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Worldwide Small Group and Tailor Made Adventure Travel

What’s included

  • English-speaking local guides in each location
  • Good hotel, eco-camp and guesthouse accommodation on a twin share basis
  • Meals as specified in the itinerary: 13 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 8 dinners
  • Overnight backwaters cruise
  • Kayaking at Thattekad
  • All...

Gentle Walking & Wildlife Kerala Wildlife

Walking & Trekking

India, Southern India | Walking & Trekking

Gentle Walking & Wildlife Kerala New
  • Grade:
    • ?
      Gentle / Moderate

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

      Moderate: Suitable for anyone who enjoys hill walking.

      Find out more...

    Gentle / Moderate

  • Duration: 15 days from the UK
  • Walks on: 6 days
  • Private Departures Available

Flight inclusive from £3035, Land only from £2195

Uncover tropical Kerala’s must-see sights on scenic walks through ancient temples, tea plantations and wildlife sanctuaries, plus a traditional backwaters cruise.

Highlights

  • Take a sunset cruise to see Kochi’s iconic fishing nets
  • Walk with expert local trackers in three different wildlife sanctuaries
  • Wander through tea plantations in the scenic hills of Munnar
  • Ascend the second highest peak in southern India
  • Relax on an overnight riceboat cruise on Kerala’s backwaters
  • Visit a spice plantation, tea factory and coconut farm, and experience rural Keralan life

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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 our Kerala walking holiday you will explore the region’s must-see scenic, cultural and natural 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 tranquil Birds Mumur Camp on the banks of the Edamalayar River and explore Thattekad Bird Sanctuary with the expert resident naturalists.

Continuing on to the old hill station of Munnar, with its surprisingly dramatic mountain scenery, you will walk on trails through tea estates with spectacular views of the Western Ghats and up Meesapulimala, 2,637m, the second highest peak in southern India. You then cross over to the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu visiting the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary known for its unique dry deciduous forest and its indigenous tribal population who still dwell in the forest. The sanctuary is also home to the endangered Great Grey Grizzled Squirrel.

Travelling on via Tamil Nadu’s agricultural landscape, colourful markets, rural villages and the dazzling Meenakshi Dravidian temple complex in Madurai, you reach the dense forests of the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and the Cardamom Hills. 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. Whilst tiger sightings 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 different 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 Alleppey and board a rice boat for an overnight cruise on Kerala’s tranquil palm-fringed 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.

Private Departures

Kirsty and Adam on Kala Pattar close up 800x750

Gentle Walking & Wildlife Kerala - Private Departures

If you would prefer to travel just with your partner, friends or family, we can arrange a private departure of this holiday. You follow the same itinerary, but travel on dates that suit you. Alternatively we can include elements of this holiday in a bespoke Tailor Made itinerary. Contact our friendly team for details and prices, and to make a booking.


At a glance

Grade:

Gentle / Moderate

Duration: 15 days from the UK

Walks on: 6 days

Max. Altitude: 2,637m/8,652ft, Meesapulimala Peak, Day 8

Private Departures Available

Guaranteed to run for a minimum of 4 clients

Maximum group size: 12

Accommodation types: Hotels, Eco Camp, Riceboat

Meal arrangements: 13 x breakfasts, 7 x lunches and 8 x dinners

Itinerary overview
Day Activity
1-3 Arrive Cochin. Sunset harbour cruise, walking tour of the old quarter and time at leisure.
4-5 Drive to Thattekad and visit potters village. Bird sanctuary walks and plantation tour. Optional kayaking/rafting activities (included) on Edmalayar River.
6-8 Drive up to Munnar. Explore on foot and visit market, tea museum. Walk up Meesapulimala, 2,637m, the second highest peak in southern India.
9-10 Drive to Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary for a plantation tour and wildlife tracking in the sanctuary with expert local trackers.
12 Drive to Periyar. Afternoon jungle walking safari with wildlife trackers.
13 Transfer to Alleppey for overnight backwaters cruise on a converted riceboat
Leader: Local leader, Kerala

For this holiday in Kerala you will have specialist local guides at all places in the itinerary where sightseeing is indicated. You will also have an experienced driver with you throughout.

Local leader, Kerala

Holiday Itinerary

Download a detailed itinerary
Day 1 - Fly London To Kochi (Cochin)

Today you depart on your overnight flight to southern India.

Overnight icon Overnight: In flight

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. 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 icon Overnight: Secret Garden Hotel Or Similar, Cochin

Day 3 - Morning walking tour of Kochi. Afternoon at leisure.

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 harbour engineer, under the direction of Lord Willington, transformed this historic spice port over the next 21 years into the safest harbour on the peninsula.

In the morning, led by an English speaking guide, you will explore the sights of Fort Kochi and Mattencherry. Among the 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 but after its renovation by the Dutch in 1663 it became popularly known as the Dutch Palace. The palace is mostly built in traditional Keralan style - Nalukett - with a central courtyard and has a medieval charm. Located nearby in Jew Town is Paradesi Synagogue, one of very few still functioning here although unlike normal synagogues it does not have a Rabbi but is led by the elders of the community. Paradesi was built by European and Middle Eastern Jews in 1568. The area between the synagogue and the Dutch Palace used to be the spice town where most of the spices were traded, and until fairly recently 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 remainder of the day is free for your own exploration.

