Schools Kerala and the Western Ghats Trek

A great first-time trek for a School Group






From $2,260 Land only

Book this holiday

Holiday Overview


  • Learn about Indian Elephants at the Periyar Wildlife Reserve
  • A feast for the senses, as we explore India`s tropical south
  • Take a houseboat cruise on the Kerala `backwaters`
  • See Madurai`s outrageous Sri Meenakshi Temple

At the southern tip of India, the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu offer a range of experiences unlike anything else on the Indian Subcontinent. After a day’s relaxation on the Indian Ocean beaches of Kovalam, we transfer to Alleppey to meet our houseboat for a sunset cruise and overnight stay on the uniquely atmospheric Kerala 'backwaters'. Our next stop is at the Periyar Wildlife Reserve, home to wild elephant and the elusive tiger, where we have a full day’s exploration with Kerala Forest Department guides. Another unmissable attraction is the amazing Sri Meenakshi temple complex at Madurai, probably the most colourful example of Indian religious architecture. Then, from the British Raj hill-station of Munnar, 4-days of trekking takes us through tea plantations, shola forest and rolling grassland, with a high point at the summit of Meesapulimala (2600m), the second highest Indian peak south of the Himalayas. Between the plantations and tribal villages and the highest peaks of the Cardamom Hills there is a world of forest and high moorland which provides excellent trekking. This area is also the natural habitat of a number of endangered animal species, most notably the ibex-like Nilgiri tahr and the Nilgiri langur, a large monkey. A visit to the picturesque old Portuguese city of Kochi brings this varied School Group Adventure to a close. This tried and tested KE Schools itinerary can be adjusted to better fit the needs of your group - please call and speak to a KE School Groups Coordinator or email

Is this holiday for you?

This is not a long or sustained trekking holiday. We have a couple of days to acclimatise to the near-tropical climate at Kovalam and on the Kerala `backwaters`. We then start out with a slow-paced introductory walk in the Periyar Reserve, looking for wildlife in the company of forest service rangers. Then, our 4-day trek through the Cardamom Hills begins with a straightforward uphill walk through a tea estate above Munnar and continues with 3 days of varied hiking, averaging 6 hours each day including lunch stops. The altitudes attained are never sufficiently high to cause problems with acclimatisation and the underfoot conditions are generally good, on tracks and trails through tea plantations and across open moorland. We may encounter some slippery conditions on forest trails. The trip also includes a number of half-day vehicle transfers on generally good roads. We recommend a minimum age of 14 years. 

Brief Itinerary

View in full
  • Meet at the group hotel in Kovalam. Transfers from Trivandrum Airport are provided.
  • Drive to Alleppey. Board our houseboat and afternoon sail to Vembanad Lake. Overnight on the boat.
  • Disembark. Drive up into the Western Ghats. Overnight at a hotel in Thekkady.
  • Full day of hiking and wildlife spotting in the protected tiger reserve of Periyar.
  • Drive to the temple town of Madurai. Explore the colouful bazaar and fantastic Sri Meenakshi Temple.
  • Drive to the hill-station of Munnar through the Cardamom Hills and spectacular tea plantations.
  • Transfer then trek to our camp on the Kolukkumalai tea plantation. Tea factory visit.
  • Ascend Meesapulimala (2600m) on the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu with 360 degree views of the area.
  • Continue the trek to the tea plantations of Ellapatti (2100m) where we set up camp.
  • Final day of trekking to `Top Station` (1700m), formerly the terminus of Kunala Valley Railway.
  • Drive back down to the coast and the picturesque port city of Kochi. Evening Kathakali dance visit.
  • A day at leisure in Kochi. There will be a guided sightseeing tour of the city's many highlights.
  • Departure day. A Kochi Airport transfer is provided.

Land Only

The price of our trips does not include international air travel to the start location in the destination city and country. The start location for joining the trip is identified for each trip. It's usually a centrally located hotel. KE can easily arrange all airport transfers for you.

International Air Travel

Please contact us at KE for air travel advice. We will be happy to discuss the flight arrangement which best suits your group.

2 teachers FREE

The Guide Price assumes that 2 teachers will accompany the group. Their Land Only costs are covered by the group's payment.

