Classic Kerala

India

Culture | Family | Honeymoon

Tea, spices, backwaters & beaches

10 days £1,940 pp This is the price per person for a private tour (based on 2 people travelling) excluding international flights. Contact us for pricing for other group sizes including individuals.
Intro, Dates & Prices

Intro

This tour is perfect for those wanting a gentler introduction to India, as well as the perfect extension to a trip in the north. Often dubbed 'God's Own Country', Kerala is a tropical paradise, blessed with rolling hills, fragrant tea and spice plantations and golden beaches. Take a heritage walking tour of Cochin, a charming city adorned with colonial architecture, and a sunset cruise on the harbour. Stay in a tea bungalow in the evergreen hills of Munnar and learn all about the region's spices on a plantation tour in Thekkady. Enjoy a boat ride and safari in Periyar, known for its wild elephants before heading to the tranquil backwaters of Alleppey. Cruise in a traditional rice barge, feast on sumptuous Keralan cuisine and relax on the beach in nearby Marari.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Sunset cruise on Cochin harbour
  • Munnar's verdant tea gardens
  • Spice plantation tour in Thekkady
  • Stay in a traditional Kettuvallam house boat
  • Cook on Kerala's backwaters

Places Visited

Cochin - Munnar - Thekkady - Vembanad Lake - Marari

What's Included

Arrival & departure transfers
Ground transport with driver
Accommodation
Meals (refer to itinerary for meal plan)
English-speaking guides
Entrance fees to sites & parks

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Itinerary & Map
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Day 1 : Arrival

Arrive in Cochin where you will be met by a Travel The Unknown representative and transferred to your hotel. Your travel documents will be issued in India and given to you on arrival. The afternoon is free at your leisure. In the evening, enjoy a harbour cruise. Overnight in Cochin.

Overnight in Eighth Bastion, Cochin

Meal plan: n/a

Cochin, the 'Queen on the Arabian Sea', is a major port city that was once a much-prized pawn for the English, Portuguese and Dutch due to its strategic location and prominence in the lucrative spice trade. This history of foreign colonies has resulted in a diverse culture, with European influences visible in much of Cochin's architecture and overall development, aiding it to become the commercial and industrial capital of Kerala. 

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Day 2 : Cochin

In the morning, proceed for a sightseeing tour of Cochin. Begin with a visit to the Jewish Synagogue before exploring the Dutch Palace (also known as Mattancherry Palace). Continue to St. Francis Church in Fort Cochin and later observe the Chinese fishing nets that line the sea-front as you return to the hotel. In the evening, witness a Kaleidoscope show, an amalgamation of various traditional dance forms of Cochin. Overnight in Cochin. 

Overnight in Eighth Bastion, Cochin

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 3 : Cochin - Munnar

Drive to Munnar, visiting the Cheeyappara and Valera waterfalls en route. On arrival in Munnar, check in to the hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax or explore. Overnight in Munnar. 

Overnight in The Tall Trees Resort, Munnar

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 4 : Munnar

In the morning, visit the Tea Museum and watch tea pickers at work, sorting and weighing the freshly plucked tea leaves before taking them to the factory. Later, enjoy a guided walk through the Tea Plantations. Wander through the tea gardens and watch the tea pluckers wind their way up and down the slopes of the lush green plantations with their tea bags strapped on their backs. Overnight in Munnar. 

Overnight in The Tall Trees Resort, Munnar

Meal plan: Breakfast

Munnar, located at 1,650m above sea-level, is the most breathtakingly-beautiful hill station on the Western Ghats. The area's pristine green valleys and mountains provide the perfect setting for anyone in search of peace and tranquility. Believed to mean ‘three rivers’, Munnar used to be the favourite summer resort of the British rulers during colonial days. It is the tea plantation capital of India and the local Eravikulam National Park, home to the endangered Nilgiri Tahr mountain goat, is a popular destination for visitors.

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Day 5 : Munnar - Thekkady

Drive to Thekkady through tranquil countryside, rich plantations and thick jungles. On arrival, check in at the hotel. Later, interact with the elephants at Thekkady. Overnight in Thekkady. 

