Liberal and easygoing, the region is, unsurprisingly, a popular spot with tourists and travellers who come to explore its famous backwaters – a mesmerising network of rivers, canals and lagoons. Rice paddies and coconut groves line the banks, while houseboats cruise the waters. The coast's sandy beaches fill with sun worshippers, while the mountains are carpeted in plantations of tea and spices. This private tour takes in the best of this beautiful region, exploring Kochi, the impressive hill station of Munnar, India’s ’spice village’ Periyar, the backwaters of Kumarakom and the sun-kissed coast of Marari Beach.
Day 1: Depart UK
Board your overnight flight from London, arriving in Kochi on day two.
Days 2-3: Kochi
Kochi, formerly Cochin, lies at the centre of Kerala's coastline and makes a wonderful introduction to the region. A private guide will take you to visit the Jewish Synagogue, the Mattancherry Palace and St Francis Church, all built during the 16th century. Be sure also to take a stroll along the waterfront, where Chinese fishing nets take centre stage, and to watch a performance of traditional Kathakali dance.
Days 4-5: Munnar
After breakfast drive to Munnar, and check in upon arrival. Munnar is a magnificent hill station in the Western Ghats at about 5,000 feet above sea level. It is one of the best hill stations in Kerala and is a major centre for the area's tea industry. The town was also the British Government's summer resort in the South and it has been a favourite summer resort of the European settlers for centuries. Spend the afternoon at your leisure. The next morning, enjoy a visit to a tea or coffee plantation around Munnar. The rest of the day is free for you to spend at leisure.
Day 6: Periyar
Transfer to the Spice Village hotel (Superior), in the picturesque Cardamom Hills, or Aanavilasum (Deluxe) – a luxury plantation house on seven acres of private estate just 8 km from Thekkady, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. A cruise within the park offers great opportunities to spot elephants and otters.
Days 7-8: Kumarakom
Much of Kerala's allure is down to its backwaters – a network of rivers, canals and lagoons backed by plantations of tea and spices. Kumarakom sits idly in these backwaters, asleep among paddy fields and coconut groves. Our deluxe option here, Kumarakom Lake Resort, is a particular treat, complete with an Ayurvedic centre and jacuzzi on the banks of Lake Vembanad. Alternatively, Coconut Lagoon is a heritage hotel with authentic architecture and an ecological focus.
Day 9: Alleppey
Cruising along the Keralan backwaters on a traditional houseboat is for many an essential Indian experience. Today's leisurely voyage will take you to Alleppey, whose network of criss-crossing canals caused a former Viceroy of India to call it the ‘Venice of the East'.
Stay: House Boat
Days 10-12: Kovalam Beach
After enjoying breakfast on board the houseboat, disembark and transfer to Kovalam, where you'll spend your last three nights at your chosen beach hotel. Kovalam is a beach town by the Arabian Sea in Kerala. The area is well known for its golden sanded beaches, with three that are most famous: the Lighthouse Beach, the Hawah Beach and the Samudra Beach. Spend the next few days relaxing on the beach, exploring the stunning coast and Kovalam town or perhaps enjoying an optional Ayurveda treatment at your hotel.
Day 13: Depart India/Arrive UK
Enjoy time to yourself before transferring to the airport for your flight home.
Choose to stay at Marari Beach on days 10-12
A short transfer from the disembarkation point of your houseboat takes you to Marari Beach near the beach village of Mararikulam. Check into either Marari Beach Resort (Superior) or the stunning Carnoustie Wellness Resort & Spa (Deluxe) and spend the next three nights relaxing on the beautiful beach before transferring to Kochi airport on day 13 for your onward flight.
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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