Enchanting Kerala

Enchanting Kerala

Let the spectacular natural beauty and rich culture of Kerala enchant you on this gentle two week immersive adventure through its cities, countryside, tea estates, backwaters and rainforests.

Travel through time through the streets of the vibrant coastal city of Cochin, before venturing north towards a more authentic Kerala that sees fewer tourists. Enjoy a culinary lesson amidst idyllic surrounds. The lush tropical jungles of Wayanad and Ooty are part of the vast Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, inviting you to slow down and absorb the peace of nature. The rolling carpets of tea country in Munnar beckon with their tea and spice plantations. Enjoy a truly memorable journey on the World Heritage narrow gauge Nilgiri Railway and an overnight cruise on the famed backwaters on a luxury rice boat.

Get close to the wildlife and birds of Periyar on boat and foot and enjoy performances of the traditional art forms of Kathakali and Kalaripayattu. Witness ancient Theyyam rituals at a local temple.

We really love this itinerary, especially since it includes staying at some of our personal favourite properties, from amazing boutique hotels to wilderness resorts in rainforests to restored heritage mansions, all providing comfort and luxury with traditional warm hospitality.

15 DAYS
FROM £2495
Idea
Themes:
Activity Levels
Leisurely Active
WHAT'S INCLUDED
  • Activities and excursions as specified
  • Entrance fees/tickets for the above
  • In-destination transfers & transport
  • Accommodation & Meals as specified
  • English speaking guides
  • 24/7 support while you travel

Explore this itinerary

Day 1: Cochin

Upon arrival in Cochin this morning, you will be received and taken to your hotel. Unwind in the peaceful surrounds of your heritage hotel this afternoon.

This evening, enjoy a performance of colourfully costumed Kathakali dance form, a really special way to start your holiday. The most popular and sacred dance-drama of Kerala, Kathakali, has evolved across the last 400 years. This classical dance requires lengthy and rigorous training to attain complete control of the body and sensitivity to emotion so as to be able to render all its nuances through just facial expressions and hand gestures. Themes centre round the two great Indian epics – the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. We suggest arriving early in order to witness the artists putting on their make-up.

None
Day 2: Cochin
Today, explore the city of Cochin. Highlights include visiting the Fort Cochin, Mattancherry Dutch Palace, Jewish Synagogue and St. Francis Church. See the Chinese fishing nets along the shores. Later in the evening, enjoy a private sunset cruise along the peaceful waterways that surround the city.
Breakfast
Day 3: Cochin - Tellicherry

After an early breakfast, its time to board the Express train to Calicut at 09200. The 4 hour train journey through lush Keralan countryside is a delightful experience in itself.

Upon arrival in Calicut, you will be received and driven (2½ hrs) to Ayisha Manzil, a restored heritage mansion overlooking the Arabian Sea. At Ayisha Manzil, your hostess will be Mrs Faiza Moosa, a well known culinary expert of North Kerala cuisine. She’ll gladly teach you the secrets of making authentic curries while you enjoy the peaceful surroundings of the mansion. Her informal cooking demonstrations are organised to suit your schedule, and enable you to learn some truly authentic recipes from a friendly expert.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 4: Tellicherry

While southern Kerala sees a lot of tourism, cities of northern Kerala like Tellicherry are off-the-beaten track destinations, hence retaining their authenticity. An early morning guided walk with your host to the Fish market and harbour starts off the day exploring Tellicherry. Later, enjoy a guided visit to the city highlights – the Gundert school, handloom weavers’ workshops, the Tellicherry fort, and the beach.

In the evening attend an electrifying Kalaripyattu show. Kalaripayattu is reputed to be a 3000-year-old martial art form that later inspired Kung- fu. Contemporary Kalaripayattu has emerged in a new avatar – an ancient art form now a source of inspiration, of self-expression in dance forms, in theatre, in fitness and in movies too.

Later in the evening, if lucky, you will get a rare opportunity to witness the Theyyam ritual at a local temple. Visitors are welcome to watch, but this is a ancient temple ritual performed occasionally hence the exact timings, venue/temple location are not known in advance. Your host keeps an eye out for the schedules of several local temples. Keep your fingers crossed.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5: Tellicherry - Wayanad

After a leisurely breakfast, drive to Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (2½ hrs) to check into your wilderness resort around noon.

