Kerala Highlights, Cuisine & Yoga Group Tour

At a Glance

MUNNAR – THEKKADY – KUMARAKOM & BACKWATERS – MARARIKULAM BEACH – FORT KOCHI

Sharon Evans the passionate owner of Mystic India Ltd, would like to invite you to join her small private luxury escorted tour from Gatwick for a maximum of 12 guests to Kerala, South India from the 26th September 2020 for two weeks Saturday to Saturday.

Come and discover ‘God’s Own Country’ with Sharon. Experience South Indian culture, its aromatic cuisine and learn to cook some local dishes to impress your friends when you return.

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If you’re inclined to practice Yoga there are some incredible locations to take your morning lessons, all our 5-star hotels will be offering this each day.

During the tour, you will see Tea Plantations and learn about tea. Stay in the heart of the spice region Thekkady which is also home to Periyar National Park, While here you will visit a spice plantation and see the various spices used in the Keralan kitchen, later that evening our hotel chef will teach us about their uses and quantities used in cooking.

While in Thekkady take a Nature Walk with a naturalist you may even see wild elephants. Then we travel to Kumarakom where you can relax by the backwaters. Here we have included a visit to a local village with craft demonstrations, on another day we have arranged a private cruise on a houseboat with lunch included.

Just before the end of our wonderful tour, you have three leisurely days to relax beachside at Mararikulam then finally our last destination old Fort Kochi. While here we have arranged for you to take part in a culinary experience where you will shop, cook and eat like a local. Not forgetting that you will witness a cultural Indian show of the famous Kathakali Dance and for those that wish to attend earlier, you can even watch the dancers putting on the makeup and getting ready for the performance. Then our last night before being transferred to the airport is our Farewell Dinner where we have arranged a special seafood dinner at the Casino Hotel on Willington Island which is famous all over Kochi for there seafood restaurant.

Some special meals included are:

  • Talk by the chef on Kerala spices followed by cooking demonstration and dinner at Spice Village, Thekkady;
  • Day cruise on a houseboat with lunch;
  • Village experience followed by lunch in Kumarakom;
  • Local culinary experience (cooking demo with dinner) in Kochi;
  • Seafood dinner at Casino Hotel, Kochi;

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Starting from £2378.00

26th Sept'20 - International flights LGW & VIP meet at aircraft door included. *Single sup £862

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Itinerary

MUNNAR – THEKKADY – KUMARAKOM & BACKWATERS – MARARIKULAM BEACH – FORT KOCHI

DAY 01 (Sat 26Sep) – FLY GATWICK TO KOCHI

Fly to Kochi via Dubai with Emirates Airlines from Gatwick. 

DAY 02 (Sun 27Sep) – KOCHI – MUNNAR (B) – Fragrant Nature Munnar
Arrive at Kochi Airport at 0300 hrs, clear customs then exit the airport where I will meet you all. We all plan to leave by road for Munnar around 5 am with refreshments on board for our journey. Drive to the tea plantation region of Munnar (04 hrs). Arrive Munnar have breakfast then check-in. The rest of the morning is at leisure. This afternoon we will visit Eravikulam National Park home to the Nilgiri Tahr (Hemitragus Hylocrious).

DAY 03 (Mon 28Sep) – MUNNAR 
(B)
After breakfast, we are taken on a private guided tour of Munnar. Visit Christ Church built by the British in 1910, also visit a Tea Plantation Museum and a visit to Tea Cafe.

Know your tea. Right from it’s growth to processing, know every step and chose your own tea. This experience offers an insight on the gradings makes you an expert of your own

DAY 04 (Tue 29Sep)– MUNNAR – THEKKADY (B) – Spice Village
After breakfast, morning at leisure until checkout, then continue our journey with a drive to Thekkady (4 hrs), the spice region of Kerala and home to Periyar National Park. Arrive Thekkady and check-in at the hotel.

The rest of the day is then at leisure

DAY 05 (Wed 30Sep) – THEKKADY (B & D)

Early morning, we are taken on a nature walk with a private naturalist – The program is unique in being conducted by a team of poachers who turned protectors of the forests. The team members are hardy and dependable with an intimate knowledge of the forest terrain. The nature walk is the right program to feel nature; hear her whisper and smell her flowers.
 
