Tailor-Made Holiday

India - Highlights of Kerala

Visit Cochin, tea estates, wildlife reserves, the backwaters and beach

Limited OfferFor a limited time only benefit from lower rates and save £1000

13 days

from £2,995pp
Limited Offer
  • Travel to India before March 2018 and take advantage of the savings available.
  • In addition, benefit from complimentary extras from Steppes Travel including VIP arrival, chilled wine at the hotel, upgrade to a higher room category and free Wi-Fi connnectivity when travelling by car.

Kerala competes with Rajasthan as India's most popular destination – and this 13 day itinerary suggestion highlights exactly why.

Arrive into the harbour City of Cochin and travel through the beautiful tea gardens and coffee estates of Munnar, to the wildlife reserve of Periyar and the serenity of Kumarakom. You’ll experience an unforgettable cruise on the backwaters of Kerala, before you have time to relax and unwind on the sandy beach at Marari.

  • Visit the old port city of Cochin, a mixing pot of cultures and religions.
  • Wander through the lush green paddy fields and spice plantations of Thekkady
  • Take a jungle walk in Periyar National Park to see the variety of flora and fauna on display
  • Spend a night on a houseboat and float down the backwater canals

COCHIN

Fly into Cochin via Dubai. With its rich past, Cochin is the oldest European settlement in India, making it an eclectic mix of architectural styles, with Jewish, Chinese and Arabian influences. Hunt for bargains in the local antique shops of Cochin and Fab India for affordable homemade gifts and linens.

PERIYAR AND PLANTATIONS

Spend time in Thekkady, a region adorned with rubber and spice plantations. Take a farm or village walk and taste traditional recipes passed down through the generations. Cooking lessons are available to anyone showing a passion for local Keralan food.

Periyar, located in the Cardamom Hills, lends itself to early morning walks accompanied by forest guides. For the adventurous take to the lake by a bamboo raft for greater chance of seeing more endemic wildlife.

BACKWATERS

Heading to the coast and backwaters of Alleppey, join your houseboat on which you spend the night. A visit to Kerala is not complete without a day or night on the river. Take to the waters on a rice barge for a private cruise where sumptuous meals will be served as you glide along the canals.

COAST

A short drive from the backwaters brings you to the Keralan Arabian coast. Traditionally a fishing village, Marari Beach Resort is the perfect place to unwind after touring. Don’t miss the nightly fish grill – on the beach.

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • International flights
  • Internal flights
  • All accommodation and meals as stated in the itinerary
  • All transfers

what is excluded

  • Gratuities

PLEASE NOTE THE ABOVE FLIGHT COST IS A SUGGESTED FROM PRICE. FLIGHT COSTS WILL BE CONFIRMED AT TIME OF BOOKING. ALL FLIGHTS ARE ATOL PROTECTED.

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fly London to Dubai

Day 2

Fly Dubai to Cochin


Set on a cluster of islands and narrow peninsulas, linked by a network of ferries and bridges, the ancient water city of Cochin (Kochi) reflects the eclecticism of Kerala perfectly. With its rich past and bustling present, it has been the business hub of the region for centuries. Cochin is the oldest European settlement in India, with an amazing blend of architectural styles making it a delightful place to stay.

The influence of Chinese, Jews, Arabs and Europeans is evident throughout Cochin and its people, with colonial houses sitting alongside Chinese fishing nets and an ancient synagogue. Cochin is an attractive city with serene back-waters, lagoons overhung with feathery coconut palms and picturesque islands.

It's always fun to ride on one of the local ferries and visit the wonderful spice markets. Cochin also stages performances of Kathakali, a classical Keralan art.


Evening Kathakali Dance Performance
Witness a spectacular Kathakali dance drama, a Keralan art form that dates back to the 17th century. These performances are famed for their elaborate costumes and colourful makeup.


You will be staying at Malabar House Residency, Bed & Breakfast

Day 3

Half Day City Tour
A city of peninsulas and islands with a mainland centre, Cochin has a magnificent natural harbour, almost in the middle of the city, created by the underwater Malabar mudbanks that ensure calm waters. Visit the famous Chinese fishing nets, Mattancherry Palace and the Jewish Synagogue.


Evening Harbour Cruise
During this sunset cruise on Cochin harbour admire the seaside views of the Fort Cochin, Bolgatty Island, Willingdon Island, the shipyard and the impressive Chinese fishing nets. Though no food and drinks are available on board, you are welcome to bring your own snacks.


You will be staying at Malabar House Residency, Bed & Breakfast

Day 4

Drive from Cochin to Munnar (Road Journey)


Munnar is a popular colonial retreat at an altitude of 1,524 metres.The tea plantations around Munnar thrive due to the cool climate , which provides a welcome relieft from the heat of the plains. The surrounding hills are covered in a dense carpet of tea and are home to some fo the highest tea estates in the world . A short guided stroll or a longer walk through the plantations are a must do, which allows interaction with local tea pickers. The Rajamala National Park is 15 kilometres to the northwest, and is home to the worlds rarest goat, the nilgiri tahr. Munnar is easily accessible from Cochin and shows a different side to coastal Kerala. The town itself is faded but the landscape on the doorstep is perfect for trekking, rafting or adventure sports, or for admiring over a quiet cup of tea.


