Kerala tailor made holiday, 11 days

“Kerala is more mellow than northern India and its cultural highlights, beaches and wildlife can be enjoyed on this pleasantly paced 11-day trip, which marries relaxation with seeing sights.”

Highlights

Cochin | Periyar National Park | Nature walk with park guides | Kumarakom | Lake Vembanad | Varkala | Alleppey day houseboat cruise | Luxury accommodation throughout

Description of Kerala tailor made holiday, 11 days

Avoid the hustle and bustle India experience with this signature Kerala tour, which takes in the region’s beautiful highlights in 11 days. Gain an insight into the culture and wildlife of Kerala, but also enjoy some serious mellow time in between! No wonder this trip is a real favourite with our regular travellers!

Your trip begins in the ancient port city of Cochin, where you spend two nights. The influence of Dutch, Portuguese and Chinese settlers can still be seen here and you can visit synagogues, temples and churches in this fascinating cultural melting pot. You can also see the gravestone of Vasco de Gama, the explorer who discovered the sea route from Europe to India. Back at your hotel, enjoy a relaxing soak in your tub and gaze out of the window, watching for dolphins swimming in the glittering waters beyond.

From here, head to the interior. Periyar National Park is home to tigers, monkeys, antelope and a significant population of elephants. Once here, take an interpretive nature walk with park guides, then enjoy some relaxation, breathing in the scent of tropical flowers and the spices that are hanging in the plantation around your accommodation. Swim in the pool, relax in the shade of the palms, listen out for Macaque monkeys in the trees and spot butterflies.

Then take a scenic drive back to the coast for a stay at a beautiful resort near the emerald-green waters of Lake Vembanad. Here you can relax in your pool-side villa with its own private bathing cove or take a sunset cruise on the lake. You might also enjoy an Ayurvedic massage.

Finally, spend four nights in Varkala. From here, take a drive to Allepey for a day-long houseboat cruise along the canals and waterways of this region. While staying in Varkala you can feast on beautiful Keralan food and stroll the wide beaches. Each morning, watch as the fishermen take their boats out to sea, with the promise of fresh fish for dinner, too! Or simply relax in a hammock amid the coconut palms, dozing to the rhythm of crashing waves.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
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Responsible tourism

Kerala tailor made holiday, 11 days

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.

Environment

Responsible resorts
Your tour will include stays at two CGH Earth Hotels (Spice Village and Eighth Bastion) that offer tourism respectful of nature and local ethos, in search for new harmonies. The CGH Earth Hotels adopted the construction methods of the Ooralie tribe of Periyar and the fishermen of Mararikulum and made them their own.

Spice village in Thekkady for example is a work of nature as much as it is a lofty expression of the imagination. The resort was conceived as a village and its building was approached in the way you would a village - with local materials, native artisans, mountain spirit and traditional wisdom in its creation. Though traditional in its conception, this is a ‘village’ that offers you all the comforts of a city minus the noise, pollution and other urban ills that you can do without. Their interaction with the ecology of these hills is symbiotic, influenced by the native people of these parts who have lived in harmony with their surroundings for generations. They taught them about self-sustaining systems and also steward their organic gardens that put fresh vegetables, fruits and spices on your tables every day.

CGH removed around 12,000 plastic bottles of packaged water from their waste stream each year. These have been substituted with glass bottles filled with RO treated drinking water for the rooms and restaurant. Likewise, the in-room toiletries are kept in earthenware containers, further reducing the need to rely on plastic.

Kerala has taken a deeper interest in increasing locally produced food and organic foods in the last years. The state is now meeting over 70% of its demand for vegetables on its own compared with just 20% a few years ago. Large tracts of land are now being converted for organic cultivation. Initiatives by government agencies, social organisations and farmers are all participating in what is becoming an organic farming revolution in Kerala, that will not only benefit the environment but also your health.

Wildlife
The greenest state of India offers shelter to some of the best and rarest plant, bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species. Naturally there are many wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala that have been developed to look after and preserve the wide variety of birds and animals.

During your stay in Kumarakom you will visit the Vembanad Lake, the largest fresh water lake in Asia located in Kottayam. Kottayam is a vast network of several rivers and canals that drains water into the large expanse of the Vembanad Lake. The lake supports the large variety of flora and fauna, from mangrove forests, emerald green paddy fields and coconut groves to white lillies. You can also visit the famous Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary on the eastern bank of the Vembanad Lake.

Kumarakom, the clump of small islands on the Vembanad Lake, has launched a Responsible Tourism model, linking the local community to the hospitality industry and has won the national award for the best rural tourism project. Kerala Tourism’s “Responsible Tourism” model at Kumarakom also got the biggest international recognition when it was conferred the top United Nations Award, UNWTO Ulysses Award, for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance.

We believe that there are a thousand small ways to give back more than we take from the earth. We are trying to keep the extra unneeded waste to a minimum in all our tours and actively promote that our guides educate local families that they visit with you to do the same.

Community

The CGH resorts we select for you endeavor to employ people from local community, be it the naturalist who guides you through the wilderness or the therapist who rejuvenates your mind and body. CGH instituted community based programmes that helped rehabilitate poachers and smugglers. Local tribes were taught organic farming techniques, which helped them to prosper and preserve their way of life. CGH Earth have adopted the local culture and way of life as a form of respect for the local heritage and traditional modes of living. They set up market mechanisms such us purchasing produce from the local community only.

