Kerala, Actively

Kerala, Actively

An expedition taking in the best of Kerala’s scenery, wildlife, indigenous culture, rural life and local cuisine while trekking, walking, cycling and kayaking is perfect for families with active teenagers, and all those who seek an active adventure that balances exertion and exhilaration.

The tour starts in the historic city of Cochin, proceeding to the lowland forests of Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary, continuing to the highest peaks of the Western Ghats around Munnar and the rich tropical rainforests of Periyar Tiger Reserve. Rest and recuperate while soaking in the calm serenity of the backwaters from your Kettuvallam houseboat before kayaking thorough its narrow channels. The sands of Marari beach provide the perfect ending to a trip of a lifetime in ‘God’s own Country’.

Whether cycling, hiking or kayaking, you’ll pass through some of the most pristine and scenic places, spice and tea plantations, tribal villages with friendly locals, quiet corners of rural backwaters with unfolding vignetters of daily life, luxuriant forests and breath-taking vistas. Immerse yourself in local culture and life, through cultural shows and genuine interactions with the locals engaged in farming, fishing, duck rearing and toddy tapping.

A wealth of wildlife and birdlife await discovery, with herds of Elephants, Gaur, Sambhar and macaques often spotted, along with a lot of butterflies, giant squirrels and variety of birds. Sighting elephants in the wild will remain a cherished memory.

Your accommodation throughout the tour will leave a memorable imprint, each location chosen for the its character, heritage and scenic splendour, and always with heart-warming hospitality and comfort.

14 DAYS
FROM £2095
Idea
Themes:
Activity Levels
Challenging
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

Arrive this morning in Cochin (Kochi), you’ll be met by your guide and driver. Check into the hotel for 2 nights.

Set on a cluster of islands and narrow peninsulas, Kochi is a city of cultural diversity – winding streets, shady trees, Kathakali dance, modern Indian art, 500-year-old Portuguese houses, mosques, a tiny Jewish community with ancient roots – and ferry boats scuttling backwards and forwards.

After lunch and some time to rest and relax at your hotel, enjoy a spot of gentle sunset kayaking. This is a great way to let the fresh air remove any tiredness from your flight, and be uplifted by Kerala’s stunning natural beauty. If you’re not confident of kayaking, our expert guides will ensure that you quickly build up your skills and confidence.

None
Day 2: Cochin

Enjoy a guided walk of Fort Cochin, with its rich history.

In the evening, attend a Kathakali performance – the Keralan dance drama.

Breakfast
Day 3: Thattekkad

After an early breakfast, leave Cochin behind for the foothills of the Western Ghats and the lowland forests of Thattekkad.

You can choose to get to Thattekkad by car or cycle your way. The cycle ride is approximately 55 kms through an evolving countryside through towns, rubber plantations, paddy fields and spice gardens.

Thattekad is a lowland forest teeming with a variety of wildlife, including some rare and endemic varieties of birds, butterflies, amphibians, fish and mammals. Check in to the rustic Hornbill camp set along the shores of the river Periyar opposite the sanctuary, the perfect setting for a relaxed stay, with the sounds of the forest creating the perfect background score.

After a traditional alfresco lunch, kayak across the river for a walk through a local village to meet the friendly farming community living amidst plantations of rubber, coconut & spices like pepper and ginger.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 4: Thattekkad

An early morning walk to the rain forests with an expert naturalist provides excellent opportunities to spot a wide variety of birds like the White-bellied Treepie, the Malabar Grey Hornbill or butterflies like the Southern Birdwing not sighted anywhere else in the world. Enjoy a packed breakfast in the forests and return to the camp in time for lunch.

After a relaxing afternoon, enjoy a cycling trip along the banks of the river to nearby spice growing hamlets.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5: Munnar

After breakfast, choose to either travel to Munnar by car or cycle through rubber, coconut and cardamom plantations.

The scale of the panoramas, the lush colours, the craggy vertical heights all contribute to making this area one of the most beautiful regions of the southern highlands. Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington retreated with his army to rest and recover in Munnar after the desperate battles in the Mysore Wars.

