The Best Tour of Kerala


Day 1: Arrive at Cochin.

You are greeted at the airport and ushered to your vehicle and driven to historic Fort Kochi. Arrive at Fort Kochi in about 1.5 hours and you are assisted with your check-in at your comfortable and charming Hotel if it is 3 PM or later. Since most U.S. originating flights arrive in India late at night, an additional day on arrival can be added to allow for recuperation from jetlag.

Fort Kochi. With its cobblestone streets and colonial-era architecture, the small town tells the many millennia story of the spice trade flourishing, and the unique convergence of diverse cultures over centuries. In the early 16th century, the Portuguese arrived on these shores, establishing Fort Emmanuel, from which Fort Kochi derives its name. The Dutch followed the Portuguese, and constructed numerous buildings and added more diversity to the cuisine and culture. In the 18th century, the British took control.

Spice Trade. Today, Fort Kochi is a charming amalgamation of its historical spice trade roots and contemporary vibrancy. The town’s narrow streets are lined with quaint cafes, art galleries, and boutique hotels that cater to a global clientele. Walking through Fort Kochi, the blend of architectural styles with colonial buildings coexisting with traditional Kerala homes, creating a picturesque and harmonious streetscape. The vibrant murals and street art add a contemporary touch, reflecting the town’s thriving artistic community.

(Overnight – Fragrant Nature)

Day 2: Cochin.

This day will start with a short walk or drive to the most photogenic of Cochin’s attractions, the Chinese fishing nets. Folklore will have it that these enormous nets (or at least their design) were brought here by famed Chinese explorer Zhang He about 600 years ago. Local fishermen manipulate these massive nets with an ease that comes from centuries of generational experience. Ownership of the net and its prized location is handed down from generation to generation. The lowering and raising of the nets, with the fishermen deftly walking up and down the angled wooden poles and manipulating them in and out of the water with thick, well-worn ropes, has a synchronicity and rhythm that is fascinating to observe.

Continue exploring more with an 8-to-10-minute walk through historic Fort Kochi’s charming streets and alleys that are surrounded by Portuguese, Dutch and British architecture, and full of chic small cafes, boutique stores, art galleries, and a lot more. Arrive at Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica and experience its impressive collection of colorful artworks. A 5 minute walk from here will bring you to the St. Francis Church, which was established by the Portuguese Franciscan Friars in 1503. This is the first European church built in India, and the famous Portuguese explorer, Vasco Da Gama, the first European to reach India by sea, was buried in its courtyard for a few years before his remains were returned to Portugal.

A 2-minute walk will bring you to David Hall, a 17th century historic building that has been painstakingly restored and houses a rotating selection of art exhibits, mainly focusing on young artists. We recommend the excellent and popular small café in the building as your stop for lunch, if you are hungry, but there are other alternatives that you can discuss with your Guide. Here the focus is on casual Indian and western cuisine and drinks, including woodfired thin crust pizza’s prepared in an Indian clay oven – we strongly recommend trying the seafood topped ‘Fort Cochin’ Pizza!

After lunch you will proceed on a 10-minute drive through Fort Kochi, arriving at the Dutch Palace which was actually built by the Portuguese in 1555 and is famous for its detailed carved wooden murals depicting scenes from the Ramayana and the Puranic legends. Also known as Mattancherry Palace, this is an unattractive squat building that bears no similarity to the opulence of other palaces, or even mansions, in India. Very near the palace is the Jewish Synagogue which was built in 1568 and is still an active house of worship for the few remaining Jews in the area.

To get to the synagogue you will walk on Jew Street which runs through Jew Town – ancient street signs still identify these names! Fort Kochi’s ancient and colorful Jew Street now has antique stores and souvenir and art outlets. There was a Jewish presence in Kochi from 70 A.D. and the charming synagogue you will visit once was a busy house of worship for the locals.

Optional: In the evening you are driven to an experience that is extremely highly rated by many of our guests. You will be hosted by a famous Keralan Chef and her family at their home. A Keralan cuisine cooking lesson will be followed by a delicious dinner, along with an interesting conversation about life in historic Fort Kochi. You will be asked about this option soon after reserving your tour.