Overnight in The Tall Trees Resort, Munnar

Meal plan: Breakfast

Centred around a large artificial lake, Thekkady is the location of the Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary -  one of India's largest wildlife sanctuaries, which spans across the entire district. Declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978, the sanctuary supports 62 species of mammals (many of which are rare and endangered) and 320 species of birds, as well as a host of reptiles, amphibians and fish. 

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Day 6 : Thekkady

In the early morning, enjoy a nature walk led by a team of poachers turned protectors of the forests. Return to the hotel for breakfast before visiting the spice plantation. Walk amidst the green, terraced farms of various spices and breathe in the fragrant air. You can also purchase a few packets of the tea and spices grown here. The rest of the day is free at your leisure. Overnight in Thekkady. 

Overnight in Spice Village, Thekkady

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 7 : Thekkady - Houseboat

Drive to the houseboat jetty where you will board your Kettuvallam houseboat for an overnight stay. The rest of the day is free to relax. Overnight in houseboat. 

Overnight in Houseboat, Vembanad Lake

Meal plan: Breakfast

Vembanad Lake is the longest lake in India, and the largest in the state of Kerala, where it spans several different districts. Vembanad Lake has been identified under India's National Wetlands Conservation Program, and forms the heart of Kerala's backwaters. The lake is also home to more than 20,000 waterfowl and is an excellent habitat for shrimps. 

Found on the colourful backwaters of Kerala, Kettuvallams are a type of houseboat built without using any nails. Meaning "the boat of knots", the name refers to the hand-made coir ropes and coconut fibres tied in knots holding the entire structure of the boat together. 'Anhili' wood is commonly used for construction, found in abundance in the central Travancore area, which is then applied with fish oil and cashnew nut oil and left to cure for days. With careful maintenance, the boats can last for generations. 

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Day 8 : Houseboat - Marari

After breakfast on board the houseboat, disembark and transfer to your hotel in Marari. The rest of the day is free at your leisure. Overnight in Marari. 

Overnight in Marari Sands Resort, Marari

Meal plan: Breakfast

Marari is a small fishing village found in the Alappuzha District of Kerala. With most of the land forming a beach, the area has long been a popular resort, perfect for unwinding after visiting nearby sites.

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Day 9 : Marari

Today is free to relax or explore at your leisure. Overnight in Marari. 

Overnight in Marari Sands Resort, Marari

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 10 : Departure

Drive to Cochin airport to connect with your onward flight home. 

Note: extensions to other parts of the region or India can be organised. Contact us for more information.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Accommodation

Accommodation

All accommodation subject to availability. Final accommodation choices will be confirmed after booking.

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Eighth Bastion

Cochin (2 nights)

The Eighth Bastion is an contemporary hotel in the centre of Dutch Cochin. It has an elegant decor which hints towards the region's colonial history. The East Indies Restaurant serves a variety of traditional and contemporary local dishes. 

Visit hotel's site
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The Tall Trees Resort

Munnar (3 nights)

The Tall Trees Resort is nestled in the valleys of the Western Ghats. The resort is surrounded by almost 70 acres of natural forest land. The comfortable bedrooms provide a space to relax after a day of exploring your surroundings. Hill Spice restaurant serves traditional delicacies from the Kerala region, along with national and international options. Guests can also choose to dine in the Nature Restaurant, where food is served in open, thatched-roof huts. 

Visit hotel's site
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Spice Village

Thekkady (1 night)

Spice Village is located on the fringes of Periyar Tiger Reserve in Thekkady. While still containing the comforts of a hotel, the resort strikes a balance between the traditional and the modern. Authentic Keralan dishes can be sampled here at an unhurried and relaxed pace.

Visit hotel's site
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Houseboat

Vembanad Lake (1 night)

Staying on a houseboat provides a unique experience for those travelling through the backwaters of Kerala. Vembanad Lake is one of the best places to spot migratory birds, explore mangrove forests and visit scenic paddy fields. The wooden cabins provide guests with access to basic necessities to allow for a comfortable stay. The dining facilities on board serve a combination of traditional Kerala cuisine alongside international favourites. 

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Marari Sands Resort

Marari (2 nights)

Marari Sands Resort is set along the coast of Mararikulam. The contemporary resort provides a tranquil retreat for those exploring Kerala's backwaters. The bedrooms are equipped with modern fixtures and fittings. Guests can dine in the Waterfront Restaurant, which boats a scenic view across the sea. The resort is also home to a spa, swimming pool and private beach which guests can enjoy during their stay. 

