Kerala by Foot
Trip Code: AITKBF
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Walking is one of the best ways to truly get to know a place. This itinerary features a series of gentle day walks, allowing you to see a hidden side of one of India’s best known states.
Parts of Kerala have been designated as bio-diversity hotspots, thanks to their unique characteristics and high rate of endemism. This walking tour takes you through a variety of Kerala’s distinct ecosystems: shola forest (high montane forest interspersed with patches of grassland), plantations, tropical rainforest and the backwaters. Along the way there are stops in several better known towns – with lovely accommodation on offer – and the opportunity to wind up the trip by the beach or in a boutique backwater guest house – ample reward for your efforts walking.
Average walking times and distances are up to 15 kms/6 hours per day, giving you plenty of time to relax and enjoy the scenery during and at the end of the day. The itinerary and walking can be customised to suit different level of fitness – please make an inquiry and we would be happy to discuss the options.
Day 1 Munnar
Leave the plains and head for the hills. Munnar is Kerala’s premier hill station built around the tea industry. The altitude, above 1600m, means an agreeable climate throughout the year, though in December-January the temperatures can drop below zero degrees Celsius. Annual rainfall of over 3m, mainly during June-September. Camp overnight.
Day 2 Munnar
The tea estates here have meant that a ‘tea culture’ spawned by the British remains, with most of the land under the control of the tea companies, most notable is Tata Tea. Walk through the shola, or high altitude montane evergreen forests, which are typical of the Western Ghats and considered biologically extremely fragile. Camp overnight. [Image: Kaazhcha].
Day 3 Munnar
This trek takes you to the source of many of Kerala’s rivers. All rivers in Kerala originate from these shola-grasslands. Sholas are a hub 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 4 Munnar
The National Park at Eravikulam is host to the world’s largest population of the endangered Nilgiri Tahrs, numbering over a thousand. The professional management of the park has resulted in the Tahrs returning from the brink of extinction. At Rajamala, see the Tahrs in the wild. Camp overnight.
Day 5 Periyar
Leave the high altitudes and drive to Periyar and into rainforest. Situated within the confines of the Western Ghats, Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve is one of the most captivating wildlife parks in the world. Stay the first of three nights at the lovely Wildernest. [Image: Wouter Hagens].
Day 6 Periyar
In the company of guides, trek in the Periyar National Park. The park is part of Project Tiger, a conservation effort to protect the remaining 40 Royal Bengal Tigers from extinction. This reserve also has large herds of Asiatic elephants, Indian Bison and over 330 species of birds including the majestic Great Hornbill. Return to Wildernest.
Day 7 Periyar
Learn about the park history from the guides, many of whom are former poachers. Experience the picturesque (though artificial) lake at the sanctuary’s heart which spans an area of 55km2. The park terrain ranges from hilly to flat grassland areas at the edges of the lakes. The vegetation is of moist deciduous type. Last night at the Wildernest.
Day 8 Kumarakom
Travel 2 hours to Kumarakom. Embark a houseboat for a leisurely trip down the Kumarakom lagoon, staying overnight on the boat. The cruise passes through the lagoons, rivers and lakes of Central Kerala, with a chance to take in the panorama of Kerala’s rural life – fishing, duck rearing, shell collection.
Day 9 Alleppey
Disembark at a heritage home on the backwaters. This 150-year-old timber house is situated in the beautiful lowland Kuttanad countryside, ideal for walking and finding the “real” Kerala.
Day 10 Alleppey
Daily we will take walks into the countryside. Transfer from one island to another by local canoes. Visit local temples and experience something of the life of the people as you walk around the countryside.
Day 11 Alleppey
‘Discover’ peaceful villages, smiling children and farmers hard at work. Enjoy a relaxing day walking in the countryside seeing village life at close quarters.
Day 12 Cochin
Arrive at Cochin and your heritage hotel in the heart of Fort Cochin. Take in the history and culture of Fort Cochin – St Francis Church, the Basilica, the Dutch Museum and the heritage walk at Fort Cochin.
Day 13 Cochin
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 14 Cochin
Depart Cochin for onward travel to another Indian city, or an international flight home.
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