Offbeat and Experiential Kerala
Offbeat & Experiential Kerala takes you through some of the pristine plantation highland areas, backwaters and villages of Kerala where you stay in home-stays that offer personalised hospitality, ethnic cuisine and best of local experiences. Here you stay in a working plantation, explore countryside, interact with locals, canoe in backwaters, enjoy countryside drives and capture the very essence of Kerala, while being completely away from crowded touristy areas.
Offbeat & Experiential Kerala Highlights
- Walk around 100+ acre estate comprising Rubber, Pepper and Coconut plantations
- Guided bird watching at Thattekad Bird Sanctuary
- Cycling through villages around Thattekad
- Spice and Plantation Tour at Teekoy to understand cultivation of rubber, coffee, vanilla, and spices like cardamom and pepper
- Trek in the Western Ghats and plantation areas around Teekoy with a stopover at a waterfall
- 7 course sit down lunch of continental dishes at a heritage villa at Pala
- Motor Boat Cruise at Alleppey to 1400 Years Old Church, Snake Boat & Ancient Temple
- Country Fishing, Toddy Tapping and Village visit at Alleppey
- Visit to Fort Cochin heritage areas followed by Kathakali dance at a local cultural centre
- Tuktuk drive to join traditional fish auction at Kumbhalangi
- Take a boat ride to a village near Kumbhalangi for a village style Lunch by the backwaters
- Private Yoga session by the backwaters at Kumbhalangi
- Accommodation in a double / twin room with all meals (Except in Kerala Gramam where it is with Breakfast)
- Ethnic Kerala Cuisine Served everywhere (Meals can be prepared as per Individual preferences)
- Colonial Style Lunch at Pala at Nazarani Tharavad
- Activities and Experiences as per itinerary at all locations
- Car with driver on disposal for 9 days – AC Toyota Innova
- Packaged water in car
- All currently applicable taxes
- Any air fare or train fare
- Any meals other than those specified in ‘Cost Includes’
- Expenses of personal nature such as gratuities, telephone calls, laundry, liquor etc
- India visa charges
- Travel insurance
Expert Travel Opinion
Day 01 - Thattekad
Arrival at Cochin International Airport and transfer to Thattekad
Arrival at Cochin International Airport. Here you are met by our representative and introduced to your private driver who will accompany you for rest of your stay. From here you get transferred to Mundackal Homestay, a plantation homestay in midst of 104 acre of Rubber, Pepper and Coconut, plantations at just 38 kms from Cochin Airport (1 hour drive).
Upon arrival you meet the hosts Jose and Daisy, renowned for being very friendly and for their fantastic cooking. Rest of the day you spend walking around the large estate and relaxing after an International flight. Thereafter enjoy dinner over an interesting conversation with fellow travellers and the host family.
- Time permitting, you may visit the plantation for an insight into rubber tapping and processing
- Time permitting, You may opt for cookery demonstration for Kerala cuisine recipes
Day 02 - Thattekad
Morning Bird watching and afternoon experiences around Thattekad
Today you start early at 6 AM for a guided bird watching at the nearby Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary (12 kms), a prime bird watching destination in India having 300+ species in 25 sq km area. The area is renowned for exotic birds such as Malabar Parakeet, Ceylon Frogmouth, Malabar Dragon etc. The walk through Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary will take you through dense forests and water bodies. A 3 hour walk can yield at least 50+ species. You may take a packed breakfast along (recommended for longer 3 hour birding) or choose to return to Mundackal for the breakfast (recommended for shorter 2 hour birding).
After some rest spend time walking around the plantation. Lunch at Mundackal is definitely the highlight o the stay. You would be treated to a most extensive and sumptuous Kerala ethnic cuisine prepared under personal supervision of Daisy. In the late afternoon you proceed to explore villages around Mundackal on a Bicycle. Return by evening.
Day 03 - Teekoy
Travel to Teekoy. Afternoon Spice Plantation Tour
This morning you travel to Teekoy (3000 ft asl - 70 kms - 2 hours drive), a plantation and rainforest area in heart of Western Ghats (a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the eight bio diversity hotspots in the world). Here you arrive to the enchanting Vanilla County Homestay. You will be greeted by hosts Baby Mathew and wife Rani, part of a long lineage of planters and farmers. Vanilla County is set on a 165 acre estate in close proximity to the Meenachil River in heart of the Western Ghat and plantation areas (Tea, Coffee, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Vanilla, Cardamom and Pepper are grown around the area).
You spend some time getting acquainted with the hosts and exploring the surroundings before Lunch time. Lunch at Vanilla county is an elaborate meal with traditional Kerala Syrian Christian and Indian dishes.
In the afternoon you proceed for the plantation and spice tour. The tour gives you a glimpse into the different aspects of cultivation of rubber, coffee, vanilla, and spices like cardamom and pepper. Upon your return, you have an option to take a dip into the natural rock pool in the estate or take a nature walk around. Dinner at Vanilla County is where all guests get together in the dining area and where you are served a Kerala style Dinner. Hosts will also offer some homemade wines to enhance dining experience.