Guide Price $2,260*
Park Fees/permits N/A
Other Charges N/A

* We give a price estimate for all of our school trips. This is based on 12-16 pupils and includes two free teacher places. If you are interested in a specific trip, we will send you a quote letter. You may wish to take extra teachers or add on additional days and this can all be included into your quote, on request.

Map & Itinerary

The Route

  • airport
  • point
  • peaks
  • trip direction
  • transfer
  • trek

Holiday Itinerary

  • Meet at the group hotel in Kovalam. Transfers from Trivandrum Airport are provided.

    On arrival at the airport at Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), we meet our local guide and take the short transfer by private bus to the group hotel in Kovalam. This is a laid-back beach resort, known as the 'paradise of the south' and our hotel is on the beach. KE Land Only package services begin with lunch at the group hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure and provides an opportunity for the group to rest and recover from the journey. Kovalam is a great place to spend a relaxing first day in India, with its picturesque shoreline, dominated by a high rocky promontory and a red and white striped lighthouse. There are 2 main sandy beaches, lined with simple restaurants, bars and stalls selling souvenirs and handicrafts. Each evening, the local fishermen take their boats out and these are pulled up onto the beaches during the day. Meals are provided at the hotel and we will have a trek briefing before dinner.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals ld

  • Drive to Alleppey. Board our houseboat and afternoon sail to Vembanad Lake. Overnight on the boat.

    After breakfast, we take a scenic morning's drive northwards to Alleppey, which is one of the centres for exploration of the Keralan backwaters. En route, we pass through forests of palm trees, rich farmland and lots of small towns. We cross several rivers and have occasional glimpses of the beach on our left hand side. There are almost 2000 kilometres of backwaters, interconnected lakes, lagoons and canals, which are mostly just inland of the Kerala coast. This is a unique and fascinating water world, enclosed by palm trees. At the jetty in Alleppey, we will board the houseboats which will be our home for the night. Based on the large traditional cargo boats known as kettuvalloms, these houseboats provide surprisingly luxurious accommodation. There are usually either 2 or 3 twin-bedded rooms on each boat. Setting off on our cruise, we will traverse wide canals and shallow lakes, with isolated hamlets and houses on the banks. The way of life on the backwaters is based around fishing and the cultivation of rice, coconuts and cashew nuts. Birdwatchers will have a great opportunity to spot lots of exciting species, such as kingfishers, bee-eaters, bulbuls, darters, herons, cormorants and 2 types of kite. We will cruise for a couple of hours and then find a quiet spot to anchor up for the night, possibly in Vembanad Lake. Each boat has its own cook. Meals are traditional Keralan fare, using fresh local produce.

    • Accommodation Houseboat

    • Meals bld

  • Disembark. Drive up into the Western Ghats. Overnight at a hotel in Thekkady.

    Awaking to the peace and tranquillity of the backwaters is a special experience. We will enjoy breakfast on the boat deep within the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, a place renowned as a stopping off place for many migratory bird species. Then, after a 1-hour cruise, we disembark at Kumarakom and meet up with our transport for the drive inland to the Periyar Wildlife Reserve. Reaching the foothills of the Western Ghats, the road climbs more than 1000 metres through dense forest to a pleasant lunch stop at a new resort on a high ridge. After lunch, the drive continues through tea plantations and several small towns to Thekkady, where we check in to our hotel for the night.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Full day of hiking and wildlife spotting in the protected tiger reserve of Periyar.

    At the southern end of the Western Ghats, the Periyar Reserve extends over 777 square kilometres of hilly and mostly forested country. At its heart is the artificial lake formed by the construction of the Mullaperiyar Dam across the Periyar River. Declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978, some estimates suggest that there are as many as 40 tigers in the park, although that's not to say that they are easily seen. As well as tigers, the reserve is home to sambar deer, wild pig, dhole (Indian wild dog), gaur (Indian bison), leopard, several types of monkey and numerous species of birds. Undoubtedly, the greatest attraction at Periyar, however, are the wild elephants that come down to the lake to drink and to bathe. We make the short drive to the park, where we meet the forest guards who will be our guides on a full day hike into the reserve. We may need to split the group into 2 parties and visit separate areas of the park, as group size is limited to no more than 8 persons. The guards will set an easy pace as we head into the forest and will be keen to provide an insight into the wildlife of this important reserve area. They are quick to spot elusive deer and rare giant squirrels and will point out colourful birds and many traditional medicinal plants. We will carry a packed lunch and find a suitable place to stop to eat it. We may also get a cup of tea at one of the ranger stations in the reserve. Reunited with our transport by mid afternoon, we will drive to nearby Kumili, where it is possible to take a short tour on elephant-back. We spend a second night at our hotel in Thekkady.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Drive to the temple town of Madurai. Explore the colouful bazaar and fantastic Sri Meenakshi Temple.

