Call us: +44(0)1453 844400Email us: info@mountainkingdoms.com

Worldwide Small Group and Tailor Made Adventure Travel

What’s included

  • An English-speaking local leader
  • Good standard hotel accommodation, twin share, bed and breakfast basis in Cochin and Madurai.
  • Luxury accommodation in outlying areas with meals as specified
  • Overnight on a riceboat
  • All road transport by private vehicle/s
  • Sightseeing and walks as specified
  • Meals as specified in the itinerary (12 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 8 dinners)
  • Economy class return air fares from the UK & UK Departure Tax (flight inclusive only)
  • Single, timed, group airport transfers on arrival and departure
  • Carbon offset for clients taking our flight-inclusive option
  • A free Mountain Kingdoms Water-to-Go bottle or a free Mountain Kingdoms fleece
  • Opportunity to join one of our pre-trip meets in the Cotswolds

Gentle Walking Kerala

Walking & Trekking

India, Southern India | Walking & Trekking

New for 2019
Gentle Walking Kerala
Gentle

Suitable for people who enjoy easy-paced walks or exploring the countryside on foot.

Find out more...

Grade: Gentle ? Gentle
Duration:  14 days from the UK  
Walks on: 7 days. Safari walk on 1 day.

Flight inclusive from £2,260,
Land only from £1,735

Book now or call 01453 844400

The perfect introduction to lush tropical Kerala; the must-see highlights, scenic walks and a Backwaters cruise.

Highlights

  • Take a sunset cruise to see Kochi’s iconic fishing nets silhouetted against the water
  • Walk through tea plantations in the rolling hills of Munnar with views of the Western Ghats
  • Visit a flower market, a tea factory and a spice plantation.
  • Take an overnight riceboat cruise on Kerala’s languid backwaters
  • Search for wild elephant and elusive tiger on a walking safari in Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary

Reviews

''We had a wonderful time in Kerala, visiting tea, coffee and spice plantations, relaxing on a sunset cruise to see the Chinese fishing nets, and exploring the vibrant city of Madurai, with its incredible temple complex. One of the highlights for us was the riceboat cruise on the tranquil Kerala backwaters, the scenery was so beautiful. The hotels and resorts we stayed in were really lovely and of...
Mr & Mrs P, Gloucestershire

Such vibrant colours from the lush, green palm trees and tea plantations to the array of pink and reds of the sari wearing ladies. The Keralan food is some of the best tasting food I have experienced anywhere, and the people are so kind and friendly they just can't do enough for you. It's a wonderful place to visit.
Linda Denniff, Mountain Kingdoms

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Kerala is a perfect winter destination with a temperate climate and understated natural beauty. It is a land of tea plantations, verdant inland hills rising to 2,500m, wild jungle reserves and enticing waterways. On this holiday you will explore the region’s must-see highlights from the water and on foot, and experience Southern India’s distinctive culture and delicious cuisine.

Your holiday starts in Kochi where you explore this wonderfully atmospheric town and take a sunset cruise to see the photogenic Chinese fishing nets for which the town is famed. Next, you head east to the old hill station of Munnar, with its surprisingly dramatic mountain scenery where you will walk on trails through tea estates and onto the high ridges of the Western Ghats with far-reaching views.

Travelling on via Kerala’s famous spice plantations and the dazzling Meenakshi Dravidian temple complex, you reach the dense forests of the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. The park which forms the major watershed of two important rivers of Kerala, the Periyar and Pamba, is home to around 40 tigers which you will search for on foot and by traditional bamboo raft. Whilst tiger sighting are uncommon, as one of the oldest reserves in India, Periyar is home to a wealth of flora and fauna including Indian elephant, Indian wild dog, Guar, Sambhar, the rare Nilgiri Tahr and hundreds of difference bird species so there is plenty to see. You will be accompanied by an armed guard on your walking safari.

