The bewitching Malabar Coast has been a meeting place of cultures throughout history. Its lush landscapes were fragrant with the precious spices that brought traders from far and wide, making this coastline rich in both wealth and culture. This tour takes you through the most evocative parts of Malabar, from the spellbinding ruins of Hampi, where red gold boulders rise up from green palm groves and banana plantations. Continue to Mysore, known for its glittering royal heritage, a city of sandalwood, spices and silk. Travel into the Cardamom Hills to the epic mountain scenery of Wayanad, with its red earth, vivid rice paddies, bamboo and rubber, cardamom and coffee plantations. Continue to Cochin, a melting pot of culture and religion through the ages, and onto the tranquil backwaters of Kerala, where you will stay on a luxury houseboat.
On the way, take part in a cookery class with a local family; stay in a boulder hotel; take a tour by ox cart and autorickshaw; take tea on a palace balcony in Mysore; cruise past the ethereal Chinese fishing nets in Cochin; watch a Kalaripayattu training session and spend the night on a luxury converted rice barge as you drift along Kerala's tranquil backwaters.
Paul Wait lived in the UK in his formative years and graduated from the University of Oxford (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) in 1971. He and his wife, June, (who provides a talk on this tour) emigrated to Australia and, for over 40 years, he was a transport economist, consulting to the public and private sectors in Australia and for a range of international aid agencies principally in Asia, the Pacific Region and the Middle East, providing policy advice and evaluations of infrastructure proposals. Paul has worked in many countries, including Singapore, China, Myanmar, Kuwait, Vanuatu, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Barbados and Tuvalu. He and June also lived in Indonesia for two years while he was working on a World Bank project and they have travelled widely for pleasure to India, North America and many countries throughout the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
Since retiring, Paul has enjoyed pursuing his interest in choral and classical music in addition to lecturing on a variety of historical subjects, including the Great Siege of Malta, the Fall of Constantinople, the Battle of Hastings and the Hanseatic League.
Ground only cost: $4,030 pp sharing