Book online and enjoy exclusive savings on Exodus 15 Day Spice Trails of Kerala. 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...read more 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 group flight arrives in Cochin in the afternoon and we 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 journey. Stay: Comfortable Hotel.
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. Stay: Standard Hotel.
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. Stay: Standard Hotel.
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. Stay: Full-service Camping.
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). Stay: Full-service Camping.
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). Stay: Full-service Camping.
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. Stay: Full-service Camping.
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) Stay: Standard Hotel.
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. Please note, due to a fire that took place inside Meenakshi temple in February 2018, the temple authority has closed off the Thousand Pillared Hall to tourists until further notice (potentially until August 2018). Other parts of the temple remain open for the public. Stay: Comfortable Hotel
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. Stay: Standard Hotel.
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. Stay: Standard Hotel.
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. Stay: Houseboat.
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. Stay: Standard Hotel.
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. Stay: Comfortable Hotel.
Those not flying with the group will leave us at the hotel in Cochin.
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
8 nights hotels, 4 nights camping, 1 night homestay, 1 night houseboat
5 days point-to-point trekking with full porterage; plus 2 shorter walks
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