Strewn with rivers, lagoons and meandering backwaters, covered in coconut groves and flanked by sunny, palm fringed beaches, Kerala truly is a small slice of paradise. Explore Periyar Wildlife Reserve by boat or on foot, unwind aboard your private traditional kettuvallam houseboat (a converted rice barge) as you sail through quiet backwaters, and laze on the beach of Marari.
Day 1 - Thekkady
Today you drive to from Kochi (or Madurai) to Thekkady (5 hrs), situated high in the hills of Kerala. You can enjoy the enchanting journey as the road winds through tranquil countryside, rich plantations and thick jungles. When you get closer to Thekkady, you'll have some beautiful views of the highest mountain range in India south of the Himalaya. Thekkady is the place to stay when you want to visit Periyar Wildlife Reserve, a sanctuary which is open all year round. The best time to visit is between October and April. During April and May, when water gets low and grass dries out, there is a greater chance of spotting the elephants near the lakeside.
Day 2 - Thekkady
The Periyar Wildlife Reserve is one of the largest in India. There are plenty of elephants, sambhar, wild pig, flying squirrel and over 260 species of bird life. The best way to explore Periyar is by an early morning jungle walk. Different nature trails traversing diverse habitats form the trekking routes, generally 4 to 5 km in length. This nature walk offers an excellent opportunity to watch birds, butterflies and other wildlife. The trails often pass through evergreen and moist deciduous forests interspersed with marshy grasslands. The walk lasts for about 3 hours. A maximum of 5 persons can go for trekking at a time along each nature trail, accompanied by a trained tribal guide. In the late afternoon you can take a boat ride on Periyar Lake which allows you to watch animals drinking at the lakeside. Many animals come to the water's edge and it is one of the few places in the world where elephants can be observed at close quarters from the safety of a boat.
Day 3 - Allapuzha
Today, after breakfast, you drive from Thekkady down the hills to the peaceful and picturesque palm-lined network of lagoons, lakes, rivers, and canals that run parallel to the coast. The most relaxing and romantic way of seeing the backwaters is by taking a cruise on a private houseboat. The houseboats are very comfortable, and come complete with well furnished air-conditioned bedroom, bathroom, deck, driver, and personal chef. There is a larger open sitting area where you can relax and watch the world go by, sipping from a tender coconut and enjoying the sheer peace of the surroundings. The lush green landscape, diverse wildlife, and houses and villages that line the backwaters make a journey along these waterways seem like a journey through another world. You stay overnight in an air conditioned bedroom on the houseboat and your stay is on full board.
Day 4 - Mararikulam
A short drive takes you to Mararikulam, a village just north of Allapuzha, which has one of the most fabulous stretches of soft sandy beach fringed with swaying palms. The village is spread along both sides of a narrow road. You pass lush coconut and banana plantations hiding small traditional houses. Cycles are still used commonly as a mode of transport as are dug-out canoes punted on narrow canals. Today is a free day which you can spend at the beach. In the village life still goes on much as it did a hundred years ago, with the men going out to sea each day to earn a living bringing in the daily catch. Surrounded by simple village life and with the impossibly white sandy beach, Mararikulam is a unique opportunity to escape the world.
Day 5 - Kochi
A short drives takes you to Kochi (1 1/2 hrs) where your Jungles & Backwaters tour ends. From here you can continue to Kozhikode to cross the Western Ghats to Bangalore on our Sandalwood & Spices module. Alternatively, you can spend some time on one the beaches in Kerala, either at nearby Mararikulam or at Kovalam. Feel free to add any special requirements to your request for information form.