From Periyar you drive to Pallathuruthy and board a rice boat for an overnight cruise on Kerala’s tranquil palm-lined backwaters, a series of incredibly scenic lakes, canals and lagoons where you can sit back and watch the local people go about their daily life. Your holiday concludes on the picturesque shores of Lake Vembanad where you can explore the lakeside or just relax and enjoy the pool and spa facilities in your beautiful boutique hotel.


At a glance

Grade: Gentle
Gentle

Duration:  14 days from the UK  
Walks on: 7 days. Safari walk on 1 day.

Max. Altitude: 1,828m/6,000ft, Munnar, Day 4

Guaranteed to run for a minimum of 4 clients

Maximum group size: 12

Land only joining city: Cochin

Accommodation types: Hotels, Riceboat

Meal arrangements: B&B in Kochi and Madurai. All meals in Munnar, Periyar and on the riceboat. Breakfast and dinner at Kumarakom. A picnic lunch will be provided when walking in Periyar wildlife reserve.

Itinerary overview
Day Activity
1-3
Arrive Kochi (Cochin). Walking tour of the old quarter and cultural dance show.
4-6
Drive to Munnar. Day walks and visit to tea estate.
7-8
Drive to Madurai. Visit Meenakshi Temple Complex. Heritage walk and visits to markets.
9
Drive to Periyar. Visit spice plantation.
10
Safari walk and optional bamboo raft experience in Periyar Tiger Reserve.
11-12
Drive to Pallathuruthy. Overnight on a riceboat. Disembark at Kumarakom by Lake Vembanad.
13
Canoe tour and village visit at Lake Vembanad.
14
Transfer to Kochi airport. Fly to London.
Leader: Local leader, India
Local leader, India

Your Indian tour, trek or walking guide will be friendly, very knowledgeable about the region you are visiting and speak fluent English. We use one of the largest and oldest tour operators in India whose staff all have excellent training.


  1. Day 1 - Fly London To Kochi (Cochin)

    Overnight iconOvernight: In flight
  2. Day 2 - Arrive Kochi. Group transfer to hotel - 1½ hours. Sunset cruise.

    You will arrive in Kochi in the early morning and transfer to Kochi town where you will check into your hotel which is located in the old quarter of Fort Kochi with magnificent views of the harbour. After time to rest from your long flight you will have the afternoon at leisure to venture out for a first look at the town.

    Later, in the evening you walk down to the boat jetty to take a sunset cruise round the harbour. The cruise will take a couple of hours approximately and you will see the islands of Kochi, various activities in the harbour and will end your cruise at sunset at the Chinese fishing nets. The city of Kochi is actually made up of a collection of islands and headlands. Between the peninsula on which Fort Kochi and Mattancherry are located and the mainland of Ernakulam, lies Willingdon Island. Offshore islands include Bolgatty, Vallarpadam and Vypeen. Your cruise will take you past these islands and you will see arrays of Chinese fishing nets. Each of these structures is at least 10m high and comprises a cantilever with an outstretched net suspended over the sea and large stones suspended from ropes as counterweights at the other end. Each installation is operated by a team of up to six fishermen. This style of net is thought to have been introduced by traders from the court of Chinese emperor, Kublai Khan.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Fragrant Nature Kochi Or Similar
  3. Day 3 - Sightseeing in Kochi. Evening cultural show with Kathakali Dance performance.

    Kochi is a fascinating place. In 1102 Kochi became the seat of the Kingdom of Kochi and has been a prominent city since then. With the advent of the Portuguese in 1503, it became the first European Colonial settlement in India and it remained the capital of Portuguese India until 1530. It was then invaded by the Dutch and the British and became the first princely state to join the Indian Union Post Independence in 1947. The various people who have lived there have all left their mark on the city: the Jews (700BC onwards), the Portuguese (1503-1660), the Dutch (1660-1814) and the British (1814-1947). In 1920 Robert Bristow the harbor Engineer, under the direction of Lord Willington, transformed this historic spice port over the next 21 years into the safest harbour in the peninsula.