Set along the slope of a forest clad hill, beside three branches of a sprightly mountain stream that forks as it flows through the 150 acre property, coming together and broadening at the end of the slope, Vythiri Resort is an exquisite jungle hideaway and a naturalist’s treasure trove.

Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, exploring the sights and sounds of the rainforest around you.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6: Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary

Today, spend the day at leisure at your spectacular wilderness resort – you may enjoy nature walks around the resort with the in-house naturalist to spot wildlife, birds and butterflies, or just explore the lush rainforest trails by yourself. Sit back and enjoy the resort facilities and its Ayurveda therapies.

The verandas look out at fabulous views of the forest – an intimate experience of the surrounding sights and sounds while enjoying a drink.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 7: Ooty

After a leisurely morning, drive (2½ hours) to the Queen of Hill Stations, the picturesque, green haven of Ooty.

Located within the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve in the Western Ghats at a height of 2240m, Ooty is surrounded by coffee and tea plantations, and conifers, eucalyptus, pine and wattle trees on the hillsides. The day is for you to explore the area’s natural beauty at leisure, either at your resort, or on local walks through nature’s lush bounties.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 8: Heritage Railway

A thrilling ride on the World Heritage Nilgiri Mountain Railway from Ooty to Coonoor is the highlight of the day.

The narrow gauge track was opened for traffic in 1899.  The steepest gradient on this line is 1 in 23, and the  route has  250 bridges including 32 major ones, and 16 tunnels. Travelling through time and stunning scenery along this route is a memorable experience. Rest of the day is at leisure or exploring the area around Oooty on your own.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9: Rural Kerala

This morning, drive to your next destination, Palakkad (5 hrs). A little before entering the city of Palakkad, arrive at Kandath Tharavad, the ancestral home of the Kandath family set in the lush rice paddies of rural Kerala. The house is a two hundred year – old gem of domestic architecture constructed primarily of mud and teak. The house was built in 1794 by Bhagwaldas’s Great Great Grandfather,Mr. Kuppavelan, a landowner and money – lender. Your host, Mr Bhagwaldas or Bugs, is always there to show you around the place or offer you the various sightseeing suggestions, including a cycling trip or a bullock cart ride around the village.

The house’s rural setting takes one back to a bygone era as you embark on gentle local walks with the fresh breezes relaxing you. Walk through the village, witness rural life and visit the corner tea shop to exchange stories with welcoming locals over a cup of tea. Later, walk through the green paddies to watch the sunset.

Gaze at the evening starlit skies in the silent surroundings while sipping your drink.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 10 & 11: Munnar

This morning, drive (5 hrs) through lush countryside to the tea country of Munnar. Arrive in Munnar around lunch time and check into Windermere Estate – a delightful ‘chill out’ planter’s Bungalow.

A hill station at a height of 1525m, Munnar offers a breath-taking view of the hills draped in folds of green carpet of tea gardens. Beyond the rolling hills discover the rich tropical forests abounding in exotic flora & fauna. It is here that you will find the Anamudi peak, the highest peak in South India. Munnar’s serene atmosphere, silver streams and pleasant climate welcomes you to have a whiff of the cool mountain breeze.

Your time in Munnar is at your leisure. Relax at the resort and explore the numerous walking trails. Visit the tea and spice plantations and the tea factory/museum for which Munnar is well-known.

Why not walk the streets of Munnar’s market and stock up on the fragrant spices harvested from local spice plantations?

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 12: Periyar Tiger Reserve

This morning, drive to Periyar Tiger Reserve (4 hrs) and check into your hotel.

Periyar Tiger Reserve is set on an attractive lake-side. The sanctuary is part of Project Tiger. The open grasslands and varied topography supports a magnificent variety of animals – elephants, Gaur (Indian bison), Sambar deer, Barking deer, Mouse deer, Nilgiri langur, Bonnet macaque, Lion-tailed macaque, leopards, Jungle cats, Wild dogs and most importantly the tiger. An estimated 40 tigers inhabit the Reserve. Other important animals are bear, Porcupine, Jackal, Indian Giant Squirrel, Malabar flying squirrel, Wild boar, small Indian Civet, Mongoose and the Pangolins.

