The Essence of Kerala Tour is an 11 day private tour showcasing the must see highlights of Kerala. Your Kerala holiday starts from the colonial port city of Cochin exploring the heritage quarters of Fort Cochin & Mattancherry, then heads inland to discover the tea plantations in Munnar and wildlife sanctuary in Periyar, before heading back towards the coast for the palm-fringed Kerala backwaters and the inviting Kovalam beach.
Please remember all our private tours are designed to meet your exact requirements, and this Kerala tour is just an example to help inspire you.
The Essence of Kerala Tour truly encapsulates the best of Kerala taking you on a journey through the highlights of this unique and extraordinary state.
On this 11 day Kerala holiday you will explore the diverse architecture of Cochin, visit a wildlife sanctuary to catch sight of wild elephants and journey through the tropical landscape enjoying its lush spice, rubber and tea plantations. Then as your trip concludes relax on your own fully crewed houseboat as it drifts through the beautiful Kerala backwaters followed by a wonderful stay at a superior Kovalam beach resort.
Upon arrival at Cochin International Airport, you will be welcomed by your Authentic India Tours representatives who will transfer you to your hotel, located in the city’s historic district, Fort Cochin.
The port city of Cochin (also known as Kochi) offers a captivating mix of cultures and is a wonderful place to explore.
In the evening, enjoy a boat trip past Cochin’s island shores. As the sun sets, you will see the famous cantilevered fishing nets. It's fascinating to watch the fishermen skilfully dip the hammock-like nets into the water, silhouetted against the orange and pink sky.
Today, you get to explore Cochin, a melting pot of cultures, religions and nationalities. You will see St Francis Church, which is the oldest European church in India, as well as the lavish 16th century Jewish Synagogue. Then you can explore the Mattancherry Palace, also known as the Dutch Palace due to its colonial influences. It also houses colourfully painted murals depicting the ancient Indian poem Ramayana.
The afternoon is at leisure, so you may wish to wander around the quaint cobbled streets which house a number of interesting antique shops.
This evening you will experience a traditional Kathakali performance, a Kerala classical dance famed for its colourful costumes and athletic movements.
The second destination on your Kerala holiday is Munnar, a hill station perched high in the Western Ghats mountain range. Its cool, refreshing climate made it a popular summer retreat for colonial settlers generations ago. On the drive to Munnar you will be surrounded by a carpet of greenery with emerald green tea plantations and sandalwood forests, while the aromatic spice plantations gently infuse the air with the scent of cinnamon and cardamom.
This evening, either stay at the Ambady Estate where you can take a stroll around the plantation and learn about the history, cultivation and processing of the spice or the modern Fragrant Nature Hotel which offers stunning views over the neighbouring countryside.
Approximate travel time and distance: 4 – 5 hours, 150 kms
Today be prepared for stunning views and scenery. In the morning you can visit a tea museum and tea factory, where you will gain a fascinating insight into the region’s tea production, from crop-picking to flavour adjustment.
Later explore the verdant landscape of Munnar on a trek in the Letchmi Hills. After making your way up through tea and spice plantations, you will be rewarded by a breathtaking view of the surrounding countryside, dominated by the region’s tallest mountain, Anamudi Hill. Shorter treks and walks, a scenic drive or a visit to Munnar and its busy market can easily be arranged if you prefer
This morning your tour takes you to Periyar, home to one of India’s best-kept wildlife sanctuaries. As you are driven down winding mountain roads, you will be greeted with the sight of undulating emerald tea plantations and misty forests.
This afternoon you will have time to explore the spice town of Periyar or relax by the pool at your hotel. Then, in the evening learn more about the spices grown in this region with a fascinating visit to a local spice garden. For the animal lovers among you, there is also an optional elephant ride.
Approximate travel time and distance: 3 - 4 hours, 100 kms
If you are interested in heritage you may wish to add an extra night to visit Madurai. It takes approximately 4 hrs from Munnar to Madurai and from Madurai to Periyar the following day but you will experience the contrasting state of Tamil Nadu, amazing scenery and the ancient monuments of Madurai.
If it’s wildlife you’re looking for, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the best places to go in South India, not least because it’s a prime habitat for the elephants. For those in search of an adventure, rise early to navigate the Periyar Tiger Reserve on foot with a local tribal tracker, looking out for tiger prints in the soft ground, or a flash of golden fur in the distance.
One of the highlights of the trip is a late afternoon boat ride on Lake Periyar. From the comfort of the boat, it’s possible to see wildlife in their natural habitat. Watch herds of wild elephants and bison emerge from the woods bordering the shores to drink and play in the lake. The area is also home to lion tailed macaques, sloths, malabar giant squirrels and many other animals, as well as being rich in bird life.
