Lesser known gems of Kerala - India tour Itinerary
Lesser known gems of Kerala - 13 days/12 nights
God's own country, Kerala, lush with paddy fields, coconut groves and spice plantations; infinite stretches of pristine beaches, the dazzling white of fine sand washed every now and then with frothy lace by the ocean: Step just a little bit away from the well-trodden path for an experience that will stay with you forever.
From cosmopolitan Mumbai, where fishing boats ply a harbour overlooked by relics of the Raj, which are themselves dwarfed by towering, futuristic high-rises, travel to the sweeping tranquility and heady aroma of spice plantations – cardamom, nutmeg, pepper – a rich harvest of nature's bounty. Villages linked by a network of backwater, canals, and lagoons that weave in, out and around the groves of swaying coconut palms, traversed by boats of all shapes and sizes.
Ancient churches dot the countryside as you glide softly by. This is also the homeland of the Syrian Christians, reached by St.Thomas himself in the first century AD.
In the interior the Nilgiri hills loom, their dense wooded slopes hiding a teeming wealth of wildlife ranging from the tiger and elephant to the spectacular and endangered lion-tailed macaque. The Periyar Tiger Reserve is one of the many forests that were protected under Project Tiger as ranges of that magnificent best. Today its abundant grasslands support a thriving elephant population as well as the deer, antelope and lesser herbivores that the tiger stalks.
This is the ideal itinerary for those looking to leave the busy cities behind in order to breathe the clean, fresh air that blows in over the ocean.
price on application
Cost Includes: Accommodation for 12 nights with full board at Vythiri and Mankota and bed and breakfast elsewhere, transfers, excursions and sightseeing with English speaking guide in an air-conditioned chauffeur driven car, monument entrance fee, porterage, mineral water in car, half-day Elephanta Caves excursion in Mumbai, evening boat cruise in Cochin, boat ride at Periyar for wildlife viewing and Kathakali dance performance in Cochin.
Hotels Superior: Fariyas (standard) Mumbai, Vythiri Resort (cottage) Vythiri, Trident Hilton (superior) Cochin, Mankota House (standard Non ac) Harippad, Paradise Plantation Retreat (deluxe) Murinjapuza, Marari Beach Resort (garden villa) Mararikulam. Deluxe (upgrade to): Hyatt Regency(Hyatt guest) Mumbai, Le Meridien (royal club) Cochin Luxury (upgrade to): Leela Kempemski (royal club) Mumbai, Malabar House (suite) Cochin.
Day 01 Arrival
Reception and welcome at Mumbai airport followed by transfer to your hotel.
Day 02 Mumbai/Bombay
Get a introduction to the diverse heritage, bustling markets, business houses and many different communities that represent Mumbai the ever-changing face of modern India.
Day 03 Bombay – Calicut - Vythiri
Fly to the coastal town of Calicut or now Khozikhode, where Vasco Da Gama , the first European to arrive in India by sea, landed in 1948. Drive to the picturesque resort at Vythiri up in the tea plantation hills.
Day 04 Vythiri
Appreciate nature in all her colours and indulge yourself with the variety of holistic healing options offered.
Day 05 Vythiri – Kochi
Drive to Kochi [Cochin], the Gateway to South India since the ancient times.
Day 06 Kochi
Explore this conglomeration of Islands with its fine natural harbour that has been at the hearts of the spice trade from South India for ages. Then take a comfortable cruise through the serene backwaters.
Day 07 Kochi - Mankota
Experience the relaxed lifestyle of Mankota at a local home stay in this small town near the famous Vembanad Lake.
Day 08 Mankota – Murinijapuza
Trek through the beautiful spice and tea plantations that Murinjapuzha is renowned for.
Day 09 Murinjapuza
Based at Murinjapuza, visit Periyar Wildlife Reserve to see tiger, elephants and other wildlife.
Day 10 Murinjapuza – Marari
Completely new to the holiday experience is Marari one of the local fishing villages where life still goes on much as it did a hundred years ago.
Day 11 & 12 Marari Beach
Endless miles of superb sand beaches backed by swaying palms – until now one of India's best kept secrets.
Day 14 Marari – Kochi Departure
Drive leisurely back to Kochi. Relax or spend the time shopping for souvenirs and gifts, before being transferred to the airport in time for your flight out.
I had attempted to obtain tickets for the Palace on Wheels (POW) from a specialist rail tour company in the United States, only to be informed that the ticket allocation has been exhausted on the date we wanted to travel. I incidentally mentioned this to Andre as part of a broaderPeter Bermingham