12nights Escorted Small Group Tour
NATURE
CULTURE
ACTIVE

Whether it’s the food, culture, wildlife or scenery of southern India you wish to explore, this small group tour is a must. Head out on a soft trek in Periyar National Park, travel inland into the Western Ghats where historic hill stations are surrounded by rolling tea plantations and explore ‘God’s Own Country’ of Kerala, where a tranquil overnight cruise on a houseboat is included.

• Kochi (Cochin): 2 nights
• Munnar: 2 nights
• Madurai: 2 nights
• Thekkady (Periyar): 2 nights
• Alleppey (Houseboat): 1 night
• Kumarakom: 2 nights

12nights Escorted Small Group Tour
NATURE
CULTURE
ACTIVE
 
 
ITINERARY

Stay longer

Kovalam, 3 nights Find a little peace following your tour and explore the isolated coves of Kovalam in Kerala.

Combine tours Kerala Explorer combines with Highlights of India - Taj Tour to allow you to experience the contrasts of northern and southern India.

Day 1: UK to Kochi Depart the UK on your overnight flight to Cochin.

Day 2: Kochi On arrival, transfer to your hotel and spend the afternoon at leisure. Following an early evening cruise in the harbour, return to the hotel where where a grill will be set up in the garden (for the use of all the hotel’s guests). The chef will then cook the fish you bought at the market and you’ll join the rest of your group for a welcome meal. This is a great opportunity to get to know your fellow travellers and ask your tour leader any questions you may have.
Stay: Fragrant Nature (or similar)
Meals: Dinner

Day 3: Kochi Your first full day in India begins with a walking tour of Fort Cochin. Visit the rather understated Dutch Palace before continuing on to the Paradesi Synagogue which is located in the Jewish quarter of Cochin, adjacent to the palace. The final stop on your tour will be the early 16th-Century St Francis Church. This evening, experience the culture of the state of Kerala, taking in a Kathakali dance performance. Arrive early to see the dancers ready themselves for the show and see the care that goes into preparing the elaborate make up and costumes. Then enjoy these traditional and beautiful dances.
Stay: Fragrant Nature (or similar)
Meals: Breakfast

Day 4: Kochi to Munnar Drive towards the hill station of Munnar, learning more about the region as you travel eastwards. The final 30 minutes of the journey to your hotel will be by 4x4 vehicle. Approx. journey time: 5½ hours, 81 miles.
Stay: Tall Trees (or similar)
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5: Munnar Sitting at 1600 metres above sea level, the town of Munnar was once a southern India summer resort of the British government. It is surrounded by sprawling tea plantations, one of which you will visit this morning. Later, return to the town and visit the Tea Museum.\ Stay: Tall Trees (or similar)
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Munnar to Madurai Continue east to the state of Tamil Nadu and the city of Madurai. This afternoon, visit the Gandhi Memorial Museum, which is located in a 17th-Century palace, and learn about the life of Mahatma Gandhi. Approx. journey time: 5½ hours, 97 miles.
Stay: The Gateway Hotel (or similar)
Meals: Breakfast

Day 7: Madurai Home to one of the most striking temples in India, Madurai is a popular pilgrimage site with a rich cultural heritage. The city is shaped like a lotus flower with the vast temple complex of Meenakshi at its centre; today’s highlight is a visit to the temple. Your day of exploration also includes a rickshaw ride through the city’s local markets and a visit to the Thirumalai Nayak palace.
Stay: The Gateway Hotel (or similar)
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8: Madurai to Thekkady (Periyar) Travel south to experience Kerala’s incredible natural landscapes, as well as its wildlife. Continue on to Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, stopping at a spice plantation on the way. Here you’ll learn about the use of spices in Keralan cuisine and sit down to a lunch with a local family. Periyar National Park is a notable wildlife reserve and the very sound of the name conjures up images of elephants, unending chains of hills and spice-scented plantations. One of these plantations will be your home for the next two nights. Approx. journey time: 7 hours, 87 miles. Stay: Spice Village (or similar). B, L.

Day 9: Thekkady (Periyar) Today begins with the chance to take a soft trek along some of the national park’s nature trails that cross a diverse range of habitats (3 to 4 miles, approx. 3 hours; a packed breakfast will be provided). You’ll be accompanied by a trained tribal guide who’ll point out various bird and wildlife species. The day will end with a short film on the wildlife of the park before returning to your hotel for dinner. Stay: Spice Village (or similar). B, D.

