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The Spice Trails of Kerala
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Walks Asia India Spice Trails of Kerala

The Spice Trails of Kerala

16 days | From £1,199 | Guided Group Departures

This is the definitive trip to explore the tropical south of India. Trek in the Cardamom Hills and Western Ghats, enjoy a backwater cruise, visit Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and more!

16 days | From £1,199 | Guided Group Departures

  • Treks in the fragrant Cardamom Hills
  • Cruise the tropical lagoons of the backwaters
  • Colourful temples of Madurai
  • Stay on a traditional houseboat
  • Smell traditional spices, coffee and tea

It's no surprise that this varied trek and tour is a favourite. Starting in Kochi it's easy to discover the many different cultural influences of "The Queen of the Arabian Seas". Moving to the magnificent mountains of the Western Ghats, the cool, fragrant mountain air delights the senses with the scents of spices, coffee and tea. Here you explore the lush forests, tranquil plantation trails and former British Hill Stations.

The high point of Meesapulimala is reached by crossing the Silent Valley plateau, before heading to the temple city of Madurai.

A visit to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, home to elephants and tigers, is complemented with a relaxing trip to the lush tropical lagoons of the backwaters, staying on a traditional houseboat.

Map of The Spice Trails of Kerala
Day 1. Depart UK
Depart the UK on an overnight flight to Kochi.
Day 2. Arrive Kochi
Arrive Kochi and meet at the group hotel for a pre-trek meeting. Relax and explore the surrounding area.
Day 3. Day at Kochi
Visit Fort Kochi and watch a cultural performance. Enjoy the combination of Chinese and Portuguese cultural influences among others, in this historic port city.
Day 4. Drive to Thattekkad.
Drive to Hornbill Camp near the lowland forests at Thattekkad. Walk the trails in the forest, through the villages that dot the area and also go on optional kayaking trip on the River Periyar.
Day 5. Drive from Thattekkad to Munnar
Leave the plains and head for the hills. Enjoy an interesting drive as you climb up into the Western Ghats passing tea and spice plantations along the way. Sitting at an altitude of 1600m, Munnar was very much an idyllic haven for the British in the 19th Century with crystal clear lakes, waterfalls, forests and of course the tea estates spread out like rolling, lush, green carpets.
Day 6. Meesapulimala trek
Drive to the trail head and walk through tea estates to reach the natural, wild grassy areas higher up. Ascend the peak of Meesapulimala, the highest point in the area with fine views across Kerala and Tamil Nadu. After a relaxing lunch you continue up through pinewoods, with views of the tea estates below offering a welcome distraction. By late afternoon, you will reach a jeep and be transferred back to our hotel in Munnar.
Day 7. Cross the plateau of the Western Ghats; camp at 'Top Station'
Trek across the plateau of the Western Ghats, enjoying the magnificent scenery along the way. Reaching the higher parts of the plantations and tea estates, you'll pass through authentic villages where you can say hello to the friendly locals. Continue trekking to your campsite at Top Station with a fantastic view of the Western Ghats.
Day 8. Descend from Top Station to reach Centre Station
Descend from the Top Station through sholas to begin with and to reach Centre Station. It's now very much a combination of man-made plantations such as coffee and cotton as well as dense forests. Here in the rich and fertile lands of Tamil Nadu you continue to walk through the village of Kotakuddi, where the landscape gives way to paddy fields and mango plantations. Reaching the road head at Mundan, tonight's camp is in a particularly beautiful place by a large farm.
Day 9. Drive to Madurai and explore this amazing city of ornate, colourful temples
Drive across the plains to reach the colourful city of Madurai, one of the oldest and most fascinating cities in south India. The main attractions here are the musical pillars and the grand pathway. Yet another temple, the Koodal Alagar Temple is devoted to Vishnu and is as old as Madurai itself. It is a perfect place to wander around and experience Hindu culture.
Day 10. To Kerala; Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and walk the Spice Gardens of Kumily
Drive back to Kerala and reach the small village of Thekkady, a centre for spice growing where you can visit the numerous shops selling cardamoms, turmeric and other spices. Continue to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, where it is possible to see large herds of Indian Elephant as well as Nilgiri Langur near Aranya Niwas and the Liontail Macaque in higher areas. In the afternoon a local guide will join you for a short walk through the Spice Gardens at Kumily near Thekkady.
Day 11. A jungle walk through Periyar, home to herds of Indian Elephants
Take a jungle walk with forest guides in the park and admire an abundance of birdlife, including kingfishers and hornbills. The afternoon is at your leisure to relax or you could take an optional boat trip on the Periyar Lake, an ideal opportunity to get close to the animals.
Day 12. To Kumarakom; board houseboat
Descend through fruit and rubber plantations to Kumarakom - Alleppey, on the banks of the inland backwaters of Vembanad Lake. Here you board your houseboat and begin your cruise along the backwaters of Kerala. As your boat meanders through areas of lush tropical vegetation you will have the opportunity to view the prolific bird life and gain a different perspective on village life, watching the local people scare-line fishing.
Day 13. Return to Alleppey
Leave the houseboats and travel to the Heritage Hotel/Homestay, idyllically situated in isolation on the banks of the backwater canals, surrounded by coconut palms and rice paddies. The rest of the day is free to relax. You could explore the village and see coir making (ropes made from coconut fibre), one of the main sources of income for the area. This is an ideal spot for walking through picturesque rural Kerala with its local temples and ancient churches.
Day 14. Return to Kochi, afternoon at leisure
Return to Kochi, where the rest of the day is at your leisure to relax and explore.
Day 15. Depart Kochi
Depart Kochi for your flight back to the UK.
Day 16. Arrive UK
Dependent upon flight schedules your flight will arrive back in the UK today.


  • Trip grade: B - Moderate
  • Duration: 16 days
  • Trip code: TKER
  • GROUP SIZE : 4 - 12 (Max)
  • Max Altitude: 2,640m
  • Meals: 13 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 5 evening meals inc
  • Accommodation: Hotels x 8, houseboat x 1, camping x 4.
  • Departs: September until April
  • IMPORTANT : Make sure your chosen holiday is guaranteed to run before you purchase your air tickets and make any other travel arrangements
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