Kerala homestay tour, India

“Unique because of its home from home feel with two weeks staying in southern Keralite homestays, with two nights in each, so that you don’t feel like anonymous hotel guests.”

Highlights

Western Ghat Mountains | Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary | Houseboat on Kerala backwaters | Cochin | Olanad

Description of Kerala homestay tour, India

This two week holiday is a tailor made trip that takes you around Kerala’s unique landscapes (coastal areas, watersides and mountains) while also immersing you completely in local culture and contemporary life. You will be accommodated at some of Kerala’s finest homestays along the way staying two nights in each, so you can start to really get a sense of life in this stunning southern state of India. For this reason, we have not included any day trips or sightseeing on the itinerary, leaving you the freedom to plan your days around your journeys between each homestay. And with spots like the Western Ghat Mountains, the hill towns, the harbour city of Cochin and the popular Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, you will not be short of things to do.

One of the finest features of this Kerala homestay tour is not only the innate sense of welcome that you will get from Keralites, but also the superb cuisine prepared by your hosts. Each homestay varies. Some host you within their own homes and others have a separate building within the grounds for their guests. One of the things every visitor should experience in Kerala is staying on a houseboat that takes you through the famous maze of backwaters, and so your itinerary also includes two nights on the water.

We are happy to chat through all options in order to make this tailor made trip work perfectly for you. Regarding the weather, our guests find that the best time to visit Kerala is during the dry season, which falls between October and April. The rains come between May and July, with August and September being green and lush, and with fewer tourists than during the European winter months.

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

Map

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made to suit your dates, budget and requirements
Our top tip:
Be prepared to tip, but don’t expect a thank you. It isn't part of the culture. The idea is that the pleasure is in the giving, not the receiving.
Trip type:
Tailor made.
Solos:
Solo travellers welcome, but surcharge applicable.
Accomm:
Homestay, some within family home, some in separate guest accommodation. Two nights on houseboat.
Included:
Accomm., transfers, chauffeur driven transport throughout in private vehicle with A/C.
Meals:
All breakfasts, 8 nights full board (depending on chosen itinerary).
Vouchers
Accepted
Holiday type

Tailor made holiday

The tour operator offering this holiday is a British company with an intimate knowledge of the destination. All their holidays are tailor made which means that they can create a unique holiday for your individual requirements. They offer a range of accommodation from guesthouses and homestays to the more luxurious hotels. Where possible they use properties that are heritage or characterful. Quality and value are the hallmark of these trips. They are licenced to sell flights from the UK and will search for the best airfare for your dates. If you book flights with them, then the whole holiday will be protected by ATOL. This tour operator is also a member of ABTA – this means that all their holidays adhere to the ABTA Code of Conduct, their finances, insurances etc are checked regularly and if you have a complaint that cannot be resolved there is an arbitration scheme available to you.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Kerala homestay tour, India

By using homestays and small guesthouses on this tour, you are supporting the host families, their staff and the local community. With small numbers of individuals staying in small properties the impact on the environment is reduced, as waste, lighting etc will be minimal. This tour includes a visit to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Periyar is a protected area, is committed to conserving the numbers of tigers and elephants within the reserve and practices community based ecotourism.

Dewalokam Farm Retreat is a homestay with guest accommodation adjacent to the family home. The delightful family (including the two children) are very much involved in making you feel welcome in their home. Dewalokam is a working farm, growing tropical fruits and spices as well as Ayurvedic herbs for its Ayurveda centre. Guests are encouraged to go on nature treks in the surrounding forest or along the adjacent river. This is a great start to this holiday as it is not far from Cochin Airport and gives guests a certain amount of independence / privacy when you may still be getting over the jet lag. There is a small swimming pool using fresh water and no chemicals.

Royal Mist this friendly and popular guesthouse is situated just outside the town of Munnar and walking in the area is a popular activity. There are three guest rooms with great views on the top floor of this family home.

Pepper County a delightful family will welcome you to their comfortable modern home set in a beautiful rural setting not far from the Wildlife Sanctuary of Periyar. Guests are encouraged to take walks in the surrounding area where the Periyar Lake can be seen from the top of the nearby hill.

