Kerala walking holiday in India

“Our only walking holiday in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, rambling in a small guided group, along beaches, backwaters, flora and fauna filled forests, and splendid mountain ranges.”

Highlights

Munnar | Silent Valley NP | Western Ghat mountains | Thekkady | Periyar Lake | Madurai | Sri Meenakshi Temple | Alleppey backwaters | Night on houseboat | Five full days hiking | Cochin

Description of Kerala walking holiday in India

A two week walking holiday in India which takes you along spice trails, into backwaters, through the Western Ghat Mountains and through the hill stations not only of Kerala but also parts of Tamil Nadu. Starting in Cochin, we transfer up to the region’s magnificent mountain range and hike in and around Munar where the coffee and spice plantations have been thriving for generations. We gain superb views over this region summiting to 1900m in the Seven Malai Hills. Other such elevated, exquisite landscapes include Meesapulimala Peak (2630m), and we are able to hike through this rich, luscious terrain for a few days, camping along the way. In fact, we do this point to point trekking for five days, with full porterage throughout, traversing other beauty points such the fecund forests of the Silent Valley, the streams of the Rhodo Valley and the Kolukumalai Tea Plantation. Camping is fully serviced, with mattresses, twin sleeping tents, dining, kitchen and toilet tents all part of the service provided.

Our next hotel stop after all that wild camping is in the state of Tamil Nadu, where we spend some city time exploring the state’s wonderful cultural hub of Madurai. Located on the banks of the River Vaigai, this is one of the world’s oldest inhabited cities and nowhere demonstrates this heritage better than Sri Meenakshi Temple at the heart of the city. Before heading back to Kerala’s Cochin for another city must visit, we take a few more days out in the wilder and more tranquil areas of this stunning state. First of all, Periyar National Park which is home to elephants, monkeys and a few elusive tigers, and then to the famous backwaters, starting at Alleppey and spending a night cruising on a traditional houseboat through its myriad waterways. Finishing on the coast, first at a Malabar homestay and then finally in the vibrant fort and port city Cochin, this is the perfect place not only to absorb the state’s multi cultural and coastal ambiance, but also one to do some gift shopping, as this is one of the world hubs of spice and many other trades going back centuries.

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16 Nov 2019
£2249
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11 Jan 2020
£2379
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12 Dec 2020
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26 Dec 2020
£2599
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Our top tip:
This is the land of Ayurveda. Treat yourself to one of the best massages in the world after all that hiking and camping.
Trip type:
Small group holiday. Max. 16 people, min. age 16.
Activity level:
Moderate.
Accomm:
5 nights camping, 8 nights standard hotels, 1 night houseboat.
Included:
Accommodation, equipment, all breakfasts, 6 lunches, 6 dinners, transport, activities.
Meals:
Many meals included, but budget £12/day when not.
Solos:
Solo travellers welcome. Surcharge for own tent/room.
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Kerala walking holiday in India

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

Activity:
Few holidays have as little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as a walking trip. Erosion on and adjacent to popular paths is a growing problem in certain places and therefore our trip leaders encourage clients to stick to advised routes in order to minimise this. We do believe in leaving no more than footprints, although we hope to have a positive effect by engaging with locals, using their businesses and visiting cultural sites. Also by taking guided tours, we support employment levels in the areas we visit, whilst enriching our experience and understanding of Kerala.

Water:
Water is a really important issue with walking trips and whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital that we have a system for providing clean water without causing lots of waste with plastic bottles. Lack of recycling is already a massive problem in India so we suggest that instead of repeatedly buying bottled water, guests should re-fill a singular bottle. Water is safe to drink at the accommodation, which facilitates re-using one bottle.

UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

Community

Accommodation and Meals:
You will spend 8 nights in hotels with en suite facilities, 5 nights in full service camps and 1 night on a houseboat. By using locally owned and run accommodation in the Western Ghats and staying in a local fisherman’s houseboat, we can ensure that the people in the community benefit from our business. By camping for a large portion of the trip, we also drastically reduce our carbon footprint by saving on energy. Where meals are included, fresh and local produce is used to make delicious and plentiful food. Free meal times are a valuable opportunity to explore Keralan cuisine and to support local vendors, restaurants and cafes in the area. Keralan specialties include biriyani made with Khaima rice, fish and chicken curries and Sadya – a vegetarian spread of side dishes served on a large banana leaf.

Local Craft and Culture:
Much of our time is spent walking through cardamom, coconut, mango and tea plantations. These large areas are not just a source of beauty and interest for our clients, but they provide an insight into rural life, agriculture and cuisine in the area. The Periyar area is a centre for spice growing, and here there will be opportunities to visit the local bazaar, where there are numerous shops selling cardamoms, vanilla, peppercorns, chillies, turmeric and other locally grown ingredients. There are cottage industries and souvenir opportunities in Cochin, Periyar and Madurai. At Madurai, the great Meenakshi-Sundareshwarar Temple, most of which was built during the Nayak period between the 16th and 18th centuries, is at the heart of the city and the life of the town revolves around it. It is a hive of activity and religious celebration, so this is a great place for Hindu culture.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

6 Reviews of Kerala walking holiday in India

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 26 Nov 2018 by

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


There were so many... I loved the trekking - setting out in the early morning from camp, accompanied by the Forestry Dept guide who was so knowledgeable and generous with his information... arriving back to Sheila's cooking and the campsite ready for us; it was exhilarating.
The guide through the Temple in Madurai was fabulous, and the Temple itself was an eye-opener; our earlier visit to the Temple in Munnar was a good preparation for what to expect.
The spice plantation was beautiful, and I replaced the contents of my spice cupboard...
The arrival on the boathouse was spectacular and exceeded expectations... a lovely evening.