Day 10: Thekkady (Periyar) to Alleppey (Kerala houseboat) Undoubtedly the highlight of any trip to Kerala is cruising along the famous backwaters on a house boat. After boarding, you’ll wind your way through the maze of waterways and enjoy this truly relaxing way to travel. There will also be the opportunity to explore some of the smaller waterways by canoe. Approx. journey time: 5 hours, 109 miles. Stay: Spice Routes Deluxe Houseboat (or similar). B, L, D.

Day 11: Alleppey (Kerala houseboat) to Kumarakom Your houseboat cruise comes to an end this morning as you disembark and transfer to the shores of beautiful Lake Vembanad by boat. Spend two relaxing nights at the Coconut Lagoon (or similar) in nearby Kumarakom. The region is known for its local family-run homestays, and today you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a leisurely lunch at the charming Philip Kutty Farm. Later, join a tranquil sunset cruise on the lake complete with refreshments, before returning to the hotel where you can watch a cultural performance. Stay: Coconut Lagoon (or similar). B, L.

Day 12: Kumarakom There’s an early start this morning for a visit to the hotel’s butterfly garden. You will also have the opportunity to join a bird-watching tour. This afternoon, there’s some free time and the chance to enjoy a relaxing Ayurvedic treatment (payable locally, guests will receive a 25% discount on listed prices). This evening, enjoy a cocktail party and a farewell dinner. Stay: Coconut Lagoon (or similar). B, D.

Day 13: Kumarakom Transfer to Kochi airport for your flight to the UK. B.


Stay longer

Kovalam, 3 nights Find a little peace following your tour and explore the isolated coves of Kovalam in Kerala.

Combine tours Kerala Explorer combines with Highlights of India - Taj Tour to allow you to experience the contrasts of northern and southern India.

ABOUT THIS TOUR

Accommodation on tour

There’s a real focus on resort-style accommodation, which reflects the relaxed pace of the tour, and each of the chosen hotels offers cultural experiences. Your backwaters cruise is on a modern houseboat with a design inspired by the region’s traditional kettuvallam – the original transport of Kerala. You will share the boat with other members of your group, with each boat featuring two to five bedrooms.

Is this for you?

For those looking for a slower pace of from North India’s frenetic cities.

Good to know

• For guests over 16
• Average group size of 8 guests
• A maximum of 16 guests
• Journey times do not take into account stops or traffic conditions
• We recommend travelling with no more than one suitcase and one day bag

What to expect

• Some long days with early starts and
• A packed itinerary with a lot of travelling time on the road
• Check-in at hotels is after 12pm
• We recommend comfortable walking shoes for your soft trek
• Cooler mountain air in Periyar and Munnar
• The overnight cruise on the houseboat is on a shared basis with other members of the group. Each houseboat has two to five bedrooms
• India can be an assault on the sense but this is part of the experience
• Photography may be restricted inside monuments, palaces or museums
• It is recommended to take insect repellent
• The soft trek in Periyar National Park lasts approx. 3 hours

Accommodation on tour

There’s a real focus on resort-style accommodation, which reflects the relaxed pace of the tour, and each of the chosen hotels offers cultural experiences. Your backwaters cruise is on a modern houseboat with a design inspired by the region’s traditional kettuvallam – the original transport of Kerala. You will share the boat with other members of your group, with each boat featuring two to five bedrooms.

Solo travellers

Sole-use room from £3588

DATES AND INCLUSIONS

Tour dates

2021 Nov 12

Included in price

• Quality accommodation
• Insightful local tour leaders
• Hand-picked itineraries
• Flexible arrival times
• Small groups
• Porterage and guide tips
• Meals where most convenient (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
• All specified flights

Upgrade your tour

Private tour Upgrade to a private tour with a local tour leader on the same itinerary, departing on the date of your choice from £4468 per person.

Kuoni highlights

This is your opportunity to truly experience the tastes and sights of Kerala as part of a completely immersive cultural tour. One of the highlights is the overnight houseboat cruise; it’s a great opportunity to witness life on the famous backwaters of Kerala. The cruise and the following stay on the shores of the waterways add a real leisurely and laid-back ambience that’s unique to this region of India.

Kuoni highlights

Spend the night on a houseboat Stay on a luxury Spice Routes houseboat as you sail the tranquil Kerala backwaters.

Get back to nature Take part in a soft trek through Periyar National Park and try your hand at wildlife spotting as you are led by a trained tribal guide.

See daily life by rickshaw Enjoy a rickshaw ride through the colourful markets of Madurai where you will witness all the sights and sounds of daily life in Southern India.