Kerala Backwaters + Kovalam Extension

12 nights from £1730

Fisherman in Kochi
Kathakali Dancer
Kathakali Dancer Getting Ready
Spices
Start:Kochi
Finish:Kovalam
Duration:12 Nights
Group size:4 - 16
Suitable for: Adult
Accommodation:Standard
Physical rating:Medium, Moderate
Meals:Breakfast: 10 Lunch: 2 Dinner: 3
Diets:Vegans, Vegetarians
Tour operated in: English

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Overview

Known as 'God's Own Country', Kerala is a relaxing contrast to other Indian states. Explore tea and spice plantations at Munnar, learn about a rich colonial history in the ancient trading port of Kochi, cruise the tranquil Backwaters and overnight on a traditional houseboat, and stay in a family-run homestay to experience village life. Kochi - Explore colonial Kochi from the water, including the Fort, St Francis Church and Mattancherry Palace Alleppey - Witness waterfront village life as you cruise through the tranquil 'backwaters' Periyar - Search for elephants and other wildlife in Periyar National Park Kovalam beach extension - Relax for 2 nights at the end of the trip on a tropical Indian beach .......read more
Highlights
  • Kochi - Explore colonial Kochi from the water, including the Fort, St Francis Church and Mattancherry Palace
  • Alleppey - Witness waterfront village life as you cruise through the tranquil 'backwaters'
  • Periyar - Search for elephants and other wildlife in Periyar National Park
  • Kovalam beach extension - Relax for 2 nights at the end of the trip on a tropical Indian beach
Why Book this Tour
This tour will suit anyone looking for a relaxed introduction to south India. It offers a chance to fully experience life in Kerala's beautiful backwaters by spending one night in a family home. With a slightly more relaxed vibe than India's northern states you can get a taste of Indian culture, and learn a little of the spices and tea that are exported from what is known as Gods own country.

Itinerary

Location: Kochi

Kochi (Cochin) has been a gathering place of merchants since antiquity and is still full of bustling traders. The Fort Kochi area is the oldest European settlement in India (dating from 1500) and has a mixture of English, Dutch and Portuguese influences, much of which survives in the remaining architecture. Built on several islands and criss-crossed with waterways, the city has a very cosmopolitan feel today and attracts artists and artisans from around the region. For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 5.00 pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Kochi at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Cochin International Airport (COK), which is 40km/1.5 hours from the airport. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.

Accommodation: ,Hotel,

Meals: ,No Meals,

Today we delve in to Kochi's eclectic past with a visit to the Mattancherry Palace which was built by the Portuguese in the 16th century. Extensive renovations by the Dutch some hundred years later earned it the name the Dutch Palace. It houses some of the best murals in India, depicting scenes from the Ramayana and other great legends. On our tour around the city by boat and on foot, we also visit the Jew town synagogue where Kochi's surviving Jewish community come to worship. Nearby are the famous cantilevered Chinese Fishing nets, and in the early evening we see a performance of Kathakali, which is thought by some to be the very essence of the culture of Kerala. Its origins may have come from traditional temple rituals and from an art form known as Koodiyattam. It is the face make up which makes this dancing so unique and the dancers can take up to three hours painting their faces - the features are heavily emphasised as it is the facial expressions and co-ordinated eye movements which are important in the dance. The dances usually portray events from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, great Indian epics.

Accommodation: Hotel

This morning we have a drive to Munnar of around 5 hours through an area of spice and tea plantations. Kerala has been renowned for its spices for at least 2000 years, the coast had been known by the Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs and Chinese for its sandalwood and spices. There was also a flourishing trade in 'black gold' - pepper - which, along with the spices, was sent to Europe by the Jewish and Arab traders. In return, copper, brass and gold coins came to Kerala. It was this trading link which brought Christianity and Islam into Kerala - the first place in India to host these two faiths. Munnar is a pleasant place to spend time, with its green tropical forests, fresh mountain air and neat tea plantations. It is hardly surprising it has become a favourite for Indian honeymooners. The afternoon is free to explore this beautiful town.