Return to the hotel for breakfast. After we enjoy a walk in the spice plantation for an hour or so. The spice plantation in Thekkady grows cardamom, rubber, vanilla and coffee. We may get the opportunity to witness poppadum making in the local houses.
 
In the evening at the hotel, take part in a talk by the Chef about the uses of spices in Kerala cooking. This will be followed by a cooking demonstration and meal at the hotel.

DAY 06 (Thu 01Oct) – THEKKADY – KUMARAKOM (B)
 – Coconut Lagoon
After breakfast, we drive to the backwaters of Kerala to Kumarakom (3.5 hrs).  Arrive Kumarakom and check-in at the hotel. 

The village of Kumarakom a small village that is a cluster of little islands on the Vembanad Lake in Kerala. On arrival at leisure.

DAY 09 (Fri 02Oct) – KUMARAKOM (B & L)

Late morning, we will be taken to boat jetty to embark a Kettuvallam (houseboat, the check-in time will be approx. 1230-1300 hrs) for a day cruise on the backwaters. Lunch will be served on board.
 
Kettuvallams, the stitched boats provide the best way to experience the colourful backwaters of Kerala. Around 1630 hrs, you will disembark and then will be transferred back to your hotel.

DAY 07 (Sat 03Oct) – KUMARAKOM (B & D)
Breakfast at the hotelIn the morning, we visit a local village. Our journey begins in a country boat floating over a lake flanked by greens, to the Manjira village.
 
We learn how times changed, as a local shows you two ways of climbing a coconut tree-the laborious traditional way using a thalappu and the modern way using the latest instruments. Taste the famed Kerala beverages, toddy, and fresh out of the pot.
 
Later a local lady takes us through the art of weaving coconut leaves. Then she lets you try your hand at it. Witness a skilled fisherman of Manjira who will teach us some fishing tips. Watch in awe as he casts a net and catches a few with ease.
 
We then proceed to a Latha’s home via a little boat. Latha’s home is where we will watch the fascinating process of coir-making. Check out the various steps involved and try your hand at coir spinning.
 
Post the activity, have lunch.
 
In the afternoon, we visit the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary. The bird sanctuary, which is spread across 14 acres is a favourite haunt of migratory birds and an ornithologist’s paradise. Egrets, Darters, Herons, Teals, Waterfowls, Cuckoo, Wild Duck and migratory birds like the Siberian Stork visit here in flocks and fascinate all visitors.

DAY 08 (Sun 04Oct) – KUMARAKOM – MARARIKULAM (B) Marari Beach Resort
Enjoy complimentary yoga (morning). Breakfast at the hotel
 
After breakfast, at an appropriate time, we are driven to Mararikulam  Beach (1 Hr).
 
Upon arrival, we check-in at our hotel (standard check-in time is 1400 hrs).
 
It is an endless vista of sand and surf, but it is a more authentic experience of the world of Kerala’s traditional fishing villages, and a recreation of an ancient, harmonious way of life. Rest of the day will be at leisure to pursue independent activities.

Enjoy complimentary meditation (evening)

DAY 09 (Mon 05Oct)- MARARIKULAM (B)
Enjoy complimentary yoga (morning). Breakfast at the hotel.
 
The day will be at leisure to pursue independent activities, village walk, butterfly garden visit, ride a bicycle in the local area.

Enjoy complimentary meditation (evening)

DAY 10 (Tue 06Oct)- MARARIKULAM (B)
Enjoy complimentary yoga (morning). Breakfast at the hotel.
 
The day will be at leisure to pursue independent activities. 

Enjoy meditation (evening)

DAY 11 (Wed 07Oct) – MARARIKULAM – FORT KOCHI (B & D) Brunton’s Boatyard
Enjoy complimentary yoga (morning). Breakfast at the hotel.

Later, we check out and drive to Fort Kochi (approx. 45 kms – 2 hrs).

Kochi or more familiarly, Cochin is a city of many parts. In its history, Kochi played a pivotal role in the development of shipping and trade in the region. 
 
On arrival, we check-in at our hotel. Then the afternoon is at leisure.
 
