Monday, September 25, 2017

Announcing new dates and itinerary for November 2017: India North and South Yatra

This Yatra can be a 15, 21, 30 or 45 day tour.

Oct 29 leave YVR to LHR/London Heathrow
Nov 02 leave LHR to DEL/Delhi OR leave YVR to DEL
Nov 02 or 03 arr DEL
Stay at Ginger Hotel Rail Yatri Nivas or nearby hotel

Nov 04 van to Mathura/Vrindavan
Nov 06 Ajna BD

Rajasthan


EITHER
Nov 18 return to Delhi by van, drop at airport
Nov 19 leave DEL to YVR

OR

Nov 18 leave Kota train #22414
Nov 19 arr Thivim, Goa
Stay Arumbol, Goa


EITHER
Nov 23 or 24 leave GOI/Goa Dabolim to DEL to YVR


OR

Nov 23 leave VSG/Vasco da Gama train #17312
Nov 24 arr MAS/Chennai, train to TPJ/Trichy

Thiraiyur
Mamallapuram


EITHER
Dec 02 or 03 leave MAA/Chennai to YVR


OR

Join December tour to Goa

Dec 16 or 18 leave GOI/Goa Dabolim to YVR

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Announcing new dates and itinerary for January 2018: Chennai to Kerala and Goa

Fri Jan 5 or Sat Jan 6 depart YVR for MAA/Chennai

Mamallapuram, Chennai, Ooty, Mysore, Ernakulam/Fort Kochi, Varkala

Sat Jan 20 evening dep TRV/Trivandrum
Sun Jan 21 arrive YVR

Optional extension up to Goa

Sat Jan 27 dep GOI/Goa Dabolim
Sun Jan 28 arrive YVR

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Announcing new dates and itinerary for November 2017: India and Sri Lanka Yatra

See revised itinerary above. The tour now does not include Sri Lanka.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Additional tour date

There are two places available on our new 15-day tour, December 1-16, 2017. This will follow the Beaches and Heritage itinerary up to Goa. Return from Goa Dabolim airport (GOI).

Tour price $150 x 15 days = $2,250

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Tour Maps



Tours for the season November 2017 to February 2018

Jean-Philipe, a Canadian expat living in Tamil Nadu, offers personalized, introductory tours of south India during the season November through February. The dates and itineraries shown are suggestions, and can be adjusted and customized as desired.

November 4-26, 2017;   January 6-28, 2018;   February 3-25, 2018

There are two itineraries available:
     - Karnataka Off the Beaten Track:  Chennai to Goa
     - South India Beaches and Heritage:  Chennai to Trivandrum

The itinerary for each tour will be chosen by the first two participants to confirm their booking.

India can be overwhelming for the first-time visitor, so travelling in a small group (maximum of five participants) with an experienced guide to look after all the logistics and minutiae allows you to enjoy the experience of India with no worries. Jean-Philipe will look after the details of where to go, how to get there, where to stay, how to get around, what to see, and what to avoid.

Jean-Philipe has been travelling and living in India for more than three decades, especially exploring the south extensively by motorcycle, car, train and bus. In his travels he has developed a network of friendships and valuable contacts, all to the advantage of the visitors he escorts each year.

All tours begin at Chennai airport, where Jean-Philipe and his driver greet you and whisk you to our first stop, Mamallapuram (also called Mahabalipuram), a laid-back beach area and stone-carving centre and former port city of the Pallava Dynasty a millennium ago.

We stay four nights at Hotel Mahabs Resort, an oasis of tranquillity in the centre of the town, to catch up on jet-lag and acclimatise to India. All rooms overlook the garden and swimming pool. Enjoy a breakfast buffet with both Indian and Western items, and poolside service from the restaurant and bar.

On day 3 we do a walking tour of Mamallapuram's main archaeological sites, including Arjuna's Penance, Krishna's Butterball, the Lighthouse, the Five Rathas, and the Shore Temple.

On day 5 we leave Mamallapuram after breakfast, and on our way to Chennai Central railway station by taxi we stop for an hour or so each at:

- Madras Crocodile Bank, one of the largest herpetology centres in the world.

