Classic Kerala

India

Culture

Tea, spices, backwaters & beaches

10 days £1,395 pp This is the per person group tour price, based on 2 sharing. The price is subject to change with exchange rate and flight cost fluctuations.
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
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.

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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 Title

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

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Eighth Bastion

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

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

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

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 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

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Kolkata & Sunderbans (6 days)

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Indian Odyssey (29 days)

Experience the best of North and South India

Hill stations to the Himalayas (20 days)

Travel through the Himalayan foothills to Ladakh

Rajasthan Explorer (15 days)

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Textiles & Artisans of Gujarat & Rajasthan (16 days)

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

Hidden Rajasthan (13 days)

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Kerala & Karnataka Explorer (14 days)

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Glimpse of India (11 days)

Golden Triangle, tigers & exotic Goa

Tribal Orissa & Chhattisgarh (14 days)

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Highlights of the Subcontinent (22 days)

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Wildlife of Madagascar, India & Borneo (29 days)

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Glimpse of India & Nepal (16 days)

Golden Triangle and the Himalayas

Classic Kerala (10 days)

Tea, spices, backwaters & beaches

Kerala Calling (15 days)

Tropical mountains, tea & spice plantations, and backwaters

Assam & Nagaland Hornbill Festival (15 days)

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

Taj, Tigers & Temples (14 days)

An intoxicating immersion into India's diversity

Spirit of South India (14 days)

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Karnataka Odyssey (14 days)

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Tribes of North East India (14 days)

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Kashmir and Ladakh Explorer (14 days)

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Heart of India (14 days)

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Monks, Tribes & Rhinos (20 days)

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Wildlife of North East India (14 days)

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Big Six of India (15 days)

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Delicacies of North India (14 days)

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Taste of South India (15 days)

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Treasures of Gujarat (14 days)

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

Reviews

I thoroughly enjoyed my tailor made tour of northwestern and central India. Guides and accommodations were excellent and we saw as much of the area as could be packed into two weeks. I look forward to another tour with Travel the Unknown.

Mary Trubek (USA) , Tailormade 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

Another fantastic trip with this company. WE really managed to get off the beaten track and have seen some amazing sights. Well put together. We will travel again with Travel the Unknown

Hazel & James Frost , Tailormade India

This is our second fabulous trip with Travel The Unknown and we were not disappointed. Rajasthan's vibrant colours of turbans and saris, the noise, the spicy aromas, the silence in the hot air balloon over rural Jaipur, the majestic forts and palaces of ancient times, sighting leopards in the wild, all far exceeded our expectations and the heritage homes and hotels we stayed in, whilst being of high standard in every way, still had a friendly family touch. Thanks so much to Rahul and the team for such a memorable trip. Six weeks on and we still can't stop talking about it. I can't wait for the next one!

John & Christine Gregory , Tailormade 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

Travel the Unknown put together an Itinerary in North East India - Living Root Bridges for me and a travelling companion. The accommodations, transportation, promptness of drivers, and knowledge of our guide was excellent. Easy booking from office and good pre trip information. Thanks TTU!

Christina Taft , Living Bridges of Meghalaya, India

Wow, India is incredible and Travel The Unknown put together a trip that really showed the diverse nature of the country and cultures, from the busy capital Delhi to the splendour of the Taj Mahal and then off the main tourist trek with an overnight sleeper train to Varanasi on the Ganges, the Hindu religious capital with bathing , washing and cremations alongside the river - an astonishing experience. We then moved to the forgotten North East corner where there is a tribal culture in an area seemingly cut off from the rest of India. Our destination was the Living Root Bridges which are unique and remote. Just want to go back to India for more...

Ken Sankey , Living Bridges of Meghalaya, India

Gotta say thanks to Travel The Unknown for organising my fascinating trip to a little-known area of the world. The scenery was fantastic, food was amazing, the guide was great and the living bridges were inspiring. An India not many get to see. Thanks again.

Stephen , Living Bridges of Meghalaya, India

I had been studying the Apatani Tribe for quite some time… I’m talking roughly 7 years! Travel The Unknown made my dreams come entirely true. They organized every aspect of my experience in the most minute detail. I have never felt such confidence in an agency nor worked with one more knowledgeable about their destination. Because of them and their kind efforts, I will continue to travel with Travel The Unknown for all future expeditions to this or similar regions. Thanks, Travel The Unknown, for everything!

Christian Noni , Tailormade North East India

As always Travel The Unknown were exceptional in organising my trip to India. The guides for Meghalaya and the Golden Triangle were friendly, extremely helpful and very informative. The tour was busy but never felt rushed; the combination of Meghalaya and Golden Triangle giving quite a varied perspective of India.

Terry Cooper , Living Bridges of Meghalaya

The Living Root Bridges trip was our first time with Travel the Unknown and we would have no hesitation from booking with them again.

Andria & John Palmer , Living Bridges of Meghalaya, India

This trip was my first time travelling with Travel The Unknown, but definitely not my last!

Lori Martin , Assam & Nagaland Hornbill Festival, India
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