2019 Gentle Culture and Wildlife of Kerala, India NEW!

15th -27th Feb 2019 (Fri - Wed)
12 Nights Bed and Breakfast - £1750

With the Arabian Sea in the west, the Western Ghats (UNESCO World Heritage Site) towering in the east and networked by 44 rivers, Kerala enjoys unique geographical features that have made it one of the most sought-after destinations in the world. An equable climate, a long shoreline with serene beaches, tranquil stretches of emerald backwaters, lush hill stations, sprawling plantations and paddy fields…all of which offer a unique experience. This walking and culture tour of Kerala offers rich art and culture at Cochin, amazing bird and wildlife at Thattekad and Periyar, spice mountains and plantations at Munnar and Thekkady, serene Backwaters at Kumarakom and ends at the azure sea of Marari.

Highlights of the tour

Spectacular Kathakali dance performance in Kochi

Bird watching at Thattekkad, one of the best bird sanctuaries in India

Tea Museum and tea tasting in Munnar

Trek through the majestic Western Ghats with picnic lunch

Spice plantation walk in Thekkady

Nature walk in Periyar Wildlife Reserve

Houseboat cruise with lunch in the Backwaters of Kerala

2 free days at the exotic Marari beach

Itinerary (subject to change)

Feb 15,2019 (Friday) Leave on your overnight flight to Kochi.

Feb 16, 2019 (Saturday): Arrive in Kochi. You will be met at the airport and taken to your hotel.

If Kerala is India’s most beautiful state, which many believe, then the lovely port of Kochi is its jewel. It has been variously hailed as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, the Venice of Orient, etc. Some choose to call it simply a museum city due to its rich past and colourful present. Kochi displays a blend of people and architecture. It is one place where you see a Jewish synagogue, Portuguese churches, Dutch architecture, mosques, temples and Chinese fishing nets all in one day. In the evening you will be taken to witness a spectacular Kathakali Dance Drama. Kathakali is Kerala’s very own classical dance-drama form which combines facets of ballet, opera, mask and pantomime.

Feb 17, 2019 (Sunday): Kochi. Fort Kochi area is the main focus of interest here, where the city’s extraordinary history of foreign influence and settlement is reflected in an assortment of architectural styles. A walk through its streets is one of the best ways to discover all that it has to offer. Its each and every nook is steeped in history, retaining elements of a bygone era. The highlight of today’s walking tour will be the St. Francis Church and Chinese Fishing Nets.

Feb 18, 2019 (Monday): Kochi – Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary

This morning we drive to Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary (2 hours). Also known as the Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary in honour of the pre-eminent birder of all times in India, it is located on the northern bank of the Periyar River. He described Thattekad in the 1930’s as the richest bird habitat in peninsular India, comparable only with the Eastern Himalayas.

This afternoon, we enjoy a walking tour of the bird sanctuary. A trip through this sanctuary is a bonanza for any birder with over 270 species in a relatively small area of 25 sq km. Noted birds here are rare Mottled Wood Owl, Spot-bellied Eagle Owl, Malayan Night Heron, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Rusty-tailed Flycatcher, Grey-headed Bulbul and the Nilgiri Wood Pigeon. Thattekkad is also home to nearly 28 species of mammals and 9 species of reptiles.

Feb 19, 2019 (Tuesday): Thattekkad – Munnar

After breakfast we drive to Munnar (4 hours). Munnar is situated at the confluence of three mountain streams — Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala. At 1600 m above sea level, this hill station was the summer resort of the British Government in South India. With its sprawling tea plantations, picture-book scenery and winding lanes, Munnar is a popular hill station in Kerala.

After lunch we will walk through a tea plantation and see tea pickers going about their job. Learn the method and norms of picking, join them and start picking tea leaf. We will come across a wide variety of flora and fauna on this plantation walk. After the walk, we will drive to a tea museum, see a large variety of locally produced tea and also sample some of them.

