Whether it’s the food, culture, wildlife or scenery of southern India you wish to experience and 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 cruise on a traditional houseboat is included.

• Kochi (Cochin): 2 nights

• Munnar: 2 nights

• Madurai: 2 nights

• Periyar: 2 nights

• Alappuzha (Alleppey) (Houseboat): 1 night

• Kumarakom: 2 nights

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 cruise on a houseboat is included.

• Kochi (Cochin): 2 nights

• Munnar: 2 nights

• Madurai: 2 nights

• Periyar: 2 nights

• Alappuzha (Alleppey) (Houseboat): 1 night

• Kumarakom: 2 nights

12nights Escorted Small Group Tour
NATURE
CULTURE
ACTIVE
 
 
ITINERARY

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

Day 2: Cochin On arrival, transfer to your hotel where you’ll spend two nights. Your sightseeing begins this afternoon – following a lunch at the heritage hotel Koder House – with a cruise on Cochin harbour. See the famous Chinese fishing nets of Fort Cochin from this unique perspective before heading back on to dry land for an interactive cooking session with the chef at your hotel. Visit the local market to purchase the fish of your choice before returning to the lawn of the hotel where a grill will be set up (for the use of all the hotel’s guests). The chef will then cook the fish. The meal is a great opportunity to get to know your fellow travellers and ask your tour leader any questions you may have. Stay: Eighth Bastion (or similar). B, L, D.

Day 3: Cochin 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 witness the care that goes into preparing the elaborate make up and costumes. Then enjoy these traditional, historic and beautiful dances. Your day ends with a cooking demo and dinner in the home of a local family. Stay: Eighth Bastion (or similar). B, D.

Day 4: Cochin to Periyar Travel inland to experience Kerala’s incredible natural landscapes, as well as its wildlife. Drive towards Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, stopping en route for a demonstration of rubber tapping at a local rubber plantation. Periyar National Park is a notable wildlife reserve. The very sound of the name conjures up images of elephants, unending chains of hills and spice-scented plantations, one of which will be your home for the next two nights. There are a couple of cultural experiences on offer at the hotel this evening including a performance of one of three dance styles typical of the state of Kerala; and a demonstration and talk by the hotel’s chef allowing you to gain a glimpse into the importance of various spices and their use in Indian cooking. Approx. journey time: 6 hours, 115 miles. Stay: Spice Village (or similar). B, L.

Day 5: Periyar Today the focus is on the region’s wildlife and natural landscapes. The morning begins with the chance to take a soft trek along the various nature trails (3 to 4 miles, approx. 3 hours; a packed breakfast will be provided) that cross the diverse habitats of the national park. You’ll be accompanied by a trained tribal guide who will point out various bird and wildlife species. On return to the hotel, join a naturalist who will take you on a tour through the hotel’s own spice garden. The day will end with a short film on the wildlife of the park and another opportunity to watch a cultural performance. Stay: Spice Village (or similar). B, D.

Day 6: Periyar 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: 4½ hours, 97 miles. Stay: The Gateway Hotel (or similar). B.

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 and 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). B, D.

Day 8: Madurai to Munnar There will be a full day of driving today as you continue on to the hill station of Munnar. Enjoy the opportunity to get to know more about the region as you travel westwards. The final 30 minutes of the journey to your hotel will be by 4x4 vehicle. Approx. journey time: 6½ hours, 96 miles. Stay: Tall Trees (or similar). B, D.

Day 9: Munnar Sitting at 1600 metres above sea level, the town 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). B, D.

Day 10: Munnar to Alleppey (Kerala houseboat) Undoubtedly the highlight of any trip to Kerala is the opportunity to cruise 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, 115 miles. Stay: 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 will 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, you will have 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 Cochin airport for your return 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.

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

Day 2: Kochi
On arrival, transfer to your hotel. Your tour begins this afternoon – following a lunch at the heritage hotel Koder House – with an interactive cooking session with the chef at your hotel. Visit the local market to purchase the fish of your choice before visiting the David Hall Art Gallery which is housed in a 17th-Century Dutch-built bungalow. 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: Eighth Bastion (or similar). L, D.

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. Your day ends with a cooking demo and dinner in the home of a local family. Stay: Eighth Bastion (or similar). B, D.

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). B, D.

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). B, D.

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). B.

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). B, D.

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. There are a couple of cultural experiences on offer at the hotel this evening: a performance of one of three dance styles typical of the state of Kerala and a demonstration and talk by the hotel’s chef for a further glimpse into the importance of various spices and their use in Indian cooking. Approx. journey time: 7 hours, 87 miles. Stay: Spice Village (or similar). B, L, D.

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 and another opportunity to watch a cultural performance. Stay: Spice Village (or similar). B, D.

Day 10: Thekkady (Periyar) to Alappuzha (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: Deluxe Houseboat (or similar). B, L, D.

Day 11: Alappuzha (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.

ABOUT THIS TOUR

Is this for you?

For those looking for something different from North India’s frenetic cities. The pace of life is slower and this tour offers a mix of sightseeing and relaxation.

Good to know

• For guests over 16 (unless travelling on a private journey)
• Average group size of 10 guests
• A maximum of 16 guests
• Journey times do not take into account stops or local traffic conditions
• We recommend travelling with no more than one suitcase and one day bag
• A good level of fitness is required.

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 2 to 5 bedrooms.

Accommodation on tour

There’s a real focus on resort-style accommodation, which reflects the relaxed pace of the tour. 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 or three bedrooms.

Single travellers

Single room supplement from £859

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 10 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.

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.

Single travellers

Sole-use room from £3588

DATES AND INCLUSIONS

Tour dates

2019 Jan 19; Feb 02, 16; Mar 02; Oct 05, 19; Nov 02, 16

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 for a supplement from £1529 per person, ref IN0061.

Tour dates

2020 Jan 18; Feb 29; Mar 14; Oct 03, 31; Nov 14.

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. The highlight of the tour is undoubtedly the overnight houseboat cruise and the chance to witness life on the famous backwaters of Kerala. The cruise and the subsequent stay on the shores of the waterways add a real leisurely and laid-back ambience, unique to this region of India.

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.