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Chennai to Kathmandu

Asia is the continent where overlanding all started, and Dragoman has been the leading operator there since our first trucks went through in the 1980s - take advantage of our years of experience and come with us as we include all the must-see attractions as well as heading into the wilds, well away from the usual tourist trail. Starting in the hectic southern city of Chennai, we visit the holy Sri Venkatesvara Tirumala temple en route to the tribal areas of Odisha. This is a very special and rarely-visited region where you'll meet many different tribal people with their own distinct cultures and traditions. We then head to the historic town of Puri before arriving in the buzzing city of Kolkata. From there we will ascend to the cool, tea-growing hills of Darjeeling, and then move to the serene paradise of Karmi Farm in the Himalayan foothills. Continuing to the Tibetan town of Gangtok in the mountainous province of Sikkim, we then head to Nepal and the beautiful forests of Chitwan, before arriving at the evocative Nepalese capital of Kathmandu. A phenomenal Indian experience sure to leave you with many wonderful memories!

  • Duration: 29 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure: Yes
  • For lovers of: Sightseeing
  • Physical rating: Average
  • Accommodation standard:   Budget%
  • Traveller Tour Rating: 80.0%  
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Supplier Tour ID/Link Tour Code: WCK1/158129
  • Starts: Chennai, India
  • Finishes: Kathmandu, Nepal
You will Visit
  • Chennai
  • Tirupati
  • Tirumala
  • Vijayawada
  • Visakhapatnam
  • Odisha Tribal Area
  • Puri
  • Kolkata
  • Overnight train to Siliguri
  • Darjeeling
  • Karmi Farm
  • Gangtok
  • Barhara
  • Chitwan National Park
  • Khatauti Khola
  • Kathmandu

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Chennai

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.

02

Day 2: Tirupati

Today we start our journey with a drive to the bustling town of Tirupati. In the afternoon we will have an included visit to the Sri Venkateswara holy temple in the nearby town of Tirumala.

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!).

03

Day 3: Vijayawada

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.

04

Day 4: Visakhapatnam

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.

05

Day 5-9: Odisha Tribal Area

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 to a small village called Taptapani, where on arrival we will visit the temple hot springs.

In Taptapani we will stay in a basic local 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.

06

Day 10-12: Puri

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.

07

Day 13: Kolkata

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.

08

Day 14: Kolkata

Border Information: If you are joining the trip in Kolkata, you will most likely enter India at Kolkata Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (IATA code: CCU).

Today is a free day to explore the sights, sounds and flavours of the incredible city of Kolkata. 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 Kolkata 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 Kolkata.

In Kolkata we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

09

Day 15: Overnight train to Siliguri

During the day we will have free time to independently explore Kolkata, and we have the opportunity to take an optional photographical tour of the city.

Whilst in Kolkata, your leader will assist you in arranging you Sikkim permit (you will need to bring passport photos and a photocopy of your passport photo page).

We will meet in the evening to head to the train station and board our overnight train to Siliguri - accommodation tonight will be on the train, where there are basic bunk beds with sheets provided.

10

Day 16-18: Darjeeling

We will arrive into Siliguri at around 9:00am this morning, meeting our jeeps and drivers at the station for our onward journey through the narrow winding roads to Darjeeling. The town of Darjeeling is really more a collection of villages situated on a high ridge, linked by a series of steps and winding lanes and surrounded by rice and tea terraces.

Jeeps are used in this region rather than our overland truck as they are perfect for the narrow, steep and winding roads of the area. We will continue with the jeeps all the way until the trip returns to Siliguri (after Gangtok).

Estimated Drive Time (in jeeps) - 3-4 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!).

We will spend 3 nights in Darjeeling, giving us plenty of time to relax, enjoy the surrounding area and take part in some optional activities.

In Darjeeling we will stay in a local hotel.

11

Day 19-21: Karmi Farm

Today we will have one last free morning to explore Darjeeling. After lunch we will leave in our jeeps for Karmi Farm, a tea plantation located in a remote rural area nearby.

Estimated Drive Time (in jeeps) - 3-4 hours.

We will stay at Karmi Farm for 3 nights, which gives us lots of free time to enjoy some fantastic hikes around the region, visit the Karmi Farm Clinic charitable project, go bird watching and to relax and take in the stunning views from the lodge.

In Karmi Farm we will stay in a guest lodge.

12

Day 22-23: Gangtok

After breakfast we will leave Karmi Farm in our jeeps and continue to Gangtok, the hilltop capital of Sikkim.

Estimated Drive Time (in jeeps) - 5-7 hours.

On the following day we will have an included guided visit of the nearby Rumtek Dharma Monastery in the morning, leaving the afternoon free for you to independently explore Gangtok.

In Gangtok we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.

13

Day 24-25: Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve

Border Information: Exit India at Kakarbhitta, enter Nepal at Kakarbhitta.

Today we travel in our jeeps back to Siliguri, where we will finally join our Dragoman overland truck! We will then drive over the border into Nepal and continue onto Koshi National Park Wildlife Reserve.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours in the jeeps, 4-6 hours on the truck.

We will spend 2 nights in Koshi National Park birdwatching and enjoying the local wildlife. 

14

Day 26: Bhaktapur

Today we will leave the plains of the Terrai behind and head into th foothills of the Himalayas to the historic and beautiful town of Bhaktapur. 

Estimated Drive Time - 8 -9 hours.

In Bhaktapur we will stay in a small local hotel. 

 

15

Day 27: Khatauti Khola

This morning we are free to explore the historic centre of Bhaktapur and in the afternoon we will journey to Khatauti Khola, home to the Royal Beach Camp eco-adventure camp in the Nepalese mountains. 

There are several optional activities on offer here such as kayaking, rafting, hiking and mountain bikings or simply relax in the quiet surroundings. 

In Khatauti Khola we will camp at the Royal Beach Camp. 

Estimated Drive Time - 3 -4 hours.

16

Day 28: Kathmandu

This morning we will spend some free time at the Royal Beach Camp to give us more time to take part in the optional adventure activities there, then after lunch we will drive the last stretch up to Kathmandu, the evocative capital of Nepal. 

In Kathmandu we stay in a comfortable local hotel. 

Estimate drive time - 3.- 4 hours

17

Day 29: Kathmandu

Border Information: If you are finishing your trip in Kathmandu, you will most likely exit Nepal at Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport (IATA code: KTM).

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Kathmandu. 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.

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • Overnight stay in Chennai
    • Visit the Sri Venkatesvara Tirumalai Temple
    • 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
    • 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
    • Experience a local train ride from Puri to Kolkata
    • Experience a local overnight train from Kolkata to Siliguri
    • Visit to the Karmi Farm charity project
    • Trekking in the foothills of Darjeeling
    • Travel to the far north, into the Himalayas in beautiful Sikkim
    • Ride a yak at beautiful Tsomgo Lake in Sikkim
    • Explore the incredible 18th-century Rumtek Monastery, the home of the Karmapa Lama, the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu sect of Buddhism
    • Stay at the beautiful Koshi Tappu Wildlife Camp, exploring, relaxing and spotting the many different species of birdlife around the reserve. 
    Tour Staff
    • 2 crew members and local guides as necessary
    Accomodation
    • 10% Camping - 95% Hotels
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Reviews (2)
Kristy M. Posted on: 

Good quality gear that had no problems during the trip. Vehicle felt safe throughout, even with the poor quality of Indian roads and dangerous drivers (Jim, our driver, was fantastic).

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Jon B. Posted on: 

Superb first time experience. Professional, helpful and informative driver and leader. Will recommend dragon an overland trips to friends in the future. Thank you!

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