- Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
- Cruising the Kerala backwaters
- The fishermen of Kerala
- Visit spice and tea plantations
Soul of Kerala
- Local flights
- Top Performer
- VIP door to door
- Small Group 14 or less
Explore India’s beautiful Kerala state
Step back in time on this tour of Kerala revealing enchanting backwaters, wildlife-rich forests and verdant tea and spice plantations. This serene state on India’s south-west coast boasts historic cities, exotic wildlife and vibrant traditions. Explore Kochi, Kumarakom and Munnar, before concluding on the golden sands of the tropical Malabar Coast. A highlight is sure to be a two-night stay aboard a houseboat where you'll experience the Keralan way-of-life at a relaxed pace.
10 nights in hotels, 2 aboard a houseboat and 1 in flight
26 meals: 12 breakfasts (B), 2 lunches (L) and 12 dinners (D)
Saga tour manager
- Return flights and transfers
- Welcome drink reception
- Porterage at all hotels
- Tourist visa for full British citizens resident in the UK
Included excursions and visits
- Sightseeing tour of Kochi
- Watching a Kathakali dance performance
- Two-night Kerala houseboat stay
- Guided nature walk in one of India's premier wildlife sanctuaries
- Tea Museum visit and tour of a tea plantation
Reserved exclusively for Saga passengers
Step aboard your Spice Route houseboat in Alleppey and discover Kerala's romantic hidden waterways, described as the ‘Venice of the East’. Your luxury floating mini ‘hotel’ is fitted with state of the art amenities and decorated using tasteful traditional materials. Each spacious cabin has a double bed and en suite bathroom. Watch from the airy lounge as the riot of Keralan river life and unspoilt natural wonders slip by. Feast on delicious, freshly-prepared meals in the delightful dining room and enjoy the sights of an Indian way of life few have seen, from the sun deck. This really is an enchanting Indian holiday experience…
- Day 1 UK to Kochi
- Day 2 Kochi
- Day 3 Kochi-Kumarakom
- Day 4 Kumarakom
- Day 5 Kumarakom-Alleppey
- Day 6 Keralan Backwaters
- Day 7 Periyar
- Day 8 Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
- Day 9 Periyar to Munnar
- Day 10 Munnar
- Day 11 Munnar to Mararikulam
- Day 12 - 13 Mararikulam
- Day 14 Mararikullam to Kochi to UK
Coconut Lagoon Resort
Fragrant Nature Munnar
Marari Beach Resort
Day 1 UK to Kochi
After taking your VIP door-to-door travel service to the airport, fly overnight to Kochi.
Day 2 Kochi
Kochi has been a cosmopolitan city throughout the ages: Arab, Phoenician and Chinese traders first sought Indian spices here, followed by the Dutch and British, and now travellers keen to discover both India's colonial heritage and traditional way of life.
Stay overnight at the modern 5-star Taj Ernakulam (4Q), situated next to a large shopping mall in the city’s commercial area. Facilities at the hotel include a restaurant, outdoor pool, fitness centre and spa (charges apply). Each of the 273 air-conditioned rooms is equipped with a television, telephone, tea and coffee-making facilities, safe, hairdryer and free Wi-Fi.
This evening enjoy a traditional Kathakali dance performance. D
Day 3 Kochi-Kumarakom
Enjoy an included sightseeing tour this morning visiting Fort Kochi. See Santa Cruz Basilica and St Francis Church, built in 1503 and the oldest European-built church in India. You will also see the Dutch Palace, the Jewish Synagogue (outside only) and elaborate Chinese fishing nets, strung out along the tip of the peninsula on teak wood and bamboo poles. In the afternoon transfer to Kumarakom (30 miles, 90 minutes), where you’ll stay for two nights at the 4-star Coconut Lagoon Resort (4Q) on the eastern shore of Vembanad Lake. The resort can only be reached by boat, approximately a 6 mile trip.
Nestled among palm trees and serene canals, the resort sits within 33 acres of land, some used for rice cultivation. The main reception building dates from around 1860 and surrounds central courtyard. Facilities include a swimming pool, fitness centre and library. Traditional Keralan cuisine and a variety of seafood specialities are served buffet-style in the hotel's main restaurant. The hotel is licensed to serve beer and wine, but not spirits. Accommodation is in 49 individual traditional wooden Keralan bungalows. Each is air-conditioned and has a television, safe, hairdryer, coffee-making facilities and an en suite bathroom.
Enjoy dinner at the hotel tonight. B, D
Day 4 Kumarakom
This morning there's an included guided tour of the village of Kumarakom, where you'll learn more about the locals and their rural way of life. You may get to see how the natural fibre, coir, is extracted from coconut husks or how the fish karimeen, is processed using traditional methods.
Spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure B, D
Day 5 Kumarakom-Alleppey
Leave Kumarakom behind as you head to Alleppey, gateway to Kerala's romantic backwaters, a network of 1,500 kilometres of canals. The area is often described as the ‘Venice of the East’ but the similarity ends on the water as this tropical maze is edged by coconut groves, banana palms and rice fields interspersed with thatched houses, whitewashed churches and Hindu temples! Perhaps its greatest attraction though is the unhurried pace of life which has changed little since merchants first sailed up river to Kochi with their ivory, precious metals and spices.
Step aboard the Spice Route houseboat for a two-night stay. This intimate houseboat, reserved exclusively for Saga passengers, has a comfortable lounge where large windows offer fabulous views, and a dining area where you'll enjoy all meals onboard. Each spacious cabin has a double bed and en suite bathroom. Enjoy lunch and dinner on board as you cruise the Keralan backwaters. B, L, D
Day 6 Keralan Backwaters
The houseboat heads for Nedumudi, Champakulam where you may see the famous 'snake boats' which take part in the area's popular annual races. Take a walk through the village, known for its market, visiting the 19th century church of St Mary Florence, before continuing your cruise, enjoying lunch on board. Travel through canals as you head for Vembanad Lake, Kerala's largest lake. From here you'll pass canals and rivers, flanked by lush foliage and fascinating countryside, before docking overnight, with dinner on board B, L, D
Day 7 Periyar
Disembark the houseboat after breakfast this morning, travel to the Periyar in Thekkady (87 miles, four hours), a region of immense wild beauty synonymous with elephants, rolling hills and spice plantations.
Stay two nights on a half-board basis at the 3-star Spice Village (3Q) set high in the Western Ghats and just a kilometre from the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Styled like a traditional tribal village the resort facilities include a restaurant, outdoor swimming pool, and an Ayurveda centre (treatments at an extra charge). You'll stay in one of 52 thatched-roof cottages dotted around the gardens. Each is comfortably furnished, with a verandah, ceiling fans, tea and coffee and minibar. The hotel is licensed to serve beer and wine, but not spirits. B, D
Day 8 Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
On this morning's included excursion into the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary you can look forward to a guided nature walk led by a trained tribal guide. The sanctuary is reputed to be India's best for spotting wildlife such as elephants, leopards and the elusive tiger. This afternoon, travel deeper into hill country where the air is scented by the seemingly endless spice plantations for which the region is famous. Vasco de Gama was the first European to land at the Malabar Coast in 1498 in search of spices. You can see a wide range of the regions plants on a visit to a spice garden. B, D
Day 9 Periyar to Munnar
Travel across the Western Ghat mountains to Munnar, a historic hill station famous for its tea plantations (57 miles, three hours).
Upon arrival transfer to the 5-star Fragrant Nature Munnar (4Q+) for a two-night stay. This intimate resort has a restaurant, bar/lounge and coffee shop. There is also a spa and a health club plus free Wi-Fi in public areas. All 43 rooms offer free Wi-Fi, a flat-screen television and minibar. Enjoy dinner here tonight. B, D
Day 10 Munnar
Today you can explore the beautiful hill country of Munnar while unravelling its fascinating history which is irrevocably entwined with India's tea legacy. Munnar's high altitude of 1,600 metres above sea level means that the tea grown here has developed a more complex flavour. Enjoy an included guided visit to Munnar's Tea Museum which has an interesting collection of memorabilia, curios, machinery and photographs. Also visit a tea plantation where the tea trees are religiously pruned – left untended, some varieties can grow up to 20 metres high! To preserve Munnar's reputation for producing some of the world's best tea, leaves are still plucked by hand and you may see tea pickers at work on the plantations. B, D
Day 11 Munnar to Mararikulam
Head back towards the Malabar coast, near Mararikulam, for the final three nights of your tour (96 miles, four hours and 30 minutes).
Stay at the 4-star Marari Beach Resort (4Q), on a stretch of golden sand beach amid palm groves and lotus ponds. Your included meals are at the main restaurant, or dine for an extra charge at the beach grill seafood restaurant or in the organic restaurant. No alcohol is served in this hotel. There is an outdoor swimming pool and tennis courts. Yoga and meditation classes and Ayurvedic massage are available for an extra charge. All 62 villas dotted around the gardens are comfortably furnished, air conditioned and have en suite bathrooms, and tea and coffee-making facilities. B, D
Day 12 - 13 Mararikulam
Spend two days at leisure enjoying the facilities of your resort. Perhaps take a stroll down to the local fisherman's village where, if you rise early enough, you may see the morning's catch being hauled in. B, D
Day 14 Mararikullam to Kochi to UK
Travel to the airport for your daytime flight, arriving in the evening for your included VIP door-to-door travel service. B
Holiday extension - half board
After your tour, stay a further 3 nights at the 5-star Taj Ernakulam (4Q).