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Explore God's Own Country on foot on this walking tour through the diverse tropics of India's far south state of Kerala. Trek amongst the forest and grasslands of the mountains of the Western Ghats, walk in search of wildlife in the Periyar National Park and meet locals rambling through the villages of the famous Backwaters.
Explore Tour Leader
1 nights simple boat
3 nights simple camping
6 nights comfortable hotel
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Our trip starts in Kochi, a port city on India's Malabar Coast. Also known as Cochin, it's been a port since 1341, when it was used by Arab, Chinese and European merchants. Built across several islands with criss-crossing waterways, the city has a relaxed feel that speaks to artists and artisans from across the globe. Explore the colourful streets or head to the harbour for sunset to see the fishermen bringing in their catch.
There are no planned activities today, so you're free to arrive at any time. Our tour leader will hold a welcome meeting in the hotel reception at 6pm and there'll be the chance to go for dinner afterwards. If you arrive later, they'll catch you up in the morning.
If you'd like a hotel transfer, you'll need to arrive into Cochin International Airport (COK), which is 40 kilometer/24.90 mile/1.5 hours from the airport.
Hotel Fort Queen (or similar)
This morning, we'll take a walking tour of India's oldest European settlement, Fort Kochi.
Beginning with the arrival of Jewish and Arab spice traders in the first century AD, Kochi's prosperity increased with the arrival of the Portuguese, who were later followed by the Dutch and the English. This eclectic heritage has infused the city with a mixture of styles and influences.
We'll take in the architectural charms of the Church of St Francis and other notable colonial buildings such as the site of the city's 16\super th\nosupersub -century Jewish synagogue (note, the synagogue is closed on Fridays and Saturdays), the oldest in the Commonwealth and the exterior of the Mattancherry Palace.
In the afternoon, we'll drive inland to Munnar and the stunning vistas of the Western Ghats. The 140 kilometre/87.01 mile drive takes us into the heart of tea country, where fresh mountain air and tropical forests share the landscape with spice plantations and tea estates.
Today's walk is graded as easy and we expect it to take approximately 2 hours.
Edassery Eastend (or similar)
Today, we'll head out for a hike in the Ghats. Our trail begins at the small village of Nagarmudi (1500 meter/4922 feet), just a short drive from old Munnar. Starting with a gradual climb, we'll ascend through the tea plantations up into the Seven Malai Hills, passing crops of coffee and cardamom as we make our way to the summit (1700 metere/5578 feet). The walk today will take us around 4 to 5 hours, but our hard climb will be rewarded by some spectacular panoramas across the Chittrapuram Dam and out towards the Anamudi Peak, Munnar and the local villages. Descending to our vehicle, we'll then drive back to Munnar for our second night.
Today's walk is graded as moderate and covers 11 kilometres/6.80 mile. It will take around four to 5 hours.
This morning, we'll journey on to begin our 3-day point to point hike. Our walk takes us through a landscape blanketed with tea plantations and sholas of eucalyptus. The beautiful views and tea estates give a real flavour of the area. Stopping to enjoy a picnic lunch in shade of a tea garden, we'll continue climbing towards our camp at Silent Valley, situated in a meadow close to a small stream.
Ascending to a height of 2000 meter/6562 feet, today's walk will cover around 12 kilometres/7.50, taking us between 4 and 5 hours to reach the camp.
Silent Valley Camp (or similar)
Leaving camp after breakfast this morning, we'll begin the ascent of the Meesapulimala Peak, the second highest in South India. The trail towards the summit takes us from rough grassland and up onto the ridge line, where we continue climbing through patches of open grassland towards the peak. The journey to the top will take us around 3 to 4 hours and from its lofty heights, the views look down across Kerala and Tamil Nadu (if the summit isn't shrouded in mist). You might even pass the odd herd of Nilgiri Thar (a type of wild goat) on the way. After a chance to rest and enjoy the scenery, we'll then descend towards Rhodo Valley (2300 meter/7546 feet), stopping off for a picnic lunch en route. As the camping area at Rhodo Valley is currently closed, we return by jeep for a second night at our Silent Valley camp.
Today's walk is graded as moderate and covers 8 kilometres/5.10 mile. It should take around 6 to 7 hours.