    After breakfast, we board our transport for the morning's drive eastwards into the state of Tamil Nadu. This is a fascinating drive, as we quickly leave the Western Ghats behind and find ourselves on a rich agricultural plain, with orchards and extensive rice fields. Passing a number of impressive rock outcrops and through lots of small towns, our destination today, is the town of Madurai, one of southern India's great temple towns, with a history stretching back to the time of the Great Tamil Era more than 2500 years ago. Centrepiece of the town is the Sri Meenakshi Temple, built between the 16th and 18th centuries. This is a dramatic example of Dravidian Architecture, with its 'gopurams' (pyramidal towers) covered with images of gods, goddesses, animals and mythological figures. After checking in to our hotel in the city, we will have lunch, then set off on a sightseeing tour with a local guide. We will walk around the temple and surrounding bazaar area and also be invited by our guide to climb to the top of one of the 5-storey Kashmiri-run handicraft emporia which have viewing platforms on their roofs and do offer the best overview of the temple's towers. (There is no obligation to buy anything on your way down). Then, at 4pm, when it opens, we will enter the temple complex and mingle with the countless pilgrims who each day come to worship at the temple, to bathe in the Tank of the Golden Lotus and to wonder at the carvings of the Hall of a Thousand Pillars. As a taste of the Hindu religion, with all its colour and spectacle, this is hard to beat.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Drive to the hill-station of Munnar through the Cardamom Hills and spectacular tea plantations.

    This morning, we drive back up into the Western Ghats and in so doing, cross back into the state of Kerala. We retrace our journey of yesterday for a couple of hours, then head back up into the hills on a dramatic road which features a series of 17 hairpin bends. This part of the range is known as the Cardamom Hills on account of its importance as a spice-growing area. After a stop for lunch, we arrive at the former hill-station of Munnar, founded by the British during the period of colonial rule. At an elevation of 1600 metres, Munnar is pleasantly cool after the heat of the lowlands. Tea grows well here and the lower slopes of the hills are carpeted by orderly plantations of emerald-green bushes, tended by colourfully-attired tea-pickers. Kerala's highest peak, Anamudi (2695m), which is also the highest Indian peak south of the Himalayas, rises up above the town. After checking in to our hotel, we will go out to do some exploring around the town.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Transfer then trek to our camp on the Kolukkumalai tea plantation. Tea factory visit.

    It takes about an hour to drive to the start of our trek, close to the village of Suryanelli (1550m). Setting off on foot, we follow a tea estate road through stands of eucalyptus trees (planted to provide firewood for the tea factories). We soon reach a pretty tea plantation village, complete with both a church and a Hindu temple. Here, we are likely to meet the tea workers and their children, who are all pretty keen to see themselves on the screen of a digital camera. Beyond the village, the estate roads deteriorate and we find ourselves amongst the fields of tea bushes, which present a unique and very attractive landscape. If we are lucky we will encounter groups of colourful tea pickers, as we climb gradually towards the upper end of the Devikulam Tea Estate. Finally, we reach a ridge at around 2200 metres, where the ground falls away to the north and east between dramatic rocky peaks. After a total of 4 hours very steady walking, we reach a levelled camping place above the Kolukkumalai tea estate and factory. Our trek crew have driven to this camp by 4WD vehicle, the tents are already set up and tea and biscuits soon follow. After a chance to sort out our tents, we can hike down to the Kollukumalai factory and have a guided tour of the various processes which are needed to turn the fresh green leaf into the finished product. This is reputedly the highest grown tea in the world. Returning to our camp, we have dinner in the mess tent and maybe enjoy a bonfire.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Ascent 300m

    • Distance 8km

    • Meals bld

    • Time 4 hours

  • Ascend Meesapulimala (2600m) on the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu with 360 degree views of the area.

