Classic Kerala – Backwaters and more
Best Time: September – April
Kerala, is a located on the south-western Malabar coast in India. It is famous for over 600 kms of glorious Arabian sea coast, beautiful beaches, verdant greenery, tranquil backwaters, spices, boat races, Ayurveda and fantastic wildlife. Floating on a houseboat in the backwaters with coconut fringed banks it is easy to appreciate the reason Kerala is called “God’s own Country”.
Day 01: Arrive Kochi
Day 02: Kochi – Munnar
Day 03: Munnar – Thekkady
Day 04: Thekaddy / Periyar Tiger Reserve
Day 06: Thekaddy – Kumarakom
Day 07-09: Kumarakom – Alappuzha (Alleppey)
Day 10: Kumarakom – Marari Beach
Day 11-13: Marari Beach
Day 14: Marari Beach – Kochi
Visiting Kerala is a feast for the senses. The scenery, the food, the spices, the sea and the sand also make for the most exotic ingredients of an incredible holiday.
Begin your vacation by arriving in the ancient town of Cochin. Cochin is referred as the gateway to Kerala due to its strategic location. This lovely seaside city is flanked by the Western Ghats on the east and the Arabain sea on the west. Over the centuries, Kochi has been influenced by the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan, the Portugese and the Zamorin of Calicut. The Dutch invaded the city and were defeated by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan from Mysore. It finally became a part of the British Empire in 1814. The city today reflects the many influences and there are many interesting sights that you will encounter on a tour of the city.
From Kochi, you will travel to the hill station of Munnar. Known for its Tea plantations and the famous Eravikulum National Park where the endemic Nilgiri Thar are found, Munnar is miles of tea gardens, spice plantations, and the highest peak in south India, Anamudi. Munnar also has a local thriving industry of chocolate and visitors enjoy learning and sampling the delicious decadent treats.
From Munnar you journey on to Thekaddy. The gateway to the Periyar Tiger Reserve, one of the finest wildlife reserves in India. The large artificial lake created by the Mullaperiyar Dam is one of the most prominent features of the Reserve. The Reserve hosts a large population of Wild Elephants, Tigers and several hundred species of birds.
Kumarakom is the sleepy town on the Vembanad Lake. It is a serene, emerald peninsula set in the backdrop of the lake, fringed by coconut plants, and a stunning rural landscape. At Kumarakom, you will board a houseboat designed like a Kettuvallam (rice barge) and spend the next four nights crusing the backwaters and the lake. This is a time to relax, unwind, enjoy the sunshine and the water.
From Kumarakom you travel to the Marari Beach. Four days on this little developed beach, with its white sands and slow pace are the ideal way to end your holiday leaving you refreshed for your trip back home.
Day 1 : Depart Mumbai and Arrive Kochi / Cochin
On arrival in Kochi you will be met and transferred to hotel. Afternoon proceed for half day tour of Kochi with your guide. Visit St Francis Church originally built in 1510 and the first to reflect European influenced tradition. Portuguese hero Vasco Da Gama died on the site and was buried in the cemetery. At Mattancherry, there’s the Dutch Palace built in1557 by the Portuguese as a Gift For the Maharaja of Cochin in exchange for trading rights. The Palace houses royal costumes, palanquins, furniture and weapons but its striking feature is a series of murals painted on wooden walls. Visit the Santa Cruz Basilica and the Paradesi Synagogue, at the heart of what is locally called Jew town. Stroll to the waterfront to see fishermen working the Chinese fishing nets. Overnight at hotel
Day 2 : Kochi – Munnar (153 KMS, +/- 5 HOURS)
Morning proceed to Munnar. If you leave really early you can also visit a small Elephant Kraal at Kodandu. The attraction there are the small baby elephants. Munnar – breathtakingly beautiful – a haven of peace and tranquility – the idyllic tourist destination in God’s own country. Set at an altitude of 6000 ft in Idukki district, Munnar was the favored summer resort of the erstwhile British rulers in the colonial days. Unending expanse of tea plantations – pristine valleys and mountains- exotic species of flora and fauna in its wild sanctuaries and forests.