Accommodation: Hotel

Our day starts with a fascinating visit to a tea museum where we can learn how it is processed. It is the women who usually pick the tea because of their nimble fingers, their brightly coloured clothes contrast sharply with the greenery of the plantations. Leaving the tea museum, we drive for around 4 hours to Thekkady where we'll take a nature walk through delightful countryside and visit a spice garden, learning about how the spices are grown and processed.

Accommodation: Hotel

Our route this morning takes us past rubber plantations and varied spice gardens to Periyar wildlife sanctuary, close to the border with Tamil Nadu. One of 16 tiger reserves in India, Periyar is it is perhaps better known for its elephants. There are about 40 tigers living in the 777 sq km park but, as they are solitary creatures, the chances of seeing them are very slim. We go for a walk in search of other wildlife such as the wild boar, giant malabar, porcupine and the flying squirrel. The Park itself is made up of a variety of habitats, open grasslands, deciduous, semi-evergreen and tropical forests all of which have different animal species. The ecosystem of the tropical evergreen jungle is very interesting as the trees grow up to 40m, and the dense canopy only allows in limited sunlight. Therefore at ground level, there are abundant ferns, orchid and airplants- plants which need little light to survive. Leaving the park we head back towards the coast and our homestay for the next two nights. We stay with local families within a village, and your tour leader will brief you on local customs and traditions. It is a great opportunity to spend time learning about the real life of Keralans as well as an opportunity to sample some delicious home cooking - perhaps a spicy coconut curry. The rooms are in the same style as a traditional Keralan home with mattresses made locally using coir fibres, a material taken from coconut husks which allows air to flow naturally - ideal in this humid region. All rooms are twin share and the majority of them have their own attached bathrooms, although there are some rooms with a private bathroom located in a corridor next to the room. Bathrooms are basic with a toilet and a simple shower, and hot water can be limited at times. All bedding and towels are provided.

We spend today exploring the village and getting to know our host families. There will be a chance to take a cooking lesson, take gentle walks through the surrounding villages or just kick back and relax for the day.

This morning we board our houseboats and begin our journey into the network of the Kerala backwaters. The traditional houseboats are simple vessels, with en-suite twin rooms. The pace is relaxed - enabling us to see riverside village life in its entirety. The industrious villagers survive on narrow spits of land, keeping cows, chickens and cultivating vegetable gardens. Even the shells from the fresh water mussels are burnt to make building lime, and the fibre from the coconut palm has many uses including coir products made from coconut fibre. The gardens are generally well tended often with brightly coloured flowers, such as hibiscus, contrasting sharply with the tropical greenery.

Accommodation: Boat

After a relaxed breakfast we disembark from our houseboats and return to Kochi where the rest of the day is left free for personal exploration.

Accommodation: Hotel

After breakfast this morning we take a short transfer to Ernakulam train station where we board the Kerala Express train to Trivandrum. The journey will take a little over four hours and we travel in air-conditioned carriages (subject to availability). On arrival a short transfer is provided to the hotel, our base for the next two nights just outside Kovalam. We are not travelling with an Explore Leader while in Kovalam, time is left free to relax on the beach or explore the nearby town.

Accommodation: Hotel

Today is again left free for you to do as you wish. There is the option to book an excursion to Kanyakumari, the town located on the southern tip of India. The town is named after the godess Devi Kanya Kumari, the sister of Krishna, and as such is a popular site for pilgrims to visit and take a dip in the ocean. Alternatively you can take an afternoon tour of Trivandrukm with a local guide taking in the Padmanabha Swamy Temple, Napier Museum and the art gallery.

Accommodation: Hotel

The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Kovalam. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Kovalam at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Trivandrum International Airport (TRV), which is 20km/45 minutes from the hotel.