Emerald Isle is a traditional Kerala home (150 years old) set on the edge of the backwaters. It is a family home with a few rooms set aside for guests. All rooms are on the ground floor and there is a veranda running right round the house. Your host (Vinod) and his family are delightful and guests enjoy simply relaxing at their home. However, if you are looking for things to do a number of activities can be arranged for you – these include traditional paddy harvesting, toddy tapping or paddling around in a small boat.

The houseboat is locally made using traditional methods and natural materials and owned by a local company. All our houseboats adhere to stringent environmental rules and regulations that are in force on the Kerala backwaters.

The Bungalow is the heritage home of Neema and her family. They have two guest rooms on the first floor. Neema is a great cook and prepares traditional Kerala fare. This homestay is situated on Vypin which is on the north side of Cochin’s harbour mouth (Fort Cochin is to the south). The most direct route to Fort Cochin is across the harbour by ferry. Vypin has an 'undeveloped' beach at Cherai . Staying at Vypin offers an opportunity to be close to the sightseeing areas of Fort Cochin and the shops of Ernakulam but away from the busy streets. A perfect compromise – and many people find the adventure of taking the ferry adds to the fun.

Teak House - this homestay is the home of Mr and Mrs Sunil Elias and their adult daughter. The house is set on a sizable plot of land adjacent to the Periyar River and is good for bird watching. Mr Elias is a keen bird watcher and photographer and is happy to share his knowledge with guests. There are three guest rooms and a swimming pool.

The ground handling of this tour is provided by our local agent and we supply him with more than 90% of his turnover. All of the drivers and staff are local people. Thus we have fifteen local families that are directly financially reliant upon us. Our drivers have a contract and are paid a monthly wage. This is very unusual in South India where most drivers are normally employed on a commission-only basis (not easy for such seasonal work). Tailor-made holidays cater for couples or small groups and this means that our customers have the opportunity to interact with the locals.

All of our customers are supplied with detailed information about their holiday. We supply general advice relevant to all customers as well as more specific facts about your particular tour. These documents offer our customers lots of advice and guidance including how to obtain an Indian Visa, which immunisations are recommended, how much to tip people, how to dress appropriately and how to behave in National Parks. We support local charities and invite our customers to do so too (details are supplied with your travel documents).

Reviews of Kerala homestay tour, India

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 15 Feb 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


It is hard to pick out one but we loved the tea plantations - the rolling hills, the vast sea of green, the windy roads, the spices nearby and the history of the sector.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Forget about staying in vast, soul-less hotels with international cuisine and immerse yourself in the culture of Kerala - the people, environment, colours, smells and food are all enticing. Walk through the towns and villages, talk to people and eat in local restaurants.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes as the homestays already had that mentality. Many of the places we stayed in operated a communal tipping policy and this meant that the less visible people benefited and these are the who help make the place you stay so wonderful. It was also great to visit animal sanctuaries and arts events which we understand have been revitalised by tourists visiting them.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was fantastic. We had high expectations and it was better. We are spreading the news that this is the way to travel and the place to travel to.

Reviewed on 03 Feb 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Boating in Back Waters.
Staying in suit at Palm Villa.
Dewalokam Retreat.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Got to like curry, and expect it at least twice a day.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes - I think that our visit did help local people, and we did as little damage to the environment as possible.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


I thought it was very well organised and have no complaints about your company at all. I would certainly consider using you again, and recommend you to other people.

Reviewed on 23 Mar 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The two days in Mumbai at the beginning and the experience of the Indian roads!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Give yourself some time in the itinerary to do nothing which we did at the end with 4 days at a beach homestay and also pack less than you think you need.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes all of the above

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent

Reviewed on 17 Mar 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Early morning walk with guide in Periyar Reserve Forest

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


See above.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent

Reviewed on 16 Jan 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Getting off of the beaten track and being introduced to the real India. Stopping in villages and being with the people who lived there. Staying in heritage properties instead of large hotels, some of the properties we stayed in were palaces and forts and until this day they remain within the same family. I spent my 60th birthday in Devi Garh which is a 18th century Palace, I was spoilt rotten (all arranged unbeknown to me), it started with champagne breakfast and ended with a rose petal filled bath and too many twinkling tea lights to count.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Our trip was a tailor made 3 week tour of Rajasthan staying in heritage properties. It is imperative that before travelling you research the area you want to visit along with the properties you are going to stay in. Work closely with the tour company that you are booking through. India is a huge country, we toured Rajasthan for 3 weeks and only covered a small proportion of it. You also need to remember that India is a poor country so do not expect the standards of the UK. We first visited India 15 years ago and it has certainly come on in that time. Providing you do your research you will not be disappointed.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, most definitely.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


This certainly would be rated up amongst one of the best holidays we have had. Holidays do not come cheap and providing you have researched in the first place you will not be disappointed. India is certainly a magical place and we will return in a few years to another area and I would certainly contact this tour company for their guidance and expertise.