Today you leave the biodiverse mountain region of the Western Ghats and travel towards the picturesque village of Kumarakom, located on the South Eastern shore of Vembanad Lake.
Kumarakom is an oasis of calm, hidden in the Kerala backwaters, a network of canals, lakes and coconut groves. The calm waters, verdant surroundings and abundant wildlife makes it the perfect spot to unwind. In the evening, enjoy a sunset cruise on Vembanad Lake, where you will see birds gliding across the calm surface of the lake.
Approximate travel time and distance: 4 hours, 150 kms
Spend a laid back morning going on a gentle stroll around the lake, relaxing by the pool, or indulging in any of the other activities that your hotel has to offer, such as yoga classes or bird watching.
After that it’s time for a once in a lifetime experience – an overnight stay on a luxury houseboat. You will board your private houseboat from the hotel's jetty, then just sit back and relax as an expert driver navigates you across Vembanad Lake and down the narrow canals of the backwaters. As you drift along the water, keep an eye out for electric-blue kingfishers, snake birds and herons and take in glimpses of village life on the backwaters.
An on board cook will cater for your every need, serving up Keralan delicacies, dishes infused with spices, aromatic curry leaves and fresh coconut. You’ll be lulled to sleep by the sound of the water and the gentle rocking of the boat. In the morning you’ll find yourself in Alleppey, known as the ‘Venice of the East’ due to its network of narrow canals.
After a leisurely breakfast, disembark from your houseboat at Alleppey Boat Jetty. You will be met by your driver and continue on to Kovalam, the last stop in your Kerala holiday.
Kovalam is one of the most picturesque beaches in Kerala. Walk through a line of coconut groves to discover an expanse of golden sand. Then you can dip your feet in the clear blue waters of the Arabian Sea, and listen to the waves lapping against the shore.
For two nights you will be staying at the Travancore Heritage, a superior beach resort with stunning views overlooking the Arabian Sea.
Approximate travel time and distance: 4 - 5 hours, 180 kms
The last couple of days of your Kerala adventure gives you the opportunity to while away sun kissed hours on the beach, interspersed with refreshing dips in the ocean.
The hotel’s Ayurvedic centre offers relaxation therapies and massages to help you completely unwind before the journey home.
There will also be time to indulge in some retail therapy. Visit Kovalam town to search the shops for some Indian handicrafts, unique jewellery or colourful clothes. And why not end the day at one of the restaurants overlooking the sea, sampling the freshly caught fish of the day.
On the last day of your Essence of Kerala tour, you will be collected by your Authentic India Tours driver, who will transfer you to Trivandrum International Airport for your return flight.
Approximate travel time and distance: 30 minutes, 20 kms
If you wish to return from Cochin International Airport this is a longer transfer of about 6 hours which can easily be arranged. Alterntively you can take an internal flight.
Accommodation wise you will enjoy a fantastic mix of both old and new India on this Kerala tour. Your stay will include a centrally located heritage hotel in Fort Cochin, beautiful cottages that border the Periyar Tiger Reserve, a private houseboat with your very own crew, an award winning lakeside resort as well as a superior beach hotel.
With history dating back to 1775 Malabar House became Fort Cochin’s first boutique hotel in 1996. Offering 17 unique rooms and suites, as well as an acclaimed restaurant and wine lounge, its décor showcases a fine collection of art highlighting the culture of Kerala. Situated in the historical Fort Cochin, near St Francis Church and a short walk to the Chinese fishing nets the location is ideal for sightseeing and shopping.
Ambady Estate is located in the Western Ghats and covers 70 acres of beautiful land surrounded by the Parvathy Hills and Sahya rainforest. This unique plantation is ideal for nature lovers and offers a peaceful retreat. Capturing the essence of India and focussing on being at “one with nature”, you can enjoy natural organic produce in an environment created from locally sourced materials. Spacious cottages with modern bedrooms, living areas and private gardens make up the accommodation.
Enveloped in mist covered mountains, Fragrant Nature offers accommodation with impressive panoramic views. All rooms benefit from a fireplace, to keep out the mountain chill, as well as features ranging from private terraces or balconies. For a unique dining experience guests can enjoy the unrivalled scenery from Glass House, a restaurant specializing in grills and steaks, where the views are endless and even more spectacular under starry skies.
