"Visiting Keralas world famous backwaters and beaches is highly recommended, throw in some of India's greatest wildlife, this trip is definitely one for the true adventurer"
Situated between the dazzling Arabian Sea and the lush green Western Ghats mountain range, the narrow strip of land that makes up the state of Kerala is an area of stunning natural beauty. Explore tropical southwest India’s famous backwaters and beaches, indulge in some fantastic wildlife-watching, and journey into the tea and spice-scented hills on this relaxing 12-day tour. Your trip begins in the old trading port of Kochin, with charming colonial buildings hinting at its former elegance and grandeur. Admire the outstanding architecture on display and gain a fascinating insight into the city’s rich trading heritage on a sightseeing tour.
Venture further inland, stopping to watch baby elephants enjoying a fun ‘bath-time’ at an elephant sanctuary, before reaching the picturesque hill station of Munnar. Here, enjoy spectacular views as you hike through green tea plantations in the high Western Ghats. Next, stimulate your senses at the spice-growing centre of Thekkady, before getting back to nature with a trip to the fantastic Periyar National Park. Home to hundreds of different bird species, as well as iconic Bengal tigers and Indian elephants, this park is unmissable for wildlife enthusiasts! Returning to the coast, you’ll take an unforgettable houseboat cruise through Kerala’s shimmering backwater network of canals and lagoons, before heading to the beach for some rest and relaxation.
Active India Holidays are local operators and, as such, have seen first-hand the benefits that tourism can bring to some of India’s most remote regions. They understand that tourism often helps to alleviate poverty and develop communities and, as part of the global tourism industry, acknowledge that they too have a crucial role to play in providing commercial benefits and financial impetus in local communities. The company is conscious of both the negative and positive impacts its operations potentially have within sensitive environments and communities, particularly in the Himalayas where most of Active India’s trekking and adventure operations are conducted.
To ensure that they operate in as responsible a way as possible, Active India trains all of its tour leaders and support staff on sustainability practices. One example is their ‘Leave no Trace’ policy, which ensures that campsites and trails are left free from any waste. The company even extends this policy to include the waste left by travellers who have come before them, collecting and disposing of any extra rubbish in a safe manner. Active India hopes to contribute towards building a tourism industry that brings pleasure to travellers whilst also constructing a future for the local people and places that the industry depends on.
Arrival in Kochi: Receive a traditional ‘Swagat’ (welcome) as you arrive at Kochi international airport, before transferring to your hotel. Kochi’s cosmopolitan past is reflected in its architecture, which blends old Portuguese, British and Dutch influences.
Kochi: Visit some of the town’s main sights, including Fort Kochi, which is thought to be the earliest European settlement in India. Colourful warehouses are packed full of rickety bicycles and hand-painted trucks, and the scent of tea and spices hangs heavy in the air. Later, visit the Mattancherry Palace, the 16th century Jewish synagogue and St. Francis church – the final resting place of the explorer Vasco da Gama. Explore the town’s bazaars and old harbour, and in the evening enjoy a classical Kathakali dance display (optional).
Kochi – Kothamangalam via Kodanad: Drive away from the coastal plain towards Kodanad, a small village surrounded by green forests and paddy fields. Visit the elephant sanctuary, where you might see baby elephants bathing in the Periyar River. The village has been included in the Indian government’s list of Ecotourism destinations in order to preserve its natural beauty. Continue on to Kothamangalam, where you’ll check in to your hotel.
Kothamangalam –Munnar: Journey into the Western Ghats, to the beautiful hill station of Munnar. Formerly the summer-resort of the British administration in South India, Munnar is famed for its tea plantations and is situated at the confluence of three mountain streams. With tumbling hills, glittering waterfalls, tea plantations and quaint hamlets, the area is ideal for leisurely hiking. Upon your arrival, check in to your hotel before spending the rest of the day exploring the town’s bazaars and enjoying its relaxed ambience.
Munnar: After breakfast, proceed to the tiny village of Nagarmudi where you’ll begin a trek accompanied by a local guide. The trail begins with a gradual ascent through tea plantations, before climbing into the Seven Malai hills. Walk through cardamom and coffee plantations to reach the top, where you’ll be rewarded with amazing views of peaks, lakes and villages. Once your trek is over, return to the hotel. Later in the afternoon take an optional visit to a Tea Museum.
Munnar – Thekkady: Take a morning drive through scenic hilly countryside to reach Thekkady, a lively village situated near the Periyar National Park. Check in to your hotel before taking some time in the afternoon to explore. The area is a centre for spice cultivation; visit a spice garden as well as the bazaar, which has a plethora of shops selling vanilla, cardamom, peppercorns, chillies, turmeric and a host of other spices. A sensory sensation!
Thekkady (Periyar National Park): Depart early in the morning for a jungle walk in the Periyar National Park. Accompanied by forest guides, you’ll see a huge variety of birdlife including kingfishers, storks and horn-bills. The park is one of South India’s largest, and is situated around a man-made lake. After the jungle walk, you’ll return to the hotel for breakfast. Later, take an optional boat trip on Periyar Lake and get up-close to nature with the opportunity to spot elephants, buffalo, otters and wild pigs! In the afternoon, you might decide to treat yourself to an Ayurvedic massage.
Thekkady – Alleppey: Alleppey, also known as Alapphuzha, is the main centre for backwater cruises in Kerala. Driving to Alleppey after breakfast, you’ll board a houseboat to begin your cruise. Meander along the waterways, surrounded by lush tropical vegetation, and catch glimpses of tropical birds and idyllic villages. You’ll stay overnight on the houseboat in the centre of the famous Vembanad Lake.
Alleppey – Backwaters (Gaaby World): After a memorable and leisurely breakfast on board the houseboat, you’ll drive the scenic route from Malabar coast to Gaaby World, a community homestay situated at the heart of the beautiful Kuttanad district. Take an evening walk through the village and enjoy various optional activities including cookery classes, canoeing or a bicycle tour.
Backwaters – Varkala: Leave the beautiful backwaters behind you and proceed to the serene hamlet of Varkala. Check in to your hotel and spend the rest of the day at your leisure – Varkala’s beach is the perfect place to watch the sun set behind the glimmering sea.
Varkala: Enjoy some last-minute exploration as you make the most of your free time in Varkala. Visit Papanasam Beach, the 2,000 year-old Janardhana Swami Temple, and the well-preserved Anjengo Fort, and try some excellent seafood or typical Indian cuisine at one of Varkala’s many beach-shack restaurants. The clay oven method of tandoor cooking in particular gives breads and curries an authentic and delicious taste.
Tour Concludes: Transfer to the international airport of Trivandrum to board your onward flight.
- The rate shown is a 'from' price per person (on a double sharing basis)
- Click 'Ask a Question' up above to speak to the operator directly about this tour's departure dates, availability and costs
- Refunds: 80% refund available until 30 days prior to check-in; 50% refund available 15 days prior to check-in; 25% refund available 6 days prior to check-in; within 5 days of check-in there will be no refund.
- Breakfasts (and full board meals during the Houseboat stay)
- Guided jungle walk at Thekkady
- English speaking monument sightseeing guides at cities
- All land transport
- Government service tax as applicable
- Travel insurance
- Indian visa fees
- Any monument entrance fees
- Flights (domestic/international)
- Any optional activities or services not mentioned in inclusions
- Services of any professional English speaking tour leader/escort during the tour
- Miscellaneous expenses for tips, laundry, drinks, any medical emergencies and souvenirs etc.