Overnight icon Overnight: Secret Garden Hotel Or Similar, Cochin

Day 4 - Drive to Thattekad, visit potters village en-route. 2-3 hours’ drive. Village walks and plantation tour.

Today you leave the hustle and bustle of Cochin and travel to the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary. En-route you will stop to visit a potter’s village where pots and other earthenware items are still made using traditional techniques, keeping an ancient way of life alive. Birds Murmur Camp, located on the banks of the Edamalayar River and overlooking the Edamalayar Forest is an ideal spot to explore the area from. The region is known for its plantations of rubber, nutmeg and other spices. This afternoon you will visit a spice plantation near the camp and explore the local village on foot to see the local way of life.

Overnight icon Overnight: Birds Murmur Camp, Thattekad

Day 5 - Explore Bird Sanctuary on guided walk with local trackers 8-10 km, 4-5 hours. Evening - optional kayak/raft on river.

Although compact, Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, which was founded by renowned ornithologist Dr Salim Ali, is incredibly species rich – over 270 species can be found in the mix of tropical and deciduous forest. This morning you will explore the sanctuary on foot with local guides looking out for special and endemic bird species such as the Sri Lanka frogmouth, the Malabar trogon, the Wayanad laughing thrush, the grey-headed fish eagle and the crimson-throated barbet, in addition to flying squirrels and gliding lizards.

Refreshments will be provided on the walk and you return to the camp for lunch by the riverside. Please note, during the dry season if the forest department decides that there is risk of fire then the sanctuary will be closed and we will not be able to do the long walk. If this happens then we will walk in another part of the sanctuary, a slightly shorter walk but equally interesting.

In the evening there is the option to kayak on Edamalayar River with a guide to help you explore the inlets and canals in the forest. The kayaking is included in the price of the holiday.

Overnight icon Overnight: Birds Murmur Camp, Thattekad

Day 6 - Drive to Munnar. Visit market and tea museum.

This morning you drive up into the hills through the spice plantations to reach the tea estates of Munnar. Munnar was originally inhabited by indigenous tribes before the British planters discovered its potential for growing tea. Vast tracts of forests were cleared, and labour bought up the hills from Tamil Nadu to start the plantations. While tea is still grown it is not as lucrative as used to be and now visitors come to Munnar for its cooler climate, lush green landscape, wildlife parks and the high peaks. During your stay in Munnar you will get to experience it all. In the afternoon you will visit the market where the people in the estates go for their daily shopping. Its colourful display and the fresh produce on sale make it an interesting visit. You will also visit the Tea Museum which offers an insight into the history of tea in Munnar and has an exhibition of the equipment used by the planters.

Overnight icon Overnight: Tea County Resort Or Similar, Munnar

Day 7 - Walk to Top Station, 2,150m/7,054ft, from Yellapetty Village - 10km, 5-6 hours.

This morning you will be driven for an hour to the tea estates at Yellapetty from where you start todays walk. Your guide will lead you through rolling green tea fields and wildlife-rich shola forest and grasslands, traversing through undulating countryside with spectacular views of the Western Ghats. You complete the walk at Top Station, 2,150m/7,054ft, an old colonial-era tea trading post and once one of the highest railway stations in Kerala, where your transport will be waiting to transfer you back to Munnar. The scenic return drive takes around an hour and a half winding down through the hills.

Overnight icon Overnight: Tea County Resort Or Similar, Munnar

Day 8 - Walk up Meesapulimala Peak 2,637m/8,652ft from Rhodo Valley, 2,400m/7,874ft - 8km, 5-6 hours.

Today is the literal high point of your holiday - an ascent of the second highest peak in southern India. An early morning jeep transfer of around an hour brings you to the roadhead at Rhodo Mansion from where you ascend on a well-trodden path through grassland to the summit. There are some steeper sections but these can be minimised by taking more circuitous alternative paths. At 2,637m/8,652ft above sea level Meesapulimala is the second highest peak in Southern India and the only one that that is open to visitors. The upper reaches are mainly grassland and offer stunning views of the Western Ghats and of the hills of both Tamil Nadu and Kerala as Meesapulimala sits on the border of the two southern states. The walk up Meesapuimalai is perhaps the best trek experience that you can do in southern India. After taking in the views – cloud permitting – you return to either Rhodo Mansion, or to Meesapulimala Base Camp where your vehicle will be waiting to drive you back to your hotel.

As this is the most demanding walk of the holiday you might prefer not to ascend Meesapulimala but instead spend the day at leisure or further exploring Munnar.

Overnight icon Overnight: Tea County Resort Or Similar, Munnar

Day 9 - Drive to Manupetti. Afternoon village visit and plantation tour. Walking 2-3 hours.

