Our team here at Travel Options 4U are completely enthralled with India – so much so that last week we hosted an Indian event with Travelpack, to celebrate the delights that this country offers. The idea to do this was partially inspired by Jennie’s recent trip to India. She had the amazing opportunity of visiting Southern India on an educational with Travelpack in a small group with 7 other travel agents. India has been a country which Jennie has always wanted to visit, so she was incredibly excited! Gill has already visited the iconic (and more traditional) holiday of the Golden Triangle, whereas Jennie was taking a more unusual approach to exploring India, staying further away from the main tourist destinations, and spent a full 7 days exploring the sights this area has to offer.
The group flew from London Heathrow with Ethiad Airways, going via Abu Dhabi, where they had a two hour wait before continuing their journey to Calicut. For the first section of their flight, the group were lucky enough to fly business class, which provided ultimate relaxation and space.
When the group first arrived in Calicut, Jennie was immediately struck by the heat – it was only 8AM and the temperature was already 27 degrees! The heat is something you get used to surprisingly quickly, just like you quickly get used to the completely different way of life within this country. Whilst travelling to their first hotel, the slightly chaotic nature of driving in India became clear – the almost lack of rules present is both fascinating and daunting! After only a few hours in the country, Jennie was amazed by many aspects of it, spotted just from her car window, such as the smiley villagers in beautiful outfits and the many trees bursting with coconuts, mangoes and bananas.
The six hotels Jennie visited were all intimate and intriguing – and all placed a massive focus on the beauty of nature. The Spice Village, in Periyar, for example, is incredibly eco-friendly, and their resourcefulness was completely inspiring. And, unsurprisingly, completely beautiful. To be able to detach from the modern world and immerse yourself into admiring the nature around you was utterly rewarding and satisfying. Many of the hotels offered experiences that were above and beyond what one may expect – for example, traditional cooking demonstrations and watching local Indian dancing. Experiences such as these really helped the group achieve a wider depth of understanding about this culture, and Jennie found them brilliant, and activities such as these are a most if you wish to truly immerse yourself into a country.
Aside from visiting various hotels, the group also had the opportunity to explore southern India further. A visit of Periyar Tiger Reserve and a spice tour that followed were two of the highlights of Jennie’s trip. Whilst Jennie did not sadly see any tigers herself, her group did spot a wide variety of animals including Indian bison and an elephant! Whilst looking out for these animals, the group took an hour-long river boat journey, which is a popular choice for many people who visit the Reserve. It’s easy to see why this option is so well-loved, it is a beautiful and relaxing way to explore the scenery around you. If you fancy a more exhilarating option, guided walks through the forest are also offered, enabling you to observe animals on a closer scale, but the group sadly couldn’t fit everything in!
To get around India, the group were often driven to their next destination by people who knew the area incredibly well – and although rather hair-raising at times, travelling on the roads was a great way to take in the scenery and culture. The group also took a train for 4 hours to Cochin; a very different experience to the trains back in England (but still very busy!). Travelling first class is something that Jennie would recommend if your journey is relatively long – having comfy seats made watching the beautiful scenery speed much more enjoyable! A massive benefit of taking the train was interacting with the locals around you – really fun and interesting.
What Jennie loved most about her trip to Southern India were the people she encountered. Everyone was so friendly, bubbly and welcoming, and were more than willing to take time out of their day to chat to the group. This made the trip much more personal to Jennie, and gave her a much fuller understanding of the country. To truly understand a country, especially one with a culture so different to our own, speaking to locals can be key!
As the attractions of the North have been well-established with tourists for a long time, Southern India is a much more up-and-coming destination, but equally as fascinating, as it provides and utterly different aspect to India. Jennie would happily recommend Southern India to anyone who wants to peacefully reconnect with nature, experience a romantic retreat with their partner or to have a exhilarating trip in a new environment. So, the benefits and attractions of Southern India are incredibly varied!
Our evening event with Travelpack celebrated all that India has to offer, especially with this brilliant tour operator. Our host, Sunny Singh, gave a wonderfully enthusiastic and interesting talk to the dozens of clients and friends who attended. We learnt about the history of India and the fascinating tourism industry provided by this country – and we were all truly inspired to explore India even further! To top it off, we had a fabulous array of delicious Indian treats on hand to tempt us even more.
If you, like us, have been intrigued by what India has to offer, then we are more than happy to listen to your interests and start creating a dream holiday!