Highlights of Kerala tour, 16 days

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

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

Environment
This is a unique tour as five out of the six hotels you are staying at are part of the CGH Earth group. CGH Earth Hotels offer tourism respectful of nature and local ethos, in search for new harmonies, including nature as integral and respected part of the resorts. The CGH Earth Hotels adopted the construction methods of the Ooralie tribe of Periyar and the fishermen of Mararikulum and made them their own.

Coconut Lagoon is one of them. More than 8 of Coconut Lagoon’s 30 acres are given over to rice cultivation, particularly the medicinal 'njwara' variety. Coconut Lagoon abounds in rare plants, butterflies and birds (90 varieties of birds). With its conservation efforts, the resort hosts the rare Vechoor cows, the smallest cows in the world who give only very little milk, as well as the rare Darter bird. Other green initiatives include an experimental solar powered boat, a biomass digester to turn garden and kitchen waste into rich soil, functional art to recycle plastic bottles and a weekly village clean-up to help clear the neighbouring village of accumulated garbage.

Another CGH Earth Hotel is the Spice Village in Periyar. Spice Village is the essence of a mountain tribal village, re-imagined for the modern independent traveller, curled around a misty ridge 2,000ft high in the Periyar vastness, with fruit trees, rare herbs and a profusion of flowering plants. Spice Village grows its own produce and a profusion of medicinal herbs too. The whole of Spice Village is a chemical-free zone. The sprayer you'll hear most afternoons is actually helping the ecology, not harming it. It uses only oils extracted from the forests, mixed with a little water. Little clay pots dotted about the grounds provide natural mosquito control, as does the camphor burner in your room and the incenser use in the afternoons. It burns Black Damur, a powerful tree resin that insects hate. The tennis court has a natural mud surface, almost all the energy needs of Spice Village are met by solar power.

A third example is the CGH Earth resort Brunton Boatyard in Fort Cochin. With a giant rain tree in the middle, the hotel was resurrected from the remains of a Victorian shipbuilding yard in the 19th century, using the precise building materials of the time - brick, lime, wood and terracotta. The eco-friendly hotel provides small refillable ceramic pots for shower gel and shampoo as an alternative to single-sized plastic bottles. Brunton Boatyard also adapted an innovative solution of rain water harvesting that supplies all year around, without putting a drain on the city´s resources. You will moreover find filtered drinking water in large refillable glass bottles from rainwater that has been purified.

In general, we work with local partners who 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.

On the tours, we strongly request each guest help in protecting the nature by being responsible during their journey. In our UK office we concentrate on providing information online via our website and electronically rather then producing a glossy brochure, hence reducing the use of paper and inks.

Nature & Wildlife
By visiting Kerala you encourage a state that 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.

The trip includes natural wildlife time, nature walks, hikes and boat rides at the Periyar National Park and Lake. 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. It is notable as an elephant reserve and a tiger reserve. The protected area covers an area of 925 km2. 305 km2 of the core zone was declared as the Periyar National Park in 1982. 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.

You will also stay on boats that used to be rice ships in Kumarakom, on the bountiful lake Vembanad. Vembanad is the largest fresh water lake in Asia located in the vast Kottayam network of several rivers and canals. The lake supports a large variety of flora and fauna, from mangrove forests, emerald green paddy fields and coconut groves to white lillies. Kumarakom 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.

Furthermore, at the Marari Beach resort, you can learn from nature with the locals, for example on a morning stroll with a naturalist to discover the unique ecosystem of the Malabar coast with its 97 species of butterflies, more then 350 species of endemic plants, 3 varieties of turtles, 10 kinds of frogs and an uncountable number of birds.

Culture & Buildings
Kerala is full of important colonial architecture and heritage sites. You will encourage the preservation of cultural sites such as the St. Alphonsa’s Church or the famous Ambalapuzha Sree Krishna Temple. Part of the entrance fees go to the Archaeological Survey Of India who helps maintain the monument sites.
Community

The Impacts of this Trip

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 CGH Earth resorts we chose for you endeavour 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 Earth resorts have been instituting community based programmes that help 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.

For the Spice Village for example, the tribals' lives are tied to theirs. For the tribes, Spice Village is not a hotel, but a source of employment, and a place where they can get better rates for their pepper harvest. They are also the mainstay of the organic garden, putting spanking-fresh produce on the table each day.

Local culture & traditions
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.

If you do want to shop other souvenirs, 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.

At Marari Beach, you can learn local & sustainable traditions by watching the fisherwomen using palm fronds to prepare sapling protectors, or the fascinating process of coir making, a wonder fibre that forms the basis of numerous items, from handbags to ropes to sandals to mattresses.

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.

The people of Kerala 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.

Climate

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