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


I would recommend that they read the travel notes well (I should have read them better to be better prepared!).
My experience was that I could trust the guide (Sam) implicitly - so go with the flow!
Be ready to meet new people and be open to new experiences - and then just let it happen; everything is prepared for us, and even the unexpected was dealt with fabulously by Sam. 0 stress for us.

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


I did, and I really hope it did; licenses were obtained for the National Parks and forestry personnel came with us (Anaimalai Hills), the guides in Periyar National Park were fabulous also; 2 of them went ahead to "scout" for animals and presumably lookout for danger too. Sam was good for pointing out that where we didn't need to spend money, and what shops or outlets were government or where money was going straight back to the actual manufacturers. He also filled us in on local unions and how they operate.

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


Exceeded all expectations and the star was our guide, Sam Benjamin who was expert on the treks, and knowledgeable in so many fields, able to reference where phenomena was common in other places in the world, and how the experience was different from our countries; he was very knowledgeable in the history of the places we visited.

Reviewed on 19 Mar 2018 by

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


From the moment we arrived in Cochin to the moment we left every second was memorable.

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


Go with an open mind and let your senses be astounded

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


Yes, I think that we had a positive effect on the local people.

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


Five stars all the way.

Reviewed on 29 Jan 2018 by

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


The trekking and the temple in Madurai

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


Be prepared for the hot and the cold.

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


The tour provided local guides with an income.

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


Very nice tour, good mix between physical activity, culture and life in Southern India.

Reviewed on 10 Jan 2018 by

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


The trek and camping experience particularly wonderful. Visiting a school in Silent Valley. The houseboat excursion. Staying in Munnar. Wandering the tea
plantations. A tour of Abraham's beautiful Spice Garden. A cookery class. The Indian team were so engaging and fun and informed; delicious and plentiful Keralan food home-cooked on the trek; we were looked after incredibly well.

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


Don't pack too much. You will be constantly on the move, much better to travel light. Clothes can be hand-washed and the hotels offer a quick laundry service if desired. Also, there are tiny shops all over the place. I didn't wear many t-shirts, largely shirts with collars to avoid sunburn.

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


Yes, the team surrounding us were all local and we of course stopped off all along the way.

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


I had the most wonderful time. I want to credit our guide Santosh Kumar who was absolutely superb, as were his local team.

Reviewed on 05 Feb 2017 by

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


The trek, climbing Meesapulima mountain especially. Beautiful walks through tea plantations, forests and grasslands with knowledgeable, courteous and
attentive guides. I had a problem with breathlessness and was escorted every step of the hills. We learnt so much about the wildlife, landscape, agriculture
and the local people.

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


India's cash free policy is a nightmare and in rural areas ATMs are rare in urban areas queues can be 15 deep. I used Barclays whose policies left me penniless
for two days so take a card from a provider who will register your trip before you depart.

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


Yes, staff tried very hard to avoid all the pitfalls of overuse of plastic.

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


Just brilliant trip of a lifetime, no stomach upset, no insect bites, nice hotels, lovely staff.

Reviewed on 03 Jan 2017 by

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


Reaching the top of the Meesapuli Mountain, after days of trekking, was an amazing feeling of accomplishment! The whole camping half of the trip allowed
for complete de-stress, with great staff, food and equipment to support long hours of hiking during the day in beautiful and extremely varied scenery.
Waterboat and warm waters of Marari Beach were also amazing!

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


Some of the hotels were not very clean and I would recommend lowering expectations in this sense. Also recommend independent reading since some of the guides not that knowledgeable/fluent.

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


Not sure if some of the hotels had this preoccupation, although I understand it must be a tough balance with quality. Eating at the hotel restaurants almost
exclusively was also unlikely to help locals.

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


It was a great holiday but not consistently so.

Read the operator's response here:

We are pleased that Leila had an enjoyable holiday, but we were sorry to read that she was disappointed with some of the accommodation and local guides. We use locally owned and run accommodation to help ensure that the local community benefits from our business. We endeavor to include free time for meals during this trip so that clients are not restricted to eating in hotels only; all the properties used during this tour are on a Bed and Breakfast plan only, other than when on the houseboat and during the trek (camping).

We usually explore the Keralan cuisine and visit local vendors, cafes and restaurants in the area as it is a great opportunity to delve into the local cuisine; there is a good selection of restaurants in most of the towns we visit. We are glad that Leila enjoyed much of her holiday and we value all feedback and ensure we act upon it.

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