Day 1 UK - Cochin
Today, you fly to Cochin.
Day 2 Cochin
Kerala's cosmopolitan capital Cochin is known as the 'Queen of the Arabian Sea' thanks to the beauty of its natural harbour. The city is a charming collection of islands with distinctive houses on stilts and peaceful backwaters.
After settling in at your hotel, get to know your travelling companions over dinner this evening.
Day 3 Cochin
We'll start the day with a morning tour of Cochin. our first stop is the centre of Jew Town, a bustling port area and centre of Cochin's spice trade, where we will see the oldest Jewish Synagogue in the commonwealth, dating back to 1568. Next is the Mattancherry Kerala Palace, renamed the Dutch Palace after Cochin was taken from the Portuguese by the Dutch. We'll take time to admire the splendid murals that adorn some of the rooms, considered among the finest in India.
Another speciality of Kerala is Kathakali dance, and we'll learn about this unique art form this evening before enjoying a 'Sadya' vegetarian feast with the group. This shared meal will take you on a gastronomic journey through Kerala as you try a tempting selection of dishes from many different regions. Each is served following local customs and come in an order which is said to help digestion. You'll eat from a banana leaf, which points in a certain direction, with rice served on the bottom half, and other items placed in clockwise order. You'll find that your hosts serve dessert mid-way through the meal.
Day 4 Cochin - MunnarThis morning we begin our journey inland towards Munnar. It's a rewarding journey with greats views along the way and on arrival we'll have time to take a stroll around the resort before dinner this evening. Meals included: B,D
Day 5 Munnar
Today we have the chance to take in the natural scenic beauty of Munnar, with its rolling hills, forests, waterfalls and tea plantations. We'll visit a plantation and tea factory where we get the chance to see the segregating, drying, threshing and packing in progress.
We will also visit the Tata Tea Museum, that tells the story of the area and the impact of tea to its journey.
This afternoon, you'll have time time to explore the hill station - Munnar town independently. Having been a summer resort during the colonial era you'll see a nod to the English country style in some of the houses.
Day 6 Munnar - MaduraiWe continue our journey through Kerala to Madurai, one of the oldest cities in India, home to the incredible Meenakshi Temple. Built at the same time as the Taj Mahal, it is a stunning sight and superb example of south Indian Hindu architecture.
This evening you could join us to experience the extraordinary 'Putting to Bed Ceremony' held at the temple, a dazzling display of colour and noise with dance and music.
Meals included: B,D
Day 7 MaduraiThis morning we include a sightseeing tour of the Old City of Madurai, the highlight of which is a visit to Meenakshi Temple with its ornate façade. Inside the temple enclosure you'll get to experience the lively atmosphere with buzzing markets and continuous ceremonies and devotions.
Later we visit the Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal, built in 1635 and designed by an Italian architect, the palace is a must-see for its intricate designs.
Finally, we will explore the local markets and narrow streets of Madurai by cycle rickshaw before a little time to make our own discoveries.
Meals included: B,D
Day 8 Madurai - Thekkady
Today we'll travel onto Thekkady, a town near Periyar National Park. We'll head to a spice plantation where the aromatic scent of cardamon and pepper plants fills the air. Superb peppers are grown here on the Malabar Coast and as such are referred to as 'black gold'.
This evening we'll experience a traditional Indian martial arts performance - Kalaripayattu.
Day 9 ThekkadyThis morning you could choose to explore the Periyar Nature Reserve, with an optional trek excursion.
In the afternoon a boat trip will give you a chance to look for elephants, bison and deer on the shoreline, as well as all manner of exotic plants that, if you're very lucky may be hiding the elusive tiger.
Later there will be time to explore the town and local market.
Meals included: B,D
Day 10 Thekkady - AlleppeyOur drive this morning takes us to Alleppey, where we'll board one of Kerala's famous houseboats for an overnight stay with a difference. Your 'kettuvallom' – modelled on the area's traditional rice boats – offers an unforgettable experience for you and your fellow travellers. Head on deck for a cruise through the backwaters to see how the locals live, then enjoy a tranquil evening as our boat anchors in a quiet spot. Meals included: B,L,D
Day 11 Alleppey - CochinBreakfast served on our houseboat is a great start to the day. After this we'll take to the road and head towards Cochin. Along the way we will visit Kumbalangi village, this integrated tourism village project is a unique initiative where we can experience life as a local in this fishing village and enjoy a homemade lunch.
Meals included: B,L,D