On arrival check in Hotel. Drive through tea plantations and go to the Rajamalai Eravikulum National Park to see the endangered Nilgiri Thar. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 3 : Munnar
After breakfast, the day is to visit all sightseeing places in Munnar. Visit Eravikulam National Park 15 km from Munnar ,known for Nilgiri tahr, an endangered species. Once the summer resort of the British, Munnar is most famous for its tea and nearly 55,000 acres of land are covered with tea plantations.The Tea Museum at Munnar is fascinating. Visit Mattupetty Dam, the scattered villages, Eco-Point, Kundala Dam, Top Station, Nyayamkad & Attukal Waterfalls and later, the Teafactory. A visit to old Munnar and the local market will be interesting. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 4: Munnar – Thekkady ( 124 KMS, +/- 4 HOURS )
Morning after breakfast drive to Thekkady. On arrival check-in to the hotel. Afternoon enjoy Elephant Ride. This programmed offers one a rare opportunity to experience the safari on an elephant. A 30 minute safari. Overnight at Hotel where you get to savor local cuisine.
Day 5: At Thekkady
Early morning boat cruise at Periyar Lake. Periyar is one of the largest wildlife reserves in India. A boat ride on the splendid Periyar lake is the best way to experience the sanctuary. The earliest sanctuary to be set up in 1934, it extends to 777 square kms & forms part of the high mountain ranges, the Western Ghats. Wild life can be seen while cruising on Periyar Lake in a motor boat. Amongst the animals which can be seen are elephants, wild boar, sambar, tiger, leopard, wild dog, langur monkeys, etc. After breakfast visit to a spice plantation. Over twelve varieties of spices are cultivated in and around Kumily. The spice plantation tour covers spice plantations such as cardamom, pepper, vanilla, clove, nutmeg etc. and also some ayurvedic plants and herbs. The duration of the trip is normally one to two hours (optional extra). The service of an experienced guide will give full and detailed explanation of the plants and its uses. In the evening you will be taken to see the unique martial arts of Kerala – Kalaripayattu. Overnight at Hotel
Day 6 : Thekkady – Kumarakom ( 122 KM, + / – 3HRS 23 MIN)
After breakfast drive to Kumarakom. Upon arrival in Kumarakom, proceed for check-in at your hotel. It is a beautiful town situated in the hills and is surrounded by some of the most fertile and beautiful scenery in the state with serene palm-fringed backwaters on the west and the Western Ghats on the east. Afternoon free to relax at this backwater paradise.Evening enjoy the sunset cruise (provided by the hotel) Overnight at the hotel. Overnight at Kumarakom lake resort- Luxury pavilion room or Meandering pool villa
Day 7-9: Kumarakom – Alleppey
Morning board your private Houseboat This houseboat will cruise along the back waters or Alleppey. The traditional houseboat of Kerala is one of the most enduring images of the backwaters. These houseboats are converted version of the “Kuttanadan Kettuvallams”, or the traditional style of boats.
You meals will be cooked and served on board. The coastal town of Alappuzha (Alleppey) is a small town crisscrossed with a grid of canals. With its verdant greenery, paddy fields, and punted canoes, floating on a boat and enjoy the mesmerizing scenery. One day will be spent visiting the Vembanad Lake where your houseboat will be anchored. The lake is known for its spectacular sunsets. Canoeing, cooking lessons, cultural programs, visits to a nearby bird sanctuary are also available and can be arranged upon request.
Day 10: Kumarakom – Marari Beach
Today you transfer to Marari Beach. Located a short distance from Alleppey, this sleepy little village, also called Mararikulam, is an idyllic location for a vacation. Arrive and check-in to an independent villa at the Marari Beach. Marari Beach is a perfect place for those seeking to loosen the stress of the city life and experience a completely new place. After lunch in the restaurant, it’s time to relax. Evening go for some cooking classes followed by dinner. Overnight at the Marari Beach.
Day 11-13: Marari Beach
After breakfast, explore the area and it”s fishing villages nearby on a bicycle or take a dip in the sea. After lunch at leisure, it will be a great idea to walk across the road to the organic farm, which ensures that the vegetables and fruits you are served are the freshest you can get. This is the last chance where you can approach the Chef for any assistance/clarifications regarding the recipes you would have collected over the past three/four days. After dinner, walk back to your cottage already making plans for your next visit. Overnight at Marari Beach.
Day 14: Marari Beach – Alleppey/Cochin
After breakfast, bid adieu to the paradise as you are transferred to the airport/railway station.