Tiger and Leopard sightings are rare but the region abounds in the sights and sounds of the jungle, and is immensely rich in birdlife. Exotic flowers and trees abound.

This afternoon, embark on a wildlife safari on a boat on the lake and look out for herds of elephants along the shore.

Breakfast
Day 13: Periyar Tiger Reserve

This morning you will be taken for a gentle yet illuminating jungle walk with an expert naturalist who will bring the sights and sounds of the jungle to life. Periyar is one of the few Tiger reserves where visitors can walk with naturalists and trackers who are trained and experienced enough to ensure that any wildlife encounters are safe.

After a leisurely day, later in the afternoon, you will be taken for a spice plantation walk.

Breakfast
Day 14: Periyar - Allepey

This morning, you’ll start early for a dawn boat ride in Periyar Tiger Reserve. The lake looks ethereally beautiful in the morning mist, and you’ll have another chance to spot wildlife from the comfort of your boat.

After breakfast, drive to the famed Keralan backwaters (3 hrs) to board your kettuvallam, or rice boat.

The traditional rice boat of Kerala is one of the most enduring images of the backwaters – its natural, cocoon-like profile complementing the surrounding countryside. These were designed to carry heavy cargo, such as rice, coconuts and spices, and to provide living accommodation for the boatmen. Preserving their historic character and style, craftsmen have created a unique atmosphere on board, a luxurious, self-contained world from which to observe rural Indian life flowing gently by.

Enjoy your overnight backwater cruise on a vast network of canals, lakes and estuaries comprises one of India’s most enchanting areas – a rural, riverine expanse of verdant coconut groves and rice paddies.

You’ll be served meals cooked on board, often using fresh fish and seafood caught while on the cruise.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 15: Departure

After a leisurely breakfast on board, and time for the last few photogrpahs, your Enchanting Kerala adventure comes to an end as you disembark your boat and drive to Cochin’s International airport (2.5 hours) to connect your late evening return flight.

If your return flight departs earlier than 6pm, we recommend you extend your trip by staying an extra night stay in Cochin, near the airport. Please get in touch and we can customise this itinerary for you based on your flight timings.

Breakfast
Day 1: Cochin

Upon arrival in Cochin this morning, you will be received and taken to your hotel. Unwind in the peaceful surrounds of your heritage hotel this afternoon.

This evening, enjoy a performance of colourfully costumed Kathakali dance form, a really special way to start your holiday. The most popular and sacred dance-drama of Kerala, Kathakali, has evolved across the last 400 years. This classical dance requires lengthy and rigorous training to attain complete control of the body and sensitivity to emotion so as to be able to render all its nuances through just facial expressions and hand gestures. Themes centre round the two great Indian epics – the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. We suggest arriving early in order to witness the artists putting on their make-up.

None
Day 2: Cochin
Today, explore the city of Cochin. Highlights include visiting the Fort Cochin, Mattancherry Dutch Palace, Jewish Synagogue and St. Francis Church. See the Chinese fishing nets along the shores. Later in the evening, enjoy a private sunset cruise along the peaceful waterways that surround the city.
Breakfast
Day 3: Cochin - Tellicherry

After an early breakfast, its time to board the Express train to Calicut at 09200. The 4 hour train journey through lush Keralan countryside is a delightful experience in itself.

Upon arrival in Calicut, you will be received and driven (2½ hrs) to Ayisha Manzil, a restored heritage mansion overlooking the Arabian Sea. At Ayisha Manzil, your hostess will be Mrs Faiza Moosa, a well known culinary expert of North Kerala cuisine. She’ll gladly teach you the secrets of making authentic curries while you enjoy the peaceful surroundings of the mansion. Her informal cooking demonstrations are organised to suit your schedule, and enable you to learn some truly authentic recipes from a friendly expert.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 4: Tellicherry

While southern Kerala sees a lot of tourism, cities of northern Kerala like Tellicherry are off-the-beaten track destinations, hence retaining their authenticity. An early morning guided walk with your host to the Fish market and harbour starts off the day exploring Tellicherry. Later, enjoy a guided visit to the city highlights – the Gundert school, handloom weavers’ workshops, the Tellicherry fort, and the beach.

