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This 12-day private tour of Kerala has been designed specifically for families travelling with children. Featuring destinations, accommodation and activities in Kerala that suit family travel in India. As a private tour, you will have your own vehicle with English-speaking driver throughout, and customised travel arrangements and activities.
The lush, green state of Kerala is one of India’s most popular places to visit. The tropical weather, the friendly people and the laid-back lifestyle of Kerala draw travellers time and again.
This itinerary has been crafted especially for families travelling in India – as an introduction to Kerala and a relaxed two week family holiday in Kerala, south India. Starting in Cochin – travel to a a plantation stay in the foothills of Vagamon, visit the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, discover the languid pace and rhythm of life in the backwaters of Kerala on an overnight houseboat stay and conclude with 3-night stay at one of our favourite seaside locations and one of the best beaches in India.
Tried and tested with children, this Kerala family holiday includes accommodation that suits families, activities that will engage and appeal to younger travellers and 2-to-3 night stays at each location (as we know moving each day with children isn’t easy).
This Kerala family holiday is designed to engage your children in a comfortable environment and manner, and allow you to have a holiday. Perfect for families wanting to travel in India – the activities can be tailored to children under 10, or for older teenagers. This 12-day holiday in Kerala will introduce you to some of the best experiences and places to see in Kerala, travelling at a pace that won’t leave you exhausted and that doesn’t try to do and see too much for a family holiday in India with children.
This family holiday in Kerala itinerary has two options for accommodation – mid-range and superior.
Day 1 Cochin
Welcome to Kerala, India. You will be met upon arrival and transferred to your hotel in Fort Kochi.
(Please note most flights from Australia arrive late in the evening in Cochin. Also, Cochin is one of the ports in India where travellers from Australia can travel with an e-visa.)
The historic city of Fort Kochi is worth spending a few days in. A pleasant and easy place to explore, this small port city is rich with sights to see, bursting with history and welcoming with its charming cafes and small boutiques. A three night stay in Fort Kochi will allow you to experience all of this first-hand. From the Dutch architecture to the Chinese fishing nets of Cochin to the precinct of Mattancherry – there’s much to discover in Cochin.
Day 2 Cochin
Discover historic Fort Kochi with a morning bicycle tour. This gentle, early morning bicycle tour will grant you a different perspective of this city – moving away from sightseeing inside a vehicle or walking tours. During the easy ride, your local guide will bring to life the city and its history with anecdotes and stories from the various local communities and sights you will visit along the way. Visit a small local temple, stop for the popular local drink of chai, and gain a window into the many different communities that call this historic city home.
In the afternoon, explore Fort Kochi at your own pace – with little traffic Fort Kochi is easily explored on foot. In the heart of Fort Kochi are the much photographed Chinese Fishing Nets, while nearby the quiet streets are home to inviting shops, cafes and restaurants. We can recommend the best cafes in Fort Kochi to linger over filter coffee and freshly baked cake! You can grab a rickshaw to nearby Jewtown – and visit the Jewish Synagogue and discover the antique shops and spice merchants. There’s also Mattancherry Palace or Dutch Palace and St Francis Church to see.
Day 3 Cochin
Discover the bustling, newer part of Cochin today with a visit to Ernakulam.
Travel by local ferry – a popular activity in itself for children – joining local residents heading to the market at Ernakulam. A local guide will take you to visit the bustling local market at Ernakulam – where bananas are piled high in carts, fruit and vegetables are on offer and the day’s fresh fish is sold. Take a stroll along the bustling Broadway – a narrow road where merchants sell everything from nuts and spices to gold jewellery, shoes, bags, kitchen pots and everything in between. Broadway is where locals come to shop and will showcase to you typical, thriving Indian local market and shopping hub. Stop for lunch at a local restaurant and return to Fort Kochi by local bus with your guide. Younger travellers are sure to love travelling by local bus ride and ferry during today’s activities!
Day 4 Kottayam
Drive to your next stay at Teekoy and the lovely plantation stay Vanilla County, set in the foothills of Vagamon – a hill station on the Idukki-Kottayam border.
