(Cochin, Munnar, Thekkady, Kumarakom)
The delicate aroma of tea dances on the hill-top breeze as tea plantations compete for space among the thick forests of exotic spices around Munnar.
Here, the highest peak south of the Himalayas towers over a stunning National Park sanctuary that reveals the unexpected natural beauty of southern India. This was an important historic post on the spice route and the heady aroma of spice farms in Kerala make for a fragrant exploration. Elsewhere, tour the Dutch colonial buildings, Jewish synagogues and ancient palaces at Kochi; witness a traditional Kerala dance; meet the endangered Nilgiri Tahr of the Eravikuklam National Park; visit the famous Periyar Tiger Reserve; explore the canals of Vembanad Lake; and experience the laidback lifestyle of the relaxed coastal villages.
India is often portrayed as a land of bustling, over-crowed super cites. This tour, on the other hand, showcases a very different side of the country. From soaring mountain ranges and lush tea plantations to thriving spice farms and stunning wildlife sanctuaries, you’ll experience all the natural beauty of southern India. And you’ll do so while staying in a luxury collection of distinctive hotels including mountain estates, opulent colonial properties and lagoon getaways.
Enjoy a personalized vacation that best suits your needs, developed by one of our experienced destination experts. Relax during your trip with our 24/7 support and expert local guidance.
A transfer with private vehicle, driver and English-speaking assistant between the airport and Cochin is provided.
Your guide will pick you up from your accommodation for your private tour of Cochin. The first stop is the Paradesi Synagogue. Built in 1568, it is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations. The synagogue is magnificently decorated with Chinese tiles and Belgian chandeliers. Giant scrolls of the Old Testament can be found here. Take a short boat ride to Bolghatty where you find the Dutch Palace offering a fantastic view of the city. This palace is notable for some of the best mythological murals in India, particularly in the bed chambers. In that room one can see the entire story of Ramayana on the walls. The palace also contains rare examples of traditional Kerala flooring, which look like polished black marble but are actually a mixture of burned coconut shells, charcoal, lime, plant juices and egg whites.
Enjoy a Kathakali dance performance. Dating back to the 17th century, it originated in the south Indian state of Kerala. The word Kathakali literally means "Story-Play". It is known for its large, elaborate makeup and costumes. Usually performed only by men, the actors rely heavily on hand gestures to convey their story.
Meet your driver for a private transfer from Cochin to Munnar. The transfer takes approximately 4.5 hours.
Munnar Tea Museum stands as an effort to acknowledge the hard labor of the futurists who showed great willpower to transform Munnar into a major tea plantation center in Kerala. The tea museum outlines the development of Munnar's tea estates, which is veritably conveyed through the displays that include the elementary tea roller as well as the modern fully automated tea factory. These machineries depict various stages of tea processing. One can also learn about the production of black tea. A sundial placed on a granite block sitting in the tranquilities of the compound welcomes every guest in the museum. The artifact was crafted by Art Industrial School at Nazareth, Tamil Nadu, in the year 1913. It symbolizes the growth and prosperity, which the Munnar tea estates experienced.
The sanctuary stands out for the stark beauty of its rolling grasslands spread over 97 square kilometers of unblemished natural splendor. Anamudi, the highest peak south of the Himalayas, towers over the sanctuary in majestic pride. The slopes of the hills abound in all kinds of rare flora and fauna. The Atlas Moth, largest of its kind in the world, is a unique possession of the park. The sanctuary was declared as a National Park in 1978. The park is breathtakingly beautiful and is easily comparable to the best mountain ranges found anywhere in the world.
A private transfer from Munnar to Thekkady is provided.
Take a private tour of a Kerala spice plantation, where you can see how natural pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, and nutmeg are grown. The spice plantations in Kerala are captivating farms to wander in and the various spices are cultivated in different sections of each plantation. On the spice plantation you can go for nature walks, bird watching treks, taste the various spices and breathe in the fragrant air.
Today your guide will pick you up from your accommodation to walk one of the different trails traversing diverse nature habitats. The treks are generally between 4 and 5 kilometers in length. This is an interpretive program offers excellent opportunity to watch birds, butterflies and other wildlife. The trails often pass through evergreen and moist deciduous forests interspersed with marshy grasslands. The walking tour lasts for about 3 hours departs between 7.00 a.m. and 10.30 am and returns between 2.00 p.m. and 3.00 p.m. A maximum of 5 persons can go for trekking at a time along each nature trail, accompanied by a trained tribal guide. The Nature Walk is the right program to feel nature, hear her whispers and smell her flowers.
Meet your driver for a private transfer to Kumarakom.
Alleppey is spread through canals, lakes and lagoons. Your private guide will lead you by boat through a maze of canals where you can observe different scenes from the villages, paddy fields, coconut palms, fishermen and local life.
Meet your driver for a private transfer to Cochin. The drive will take approximately 2 hours.
The Brunton Boatyard possesses a remarkable sense of scale, evident the moment you turn into the tiled forecourt. The lobby is a vault of sunlight and air, framed by arches and overhung with punkahs - enormous, old-fashioned fans of Indo-Portuguese origin. Most rooms have a balcony. The corner suites are large with a separate sitting / dining and a private pantry for the Butler. All bathrooms too enjoy a great view and there is no better way to enjoy a luxurious bath than to lie in the long tub and keep the window shutters open to watch a fascinating scene below. The hotel has its own private jetty, which doubles up as a ‘café’, overlooking the pool garden and the sea.
One of the best hotels in India, Windermere Estate in Munnar is the perfect accommodation option for business and leisure travelers. Ranking high among the hotels in Munnar in India, this hotel is buttressed with the finest possible amenities for the visitors. Perched atop the mountains 3 km from Munnar, the convenient location of Windermere Estate in Munnar helps the tourists to explore the land of Munnar with ease. The hotel, set on a cardamom plantation 1600 meters above sea level, is 95 km away from Cochin International Airport.
