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Sri Lanka, South India, Kerala

Sri Lanka and South India share their history with the Arab traders, the Portuguese, Dutch and British colonialists. Reminders of past rulers sit side-by-side with Buddhist temples that depict Hindu images. Cricket unites both countries, men, women, old and young. Marco Polo dubbed Sri Lanka as the finest island in the world. See endless rich, green foliage, swirls of Singhalese alphabet, a myriad of colourful Buddhist flags, saris, tropical fruit and spices in the market.

Our Kerala cruise onboard RV Vaikundam is new as the waterways have just opened to allow through traffic for a longer seven day cruise.Meander along visiting village communities, see the production of coir, fishermen at work – all in the comfort of our own charter boat. Add in the IT city of Bangalore, Mysore, the game park at Kabin and Cochin and you will return home with this part of the world holding a special place in your heart. 

Your travel itinerary

Sunday 10 March

Auckland – Singapore – Colombo (Sri Lanka)

Depart Auckland on Singapore Airlines. Change planes in Singapore, arriving in Colombo late evening and transfer to your city hotel.

Monday 11 March


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After a relaxing morning, an afternoon city tour includes the old and new Colombo harbour and the Fort area – home to the country’s administration and banking sector. The multi-ethnic population is reflected in the various religions and cultures. See ‘Cinnamon Gardens’ a chic residential area, the restored racecourse and Victoria Park. Welcome dinner tonight.

Tuesday 12 March

Colombo – Dambulla

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Our journey takes us north-east through countryside to Dambulla. The afternoon includes a village visit and a walk to a ‘Wewa’ - a typical lakeside village. A bird watching canoe trip across the lake is followed by a farm visit and a cooking demonstration using a traditional hearth.

Wednesday 13 March

Dambulla – Matale – Kandy

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A special visit to Sigiriya Rock, the UNESCO Heritage Site rock fortress. If you are not up to climbing the rock for spectacular views, the ancient landscaped gardens (5AD) and frescoes are worth seeing. Continue to Matale to visit a spice garden before continuing to Kandy for a city tour partly by tuk-tuk.

Thursday 14 March

Kandy – Nuwara Eliya

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After breakfast transfer to Kandy railway station for a scenic train journey through tea plantations and waterfalls to Nana Oya. Continue by coach to Nuwara Eliya.

Friday 15 March

Nuwara Eliya – Yala

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This morning visit a tea plantation and a tea factory, see the grading and of course enjoy a cup of pure Ceylon tea.

Saturday 16 March


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A day to enjoy Yala National Park where morning and evening jeep safaris to spot elephants, crocodile, the elusive leopard and a myriad of birds are special.

Sunday 17 March

Yala – Galle

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Coach to Galle where an afternoon city tour includes a UNESCO-listed Galle fortress built by the Portuguese in 1588 and later extended by the Dutch.  See the lighthouse on the southernmost tip and the car free streets which reflect Portuguese, Dutch and British rule. Our hotel is at Unawata Beach.

Monday 18 March

Galle – Colombo – Bengaluru (India)

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A morning to relax, swim or take a walk on the beach. This afternoon transfer to Colombo airport for the early evening flight to Bengaluru and transfer to a central hotel for a two night stay. Bengaluru, is a modern cosmopolitan city, considered to be one of the big IT centres of India. This forward-thinking city with a mix of new shopping malls and bars is sometimes referred to as the Garden City of India.

Tuesday 19 March


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Our morning city tour includes Tipu Sultan Fort – a prominent landmark of the city depicts intricate Islamic style architecture built completely of teak wood. Lalbagh Botanical Gardens is a home to the largest collection of tropical plants in India.

Wednesday 20 March

Bengaluru - Mysore Drive

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After a leisurely breakfast, drive to Mysore (also known as Mysuru). Along the way, visit the river island town of Srirangapatna, with its celebrated 9th century temple. The temple and the island are an important pilgrimage site.

Thursday 21 March


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This morning visit the Chamundi Hills, site of the 12th century Chamudeshwari Temple with its 1,008 ancient steps leading to the summit. Visit the Palace of Mysore, a blend of Hindu, Muslim, Rajput and Gothic styles that remains one of India’s most popular attractions. Visit a local workshop to learn how the local sandalwood incense is made by hand. Afternoon free to explore.

Friday 22 March

Mysore – Kabini

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Morning departure for Nagarhole National Park, established in 1955, where abundant wildlife, including leopard, Indian bison, wild dog, deer, antelope, hyena, elephants and tigers, make it one of India’s finest reserves. After lunch, set out on a boat safari that includes parts of Nagarhole’s 640 sq/km. We dine at our lodge tonight.

