Arrival at the Kochi International airport. After a traditional welcome ‘Swagat’, we transfer to the hotel for check-in. This town has had historical sea trade connection with the Middle East, Mediterranean and Northern Europe. Architecture and structure of buildings reflects cosmopolitan past which is melange of old Portuguese, Dutch and British influences.
Today we visit Fort Kochi, founded by the Portuguese in 1503 and it is considered to be one of the earliest site chosen by European colonial power. An odour of spice emerges from warehouses and food stalls offering different delicacy is common sight in each nook and corner of the town. In the afternoon we enjoy a sightseeing tour of Mattancherry Palace, built by the Portuguese as a gift for the Raja of Kochi, the Jewish synagogue dating from 1568 and St Francis church. We also explore the town of Kochi, its bazaars and old harbour area. In the evening there is the chance for an Optional visit to see a display of Kathakali, a form of classical dance unique to Kerala.
Cochin (Kochi) - Munnar
In the morning we drive away from the coastal plains to Munnar, located in the Western Ghats, approximately 1,600 meters above sea level. Once the summer-resort of the British administration in South India, Munnar is a beautiful hill station which retains its colonial charm and is famous for its tea plantations. The town is situated at the confluence of three mountain streams Mudrapauzha, Naliathani and Kundala. With its rolling hills, sparkling waterfalls, tea plantations and picture-postcard hamlets, the area is perfect for some leisurely hiking. Upon arrival we check into our hotel and spend the rest of the day at leisure enjoying the ambiance of the town or the beauty of its bazaars.
After an early breakfast, we drive through the old town of Munnar and arrive in a tiny village of Nagarmudi, from where, accompanied by a local guide, we start our trek. The trail commences with a gradual ascent through the tea plantations and then climbs into Seven Malai hills. Before we reach the top, we enjoy walking through cardamom & coffee plantations. At the top we are rewarded with spectacular views of Anamudi Peak , Changulam Lake , Chittrapuram Dam , Munnar town and some local villages. Later we descend down through the same route and are transferred to our hotel.
Munnar - Kodaikanal
After delicious breakfast, we head towards Kodaikanal where we have a night stay in an Eco lodge in "Elephant Valley", consisting of an eco-lodge surrounded by jungle, coffee plantations, waterfalls, traditional villages and wildlife, including elephants. On arrival, check-in at the lodge and rest of the day is free to relax.
A day of relaxation and discovery of Nature and surrounding Wildlife. The Eco-lodge offers many activities (These activities could be arranged on site with the hotel). For example - stroll in coffee plantations, hiking to waterfalls, horseback riding, yoga & meditation and cycling to few kilometers in order to explore the surrounding at your pace.
Kodaikanal - Periyar (Thekkady)
In the morning, we drive through beautiful lush countryside across the top of the hills to Thekkady close to Periyar National Park, one of India’s most fascinating wildlife sanctuaries. After arriving in the small village of Thekkady, we check-in at the hotel. This is a major Spice growing area and after lunch, we take a short walk through a Spice garden where we can see a large variety of live Spice plants. There is plenty of time in the afternoon to explore the bazaar where we see numerous shops selling Cardamoms, Vanilla, Peppercorns, Chilies, Turmeric and other spices.
In the early morning, we take a Jungle walk in the park along with our forest guides to admire abundance of birdlife that includes kingfishers, storks and hornbills which are the most commonly spotted birds. Periyar National Park is one of the largest reserves in South India and is set around a large man-made lake. We return to the hotel for breakfast. In the afternoon, there is a possibility to do an Optional Boat Ride on Periyar Lake. This is an ideal opportunity to get close to the animals and a good opportunity to spot elephants, otters, wild pigs and buffaloes. On offer here is Ayurvedic massage (Optional), which can be arranged in the nearby Ayurvedic massage center.
Periyar (Thekkady) - Alappuzha (Alleppey)
After breakfast we drive to Alleppey. Also known as Alappuzha, the town is a principal center for backwater cruises in Kerala. We board our houseboats and begin our cruise along the backwaters of Kerala; one of the highlights of the trip. These enchanting boats have been decorated and made into comfortable cruise vessels. We meander along the waterways flanked by lush tropical vegetation, catching glimpses of dazzling tropical birds and watching idyllic villages. Our overnight stay is on the boats in the middle of the famous Vembanad Lake..
After a relaxing breakfast on the Houseboats, we disembark and drive along the scenic Malabar coast to Gaaby World, a community homestay based at West Chennamkary right in the heart of the picturesque Kuttanad district in the middle of backwaters. In the evening, we leave for a village walk. Various Optional activities such as canoeing, a bicycle tour through the villages and cookery classes can be arranged here.
Alappuzha (Alleppey) - Mararikulam
In the morning, we leave Backwaters behind and drive to Mararikulam. This beach in Kerala is eternal with Coconut palm trees and Golden sands. The beach is quite beautiful and the name 'Marari' arises from 'Mararikulum', which is a local village on the Arabian Sea Coast. On arrival, check-in at the hotel. Rest of the day is free to relax.