    Our camp is in a spectacular spot, facing east and looking out over the lowlands of Tamil Nadu. Given clear early morning conditions, the sunrise here is fantastic, with the sun framed by dramatic peaks. An early wake-up is recommended. After breakfast, we set out to skirt above the Kolukkumalai plantation to reach the open grassland that rises to Meesapulimala's upper slopes - we can just see the top of this peak from camp. Leaving the tea estate behind, we trek for a short while through luxuriant 'shola' forest and, once again, as this is a reserve area, we have a Forest Service guide who will show us a bewildering number of weird and wonderful plant species. A short, sharp 250 metre grass slope leads to the top of Meesapulimala (2600m), which stands on the border between Kerala and Tamil Nadu and commands 360 degree views. On the ascent of this peak, we follow a trail made by elephants and we might also be lucky enough to spot the endangered Nilgiri tahr, a type of ibex. Dropping down from the peak, we find a sheltered spot to take lunch and then continue our gradual descent to Rhododendron Valley and our idyllic streamside camp at an elevation of 2400 metres.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Ascent 700m

    • Distance 12km

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 400m

    • Time 6 hours

  • Continue the trek to the tea plantations of Ellapatti (2100m) where we set up camp.

    Our trek today starts out with a gentle ascent on an overgrown track much used by elephants (lots of elephant dung). After an hour, we reach a viewpoint and begin a winding descent towards the west, through rolling grassland, interspersed with gulleys and the narrow tracts of forest which occupy them, where we might encounter Nilgiri langurs, a large and impressive species of monkey with a jet black body and white face. The bigger stands of shola forest that we encounter are home to Indian wild bison or 'gaur'. This is great birdwatching country, with falcons and buzzards riding the thermals and a number of rare, endemic species including the Nilgiri pipit and the laughing thrush - easier to hear than it is to see. After around 4 hours (and a lunch stop) we reach the tea plantations above the village of Ellapatti and traverse around on the plantation tracks to reach our next camp. Located on a saddle between two extensive tracts of forest, this levelled site is known as Footprint Camp and, once again, it is brilliantly positioned for the sunrise.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Ascent 450m

    • Distance 12km

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 800m

    • Time 6 hours

  • Final day of trekking to `Top Station` (1700m), formerly the terminus of Kunala Valley Railway.

    After another early start to witness the sunrise, we have breakfast, then set off uphill on a tiny game trail which follows a forested ridge for an hour, to finally reach an isolated grassy summit. From here, looking across a deep and well-forested valley, we can clearly see the start of our route of 2 days ago, including the upper slopes of Meesapulimala. Descending through forest, we continue our trek at the upper limit of the tea growing and, after a lunch stop, arrive at our camp at Top Station (1700m). Some of the station buildings are intact and used by the tea estate. This place was formerly the terminus of the Kundala Valley Railway and the station was also at the top of the ropeway which descended from here all the way to Bodinayikkanur in Tamil Nadu. In the afternoon, there is plenty of opportunity for exploration, with one option being the short walk to a great viewpoint on the rocky promontory where the ropeway used to be.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Ascent 400m

    • Distance 10km

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 520m

    • Time 5 hours

  • Drive back down to the coast and the picturesque port city of Kochi. Evening Kathakali dance visit.

    After breakfast at camp, we say goodbye to our trek crew who have looked after us for the last 4 days and then rejoin our transport for the drive back to the west coast. This is another fascinating drive and does give us the opportunity for another half hour look around Munnar (last chance to buy some tea and spices). We then drop down through the plantation country and begin a steeper descent through a dramatic forested gorge, with impressive waterfalls at Valara. Depending on how early a start we get and how long we stop in Munnar, we will probably also need to make a lunch stop at a roadside restaurant. Arriving at Kochi in the early afternoon, we check in to our hotel and have a bit of down time, a chance to freshen up. This fascinating city, formerly known as Cochin, was founded by the Portuguese at the start of the 16th century and is situated amongst the network of islands and waterways at the northern end of the Kerala 'backwaters'. In the evening we will go to see a Kathakali dance performance. Gesture and elaborate make-up are of great importance in this ancient form of theatre, which traditionally depicts themes from Hindu mythology, especially the two epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • A day at leisure in Kochi. There will be a guided sightseeing tour of the city's many highlights.

