Border Information: If you are joining in Chennai, you will most likely enter India in Chennai International Airport (IATA code: MAA).
Today is a free day to explore the sights, sounds and flavours of Chennai. There will be an important group meeting at 6:00pm - please look for a note from your tour leader when you arrive at the hotel giving more details about this meeting.
Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Chennai before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Chennai.
In Chennai we will stay in a comfortable modern hotel.
*Important note* - if you are joining the trip in Chennai, please make sure that you send us a scan of your Indian visa as soon as you have obtained it. If you plan to take the e-visa option, please make sure you arrange this well in advance and send us a copy of your receipt as soon as possible. If we do not receive this in advance, then we will not have enough time to get your permits for the Odisha Region and you will not be able to visit this area.
Overnight stay in Chennai
Visit the many historic temples, mosques, and churches of Chennai - Cost: INR
Visit the Fort St. George, the site of the East India Company's first trading station in 1640, and the first British fort in India - Cost: INR 100
Visit the Chennai Government Museum, and its incredible selection of antiquities including Roman artefacts and coins from all eras of India's past - Cost: INR 250
Today we start our journey with a drive to the bustling town of Tirupati. In the afternoon there will be an optional visit to the Sri Venkateswara holy temple in the nearby town of Tirumala. ( Please note if you wish to visit the temple there is a dress code of Dhoti with upper cloth for men and saree or half-saree with blouse or churidar with pyjama and upper cloth for women. It is also quite difficult to get tickets to visit the temple due to the high numbers of pilgrims visiting the temple during this time, if we can not get any tickets available we will visit Srikalahasteeswara temple instead ).
In Tirupati we will stay in a friendly local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).
Visit the Sri Venkatesvara Tirumalai Temple - Cost: INR 300
Leaving Tirupati, we will spend the next few days overlanding through Andhra Pradesh, one of the least developed states in India. This is real off-the-beaten-track overlanding, and we will arrive in the small city of Vijayawada this evening.
In Vijayawada we will stay in a basic local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours.
Today we continue our journey and drive through the back roads of Andra Pradesh. Our final destination tonight is the costal town of Visakhapatnam.
In Visakhapatnam we will stay in a local hotel on the sea front.
Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours.
Today we will begin our guided tour through the rarely-visited Odisha Tribal Regions, which we will comprehensively visit over the next 6 days. In these regions the itinerary has to be kept fairly flexible, allowing us the freedom to alter things slightly if we hear of any special events or market days in particular villages. However, we will generally follow the plan below:
On the first day we will have an early start from Visakhapatnam to arrive in a small village called Goudaguda in time to visit the Monday markets. Beautiful earthen pottery is skillfully produced in this area and you may even get the chance to try this for yourself.
In Goudaguda we will stay in a local guesthouse which has been styled on local tribal houses.
Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.
On the following day we will have a full-day guided walk through the countryside around Goudaguda, visiting the neighbouring Mahali and Kondh tribal villages. We will return to our guesthouse in Goudaguda for the night.
On the next day we will drive to the lively Chatikona Market, a weekly highlight for the Dongria Kondh tribe. We will then travel through the hills to the village of Muniguda, our destination for tonight. On arrival we will be welcomed by the New Hope Charitable Trust (a local NGO helping to uplift the poor and disadvantaged), and in the afternoon we will have a cooking demonstration and spend some time with the children and the elderly people of the New Hope Trust.
In Muniguda we will stay in basic rooms in the grounds of the charitable trust.
Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.
On the following day we will drive further through an Elephant Range. We will then walk into the Desia Kondh indigenous community. They are distinguished by the unique facial tattoos of the women. After a village visit and picnic lunch we will continue to Baliguda.
In Baliguda we will stay in a local basic hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours.
On the next day we will drive to the fascinating fishing town of Gopalpur, a once major port for the East India Company which has an interesting decaying charm. We will have a free afternoon to independently explore the town on arrival.
In Gopalpur we will stay in a local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.
Visit the Monday market in the indigenous melting pot of Goudaguda, soaking up the incredible atmosphere as the locals barter and trade their produce
Head out for a full day hike around the Goudaguda region, visiting nearby villages of the Kondha, Mahali and Paroja tribal people
Explore the rarely-visited Wednesday Market in Chakitona, the main weekly market for the Desia and Dongria villagers from the area
See a fascinating local cooking demonstration and learn about the incredible work of the New Hope Community Centre in the rural village of Muniguda
Bathe in the natural hot springs with the local villagers at the small temple of Taptapani
Today our tour of the Odisha tribal areas comes to an end and we drive on to the small town of Puri.
Puri is one of the holiest pilgrimage places in India, and has a wonderful long sandy beach. On arrival we will explore the old pilgrim route by cycle-rickshaw, taking in ashrams, Hindu monasteries, a palm leaf manuscript library and the awesome Jagannath temple.
Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours.
We will spend 3 nights in Puri. On the first full day here, we will take a short drive back to visit Chilika Lake and explore the lake on bamboo-pole-driven canoes. There may also be the opportunity to visit the Usthi Children's Foundation in the town.
On the second full day, we will begin with a cycle ride through rice paddies and rural hamlets, meeting local craftsmen and women and watching them demonstrate their unique crafts. In the afternoon we will have a guided tour of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Konark Sun Temple.
In Puri we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.
3 nights to relax in the lovely coastal town of Puri
Explore the religious sites of Puri by cycle-rickshaw, including the Jagannath Temple, one of the four most sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites in India
Explore the ruins of the 13th-century Sun Temple of Konark near to Puri, shaped like a colossal chariot with elaborately carved stone wheels
Take a cycle ride through the stunning back-roads and villages near Puri, to visit the artisan village of Raghurajpur and see the fantastic array of handicrafts traditionally manufactured there
Educational visit to the Usthi Foundation rural project for children either in Puri or Kolkata - Cost: USD 10
Today we will travel by train to Kolkata, the largest city in India. We will have free time today and tomorrow to independently explore this remarkable city, or take an optional photographic tour.
In Kolkata we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
Estimated Journey Time (by train) - 7-8 hours.
Experience a local train ride from Puri to Kolkata
Border Information: If finishing your trip in Kolkata, you will most likely exit India at Kolkata Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (IATA code: CCU).
Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Kolkata. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.
Overland through West Bengal across the Gangetic plains - Cost: INR
2 nights to explore Kolkata, India's most enigmatic and bewildering city - Cost: INR 200
Visit the Eden Gardens, the most famous and iconic cricket stadium in India - Cost: INR
See the famous Howrah Bridge over the Hooghly River, thought to be the busiest bridge in the world with 150,000 pedestrians and 100,000 vehicles crossing every day - Cost: INR
Discover the incredible array of art and historical artefacts on display at the Indian Museum in Kolkata, the largest and oldest museum in India - Cost: INR 200
Head out on a fantastic photographic tour of Kolkata, exploring the hidden gems, back streets, and photogenic spots of the city with a superb local guide - Cost: INR 2000
Explore the vast fields and parks of the Maidan (the 'lungs of Kolkata') and observe daily life away from the chaos of the city - Cost: INR
Visit and support the Usthi Foundation's school and farm for impoverished children in Kolkata, and see the amazing work they do (if available) - Cost: USD 10
See the huge white marble Victoria Memorial, built in the early 20th century by the British Viceroy of India and a grandiose reminder of Kolkata's colonial past - Cost: INR 200
Visit the Mother Teresa of Calcutta Centre, a museum illustrating the life and work of the famous and controversial missionary - Cost: INR