In the evening, we immerse ourselves in a local culinary experience where we shop, cook and eat like a local. We visit a local market where you’ll be handed a shopping list with the ingredients required for your culinary experience. The tour companion will guide us through a shopping experience in the local market. With the ingredients in hand, we take a tuk-tuk rides to a local family’s home. Meet our host and get know them over some refreshments or tea. Learn about the menu for the day. We then cook our meal with the family and learn the recipes that have been passed on for generations. Enjoy our own home-cooked meal with the family. Later return to our hotel.

DAY 12 (Thu 08 Oct)- FORT KOCHI (B & D)
After breakfast, we proceed on our sightseeing tour visiting Dutch Palace also known as Mattancherry Palace. It was built by the Portuguese and presented to the Raja of Kochi in 1555 AD. Visit the Jewish Synagogue built in 1568 AD. The Great Scrolls of the Old Testament, the copper plates in which the grants of privilege made by the Cochin rulers were recorded and the exquisite Chinese hand-painted tiles are of interest here.
 
We will also visit St. Francis Church in Fort Kochi. The Protestant church was originally built by the Portuguese in 1510 AD and is believed to be the oldest church built by the Europeans in India. It is here the remains of the inveterate traveller, Vasco-da-Gama were initially buried and 14 years later, his mortal remains were taken to Portugal. Santa Cruz Basilica Church is also worth visiting.

The Chinese Fishing nets that line the sea-front and exhibit a mechanical method of catching fish by local fishermen in Fort Kochi is what you will see on your way while returning to your hotel. Said to have been brought from China by traders of Kublai Khan’s Court, they are used at high tide.
 
In the evening, we are driven to the Casino Hotel where we have our farewell dinner in their speciality seafood restaurant. Return to Brunton Boatyard for overnight stay.

DAY 13 (Fri 09 Oct) – FORT KOCHI (B)
Breakfast at the hotel

The day will be at leisure to pursue independent activities (standard check-out time is 1100 hrs) luggage can be stored for the day. If anyone wishes I can arrange to keep your room on until this evenings departure at a supplement £200 per room (5-star hotel). 


DAY 14 Sat 10Oct) – FORT KOCHI TO GATWICK
Early hours of this morning, we are transferred to the airport for check-in. The flight departs Fort Kochi airport this morning at 0430 hrs. Your flight will depart via Dubai to Gatwick. 0430-0650/0800-1235

Arriving back at Gatwick Airport at 1235 hrs this afternoon.

Special Value

  • A gift when you book your tour with us, a DVD film called ‘Mystic India’
  • International flights from Gatwick included
  • A useful gift is given to you on arrival
  • Private arrival and departure transfers
  • Private minibus & driver for all road transfers
  • Snack Hamper, with juice and water in the minibus.
  • Meals as per itinerary (B -breakfast) (L) – lunch – (D) dinner
  • Three Lunches & Three Dinners
  • Private guide for sightseeing in all major cities
  • Entrances to all monument and places of interest are included
  • A private guided tour of Fort Cochin
  • Sightseeing in the rolling hills of Munnar’s & tea plantation experience
  • Visit Eravikulam National Park in Munnar
  • Guided walk in Thekkady with a naturalist
  • Take a walk in a private spice plantation
  • Barge Houseboat day cruise with lunch included
  • Relax beachside for a few days
  • Farewell Dinner

This Tour features the following locations

MUNNAR: Welcome to Munnar. As the largest tea-growing region in South India, this beautiful hill station brings you closer to the fascinating world of Indian tea, but the presence of vast rolling hills, magnificent mountain scenery, gorgeous views and a pleasant culture make sure you’re never far away from the best of nature. Once a summer resort for the British Empire, Munnar now greets travellers with pollution-free air, romantic vistas, adventure activities, rich wildlife and an easy-going atmosphere. One of the key attractions of Munnar is the Eravikulam National Park, home to the endangered Nilgiri Tahr. This is a fantastic place for trekking as the slopes are covered in a stunning shade of blue, thanks to an endemic plant found in this part of the world which blooms once every decade. Other things to see in Munnar include Mattupetty, Power House Waterfalls, Top Station, and Tea Museum.