Expert Tip: Morning before arriving at Teekoy, you have the option to visit the Kodanad Elephant Camp for some interaction with Elephants.
Day 04 - Teekoy
Activities and Experiences around Teekoy
Today you depart in morning for explorations around Teekoy. You have an option to do a half day trek (Level of Difficulty - Easy) in the Western Ghat and plantation areas with a stopover at a waterfall / river stream enroute. Alternatively you may take an excursion to Ayyampara (20 acre rock formation), Poonjar Palace (Seat of the ancient Poonjar Kingdom), Maramala Wateralls (200 meters fall), Vagamon (a renowned hill station with an offbeat character and stunning views) and Visit Tomb of Saint Alphonsa, The first catholic saint from India. Return to Vanilla County for Lunch and spend the rest of the day at leisure or exploring one of the experiences at Vanilla County.
Day 05 - Alleppey
Travel to Alleppey. Enroute enjoy a Colonial style sit down Lunch.
Today morning you take a short hike around Teekoy area. Mornings are excellent for bird watching and photography around the Western Ghats. You return for the breakfast and thereafter you depart around 11 AM to travel to Pala (22 kms). At Pala you arrive to Nazarani Tharavad, a heritage homestay. After spending some time at the Nazarani Tharavad and interacting with the host family and understanding history of the heritage mansion, you will be served a 7 course sit down lunch of continental dishes at a beautifully set table with plates changed after every dish that will remind you of a style and taste of the cuisine of the bygone era.
Thereafter you proceed to Alleppey (60 kms - 1.5 hours), renowned for its 3000+ kms of backwater network which gives Kerala the tag of "Venice of the East". You arrive by evening to Emerald Isle Heritage Villa, an award-winning villa spread over 9 acre estate overlooking backwaters South of Alleppey, renowned for its character, hospitality and authentic experiences. You will be met by the host Vinod Job or his team members. Rest of the evening for you to spend at leisure on own, getting acquainted with the surroundings and interacting with host family and other fellow travellers.
Expert Tip: Ayurveda is ancient Kerala science of Medicine and an Ayurveda Massage is considered an experience. You may opt for an Ayurveda Massage in evening at Emerald Isle.
Day 06 - Alleppey
Activities and experiences around Alleppey Backwaters
Today you depart in morning for a Motor Boat Cruise to 1400 Years Old Church, Snake Boat & Ancient Temple. Enroute you witness locals get on with their day chores. You will see them departing by the public transport (a ferry), cross over between two sides in a Ro-Ro vessel, fishermen selling their fresh catch and markets buzzing with activity. After breakfast, you may try some local style Fishing Using Different Equipments, Toddy Tapping and undertake a Tour of the village around Emerald Isle. You return to Emerald by noon. After some rest you are served Lunch. Lunch is typically Kerala Cuisine with local delicacies using locally-grown spices and herbs. Local Fish delicacies such as Karimeen Pollichathu and Chicken dishes are combined with Dosa, Appam and wide ranging vegetarian dishes for a most comprehensive meal experience. Later in the afternoon you may opt for some Kayaking in backwaters or visit local coir processing centre or take up another round of backwater exploration or just relax and enjoy backwater character of the area.
Expert Tip: You may opt for a Cookery class of local Kuttanadan cuisine in afternoon / evening.
Day 07 - Kochi
Depart from Alleppey to Kumbhalangi (near Fort Cochin)
Today morning you may choose to undertake another exploration of the backwaters. After breakfast you will depart for Kumbhalangi (60 kms - 1.5 kms), a village and backwater area at 10 kms from Fort Cochin. Enroute you visit Arthunkal, home to St Andrews Basilica, a major Catholic Pilgrimage in South India. You will arrive to Kerala Gramam Homestay, a village homestay spread over a few acres set right on the Kumbalangi backwaters. In the afternoon you depart for heritage zone of Fort Cochin (10 kms) and Mattancheri, antique shops and spices market followed by an evening of Kathakali dance at Greenix Village, followed by a dinner at one of the charming restaurants within the Fort Cochin heritage area. You return to Gramam by late evening.
Day 08 - Kochi
Explore around Kumbhalangi
Today morning you take an early morning tuktuk drive through the open paddy fields to the beach side and join traditional fish auction. This is where fresh catch has been traded by fishermen, a tradition that has continued over many centuries. You return for breakfast and thereafter you walk around Kumbhalangi village. Around Lunch time you take a boat ride to opposite village for a simple village style Lunch in a beautiful backwater setting. You return after lunch and after some rest, you proceed for Sunset boat trip in a local canoe. You return to Gramam by evening for a simple dinner.
Day 09 - Kochi
Morning Yoga Session before departure from Cochin
Today morning you take a private Yoga session. Kerala Gramam offers a most serene setting with stunning views for a Yoga session. Thereafter you depart to Cochin Airport (50 kms - 1.5 kms) for onward departure.
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