Day 1: Kochi
Kerala - this green haven situated on India’s Malabar Coast was once a key jewel in the historic Spice Route. In Kerala you will trace a blend of Portuguese, Dutch, British, Chinese and Arab imprints in the heritage townships. Contemporary Kerala, you’ll find has a heady rhythm. Exotic sunsets cradled in the Arabian Sea horizon, crisp white sand beaches, and a cultural starburst. You will get to form beautiful polaroid frames in your mind of heritage architecture and calming backwater trails.
Arrive at Kochi airport, transfer to the hotel of your choice.
Day 2: Kochi
Start the tour today armed with a sunhat and your wanderlust shoes. We’ll explore sprawling townships of Mattancherry and Fort Cochin. Start with Mattancherry, and the Dutch Palace. The palace has an interesting mix of mural paintings and royal antiques.
From here we will head towards the Jewish Quarter. The quaint and charming streets in this town house antique boutiques and pretty architecture. Sights to visit are the Paradesi Synagogue (closed on Fridays, Saturdays and Jewish Holidays), the Clock Tower. Finally, the visit won’t be complete till you explore the Spice Market. In eras gone by, business was done through the value of Black Gold or Black pepper. The heady scent of spice follows you’re like an aura through the streets.
In Fort Cochin you will see footprints of the Portuguese, Dutch and British settlement. The tour will visit St Francis Church, the original burial site of explorer Vasco De Gama; Santa Cruz Basilica, one of the oldest churches in India. Explore on your own the popular local haunts at Princess Street and Loafers Corner. Fort Cochin is also home to the Chinese Fishing nets, one of the most iconic sights of Kerala. Spend time walking at the promenade as sun sets on the marina.
This evening, visit a local theatre where you will get to observe the classical dance form of Kathakali. It is a dance form of pure expression. Face muscles exaggerated with make-up and vivid hand gestures will convey the emotions. The costumes are pure theatre, which amplify the overall effect of the performance. The dance form transcends the barriers of language, the expressions and music beautifully convey the story.
Day 3: Manakkodam Village Visit & Kumarakom
Got an early morning start today. You’ll be taking the coastal highway towards a quaint township known as Manakkodam. En-route take in the countryside scene, as villagers wake up to attend church, dressed in their best.
On the way to the village you’ll be stopping to observe the early morning fish auction. The fishermen go into deep sea during the early hours and get back with the haul as day breaks. The natives eagerly await the fresh haul and the fish is sold via an auction. The process is very unique and interesting to watch; the price of fish rises dramatically in just a few short minutes.
At Manakkodam we’ve arranged for a traditional breakfast at a local homestay. The family is warm and welcoming. Enjoy the simple fare laced with big hearted hospitality from the family. Later set about exploring the tiny village.
From Manakkodam make way towards Alleppey, the twin cousin of Kumarakom. We’ve arranged for a relaxing backwater cruise from Alleppey towards Kumarakom. The cruise will be on a traditional houseboat. As you float through the emerald green channels, you will glimpse interesting snippets of the local village life. Coconut palms fringe the banks, with bird’s chirpings amplified in the quietness. Let the rhythm of the boat lull your senses, as you observe the routine of the villagers. Lunch will be on board, cooked fresh by the staff.
The houseboat will drop you off at the docks of your resort in Kumarakom.
Day 4 & Day 5: Kumarakom
Kerala is cushioned on one side by the great Arabian Sea and on the other side by peaceful backwater channels. Kerala backwaters are a unique trail of lakes, lagoons, rivers and canals. These water bodies both connect and divide the villages and farmland situated here.
Have these two days at your leisure. You can choose to hire bicycles to explore the local countryside, indulgence in an aromatic Ayurveda massage, spend these days meditating at undisturbed waterfronts or engage in an enriching yoga session with a local master.
Day 6: Kumarakom – Periyar
Meet your driver at the lobby of the hotel and drive towards Thekkady. You are moving away from the coast, heading into the lush green forests of the Periyar Wildlife Reserve. Pass through paddy fields and tapioca plantations, enroute your driver will also make a halt at a rubber plantation to observe how rubber trees are cultivated and processed. Late afternoon today, we recommend a visit to a Spice Plantation rich with black pepper, cardamom, jackfruit, turmeric, nutmegs, ginger and more of these aromatic gems which are crucial items for a native household in India. Wrap the day with a front row seat to observe the traditional martial art form of Kerala, performed by trained warriors.
Day 7: Periyar
Nature calls! Start today will an excursion to an elephant village. Here dedicated Mahouts train female elephants for various temple festivals. Enjoy a day getting to know these gentle beasts, who once stumped the mighty Alexander’s Army.
Remaining of the day engage in a wide range of wildlife activities. You choose from a jungle walk within the Periyar Wildlife Reserve or enjoy a jeep safari (shared basis) on the jungle trails seeking the elusive Bengal tiger.
In the evening, just before sunset we recommend a boat ride on the reservoir which is a big life for the wild inhabitants of the Periyar National Park. The best seats are in the front row, on the deck and you can enjoy an uninterrupted view of the numerous birds and animals who come to the water in the evening.
Day 8: Periyar – Munnar
The route towards Munnar is one of the most scenic drives in southern India. You will climb further up from sea level, towards the tea plantation countryside. Munnar and the tea plantations are legacy of the British regime. The idea was make the region rich with coffee plantation; and when that didn’t take root tea was introduced. Some of the shrubs are vintage, dating back over a century.
Today, as you enter Munnar the first halt is at the Munnar Tea Museum. Here have a leisurely tea tasting session after learning about the history of tea. From here move towards your accommodation for the next two nights.
This evening, set out for a long walk, exploring the local trails. Keep your eyes out for the Malabar Giant Squirrel, a rodent with the body of a miniature bear.
Day 9: Munnar
This morning, after a leisurely breakfast at the estate, head towards the iconic Kulukumalai plantation. Known as the highest tea plantation in Asia, Kulukumalai spreads over a massive landscape. The approach towards the plantation and tea factory at Kulukumalai will be via a jeep ride. The road upwards is a bumpy ride, but the scenery is a unique experience. You can make the journey interesting by hiking towards the factory at intervals, taking in the view. Your experienced guide will provide a fascinating narration to the business of tea and the rich history behind it.
You have the evening at your leisure.
Day 10: Munnar – Kochi – Onwards
Meet your driver at the lobby of the hotel and transfer to Kochi airport for your journey onwards.