Today will be our longest day walking, as we meander through a stunning backdrop of verdant plantations and vivid red rhododendron forests. This part of the Western Ghats is home to a staggering array of life, with wild boar and Atlas moths sharing the stage with a dazzling mix of local flora. As we climb, the views out across the local countryside take in villages and lakes, before we begin a gradual winding descent towards Ellapetty village where we enjoy a picnic lunch surrounded by vegetable gardens planted by the local tea workers. From here it's a 30-minute transfer by jeep to our final camp at Top Station/Oorkad (1900 meter/6234 feet).
Today's walk is graded as moderate and covers 16 kiolmetres/9.90 mile. It should take around 7 hours.
Top Station Camp (or similar)
Breaking camp for the last time today we'll drive back towards Munnar and on to Thekkady, the gateway to the Periyar National Park. Taking up much of the morning, the 160 kilometre/99.40 mile drive weaves across the Western Ghats before reaching Thekkady later this morning. This part of India has long been renowned for its abundant spices. It was to the spice rich shores of the Malabar Coast that Christopher Columbus was heading when he bumped into America by mistake. After lunch, we'll take a short walk around a spice garden, enjoying an aromatic wander through crops of black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, and clove. There should also be time to explore the local bazaar before dinner.
Hotel Grand Thekkady (or similar)
This morning, we'll take a walk to discover the flora and fauna in the Periyar National Park. Set around the picturesque shores of Lake Periyar and one of the largest parks in South India, it is home to an incredible diversity of wildlife including elephant, tiger (although we don't expect to see one), sambar, wild pigs, bison, monkeys, and langurs. It also boasts some 112 species of butterflies and 246 species of birds including cormorants, darters, ospreys, kingfishers, hornbills, and kites. The walk will take between 2 to 3 hours, after which there might be an opportunity this afternoon to enjoy an optional boat trip on the lake. Please be aware, tickets for the cruise are only available locally and are on a first come, first served basis.
Today's walk is graded as leisurely and covers mostly flat terrain. It should take around 2 to 3 hours.
Driving to the coastal town of Alleppey, this morning we'll head for the myriad canals and channels that make up the Kerala Backwaters. There, we'll board a traditional houseboat for an overnight cruise through the region.
A time-honoured form of transport, these wonderfully characterful boats are made of anjili wood and bamboo and come with en-suite twin bedrooms and an on-board chef, providing the perfect way to enjoy the beauty of this remarkable setting. Along theses narrow channels, the villagers survive on narrow spits of land, keeping cows, pigs, chickens and even cultivating vegetable gardens. Nothing goes to waste: the shells from the freshwater mussels are burnt to make building lime and coir is used for just about everything. This evening we'll moor up along the banks of Vembanad Lake.
Kerala Houseboat (or similar)
After a relaxing breakfast onboard our floating home, we'll drive on to the village of West Chennamkary in the heart of the Backwaters for a walk around some of the local villages. This is a great opportunity to soak up the atmosphere of a region that provided Arundhati Roy with the inspiration for her book, 'The God of Small Things'. We'll enjoy a traditional Keralan lunch with a local family before driving back to Kochi later in the afternoon.
Our walk today is graded easy and we expect it to take up to 2 hours and 30 minutes at a very leisurely pace.
Today's walk is graded as leisurely and should take around 2 hours and 30 minutes
Our tour of Kerala ends at our hotel in Kochi.
There are no activities planned today, so you're free to depart at any time. If your flight leaves later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you'd like a hotel transfer, you'll need to depart from Cochin International Airport (COK).
Total distance : 53 kilometres
There is considerable variation between the different regions of India but, in general, the climate is tropical. Summer temperatures on the plains are very hot, but cooled by the South-West Monsoon, which lasts from June- September. During these months it can be very wet and therefore very humid. At altitude, temperatures can become quite cool at night even in the summer and may drop below freezing between December and February so warm clothing is necessary. In the winter, northern and mid India can be very cool, with cold evenings, so warm clothing, including plenty of layers, are essential. The south of India remains warm and sunny during the winter months.
3 Pin Round
Catholicism, Hindu, Islam and Sikhism
Hindi and English.
Thekkady - cookery course - INR 700.00 Thekkady - Kalaripayattu (Keralan martial art) demonstration - INR 600.00
Due to the diversity of altitude encountered on tour, you will need to bring a range of comfortable lightweight clothing that can be layered according to the fluctuating temperature. On the coast and in the Backwaters you can expect both days and nights to be warm and humid and lightweight clothing is all that is needed. In the Ghats and especially on the 3-day trek, nights can be cold (possibly below freezing in Rhodo Valley). We recommend walking trousers and shorts, breathable T-shirtshirts, walking socks, fleece jacket, waterproof jacket, warm hat and gloves and sunhat. Whilst monsoon rainy season is from June through to early October, it can rain outside of this time. When it has rained there may be leeches in the Ghats and we highly recommend bringing your own leech socks which can be bought through outdoor equipment providers or online through retailers such as Amazon. Please bear in mind that shorts and tight revealing clothing worn by women can cause offence and unwelcome interest.
