Karnataka and Kerala holiday

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

Responsible tourism: Karnataka and Kerala holiday

Environment

This is a great responsible tour featuring personalised and natural homestays, plenty of wildlife, treks and national parks, historic temples and local art.

Responsible Accommodation:
We choose responsible properties and small-scale homestays for you as much as possible to support the local environment and community. A special place on this tour is the Gitanjali Homestay for example. The Achaiahs are a Kodava family who have been running Gitanjali as a home stay for the past nine years. The Kodavas are a minority community from Kodagu district; a martial race with a fascinating culture based on ancestor worship. One-on-one interaction allows guests to take a peek in their local lives. Gitanjali takes care of the surrounding space and natural beauty. Solar water heating, rain water harvesting and water conservation, segregation and composting of waste as well as the maintenance of an organic garden are their small endeavours towards sustainable eco-tourism. In addition, they have joined hands with neighbours in cleaning the adjoining areas of plastics and garbage.

Another homestay you will support with your stay is the Amaryllis, set amidst the serenity of Wayanad’s famed mist shrouded mountains, looking down on the backwaters of the Karapuzha Reservoir, and with the Western Ghats in the background. In 2008, they bought the property and started to transform what was an abandoned coffee and rubber farm. They traced roads, sank wells, landscaped the area and planted a variety of new crops. As a guest you will be treated as part of the family. Fresh home-cooked meals, spiced with plenty of friendly conversation, warm hospitality and attention to your individual needs – the hallmark of a homestay experience. All through their lives as planters, they have enjoyed nature and have always been interested in planting many fruit, spice and flowering trees in their gardens. In addition to coffee and pepper, they have planted crops like areca, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, allspice and cardamom and a variety of fruit bearing trees. Interspersed with coffee, these tropical fruit trees include Mangosteen, Lychee, Mango, Papaya, Chikkoo (Sapodilla), Banana, Pomegranate, Rambotan, Durian, Avocado, Passion Fruit, Orange and varieties of Lime.

We also bring you to the Kurumba Village. Named after the Kurumbas, a forgotten tribe, the resort is a tribute to the ancient clan that co-existed happily with nature in this hot spot of great bio-diversity. The resort, wrapped in a haze of green, sprawls earthy and natural, meandering pathways lead you to your tribal-style cottages and suites - all crafted with natural materials, with creature comforts in place. The resort has been built artfully in a 10-acre former spice plantation, sculpted into a hill, without felling a single tree. The resort is built to emerge in an organic way from the earth much like the dwellings of the eco-friendly kurumbas. In the interiors too they have used local fabrics and tribal motifs to try and give guests the best and most authentic experience possible. They strive to leave a light footprint – they minimize the use of plastic, or the over-use of detergents, have good waste management practises, enhance the quality of soil, water and air and purchase everything locally. They have a sewage treatment plant, shampoo bottles are all reused, noise levels and vehicle movements are minimised, they have planted more than 3,000 native species of trees within the resort including fruits and plants that are a natural habitat for birds and amphibians, and the use of lights is optimized to minimize disturbance to nocturnal wildlife.

We work with local providers that are committed to best practices in terms of environment protection and local community benefits. Our excursions maintain small-group sizes to limit the negative environmental impact in accordance to the carrying capacity of the visited site.

In the tours, we strongly request each guest to help in protecting the nature by being responsible during their journey. That means we are trying to keep the extra unneeded waste to a minimum in all our tours through our “bring it in, bring it out” policy for litter and rubbish such as food packaging and recycling wherever possible.

Transport
We include sustainable ways of transport whenever possible, via city walking tours such as your morning walking tour in Mysore, plenty of forest walks and nature trails in Kabini, Wayanad and Periyar, boat rides and your Toy Train ride to Coonoor or a local train journey to Cochin.

Nature & Wildlife
The trip includes precious wildlife time tu support nature at Kabini, Wayanad and Periyar. Kabini is nestled on the banks of the Kabini River and home to a vast wildlife population, from rare species of flora to endangered species of fauna. The wildlife sanctuary fosters the wildlife and offers various exciting opportunities to spot Leopard, Sambhar, Spotted deer, Cheetal and Panther. Spread over 55 acres, it is an essential part of the Nagarhole National Park, including dense forests, lakes, steep valleys and streams. A number of herbivores, especially elephants dwell in their natural habitat at Kabini Forest Reserve. Considered as an ornithologist’s paradise, the park is famed for housing around 250 species of birds as well.