Bordering the Periyar Tiger Reserve and boasting glorious views and scents of the surrounding spice plantations, Cardamom County is located in the mountains of the Periyar Forests. The beautifully presented cottages each have a private verandah or balcony and are built on different levels following the natural curves of the land. With a restaurant set in an open air terrace, gym, swimming pool and spa facilities, Cardamom County offers a truly relaxing break. It is also conveniently located close to the local town.
The award-winning Coconut Lagoon is located in a charming cove in Kumarakon on the Vembanad Lake, offering a unique and delightful setting. A scenic boat ride from a private jetty to reach Coconut Lagoon will ensure you witness beautiful Kerala scenery and get a wonderful introduction to this captivating resort. No two rooms are the same, they are quirky and inspiring, offering guests an experience like no other.
Described as the 'Venice of the East', Allepey is a dreamland of interlinking canals and rivers and what better way to explore the exquisite Kerala backwaters than on a Houseboat? Offering an enchanting experience the houseboats are constructed from local and natural materials including bamboo, ropes and coconut fibre and are up to 120 feet long. With an onboard crew to cater to your needs you can sit back, relax and enjoy the cruise.
The Travancore Heritage is a sea side resort situated in 15 acres of coconut gardens overlooking the Arabian Sea and the widest beach strip in the country. Representing the traditional architecture of Kerala the accommodation on offer, including traditional timber houses and ‘Nalukettus’, endorses living in harmony with nature. A stunning open house restaurant overlooking the swimming pool offering delicious cuisine and ‘ocean grill’ beach side restaurant ensure culinary delights.
Your Kerala tour features some of the region's most stunning destinations, including the stunning Western Ghats and tea plantations of Munnar, the Kerala backwaters and the unbeatable Kovalam beaches. Below are some of the destinations you will explore on this tour.
Cochin, also known as Kochi, is a port city located on an extensive network of waterways in the state of Cochin. It has been one of the primary gateways to the region for distant merchants and travellers since 1341. Cochin is a great place to start your Kerala holiday offering beautiful hotels, wonderful culture and architecture, friendly people and the opportunity for some retail therapy.
Standing at a heady 1,532m above sea level, the majestic town of Munnar is sure to captivate even the most sceptical visitor, just as it did the British colonial settlers generations ago when they visited each summer seeking reprieve from the heat of the Keralan valleys below.
If you've ever dreamed of seeing elephants roaming free, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary offers you the chance of experiencing these beautiful animals in the wild from the comfort of a covered boat or car tour, without disturbing their way of life.
Hidden in the backwaters off the South Eastern end of Vembanad Lake in Southern Kerala is the small village of Kumarakom. Calm waters, lush greenery and abundant wildlife ensure that this is the perfect spot for total relaxation. The area offers beautiful quality award winning hotels and is ideally located to enjoy the Kerala backwaters. As you drift peacefully up and down the canals, spot the storks and flamingos from the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary soaring overhead and watch the fish schooling in the clear waters beneath you. Local merchants conduct their business in canoe-like craft on the water, while expert fishermen dive to catch coveted karimeen with their bare hands.
Known as the ‘Venice of the East’, Alleppey is the gateway to the Kerala backwaters, an intricate network of lakes and waterways. Here you’ll find thousands of houseboats, converted rice barges with distinctive curved roofs. Float along the backwaters on one of these luxury boats, gazing out onto the lime green paddy fields, coconut palms and tranquil villages that line the water’s edge. Watch the sun set on the water and fall asleep lulled by the gentle rocking motion of the boat.
What do you picture when you imagine a Kerala beach? Coconut groves speckling the shoreline, golden sands stretching away from you, azure waves lapping your feet as you stroll along, the sound of fishing boats bobbing in the distance? Well, you’re in luck because Kovalam is all of the above and so much more. If simply relaxing on a sunbed is not your cup of tea, there are plenty of watersports to keep you busy. Then, after a long day’s relaxation, sampling the day’s catch at one of the restaurants overlooking the sea is a must. Kovalam truly is a perfect rest stop.
The price guide for this 11 day Kerala tour is
Please be aware some hotels operate an additional peak pricing rate during busy times. This is normally from mid December to mid January. Please get in touch with your dates and we will be pleased to provide you with an accurate quote.
Prices vary depending on number of people, length of tour, accommodation & season. Reductions are normally available for groups of three or more.
This is a private tour and can be tailor made to meet your exact requirements.
Price does not include:
Prices mentioned above are per person based on two people sharing a twin-room. The prices which were valid at the time of publication, may be subject to change, based on your date of travel and local market fluctuations. You will be informed of any price differences prior to booking.
For a quote based on your dates of travel, any alternative accommodation or changes to this itinerary, please call us on 01792 315499 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org