- Guided Group
- Breakfast is included throughout the trip except on Day 1 as you should be given breakfast on the flight. It is full board on trek (5 days) and on the houseboat (1 day). You should allow at least GBP12 (approx. . USD19.20) per day for lunch and dinner when not included. You can eat out very cheaply in India, but if you go to the more expensive restaurants most of the time, you will spend more than the suggested amount. In most of the towns there is a good choice of restaurants and a choice between Indian and Western style food. If you are a vegetarian, India is probably one of the best destinations to travel to. Tea and soft drinks are very cheap. A (large!) bottle of beer is approx. GBP3 (approx. . USD4.80). Mineral water is widely available. Please note that service in restaurants can be quite slow. All meals are included on the houseboat.
- Accom: camping
- Accom: hotel/lodge
- Adult group
- Culture & Discovery
- Trek: point-to-point
- Walking & Trekking
- Small Adult Group
- All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 6 dinners included. On day 1 you should be given breakfast on the flight. It is full board on trek (5 days) and on the houseboat (1 day). You should allow at least £12 (approx. US$16) per day for lunch and dinner when not included. You can eat out very cheaply in India, but if you go to the more expensive restaurants most of the time, you will spend more than the suggested amount. In most of the towns there is a good choice of restaurants and a choice between Indian and Western style food. If you are a vegetarian, India is probably one of the best destinations to travel to. Tea and soft drinks are very cheap. A (large!) bottle of beer is approximately £3 (approx. US$4.80). Please note that hotels (apart from 5-star hotels) and bars in Kerala are no longer allowed to sell alcohol, it is still possible to buy alcohol in government shops. Mineral water is widely available. Please note that service in restaurants can be quite slow. All meals are included on the houseboat, where traditional Kerala cuisine is served. If you require any other cuisine, please inform us in advance.
The group flight arrives in Cochin in the afternoon and we transfer to our hotel. Those clients not travelling on the group flight will make their own way to the hotel and will join us there. The evening is free for dinner and for you to relax after your journey.
Drive to the beautiful hill station of Munnar.
In the morning we drive away from the coastal plain to Munnar, set amongst Kerala's highest mountains, they form a jagged line due east of Cochin. The drive is approx. 160km and should take approximately 6 hours. Munnar is a beautiful hill station on the Western Ghats at about 1600m above sea level. It was once a summer resort of the British Government in south India due to the fresh mountain air. The town is situated at the confluence of the three mountain streams Mudrapauzha, Naliathanii and Kundala and is surrounded by lakes, reservoirs, forests and several tea estates. Anamudi (2695m), the highest peak in south India dominates the skyline and the many smaller peaks are a walker's paradise.
Day walk through Munnar's surrounding hills; optional visit to a Tea Museum.
After breakfast we take a short drive through old Munnar and travel down to Nagarmudi (1500m), a tiny village, where we start our trek accompanied by a local guide. The walk begins with a gradual ascent through the tea plantations and then climbs into the Seven Malai Hills. Just before reaching the summit (1700m) we enjoy walking through cardamom and coffee plantations. Our hard work will be rewarded with spectacular views over Munnar and other local villages. We then descend back to our vehicle. There is an optional visit in the afternoon to a Tea museum. Approx. 3-4 hrs walking, distance approx. 6.5km.
Trek in the Silent Valley with beautiful views of the tea estates.
A beautiful 1 hour drive to the Silent Valley, passing through some tea estates and plantations in a valley surrounded by hills. Our trek will start with a gradual walk on the plains of the tea plantations at approx 1600m, followed by a gentle climb to the grasslands. There are beautiful views all around, mostly of the tea estates, that give us a good feel for the area. After lunch, we continue with the second part of our trek, which becomes steeper as we leave the tea plantation behind and finally reach our camp (2000m), where we spend two nights. Approx. 4-5 hrs walking, distance approx. 14km.
Ascend Meesapulimala Peak (2630m), the highest in the area.
Today we trek to Meesapulimala Peak (2630m), the second highest in south India (Anamudi is the highest but it is in a restricted area). From our camp, the trail ascends through the rough shola grassland until we reach open ridges, bringing us to Meesapulima Peak. From the top (which is also the border between Tamil Nadu and Kerala) there are breathtaking views all around. After a break at the top and our packed lunch, we will descend to our camp (2000m). Approx. 7-8 hrs walking, distance approx. 15km.
Trek through plantations and thick forest land to Top Station (1900m).
In the morning we start our trek through the thick forest land of Silent Valley and then through pine forests and along the streams of the Rhodo Valley. After this we pass through grasslands and shola forest where we may be lucky and spot giant squirrels, wild boar and the Indian Gaur. Following a packed lunch en route we will reach Yellapetty Village, arriving late afternoon. From here we will be taken by jeeps, for approx. 20 mins, and then walk to our campsite at Top Station (1900m). Approx. 7-8 hrs walking, distance approx. 16km.
Descend to Nagamalai Coffee Plantation, overlooking Kolukumalai Tea Plantation.
We start our trek towards Nagamalai Coffee Plantation (Central Station) with a steep descent through lemon grass. The route includes some challenging terrain but we are rewarded with views across the valley to the Kolukumalai Tea Plantation (known as the world's highest tea region). We continue descending to coffee plantations. Due to the price of coffee falling in the past few years the plantations and trails have become overgrown. From a distance we can see the tribal village of Kezhmuttap. The government has settled these tribes of Mudhuvans here and given them small houses with electricity and almost all of them are working in nearby estates as labourers. We then have the final stretch to reach camp (1700m). Approx 4-5hrs walking, distance approx. 7km (1-2 hrs walking if you take the shorter route).