THEKKADY/PERIYAR NP: Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the most incredible natural wonders of Kerala (that’s saying something!), blessed with mesmerising beauty and incredible biodiversity. As one of the premier conservation areas for elephants and a tiger reserve, the 350 sq. kms. of Periyar attract travellers from far and wide and treat them to rich evergreen forests and trees growing up to heights of 130 to 140 feet. At the heart of the sanctuary lies the beautiful Periyar Lake where common animal sightings include elephants, wild pigs, barking deer, langur, Nilgiri tahr, sambar, gaur and wild dog. The park stays open round the year, but the best time to visit Periyar is from October to June.

KUMARAKOM: The mere mention of Kumarakom is enough to remind you of those serene backwaters, splendid tours into the heart of nature, incredibly romantic experiences and the very best of Indian culture. Consisting of a bunch of islands surrounded by the Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom is dotted with forts, mansions, and palaces, all of which were once used by the kings and queens of India. A one-night cruise of the backwaters is a must, but if you can make it Two you will not be disappointed. We can book your own private houseboat and float past ancient villages, enjoying the blissful scent of spices carried by winds gently ruffling your hair, rejuvenating your senses surrounded by chirping birds, intricate lagoons and endless natural beauty. Other places to see in Kumarakom include the Bay Island Drift Museum, Aruvikkuzhi Waterfall, and the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary. Don’t forget to check out History House, the place where Baker from The God of Small Things (Arundhati Roy’s Booker Prize-winning novel) lived. Standing tall on the banks of Vembanad, it looks even more beautiful in real life.

BACKWATERS:  Standing in your very own houseboat, watching the sun’s shimmering rays engulf a sea of green with their dying breath, waking up to the sound of chirping birds, serenading your loved one under a moon-lit sky and exploring idyllic old-world villages, the backwaters of Kerala are a true treat for the weariest of travellers. This maze of canals and lagoons stretches over 900 kms. That link five large lakes to each other. The waterways have traditionally been used to ferry spice and rice across the country, but are now becoming famous as one of the most romantic attractions that India has to offer.

These extraordinary boats have, for hundreds of years, plied the backwaters weighed down with their cargoes of rice, fruit, coir and other crops.  They have been the main source of transport between the villages of this area that are not accessed by road. From your vantage point on board, cruising the backwaters at your own pace, you will see loin-clothed fishermen delicately balancing on their narrow canoes, women weaving or gossiping on the shore and you will constantly be accompanied by the happy sounds of children either playing in the canals or at the water’s edge.

MARARIKULAM:  Located at a distance of 40 kms. from Kochi, Mararikulam is a hidden gem that attracts travellers with its stunning natural beauty, laid-back lifestyle and ancient traditions. The city is truly a hidden oasis, its beaches the best-kept secrets of modern India. It is also considered to offer the perfect backdrop for an exotic vacation that’s full of historical sights, coir factories, adventure activities, an old-world charm, swaying palms and plenty of sun and sand.

FORT KOCHI: Kochi, those Chinese fishing nets sitting along the harbour are a sight you simply cannot forget. Popularly called the gateway to God’s own country, Kochi manages to hold out on its own with its picturesque locals, leisurely activities, luxe accommodation and incredible homestays. The city is primarily divided into three major areas, modern-day Ernakulam and the historic districts of Fort Cochin, where all our client stay, then there is Mattancherry. Each area boasts fascinating architecture, spice markets, amazing food and interesting attractions. A beautiful Portuguese Palace, 17th-century Dutch homes, a synagogue and India’s first European Church ensure there is much to see and do in Kochi. The resulting mix presents a fascinating blend of a medieval English village full of Portuguese and Dutch architecture, a testimony to the sentiments that have drawn travellers and traders for more than 600 years to this beautiful port town. The best time to visit Kochi is between the months of October to April.

What our clients say

Thank you, for all you did in making Gemma and mines honeymoon the unforgettable experience that it was. We are both so grateful for all the hard word you put in and we have been singing your praises to everyone we meet. You helped us really fall in love with India and we both can’t wait to go back!!. Please pass our thanks onto you team in India who were fantastic as well. Look forward to working with you planning our next adventure.

Stuart & Gemma, Woking, Surrey

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