Spice Trails of Kerala

Resort:Spice Trails of Kerala
Operator: Exodus
Destination: Asia, India
Price From: £2299.00


Walking through the beautiful hills and tea plantations of South India

Traversing the Western Ghats from the colonial hill station of Munnar to the
colourful temple town of Madurai, we discover the two southern states of
Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Kerala is a true tropical paradise with idyllic
beaches, fertile forests and plantations of spice and tea, and it is here
where we reach our highest point, Meesapulimala Peak (2630m). We then cross
into the barren landscape of Tamil Nadu and marvel at the intricately carved
Sri Meenakshi Temple at Madurai. A trip to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary boasts
an array of wildlife and an abundance of colourful birdlife, and a cruise on
a traditional houseboat offers the chance to relax on the tranquil backwaters
of Kerala. Our journey ends in historical Cochin, a port which has been
luring traders and explorers for over 600 years.


* The beautiful hill station of Munnar
* Trekking through the historic tea plantations of Kerala
* The colourful Sri Meenakshi temple at Madurai
* A night on the traditional houseboats of Kerala


Day 1
Depart London

Depart London for the overnight flight to Cochin.

Day 2
Arrive Cochin

We arrive in Cochin and transfer to our hotel. Those clients not travelling
on the group flight will make their own way to the hotel and will join us
there. The evening is free for dinner and for you to relax after your
*Comfortable Hotel*

Day 3
Drive to the beautiful hill station of Munnar

In the morning we drive away from the coastal plain to Munnar, set amongst
Kerala’s highest mountains, they form a jagged line due east of Cochin. The
drive is approx. 160km and should take approximately 6 hours. Munnar is a
beautiful hill station on the Western Ghats at about 1600m above sea level.
It was once a summer resort of the British Government in south India due to
the fresh mountain air. The town is situated at the confluence of the three
mountain streams Mudrapauzha, Naliathanii and Kundala and is surrounded by
lakes, reservoirs, forests and several tea estates. Anamudi (2695m), the
highest peak in south India dominates the skyline and the many smaller peaks
are a walker’s paradise.
*Standard Hotel*

Day 4
Day walk through Munnar’s surrounding hills; optional visit to a Tea Museum

After breakfast, we take a short drive through old Munnar and travel down to
Nagarmudi (1500m), a tiny village, where we start our trek accompanied by a
local guide. The walk begins with a gradual ascent through the tea
plantations and then climbs into the Seven Malai Hills. Just before reaching
the summit (1700m) we enjoy walking through cardamom and coffee plantations.
Our hard work will be rewarded with spectacular views over Munnar and other
local villages. We then descend back to our vehicle. There is an optional
visit in the afternoon to the Tea Museum.
*Standard Hotel*

Day 5
Trek in the Silent Valley with beautiful views of the tea estates

We have a beautiful 1 hour drive to the Silent Valley, passing through some
tea estates and plantations in a valley surrounded by hills. Our trek will
start with a gradual walk on the plains of the tea plantations at approx
1600m, followed by a gentle climb to the grasslands. There are beautiful
views all around, mostly of the tea estates, which gives us a good feel for
the area. After lunch, we continue with the second part of our trek, which
becomes steeper as we leave the tea plantation behind and finally reach our
camp (2000m), where we spend two nights.
*Full-service Camping*

Day 6
Ascend Meesapulimala Peak (2630m), the highest in the area

Today we trek to Meesapulimala Peak (2630m), the second highest in south
India (Anamudi is the highest but it is in a restricted area). From our camp,
the trail ascends through the rough shola grassland until we reach open
ridges, bringing us to Meesapulima Peak. From the top (which is also the
border between Tamil Nadu and Kerala) there are breathtaking views all
around. After a break at the top and our packed lunch, we will descend to our
camp (2000m).
*Full-service Camping*

Day 7
Trek through plantations and thick forest to Yellapetty Village; on to
campsite (1750m)

In the morning we start our trek through the thick forest land of Silent
Valley and then through pine forests and along the streams of the Rhodo
Valley. After this, we pass through grasslands and shola forest where we may
be lucky to spot giant squirrels, wild boar and the Indian Gaur. Following a
packed lunch en route, we will reach Yellapetty Village, arriving late
afternoon. From here we will be taken by jeeps, for approx. 20 – 30 mins, and
then walk to our campsite at Oorkadu. (1750m
*Full-service Camping*

Day 8
Trek to Koviloor via Vattavada village (1900m)

Today we have a fairly easy walk with some slight ups and downs as we trek to
the beautiful village of Koviloor (1900m). Along the way we will pass through
the lush vegetable farming region of Pazhathottam and the ever-present tea
plantations in this part of India. We will find a shady spot for our lunch
stop and then continue our trek to the tribal village of Vattavada. The
customs, art forms and natural remedies of the tribes in this area make it an
interesting place to trek. Our visit to Vattavada village will be an
opportunity to meet the tribal people and learn about their lifestyle.If
we are lucky we may also observe some rare butterfly species fluttering
around. Continuing our trek we will cross a small canal before reaching our
campsite at Koviloor village. It is here that farmers converge from miles
around to sell their produce.
*Full-service Camping*