- DakshinaChitra, a cross cultural living museum of art, architecture, lifestyles, crafts and performing arts of south India.

- San Thome Basilica, with the tomb of St Thomas, one of only three places in the world which is the known burial site of one of Jesus' apostles (the others are St. Peter in the Vatican and St James in Santiago de Compostela in Spain).

- Amir Mahal Palace, home of the Prince of Arcot and his extended family. Depending on their schedules, the Prince, Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali, or his Dewan (heir), Nawabzada Mohammed Asif Ali, may be free to greet us.

We take an overnight train to Mettupalayam, where our driver and van meet us to bring us to the UNESCO World Heritage Nilgiri Mountain Railway narrow-gauge "Toy Train" up to Coonoor, near Ooty, Queen of the Hill Stations. Our driver meets up with us again at Coonoor railway station, and will be our transportation for the next several days.

After lunch we visit Lamb's Rock and Dolphin's Nose, then drive to Ooty for our overnight stop. In the morning we visit Doddabetta Peak and a tea factory, then drive to Mysore, city of palaces.

During our three-day stay in Mysore, we sample several of the main attractions of this fascinating city. We visit Mysore Palace, one of the most visited monuments in India; Lalith Mahal Palace, now a 4-star hotel; see the Chamundeshwari Temple on Chamundi Hills, and its great stone sacred bull; explore the nearby historic walled town of Srirangapatnam, capital of Tipu Sultan; and stroll through Brindavan Gardens.

We also include a tour of the city market with our local travel partner goMowgli.

From Mysore, we have two different itineraries available. (Chitradurga to Hampi to Goa is the same for both routes.)


Karnataka Off the Beaten Track

Itinerary:  Mamallapuram --> Coonoor/Ooty --> Mysore --> Kodagu --> Bellur & Halebidu --> Chikmagalur --> Chitradurga --> Hospet/Hampi --> Goa.

From Mysore we explore the interior of Karnataka. We start with Kodagu (Coorg), meeting friendly heffalumps at the Dubare Elephant Camp, visiting the glorious Tibetan Golden Temple at Bylakuppe, and stay two nights in Madikeri.

We visit the archeological centres of the Hoysala Empire, Bellur and Halebidu; stay at a coffee plantation in Chikmagalur; make an overnight stop in Chitradurga, with its magnificent fort; and then on to Hospet, our base for visiting Hampi, UNESCO World Heritage Site, and former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire.

Then through the Western Ghats to Goa, former Portuguese enclave taken back by India in 1961, where we relax for a couple of days of beach time, with a day visit to Old Goa and Goa's capital Panjim. We say goodbye to our driver, who will now return to Mysore.

A final taxi ride takes us to Goa Dabolim Airport for your flight home.


South India Beaches and Heritage

Itinerary: Mamallapuram --> Coonoor/Ooty --> Mysore --> Chitradurga --> Hospet/Hampi --> Goa --> Fort Kochi --> Varkala --> Trivandrum.

From Mysore we drive to Chitradurga for an overnight stop, exploring the magnificent fort; and on to Hospet/Hampi and then Goa. (See the "Off the Beaten Track" itinerary for more details.)

From Goa, an overnight train takes us to Kerala's main city of Ernakulam, where we stay two nights in historic Fort Kochi, enjoying seaside walks, local ferries, and heritage museums.

A day train takes us to our last stop, Varkala, with its beautiful beach and clifftop, catering to Western and Indian visitors alike.

We take a final taxi to Trivandrum airport to catch your outbound flight.


Costs, Bookings and Flights

All prices are in Canadian dollars.

Tour costs are $150 per day, twin-share basis, total $3,150 per person for a three-week tour. Single room supplement is $750.