    In the morning, you will enjoy the sights of Fort Kochi and Mattencherry with an English speaking guide. Among places you will see is the St. Francis Church, the oldest European church in India, built by the Portuguese in 1516, famous for housing the remains of Vasco Da Gama, the great Portuguese explorer who first came to Calicut, Kerala in 1498 and died during his third visit in 1524 in Kochi. His remains were later exhumed and taken to Lisbon in 1539. You might also visit the Dutch Palace: Built in 1557, the Mattancherry Palace was a gift from the Portuguese to Raja Veera Kerala Varma. After its renovation by the Dutch in 1663, it became popular as the Dutch Palace. The palace built in Nalukettu style, the traditional Kerala style of Architecture, with a central courtyard, has a medieval charm. Located nearby in Jew Town is Paradesi Synagogue, one of the oldest synagogues and one of very few still functioning. It was built by European and Middle Eastern Jews in 1568. Unlike normal synagogues it does not have a Rabbi but is led by the elders of the community. The area between the Synagogue and the Dutch Palace used to be the spice town where most of the spices were traded. Until recent times there was even an old fashioned Pepper Exchange where pepper was traded. The old spice shops are sadly all gone, but it is still interesting to browse around these narrow lanes which are nowadays dotted with antique shops.

    The afternoon will be free for your own exploration and in the evening you will visit a cultural centre to see a Kathakali Dance performance, the ancient pantomime dance drama of Kerala. This show comprises an hour of make-up and an hour and half of a mix of different dance forms and martial arts.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Fragrant Nature Cochin Or Similar, Cochin
  4. Day 4 - Drive to Kothamangalam. Visit Mundakal Estate. Continue to Munnar 1,828m/6,000ft – total 4 hours’ drive.

    Today you will drive to Munnar. On the way you will visit a plantation bungalow that belongs to a well-known local planter, Mr Jose Mundakal. His family live on the estate and have plantations of rubber and other spices. Mr Jose, will be happy to show you around. This is a great place to experience the life on an estate and see how the various crops including spices, fruits and rubber are grown and harvested.

    For lunch, you will stop at Pazhaya Veedu plantation bungalow which is nestled within lush tropical foliage and is a haven for birds and wildlife. It has been an ancestral home to many great planters, social activists and entrepeneurs from the region and remains a working agrarian household.

    After lunch your tour will continue to Munnar (about 3 hours' drive). Munnar is a hill station set at 1828m/6,000ft and once the summer resort of the former British government in South India. The Duke of Wellington is reputed to have been the first European visitor to Munnar in 1790. Today it is a centre for tea growing being surrounded by tea plantations, forests, hills and valleys and the visitor is greeted with an unending vista of tea plantations.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Fragrant Nature Munnar Or Similar, Munnar
  5. Day 5 - In Munnar. Top Valley Trek - approximately 5 hours.

    In Munnar you can enjoy the beautiful hill scenery that made Munnar a popular colonial retreat. It is an area of rolling hills, grasslands, dense forests, streams, lakes and waterfalls and tea plantations with numerous fine walking trails. The hills around Munnar are covered in a carpet of tea and are some of the highest plantations in the world. Above the plantations rise some surprisingly dramatic peaks with the highest, Anamudi Peak, at 2,700 m/8,858ft. This is an ideal area for walks in the plantations or in the higher hills with great views over the whole area.

    While in Munnar you will have a walk each day with a local guide who can show you the best of the area and knows the local flora and fauna and will be able to give you a real insight into what you are seeing.

