD cash are easy to exchange at the airport and at hotels however you will be restricted to changing £60 cash at a time and it's not possible to change money at these locations using a credit or debit card.
ATM Availability
ATMs are available in most large cities in India but they are very limited elsewhere so please do not rely on this.
Credit Card Acceptance
Very rarely, only in the larger outlets.
Travellers Cheques
Opportunities to exchange are limited.

Transport, Accommodation & Meals

Transport Information

Bus, 4WD, Boat, Train

Accommodation notes

Booking a Single Room

All of our group tours are planned and operated on a twin-share basis, meaning that the standard cost is based either on individual travellers sharing accommodation with another group member of the same sex, or people who book together sharing accommodation. Please refer to the tour notes where the single room option availability is detailed on a night by night basis for this tour, and the price for the available nights is detailed on the dates & prices tab by departure date. For Self-Guided trips the Single Room supplement offers the option of a single room each and is charged per person. The Single Room supplement also applies to the third person in a party of three that will be accommodated in a single room.


Accommodation in India is as varied as the country itself. On our tours we stay in a mix of hotels, heritage properties, camp sites and homestays. Standards do not equate to standards in the UK and it's best to approach each type of accommodation with an open mind. Service can be slow in places especially when travelling with a group. For the most part hotels do not have heating so in the winter months it can be chilly and if you feel the cold you may wish to ask for extra blankets. Hot water is not always available 24 hours a day in some of the smaller properties, and with a group staying you might find if you are showering last you may miss out on the hottest water.

Essential information

FCO Advice

We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice click here.

For more information from Explore about travel advice, click here
 

Under 18 immigration guidance

Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.

Essential Information

Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions

Visa Information

India: Holders of passports endorsed 'British citizen' may be eligible for the e-Tourist Visa to enter India. The visa can be applied for through the official Indian government visa website only - https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html. Please check all eligibility criteria that can be found on the website but important points are listed below - You must be arriving into one of 16 selected entry points, however, you can exit from any of the authorised immigration check posts in India. Entry points are - Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Jaipur, Amritsar, Gaya, Lucknow, Trichy, Varanasi and Ahmedabad. Passports must have at least 6 months validity from the date of arrival in India and at least two blank pages for stamping. The visa application will take approximately 4 days to process. It is only valid for 30 days and is only allowed for a maximum of two visits in a calendar year. The visa costs $60. Biometric data will be collected on arrival in India. Whilst the online form offers a relatively quick way to apply for a visa, a number of applicants have reported difficulty in completing the form. Travcour will complete the on-line visa on your behalf for a fee of £25 + the visa cost. Please contact them directly if you wish to take up this service. If you are not eligible for the e-Tourist Visa, please refer to VFS Global to apply for your Indian visa - http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk/how_to_apply.html.


If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may consider applying through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.

Booking conditions

Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.

Transfers

Find out more about Trip Transfer Terms and Conditions before you book.

Booking a land only package with Explore

Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information. 

You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.


Joining Tour Abroad

Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will now receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The transfers will be from the Explore designated airport or train station to the joining point of your tour, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.  

Free transfers are not available for Self-Guided, Tailormade or Tours for Churches customers.

If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.  


For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here

Insurance

It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.

Flight information

Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.


Flight Information

You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.

  

Booking a flight inclusive package with Explore

We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.

On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.

India Holidays & Tours

Vaccinations

Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against Tetanus, Infectious Hepatitis, Typhoid and Polio. Please consult your travel clinic for the latest advice on Malaria, Dengue and Zika Virus. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider.

Dates, prices and booking

Date
Price from
Single room option
Friday 20 December 2019 - Monday 30 December 2019
This departure is guaranteed
BKE_2019
From £2759
Single room option +£475
Show full details for this departure, including trip notes
All customers that travel on an Explore Group or Private Journey trip will be provided with a complimentary transfer, provided they arrive and depart into the designated airport or train station on the trip start and end dates. Please see free transfers for terms and conditions.

These trip joining details are provided on a provisional basis and may change prior to this tour departing. Any changes to these details will be updated on this page.
For those not eligible for a free transfer the joining / ending time and location for your trip are detailed below:
Joining Point
Town
Bangalore
Time and place
18:00 at Hotel Reception
Ending Point
Town
Kochi
Time
09:00
If you have booked a pre or post trip accommodation directly with the hotel, or through any other intermediaries, please ensure you regularly check this page in case of any changes.
Download Trip Notes
Date
Price from
Single room option
Saturday 21 December 2019 - Monday 30 December 2019
This departure is guaranteed
BKE_2019
From £1595
Single room option +£475
Show full details for this departure, including trip notes
All customers that travel on an Explore Group or Private Journey trip will be provided with a complimentary transfer, provided they arrive and depart into the designated airport or train station on the trip start and end dates. Please see free transfers for terms and conditions.

These trip joining details are provided on a provisional basis and may change prior to this tour departing. Any changes to these details will be updated on this page.
For those not eligible for a free transfer the joining / ending time and location for your trip are detailed below:
Joining Point
Town
Bangalore
Time and place
18:00 at Hotel Reception
Ending Point
Town
Kochi
Time
09:00
If you have booked a pre or post trip accommodation directly with the hotel, or through any other intermediaries, please ensure you regularly check this page in case of any changes.
Download Trip Notes

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