HIGHLIGHTS OF KERALA


13 Days / 12 Nights

KERALA

Kerala, often celebrated as the spice coast of India, is renowned for its distinctive cultural and artistic traditions. This tiny state is rich in natural beauty with plantations growing many of the exotic spices indigenous to India; from cardamom to saffron and turmeric, they can all be found in abundance. A journey through this tropical land, the smallest of all states in southern India, reveals its natural beauty and the influence of the various cultures that traded with the region over the years.
Kerala is no less renowned for its wealth of festivals, from the state festival of Onam to the prestigious Nehru Trophy Boat Race held on Lake Punamada, where magnificent snake boats compete for the prize of winning the world’s most popular boat race.

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KOCHI

Kochi (Cochin), overlooking the Arabian Sea and once a strategic port on the spice route, is an enchanting blend of east meets west. The narrow lanes of Fort Kochi are filled with colonial buildings, which serve as reminders of when the Dutch, Portuguese and British all vied for control of the spice trade. Buy exotic spices in the local market or take a sunset cruise in the harbour to see fishermen work the Chinese fishing nets.
Scratch beneath the surface and Kochi is so much more than the main sights of Mattancherry Palace, the synagogue and the 16th-century St Francis Church. Head off by rickshaw or on foot through the labyrinthine streets to explore its array of local markets: wander along Gujarati Street with its sweet and fruit stalls, discover the amazing collection of cotton items on Marine Drive and visit The International Pepper Exchange, the only place in the world where pepper is the exchange currency.

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THE KERALAN BACKWATERS

A rural, riverine expanse of verdant coconut groves and paddy fields, the Keralan backwaters are one of India’s most enchanting areas and can be explored on a kettuvallam (converted rice boat). Traditionally, the kettuvallams were designed to carry cargo such as spices, and to provide living accommodation for the boatmen. Today, while the historic character of the boats has been preserved, these rice barges have been adapted to offer a unique journey along the waterways.
A backwaters cruise followed by an overnight stay aboard a kettuvallam offers a magical insight into the lifestyle of rural Kerala. Traditional Keralan cuisine is prepared and served on board by one of the boatmen and just before sunset the boat drops anchor for the night. The fishermen then take their nets to the water to begin the night’s fishing.

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LAKE VEMBANAD & KUMARAKOM

The vast, shimmering saltwater lagoon of Lake Vembanad lies between coastal Kochi and the town of Alleppey. A prime fishing ground for the local villagers, it is also an important nesting site for migratory wetland birds from as far afield as the Himalaya and even Siberia. The 5-hectare Kumarakom sanctuary, tucked away in mangrove, paddy and coconut groves, has been specifically set aside to cater for species such as darters, white-breasted water hens and pelicans, as well as Siberian storks, egrets and teals. The best season for birdlife is June to August. Saffron recommends a stay of at least 2 nights at the Kumarakom Lake Resort.

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PERIYAR NATIONAL PARK

Set high in the ranges of the Western Ghats, Periyar National Park is a botanical delight surrounding the picturesque waters of Lake Periyar. The park is home to some 320 bird species and over 60 species of mammals including nearly 1,000 elephants and a healthy population of gaur and wild boar. Although a designated tiger reserve, the tigers can be elusive and hard to spot. The park can be explored in numerous ways, from delightful forest treks seeking the Nilgiri langur to 4x4 safaris. Three-hour night treks can also be arranged. Saffron recommends a stay of at least 2 nights at the Spice Village or at Hills & Hues.

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THEKKADY

Thekkady is set among the endless green slopes of the Cardamom Hills in the spice-growing region of the Western Ghats. The dense jungle and vast plantations of teak, cardamom, tea, rubber and coffee offer perfect respite from the heat of the coastal plains. A guided tour around a spice garden is an excellent way to see how the different spices are grown and to learn about the many uses of the various spices. Thekkady is also home to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, which is famous for its elephants. Saffron recommends a stay of at least 2 nights at the Shalimar Spice Garden.

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MUNNAR

In the shadows of Anamudi, Kerala’s highest peak, the hill station of Munnar stands amid dramatic mountain scenery, surrounded by rolling green tea plantations that were set up in the early 1900s by pioneering Scottish planters. See the tea pluckers at work and learn how tea was first introduced during the British Raj. The Kannan Devan Tea Museum houses some of the old instruments that were used in the production of tea in the early 20th century and provides a comprehensive explanation of the various stages of tea processing. Saffron recommends a stay of at least 2 nights at the Talayar Valley Bungalow or Ambady Estate.

CONTACT US

KERALA

Kerala, often celebrated as the spice coast of India, is renowned for its distinctive cultural and artistic traditions. This tiny state is rich in natural beauty with plantations growing many of the exotic spices indigenous to India; from cardamom to saffron and turmeric, they can all be found in abundance. A journey through this tropical land, the smallest of all states in southern India, reveals its natural beauty and the influence of the various cultures that traded with the region over the years.

Kerala is no less renowned for its wealth of festivals, from the state festival of Onam to the prestigious Nehru Trophy Boat Race held on Lake Punamada, where magnificent snake boats compete for the prize of winning the world’s most popular boat race.