    Today you will walk one of the best trails in the Munnar area, the Top Valley Trek. It is a drive of about an hour to the start of the trek, where you start walking initially through tea plantations and then up into forest and further up to the grassland and more open ridges of the Western Ghats above, reaching a summit at 2,250m/7,382ft. From the summit you should get fantastic mountain views. This is a good trek to see some of the endemic birds of this region and you may also see animals such as the monkeys, giant squirrels, Nilgiri Thar and gaur (wild cattle). You will have a picnic lunch along the way. Your driver will meet you to drive you back to your hotel in Munnar.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Fragrant Nature Munnar Or Similar, Munnar
  6. Day 6 - Visit tea factory. Lunch at tea planter bungalow. Afternoon walk in tea plantation and estate - 3-4 hours.

    In the morning you will visit a tea factory to see all the processes involved in making tea and will no doubt have an opportunity to try the local brew. You will then have lunch in a tea planter bungalow and after lunch take a guided walk through a tea estate.

    The History of Tea in Munnar
    The genesis of the High Range (as Munnar's tea estates are referred to) dates back to the 1870s when British Civil Servants visited these hills, then teeming with wildlife, on annual shikar expeditions. Seeing the agricultural potential of the region, these pioneers experimented with many crops such as coffee, cinchona, sisal and cardamom before discovering that tea was best suited to the area. Soon the North Travancore Land Planting and Agricultural Society was founded, with its members developing their own estates in various parts of the High Range. The first tea was planted by A.H.Sharp in 1877 in what is now Sevenmallay Estate. In 1895 the Glasgow-based James Finlay Group acquired the tea estates established by the pioneers and, over the next few years opened up several others bringing the total number of tea gardens under their control in the High Range to 33. These were managed by the Kanan Devan Hill produce company set up in 1897, one of the biggest subsidiaries of the Sterling Company. In 1964 a collaborative venture between the Tata Group and the Finlay Group saw the setting up of a Tata-Finlay Instant Tea factory in Munnar. In 1976 Tata purchased the entire business interests of the Finlay Group in India, the new company being named Tata-Finlay Limited. Seven years later, in 1983, the company was totally Indanised and became Tata Tea Limited. In April 2005, Tata tea transferred the ownership of their tea plantations in Munnar to a new company, Kannan Devan Hills Plantations Company Private Limited formed by its employees. The new company has 16 tea estates spread over nearly 8,600 hectares of tea and an employee strength of around 13,000.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Fragrant Nature Munnar Or Similar, Munnar
  7. Day 7 - Drive to Madurai - 4-5 hours. Visit temples.

    This morning you will make the scenic drive to Madurai in Tamil Nadu state driving through farmland and down the western-ghats. The city of Madurai was originally built in the shape of a lotus flower, centred on the celebrated Sri Meenakshi Temple. The rich cultural heritage and striking architecture of the city lead many Indians to refer to the city as the 'Athens of the East'. Most of the most important monuments and buildings in Madurai were built during the reign of Thirumalai Nayak who ruled the region from 1623-1659. The streets and markets around the temple bustle with pilgrims, traders and locals going about their daily business.

    While in Madurai you will be taken by a local guide on an atmospheric tour of the famous Meenakshi temple complex. The temple is the geographic and ritual centre of the ancient city of Madurai. The temple walls, streets and finally the city walls (ancient) were built around the temple in concentric squares. Ancient Tamil classics mention that the temple was the centre of the city and the streets radiated out like petals of a lotus. It is one of the few temples in Tamil Nadu to have four entrances facing four directions. The temple is surrounded by 12 towers, the tallest of which, the famous Southern tower, rises to over 52m/170ft. It is also interesting to visit the nearby flower market although you will find some quite high pressure salesmen here!

    Overnight iconOvernight: G R T Regency Or Similar, Madurai
  8. Day 8 - Early morning tour by auto rickshaw to flower market. Afternoon heritage walk and visit to local market.

    This morning you will take a tour by auto rickshaw to visit the flower market, one of the biggest markets in all India.