(Overnight – Fragrant Nature)

Day 3. Ft. Kochi – Backwaters of Kerala (Kumarakom).

You are assisted with your checkout and now you will enjoy a Public Ferry Experience. In the afternoon you will board the ferry to Vypin Island and enjoy the fascinating 10-minute cruise across as you observe locals using the ferry as they go about their daily activities. Disembark at Fort Vypin and you will now visit the village of Cherai, starting with the 19th century Azheekkal Sree Varaha Venkateswara Temple – the temple Ratha (Chariot) is unique and very impressive. Also visit the remnants of the Portuguese Fort, which was built in 1503 and is the oldest European structure in India. You will also stop at the Pallipuram Church, completed in 1577 by the Portuguese. There are some interesting artifacts in the church. This exploration is followed by a walk on Cherai beach that allows you to experience coastal Keralan culture.

Drive to the Kerala Backwaters. You are driven an extremely scenic 1.5 hour drive to the best area of the magical Backwaters of Kerala. Arrive at Kumarakom and check-in to your wonderful lakefront resort. GH Coconut Lagoon is a serene and picturesque retreat nestled along the banks of the tranquil Vembanad Lake. This eco-friendly resort is a haven of natural beauty, combining traditional Kerala architecture with modern amenities spread over a vast area of lush greenery, dotted with coconut groves on the backwaters.

The backwaters are teeming with wildlife, including a variety of bird species, making it a paradise for bird watchers. The resort has an in-house Ayurvedic center where guests can consult with experienced practitioners. The resort’s butterfly garden is worth visiting, as is indulging in the various activities offered here.

(Overnight – Coconut Lagoon)

Day 4: Kumarakom - Backwaters Cruise - Kumarakom.

Just before noon you are assisted in boarding your Resort Houseboat for a private backwaters cruise. Most descriptions and photographs of the backwaters illustrate the incredible lushness and beauty of the vegetation around the fresh water canals, rivulets and lakes, with the charming water bodies and the abundance of coconut trees and other exotic plants creating a subtropical environment not found elsewhere on this planet. To many of our guests the most charming part of their cruise is the opportunity to be part of a unique way of life that hasn’t changed much for a few centuries, because you are literally seeing life as the locals have lived for a long time in this area. Although now there are small dirt and paved roads leading to most homes and other structures, the residents of this area have always depended on the waterways for most of their movement from one place to another, and this practice continues today.

What are streams to you are their streets and alleys, and much of the time you are cruising through their backyards. You will witness men, women and adolescents rowing themselves to their destination, children in crisp uniforms being rowed back from school, women doing their laundry and dishes by hand in the fresh water streams, fishermen and produce sellers rowing up to the backdoors of the small homes to sell their wares to housewives, farmers in their water-soaked fields, pier-stations with passengers waiting for the commuter longboats that ply these waters, children swimming and playing in the shallower streams, and a whole lot more. As you take in the amazing cornucopia of visual delights, the cook and other staff make sure that all your needs are taken care of, while serving you with freshly made local cuisine for lunch.

At sunset, when all houseboats on the backwaters anchor on the shores of the lake, you will disembark from your houseboat directly at the jetty of your magical lakefront resort.

(Overnight – Coconut Lagoon)

Day 5: Kumarakom – Thekkady Spice Country (Periyar National Park).

You are assisted with your check-out from your resort by the late morning and driven to Thekkady. Much of this drive is through the incredible Western Ghats and you will have photo opportunities at pastoral hamlets and various lush plantations that grow tea and other crops. Arrive at Thekkady and check-in to your wonderful scenic nature resort. This is the heart of spice country and the pleasant, mild aroma from the surrounding plantations will fascinate you when you arrive. You will never taste the freshness of the premium spices used here in the delicious food the chef’s serve here.

