Day 1 - UK - Cochin
Today you'll fly to Cochin.
Day 2 - Cochin
Kerala's cosmopolitan capital Cochin is known as the 'Queen of the Arabian Sea' thanks to the beauty of its natural harbour. The city is made up of a series of picturesque islands and boasts unique houses built on stilts and tranquil backwaters.
After settling in at your hotel, get to know your travelling companions over dinner this evening. D
Day 3 - Cochin
Today begins with a morning tour of Cochin. We'll head to the centre of Jew Town, a bustling port area and centre of Cochin's spice trade, where we will see the oldest Jewish Synagogue in the commonwealth, dating back to 1568. Next stop is the Mattancherry Kerala Palace, renamed the Dutch Palace after Cochin was taken from the Portuguese by the Dutch. Admire the splendid murals that adorn some of the rooms, said to be amongst the best in India. We round off our tour with a visit to St Francis Church, where Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama died and was buried.
At lunchtime we are invited to a cooking demonstration in the home of a well-known local chef and food journalist. Here, you'll learn how to use Kerala's aromatic spices in your own cooking and get to sample the dishes you create.
Another speciality of Kerala is Kathakali dance and we'll learn about this unique art form this evening before enjoying a 'Sadya' vegetarian feast with the group. This shared meal will take you on a gastronomic journey through Kerala as you try a tempting selection of dishes from many different regions. Each is served following local customs and come in an order which is said to help digestion. You'll eat from a banana leaf, which points in a certain direction, with rice served on the bottom half, and other items placed in clockwise order. You'll find that your hosts serve dessert mid-way through the meal. B,L,D
Day 4 - Cochin - Thekkady
A long but rewarding drive is on the cards today as we head to Thekkady. There’s a treat for all the senses as we journey past rice paddies, tea and rubber tree plantations and aromatic gardens of coffee, cardamom and pepper plants, while the Western Ghats mountain range provide a beautiful backdrop to the surrounding rainforests and backwaters. As the sun goes down we'll head to a spice plantation where we'll enjoy a tour. Superb peppers are grown here on the Malabar Coast and as such are referred to as 'black gold'. B,D
Day 5 - Thekkady
We’re heading into Periyar Game Reserve today. A boat trip will give you the chance to look for elephants, bison and deer on the shoreline as well as all manner of exotic plants that, if you’re very lucky, may be hiding the elusive tiger. B,D
Day 6 - Thekkady - Alleppey
Our drive this morning takes us to Alleppey, where we'll board one of Kerala's famous houseboats for an overnight stay with a difference. Your 'kettuvallom' – modelled on the area's traditional rice boats – offers an unforgettable experience for you and your travelling companions. Head on deck for a cruise through the backwaters to see how the locals live, then enjoy a tranquil evening as our boat anchors in a quiet spot. B,L,D
Day 7 - Alleppey - Kumarakom
Breakfast served on our houseboat is a great start to the day. We'll then take to the road and head to Kumarakom, cutting a route through coconut farms and fragrant spice gardens. A village tour and stop for lunch give us a chance to stretch our legs before arrival at our hotel. B,L,D
Day 8 - Kumarakom - Kovalam
The final leg of our journey takes us to the Kovalam beach area today – a stunning location with magnificent beaches on which to relax and soak up the sun. B,D
Day 9 - Kovalam - at leisure
You've another full day to relax in the beautiful coastal resort of Kovalam. You could choose to stay put and enjoy the facilities at your hotel, which include three swimming pools, a spa and health club. B,D
Day 10 - Kovalam - at leisure
The day is yours to do as you please. Be sure to head to the beach to see the fishermen pulling in the huge Chinese fishing nets for which this area is famous. Join your fellow travellers this evening for a farewell dinner. B,D
Day 11 - Kovalam - UK
You'll transfer to the airport for your flight back to the UK. B