Munnar’s altitudes vary from 1400-2680m with an eco-system that is primarily shola-grassland type. (Sholas are high altitude montane forests typical of the Western Ghats and a hub of endemism, enabling these areas to be included as one of the 36 bio-diversity hot spots of the world.) The Indigenous people are the Muduvans and the Malapulayas who inhabit the higher reaches of mountains. The wildlife includes the endangered and endemic Nilgiri Tahrs, Elephants, Gaurs, Leopards, Tigers and Sloth Bears besides Sambhar and Wild Dogs (Dholes).

On arrival at Munnar, there will be an acclimatization walk (~3hrs) through the Sevenmalay tea estate, with a visit to the Tea Museum to get you in the mood for hikes of the next 2 days.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6: Meesapulimala Trek

An early start to travel about 20 kms to the starting point of the day’s trek which takes about 8 hours to gain 1300m in altitude. A packed lunch is provided.

The initial route is through tea estates, later giving way to rolling grasslands and then through high altitude rain forests before reaching a pristine valley where endemic rhododendrons in bloom greet you. Here there are unpolluted streams, grasslands and a variety of wildlife including the Nilgiri Tahrs, Clawless Otters, Elephants & Gaurs. From here, take a walk to the cliff edge to ascend the second highest peak in South India – Meesapulimlala.

The area also boasts of high-altitude endemic birds such as the Broad tailed Grassbird and the Nilgiri Pipit. When you reach the top, a magnificent view of the plains of the neighbouring Tamil Nadu stretches in front of you. You can also see the hill town of Kodaikanal in the far distance and the world’s highest organic tea estate down below.

After taking in the panoramic sights, it is time to descend. The incline is steep and soon you will be once again passing through lush high altitude cloud forests to return to your resort.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 7:  Mathikettan Shola Trek

Awaken to the melodious strains of the Malabar Whistling Thrush singing in the cloud forest next to your resort. The hills come alive to the morning sun and you will be transferring to Bodi Ghats viewpoint to start the Mathikettan Shola trek through the cloud forest at Mathikettan Shola – a protected national park rich in biodiversity. The trek takes about 8 hours and a packed lunch is provided.

As you walk through the dense canopy, your guides will explain its importance in Kerala’s efforts at conservation. If lucky you will also get to see the endemic Malabar Giant Squirrel as well as the more common Elephants, Sambhar and large number of resident bird population.

After an exhilarating trek through the National Park, reach Santhanpara, set amidst luxuriant vegetation. Spend the night around a campfire at the local resort.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 8: Periyar Tiger Reserve

Transfer to Periyar Tiger Reserve. Set high in the mountains of the Western Ghats, this reserve is famous for its picturesque lake.

Enroute to Periyar, you’ll be visiting a spice plantation to walk through the estate. Although spice plantations abound everywhere in this region, the ones further away from the main tourist hot-spots, such as the one you’ll visit, offer a more private and absorbing experience. You’ll also visit a local village market to witness life here, and engage with the friendly locals.

After checking in to your hotel, enjoy a warm bath and rest your legs. ###In the evening, a special cultural treat awaits as you attend a performance of Kalaripayettu martial art.

Breakfast
Day 9: Periyar Tiger Reserve

This morning, embark on a very special half-day expedition into the wilds of Periyar – a combination of walking and bamboo rafting will immerse you in the pristine rain forest at close quarters. The rain forests at Periyar are some of the densest in India. Gaur, Sloth Bear and Elephants are often sighted apart from birds and butterflies. You’ll be accompanied by guides and forest guards to ensure safety and comfort.

In the afternoon, enjoy a boat safari on the Periyar Lake, which is how most tourists experience Periyar’s natural beauty. After a few days of effort, it will be nice to rest your legs, sit back and enjoy the views as the boat chugs along hoping to see wildlife on the banks.

Breakfast
Day 10: Cycling down to Vagamon

Today is the day for a long cycling down to the foothills at Vagamon.

The ride is spectacular, and the route passes through tea gardens interspersed with pristine forests that have made this place so beautiful.