Explore the rich fertile area of Tamil Nadu; finish trek near Mundhan.
The last day of walking is fairly easy as we descend through coffee plantations, dense forests and cotton plantations. We cross through Central Station Village and further down past Kotakuddi. At one point we pass a lovely waterfall where we stop for a rest to cool off our feet. Continuing on we finally reach the Betel Nut plantation at the valley bottom. The final stretch of our trek takes us through coconut and mango plantations, which spreads over hundreds of acres of land. We finish our walk near the village of Mundhan (650m), where a minibus will meet us for a 15 minute drive to our hotel. Please note that the hotel is subject to availability and on rare occasions, groups may have to camp. There is also the option today to go the shorter, easier pony route that will take around 2hrs. Approx 6 hrs walking, distance approx. 16km.
Drive to Madurai; visit the colourful Sri Meenakshi Temple.
Leaving Kerala behind we drive for approx. 2.5 hrs through the plains to the colourful temple town of Madurai, in Tamil Nadu. Madurai is one of the oldest and most fascinating cities in south India. The great Sri Meenakshi Temple, most of which was built during the Nayak period between the 16th and 18th centuries, is at the heart of the city and the life of the town revolves around it. It is a hive of activity and the scene of an almost continuous religious festival. Worshippers bathe in the tank of the Golden Lily and throng the Hall of a Thousand Pillars, where each one is uniquely carved. Madurai is a perfect place to wander around and experience Hindu culture.
To Thekkady (Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary); evening walk through spice gardens.
Leaving Madurai in the morning we drive to the small village of Thekkady. The drive is spectacular as the road climbs through the Western Ghats and we have fantastic views across Tamil Nadu. Thekkady is a small bustling village from where we visit the Periyar National Park. This whole area is a centre for spice growing and after lunch there will be a short walk around a spice garden, where we can see many different spices growing. There is plenty of time in the afternoon to explore the bazaar, where we can visit the numerous shops selling cardamoms, vanilla, peppercorns, chillies, turmeric and other spices. Total driving time approx. 4-4.5 hrs.
Morning nature walk; optional afternoon boat ride on Periyar Lake to see wild elephants.
The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the largest in south India and is set around a large man-made lake. In the early morning we will have a short nature walk in the surrounding tropical forest and in the afternoon an optional boat trip and cruise on the lake (tickets for the cruise can be purchased online in advance. We recommend this in order to avoid long queues. Please inform your leader if you wish to purchase tickets in advance). This is an ideal opportunity to spot birds, such as kingfishers, storks and hornbills, and occasionally we may spot an elephant, otters, wild pig and buffalo. There is also the opportunity of an Ayurvedic massage (optional), which can be arranged in the nearby Ayurvedic massage centre, and also a cooking class (optional). The park will most likely be your last chance for souvenir shopping. Card payments are taken and there is also an ATM. Approx. 2-3 hrs walking, distance approx. 5-6km.
To Alleppey for overnight stay on a traditional Keralan houseboat.
Today we begin by transferring to Allepey on the coast. We board our houseboats and begin our cruise along the backwaters of Kerala. The houseboat cruise is one of the highlights of the trip - these enchanting houseboats, built of Anjili wood and bamboo, were the traditional method of transporting of goods for hundreds of years. Now they have been decorated and made into comfortable cruise boats. The network of rivers, streams, lagoons and canals occupies the alluvial plain between the Western Ghats and the Indian Ocean. As our boat meanders through areas of lush tropical vegetation we have the opportunity to view not only the prolific bird life but also gain a differing perspective on village life. All the houseboats are comfortably equipped and have 3 or 4 twin bedded rooms with bathroom. There is a cook and boat driver and assistants for each boat and the food served is traditional Keralan fare using local produce. No trip to Kerala would be complete without the wonderful experience of the backwaters aboard these traditional Keralite vessels.
To our homestay on the Malabar Coast; explore local fisherman village.
After a relaxing breakfast on the houseboats we will disembark and drive along the scenic Malabar Coast to our homestay, which is situated near a beautiful stretch of beach. There is plenty of time to relax here and explore the local fisherman village.
To Cochin; afternoon sightseeing; Kathakali dance show (optional).
We head back to Cochin and during the afternoon there will be a guided tour; this will include Mattancherry Palace built by the Portuguese as a gift for the Raja of Cochin, the Jewish synagogue dating from 1568 and St Francis church. We also explore the town of Cochin, its bazaars and old harbour area. Fort Cochin is believed to be the earliest European settlement in India, and was founded by the Portuguese in 1503. Warehouses filled with the smell of tea and spices are lime-washed bright green, yellow and blue; rickety old bikes and hand-painted trucks, piled high with goods fill the narrow streets and food stalls stand on every corner. Further along the road you come to Mattancherry and the Dutch Palace. Next to the Palace is the synagogue, built in 1568 for the Jewish members of Cochin's trading communities (please bear in mind that the synagogue is closed on Saturdays). Most people choose to stay in Fort Cochin and wander around its fascinating streets. In the evening there is the chance for an optional visit to see a display of Kathakali Dancing, a form of dance unique to Kerala.
If you are on the group flights you will have an early morning transfer to the airport for the flight back to London. Those not flying with the group will leave us at the hotel in Cochin