In the evening attend an electrifying Kalaripyattu show. Kalaripayattu is reputed to be a 3000-year-old martial art form that later inspired Kung- fu. Contemporary Kalaripayattu has emerged in a new avatar – an ancient art form now a source of inspiration, of self-expression in dance forms, in theatre, in fitness and in movies too.

Later in the evening, if lucky, you will get a rare opportunity to witness the Theyyam ritual at a local temple. Visitors are welcome to watch, but this is a ancient temple ritual performed occasionally hence the exact timings, venue/temple location are not known in advance. Your host keeps an eye out for the schedules of several local temples. Keep your fingers crossed.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5: Tellicherry - Wayanad

After a leisurely breakfast, drive to Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (2½ hrs) to check into your wilderness resort around noon.

Set along the slope of a forest clad hill, beside three branches of a sprightly mountain stream that forks as it flows through the 150 acre property, coming together and broadening at the end of the slope, Vythiri Resort is an exquisite jungle hideaway and a naturalist’s treasure trove.

Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, exploring the sights and sounds of the rainforest around you.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6: Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary

Today, spend the day at leisure at your spectacular wilderness resort – you may enjoy nature walks around the resort with the in-house naturalist to spot wildlife, birds and butterflies, or just explore the lush rainforest trails by yourself. Sit back and enjoy the resort facilities and its Ayurveda therapies.

The verandas look out at fabulous views of the forest – an intimate experience of the surrounding sights and sounds while enjoying a drink.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 7: Ooty

After a leisurely morning, drive (2½ hours) to the Queen of Hill Stations, the picturesque, green haven of Ooty.

Located within the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve in the Western Ghats at a height of 2240m, Ooty is surrounded by coffee and tea plantations, and conifers, eucalyptus, pine and wattle trees on the hillsides. The day is for you to explore the area’s natural beauty at leisure, either at your resort, or on local walks through nature’s lush bounties.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 8: Heritage Railway

A thrilling ride on the World Heritage Nilgiri Mountain Railway from Ooty to Coonoor is the highlight of the day.

The narrow gauge track was opened for traffic in 1899.  The steepest gradient on this line is 1 in 23, and the  route has  250 bridges including 32 major ones, and 16 tunnels. Travelling through time and stunning scenery along this route is a memorable experience. Rest of the day is at leisure or exploring the area around Oooty on your own.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9: Rural Kerala

This morning, drive to your next destination, Palakkad (5 hrs). A little before entering the city of Palakkad, arrive at Kandath Tharavad, the ancestral home of the Kandath family set in the lush rice paddies of rural Kerala. The house is a two hundred year – old gem of domestic architecture constructed primarily of mud and teak. The house was built in 1794 by Bhagwaldas’s Great Great Grandfather,Mr. Kuppavelan, a landowner and money – lender. Your host, Mr Bhagwaldas or Bugs, is always there to show you around the place or offer you the various sightseeing suggestions, including a cycling trip or a bullock cart ride around the village.

The house’s rural setting takes one back to a bygone era as you embark on gentle local walks with the fresh breezes relaxing you. Walk through the village, witness rural life and visit the corner tea shop to exchange stories with welcoming locals over a cup of tea. Later, walk through the green paddies to watch the sunset.

Gaze at the evening starlit skies in the silent surroundings while sipping your drink.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 10 & 11: Munnar

This morning, drive (5 hrs) through lush countryside to the tea country of Munnar. Arrive in Munnar around lunch time and check into Windermere Estate – a delightful ‘chill out’ planter’s Bungalow.

A hill station at a height of 1525m, Munnar offers a breath-taking view of the hills draped in folds of green carpet of tea gardens. Beyond the rolling hills discover the rich tropical forests abounding in exotic flora & fauna. It is here that you will find the Anamudi peak, the highest peak in South India. Munnar’s serene atmosphere, silver streams and pleasant climate welcomes you to have a whiff of the cool mountain breeze.

Your time in Munnar is at your leisure. Relax at the resort and explore the numerous walking trails. Visit the tea and spice plantations and the tea factory/museum for which Munnar is well-known.