Vanilla County is a lovely family-owned, 70-year-old estate house in Kerala, with its nearby plantation where rubber, spices and coffee grow. Run by the third-generation owners – Mathew and his wife Rani – the house was built by Mathew’s grandfather and is now lovlingly and painstakingly kept in immaculate condition and operated as a one of the most inviting and loveliest homestays in Kerala. There are 5 rooms in the main house and 2 interconnecting rooms in the garden. Mathew and Rani are generous, attentive, kind hosts with great attention to detail, making sure guests feel welcome and comfortable. The house is rich with history and features beautiful wooden antique furniture. The rooms are spacious, immaculate and comfortable. There are wide verandahs overlooking an immaculate lawn and garden. Younger, sporting travellers can play cricket on the lawn or badmington.
A real highlight of staying at Vanilla Country is the home cooked meals. Rani overseas the kitchen and you will savour traditional Syrian Catholic meals – prepared with ingredients grown and harvested on their plantation. Some of the dishes we’ve enjoyed here including fried bananas and chai (or tea) for afternoon tea, fried fish, coconut milk and yogurt curry, crispy fried brinjal (eggplant) and possibly the best pickle we’ve tasted – a homemade tender mango pickle. Plus rice, bread, fried chicken and many more delicious eats!
Settle in upon arrival and spend the afternoon enjoying this beautiful property.
Day 5 Kottayam
Start the day with a beautiful breakfast served in the open courtyard at Vanilla County. There’s fresh fruit grown on the plantation, local breakfast of a type of rice flour pancake and curry to try, eggs, toast, juice, Kerala’s famous fruit cake and coffee. There’s plenty of space in the pretty courtyard and many delicious items to savour so you will surely feel like lingering.
Today you have the entire day to enjoy this property. You may wish to take a guided plantation walk, learning a little about rubber cultivation and spice production, or swim in one of the lovely local waterholes – an ideal place to cool off after a plantation walk. Nearby there’s a Christian Ashram to visit for those who wish to, or you can simply enjoy the homestay – where children can run on the lawn and play cricket, you can sip coffee on the verandah and read a book in a hammock.
Day 6 Thekkady
Depart this morning for Thekkady, home to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary – situated high in the Western Ghat Mountain range on the border of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The drive up the `ghat road’ is steep.
Check into your accommodation upon arrival. You may like to take a stroll through the town in the afternoon – visiting the small stores, book shops and souvenir sellers. There’s a small, local market at one end of town – and it’s here you can buy and taste the regionally popular `Kerala banana chips’ – deep fried salted banana chips. (Once you have had one you may find it hard to stop eating them!) See the banana chip sellers frying this local snack in giant pots and buy it fresh!
Later in the evening – see a demonstration of Kalarippayattu, the martial art of Kerala. This one-hour performance combines martial arts, drama and a dramatic conclusion featuring `fire rings’.
Day 7 Thekkady
Today is yours at leisure. Depending on the age of your children, we can recommend suitable activities for you. For children above 14, take a bamboo raft ride along the river or head off for a half-day or full day hike in the park. For younger children, discover the gentle daily rhythms of village life with a bullock cart ride through villages and farms, or take a gentle boat cruise in the park looking out for animals along the shore.
Day 8 Alleppey
Drive to Alleppey jetty this morning where you will embark on your Kerala backwaters houseboat cruise and overnight stay. Your private houseboat is air-conditioned, features ensuites with hot showers and comfortable hotel like rooms. Each vessel has a cook, driver and staff. There’s plenty of spaces to relax on the deck and watch life along Kerala’s backwaters unfold. These waterways, or the backwaters, criss-cross the entire state of Kerala, providing irrigation and a convenient mode of transport. Along these canals and water byways you will discover a different perspective of Kerala than the one you have already discovered.
From the Alleppey jetty make your way to Vembanad Lake and enjoy lunch on board, and then wind your way through the various network of water canals. Observe the rice paddies, the small villages along the water ways and churches and temples dotted throughout the backwaters. A houseboat cruise is a quintessential Kerala experience.
Day 9 Alleppey
After breakfast, disembark at Alleppey Jetty and proceed to Marari beach for your three-night beach stay. One of India’s lesser-known beach gems, Marari lies between the backwaters of Alleppey and Cochin. An ideal place to spend a few days swimming and unwinding.
Day 10 Marari
A full day to relax and enjoy your resort. Swim in the pool, enjoy the beach and dine on local seafood at your hotel or one of the small restaurants which can now be found along the beach.
Day 11 Marari
Another full day to relax at Marari Beach. At the end of the day, you may wish to head to the beach and watch the colours of sun set over the sea.
Day 12 Marari
Your Kerala family holiday ends today. Transfer to the airport for your departing international flight.
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