Kerala is quite unlike any other place in India. It offers you the chance to enjoy a shorter tour that is packed full of highlights. You’ll be treated, for example, to great sightseeing in Cochin, a town stretching across a range of islands and peninsulas.
You’ll have the chance to discover the spice, tea and coffee plantations of the Cardamom Hills at Idukki, as well as staying with a family on a working farm beside the time-untouched village of Puthenkayal. And you’ll arrive there after a cruise aboard a traditional houseboat along winding canals through the luxuriant jungle and picturesque backwaters of Kerala.
London – Dubai – Cochin
You’ll arrive in Cochin early the following morning, and you’ll be met and taken to your hotel. Cochin itself is built on a series of islands and promontories linked by bridges and ferries. You’ll be staying in a 300 year old Dutch-style residence in the middle of historic Fort Cochin. As well as being a great place to relax and enjoy facilities like a swimming pool and spa, you’ll be able to explore the quaint old streets and sights that line the northern shore of the fort. It’s a charming spot for sightseeing; your city tour will reveal destinations like the synagogue at Jew Town, the Dutch Palace and huge Chinese fishing nets controlled by weights and levers. You should also take time to visit St. Francis – India’s first European church – which was the original resting place of Vasco da Gama.
Stay: Two nights in a superior room at The Old Harbour Hotel.
Say goodbye to Cochin and drive over to Idukki; an interesting three and a half hour road trip. You’ll be staying in a hotel surrounded by coffee, tea and spice plantations in an area of outstanding natural beauty on the lower slopes of the Cardamom Hills – and you’ll have plenty of time to trek around the plantations to see the cultivation and seasonal harvesting of coffee, cardamom, cloves and pepper. Country walks, golf, cookery classes, yoga, kite flying and peaceful picnics are also on your agenda.
Stay: Two nights in a deluxe room at Paradisa Plantation Retreat.
Kerala aboard a houseboat
Now you come to the main feature of your tour. You’ll journey by car to Alleppey, a market town famous for its canals. Here you’ll embark on your cruise through the enchanting backwaters of Kerala aboard a traditional houseboat. This network of winding rivers, canals and lagoons takes you through some truly beautiful countryside twisting and turning through tropical jungle, palms and fruit trees, vibrant green paddy fields and timeless waterside villages. You’ll even be sailing close to the coast in places. So keep your camera at the ready – you’ll be passing churches, temples, villages and Chinese cantilevered fishing nets. And you’ll be travelling in style, enjoying Keralan feasts freshly cooked on board by leading chefs.
Stay: One night in an air conditioned, one bedroom houseboat.
Back on dry land you’ll be driven to the pretty village of Puthenkayal, in the heart of Kerala’s backwaters where you’ll be able to experience life on a farm standing on a private, 750 acre island. This is a working plantation, owned by a family who have grown coconuts, nutmeg and coffee here for generations. But it’s also a fantastic place to stay, relax and enjoy exploring the countryside on foot or by bicycle. You can stroll round the island’s outer dyke, and in the evening take a sunset cruise through beautiful backwaters. Keen birdwatchers, meanwhile, will see kingfishers, woodpeckers, egrets, cormorants, herons, crow pheasants, snakebirds and teals amongst many other species. A choice of tours will take you to St Mary’s Parish Church at Vechoor, the Vaikom Shiva Temple and a local residence built of wood that dates back 400 years.
Stay: Two nights in a waterfront villa at Philipkutty’s Farm.
Now it’s time for some sea, sun and splendid relaxation. A two hour drive from Philipkutty’s Farm brings you to the coast and a beach resort that combines traditional style – including palm thatched cottages that resemble traditional fisherman’s dwellings – with modern facilities. Plus a warm and inviting sea and an irresistible beach. Expect lazy days followed by nights highlighted by candlelit dinners and local musicians.
Stay: Three nights in a garden villa at The Marari Beach Resort.
Marari Beach – Dubai – London
You depart Marari Beach in the morning to catch your flight from Cochin International Airport. You’ll meet your connecting flight at Dubai, and arrive back in London in the evening.