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What's Included

Included
  • Accommodation
    1 nights simple boat 2 nights simple homestay 7 nights comfortable hotel
  • Airport Transfers at Destination
  • All Domestic Transportation (including internal flights)
  • Fully Guided
  • Meals – Half Board
    Breakfast: 10 Lunch: 2 Dinner: 3

Not Included
  • 1 bottle of Mineral Water per person per day
  • Country Entry Visas
  • Tipping and Gratuities

FAQ

All customers that travel on a Explore group trip will be provided with a complimentary transfer, provided they arrive and depart into the designated airport or train station on the trip start and end dates. This is a great way to start your travels, offering you that little extra peace of mind and comfort in the knowledge that there will be someone at the airport or station waiting to take you t
Yes, we would be delighted to book extra nights before the start or at the end of your trip, please let us know your requirements at the time of booking.
1 nights simple boat 2 nights simple homestay 7 nights comfortable hotel

Claim back up to £350 on any trip booked in the next 45 days.

Members can search 100s of trip operators on this site and then book directly with the touroperator on their site. Once notified of the booking, TourHound issues the CashBack.

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Reviews

5* Kerala Backwaters + Kovalam Extension
Highlights were bicycle ride along canal side, seeing rice harvest, duck farm and stopping for tea: homestay with delicious food and fun trying on the hostess's sari; houseboat trip; spice plantation tour.
Added By:
Date: 15-Apr-2018

5* Kerala Backwaters + Kovalam Extension
This was my 10th trip with Explore and I always have a great time and excellent memories of my trips with you
Added By:
Date: 03-May-2019

Dates

You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.

Dates Price Single Availability
12-Mar-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share View live deal
12-Mar-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share View live deal
12-Mar-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share View live deal
12-Mar-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share View live deal
12-Mar-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal
12-Mar-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal
12-Mar-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal
12-Mar-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal
Dates Price Single Availability
29-Oct-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share View live deal
29-Oct-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share View live deal
29-Oct-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share View live deal
29-Oct-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share View live deal
29-Oct-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal
29-Oct-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal
29-Oct-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal
29-Oct-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal
Dates Price Single Availability
19-Nov-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share View live deal
19-Nov-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share View live deal
19-Nov-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share View live deal
19-Nov-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share View live deal
19-Nov-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal
19-Nov-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal
19-Nov-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal
19-Nov-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal
26-Nov-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share View live deal
26-Nov-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share View live deal
26-Nov-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share View live deal
26-Nov-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share View live deal
26-Nov-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal
26-Nov-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal
26-Nov-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal
26-Nov-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal
Dates Price Single Availability
17-Dec-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share View live deal
17-Dec-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share View live deal
17-Dec-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share View live deal
17-Dec-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share View live deal
17-Dec-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal
17-Dec-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal
17-Dec-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal
17-Dec-2022
12 Nights
Twin Share Flight Included View live deal

Claim back up to £350 on any trip booked in the next 45 days.

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Touring with Explore

Explore have been creating award-winning adventures for over 35 years and are experts when it comes to unique travel experiences.

Their small group adventure holidays have been running since 1981 and today, Explore are one of the most trusted travel companies in the UK with over 600 trips to more than 130 countries. At Explore, they are passionate about travel and have developed a wide range of unique activities and experiences which gives their customers an unforgettable adventure with a team of award-winning Explore leaders .

With Explore, you'll get to see your destination from a whole new perspective that takes you away from the typical well-trodden tourist track. You'll have the chance to meet, dine and stay with local people, rest in authentic accommodation with other like-minded explorers and travel to must-see destinations with a unique Explore twist.

From family trips to holidays for solo travellers; cycling tours to wildlife safaris; trekking on mountains or exploring miles of scenic coastline; self-guided holidays or small group trips; there is something for every kind of traveller with Explore. They will provide their expert knowledge, exciting itineraries and outstanding service as part of their sustainable travel experiences which take you under the skin of the country you're visiting for the adventure of a lifetime.

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tour details

This tour is operated by Explore!

12 nights from pp exc.flights; per Night
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Start:Kochi
Finish:Kovalam
Duration:12 Nights
Group size:4 - 16
Suitable for: Adult
Accommodation:Standard
Physical rating:Medium, Moderate
Meals:Breakfast: 10 Lunch: 2 Dinner: 3
Diets:Vegans, Vegetarians
Tour operated in: English
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