Located at the southwestern corner of India, Kerala enjoys unique geographical features, which makes it an appealing and attractive destination. Highlights include historic and culturally rich cities such as Cochin, the tranquillity and birdlife of the Kerala Backwaters, lush countryside, hill stations, plantations including tea, rubber and a wide variety of spices, plus Ayurvedic medicines and massage treatments, a speciality of Kerala. Marvel at the wildlife including elephants, wild boar, sambar, monkeys and wild cats. Stumble across enchanting monuments and art forms, magical festivals and sample the exotic cuisine, on your Kerala tour there is something for everyone.
DAY 1: Arrive from the UK and transfer to a hotel near the airport (check-in at 12 noon) for an overnight stay.
DAY 2: Morning transfer to the airport for your flight to Cochin (flight operates via Bangalore or Mumbai). Upon arrival in Cochin transfer to Casino Hotel for check-in before departing for an afternoon guided sight-seeing tour of Cochin; St Francis' Church, the oldest church in India, the Chinese fishing nets where you will soon be recruited to help with the day's catch, the Dutch Palace built by the Portuguese in 1557 and renovated by the Dutch from 1663 with its beautiful murals, and Jew Town including the antique warehouses, shops, spice trading houses. Return to the hotel for an overnight stay.
DAY 3: After breakfast, transfer to Alleppey (90 minutes), to meet your very own floating hotel in the famous Kerala backwaters. Made completely of wood and natural materials your houseboat has comfortable seating, panoramic views, plus bathroom with shower & WC. Houseboats have 1 bedroom sleeping two people although there are some 2 bedroomed boats available for parties of three or four. Accompanied by two oarsman and a chef, you will spend 2 nights on the riceboat on a fullboard basis. The oarsmen co-ordinate with each other with remarkable proficiency, using their bamboo punting poles to take you silently, gliding through the calm waters. The crew provide wonderful hospitality and are on hand if needed at the rear of the boat, where their separate facilities are located. The waterways are vast and can offer complete peace and relaxation as you travel between the waterside village settlements, rice fields and coconut fringed banks getting a wonderful look at daily village life. As sunset approaches, the anchor is dropped and traditional lanterns lit, the perfect end to a perfect day.
DAY 4: Cruising the Kerala Backwaters. Overnight on the houseboat.
DAY 5: Disembark the houseboat and transfer to Periyar through the Western Ghats, a sharp contrast to the coastal areas with an abundance of plantations including tea, rubber, coffee, cocoa, cinnamon, pepper, cashew and clove. Check-in at Spice Village Hotel in time for lunch (optional at extra charge) with the rest of the afternoon at leisure to take a swim or just relax and enjoy this superb setting. 2 nights at the hotel on Bed and Breakfast basis. Depart for an early evening performance of Kathakali, Kerala's traditional dance / art form at the Cultural Centre.
DAY 6: A guided tour of Periyar which will include a visit to the local spice plantation, full of heavenly aromas and vibrant colour, and the tranquil Lake Periyar, the watering hole within the wildlife sanctuary to spot the wildlife in their natural environment. Otters playfully cavort in the lake and 314 species of bird are check-listed here, an ornithologist's dream. Elephants are a common sighting as well as wild boar, sambar, monkeys, wild cats and very occasionally, tigers but we admit, we've never seen one!
DAY 7: After an early breakfast, depart for Kumarakom on the shores of the Vembanand Lake for a delicious lunch (included) at the fabulous Coconut Lagoon backwater retreat hotel. After a relaxing lunch, continue on to Cochin and check-in to Casino Hotel. Return to the hotel for overnight stay on Bed and Breakfast basis.
DAY 8: After breakfast, check-out and transfer to Cochin airport for the flight back to Goa. Upon arrival in Goa, transfer to your chosen hotel for the next 7 nights.
(Itinerary is subject to change and is based on the day after departure from the UK).
Please note luggage allowance on internal flights is 15kg per person in the hold..