We recommend you bring lightweight walking boots with ankle support, make sure that your boots are worn-in and comfortable before the start of the trip. Also trainers or sandals for relaxing and general wear. We suggest that on international flights you either carry your walking boots in your hand luggage or wear them - should your luggage be lost or delayed, your own boots are the one thing that will be irreplaceable.
You will need a daypack and your main luggage. Daypack: 30-35 litres recommended. During the course of the Western Ghats trek you do not have daytime access to your luggage which is transferred between camps by jeep. In any mountain region the weather can change rapidly and you must be equipped for this eventuality. Your daypack should therefore be large enough to carry waterproofs, fleece jacketweater, long trousers (if walking in shorts), warm hat and gloves, sun hat, sun cream, water bottle and your camera. It should be waterproof or have a rain cover. Main luggage: As this will be transported between the camps by jeep and stored overnight in your tent this needs to be a kitbag, large rucksack or soft holdall style bag that is easily stored and transported.
Bring a 3-season sleeping bag (whilst on trek you will be provided with a 5 centimetre thick foam sleeping mattress), 2 litre water bottle, sun cream, sunglasses and head torch. Bring your walking poles if you usually use them. An umbrella is useful for both rain and as a sun shade.
Accommodation in India is as varied as the country itself and standards might not always meet those back home. Service can be slow, especially when travelling with a group and a number of hotels in India don't serve alcohol due to complicated licencing laws or for religious reasons. Hot water is not always available at small properties and with a group staying, you might find the water is cooler if you're showering last. Hotels also don't usually have heating, so it can become chilly in the winter months, however, blankets will always be provided. Due to the growth in tourism in India, it's not always possible to stay at our listed accommodation and an alternative will be found. On the backwaters, we stay on traditional houseboats made from anjili wood and bamboo, a time-honoured form of transportation. These are set up with twin-share en-suite cabins that are air-conditioned at night. The houseboat has a large dining area where homecooked meals are served up and a large deck to enjoy riverside life on. At night, we'll moor amongst other boats at the side of the river to allow us to hook up to electricity. Note, depending on the group size, we might be divided between two or three houseboats. On this trip, we'll spend three nights camping on the Western Ghats - a simple but rewarding experience. We'll sleep in two-man Apluine-brand Indian tents. These will be set up and broken down each day by our camp crew. Thick foam sleeping mattresses (5cm thick) are provided but you'll need to bring your own three-seasons sleeping bag. There is a kitchen and a mess tent as well as a field toilet tent. Water for washing is provided in buckets. 20
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
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\red5\green99\blue193;\red177\green45\blue26; India: Holders of passports endorsed British citizen, as well as Australian, New Zealand and US passport holders may be eligible for the e-Tourist Visa to enter India. Unfortunately the Indian government are not currently granting visas for anybody travelling with a Canadian passport. The visa can be applied for through the official Indian government visa website only - \ul \ulnone . Please check all eligibility criteria that can be found on the website but important points are listed below - You must be arriving into one of 29 selected entry points which can be found via the official Indian Government website link above. However, you can exit from any of the authorised immigration check posts in India. Passports must have at least 6 months validity from the date of arrival in India and at least two blank pages for stamping. Visa applications will take approximately 4 days to process. There are different validity visas and the costs are as follows: 30-day validity (travelling between April and June) - $10 30-day validity (travelling between July and March) - $25 1-year validity - $40 5-year validity- $80 Those applying for a 30 day electronic visa can only apply within 30 days of arrival for your visa to be valid. Furthermore double entry is permitted and you can only obtain two 30-day visas in a calendar year. Please note these costs are subject to frequent change so you should check on the official Indian government visa website mentioned above. Biometric data will be collected on arrival in India. If you are not eligible for the e-Tourist Visa, please refer to VFS Global to apply for your Indian visa - \ul \ulnone Whilst the online form offers a relatively quick way to apply for a visa, some applicants have reported difficulty in completing the form. If you do require assistance, then you may consider applying through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. They can complete the online visa on your behalf for a service fee + the visa cost. See \ul www.travcour.com \ulnone If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846 . It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination. 20
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
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Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
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You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
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