Vagamon town is set against the rolling grasslands of the Western Ghats. This interesting mountain town is said to be a ‘curious blend of religious mysticism and European legacies and the cycling trip through this area will let you immerse yourself in its tranquillity.

You will be staying at a resort overlooking the three hills – Thangal hill, Murugan hill and Kurisumala.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 11: Houseboat Cruise

After the exertions of the last few days, it is time for tranquility and relaxation on the famed backwaters of Kerala.

Drive to Allepey and board your houseboat, refurbished and repurposed from the traditional Kettuvallams, which were used to carry rice and spices from Kuttanad to the Cochin port. The hull is made of wooden planks, usually Jackfruit, which are held together by ropes of coconut fibre. The roof is made of bamboo poles and palm leaves. The exterior of the boat is painted with protective coats of black resin made from boiled cashew nut shells.

The houseboats are luxuriously furnished and consist of a thatched covered lounge and dining area, bedrooms and toilets. Thatched awnings on both sides of the boat allow the breeze to flow through. In the back there is a small service area where the cook prepares simple meals using fresh produce that can be caught, bought, or taken from the water.

As you embark the boat at noon, you will be received in the traditional backwater style with garlands and a refreshing drink of coconut water straight up from the coconut itself – a really refreshing start to a great cruise. The crew of the boat is from the local community. They may not know your language, but their hospitality is amazing and their culinary skills legendary. Settle down for great sea food cooked in the aromatic flavours of Keralan spices. The cruise takes you through narrow canals where you can watch life of the backwater people go by women pound their washing, families work in the fields, ducks being reared, men collecting shells for making local ‘cement’ or linger at the local ‘chai’ shop, and canoes and ferry boats.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 12: Kayaking in the backwaters

Disembark the houseboat and meet your kayaking guide to start kayaking near Alleppey.

Paddle through the backwaters, exploring its lagoons and lakes. The vast expanse of water, the friendly people, their lifestyles from up close are bound to mesmerize you. Through the narrow waterways where normal boats cannot reach, you will visit the quaint villages, meet people in the villages, watch the toddy – the local beer – being extracted from coconut palms, have coconut water to quench your thirst and reach your destination by noon.

Settle into the backwater heritage villa – a small cozy homestay on an island amid the backwaters.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 13: Marari Beach
After breakfast at the heritage homestay, transfer to Marari Beach to enjoy the last day of your adventure relaxing on the beach.
Breakfast, Dinner
Day 14: Departure
The adventure comes to the end with a transfer to Cochin International Airport for your return flight.
None
Day 1: Cochin

Arrive this morning in Cochin (Kochi), you’ll be met by your guide and driver. Check into the hotel for 2 nights.

Set on a cluster of islands and narrow peninsulas, Kochi is a city of cultural diversity – winding streets, shady trees, Kathakali dance, modern Indian art, 500-year-old Portuguese houses, mosques, a tiny Jewish community with ancient roots – and ferry boats scuttling backwards and forwards.

After lunch and some time to rest and relax at your hotel, enjoy a spot of gentle sunset kayaking. This is a great way to let the fresh air remove any tiredness from your flight, and be uplifted by Kerala’s stunning natural beauty. If you’re not confident of kayaking, our expert guides will ensure that you quickly build up your skills and confidence.

None
Day 2: Cochin

Enjoy a guided walk of Fort Cochin, with its rich history.

In the evening, attend a Kathakali performance – the Keralan dance drama.

Breakfast
Day 3: Thattekkad

After an early breakfast, leave Cochin behind for the foothills of the Western Ghats and the lowland forests of Thattekkad.

You can choose to get to Thattekkad by car or cycle your way. The cycle ride is approximately 55 kms through an evolving countryside through towns, rubber plantations, paddy fields and spice gardens.

Thattekad is a lowland forest teeming with a variety of wildlife, including some rare and endemic varieties of birds, butterflies, amphibians, fish and mammals. Check in to the rustic Hornbill camp set along the shores of the river Periyar opposite the sanctuary, the perfect setting for a relaxed stay, with the sounds of the forest creating the perfect background score.

