South India: Explore Kerala

National Geographic Journeys, Kochi to Kochi
Image by G Adventures

Information from G Adventures

Tour description

Discover the tropical luxuriance and eclectic culture of India’s Kerala province, which lies along the rich Malabar Coast. Stroll along picturesque, golden-sand shores; glide through jungle-lined backwaters on a traditional wooden houseboat; and savour one of the most enticing cuisines the country has to offer. Steer off the beaten path on this refreshing journey, exploring rural villages, spending time with local fishermen and farmers, and experiencing the serene charm of southern India.

What's included

  • Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Spice Experience, Thekkady Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Family Cooking Demonstration, Thekkady Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Visit Vembanad Wetlands Conservation Program, Kumarakom Your G for Good Moment: Lunch at Theuvoram Women Empowerment Project, Alleppey
  • Arrival transfer
  • Walking tour of old Kochi
  • Visit a tea factory
  • Wildlife viewing on Periyar Lake
  • Kalaripayatt performance
  • Walking and boat tour of rural villages
  • Houseboat trip on the Kerala backwaters
  • Kathakali cultural performance
  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities

Highlights

  • Learn the true meaning of relaxation on a houseboat cruising kerala's backwaters
  • Discover how fishermen's nets can be an attraction in their own right
  • Learn about spices with a local expert
  • Drool over delicious south indian cuisine with a cooking demonstration

Itinerary

Day 1: Kochi Arrive at any time; your arrival transfer is included.

Day 2: Kochi/Thekkady Set out to explore Kochi, an enchanting port city on the Malabar Coast and the site of the first European settlement in India. Visit Mattancherry Palace—built in the mid-16th century by Portuguese colonists and expanded later on by the Dutch—and venture to the colourful streets of the Jewish Quarter, where antique shops and cafés abound. Then travel to Thekkady, the spice capital of India, and tour a spice and tea plantation with a local expert to understand the medicinal value of the region’s signature spices—from cardamom and nutmeg to vanilla and turmeric—as well as the process of producing black tea, India’s favorite drink.

Day 3: Thekkady Thekkady is also home to Periyar National Park, one of India’s most celebrated elephant reserves. This morning, enjoy a boat ride on the stunning Periyar Lake, looking out for elephants, deer, monkeys, and a variety of rare birds. Afterward, visit the home of a local family for a cooking demonstration and a delicious, spice-filled lunch. Relax this afternoon, or opt to take a nature walk before heading to a local theatre for a performance of a kalaripayattu, an ancient Kerala martial art.

Day 4: Thekkady/Kumarakom Continue to the lush village of Kumarakom on Vembanad Lake, the largest freshwater lake in the state of Kerala. Explore the rural, palm-lined backwaters of this renowned bird sanctuary and hop on a boat to Manjira village, where we’ll meet local villagers and learn about coconut farming and rural customs. Witness a fascinating toddy tapping demonstration and enjoy a refreshing swig of coconut water, straight from the tree.

Day 5: Kumarakom This morning, meet with a representative of the Vembanad Wetlands Conservation Program to learn about the ongoing work by local communities to conserve the lake and surrounding wetlands. This project was created by the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), an organization that National Geographic has collaborated with in the past. Continue by boat to a fish sanctuary established by local fishermen with support from the program, and see firsthand how their traditional ways of collecting and processing clams have become models for the sustainable management of the lake’s resources. Then venture on a private houseboat to enchanting Alleppey, a golden streak of land surrounded by rivers, lakes, lagoons, and canals. Relax on the deck and enjoy the scenery, watching daily life unfold along the water.

Day 6: Kumarakom/Kochi Drive back to Kochi and take a walk in Fort Kochi, a delightful seaside district with vestiges of Portugese, Dutch, and British colonial architecture. Visit a local fish market and explore a maze of stalls selling fresh seafood. This evening, attend a performance of kathakali, the classical dance-drama of Kerala which combines storytelling with acting, dance, and martial arts.

Day 7: Kochi Depart at any time.