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Explore Kochi’s cluster of ancient mosques and colonial era churches, then escape into the lush tea-growing highlands to discover a stunning mountainous landscape dotted with picture book villages. Watch elephants on a safari adventure, before boarding a boat and cruising through the tropical backwaters of Alleppey. Two days spent lazing on Kovalam’s golden beaches bring your trip to a perfect close.
On arrival at Kochi's International Airport, meet with your guide. After a warm welcome to the country with garlands of fresh marigolds, transfer to your hotel for check-in.
Heralded as the "Queen of the Arabian Sea", the city of Kochi is spread out across several islands connected to the mainland by a series of bridges and ferry services. Once an important 14th century spice trading port, Kochi's magnificent Portuguese Palace, cluster of markets, ancient mosques and massive Chinese fishing nets are living homage to the city's complex multicultural past.
This morning, embark on a tour of Kochi, starting with a visit to the Pardesi Synagogue. Located in the heart of the lively port area known as Jew Town, this quaint structure is the oldest synagogue in the commonwealth. Its elegant interior features an ornate gold pulpit, extravagant chandeliers and hand-painted willow pattern floor tiles from China.
Admire the astonishing murals that adorn the walls of the Mattancherry Palace, before stopping by the beautiful St Francis Church to visit the final resting place of famed adventurer Vasco de Gama. Stroll to the ocean to see the giant Chinese fishing nets permanently installed on the waterfront. Standing at around 10 metres tall, each of these innovative mechanisms are gently lowered into this sea by teams of fishermen working from the shore. They are believed to have been introduced under the rule of Kublai Khan and are the only structures of their kind in India.
Tonight you have a chance to witness Kathakali, Kerala's unique performance art. Sit back and take in this memorising dance-drama which vividly brings to life epic struggles between gods and demons with lavish costumes, masks, chanting and live music.
This morning, take the 3 hour journey to Munnar with your guide.
Taking its name from the Tamil and Malayalam words Munu (three) and aaru (river), referring to the town's location at the confluence of the Muthirappuzha, Nallathanni and Kundaly rivers, Munnar is the commercial hub of some of the largest tea estates in the world. Set against a backdrop of cragged, jungle-clad peaks and surrounded by sprawling tea plantations, the area was the destination of choice for British colonial rulers looking to escape the oppressive summer heat of the lowlands, and remains a haven for trekkers and explorers from all over India and beyond.
Enjoy free time for the rest of the day to explore. Munnar is home to several excellent restaurants, ask your guide for recommendations.
Stroll past lush green tea plantations to the Tata Tea Museum on the Nallathanni Estate. The museum offers a multi-sensory demonstration of the process used to create some of the finest tea sipped by many people all over the world. Discover the history of tea production in Munnar and the surrounding area, sample the refreshing flavour of fresh tea in a tasting session and admire the old photographs, machinery and other artefacts housed here that have been used since ancient times.
Enjoy free time for the rest of the day, perhaps opting for an invigorating hike in the fresh mountain air.
Journey to Thekkady, following winding roads through a stunning mountainous landscape carpeted with lush tea estates, coffee plantations and fragrant spice gardens.
In the evening, venture into the Periyar Game Preserve for a safari cruise. Centred around a tranquil artificial lake, this tropical, 777 square kilometre nature reserve is an important refuge for a diverse selection of endangered animal species, rare migratory and native birds and more than 1,900 kinds of flowering plants. Accompanied by an experienced naturalist, enjoy an evening cruise along the preserve's waterways, watching closely for Elephants bathing in the water, Bison and Deer grazing peacefully on the lakeside pastures, and if you're fortunate, perhaps even a Tiger creeping through the tall grass.
This morning, travel to Kumarakom with your guide.
Jutting into the placid Lake Vembanad, the state's largest freshwater lake, the sleepy peninsula settlement of Kumarakom is a haven of endless paddy fields, meandering canals and glittering lagoons. The town's renowned bird sanctuary, spread across 14 acres of picturesque woodland and mangroves, offers a safe refuge for a fascinating variety of migratory and native birds, including parrots, kingfishers, herons, Siberian stork, wild ducks and cuckoos.
In the evening, enjoy free time to relax and explore, perhaps taking some time out to unwind with a traditional ayurvedic massage or a boat trip on the lake.
Today enjoy a whole day free to explore Kumarakom.
Hire a boat and explore the waterways that wind through Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, embark on an angling expedition with a fishing tour group, try your hand at one of the many water sports on offer locally or picnic among tall coconut palms on the banks of Lake Vembanad. Art lovers might choose to venture to the outskirts of the village to admire the quirky collection of sculptures at the Bay Island Driftwood Museum. You'll find everything from monkeys to elegant human figures here, lovingly carved from twisted tree trunks, roots and stumps washed ashore by the infamous cyclones of the Bay of Bengal.
Drive to Alleppey and check into your houseboat.
Sometimes referred to as the "Venice of the East", Alleppey is set around a labyrinth of palm-fringed canals surrounded by elegant colonial-era mansions and sun-kissed beaches. The city was once an important backwater port, and Kettuvalloms (houseboats) were used to ship spices, coffee, tea and nuts to the sea along its complex grid of canals and waterways.
Today you will cruise along these historic backwaters on your own comfortable converted houseboat, stopping off at sleepy tropical villages along the way to unwind on the pristine beaches and observe the local coir making industry.