Saturday 23 March


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Enjoy a morning safari in an open-air 4 wheel drive vehicle through Nagarhole in search of wildlife.  After our excursion return to the lodge for breakfast. Free time to relax before lunch followed by a coracle ride and a village walk. 

Sunday 24 March

Kabini – Calicut

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Today we make the five hour drive to Calicut, dubbed the ‘City of Spices’ in ancient times for its role in the thriving eastern spice trade.  Stop at a plantation for lunch before continuing to Calicut.

Monday 25 March

Calicut – Cochin

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Morning at leisure before an early lunch.  Transfer to the railway station to board the train to Cochin.  On arrival transfer to your city hotel.

Tuesday 26 March


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Today we have a walking tour of Mattancherry, part of Old Fort Cochin and the epicenter of the spice trade for centuries. Today reveals Kochi’s multi-layered past, a rich brew of Arab, Portuguese, British and Dutch influences. Begin with the Dutch Palace then see St Francis, India’s first European church (1510) and the burial site of Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama, who died in Kochi in 1524 Later visit the picturesque Chinese fishing nets unique to Kochi.

Wednesday 27 March

Cochin – RV Vaikundam

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This morning enjoy a Kalaripayattu performance, the martial art form of Kerala. Arrive at Maradu jetty in Ernakulam to embark on the river cruise boat RV Vaikundam. Begin with a traditional lunch onboard, then set sail to explore the magnificent network of waterways formed along the coastal belt by the rivers from the Western Ghats before draining into the Arabian Sea. Evening arrival at the old town of Vaikom, in Kottayam – the land of natural rubber latex and spices.

The Kerela backwaters are known as the Green Venice of the East due to the green coconut trees making the water an emerald shade. The waterways are teaming with life as most villages are connected only through wooden boats. Villages, temples, churches, coir handloom, cultural centres, paddy fields, market places, wooden boat building yards, long snake boats, home hosted meals, beaches, beaches and festivals make this a vibrant living destination.


Thursday 28 March

Cruise to Vaikom

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After breakfast, visit the cultural centre in Vaikom to watch a traditional dance performance. Continue to the village of Chenganda to meet the people, the coir weavers, coconut harvesters, mussel and prawn farmers and discuss riparian life over a drink of tender coconut water.

Lunch on board. Cruise through the Thanneermukkom barrage which divides the lake into two – one half with perennial salty water and the other with fresh water enriched by the rivers. Arrive in Vechoor village. 

Evening visit to a farm house located on an island where there will be a demonstration of the preparation of traditional Syrian Christian cuisine.

Friday 29 March


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Enjoy a special escorted canoe ride to watch the migratory and endemic birds of Kumarakom – a cluster of lake lagoons with a backdrop of mangroves, paddy fields and coconut groves.

Return to the boat for breakfast. Cruise the expanses of land reclaimed from the lake for paddy cultivation. These paddy fields are lying below sea level and are protected by building dykes around them. Watch folk dance performance by the girls of the village.

Saturday 30 March


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Visit a traditional Ayurveda centre. Have a chance to try a wellness massage, as per recommendation of the doctor. Then a short cruise to Chavara Bhavan, the ancestral home of the first canonised Catholic male saint of Indian origin. After lunch cruise to Pulinkunnu village.

Sunday 31 March


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After an early breakfast, drive to Konni to spend time with elephants at a forest shelter. Continue to Aranmular village, home to a family of craftsmen who are skilled at making mirrors out of a special combination of certain metals. Lunch at a local house of beautiful architecture located on the bank of Pampa.  Later a short cruise to a tiny settlement for a beach walk and a stop at toddy shop.

Monday 01 April


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After breakfast we cruise towards the coastal village of Thottappalli. We learn about the local practices of paddy cultivation and the divine tree of Kerala – the coconut tree. We enjoy a walk ashore to see life along the coast before we return to the boat for dinner onboard.

Tuesday 02 April


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Arrive at a Karumadi village.  After a walk through this quiet and rustic village, cruise to Kanjippadom village to visit a dock where you can watch building or repair of wooden boats. After lunch, cruise to Pallathuruthy village.  Take a relaxing walk, watch toddy tapping and return to the boat after sunset.  

Wednesday 03 April

Alleppey – Cochin - Singapore

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Alleppey, named the Venice of the East, is criss-crossed by rivers, lakes, canals, lagoons and paddy fields. A guided tour of the heritage part of town visits old markets, temples, churches and the beach.  Transfer to Cochin airport for an evening flight to Singapore. 