Local Culture
In Kochi, our experienced local guide will take you on a very special tour in Fort Cochin, providing you with rare and researched inisights about culture, heritage and spiritual history of the the city and its diverse buildings. We will take you for example to the oldest synagogue in all the Commonwealth of Nations, the Paradesi Synagogue, built in 1568. It is run by the last and only Jewish woman in India.

We will take you to the local fishermen suspended on Chinese fishing nets, introduced by Chinese explorers. It is a very unique and unusal method of fishing operated from the shore. Set up on bamboo and teak poles and held horizontally by huge mechanisms lowering them into the sea, they look like hammocks and are counter-weighed by large stones tied to ropes.

You also have the possibilitiy to witness a very special and sacred Kathakali dance, performed by the local dancers, which tells stories from the ancient Hindu epic – Ramayana and Mahabharata, and maybe a Kalari spectacle, demonstrating parts of the origin of Martial Arts.

On your boat ride or house boat visit on the serene lake Vembanad, you might be able to celebrate Onam (August-September), the most ancient Hindu festival, with a spectacular water regatta - the snake boat races. It is indeed amazing to watch oarsmen, at least a hundred in one boat, slice their way through the waters to the fast rhythm of their own full throated singing. All boats used for the races are home-made out of indigenous materials.

If you do want to shop, then we will take you to local collectives where local women of that very region craft there products and help keep the money earned in that very community.

6 Reviews of Kerala tailor made holiday, 11 days

5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 13 Sep 2019 by

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


All of it

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


Book with this company to be well looked after

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?


Wonderful experience

Reviewed on 03 Feb 2019 by

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


We booked a last minute trip to Kerala to celebrate my 60th birthday and contacted Responsible Travel who put us in touch with Sanjay from the tour operator. The whole service from Sanjay and Responsible Travel was excellent from start to finish. Sanjay took on board all we wanted to experience and within 48 hours had put together exactly what we were looking for. We stayed in some fabulous hotels, rode an elephant, visited tea and spice plantations and cruised the backwaters all in 10 days! There was not one outstanding moment as the whole trip was outstanding from start to finish.

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


Book and go!

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


On the ground, Sanjay used a local travel company, Dravidian Trails, so all our guides and our driver were local people. We visited small plantations, and spent money in local shops. At Spice Village, one of their menus ingredients all come from within 50 miles.

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


Excellent.

Read the operator's response here:

We are glad you had a wonderful time in Kerala and are so glad that you have take time to post a review.

It's a wonderful state and has so much to offer a Responsible Traveller who is looking for an authentic experience.

We don't actively encourage Elephant tourism and it does seem that on your trip this got added which whilst I know you enjoyed the experience it's one that we would not promote.

We look forward to welcoming you back to India in the future


Reviewed on 12 Nov 2018 by

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


We loved Dewalokam and wished we could have stayed longer. It is beautiful and we enjoyed the tour of the farm and the other activities. We loved the idea
that everything was home grown. The accommodation was simple, bright, spacious and spotless. The food was awesome and the choice amazing and we
enjoyed eating communally with the other guests. My husband loved the river swimming.

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


We could not fault the superb organisation and excellent advice from Sanjay Oberoi at the tour operator. His local agent in India, were also excellent.

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


Yes particularly the trips we had to the village and the local school at Dewalokam.

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


Excellent we had an amazing and most memorable time.

Reviewed on 25 Oct 2018 by

Sanjay organised our trip to Kerala, India. He listened to our requests for experiences, different options for accommodation and made very useful suggestions to shape our itinerary.

We were very happy with the car and driver supplied. All the guides were professional and extremely good at their job. The accommodation was boutique and heritage as requested and included a marvellous homestay and a
2 day houseboat trip on the Kerala backwaters.

We had been to India before and we thought that Kerala is very different to other parts of India we haver explored. We absolutely loved our holiday and we are now planning a trip to Sri Lanka and we hope to have Sanjay prepare the itinerary for that trip as well

Reviewed on 05 Oct 2018 by

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


Amazing people who went out of their way to make our holiday special. We had a wonderful driver, Mr Jomy, who took special care of us. Every hotel was attentive and welcoming. The crew of our Backwater boat were a great bunch and the wildlife was spectacular!

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


GO TO KERALA. The international news has devastated their local tourist industry with large scale cancellations following the flood and the people rely on tourism for their livelihood. Everything is safe and open and beautiful SO GO!

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


Yes definitely- see above, Everyone we came into contact with was local and they were so grateful that we had come despite flood effecting rumours (which were erroneous)

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


Excellent , and more!

Reviewed on 25 Jan 2018 by

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


Experiencing the rich variety and beauty of Kerala

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


Give yourself enough time in each place to really experience it and do some walking - don't travel too quickly!

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


Yes - by staying in homestays we felt the money went into the hands of local people rather than big coimpanies

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


It was great - smoothly organised, relaxed and enjoyable but we experienced much of the rich variety and beauty of Kerala

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