Kerala: Walk, Ride and Kayak
Trip Code: AITKWR
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Kerala is famed for its apparent relaxed pace of life. Travelling slowly by foot, bike and kayak gives you the perfect opportunity to fully appreciate the natural and cultural environment of this unique part of India.
Kerala has a range of environments which are best explored with some depth – it’s rivers, mountains, wildlife parks and backwaters present the traveller with wonderfully varied experiences.
By staying in homestays and guest houses here, you’ll quickly get a sense of the wonderful hospitality of Malayalis (people from Kerala), indulge in their wonderful food and experience first-hand the easy rhythm of life.
Day 1 Cochin
On arrival you will be met and transferred to the hotel. Once settled, take a back-street tour of this culturally diverse city. Set on a cluster of islands and narrow peninsulas, Cochin is a city of winding streets, ferryboats, shady trees, modern Indian art and 500-year-old Portuguese houses. Visit the spice market, fishing harbour and take in a Kathakali dance show.
Day 2 Thattekkad
Leave in the early morning and arrive at an Elephant Kraal in time to assist the mahouts bathe the elephants.
After breakfast leave on bicycles toward the Western Ghats and the lowland forests of Thattekkad. Cycle through scenic countryside with temples, spice gardens, paddy fields and rubber plantations.
Arrive at the River Periyar and your fixed cottage-tent accommodation.
Day 3 Thattekkad
Periyar is the longest river in Kerala and your camp is located just outside Thattekkad, Kerala’s first bird sanctuary with nearly 270 species of bird. Visit the sanctuary in the morning for the best chance to glimpse the common nightjars, drongos, woodpeckers or the rarer Grey-headed Fishing Eagle or Malabar Grey Hornbill.
Day 4 Munnar
Make the 3 hour road journey to the picturesque little town of Munnar, which lies at a height of 1800m. Visit the Tea Museum and afterwards trek to and camp at some of the highest regions of the Western Ghats. [Image: Nikhilb239].
Day 5 Munnar
The eco-system is primarily shola-grassland type. Sholas are high altitude montane forests typical of the Western Ghats. Sholas are hubs of endemism, enabling these areas to be included as one of the world’s 34 biodiversity hot spots. The indigenous people – the Muduvans and the Malapulayas inhabit the higher reaches of mountains.
Day 6 Munnar
Pass through wilderness with possible sightings of elephants, endangered Nilgiri Tahrs, Indian Bison and Malabar Giant Squirrels. As you trek to the Anaerangal Lake, take in the high-altitude rain forests and grasslands with great bio-diversity including rhododendrons, cardamom forests, spice-growing villages and tribal areas.
Day 7 Periyar
Start early for the 100km bike ride (first 30km down hill!) to Periyar National Park, one of the last remaining habitats for the wild tiger. Periyar Park is part of Project Tiger, a conservation effort to protect the remaining 40 Royal Bengal Tigers from extinction. Periyar is also famous for its picturesque (though artificial) lake, 62 mammal and over 330 bird species.
Day 8 Periyar
Join a naturalist-led walk in search of wildlife and to gain a better understanding of the surroundings. Many of the guides are former poachers. Also take a boat ride around the lake for a more relaxing view of the park and more wildlife spotting.
In the afternoon, visit a spice plantation to learn how cardamom and pepper grow.
Day 9 Alleppey
Leave wildlife behind and head towards Alappuzha (Alleppey) and your homestay. Slip silently through sleepy canals and backwaters, dotted with Chinese fishing nets – this is the timeless landscape of Kerala. En route, visit the famed Karumadi Kuttan temple.
In the afternoon start paddling through the backwaters.
Day 10 Alleppey
Kayak through narrow canals past peaceful villages, smiling children and farmers hard at work. This is an excellent opportunity to see village life at close quarters – local people engaged in fishing, duck rearing, shell and mud collection for the farms. You may also see the traditional tappers at work on coconut palms, extracting the local brew.
Day 11 Cochin
Travel back to your starting point at Cochin. You will be free to do some final shopping, take in the mosques, and the ferryboats scuttling backwards and forwards. Perhaps watch the sunset at the Chinese fishing nets on Fort Kochi before gathering for a farewell dinner in the evening.
Day 12 Cochin
Depart Cochin for onward travel to another Indian city, or an international flight home.
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