Feb 20, 2019 (Wednesday): Munnar

After breakfast this morning we head out to walk through the majestic Western Ghats. Many tribal colonies here farm spices such as cardamom and pepper, which grow abundantly here. The Sholas or high altitude montane evergreen forests are typical of the Western Ghats and considered biologically extremely fragile. Our treks will pass through  Sholas, tea estates and rolling grasslands.

Feb 21, 2019 (Thursday): Munnar – Thekkady

Today we drive to Thekkady (4 hours). Thekkady is widely known for its spice plantations. A walk through them gives an interesting insight into the world of spices with vistas of pristine greenery shrouded by low hanging clouds, gurgling brooks and the Western Ghats in the background. Later in the afternoon, we will go for a spice plantation walk. Accompanied by a guide we will be taken on a tour to see the cardamom, nutmeg, vanilla, pepper, coffee and other spices. Stroll amid lush, terraced farms, sprawling plantation estates while listening to bird songs and the murmuring of mountain streams.

Feb 22, 2019 (Friday): Thekkady – Periyar – Thekkady

Today we head to Periyar Tiger Reserve covering an area of 925 Sq. km. Periyar is one of 27 tiger reserves in India. It is a repository of rare, endemic and endangered flora and fauna and forms the major watershed of two important rivers of Kerala, the Periyar and Pamba. You can see herds of elephants and sambars and also tiger, gaurs and lion tailed macaques. Enjoy a nature walk on trails traversing diverse habitats. This will be an interpretive programme offering excellent opportunity to watch birds, butterflies and other wildlife. The trails often pass through evergreen and deciduous forests interspersed with marshy grasslands.

Feb 23, 2019 (Saturday): Thekkady – Kumarakom

Drive to Kumarakom (4 hours). Kumarakom is a serenely beautiful and scenic backwater destination, a charming peninsula jutting into Vembanad Lake dotted with plenty of traditional rice boats and canoes – a scene that is immensely pleasing to the eye. It is undoubtedly one of the most invigorating and fascinating places to unwind in Kerala. The slender coconut palms, its never-ending paddy fields, meandering lagoons and backwaters and mangroves with nestling birds will all serve to calm and inspire your mind.

In the afternoon, we explore Kumarakom on foot visiting local farms, temples and coir factories. The region is a hub of Kerala’s coir industry, producing mats and handicrafts. The factories still practice the traditional method of extracting coir fibre from coconut husks.

Feb 24, 2019 (Sunday): Kumarakom

Today we enjoy a houseboat cruise on the famous Backwaters of Kerala. The entire state of Kerala is criss-crossed with waterways that provide for irrigation and also serve as convenient modes of transportation and commerce. Next to the coastline, these endless stretches of lakes and lagoons are called the backwaters. Life along these canals and byways is quite different from that seen along the highways. Many of the villages are isolated and entirely dependent on the canals for their livelihood, transportation and communication…and the best way to explore these surroundings is by a ‘kettuvallam’ or houseboat.

Feb 25, 2019 (Monday): Kumarakom – Marari

After breakfast, you will be driven to Marari beach. The village of Mararikulam lies on a forgotten shore, midway up the Malabar Coast, where the Indian Ocean finally decides that it has now become the Arabian Sea. Marari is a perfect picture of Kerala’s fishing villages, its essence. The rest of the day is free for you to relax by the seashore.

Feb 26, 2019 (Tuesday): Marari

At leisure in Marari. Time to relax, enjoy and unwind in this stunning beach location. The long white sand beach, studded with palm trees is the perfect tropical idyll and a most relaxing end to our adventure.

Feb 27, 2019 (Wednesday): Marari – Kochi Airport

This morning you will be driven to Kochi airport (2.5 hour) for your onward flight.

For a fuller itinerary, including accommodation details and included meals please click on the Getting Here link.

Price includes: 11 nights bed and breakfast accommodation in twin ensuite rooms (single rooms available at a supplement of £20 per night); 3 lunches; Transport in air-conditioned minibus; Entrance fees to cultural sights and wildlife parks; Kathakali Dance Performance in Kochi; Backwaters houseboat cruise

Not included: flights; tips; meals not mentioned above; visa fee; any camera charges at monuments

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