At sunset, the houseboat will be parked in a tranquil part of the lake for an overnight stop.
Travel to Kovalam with your guide and enjoy the rest of the day free to explore.
A Mecca for travellers since the 70s, Kovalam boasts three postcard-perfect beaches, each with markedly different characters. Just a short way back from the golden sand, you'll find an array of souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants overlooking the beach, eventually giving way to verdant rice paddies and groves of swaying coconut palms.
Today, take time to kick back on Kovalam's renowned beaches. Early risers can head to Hawah Beach to catch the spectacle of local fishermen hauling their huge nets through the shallow waves that lap the sands, singing and chanting as they work.
The adventurous will find a great selection of water sports on offer in the local area, including parasailing, deep sea fishing tours, jet-skiing and scuba diving in the temperate waters of the Arabian Sea. Those with energy left to burn can scale the 142 steps that lead up to the top of the 30 metre lighthouse at the aptly named Lighthouse Beach to take in stunning views from the observation platform.
Enjoy another free day soaking up the sun and laid back fishing village vibes on Kovalam's sandy beaches, perhaps strolling to Kovalam Beach to see the little mosque that overlooks the golden sand.
Just a short 30 minute drive from Kovalam lies Padmanabhapuram, the ancient capital of Travancore. Padmanabhapuram Palace, with its elegant wooden interiors, beautiful lattice work and exquisite murals, is a must-visit for anyone with an interest in local architecture.
On your last day, drive to Trivandrum and transfer to airport for your departure flight.
Phone now to discuss options to personalise your itinerary.
All Get About Asia trips have been designed to make sure you have an unforgettable travel experience. We have developed several trip styles to cater for our diverse range of travellers. Read what your ideal Get About Asia experience might look like here.
|Standard:||from AU $1,783|
|Superior:||from AU $2,082|
|Deluxe:||from AU $3,211|
All GetAboutAsia prices are based on twin share and depend on availability and season. All our itineraries can be customised including international flights and extra nights. For questions or further information, Enquire Now!
Hotels/lodges each night of the itinerary (excluding your departure day).
• Accommodation on bed and breakfast basis at all the places except on board the houseboat where lunch and dinner is also included.
• All transfers, sightseeing's & excursions by air conditioned vehicle
• Services of a professional English-speaking local guides as per the program.
• Kathakali Dances show at Kochi
• Sanctuary visit in Periyar Wild Life Sanctuary by Boat with the naturalist
• All currently applicable entrances at the monuments. Camera fees will be extra.
• The above prices include all current taxes and entrance fees. Any additional hikes or activities may cause extra costs.
Visas for India
All nationalities need to apply for an Indian visa in advance. Give yourself at least 4 weeks.
The Indian Government has advised that from December 2014, all visa applicants will need to be physically present at a visa application centre, by appointment, to submit their applications and biometric data, including fingerprints and facial imagery.
ALL Australian travellers to India will need to personally attend their nearest consulate to complete their visa formalities. There is NO visa on arrival in India for all nationalities. Indian visas CANNOT be obtained in Nepal.
Availability of accommodation and season.
"My tour guides were marvellous, the representative that met me at the airport was an absolute delight, the gifts were a lovely touch. It was a pleasure to have guides that you could chat to and have a laugh. Again the tour guide for Best of southern India was a treasure, very informative, relaxed very easy to get along with and willing to do options with us during our free time. The highlights for me were the homestays, in Kalpetta (Villa Wayanard) l could have stayed there for awhile, clean, relaxing and great food. The trip to the waterfall and village was a favourite for me. To me India is not a holiday as such but an in-creditable experience, and if l was younger l would go back. " — Lynda, Farmborough Heights NSW, September 2018
"Thought we should let you know that we are really happy at the Gateway Hotel. The staff are very service orientated and friendly. At checkin we were offered a choice of two rooms which was nice. The same applies to all the accommodation we have had so far - we have been happy with the standard and service provided. Our guides and drivers are excellent and go above and beyond." — John and Viv Cumming, Sydney, April 2018
"India was great thanks, we all had a terrific time. Highlights too many to mention although the Abhaneri Stepwell & visit to Delhi Sikh Temple were particularly welcome surprises. Local tour good guides were great, as was our driver & all logistics. All in all a great trip. Will keep you in mind for our future travels. Have a great Christmas & thanks for all your help on our Indian adventure." — Dale Family, Berkshire UK, November 2017
"I especially loved the cruise on the backwaters of Alleppey and going to a village which was like the 'Venice of Kerala' - accessible by small boat. Other highlights were the Snake Boat Race; the cool mountain area and tea plantations of Munnar. We were able to make adjustments to the recommended tour to suit our needs, including later- than- usual starting times each morning. I loved it and would certainly recommend this trip to others." — Gaye and Neville, Kew VIC, August 2016
"This was a well-designed trip, with well-chosen destinations, the right degree of flexibility and the right amount of "free time.". Hotels were of a high standard; away from the cities, accommodation was always a pleasant quirky surprise. The drivers and guides and everybody else we met were helpful and comfortable to be with; we felt safe and never pressured. We had a wonderful time in Sri Lanka & Kerala, India. " — Mr Paul and Frances Dudley, Richmond , September 2015