    We have a full day to explore the city, to wander through the winding streets crammed with 500-year-old Portuguese houses, synagogues, palaces and forts and spread over a charming cluster of islands and narrow peninsulas. Accompanied by a knowledgeable city guide, we will visit the Mattancherry Palace built by the Portuguese for the Raja of Cochin in 1557 and watch the Chinese fishing nets in action from the waterfront Vasco da Gama Square. Made of teak and bamboo, these picturesque fishing 'engines' are believed to have been erected here as early as the 14th century. There is plenty of opportunity for souvenir buying today. We spend a second night at our hotel in the city.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Departure day. A Kochi Airport transfer is provided.

    KE Land Only package services end with breakfast. A transfer to Kochi Airport is provided.

    • Meals b

Holiday Information

  • A qualified UK KE Schools leader
  • Professional English-speaking local guide
  • Trivadrum and Kochi airport transfers
  • All land transport involved in the itinerary
  • Guided sightseeing as indicated in the itinerary
  • Entrance and activity fees for the Periyar Reserve
  • All accommodation as detailed in the trip dossier
  • All meals
  • A full service trek including all equipment (excluding personal equipment)

  • International flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Indian Visa
  • Tips for trek staff
  • Miscellaneous expenses - drinks and souvenirs etc.
  • Optional elephant ride in Kumili

For each holiday there is a minimum number of participants required to enable it to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to run'. You can check the trip status for each departure in ‘Dates and Prices’ table. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not cancel a trip once it has achieved this guaranteed to run status and so you are free to proceed with your international flight booking and other travel arrangements.

Trivadrum and Kochi airport transfers are included on arrival and departure. The KE local guide or a representative of our local agent will meet you on arrival and assist with the transfers to the group hotel. Full joining instructions along with hotel contact details and an emergency number will be provided with the booking confirmation.

Shortly after first light (around 6 a.m.) one of the cook crew will wake you with a cup of tea or coffee brought to your tent. You will have plenty of time to get up and pack your kitbag before sitting down to a hot breakfast, during which camp will be struck and the support vehicles loaded. Setting off in the pleasant cool of the morning, we will generally reach our lunch stop by 11 a.m. One or more of the cook team will accompany us on the trek and serve lunch at a suitably scenic spot. Lunch will take an hour or so and this is a great time for relaxing, reading and sitting in the sun. It is usual for the afternoon’s walk to be shorter than the morning session. During the day you are free to walk at your own pace and to take as many photographs as you wish. We will reach camp in the early afternoon and generally find that the support vehicles have already got there and that the camp is set up. Dinner is ready at around 6 p.m. and is a 3-course meal served in the mess tent. This is a great time of day for reliving the events of the trek so far and for general socialising. After dark at the higher altitudes, the temperature quickly falls and everyone will soon be tucked up in their sleeping bags.

This itinerary 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 trip, we recommend you read the advice on trekking at altitude on our website which can be viewed via the link below. You can also talk to one of our trekking experts if you have any concerns about altitude.

Throughout the trip, when staying in hotels and lodges, we will use a good standard of tourist class accommodation, with twin rooms. In addition to the 7 nights that we spend in hotels and lodges, there will be a single night in a houseboat or 'kettuvallom' on the Kerala backwaters. The boats we use have fully furnished twin-bedded rooms, as well as a balcony, sundeck and toilet and shower facilities. During our 4 nights camping, we will use spacious 2-person tents and the group will also have the use of a mess tent for dining and socialising. All accommodation is allocated on a twin sharing basis.

View the gallery below for images of the style of accommodation used

The food in Kerala is terrific. Rice, vegetables, fruit, seafood and a range of delicious spices are the main staples of Keralan cuisine, traditionally served on a banana leaf. Whilst at hotels, we will have the opportunity to try the local fare, although other options with a more western flavour will usually be available also. Our night on the houseboat will provide an excellent opportunity to sample Keralan food at its best. The food served during the trek is a mix of local and western dishes, purchased locally and cooked for us by highly trained trek cooks. The emphasis is on providing a high-carbohydrate and largely vegetarian diet. All meals while on trek and also while staying in hotels are included in the trip price.

All meals are included, from lunch on Day 1 of the Land Only itinerary to breakfast on Day 13.