    In the afternoon you will take a walking tour through the heritage part of Madurai, visiting the ruined palace and the fortifications of the Nayaks. The Madurai Nayaks were rulers, from around 1529 AD until 1736 AD, of a region comprising most of modern-day Tamil Nadu, with Madurai as their capital. The Nayak reign was an era noted for its achievement in arts, cultural and administrative reforms and the revitalization of temples previously ransacked by the Delhi Sultans along with the institution of a unique architectural style. You will also walk through the old markets.

    Overnight iconOvernight: G R T Regency Or Similar, Madurai
  9. Day 9 - Drive to Thekkady, Periyar - 138km, 4-5 hours. Tour spice plantation on foot - 1-2 hours. Lunch with the family. Continue to hotel.

    After breakfast at the hotel you will drive from Tamil Nadu across the state border back into Kerala, to reach Thekkady. Kerala's spice trade dates back three thousand years and even today the state prides itself on being at the hub of the spice trade in India. Thekkady is a big production centre for all manner of spices such as black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg, and on arrival you will visit a spice plantation, walking through the grounds as your guide introduces you to all the spices grown here. You will enjoy lunch with the family before driving on to Periyar.

    Periyar is also the location of the renowned Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Famous for its dense forests, savanna grass lands, rivers and lakes the Wildlife Sanctuary is home to herds of elephants, tigers, sambar deer, gaur, lion-tailed macaques and Nilgiri langurs. The greatest attraction of Periyar however is the herds of wild elephants that come down to drink in the lake; there are also estimated to be 35 to 40 tigers in the sanctuary which is one of India's 27 office tiger reserves.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Cardamom County Hotel Or Similar, Periyar
  10. Day 10 - Full day walking safari in Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary with optional traditional bamboo river rafting (40 mins). 6-7 hours safari walking.

    Today you will have a full day of adventure in the jungle. As well as the larger animals these forests are rich in bird life and arboreal animals like giant squirrel and Nilgiri langur. Your guide will be very knowledgeable and will be able to give you information about the various animals, birds, plants, and trees that you see along the way. You will also be accompanied on your walk by an armed-guard, and tea, snacks and a packed lunch will be served en route.

    You may if you wish also take a ride on a traditional bamboo raft. This is included in the holiday and takes around 40 minutes. These typically Keralan rafts provide one of the best ways to see wildlife close up - animals like elephant, gaur and sambar deer may be sighted keeping close to the edges of the water.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Cardamom County Hotel Or Similar, Periyar
  11. Day 11 - Drive to Pallathuruthy. Backwaters cruise on a riceboat.

    Driving west you leave the hills for the final time and head down towards the coastal plains, arriving in Pallathuruthy by lunchtime. Here you board your houseboat for an afternoon cruise to Alleppey, through the famous 'Backwaters': a network of over 900km/560miles of canals and waterways parallel to the Arabian Sea, between Kochi and the town of Kollam to the south.

    Amongst the lagoons, canals and rivers live whole communities for whom the waterways are effectively the equivalent of a road system. The area around the backwaters is one of the few places in the world where cultivation happens below sea level. Fishing remains probably the most important activity, but villagers also gain a livelihood through the cultivation of crops including rice and cashew nuts and the production of coir. The rough fibrous coating of coconuts, coir is used to make brushes, sacks, matting and even rope. The traditional name for the rice barge on which you will travel is the 'Kettuvallam,' which literally translated means 'boat with knots'. Coir rope was typically used to bind together the wooden structure with knots in the rope serving the purpose of nails.

    You will board your boat at midday and in the afternoon enjoy a relaxing cruise through the waterways, giving you an opportunity to observe rural Kerala up close. For the people living on the banks, the backwaters are a part of their day to day life. You stop to look at paddy cultivation, watch local fishing, and see historic churches and local temples. During the evening, you can generally see the people of the community meeting and relaxing by the backwaters. Your houseboat anchors for the night at around 5.30pm.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Riceboat
  12. Day 12 - Disembark riceboat at Kumarakom (Aveda). Time at leisure.

