Our India expedition takes us 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; we 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. Our India tour continues to Sri Lanka, where we 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.
India, Sri Lanka, and Maldives adventure travel highlights include:
- Enjoy incredible meals throughout our India expedition, including the opportunity to a visit a traditional home in Goa for cooking demonstration and lunch.
- Sri Lanka’s Temple of the Tooth, one of the holiest places of worship and pilgrimage for Buddhists around the world.
- Several World Heritage Sites on our India tour, including Elephanta Island, Kandy, and Galle.
- Baa Atoll, made up of about 50 islands offering rich biodiversity including large mangroves and unique ring-shaped reef forms.
- Begin your India adventure travels with an optional pre-extension to see the Taj Mahal and Jaipur.
With Zegrahm Expeditions, virtually everything is included in the cost of your trip. Here is what you can look forward to on this India with Sri Lanka and the Maldives expedition:
- All gratuities, from porters and ship’s crew to tour guides
- All accommodations, including pre-voyage hotel nights
- Welcome dinner and orientation briefing to get to know one another and get a good sense of what’s to come
- Daily activity options, from visiting temples to snorkeling and diving
- World-class lecture and expedition team
- All meals onboard and with the group ashore
- All entrance fees, taxes, and landing and port charges
- All transfers on the group arrival and departure days
- Gift certificates for recommended expedition gear and reading materials
- Comprehensive pre-departure packet to prepare you for your India tour with everything from currency information and weather to shipboard amenities and a packing list
- Medical and emergency evacuation insurance
- Dedicated Zegrahm program manager and air coordinator to answer all your questions
- Photographic journal upon returning home to relive your India adventure travels
Depart the USA on your independent flight to India.
Mumbai (Bombay), 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, we see elegant colonial buildings such as the Gothic Victoria Terminus railway station, and the Prince of Wales Museum. We drive along famed Marine Drive, passing Chowpatty Beach, to Malabar Hill with its superb views, parks, and Hanging Gardens. Return to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
Mumbai / Embark Clipper Odyssey
This morning we 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. This afternoon we board the Clipper Odyssey, our home for the next 13 nights.
Marmagao’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. We 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. We 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. We visit Karkala’s monolithic Gomasteshwara Statue, dedicated to a Jain saint. We then visit a cashew processing plant followed by a lunch of local specialties at a rural pineapple farm.
Our 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, we board local houseboats for a cruise through Kochi’s backwaters where we may spot locals doing laundry or fish farming. We also enjoy an evening performance of Kathakali classical dance on board our ship.
Located near India’s southern tip, Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala is a pedestrian-friendly town spread out over seven hills. Today we visit the village of Pongumoode and its surrounding rubber plantations where we witness the various stages of rubber processing. We also attend a Kalari Payattu demonstration, Kerala’s ancient form of martial arts.
Colombo, Sri Lanka / Kandy
Today we 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 we 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. We will 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, we 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 Clipper Odyssey for lunch as we set sail for the Maldives.
Spend a relaxing day at sea as our lecturers introduce us to the heritage and natural wonders of the magical Maldives.
Uligamu, Maldives / Utheemu Island / Baa Atoll / Olhahali Island
We 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, we discover the special, lesser-visited places in the atolls north of Male.
Following is a sampling of the sites we plan 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.
Male / Disembark
Disembark this morning for a sightseeing tour of Male. Check in to day rooms at our 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.
Arrive in the USA and connect with homeward flights.
One of the finest adventure ships afloat, the Clipper Odyssey is a 110-passenger luxury expedition vessel, ideally suited for cruising in off-the-beaten-path locales. On all Clipper Odyssey expeditions, guests have access to a fleet of Zodiacs, which allows remote landings anywhere nature or curiosity dictates. All cabins on a Clipper Odyssey cruise have an ocean view, safe, minibar, individually controlled heat/air conditioner, in-room music system, and sitting area with sofa. Beds can be configured for twin or queen-size sleeping arrangements, and all cabins have an en suite bathroom complete with shower and small bathtub. In the comfort of their cabin, passengers can track the progress of their expedition on the Global Positioning System broadcast—a highlight of a Clipper Odyssey voyage for adventure-minded guests. Additional facilities include a gourmet kitchen featuring American and international cuisine, dining room, lounge, small library and gym, outdoor pool, and gift shop. An elevator services all passenger cabin decks. Ship registry: Bahamas.
All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.
Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.
Options and Extras
Flights are not included in the cost of expeditions; however, Zegrahm Expeditions has a fully-staffed air department that can assist you with flight arrangements. Since many of our expeditions embark and disembark from remote destinations, the airports that serve these areas often have limited carriers and/or daily flights. As such, our air team is well-versed in planning complex routings for our travelers.