KOCHI

Kochi (Cochin), overlooking the Arabian Sea and once a strategic port on the spice route, is an enchanting blend of east meets west. The narrow lanes of Fort Kochi are filled with colonial buildings, which serve as reminders of when the Dutch, Portuguese and British all vied for control of the spice trade. Buy exotic spices in the local market or take a sunset cruise in the harbour to see fishermen work the Chinese fishing nets.

Scratch beneath the surface and Kochi is so much more than the main sights of Mattancherry Palace, the synagogue and the 16th-century St Francis Church. Head off by rickshaw or on foot through the labyrinthine streets to explore its array of local markets: wander along Gujarati Street with its sweet and fruit stalls, discover the amazing collection of cotton items on Marine Drive and visit The International Pepper Exchange, the only place in the world where pepper is the exchange currency.


THE KERALAN BACKWATERS

A rural, riverine expanse of verdant coconut groves and paddy fields, the Keralan backwaters are one of India’s most enchanting areas and can be explored on a kettuvallam (converted rice boat). Traditionally, the kettuvallams were designed to carry cargo such as spices, and to provide living accommodation for the boatmen. Today, while the historic character of the boats has been preserved, these rice barges have been adapted to offer a unique journey along the waterways.

A backwaters cruise followed by an overnight stay aboard a kettuvallam offers a magical insight into the lifestyle of rural Kerala. Traditional Keralan cuisine is prepared and served on board by one of the boatmen and just before sunset the boat drops anchor for the night. The fishermen then take their nets to the water to begin the night’s fishing.


LAKE VEMBANAD & KUMARAKOM

The vast, shimmering saltwater lagoon of Lake Vembanad lies between coastal Kochi and the town of Alleppey. A prime fishing ground for the local villagers, it is also an important nesting site for migratory wetland birds from as far afield as the Himalaya and even Siberia. The 5-hectare Kumarakom sanctuary, tucked away in mangrove, paddy and coconut groves, has been specifically set aside to cater for species such as darters, white-breasted water hens and pelicans, as well as Siberian storks, egrets and teals. The best season for birdlife is June to August. Saffron recommends a stay of at least 2 nights at the Kumarakom Lake Resort.


PERIYAR NATIONAL PARK

Set high in the ranges of the Western Ghats, Periyar National Park is a botanical delight surrounding the picturesque waters of Lake Periyar. The park is home to some 320 bird species and over 60 species of mammals including nearly 1,000 elephants and a healthy population of gaur and wild boar. Although a designated tiger reserve, the tigers can be elusive and hard to spot. The park can be explored in numerous ways, from delightful forest treks seeking the Nilgiri langur to 4x4 safaris. Three-hour night treks can also be arranged. Saffron recommends a stay of at least 2 nights at the Spice Village or at Hills & Hues.


THEKKADY

Thekkady is set among the endless green slopes of the Cardamom Hills in the spice-growing region of the Western Ghats. The dense jungle and vast plantations of teak, cardamom, tea, rubber and coffee offer perfect respite from the heat of the coastal plains. A guided tour around a spice garden is an excellent way to see how the different spices are grown and to learn about the many uses of the various spices. Thekkady is also home to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, which is famous for its elephants. Saffron recommends a stay of at least 2 nights at the Shalimar Spice Garden.


MUNNAR

In the shadows of Anamudi, Kerala’s highest peak, the hill station of Munnar stands amid dramatic mountain scenery, surrounded by rolling green tea plantations that were set up in the early 1900s by pioneering Scottish planters. See the tea pluckers at work and learn how tea was first introduced during the British Raj. The Kannan Devan Tea Museum houses some of the old instruments that were used in the production of tea in the early 20th century and provides a comprehensive explanation of the various stages of tea processing. Saffron recommends a stay of at least 2 nights at the Talayar Valley Bungalow or Ambady Estate.

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Day 1 : Fly to Kochi (N)

Day 2 : Kochi
Arrive and transfer to the Eighth Bastion for 2 nights. Remainder of the day is at leisure. (N)

Day 3 : Kochi
Visit the highlights of this enchanting port, taking in architectural styles that reveal Arab, Jewish and European influences. Later, visit the Kathakali dance studio. (B)

Day 4 : Munnar
Travel to Munnar and stay 2 nights at the Windermere Estate in the hill country. (B, D)

Day 5 : Munnar
Guided walk through Windermere Estate, taking in the impressive mountain scenery and extraordinary flora and fauna. (B, D)

Day 6 : Morning drive through the Western Ghats to Thekkady. The region is home to moist deciduous forests and marshy grasslands, offering excellent opportunities to spot birds and other wildlife as well as tropical plant life. Stay 2 nights at Spice Village. (B)

Day 7 : Thekkady • Periyar
Morning walking tour of a plantation to learn about the cultivation, growth and processing of spices. This afternoon head to Periyar National Park and take a guided forest walk. (B)

Day 8 : The backwaters
Drive to the backwater region of Kerala. Stay 2 nights at the Coconut Lagoon. (B)

Day 9 : The backwaters
Morning at leisure. Afternoon backwaters cruise in a traditional shikara boat through narrow canals. (B)

Day 10 : Overnight a houseboat
Board a private kettuvallam, a traditional Keralan houseboat. (B, L, D)

Day 11-13 : Mararikulam
Enjoy the relaxed local culture and sandy beaches of Mararikulam, staying for 3 nights at the Marari Beach Resort. (B)

Day 14: Fly to home (B)

GUIDE PRICE $2,725 PER PERSON

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