DAY 1: Kochi
Today we start the trip by going to see a traditional dance show called “Kathakali”. Kathakali shows are characterised by the heavy makeup of the performers almost like a mask and by the facial expressions and hand movements. The performances are tales of love, lust and power struggles based on the Ramayana and Mahabharata and stem from 2nd century temple rituals. The form of dance we see today was developed in the 16th century. Before the show we will watch as the performers put on their make up, a process that can take one and a half hours. The movement and expression of the artists is quite enthralling and the costumes extraordinary.
DAY 2: Kochi
Today we have a full days sightseeing in Kochi a city that has been on the map for over 600 years. We start the day by taking the local ferry to fort kochi. Here we will visit the Dutch palace, now a museum that houses a collection of intricate paintings of some of the Hindu gods. Next we go to the Pardesi synagogue which was originally built in 1568. The synagogue contains a number of interesting features including an ornate gold pulpit, hand painted floor tiles from China and Belgian made chandeliers. We visit St Francis church which is believed to be the oldest European built church in India. The current building dates from the 16th century and was the original burial place of the Portuguese Vasco-de-Gama whose body was moved to Lisbon after 14 years. We will also see the giant Chinese fishing nets first introduced by Chinese traders in 1400 AD.
DAY 3: Thakedy
Today we drive to Thakedy for Thattekkad bird sanctuary. The sanctuary was established in 1983 and was the first bird sanctuary in Kerala, it covers 25 square kilometres. The sanctuary is made up of evergreen lowland forest and is located between two branches of the Periyar river. This unique position allows us to view both forest and water birds in the same place. Thattekkad bird sanctuary has been described as one of the richest bird habitats in India and it is also known as a cuckoo paradise with a number of different cuckoo varieties viewed here. In the evening we visit the bird sanctuary to see the huge variety of bird species that call this place home.
DAY 4: Munnar
Today we drive to the hill station of Munnar which is south India’s largest tea growing region. This is the commercial centre of some of the worlds highest tea growing estates. The afternoon here is free to relax in this wonderfully peaceful part of India and to marvel at the views of the hills carpeted in green and covered with the neat rows of the tea plantations.
DAY 5: Munnar
Trekking is one of the best ways to experience the hills of Munnar and so this morning we take a guided walk through the tea plantations. Here we can see up close the plants that produce one of the world’s favourite beverages. This also gives us some unique views of the hills around. After we visit the tea museum which is modelled on a working tea factory and allows us to follow the production process from the leaves of the plants we saw on the hills to the more familiar packaged tea we are used to. The museum also houses an interesting collection of artefacts used in tea production production from factories of the past. The rest of the day is free to relax and perhaps enjoy a nice cup of tea.
DAY 6: Periyar
Today we drive to Periyar national park and wildlife sanctuary which was established in 1982. The park is located high in the mountains of the south western ghats and surrounds Periyar lake. Here we can see many different animals and plants including 140 different species of orchid. The park is also a tiger and Indian elephant reserve. In the afternoon we visit a local spice plantation where we can see many spices growing including cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin and turmeric.
DAY 7: Periyar
This morning we have an early morning walk through the jungle of the national park to explore the wildlife and plant species here including the wild pig, flying squirrel and sloth bear as well as tigers and wild elephants. There are also over 250 species of bird. There is an optional boat trip on Periyar lake to see the wildlife of the park from a different angle and to enjoy the view of the jungle. The rest of the day is free to relax and explore the park.
DAY 8: Alappuzha
Today we drive to Alappuzha for the coir village backwater resort and our first taste of Keralan backwater scenery. On the way here we visit a local village where we can see people making ropes from coir which is produced from coconut palm trees. There is an optional trip to explore the surrounding backwaters by canoe allowing us a peaceful way to discover the wildlife and villages here. We also visit the black sand beach with its beautiful view out to sea offering the perfect spot to watch the sunset.
DAY 9: Allepey House Boat
This morning we drive to Allepey where we will board our houseboat and set sail along the backwater network that Kerala is famous for. Spend the afternoon relaxing on board and watching as the beautiful scenery and scenes of village life pass you by. We spend the night on board where we can marvel at the stars above and enjoy the tranquility of this part of India.
DAY 10: Varkala
This morning we further enjoy the backwater scenery before heading back to Allepey where we leave the houseboat and drive to Varkala, one of Keralas beautiful beach resorts. The resort town sits atop a high russet coloured cliff with the beach and warm waters below. These two days are free to relax here and explore the resort. Kerala is famous for Ayurvedic treatments so why not try a relaxing massage or take part in a yoga class. Varkala also has many restaurants along the cliff offering a perfect place to gaze dreamily out to sea and to watch the sunset on the horizon. In the evening of day 11 we will have a final group dinner to mark the end of the trip
DAY 11: Varkala
Enjoy Varkala as above.
DAY 12: Trivandrum
Today we drive to Keralas capital city Trivandrum for your onward travel arrangements.