You will be staying at Windermere Estate, Bed & Breakfast

Day 5

Half Day Sightseeing Tour
Spend time exploring Munnar and the surrounding area, accompanied by a guide. Highlights include a local tea factory, a nearby waterfall and the Eravikulam National Park. There are also plenty of walks in the area ranging from an hour to several hours.


You will be staying at Windermere Estate, Bed & Breakfast

Day 6

Drive from Munnar to Thekkady (Road Journey)


Nestling amongst the lush Cardamom Hills, Thekkady is the gateway to Periyar National Park, one of India's largest reserves. Wild elephants, Indian bison, monkeys and even the elusive tiger are just a few of the park's residents. Thekkady itself was founded on the local spice trade, and visitors can take a trip to working pepper, nutmeg and cardamom farms found around the area, or take a hike through the picturesque tea plantations.


You will be staying at Spice Village, Bed & Breakfast

Day 7

Early Morning Jungle Walk
This morning your guide will take you for a jungle walk. This walk allows you the excellent opportunity to walk on one of the several nature trails to watch birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. The trails, which are normally 4-5km long, pass through some evergreen forests and marshy grasslands. A wonderful experience to hear, smell and feel nature. The walk lasts about three hours.


Elephant Ride at Periyar
Wild elephants roam the jungles of Periyar but are often difficult to get close to. This excursion gives you the opportunity to meet a domesticated elephant to appreciate the sheer size and physical features of these amazing animals and learn something of their nature and way of life. You will watch, or perhaps even assist the mahout with his elephant's care - feeding and giving the elephant a bath. A short ride is also included.


You will be staying at Spice Village, Bed & Breakfast

Day 8

Drive from Thekkady to Kumarakom (Road Journey)


Located on the shore of Lake Vembanad, Kerala's largest lake, is an unhurried backwater with a good share of top end accommodations. In the vicinity is the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, a five-hectare site of a former rubber plantation now home to domestic and migratory birds. A couple of days spent land based on Lake Vembanad is relaxing, with spa facilities, extensive grounds and attractive swimming and dining options. Sunset cruises, rice barges and village walks can be arranged from your chosen hotel.


You will be staying at Coconut Lagoon, Bed & Breakfast

Day 9

Drive from Kumarakom to Alleppey (Road Journey)


Alleppey is the backbone of South India's waterways. A sleepy easy going town sitting on the waters of Lake Vembanad, surrounded by green paddy fields, it is the gateway to the backwaters. A small spit of land divides coastal Alleppey with beachfront hotels from the inland water ways and river banks.


You will be staying at Traditional House Boat, Full board

Day 10

Drive from Alleppey to Mararikulam (Road Journey)


The small fishing village of Mararikulam is only 14 kilometres from Alleppey and just over an hour south of Cochin. It is the perfect place to relax after a tour of Kerala, or when disembarking from your rice barge experience on the backwaters. Marari Beach has a limited selection of hotels, however there are a number of handpicked villa type properties here alongside boutique hotels and Marari Beach Hotel.


You will be staying at Marari Beach Resort, Bed & Breakfast

Day 11

Day at leisure


You will be staying at Marari Beach Resort, Bed & Breakfast

Day 12

Day at leisure


You will be staying at Marari Beach Resort, Bed & Breakfast

Day 13

Drive from Mararikulam to Cochin (Road Journey)

Fly Cochin to Dubai

Fly Dubai to London

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Malabar House Residency

Malabar House Residency

The Malabar House Residency is a pretty, boutique hotel with just 17 rooms and suites....

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Marari Beach Resort

Marari Beach Resort

Sprawled expansively across 25 acres of land, Marari Resort is separated from the sea by a windbreak of stretching palms....

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Coconut Lagoon

Coconut Lagoon

This traditional-style, eco-friendly hotel promising complete escapism....

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Windermere Estate

Windermere Estate

Once the summer resort of the British Government in South India and set at the confluence of three mountain streams, Windermere is a 60-acre Cardamom Plantation known for its excellent hospitality....

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Spice Village

Spice Village

Spice Village is a collection of individual cottages set in a landscaped spice garden in Thekkady, close to Periyar Wildlife Reserve....

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Traditional House Boat

Traditional House Boat

Cruising the serene backwaters of Kerala's canals are the traditional houseboats or ricebarges which have plied the waters for hundreds of years....

View Accommodation

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Destination Experts

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Charlotte Lawton, Sales Consultant

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Joe Parkes, Travel Expert

"It was extremely helpful to work in conjunction with Joe and his much more up to date knowledge of India and arrive at an itinerary which we were happy with. We enjoyed the whole trip and probably what made it special for us was the fact that all the arrangements worked so well and we really didn’t have to worry about anything at all. Even when we decided to make a small change it was dealt with efficiently and promptly. We can't think of anything that would have made our trip more enjoyable."

"The service from start to finish has been excellent. Joe was very quick to respond to any queries and put together an excellent itinerary at short notice."

"A pleasure to deal with Joe. Efficient, helpful, knowledgeable and fun!"

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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