After a traditional alfresco lunch, kayak across the river for a walk through a local village to meet the friendly farming community living amidst plantations of rubber, coconut & spices like pepper and ginger.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 4: Thattekkad

An early morning walk to the rain forests with an expert naturalist provides excellent opportunities to spot a wide variety of birds like the White-bellied Treepie, the Malabar Grey Hornbill or butterflies like the Southern Birdwing not sighted anywhere else in the world. Enjoy a packed breakfast in the forests and return to the camp in time for lunch.

After a relaxing afternoon, enjoy a cycling trip along the banks of the river to nearby spice growing hamlets.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5: Munnar

After breakfast, choose to either travel to Munnar by car or cycle through rubber, coconut and cardamom plantations.

The scale of the panoramas, the lush colours, the craggy vertical heights all contribute to making this area one of the most beautiful regions of the southern highlands. Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington retreated with his army to rest and recover in Munnar after the desperate battles in the Mysore Wars.

Munnar’s altitudes vary from 1400-2680m with an eco-system that is primarily shola-grassland type. (Sholas are high altitude montane forests typical of the Western Ghats and a hub of endemism, enabling these areas to be included as one of the 36 bio-diversity hot spots of the world.) The Indigenous people are the Muduvans and the Malapulayas who inhabit the higher reaches of mountains. The wildlife includes the endangered and endemic Nilgiri Tahrs, Elephants, Gaurs, Leopards, Tigers and Sloth Bears besides Sambhar and Wild Dogs (Dholes).

On arrival at Munnar, there will be an acclimatization walk (~3hrs) through the Sevenmalay tea estate, with a visit to the Tea Museum to get you in the mood for hikes of the next 2 days.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6: Meesapulimala Trek

An early start to travel about 20 kms to the starting point of the day’s trek which takes about 8 hours to gain 1300m in altitude. A packed lunch is provided.

The initial route is through tea estates, later giving way to rolling grasslands and then through high altitude rain forests before reaching a pristine valley where endemic rhododendrons in bloom greet you. Here there are unpolluted streams, grasslands and a variety of wildlife including the Nilgiri Tahrs, Clawless Otters, Elephants & Gaurs. From here, take a walk to the cliff edge to ascend the second highest peak in South India – Meesapulimlala.

The area also boasts of high-altitude endemic birds such as the Broad tailed Grassbird and the Nilgiri Pipit. When you reach the top, a magnificent view of the plains of the neighbouring Tamil Nadu stretches in front of you. You can also see the hill town of Kodaikanal in the far distance and the world’s highest organic tea estate down below.

After taking in the panoramic sights, it is time to descend. The incline is steep and soon you will be once again passing through lush high altitude cloud forests to return to your resort.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 7:  Mathikettan Shola Trek

Awaken to the melodious strains of the Malabar Whistling Thrush singing in the cloud forest next to your resort. The hills come alive to the morning sun and you will be transferring to Bodi Ghats viewpoint to start the Mathikettan Shola trek through the cloud forest at Mathikettan Shola – a protected national park rich in biodiversity. The trek takes about 8 hours and a packed lunch is provided.

As you walk through the dense canopy, your guides will explain its importance in Kerala’s efforts at conservation. If lucky you will also get to see the endemic Malabar Giant Squirrel as well as the more common Elephants, Sambhar and large number of resident bird population.

After an exhilarating trek through the National Park, reach Santhanpara, set amidst luxuriant vegetation. Spend the night around a campfire at the local resort.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 8: Periyar Tiger Reserve

Transfer to Periyar Tiger Reserve. Set high in the mountains of the Western Ghats, this reserve is famous for its picturesque lake.

Enroute to Periyar, you’ll be visiting a spice plantation to walk through the estate. Although spice plantations abound everywhere in this region, the ones further away from the main tourist hot-spots, such as the one you’ll visit, offer a more private and absorbing experience. You’ll also visit a local village market to witness life here, and engage with the friendly locals.