Periyar National Park is located around a picturesque artificial lake that was formed in 1895 by building a dam on the Periyar River. The terrain is hilly and the elevation of the park ranges from a few hundred feet to about 6,000 feet above sea level. The lake occupies the valleys of the thickly forested hills serving as a permanent source of water for wildlife in the park. Although it falls under Project Tiger, the main attractions of the park are definitely elephants. Periyar is home to just under a thousand elephants and also more than 60 other mammal species including tigers, bison, deer, wild boar and wild dog. There are more than 300 species of birds, and even 160 species of butterflies. Prominent among the birds are Cormorants, Kingfishers, Darters, the great Malabar Hornbill, and the racket-tailed Drongoes.

Malabar Spices. Thekkady is a great stopover on this itinerary for a variety of reasons, only one of them being the National Park. The Spice plantations are another reason to stop here, as is the fact that this rural area happens to be located in one of the most picturesque parts of the Western Ghats.

(Overnight – Spice Village)

Day 5: Thekkady (Periyar).

Start your day with a drive up to Lake Periyar and embark on a join-up cruise, along with your guide, on the spectacular lake. The scenery is both gorgeous and surreal, as ancient tree stumps still protrude from the waters of the 26-square-kilometer lake. Although Lake Periyar is officially a Tiger Reserve, chances of you seeing a big cat here are almost non-existent. What is very common is to see elephant herds as they come to the lake to drink, or as they traverse the terraced hills surrounding the lake. Wild boar is also a common sight. Return to your resort after this for breakfast.

Spice Plantation Naturalist Tour. In the late morning you will visit to a neighboring spice plantation where an experienced naturalist will guide you through scores of different spice plants and illustrate their medicinal and gastronomical properties.

You are at leisure for remainder of the afternoon to enjoy your scenic pastoral resort and its surroundings, or you can explore the charming rural town and region with your Guide and vehicle. Walks in the town The flora (and other attractions) of your nature resort is very impressive, as are the nearby spice shops that sell locally grown products. The resort staff will be happy to give you a guided tour of the variety of plants and trees there, as well as their organic gardens. Upon request you can spend time with the chefs who will give you insights into the preparation of the delightful local cuisine that they offer. There is also a great Ayurvedic Spa that you can try – advance reservations are recommended.

(Overnight – Spice Village)

Day 6: Thekkady – Cochin – International Flight Or Flight to Delhi or Mumbai.

Check out from your resort in the morning and enjoy the fascinating drive through the incredibly scenic rain forests of the Western Ghats as you head for Cochin. Again, this is one of the most beautiful drives in all of South India. There are some international flights out of Cochin Airport, or you can fly to Delhi or Mumbai (optional) and connect with your international flight. You are driven to Cochin Airport at the appropriate time for your flight.

Additional services, including airport lodging in Cochin, Delhi, or Mumbai can be added once your international departure details are known.

Our services end at Cochin Airport.



Lodging

Fort Kochi
Fragrant Nature – Duke’s Chamber
Backwaters
Coconut Lagoon – Heritage Bungalow
Periyar
Spice Village – Spice Garden Cottage

Inclusions
* Daily breakfast at all the hotels.
* Lunch on the houseboat in Kerala.
* Boat ride for wildlife viewing on Lake Periyar in Kerala
* Spice Plantation tour with naturalist
* Applicable monument entrance fees as per the itinerary
* All other meals as specified
* Hotel check-in is at 3pm and checkout is at noon for almost all the hotels
* All transfers and sightseeing by personal upscale Vehicle
* Availability of an Easy Tours Travel Facilitator at all destinations
* Services of the best English speaking local guides at all destinations.
* Services of ETI Travel Facilitators for all airport arrivals and departures and associated hotel check-in’s and check-outs.
* Bottled water during sightseeing/excursions and other drives
* All currently applicable taxes.


Not Included
* International Travel
* Expenses of a personal nature like tips, laundry, telephone calls, drinks etc.
* Meals other than those specified above
* Travel insurance, visa etc.
* Camera fees - still and video

Pricing

Land Cost for Double Occupancy
$2900* Per Person

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