Kerala and the Western Ghats
Day 1: We have an early rendezvous at the hotel in Kochi. Airport transfers are provided. The rest of the day is free. A full day to explore this 500 year-old Portuguese city, with its palaces and forts, as well as its picturesque Chinese fishing contraptions. In the evening, we will attend a Kathakali dance performance.
Day 2: After breakfast, we take a pleasant drive up into the Western Ghats, to the hill-station of Munnar, which sits amongst lush tea plantations. After checking in to our hotel, there is time to explore the town and its bazaar.
Day 3: Today, we have a short drive to the start of our trek, which takes us steadily uphill from Suryanelli through tea plantations to an excellent camp overlooking the plains of Tamil Nadu. Optional afternoon visit to the Kolukkumalai tea estate and factory.
Day 4: Trek above the tea plantations of Kolukumalai and across open moorland to reach the summit of Meesapulimala (2600m). Look out for Nilgiri thar or even elephants during the day's hike. Descend into Rhododendron Valley and a streamside camp.
Day 5: Trekking through high grassland and evergreen shola forest, we descend into the plantations above the village of Ellapatti and set up our overnight camp on a forested ridge.
Day 6: Our last day's trek takes us through shola forest and rolling plantation country with far-reaching views, en route to our camp at Top Station, the site of an old railway and rope-way.
Day 7: Today, we drive to Madurai, check in at our hotel and have the afternoon free to visit the amazing Sri Meenakshi Temple, with its sculpted and colourful pyramidal towers.
Day 8: Today, we drive back up into the Western Ghats and into the state of Kerala. Our overnight stop is at Thekkady, the gateway to the Periyar Reserve. We check in at our hotel and enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure.
Day 9: A full day hike through the Periyar Reserve with Forest Service guides. A chance to spot elephant, deer, Indian bison and many bird species. There is an optional elephant ride at nearby Kumili. We spend a second night at the hotel in Thekkady.
Day 10: After breakfast, we take a scenic drive out of the mountains and down onto the coastal plain. We go to the boat jetty in Alleppey, where we board the houseboat which will be our accommodation tonight. Backwaters cruise on Vembanad Lake.
Day 11: We have breakfast and a short cruise, before returning to the jetty at Alleppey. We disembark and then drive south through coastal towns, villages and farmland to Kovalam. Afternoon at leisure.
Day 12: We have a full day to chill out at this laid-back resort. A chance to swim and to stroll on the beach to watch the fishermen hauling their nets. We have a second night at our Kovalam hotel.
Day 13: KE Land Only package services end after breakfast. Transfers to Trivandrum Airport are provided.
This holiday involves going to moderately high altitude. During the course of your trip you will reach altitudes in excess of 2500 metres. Most people will have no difficulty with this level of altitude but before coming on the holiday, we recommend you read the advice on trekking at altitude.