Why not walk the streets of Munnar’s market and stock up on the fragrant spices harvested from local spice plantations?

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 12: Periyar Tiger Reserve

This morning, drive to Periyar Tiger Reserve (4 hrs) and check into your hotel.

Periyar Tiger Reserve is set on an attractive lake-side. The sanctuary is part of Project Tiger. The open grasslands and varied topography supports a magnificent variety of animals – elephants, Gaur (Indian bison), Sambar deer, Barking deer, Mouse deer, Nilgiri langur, Bonnet macaque, Lion-tailed macaque, leopards, Jungle cats, Wild dogs and most importantly the tiger. An estimated 40 tigers inhabit the Reserve. Other important animals are bear, Porcupine, Jackal, Indian Giant Squirrel, Malabar flying squirrel, Wild boar, small Indian Civet, Mongoose and the Pangolins.

Tiger and Leopard sightings are rare but the region abounds in the sights and sounds of the jungle, and is immensely rich in birdlife. Exotic flowers and trees abound.

This afternoon, embark on a wildlife safari on a boat on the lake and look out for herds of elephants along the shore.

Breakfast
Day 13: Periyar Tiger Reserve

This morning you will be taken for a gentle yet illuminating jungle walk with an expert naturalist who will bring the sights and sounds of the jungle to life. Periyar is one of the few Tiger reserves where visitors can walk with naturalists and trackers who are trained and experienced enough to ensure that any wildlife encounters are safe.

After a leisurely day, later in the afternoon, you will be taken for a spice plantation walk.

Breakfast
Day 14: Periyar - Allepey

This morning, you’ll start early for a dawn boat ride in Periyar Tiger Reserve. The lake looks ethereally beautiful in the morning mist, and you’ll have another chance to spot wildlife from the comfort of your boat.

After breakfast, drive to the famed Keralan backwaters (3 hrs) to board your kettuvallam, or rice boat.

The traditional rice boat of Kerala is one of the most enduring images of the backwaters – its natural, cocoon-like profile complementing the surrounding countryside. These were designed to carry heavy cargo, such as rice, coconuts and spices, and to provide living accommodation for the boatmen. Preserving their historic character and style, craftsmen have created a unique atmosphere on board, a luxurious, self-contained world from which to observe rural Indian life flowing gently by.

Enjoy your overnight backwater cruise on a vast network of canals, lakes and estuaries comprises one of India’s most enchanting areas – a rural, riverine expanse of verdant coconut groves and rice paddies.

You’ll be served meals cooked on board, often using fresh fish and seafood caught while on the cruise.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 15: Departure

After a leisurely breakfast on board, and time for the last few photogrpahs, your Enchanting Kerala adventure comes to an end as you disembark your boat and drive to Cochin’s International airport (2.5 hours) to connect your late evening return flight.

If your return flight departs earlier than 6pm, we recommend you extend your trip by staying an extra night stay in Cochin, near the airport. Please get in touch and we can customise this itinerary for you based on your flight timings.

Breakfast

Interested in this itinerary? It's great as is, but we'll be happy to tailor it for you.

INCLUSIONS & EXCLUSIONS

Price Includes

  • Accommodation on twin sharing basis in the specified hotels or similar.
  • All transfers in air-conditioned vehicles
  • A private Sunset Cruise (~02 hours) in Cochin
  • Ride on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway from Ooty to Coonoor
  • Spice plantation tour in Munnar
  • Guided tour of Tea Factory in Munnar
  • Shared Boat safaris in Periyar Tiger Reserve
  • All entrance tickets/fees to the monuments & national parks visited on the itinerary
  • A full day guided tour of Kochi city
  • Express train from Kochi to Calicut by air-conditioned chair car
  • A guided visit to the Kathakali dance centre in Cochin

Price Excludes

  • Flights
  • Any meals not specified in the itinerary.
  • Camera fee wherever levied.
  • Any expenses of personal nature such as hard/soft drinks, laundry, phone calls, tips etc
  • Any item not listed explicitly in the Price Includes section

Our prices do not include international flights unless explicitly stated.

The price shown is per person, based on two people travelling and sharing a room, outside peak periods. Prices may vary depending on the time of travel, and single supplements may apply.