£100 should be allowed for miscellaneous expenses including approximately £30 for tips for trek staff and hotel staff. This will allow you plenty of money also for soft drinks. You should allow a small amount for the optional elephant ride at Kumili on Day 5. We recommend that you carry your travel money in the form of currency rather than travellers cheques, since you will exchange the majority of this on the day of your arrival in India, either at the airport or at the hotel in Kovalam. Sterling is readily exchanged. India’s unit of currency is the Rupee.

All KE school adventures are led by a specialist UK KE Schools leader. During the trip the leader will be assisted by an English-speaking local guide and on trek will be supported by a trek crew including a cook, camp staff and 4WD baggage transfer.

Tipping is the accepted way of saying thank you for good service. Tips do not form part of the wages of your local guides, porters and trek crew but they are very much appreciated. Most groups will want to show their appreciation to the local staff who work so hard to make the trip a success. Normally, tips are given at the end of the trek and this is best done as a group. Most groups will give the tips with a bit of ceremony (or sometimes a party) on the last evening, to mark the end of the trip. As a guide, we recommend that each pupil contributes £30 (in rupees) to these tips. Your KE School Adventure leader will help you make arrangements for a fair distribution of tips among the trek crew.

Your main baggage will be carried in the support vehicles. There is no weight limit other than that set by the airline, but we suggest that the packed weight of your trek bag whilst trekking should be no more than 15 kgs/33 lbs.

KE Trek Bag / Free Gift

All KE clients will receive a FREE KE trek bag.  These have been specially made to stand up to the rigours of adventure travel.  Your KE bag will be posted to you when your trip is guaranteed to run or on receipt of your booking if the trip is already guaranteed.  If you have travelled with us before and already have a KE trek bag you can select an alternative free gift in the booking process.

You must have a machine-readable passport with at least 6 months validity for entry into India. All nationalities need to obtain a visa for entry into India. Note: A tourist visa for India is normally valid for multiple entry into the country from the date of issue until 6 months after the date of issue. The maximum stay is 180 days.

If you travel to India from Pakistan, Israel, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Afghanistan or Somalia you will be required to hold a valid polio vaccination certificate. Please contact your nearest Indian Embassy or High Commission for further information.

Filling out the application form

Where you are asked to state ‘Places to be visited in India’, please write ‘Delhi’. Please do not mention any restricted areas such as Sikkim or Ladakh as this may result in delays to the issue of your visa. When completing the online application answer ‘no’ to the question about visiting Sikkim. Note that when applying online, most of the questions have ‘required fields’ (denoted by a red asterisk). This means that you will not be allowed to submit the form without filling in these fields. If the question is not applicable to you, please type ‘NA’ into these fields.

For ‘Sponsor’ use KE Adventure Travel; first UK referee use KE Adventure Travel; Second UK referee use a friend or relative. For the first Indian referee please use the name and address of our Ground Agent as listed on your Booking Confirmation. For ‘address in India’ and also for second referee in India, please use the name and address of the group hotel as listed on your Booking Confirmation.

UK Passport Holders

The simplest way to apply for your India visa is to use the services of a Visa processing company such as Travcour Otherwise, your application must be made online at Make sure your computer is connected to a printer as you will be required to print out the form once it is completed. At the end of the application process you will have the choice of making an appointment to submit your documents in person at your nearest India Visa Application Centre (IVAC), or by post. Note that submissions in person are by appointment only. Submission by your representative with an authorising letter from you is allowed. The process normally takes 3 – 5 days. Postal applications can only be made to the London IVAC and you should allow at least 3 weeks. There are IVACS in Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, Bristol, Bradford, Newcastle, Liverpool and Leicester. Please visit the IVAC website at for further details and to make your online application. The current cost of an India Visa for UK passport holders is £82 plus a fee of £7.44 to VFS Global. Note that there are strict requirements regarding the size and type of photograph to accompany the application. Please ensure you have read the photo specifications information on the VFS Global website.