After checking in to your hotel, enjoy a warm bath and rest your legs. ###In the evening, a special cultural treat awaits as you attend a performance of Kalaripayettu martial art.

Breakfast
Day 9: Periyar Tiger Reserve

This morning, embark on a very special half-day expedition into the wilds of Periyar – a combination of walking and bamboo rafting will immerse you in the pristine rain forest at close quarters. The rain forests at Periyar are some of the densest in India. Gaur, Sloth Bear and Elephants are often sighted apart from birds and butterflies. You’ll be accompanied by guides and forest guards to ensure safety and comfort.

In the afternoon, enjoy a boat safari on the Periyar Lake, which is how most tourists experience Periyar’s natural beauty. After a few days of effort, it will be nice to rest your legs, sit back and enjoy the views as the boat chugs along hoping to see wildlife on the banks.

Breakfast
Day 10: Cycling down to Vagamon

Today is the day for a long cycling down to the foothills at Vagamon.

The ride is spectacular, and the route passes through tea gardens interspersed with pristine forests that have made this place so beautiful.

Vagamon town is set against the rolling grasslands of the Western Ghats. This interesting mountain town is said to be a ‘curious blend of religious mysticism and European legacies and the cycling trip through this area will let you immerse yourself in its tranquillity.

You will be staying at a resort overlooking the three hills – Thangal hill, Murugan hill and Kurisumala.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 11: Houseboat Cruise

After the exertions of the last few days, it is time for tranquility and relaxation on the famed backwaters of Kerala.

Drive to Allepey and board your houseboat, refurbished and repurposed from the traditional Kettuvallams, which were used to carry rice and spices from Kuttanad to the Cochin port. The hull is made of wooden planks, usually Jackfruit, which are held together by ropes of coconut fibre. The roof is made of bamboo poles and palm leaves. The exterior of the boat is painted with protective coats of black resin made from boiled cashew nut shells.

The houseboats are luxuriously furnished and consist of a thatched covered lounge and dining area, bedrooms and toilets. Thatched awnings on both sides of the boat allow the breeze to flow through. In the back there is a small service area where the cook prepares simple meals using fresh produce that can be caught, bought, or taken from the water.

As you embark the boat at noon, you will be received in the traditional backwater style with garlands and a refreshing drink of coconut water straight up from the coconut itself – a really refreshing start to a great cruise. The crew of the boat is from the local community. They may not know your language, but their hospitality is amazing and their culinary skills legendary. Settle down for great sea food cooked in the aromatic flavours of Keralan spices. The cruise takes you through narrow canals where you can watch life of the backwater people go by women pound their washing, families work in the fields, ducks being reared, men collecting shells for making local ‘cement’ or linger at the local ‘chai’ shop, and canoes and ferry boats.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 12: Kayaking in the backwaters

Disembark the houseboat and meet your kayaking guide to start kayaking near Alleppey.

Paddle through the backwaters, exploring its lagoons and lakes. The vast expanse of water, the friendly people, their lifestyles from up close are bound to mesmerize you. Through the narrow waterways where normal boats cannot reach, you will visit the quaint villages, meet people in the villages, watch the toddy – the local beer – being extracted from coconut palms, have coconut water to quench your thirst and reach your destination by noon.

Settle into the backwater heritage villa – a small cozy homestay on an island amid the backwaters.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 13: Marari Beach
After breakfast at the heritage homestay, transfer to Marari Beach to enjoy the last day of your adventure relaxing on the beach.
Breakfast, Dinner
Day 14: Departure
The adventure comes to the end with a transfer to Cochin International Airport for your return flight.
None

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

INCLUSIONS & EXCLUSIONS

Price Includes

  • Accompanying English Speaking Guide
  • Transfers in AC vehicle
  • Accommodation as mentioned
  • Meals as mentioned
  • Refreshments & Water
  • Activities as mentioned
  • Equipment for all the activities in the itinerary

Price Excludes

  • Optional activities
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Additional meals that are not included in the itinerary
  • Personal Expenses
  • Anything else not explicitly listed in Inclusions

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.