Visit hotel's site
Extensions

Beaches (1-7 days)

After exploring the busy cities, there's no better place to relax than one of India's paradisiacal beaches

Treks & Walks (1-12 days)

Himalayan treks, village walks and more

City Extensions (1-4 days)

Visit the must-see sights and the hidden depths of India's most vibrant cities.

Kolkata & Sunderbans (6 days)

Discover colonial Kolkata and the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve

Hill Stations & Mountains

Escape the city and unwind among some of the most breathtaking mountain and hill scapes the world has to offer.

Himalayan Extension: Ladakh to Kashmir (5 days)

Travel across the spectacular Himalayan Highway

Kolkata & Darjeeling Snapshot (7 days)

Ideal extension to Bhutan

The Golden Triangle (5 days)

Marvel at India's most incredible forts and palaces

Indian Odyssey (29 days)

Experience the best of North and South India

Highlights of the Subcontinent (22 days)

Discover iconic sights of India, Nepal & Bhutan

Journey through the Indian Himalayas (20 days)

Travel through the Himalayan foothills via Shimla & Amritsar to Ladakh

Monks, Tribes & Rhinos (20 days)

Himalayan mountains, unseen tribes & amazing wildlife

Classic Bhutan & Assam Cruise (18 days)

Experience Bhutan's rich culture, colonial Kolkata and rural life in Assam

Essential India & China (17 days)

Visit the two most populous countries on Earth.

UNESCO Sites of South India (17 days)

Discover South India's ancient archaeological wonders

Textiles & Artisans of Gujarat & Rajasthan (16 days)

Nomadic tribes, traditional textiles, crafts & Mewar Festival

Glimpse of India & Nepal (16 days)

Golden Triangle and the Himalayas

Essential India & Sri Lanka (16 days)

India's Golden Triangle & the best of Sri Lanka.

Kerala Calling (15 days)

Tropical mountains, tea & spice plantations, and backwaters

Nagaland: Festival of the Headhunters (15 days)

Aoling Festival, wildlife in Assam & natural beauty of Manipur

Assam & Nagaland Hornbill Festival (15 days)

Wildlife, tribes & rural life in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur

Taste of South India (15 days)

Experience the flavours and exotic spices of South India

Big Six of India (15 days)

Spot tigers, lions, leopards, buffalo, rhino & elephants

Rajasthan Explorer & Pushkar Camel Fair (15 days)

Fort cities, rural villages & camel fair

Best of Bengal & Sikkim (14 days)

Colonial Kolkata, Darjeeling toy train & Buddhism

Spirit of South India (14 days)

Temple towns of Tamil Nadu to backwaters of Kerala

Kerala & Karnataka Explorer (14 days)

Idyllic backwaters, tropical forests & ancient temple towns

Taj, Tigers & Temples (14 days)

Perfect mix of classic sights and off-beat places for first-timers to India

Hampi and Beyond (14 days)

Discover Karnataka's stone temples, wildlife and coffee farms

Tribes of North East India (14 days)

Remote tribal cultures in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam & Nagaland

Sacred India (14 days)

Uncover the religious diversity of India

Delicacies of North India (14 days)

Discover the huge diversity of North India's cuisine

Big Cats of India (14 days)

Experience the thrill of the Indian jungle ...

Wildlife of North East India (14 days)

Diverse wildlife in Assam and the Sunderbans

Heart of India (14 days)

Take in the highlights of central India

Tribes of Rural India (14 days)

Visit remote tribal villages of Orissa & Chhattisgarh

Kashmir, Ladakh & The Hemis Festival (14 days)

Experience dramatic Himalayan scenery, Islamic & Buddhist cultures

Kerala - Trekking the Western Ghats (13 days)

Explore this UNESCO biodiversity hotspot on foot

Treasures of Gujarat (12 days)

Villages, temples, salt flats & the world's last Asiatic lions

Glimpse of India (12 days)

Golden Triangle, tigers & exotic Kerala

Markha Valley Trek (12 days)

