Five Day Tour of Kerala
We recently did a short tour of Kerala with Toni & Jerry (Parents of our daughter-in-law) . Organized the trip through a travel agency – Travel Planners. This was a five day trip as part of Toni & Jerry’s introduction to India. Kerala lives up to its name – ‘God’s own Country’. Lovely countryside, clean and scenic.
We first flew into Cochin where we were met by our Driver cum Guide – Ragin. He spoke acceptable English which we had insisted on.
Make it a point to arrive before 12 noon so that you have sufficient time for the first days drive to Munnar.
After leaving the airport, we made a first halt to pick up a few dozen bottles of Mineral water. This is advisable as you cannot be sure of what you will get in smaller villages and in hotels they mark up the price unreasonably.
The drive to Munnar took about 5 hours. The first stop on the way after about an hour was for lunch. We opted for a South Indian fare which turned out to be a great decision. Food was excellent.
South Indian Thali
Next we stopped at a Spice Plantation. Paid Rs.150/- each for the tour of the plantation which was quite informative. Learned a lot about origins of various spices and herbal medicines. Then of course came the shop! Where we ended up buying more than required amounts of spices and a few herbal medicines.
Then drove on to Munnar, arriving at about 6pm.
Our stay was at the Spice Tree Resort, located on top of a mountain. However, getting there was hair raising as the road was very narrow and not well paved. This was a 5 star resort with great views of the hills and valleys with tea gardens.
Drive up to the Hotel !!!
Tea gardens near Munnar
Lake near Munnar
The rooms were excellent, large, clean and well laced out with all amenities and extras. They even had a Jacuzzi!
Views from the Hotel
Staff were extremely nice and friendly. Food was great.
The next morning we went out to Munnar and visited the Tea Museum and factory. This was a very interesting and educational visit.
Tea manufacturing process in the Museum
After the Museum visit, we returned to the resort and got there in time for their Tea Tasting session. They showed us a variety of teas, how to make the brew without killing the flavors and a taste of different varieties of tea.
You could also use the day to visit the Wild Life Park and see the Mountain Goats and also drive to see the Dam and Lake. We avoided this as we didn’t wish to spend the day in a car!
We checked out after an early Breakfast for the drive to Thekkady. Great drive mostly through tea gardens. Drive took about 4 hours.
We arrived at Thekkady in time for lunch and checked into our hotel the Greenwood Resort.
After lunch we went out to the Game Reserve. For this you have to buy tickets and go by the government run sanctuary busses which will take you to the lake. There we boarded the tour boat which took us all round the lake. I found this to be a well organized trip, except for the return where the buses were not ready in time.
We were quite lucky on the boat ride to spot elephants, wild boar, otters playing by the shore, and a variety of birds. This in spite of bad weather – cyclone Ochi passing over Kerala before hitting Lakshadweep islands.
Elephants in the mist
After the visit to the reserve, we rushed back for the Martial Arts show which started at 5pm. This is a one hour demonstration of Kerala Martial Arts which was very interesting. This was immediately followed by a run down the road for the Kathakali performance in another theater. Kathakalli is a dance form of Kerala. They first give you an introduction to the various eye movements and facial expressions, which helped us understand the actual performance. Quite an educational experience.
Kallari (apologies for poor Photo quality)
After all the running about we went for dinner at a restaurant specializing in various stuffed Dosas. Advisable if you are a Dosa lover and more so if you are a non-vegetarian.
On returning to our hotel, we just collapsed after a long and full day.
After breakfast we checked out and left for Allepey to board our Houseboat. This was roughly a 4 hours drive to the boarding point.
We boarded our boat at noon and left immediately after introductions to our crew. We were to be attended on by a cook, his assistant and the captain.
After setting out, they served a sumptuous lunch cooked Kerala style, while cruising down the backwaters.
The boat took us down different canals and onto a huge backwater lake. On the way we spotted a variety of kingfisher and other birds.
Villages along the waterways
At 4pm they took two of us in a motorized canoe for a one hour trip down smaller canals which was an amazing experience for Toni & Jerry.
Then at about 6pm they docked for the night.
We were served dinner at about 8pm. Again a wonderful spread of food.
After dinner we retired for the night in our air conditioned bedrooms.
After a very comfortable nights sleep, we were woken up with bed tea at 7, served breakfast at 8 and then dropped off at Allepey at 9am.
We were picked up by another driver who would drop us at the airport. Since we had time to spare, we asked for a tour of Cochin. He took us first to see a Kerala temple, which we could see from outside as they are very strict about attire of those entering temples. Then we drove down the coastal road to Cochin.
In Cochin we visited the Mattancherry Palace museum and walked around the synagogue, which unfortunately was closed that day. Sad to have missed that visit.
We then had lunch and proceeded to the airport.
Altogether a memorable trip with experiences for a lifetime!
(Photo Credits to Jerry Mariani)
You can extend you trip to Kerala by staying an additional one or two days.
There are excellent resorts on the backwaters at Kumarakom to just relax for a day or two.
You can also drive to Kanyakumari at the very tip of India to see the meeting of three seas –
I have done this on a previous trip…. which I will write about later.