Arrive in Mumbai and transfer to the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Enjoy a morning at leisure before lunch, then board local boats at the doorstep of the Gateway of India triumphal arch monument for a ride across the bay to visit Elephanta Island. This World Heritage Site has caves with elaborately carved depictions of the Hindu god, Shiva, in various manifestations as destroyer, creator, and preserver. Views of Mumbai’s skyline from the bay are superb. Embark the Island Sky in the evening.
This morning enjoy an orientation tour of Mumbai. In the former British fort area, see elegant colonial buildings such as the Gothic Victoria Terminus railway station, and the Prince of Wales Museum. Drive along famed Marine Drive, passing Chowpatty Beach, to Malabar Hill with its superb views, parks, and Hanging Gardens. Return to the Island Sky this afternoon.
Goa's Portuguese heritage commenced with the establishment of a trading colony in 1510, led by explorer and later viceroy, Vasco da Gama. The successful spice-trading colony endured for centuries, and today its colonial remnants lend a European charm—cobblestoned lanes, whitewashed Catholic churches, and balconied, tile-roofed homes. Explore the distinctive churches, museum, and convent of Old Goa. Visit a traditional Goan home for a cooking demonstration and enjoy a lunch of delectable local cuisine. Enjoy time at your leisure to wander through the old Portuguese district of Fontainhas in the small capital of Panjim.
Drive through the countryside surrounding Mangalore, a pleasant landscape of rolling hills dotted with tea, coffee, and cashew nut plantations. Visit Karkala’s monolithic Gomasteshwara Statue, which was dedicated to a Jain saint, before touring a cashew processing plant.
Explore Cochin, a delightful community which features Portuguese houses, the Dutch Palace (Mattancherry), the Anglican St. Francis Church, and the cantilevered Chinese fishing nets that grace the beaches. To better explore this maze of islands and waterways, board local houseboats for a cruise through Cochin’s backwaters to observe daily life along these languid canals.
Located near India’s southern tip, Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala, is a pedestrian-friendly town spread out over seven hills. Visit the village of Pongumoode and its surrounding rubber plantations to observe the various stages of rubber processing. Then attend a Kalari Payattu demonstration, Kerala’s ancient form of martial arts.
Disembark in the bustling city of Colombo for an excursion into the highlands of Sri Lanka. Pass through lush, rolling countryside and stop in Kandy to explore the stunning Temple of the Tooth. This World Heritage Site was originally part of the Royal Palace complex of the Kandyan Kingdom and is one of the holiest places of worship and pilgrimage for Buddhists around the world. Visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and, time permitting, the Botanical Gardens.
Galle’s historic district is one of the best preserved examples of a European-built fortified city in South Asia, reflecting both colonial and South Asian architectural styles. After breakfast, enjoy a tour of this charming city visiting the Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Art Museum and Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built by the Dutch in the 16th century. Keep an eye out for the iconic fishermen of Koggala, who perch precariously on stilts in the surf. Return to the Island Sky for lunch and set sail for the Maldives.
Spend a relaxing day at sea as lecturers introduce you to the cultural heritage and natural wonders of the magical Maldives.
Due to the expeditionary nature of this trip, daily weather and tide conditions will dictate our stops in the Maldives. Step ashore on uninhabited islands for nature walks and beachcombing, meet with friendly locals in traditional villages, and snorkel in warm, translucent waters. Over the next three days, we plan to visit the special, lesser-visited places in the atolls of the northern Maldives.
Uligamu – The northernmost island of the Maldives, superb snorkeling is a hallmark of the area. The underwater topography of the region is fascinating—a dramatic landscape of thilas, pinnacles and submerged coral structures enveloped in brilliant corals and sea fans, and kandus, deep channels that run between atolls and coral-terraced reefs.
Baa Atoll – Made up of about 50 islands, this atoll offers rich biodiversity including large mangroves and unique ring-shaped reef forms known as faru. Recently designated as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, large numbers of manta rays, hawksbill turtles, and frigatebirds can be found here.
Olhahali Island – Covered in lush vegetation, Olhahali boasts broad white sand beaches and one of the finest wide lagoons in the region.
Disembark in the morning for a sightseeing tour of Malé. Check in to day rooms at our hotel and enjoy lunch. The remainder of the day and evening are at your leisure. After dinner, transfer to the airport for your independent overnight flight.