Thursday 04 April

Singapore – Auckland

Change planes in Singapore and arrive Auckland late this evening.


• Return economy airfares Auckland – Singapore - Colombo - Bangalore // Cochin - Singapore – Auckland 

• Travel in air conditioned coaches

• Accommodation in 4 star hotels with private facilities

• Breakfasts daily, lunches and dinners as specified

• Entrance fees at monuments as outlined

• Boat safari in Nagarhole National Park

• Vehicle safari in Nagarhole National Park

• Transfers as outlined

• Coracle ride in Kabini

• Plantation visit including lunch

• Train fare Calicut to Cochin 

• Seven night / 8 day river boat cruise including meals 

• Excursions off the boat 

• Mineral water per person, per day

• Government Service Tax

• English speaking guide for the 10 days prior to the cruise

• Services of English speaking guides during all the included boat excursions

• Pukekohe Travel tour escort (subject to 15 people travelling)


Cost Per Person *
Auckland - Auckland
Twin ShareSingle 
 Cabin with private facilities     ONE LEFT  $12,490  $16,295
 Superior (1 Cabins only)    SOLD OUT  $13,095  N/A
Business Class Upgrade


Premium Economy (Auckland - Singapore Return Only)

(Singapore Airlines flights only )      



Early Booking Discount (06 September 2023 ) $150
Previous International Pukekohe Travel Tour Discount $100

*This is a cash price. Credit cards will incur a 1.5% fee
*Itinerary and costs subject to change, airline and fuel charges and currency fluctuations prior to final payment


• Airport and security taxes (approx. $200 per person)

• Items of a personal nature

• Camera / video fees at monuments

• Sri Lankan Visa (NZD70 per person) for NZ Passport holders

• Indian visa (approx. NZD100 per person) for NZ Passport holders

• Travel Insurance (Please ask us for a quote)

• Gratuities and tips

Booking Conditions

• A non-refundable deposit of $1000 per person will secure a place on the tour

• Full payment due no later than 20 December 2023


• From the date of booking until 20 December 2023 – loss of deposit 

• After 20 December 2023 – no refund

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance is essential. Please feel free to contact us for a quote.

General Information


• A current New Zealand passport is required valid six months beyond the date of travel.

• New Zealand passport holders require a visa for India (approx. NZD100 per person) And Sri Lanka Visa (approx. NZD70 per person)

• All other passport holders please ask

Temperatures ˚c Max     Min

Colombo              30       25

Calicut                32        24

Bangalore          33       19

Cochin              31      26


Comfortable clothes are the order of the day – the laundry service in the hotels is inexpensive and efficient. Hats, sunglasses and comfortable sandals are a must.  A scarf or pareu is handy for temples etc or for sun protection.

A small umbrella is great for rain showers or sunshade.

Photographic opportunities are plentiful – respect the local people and ask before taking photos.

Currency / Money

• Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka Rupee

• India – Indian Rupee

Cash is king in both India and Sri Lanka. Take USD, Euro or Pounds Sterling to change into Rupees

ATMs are available in the cities and it is advisable to use ones located inside a bank – this can be time-consuming!

• Credit Cards, Visa and Mastercard are accepted in all the hotels we will be staying in and larger more up-market restaurants and shops


Health and Fitness

• There are no obligatory inoculations required

• The tour stays in 4 Star hotels and included meals will be at recommended restaurants which will minimise health risks

• Hepatitis should not be an issue but precautionary measures are your personal choice

• Update your tetanus and polio

• Malaria prevention varies considerably. Check with your medical professional

• The streets of India are busy and pavements crowded and rough. A good standard of health and mobility are required with the ability to climb steps and walk up hills


Ship Information

RV Vaikundam

3 Star traditional Indian standard. The river cruise boats of today are modified versions of the traditional rice barges of the past which were used for transporting produce and goods from the interior farms to the markets. RV Vaikundam has nine lower deck cabins with attached bathrooms and kitchen, air-conditioned dining hall and an open lounge on the top deck.

The wooden hull of the boat is made by joining planks of local wood (Aanjili), using strong coir rope on the section above the waterline, while below the waterline, copper tacking is done to keep the hull strong and traditional. The wood is coated with caustic, black resin made by boiling cashew kernel and fish oil.  The wood is periodically treated with the Neem oil and Fish oil. 

Crew: 10

Guests: 18

Length: 36m

Speed: 11 knots / 20 km/h

Booking Form

Please click here to download a copy of the booking form

Note: Pukekohe Travel reserves the right to correct errors and omissions on our website without recourse.
* Itinerary subject to change