The Land Where Pepper Grows. Spice Village is located in the Periyar wilderness, high in the western ghats of Kerala. For centuries, the area attracted voyagers and adventurers, mercenaries and empire builders, kings and merchant princes. Men and women drawn not only by the lure of spices, but by the romance and wild beauty of the land. The Portuguese and the Jews of Cochin visited as traders, turning the natural bounties of the area into wealth. Pepper and cardamom, cinnamon and ginger, nutmeg, mace and anise the Periyar hills became nature's taste factory in the 14th century, as Cochin became nature's harbour, the port of lading for a spice-hungry world. Today, it's the rainforests, the animals and the vast silences that attract the modern visitor.
Coconut Lagoon is a boutique hotel located in an abandoned coconut plantation on the shores of the Vemabanad Lake. An ideal getaway for romantic holidays and family gatherings, this hotel charms you with its serenity, country side charm and greenery. Kumarakom, where the hotel is situated, is a favourite among holiday makers who are longing for a respite from the bustling city life. Coconut Lagoon captures all the nuances of this quaint little island, and tops it off with supreme facilities. This resort is surrounded by backwaters and is accessible only by boat.
India & Area
Jim Allard ,
December 09, 2014
"Sunita Singh did an outstanding job
Overall an excellent trip, well carried out.
The drivers in Delhi and overland from Agra to Udaipur made a great impression. Both were accomplished and accommodating. Access to transport in Delhi and Mumbai on our leisure days was noted and appreciated.
Guides in Delhi, Agra and Udaipur were standouts. The transfer reps all did an excellent job particularly since, on a number of occasions, they were there in the middle of the night.
All accommodations except for Mumbai were excellent. Memories of the culture of India ranks first but a close second in our minds will be the palace hotels.
The Leela Palace offers a peaceful and intimate refuge from the bustle of Delhi. Our reaction to the Nadesar was that it was the best hotel ever. Little did we realize each subsequent hotel in Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur would top that, except for the last in Mumbai.
We were there at an important moment in India's development and the various viewpoints in different cities reflects the promise and challenges facing the country.
Some thought the shock of Varanasi could be better absorbed later in the itinerary, however, the geography preempts that alternative.
Always room for improvement so we would offer the following
Biggest disappointment was the Taj Tower in Mumbai. Small rooms that could be anywhere on the planet. Better choice would be the old wing which matches up better with the overall experience.
Not all of the guides were understandable. They all seemed intelligent and knowledgable but were lacking in delivery of a dialogue. Some speak in a droning monologue that is difficult to follow and includes blinding detail that is soon forgotten.
Two glitches that were remedied: The pickup of the van in Agra had an impossible seating arrangement but that was corrected overnight to our complete satisfaction. The Lake Palace Rooms in Udaipur were initially a problem. One room was lovely but the other two were substandard, although the hotel said they were in the same class. Basically, the better room had the bathroom and closet along the full wall while the substandard alternative used only half the wall resulting in a minute closet, no shower, a single sink and no window. They initially stated that there was nothing better but within an hour the duty manager had found two adjacent rooms on another floor that had the double sinks, separate claw bath and shower overlooking the lake as well as better closet space. They graciously moved us while we were at dinner on the rooftop.
Finally there is always the gouging at shops where the guides get a commission. At a couple of stops this seemed egregious but we are all seasoned travellers and work around that annoyance.
Some of the others may wish to add to these comments but those are my thoughts.
Good memories, thanks"
India & Area
December 08, 2014
"Seamless first class organization and management of our tour.
Sunita Singh did an outstanding job setting up all our accommodations, guides and internal transport."
India & Area
November 28, 2014
"My Husband and I recently traveled to India the had the most amazing experience..
India is a remarkable country. it is the oldest civilization in the world and we were constantly marveling at the continuity of the culture over the millenniums.
We highly recommend that you book your India trip with the Kensington Tours INDIA Specialist, Senior Sales Consultant Sunita Singh who has lived in India & travelled extensively within the country and neighboring countries.
The entire trip was well planned and ran without a hitch. The guides were excellent, well educated, very knowledgable and extremely solicitous of us. A special recommendation to our driver Rakesh (spelling?) who negotiated the roads and sometimes heavy and interesting traffic with skill and good humor.
This was a private tour comprising of my husband and I. We were most impressed with the way the trip was organized and with the quality and care shown by every Kensington representative along the way.
We visited all the important destinations which exceeded our expectations. A wonderful aspect of traveling in this manner was that our guides were able to take us off the beaten path and we experienced local India in this way.
Our travels took us to Delhi, Varanasi, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Udaipur, the temples in Ranakpur and Agra. Varanasi was the highlight of the vacation. It is such a spiritual and special place and well worth the detour. The hotels were all 5 star plus and luxurious. We especially loved The Lake Palace in Udaipur and the Rambagh Palace in Jaipur. The Oberoi in Agra was also amazing.
It was a treat and a privilege to travel through Rajasthan in this way. India is such a special country to visit."
India & Area
Mike Simon ,
May 06, 2014
"Kensington planned a wonderful fascinating itinerary for us. All of the guides were so accommodating and flexible, wanting to be sure we were being cared for. India can be a difficult place in which to travel without the proper drivers and guides. Kensington's staff was all top notch."
India & Area
Jim & Gayle Stinson ,
April 21, 2014
"Our individualized, private trip to India was just fabulous. Thanks to all for a trip of a lifetime!"
India & Area
Sharleen Dickson ,
April 21, 2014
"The driver and guides were excellent!"
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