- Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
Take an included guided nature walk through the lush forests and grasslands at the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Cruising the Kerala backwaters
Cruise the Kerala backwaters in style aboard a houseboat, a vessel reserved exclusively for Saga guests and perfect for small groups.
- The fishermen of Kerala
See the elaborate Chinese fishing nets of Kochi strung out along the peninsula.
- Visit spice and tea plantations
Enjoy the stunning landscapes of Munnar on a tour of a tea plantation.
- Local flights
- VIP door to door
- Save £
- Small Group 14 or less
Explore India's colonial heritage and traditional way of life
Step back in time on this exciting tour of Kerala which will reveal its enchanting backwaters, wildlife-rich forests and verdant tea and spice plantations, and conclude on the tropical Malabar Coast. Enjoy 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 luxury houseboat and 1 in flight
23 meals: 12 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 12 dinners
- Optional travel insurance underwritten by Great Lakes Insurance SE, UK
- Return flights and transfers
- Saga tour manager
- Welcome drink reception
- Porterage at all hotels
- Tourist visa for full British Citizens resident in the UK
Excursions and visits
- Sightseeing tour of Cochin
- Watching a Kathakali dance performance
- Shikara boat ride
- Guided nature walk in one of India's premier wildlife sanctuaries
- Tea Museum visit and tour of a tea plantation
Day 1 UK to Cochin
After taking Saga’s included UK door-to-door travel service to Gatwick, depart on your overnight flight to Cochin.
Day 2 Cochin
Cochin 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, locally rated 5-star Marriott Hotel, 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. D
Day 3 Cochin-Kumarakom
Enjoy an included sightseeing tour this morning visiting Fort Cochin. 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 where you’ll stay for two nights at the locally rated 4-star Coconut Lagoon Resort on the eastern shore of Vembanad Lake. The resort can only be reached by boat, approximately a 10 kilometre 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 Kumarkom-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 Cochin 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 Kumarakom to Periyar
Disembark the houseboat after breakfast this morning, travel to the Periyar in Thekkady, a region of immense wild beauty synonymous with elephants, rolling hills and spice plantations. Stay two nights on a half-board basis at the locally rated 3-star Spice Village 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, an historic hill station famous for its tea plantations. Spend two nights on half board at the locally rated Upon arrival transfer to the locally rated 5-star Fragrant Nature Munnar 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 Mararikullam
Head back towards the Malabar coast, near Mararikulam, for the final three nights of your tour. Stay at the locally rated 4-star Marari Beach Resort, 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 Mararikullam
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 Cochin to UK
Travel to the airport for your daytime flight, arriving in the evening for your included UK door-to-door travel service. B
Mararikullam, Malabar Coast
3 nights Half board
Extend your relaxing stay at the Marari Beach Resort (4Q), on the unspoilt Malabar Coast, for a further three nights.
Available on 2020 departures only
Spice Routes Houseboats
Reserved exclusively for Saga passengers
These intimate houseboats have a comfortable lounge where large windows offer fabulous views and a dining area where you'll enjoy breakfast and lunch, overlooking the tranquil waters of Vembanad Lake. Each spacious cabin has a double bed and en suite bathroom.
For 2020 departures hotels may be subject to change.