Antarctica & Arctic
This walking holiday takes in the diversity of tropical Kerala in India's far south.
Destinations > India > On Foot in Kerala
6 nights standard hotel accommodation, 3 nights simple camping, 1 night simple houseboat accommodation, 10 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 4 dinners, transportation by bus and boat, services of an Explore tour leader, local English-speaking guides and trek crew
7 Nov '19; 13 Feb, 9 Apr; 5, 26 Nov, 24 Dec '20
Trek among the forests and grasslands of the mountainous Western Ghats, walk in search of wildlife in the Periyar National Park and meet the locals rambling through tranquil Backwaters' villages. Exploring on foot is the best way to discover the culture and landscapes of God's Own Country.
Back to India Tours
Meesapulimala Peak - Enjoy the views from one of South India's highest peaks
Backwaters cruise - Observe daily life in the tranquil Backwaters and spend the night aboard a converted rice barge
Kochi - Explore colonial architecture and city sights on a walking tour
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Our Kerala adventure starts in the harbour city of Kochi, a gathering place for merchants and traders since antiquity. Beginning with the arrival of Jewish and Arab spice traders in the first century AD, its prosperity and importance increased with the arrival of the Portuguese, who were later followed by the Dutch and the English. This eclectic heritage has invested the city with a fascinating mix of styles and influences.
This morning we drive to Fort Kochi and take a walking tour of India's oldest European settlement. We take in the architectural charms of the Church of St Francis and some of the other notable colonial buildings - the site of the city's 16th century Jewish synagogue (closed on Fridays), the oldest in the Commonwealth and the exterior of the Mattancherry Palace, originally built by the Portuguese as a gift for the Raja of Cochin in 1555, but later extensively renovated by the Dutch. In the afternoon we then drive inland to Munnar and the stunning vistas of the Western Ghats. The 140 kilometre drive takes us into the heart of tea country, where fresh mountain air and tropical forests share the landscapes with spice plantations and tea estates.
Our walking tour today is graded easy and we expect it to take approximately two hours. (B)
Our first day's hiking in the Ghats begins from the small village of Nagarmudi (1500 m), just a short drive from old Munnar. Beginning with a gradual climb, we ascend through the tea plantations up into the Seven Malai Hills, passing crops of coffee and cardamom as we make our way to the summit (1700 m). The walk today will take us around four to five hours, but the views more than compensate for the hard climb, as we are presented with some spectacular panoramas across the Chittrapuram Dam and out towards the Anamudi Peak, Munnar and the local villages. Descending to our vehicle, we then drive back to Munnar for our second night.
Our 11 kilometre walk today is moderately-graded and we expect it to take approximately four to five hours. (B)
It's an hours jeep ride via the forest office this morning to the start of our three day point to point hike. The walk proceeds through a landscape blanketed with tea plantations, sholas of eucalyptus and plantations of plane. The beautiful views and array of tea estates laid out before us give a real flavour of the area. Stopping to enjoy a picnic lunch in shade of a tea garden, we then continue climbing towards our camp at Silent Valley, situated in a meadow close to a small stream.
Ascending to a height of 2000 m, today's walk will cover around 12 kilometres, taking us between four and five hours to reach the camp. (B)(L)(D)
Leaving camp after breakfast this morning, we begin the ascent of Meesapulimala Peak, the second highest in South India. The trail towards the summit takes us from rough grassland and up onto the ridge line, where we continue climbing through patches of open grassland towards the peak. The journey to the top will take us around three to four hours and from its lofty heights, the views look down across Kerala and Tamil Nadu (if the summit isn't shrouded in mist). You might even pass the odd herd of Nilgiri Thar (a type of wild goat) on the way. After a chance to rest and enjoy the scenery, we then descend towards Rhodo Valley (2300 m), stopping off for a picnic lunch en route. As the camping area at Rhodo Valley is currently closed, we return by jeep for a second night at our Silent Valley camp.
Our walk today is moderately-graded and we expect it to take approximately six to seven hours to cover eight kilometres. (B)(L)(D)
Today provides us with our longest day's walking, as we meander our way through a stunning backdrop of verdant plantations and vivid red rhododendron forests. This part of the Western Ghats is home to a staggering array of life, with wild boar and Atlas moths sharing the stage with a dazzling mix of local flora. As we climb, the views out across the local countryside take in villages and lakes, before we begin a gradual winding descent towards Ellapetty village where we enjoy a picnic lunch surrounded by vegetable gardens planted by the local tea workers. From here it's a 30 minutes transfer by jeep to our final camp at Top Station/Oorkad (1900 m).
Our walk today is moderately-graded and we expect it to take approximately seven hours to cover 16 kilometres. (B)(L)(D)
Breaking camp for the last time today we drive back towards Munnar and on to Thekkady, gateway to the Periyar National Park. Taking up much of the morning, the 160 kilometre drive weaves across the Western Ghats before reaching Thekkady later this morning. This part of India has long been renowned for its abundant spices. Indeed, it was to the spice rich shores of the Malabar Coast that Christopher Columbus was heading when he bumped into America by mistake. After lunch we take a short walk around a spice garden, enjoying an aromatic wander through crops of black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and clove. There should also be time to explore the local bazaar before dinner. (B)
This morning we enjoy a walk in observation of the flora and fauna in the Periyar National Park. Set around the picturesque shores of Lake Periyar and one of the largest parks in South India, it is home to an incredible diversity of wildlife including elephant, tiger (although we don't expect to see one!), sambar, wild pigs, bison, monkeys and langurs. It also boasts some 112 species of butterflies and 246 species of birds including cormorants, darters, ospreys, kingfishers, hornbills and kites. The walk will take between two to three hours, after which there may be an opportunity this afternoon to enjoy an optional boat trip on the lake. Please be aware, tickets for the cruise are only available locally and are on a first come, first served basis.
Our walk today is graded easy, mostly flat and at a leisurely pace as we take in the flora and fauna of the park. We expect it to take approximately two to three hours. (B)
Driving to the coastal town of Alleppey this morning we head for the myriad canals and channels that make up the Kerala Backwaters, boarding a traditional houseboat for an overnight cruise through the region. A time-honoured form of transport, these wonderfully characterful boats are made of anjili wood and bamboo and come with en-suite twin bedrooms and an on-board chef, providing the perfect way to enjoy the scenic and cultural beauty of this remarkable setting. Along theses narrow channels, the industrious villagers survive on narrow spits of land, keeping cows, pigs, chickens and even cultivating vegetable gardens. Nothing goes to waste: the shells from the fresh water mussels are burnt to make building lime and coir is used for just about everything. This evening we'll moor up along the banks of Vembanad Lake. (B)(L)(D)
Driving to the coastal town of Alleppey this morning we head for the myriad canals and channels that make up the Kerala Backwaters, boarding a traditional houseboat for an overnight cruise through the region. A time-honoured form of transport, these wonderfully characterful boats are made of anjili wood and bamboo and come with en-suite twin bedrooms and an on-board chef, providing the perfect way to enjoy the scenic and cultural beauty of this remarkable setting. Along theses narrow channels, the industrious villagers survive on narrow spits of land, keeping cows, pigs, chickens and even cultivating vegetable gardens. Nothing goes to waste: the shells from the fresh water mussels are burnt to make building lime and coir is used for just about everything. This evening we'll moor up along the banks of Vembanad Lake. (B)(L)
Our trip ends today at our hotel. (B)
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