Day 9
Trek through the plantation ridge, drive on to Mundhan

This last day of our trek we head through the plantation ridge. From our
vantage point we have views over beautiful Koviloor village.This whole area
is known as the ‘market of India’ because of the amount of fruit and
vegetables grown. As we enjoy the scenery we may meet farmers busy with
their crops. We will end our trek with a packed lunch under the trees while
enjoying the natural beauty that surrounds us. After lunch we take jeeps
for approximately 5 to 6 hours (depending on traffic) to our hotel in
Mundhan. (650m)

*Standard Hotel*

Day 10
To Madurai; visit the colourful Sri Meenakshi Temple

Leaving Kerala behind we drive for approx. 2-3 hrs through the plains to the
colourful temple town of Madurai, in Tamil Nadu. Madurai is one of the oldest
and most fascinating cities in south India. The great Sri Meenakshi Temple,
most of which was built during the Nayak period between the 16th and 18th
centuries, is at the heart of the city and the life of the town revolves
around it. It is a hive of activity and the scene of an almost continuous
religious festival. Worshippers bathe in the tank of the Golden Lily and
throng the Hall of a Thousand Pillars, where each one is uniquely carved.
Madurai is a perfect place to wander around and experience Hindu culture.
*Comfortable Hotel*


Day 11
To Thekkady (Periyar National Park); evening walk through spice gardens

Leaving Madurai in the morning we drive to the small village of Thekkady. The
drive is spectacular as the road climbs through the Western Ghats and we have
fantastic views across Tamil Nadu. Thekkady is a small bustling village from
where we visit the Periyar National Park. This whole area is a centre for
spice growing and after lunch, there will be a short walk around a spice
garden, where we can see many different spices growing. There is plenty of
time in the afternoon to explore the bazaar, where we can visit the numerous
shops selling cardamoms, vanilla, peppercorns, chillies, turmeric and other
spices. Total driving time approx. 4-5 hrs.
*Standard Hotel*

Day 12
Morning nature walk; optional afternoon boat ride on Periyar Lake to see wild

The Periyar National Park is one of the largest in south India and is set
around a large man-made lake. In the early morning we will have a short
nature walk in the surrounding tropical forest and in the afternoon an
optional boat trip and cruise on the lake (tickets for the cruise can be
purchased online in advance. We recommend this in order to avoid long queues.
Please inform your leader if you wish to purchase tickets in advance). This
is an ideal opportunity to spot birds, such as kingfishers, storks and
hornbills, and occasionally we may spot an elephant, otters, wild pig and
buffalo. There is also the opportunity of an Ayurvedic massage (optional),
which can be arranged in the nearby Ayurvedic massage centre, and also a
cooking class (optional). The park will most likely be your last chance for
souvenir shopping. Card payments are taken and there is also an ATM.
*Standard Hotel*

Day 13
To Alleppey for overnight stay on a traditional Keralan houseboat

Today we begin by transferring to Allepey on the coast. We board our
houseboats and begin our cruise along the backwaters of Kerala. The houseboat
cruise is one of the highlights of the trip – these enchanting houseboats,
built of Anjili wood and bamboo, were the traditional method of transporting
of goods for hundreds of years. Now they have been decorated and made into
comfortable cruise boats. The network of rivers, streams, lagoons and canals
occupies the alluvial plain between the Western Ghats and the Indian Ocean.
As our boat meanders through areas of lush tropical vegetation we have the
opportunity to view not only the prolific bird life but also gain a differing
perspective on village life. All the houseboats are comfortably equipped and
have 3 or 4 twin bedded rooms with ensuite bathrooms.
There is a cook, boat driver and assistants for each boat and the food served
is traditional Keralan fare using local produce. No trip to Kerala would be
complete without the wonderful experience of the backwaters aboard these
traditional Keralite vessels.

Day 14
To our homestay on the Malabar Coast; explore local fisherman’s village

After a relaxing breakfast on the houseboats, we will disembark and drive
along the scenic Malabar Coast to our homestay, which is situated near a
beautiful stretch of beach. There is plenty of time to relax here and explore
the local fisherman’s village.

Day 15
To Cochin; afternoon sightseeing; Kathakali dance show (optional)

We head back to Cochin and during the afternoon there will be a guided tour;
this will include Mattancherry Palace built by the Portuguese as a gift for
the Raja of Cochin, the Jewish synagogue dating from 1568 and St Francis
church. We also explore the town of Cochin, its bazaars and old harbour area.
Fort Cochin is believed to be the earliest European settlement in India and
was founded by the Portuguese in 1503. Warehouses filled with the smell of
tea and spices are lime-washed bright green, yellow and blue; rickety old
bikes and hand-painted trucks, piled high with goods fill the narrow streets
and food stalls stand on every corner. Further along the road, you come to
Mattancherry and the Dutch Palace. Next to the Palace is the synagogue, built
in 1568 for the Jewish members of Cochin’s trading communities (please bear
in mind that the synagogue is closed on Saturdays). Most people choose to
stay in Fort Cochin and wander around its fascinating streets. In the evening
there is the chance for an optional visit to see a display of Kathakali
Dancing, a form of dance unique to Kerala.
*Comfortable Hotel*

Day 16
Fly to London

If you are on the group flights you will have an early morning transfer to
the airport for the flight back to London. Those not flying with the group
will leave us at the hotel in Cochin.