You will also experience the Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve. Zealously guarded and managed, the reserve is a repository of rare, endemic and endangered flora and fauna and forms the major watershed of two important rivers of Kerala, the Periyar and Pamba. People oriented and park centered community based ecotourism is the hallmark of Periyar Tiger Reserve. Programmes are conducted by local people responsible for the surveillance of the vulnerable parts of the reserve. By taking tourists along, they are involved in the conservation of the forests of Periyar and some valuable revenue is generated for community welfare. People who once made a living by illegal operations in the forests have since become forest protectors and earn their livelihood through these programmes.

Our local partners are part of TOFT (Travel Operators for Tigers), a pioneering international collective action campaign to advocate, plan, support and fund the protection, conservation and rewilding of natural wilderness and their wild inhabitants, especially tiger habitat, through the clever and wise use of nature tourism, using better visitor guidance, more community involvement, targeted green investment and enhanced governance and monitoring.

Overall, on our nature tours our guides are trained and actively promoting practices such us not disturbing wildlife, keeping a safe distance to wildlife, reducing production of disturbing sounds, prohibiting feeding, avoiding litter at all times, using water sparingly and not polluting with harmful detergents, avoid being intrusive when taking photographs, dressing appropriately and in subdued colours when wildlife watching, etc. We encourage guests to respect and follow the lead.

Culture & Building
Part of your entrance fees goes to the maintenance of important UNESCO world heritage sites and important cultural and historic sites, such as the Maharaja's palaces, Chamundshawari Temple or the Srirangapatna ruins in Mysore. The monuments on the island town of Srirangapatna has been nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also the toy train to Coonoor is part of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, an extension to the World Heritage Site of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.

Recycling
In our UK and local offices we re-use or recycle the information booklets we provide to every client on arrival wherever possible. We moreover concentrate on providing information online via our website and electronically rather then producing a glossy brochure, hence reducing the use of paper and inks.

Community

We work with local partners who genuinely commit to encourage and involve the local community in the best way, requesting potential friends from the local area first, like local home stays, guides and restaurants. We make sure our staff has fair working conditions. As per need, colleagues attend trainings conducted by different institutions, for example programmes towards skill development for teams. Employees are also offered family trips to enhance product knowledge on a regular basis.

The properties we choose for you offer great initiatives to support the local community. At Kurumba Village for example ,cultural programmes are organized in the resort to showcase and preserve local traditions and culture. The shows feature locals which provides them with supplementary income. The resort encourages local youth to learn their traditional art forms by way of dance and music. Activities like plantation tours and guided forest walks encourage guests to appreciate local culture and nature. The theme of the resort showcases local architecture. Material used in the construction of the resort has been sourced locally. About 90% of the staff is local,and the resort supplements the income of local taxi drivers, doctors and families. They purchase groceries and vegetables from local markets. Wherever possible, they ensure that products used at the resort are not made by child or bonded labour and ensure that suppliers are paid a fair price for their products and services.

If you do want to shop, then we will take you to local collectives where locals of that very region craft there products and help keep the money earned in that very community. Our souvenirs to our guest are always locally produced, hand-made with local products.

The destination Kerala and the rest of South India all understand that all guests be it their own countrymen or foreign nationals need to be warmly welcomed. From our side, we welcome all our guests during their first arrival with a garland at the airport, and we also encourage our hotel friends to welcome you with arti, tikka, garlands and a welcome drink. Our drivers greet guests every morning and our guides will always show their respect. We try to create a home away from home atmosphere.

Local Culture
We organise for you authentic local experiences such as a Coracle Ride in the Kabini National Park, we bring you to the local flower market in Mysore, or you can participate in the Dessara Festival in Mysore in September and October.

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. In Kochi, 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.

All our guests visit the Cultural centre or theatre to witness the Kathakali dance show, or a Kalari martial art performance or other music festival. The very special and sacred performance of Kathakali is performed by the local dancers, telling stories from the ancient Hindu epic – Ramayana and Mahabharata.

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