Reviewed on 15 Feb 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


This was a tour of great variety. The agent Gary Tree handpicked for us 'off the beaten track', quirky homestays which fulfilled my brief perfectly. Being an outdoors, country lover type my favourite homestay was the Dewalokam Resort which offered the opportunity to try numerous activities ...yoga, swimming, trekking, massage, cooking. And more! But my husband enjoyed the two nights drifting peacefully through the backwaters on our own private rice barge. Had I been a town lover I would have said The Bungalow on Vypeen Island which was the total home experience and near to the hustle and bustle of Cochin.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Let Gary know precisely your likes and dislikes, country side or town, small or large homestays.....it's up to you. Be prepared for cultural differences. For example, it appears to be polite for someone to watch you eat every mouthful, wait for feedback and be on hand to refill your plate immediately whereas in the UK we leave people to enjoy the meal in peace. Secondly, the Ayurvedic massages are nothing like a massage in UK. They are not soothing and do not use aromatherapy oils just lots of oil. They could be described as an intense rub down and invigorating, you are always naked and sometimes two masseuses work on you in tandem!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes,, absolutely. The drivers, cooks, gardeners, farmers, waiters, cleaners, masseuses we encountered were all locals. So pleasant and keen to please. Care for the environment was a priority every place we stayed. I was very impressed with the huge strides the people of Kerala are making to care for their countryside , the reduction of plastic bags, rubbish clearance, the use of solar power and the transforming of cattle dung into gas for cooking purposes! Just amazing.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


This was a tremendous experience and totally fulfilled my expectations. I fully recommend the UK agents and those in Cochin who kept a close eye on proceedings all the way. I have been on numerous wonderful holidays through Responsible Travel and this is up with the best, so I'll have to say 4 plus!

Reviewed on 12 Dec 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Bathing elephants in the river. Rowing through the backwaters.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Enjoy the interaction with the local people

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Really enjoyable. The homestays exceeded our expectations.

Reviewed on 15 Apr 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The wonderful scenery and the friendliness of the people.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


We only stayed for 2 nights at each location. With hindsight, maybe 3 nights and fewer stops would have been better to really get a feel for each place.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, it definitely benefited local people.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Very interesting, very relaxing; just what a holiday should be.

Reviewed on 13 Apr 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The houseboat trip on the backwaters and meeting and interacting with the local people.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Get off the beaten tourist path and visit with the local people.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Definitely. As well as proving employment and wages to local employment their produce from their farms and gardens were used for our meals.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent! Thoroughly enjoyable, educational but very relaxing.

Reviewed on 30 Jan 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


We came across some elephants being washed in a river being prepared for a temple festival.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be assured that the standards of hygiene in the homestays is good. Beware elsewhere. Take lots of "Deet" anti-mosquito spray.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes and no. We used a lot of diesel travelling around as well as the boat. Air conditioning also used a lot (thank goodness), but not good for the environment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Brilliant.

Reviewed on 22 Mar 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Our stay at Dewalokam Farm Retreat was the most pleasant part of the trip, no effort was spared to make us feel welcome and enjoy every aspect of this beautiful retreat.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Check out your stays very carefully, the boat we were on was very dirty and beds, shower tiles etc were broken there were also enormous cockroaches! The operator seems to get the least attractive rooms everywhere.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


No benefit to any poor people only the owners of the homestays except for Dewalokam whom employed 17 locals. The river where the boats parked at their depot was full of rubbish so big impact on the environment-for the worse.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Disappointing as the houseboat should have been the highlight but ended up the worst. Another homestay was so unwelcoming and dingy that we left and stayed else where at our expense.