Set foot in Ladakh's hidden Himalayan valleys

Classic Kerala (10 days)

Tea, spices, backwaters & beaches

Essential Rajasthan (10 days)

Discover the forts, palaces, villages and desert of Rajasthan

Living Bridges of Meghalaya (7 days)

Waterfalls, hills and living bridges in North East India

Reviews

A really well planned trip. We experienced life in Northeast India in just the way we wanted to. We loved the game reserves and saw a rock python which thrilled our guides as it is even rarer than the tiger! We visited villages and were able to interact with local people and loved the busy markets in Delhi and Calcutta. A special highlight was the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland; shown to us by our very own Naga guide Kezo. Kezo accompanied us for 15 days of our trip and ensured that we had many very special experiences - even taking us to the home of one of his Aunts where we spent a couple of hours sitting by the bonfire chatting.

Ann Holgate , Tailormade India

Thank you for organising our holiday in Kerala. I certainly wouldn`t have had the time or the knowledge to put together such a trip. Munnar was my favourite and the accommodation throughout was excellent.

Vik , Kerala Calling, India

What an excellent service! Rahul adapted, extended and improved our trip so many times without a qualm and we ended up with the trip of a lifetime. The destinations are unusual and interesting but everything has been checked out by the team and works brilliantly. I can`t wait to do another trip.

Penelope Smith , Assam & Nagaland Hornbill Festival, India

The tour was an amazing experience for our first visit to India. The country, its people and its cuisine were friendly,delightful, colourful and exceeded all our expectations. Travel the Unknown have put together a superb unique package that we have no hesitation in recommending to anyone with an interest in food and culture.

Elaine & Neil Smith , Delicacies of North India, India

I`m sure I could not have found a better operator for the type of complicated Indian tour I wanted to undertake on a limited budget. India is an intimidating country to visit, and I suspect that some operators look down on the first time visitor, or disparage their requirements. Travel the Unknown, by contrast, helped me all the way, and their local guides were superb.

Andrew Martin , Tailormade North East India

This was a very varied and interesting trip to a forgotten part of India. If you like off the beaten track travel it is definitely worth the effort but go with an open mind and keep a smile on your face.

Richard Williams , Monks, Tribes & Rhinos, India

This was my first experience of using Travel the Unknown having enjoyed small group adventure holidays for many years. I was attracted to the company because it seeks out the more unusual and lesser known areas of a country and I was not disappointed by my visit to Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. There is a clear contrast between the people and the scenery of these two regions and we saw very few western tourists particularly in Arunachal Pradesh. The tour was well organised with plenty to see and do.

Keith Lewis , Monks, Tribes & Rhinos, India

A fantastic trip to Arunachal Pradesh. Very well organised exactly to our requirements. Superb local guide. Would recommend this trip. Hazel and James.

Hazel Frost , Tailormade North East India

Another great trip from Travel the Unknown. I would recommend this company to anyone who wants to move outside the boundaries of the usual tourist itinerary.

Catherine Crawford , Kashmir & Ladakh Explorer, India

This trip was very well put together and ticked all the boxes that we had requested. The accommodation throughout the tour was of a high standard and our experiences in the national parks was wonderful spotting many different animals including tigers, leopards, sloth bears, lions, jungle cat plus countless number of birds. Thank you Rahul for tailoring this trip to our requirements.

Nigel & Margaret Turner , Tailormade India Wildlife & Birding tour

We went on the Spirit of South India Tour and had a great time on our honeymoon. There was a good variety of places visited and the hotels, drivers and guides were all very good. We would definitely recommend this tour.

Rachel , Spirit of South India, India

I would highly recommend Travel the Unknown to anyone visiting India. The service we received both prior to, during and following our travels was always timely and excellent. We were able to customize our trip to our liking and to enjoy a wide variety of activities. The guides in every location were outstanding! Honestly. Having travelled through much of the world I can truly say that we have never been more impressed with the quality of the guides arranged for us in each location, as well as the service we received. Similarly, the hotels were excellent and allowed us to live very comfortably while, at the same time, enjoy an authentic Indian experience. If you haven`t already booked your trip with Travel the Unknown, then either do so now....or at least give them a chance to show you what they can offer.

Tracey & Gary , Tailormade India
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