Kerala Backwaters & Hill Country holiday highlights

Kumarakom is the gateway to the gorgeous backwaters and lakes of Kerala, with its abundance of superb hideaway retreats and sedate river cruises aboard iconic and traditional houseboats. The area around the village is made up of a cluster of picturesque islands covered in lush vegetation and teaming with aquatic and avian wildlife. A highlight of the region is the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary which covers 14 acres of woodland and is home to a number of bird species such as the kingfisher.

Alleppey boasts a vast labyrinthine network of waterways and was christened the ‘Venice of the East’ by British statesman Lord Curzon. Glide along canals, lakes and lagoons or venture from the centre to enjoy magical views of Lake Vembanad. Explore the region’s villages, paddy fields and coconut groves as you cross narrow bridges over lagoons edged by mangroves. Located on a narrow stretch of land between the Arabian Sea and the lake, this is the perfect spot for those seeking a water side escape.

This picturesque Lake Vembanad, which lies at the heart of the Keralan backwaters, is the longest in India and the largest in Kerala. Numerous houseboats dot the lake’s surface and a selection of serene waterfront hotels line its shores, providing the ideal location for a relaxing holiday. Lake side coconut lagoons and evergreen forests provide sanctuary for nesting and migrating water birds and, during a stay on or by the lake, visitors may be lucky enough to catch large flocks of birds swoop over the surface of the water.

Nestled in the Western Ghats on the eastern border of Kerala, the hill station of Munnar is renowned for its tea estates and spice plantations. Once a popular summer resort of the British Raj, it is now favoured by nature-lovers, tea-drinkers and trekkers! The nearby Eravikulam National Park is home to numerous species including the endangered Nilgiri tahr. Periyar covers 300 square miles of grassland, hilly forest and marshland. Famous for its large number of elephants, the reserve is also home to the rare lion-tailed macaque and Salim Ali’s fruit bat.

Kerala Backwaters & Hill Country key facts

Time difference

GMT +5½ hours

Currency

Rupee

Flying time to destination

The backwaters can be reached from Cochin airport which is a reached by an 11½-hour flight from the UK (not including stopover time). Munnar is reached by a 6-hour drive from Cochin.

Language

Hindi, English and a number of other regional languages

Passport & visas

A visa is needed for travel to India. British passport holders are able to apply for an E-Visa. The E-Visa needs to be applied for online in advance of travel and travellers must possess a machine readable passport. Please call for more information.

Kerala Backwaters & Hill Country good to know

Etiquette

Tread towards the lush expanse of a Keralan spice plantation, following your nose as it’s overcome with the heady scent of spices that hangs like incense in the air. Pepper, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger, turmeric and curry leaves – their odours are pungent and tantalising on the light, warm breeze.

**Kumarakom **

→ Lake Vembanad

→ Houseboats

→ Bird sanctuary

Kumarakom is the gateway to the gorgeous backwaters and lakes of Kerala, with its abundance of superb hideaway retreats and sedate river cruises aboard an iconic and traditional houseboats. The area around the village is made up of a cluster of picturesque islands covered in lush vegetation and teaming with abundant aquatic and avian wildlife. A highlight of the region is the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary which is set on a lake and covers 14 acres of pretty woodland that is home to a number of bird species such as the kingfisher, woodpecker, and flycatcher.

**Alleppey **

→ 'Venice of the East'
→ Lake Vembanad
→ Canals and lagoons

Alleppey boasts a vast labyrinthine network of waterways and was christened the ‘Venice of the East’ by British statesman Lord Curzon. Glide along palm-fringed canals, lakes and lagoons or venture from the centre to enjoy magical views of Lake Vembanad. Hire a bicycle and explore the region's charming villages, paddy fields and coconut groves as you cross narrow bridges over lakes and lagoons edged by mangroves. Located on a narrow stretch of land between the Arabian Sea and the lake, this is the perfect destination for those seeking a water side escape.

**Lake Vembanad **

→ Largest lake in Kerala
→ Houseboats and hotels

→ Bird-watching

This picturesque lake, which lies at the heart of the Keralan backwaters, is the longest in India and the largest in the state of Kerala. Numerous houseboats dot the lake's surface and a selection of serene waterfront hotels line its shores, providing the ideal location for a relaxing holiday or a restful post-tour extension. Lake side coconut lagoons and evergreen forests provide sanctuary for nesting and migrating water birds and, during a stay on or by the lake, visitors may be lucky enough to catch large flocks of birds swoop over the surface of the water.