    After breaksfast you disembark at Kumarakom on Lake Vembanad. This beautiful lake is one of the largest and most scenic in India. Your hotel there is the Aveda Resort, a luxury resort with a beautiful position right on the lake shore. The lovely rooms have either a terrace or balcony, and views of either the lake or the pool. There is a large infinity pool and the resort also offers spa treatments. The rest of the day will be at leisure on Lake Vembanad.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Aveda Resort, Kumarakom
  13. Day 13 - Exploring on foot and by water at Lake Vembanad

    Early this morning you will head out onto Lake Vembanad to explore by motorised canoe, stopping off to visit a local village and watching local life beside the lake.

    In the late afternoon you will have a bird walk in nearby Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary with its many interesting birds. The lake attracts an array of waterfowl including pin-tailed duck, garganey teal, spot-billed duck as well as birds of prey such as osprey, marsh harrier and steppe eagle in addition to Indian darter, little cormorant and many different species of egrets and herons, white ibis and several species of kingfishers. In addition to the resident birds the lake is also a favourite haunt of migratory birds which gather here from the months of November to February from as far afield as Siberia and the Himalaya.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Aveda Resort, Kumarakom
  14. Day 14 - Group transfer to the airport - 83km, 2-3 hours. Fly to London.

    After an early breakfast you will transfer to Kochi airport for your return flight to London.


2019

Dates Availability Land Only Flight Inclusive from
Sun 27 Jan - Sat 9 Feb 2019 Available£1735 Book£2260 Book
Sun 1 Dec - Sat 14 Dec 2019 Available£1895 BookContact us

2020

Dates Availability Land Only Flight Inclusive from
Sun 26 Jan - Sat 8 Feb 2020 AvailableContact usContact us

Hold your place

Not quite ready to book? Why not call us on 0044 (0)1453 844400 to hold a no obligation place while you make up your mind?

 
Optional supplements
  • Single Room Supplement
    From £685
Insurance
  • Cover starts from £124
No Surcharge Guarantee

No surcharges will be applied to your holiday after you book. Prices on this website are updated regularly. The Flight Inclusive holiday price, or Land Only holiday price, will be confirmed to you at the time you make your booking. There will be no surcharges after your booking has been confirmed.

Flight inclusive holidays

The 'flight inclusive' holiday prices shown on this website are based upon our preferred airlines and the best priced economy class fares we are able to secure at the time of publication.

We will be able to advise on fares with alternative airlines, upgrades to Business Class, and the options for flights from regional UK airports, please contact us for more details.

What’s included

  • An English-speaking local leader
  • Good standard hotel accommodation, twin share, bed and breakfast basis in Cochin and Madurai.
  • Luxury accommodation in outlying areas with meals as specified
  • Overnight on a riceboat
  • All road transport by private vehicle/s
  • Sightseeing and walks as specified
  • Meals as specified in the itinerary (12 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 8 dinners)
  • Economy class return air fares from the UK & UK Departure Tax (flight inclusive only)
  • Single, timed, group airport transfers on arrival and departure
  • Carbon offset for clients taking our flight-inclusive option
  • A free Mountain Kingdoms Water-to-Go bottle or a free Mountain Kingdoms fleece
  • Opportunity to join one of our pre-trip meets in the Cotswolds

What’s not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visa fees
  • Airport departure taxes, excepting UK Departure Tax
  • Tips


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Extend your holiday

There are many ways you can extend your holiday with Mountain Kingdoms: book extra hotel nights, relax at a beautiful beach resort, take a warm-up trek, arrange a personal sightseeing tour or enjoy specialist activities such as rafting, birdwatching or a safari.

We're happy to suggest ideas, provide quotes and make all the arrangements. We can also assist with flight and hotel upgrades. Just call us on +44 (0)1453 844400 or email info@mountainkingdoms.com and we will be pleased to help.

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