Tour price includes:
     - All ground transportation and transfers (train, taxi, van, autorickshaw)
     - Semi-deluxe accommodation, twin-share basis (single room option at extra cost)
     - All breakfasts and lunches; all but two dinners
     - Guide fees and admission fees
     - Tips and gratuities


Not included:
     - International airfare
     - Travel and health insurance
     - Visa
     - Personal expenses (e.g. alcohol, laundry, shopping)
     - 2 dinners

All-inclusive grand total is about $5,000.

Tours can be booked through one of our travel partners:

- Lloyds Travel and Cruises, Attention Lucas Sripathy. 342 West 8th Avenue, Vancouver BC. 604-872-3660 or 800-800-7252.

- Maritime Travel, Attention Hana Talimalo. 505 Bute St at Pender, Vancouver. 604-681-6212.

- Marlin Travel, Attention Kevin Horn, 1075 West Georgia at Thurlow, Vancouver, 604-689-8904.

You can book your flight to Chennai (airport code MAA) yourself, or through our travel partners. Depending on the itinerary you choose, your return flight will be from Goa Dabolim (GOI) or Trivandrum (TRV). You will probably need to make a connection within India on the outbound flight, usually through Mumbai (BOM), Bengaluru (BLR), Chennai (MAA) or Delhi (DEL).

Several routes are available:
- Air Canada/Lufthansa via Frankfurt
- British Airways via London Heathrow
- Eva Air via Taipei
- Air Canada/Cathay Pacific via Hongkong


Visas and other notes

All visitors to India must have a valid visa.

e-Tourist Visa (eTV) (valid for 30 days)

India Tourist Visa (valid for 6 months)

Travel insurance is highly recommended.

Consult with a travel clinic for advice on vaccinations and other health issues.

See also http://travelwonders.ca/south-india-tours (prepared by Lloyds Travel).

Photos: instagram.com #focusonindiatours

Facebook: FocusOnIndiaTours

Please contact Jean-Philipe via email at indiajp@gmail.com for further information.


Testimonials

"The time I spent in south India with Jean-Philipe as my guide was one of the best experiences of my life. He handled everything so competently, hotel reservations, train travel, money exchange, and so on. This was very important to me because I was in my 81st year. I was always positive that whatever emergency arose, he could handle it. Thank you JP for wonderful memories!"
Mary B, Kemptville ON

"JP will organize your trip to the last detail and you will not need to worry about transportation, accommodation or anything else. Just relax and enjoy your ride. However, make sure to discuss in detail your travel preferences (i.e. visit  beaches or temples, travel by train or airplane, etc.)"
Jan K, Vancouver

"Please accept my confirmation and approval of Jean-Philipe as an excellent tour guide. During my six-weeks in southern India I found him to be very knowledgeable, well organized and efficient – just what you need when travelling in India. I highly recommend Jean-Philipe as an experienced, pleasant and intelligent tour guide!"
Sheila F, Vancouver

"I traveled with JP in India in 2010 for a month. He made my India experience completely seamless so that all I had to do was enjoy getting to know some of the many new things and experiences India has to offer. His local knowledge is extensive and his wide acquaintance of people in the travel industry in India made his help really valuable. Please consider this my warmest recommendation to take advantage of his personable and thorough approach to travel planning."            
Alex G, Burnaby BC

"Thank you JP for a lovely tour. It was way more than I expected. I look forward to travelling with you or your assistant at another time."
Amelia C, Surrey BC
.

See also this great article:

10 Best Places to Go in India
https://www.smartertravel.com/2016/05/24/10-best-places-go-india/

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Tours for the 2017-18 Season


Here are the dates for the current season's tours.

Nov 4-26, 2017

Jan 6-28, 2018

Feb 3-25, 2018

There are two itineraries available.

- Karnataka Off the Beaten Track, Chennai to Goa

- South India Beaches and Heritage, Chennai to Trivandrum

The itinerary for each tour will be chosen by the first two participants to confirm their booking.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Amendment to February 2017 tour

The February 2017 tour will use the Off the Beaten Track itinerary (see October 2016 tour), and will finish in Goa. From Goa you can get a connecting flight via Mumbai or Bengaluru to Frankfurt and beyond.

New Instagram.com hashtag #focusonindiatours