Leaving Munnar’s misty hills behind you drive down through the sprawling tea plantations to the Sandalwood forests of Marayur and the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. Your base for the next couple of nights is the beautiful Chinnar Eco Living, a unique six room property well off the tourist trail which is also an organic farm growing a variety of fruits and vegetables. You may wish to spend the afternoon relaxing beside your private plunge pool, but otherwise an exploration of the local the village will offer an insight into rural Tamil village life, and afterwards you visit a coconut farm, coir making unit and a local temple before walking back to the hotel.

Overnight icon Overnight: Spice Tree Chinnar Eco Living

Day 10 - Wildlife walk with local trackers in Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary - 4-5 hours.

After an early breakfast you drive to nearby Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. Chinnar is a protected area providing sanctuary for the critically endangered grizzled giant squirrel, the world’s smallest wild cat – the rusty-spotted cat, Asiatic elephants, sambhar deer, dhole and Indian gaur amongst other species. A number of traditional medicinal plants are found in the forest, mainly along the river, and lizards, butterflies, and dragonflies can be seen in abundance.

Chinnar Sanctuary lies in the rainshadow of the Western Ghats and offers a different type of walking terrain with its mainly dry deciduous forest of thorny bushes. It is also home to two indigenous tribes who have their own distinct culture and way of life. On your walk you will be accompanied by a couple of trackers from these tribes who know the forest inside out.

Overnight icon Overnight: Spice Tree Chinnar Eco Living

Day 11 - Drive to Madurai (4 hours). Heritage walk & temple visit - 2-3 hours.

Today you drive across the rich cultivated plains of Tamil Nadu to the temple town of Madurai. After settling into your hotel, with maybe time for a quick dip in the pool, you head out in the afternoon to explore the city on a heritage walking tour.

The vibrant city of Madurai is the cultural capital of Tamil Nadu, and has a skyline dominated by Dravidian temples and soaring gateway towers. On your walk you will visit colourful markets selling local produce, textile shops and teashops, passing through narrow streets lined with historic buildings. The walk culminates at the famous Meenakshi temple complex. Meenakshi is an iconic Hindu temple renowned for its stunning Dravidian-style architecture. Dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswarar, it features intricate sculptures, 50 meter high gopurams (towers) adorned with brightly coloured figures, and a sacred tank.

Overnight icon Overnight: Heritage Hotel Or Similar, Madurai

Day 12 - Drive to Periyar. Afternoon wildlife walk with local trackers - 5km, 2-3 hours.

The Cardamom Hills are your destination today as you leave the busy city behind, crossing the fertile plains of the Cumbum Valley towards Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Your accommodation is in Kumily, close to the park entrance and well located for a stroll into town, should you wish to explore.

This afternoon you will take a jungle walk in the park with knowledgeable local trackers and escorted by an armed guard from the forestry department.

Scenic Periyar is the former hunting grounds of the Travancore royal family, and the man-made lake at its heart, once a feature enjoyed by 19th century nobles, is now a magnet for wildlife. The lake reserve was declared a protected area in 1950 and later, given its importance for conservation, was given national park status in 1978. The park has a healthy number of tiger (though sightings are extremely rare) and a sizable population of elephants amongst other species of birds and animals.

Periyar National Park has pioneered a number of eco-development projects and your guided walk through the sanctuary is one such project, initiated by the forest department.

Overnight icon Overnight: Wildernest Guesthouse Or Similar, Periyar

Day 13 - Transfer to Alleppey for overnight backwaters cruise.

Driving west you leave the hills for the final time and head down towards the coastal plains, arriving in Alleppey late morning.

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.

At midday you board your rice boat and enjoy a relaxing afternoon cruise through the waterways, offering 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 icon Overnight: Backwaters Riceboat

Day 14 - Morning disembark in Kumarakom. Remainder of day at leisure.

After breakfast you disembark at Kumarakom on Lake Vembanad. This beautiful lake is one of the largest and most scenic in India and your hotel is positioned right on the lake shore. The rest of the day will be at leisure for you to enjoy the hotel facilities and explore Lake Vembanad.

Overnight icon Overnight: Rhythm Resort Or Similar, Kumarakom

Day 15 - 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.


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Optional supplements
  • Single Room Supplement
    From £695
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.

Booking your holiday
  • Deposit
    From £400.00

For the majority of our holidays, a deposit payment of £400.00 per person is required to secure your place(s), however a small number of holidays require a higher deposit - please refer to the holiday itinerary for more details. If the holiday departs within 60 days, a deposit of £1,000.00 per person is required.

Book now!
  1. Book your small group holiday securely online – click the ‘Book’ button next to your chosen departure or visit our How to Book page
  2. Complete and return a Booking Form available to download here.
  3. Call us on +44 (0)1453 844400 and one of our travel specialists will talk you through the booking process.

What’s included

  • English-speaking local guides in each location
  • Good hotel, eco-camp and guesthouse accommodation on a twin share basis
  • Meals as specified in the itinerary: 13 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 8 dinners
  • Overnight backwaters cruise
  • Kayaking at Thattekad
  • All road transport by private vehicle/s
  • Sightseeing, entrance fees and walks as specified in the itinerary
  • 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
  • Some meals – as detailed in the itinerary
  • Tips



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