Read the operator's response here:

We are sorry that Mrs Conroy did not enjoy her holiday in Kerala. The homestay tour is one of our most popular and this is the first time that a customer has found it disappointing.

Mrs Conroy travelled with her daughter and wanted two rooms but the cost was over budget so she booked twin bedded rooms. However, we understand that on arrival at each homestay they asked to see other rooms and if there were unoccupied rooms demanded to be able to take a second room at a reduced rate. As their holiday progressed we were getting desperate messages from our agent and the homestay owners who were at a loss to know how to please these customers.

One of the homestay owners said ‘even the best service would never make them happy’. The owner of another was out of the county at the time of their visit and told me his hostess was regularly on the telephone in tears saying she did not know what to do to please them. Another homestay owner said ‘your last guest made a lot of trouble… shouting at us… this is the first time we are getting this type of guest’.

The homestay that they left because it was ‘so unwelcoming and dingy’ was full and so did not have a second room to offer them. We were very surprised to see this homestay described as such because other customers have described it as: ‘really special and to be recommended’; ‘enjoyed the warm hospitality and close involvement with the hosts’; ‘host and his wife are delightful’; ‘I can certainly recommend it to anyone’.

I’m sorry they felt that the houseboat was dirty and tiles were broken in the shower. I have taken this up with the houseboat operator. They deny that the boat was dirty and explain that during the busy high season it is extremely difficult to replace tiles that get broken during a cruise. They also reported that these customers tore the mattress cover during their ‘inspection’. Cockroaches are flying insects and although unpleasant are common throughout India. Insects can often be a pest in the backwater area – but this is the first time we have been told of a cockroach on a houseboat.

I would like to assure future customers that we do not get ‘the least attractive rooms’ – in fact our close working relationship with our suppliers means that our customers usually get the best rooms. Homestays, by their nature have only a few rooms and these may differ. Homestay tours are usually about the experience rather than the quality of the room. I would also like to point out that it is not only Dewalokam that employs local people – all the homestays and houseboats are staffed by local people. Rubbish is a problem throughout India – but there are strict regulations that the houseboat operators must adhere to in order to keep their licence and this includes how they dispose of their waste.

I’m saddened that Mrs Conroy and her daughter were disappointed by their holiday and think perhaps a homestay tour in India was not right for them. I would also like to take this opportunity to apologise to all the accommodation owners for the distress this booking caused.

Diana Syrett

Reviewed on 06 Mar 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The whole trip was magical. Each homestay in its own way had its charm. We loved the Dewalokam Resort especially the ayurvedic massage and a memorable dinner lit by hundreds of candles by the river. The boat trip was fascinating. Do not miss a stay at the Parayil Homestead a wonderful old house built by the owner's great grandfather.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


The operator planned a fantastic itinerary be guided by them. Do be bold and potter round the villages on your own.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?




4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Faultless organisation. We did not have a single bad experience. The food was outstanding. One of our memorable holidays.

Reviewed on 01 May 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Houseboat on the backwaters and generally the friendly people of Kerala.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be prepared for the humidity in Kerala - especially if going in April, as we did.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


The "homestays" aspect of the holiday was a definite benefit for the houseowners involved and the local villagers they employed to cook, clean, tend gardens etc. - keeping earnings in the local economy rather than exported elsewhere.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Very good indeed. The organisation ran like clockwork and we were very well looked after. The holiday was 'made' by the personal contact we had with B&B owners who all went out of their way to be helpful, friendly and explain all sorts of interesting things about their lives. We had fascinating tours around their gardens and a number of great cooking demonstrations.

Reviewed on 23 Oct 2009 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The operator arranged an out of this world holiday in one of the most beautiful places on this planet. They gave clear & accurate information of all the places we visited. They need to be congratulated. Will never ever forget this paradise on earth, the people, the staff of CGH group of hotels. Best of of all the absolute jewel of a homestay at Dewalokam Resort. Well done to our hosts Dr.Jose & Sinta. We admire what you are doing. Everything fantastic. Welcome & stay out of this world. Just see their brochure-nothing exaggerated.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Use this operator. They are extremely knowledgeable and they know Kerala like their own home.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Most definately. The CGH hotels are doing a wonderful job.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


First class.

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