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!
It’s no surprise that this varied trek and tour is a favourite at Walks Worldwide. 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 can 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 Kerala Backwaters, staying on a traditional houseboat.
Depart the UK on an overnight flight to Kochi.
Arrive Kochi International Airport. Rendezvous at the group hotel in Kochi in time for a vist to Fort Cochin at 1500.
Drive to Hornbill Camp near the lowland forests at Thattekkad. Walk the trails in the forest and through the villages that dot the area. There is also an opportunity to take an optional kayaking trip on the River Periyar.
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 1,600 metres, 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.
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 be transferred by jeep back to your hotel in Munnar.
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 and friendly locals. Continue trekking to your campsite at Top Station with a fantastic view of the Western Ghats.
Today begins with a vehicle transfer from the camp to the start point of Bl Ram where you will initially be trekking through grasslands until you reach the boundary of Mathikettan Shola National Park.
Today is the most technically demanding, with the terrain being steep. Beginning with a climb of approximately 150 metres to the top of the mountain pass, at approximately 2,200 metres altitude. Weather permitting, from the summit you will have fantastic views over the vast plains of Tamil Nadu state.
Today's route involves a gradual incline, followed by a steep incline, a steep rocky descent, another steep incline protected by shrubbery and finally a slow, gradual descent through elephant territory.
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. One of the temples - 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.
Drive to the small village of Thekkady, a centre for spice growing where you can visit the numerous shops selling cardamom, 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.
Take a jungle walk with forest guides in the Periyar National 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 wildlife here.
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.
Leave the houseboats and travel to your 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.
Return to Kochi, where the rest of the day is at your leisure to relax and explore.
Depart Kochi on an overnight flight back to the UK.
Day 16: Arrive UK
Price and Other Information
- Duration and price excluding international flights: 14 days from £1,649 per person
- Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 16 days from £2,399 per person
- Single room supplement: From £399
- Walking grade: Moderate
- Guiding: Guided Group Private-Guided
- Max alt: 2,640m
- Group size: 4-16
When to go: View Dates & Prices
- Hotel x 8 nights, houseboat x 1 night, camping x 4 nights
- 13 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 5 dinners
- Experienced English speaking guide
|Year||Starts||Ends||Price From (Exc. Flights)||Holiday Status||Options|
|All prices are per person. All our guided group trips have the option to be taken as a private guided itinerary. * Available: this holiday is available to book. ** Guaranteed: this holiday is available to book and is guaranteed to run.|
|2019||13 Oct||26 Oct||£1,649||Available*||Book or Enquire|
|2020||12 Apr||25 Apr||£1,649||Available*||Book or Enquire|
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