USA Passport Holders

India visas can obtained by application to Cox & Kings Global Services Pvt. Limited, the authorized Service Provider for the Embassy of India and its Consulates across the USA. Note that US citizens can also apply for 5 year and 10 year visas (valid for a stay of 6 months on any visit and with no return within 2 months of a visit). Cox & Kings have offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta and Houston. For application forms and further information please visit the Cox & Kings website at

US citizens whose sole purpose of visit is tourism can now get their visa on arrival after obtaining an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA). An application for an ETA must be made online a minimum of 4 days in advance of the date of arrival and you must enter India within 30 days of the date of application. The visa on arrival is only valid for entry into India via specific airports, namely: Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin, Delhi ,Goa, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Trivandrum. When making your online application you will be required to upload a recent passport size photo and a scanned copy of your passport. You will also need to print the ETA and carry this with you when you enter India. For more details please visit the ETA website at:

Other Passport Holders

Please contact the India Embassy or High Commission in your own country.

We do keep our information up to date but be advised visa requirements and charges are subject to change.

The following checklist should help you with your packing. As a general rule, you should always try to keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum.

  • The packed weight of your trek bag whilst trekking should be no more than 15 kgs / 33 pounds.
  • You must bring the following items:

    • Hiking boots
    • Trainers / sneakers or sandals for river crossings and camp use
    • Socks
    • Technical walking socks (2 or 3 pairs)
    • Spare laces
    • Trekking trousers / pants
    • Lightweight waterproof overtrousers / rain-pants
    • Underwear
    • Trekking shirts (2 short sleeve, 2 long sleeve)
    • Shirts or T-shirts
    • Fleece jacket or warm jumper
    • Waterproof jacket
    • Sunhat
    • Warm hat
    • Eyewear - Sunglasses
    • Thermal (eg fleece) gloves
    • Daypack c. 30 litres
    • Headtorch / headlamp spare batteries
    • Sun protection (including total bloc for lips, nose etc.)
    • Water bottles 1 litre / 1 quart (x2)
    • Washbag and toiletries
    • Small towel
    • Antibacterial handwash
    • Sleeping bag (rated to 0 degrees centigrade)
    • Basic First Aid Kit including: A broad spectrum antibiotic, antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment (Imodium), painkillers, plasters (band-aids) and blister treatment, insect repellent, and re-hydration salts (Dioralite)

    The following items are optional:

    • Trekking poles
    • Sleeping bag liner
    • Thermarest (a foam mattress is provided)
    • Travel clothes
    • Pocket-knife (note: always pack sharp objects in hold baggage)
    • Repair kit – (eg. needle, thread, duct tape)
    • Small padlock (to lock your KE trek bag)
    • Camera, memory cards, batteries

    We recommend you check if you require an adaptor for your electrical items at:

    Know before you go

    As a reputable tour operator, KE supports the British Foreign & Commonwealth Offices ‘Know before you go’ campaign to enable British citizens to prepare for their journeys overseas, and we recommend that all KE travellers take a look at the FCO Travel Advice for their chosen destination on the official FCO website: North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: for essential travel advice and tips.

    KE treat the safety and security of all clients as the most important aspect of any trip we organise. We would not run any trip that we did not consider reasonably safe.  Should the FCO advise against travel for any reason, we will contact everyone booked to travel to discuss the situation.  We receive regular updates direct from the FCO and are in constant touch with our contacts on the ground.  If you have any questions about government travel advice, please call our office.

    The most important influence on the annual climate of the south Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu is the monsoon, which brings a great deal of rain during the period from May to October. In November, the tail end of the monsoon can cause short-lived rainstorms. At the time of any of our departures, we will experience maximum daytime temperatures at sea level of between 25 and 30 degrees centigrade, falling to around 20 degrees centigrade at night. It is, of course, cooler at higher elevations, with daytime maximum temperatures of between 15 and 20 degrees centigrade in Munnar. At our highest camps, night-time temperatures can fall close to freezing, especially in December and January departure. From November to March, generally, conditions in the Cardamom Hills are pleasant for hiking - fresh during the day and with cool evenings.

    The national language of India is Hindi, although there are around 15 other languages spoken (and listed on the bank notes). Generally in India many people speak some English and India is therefore an easy place to make friends and get to know local people. We recommend that you take a pocket phrase book such as the Lonely Planet or Berlitz and learn some basics such as common greetings. Your efforts to speak a few words of the local language will pay dividends in terms of the warm reaction you receive from the people you meet along the way.

    South India. Lonely Planet. South India. Rough Guides. India Guide. Footprint Guides. India. Fodor's Travel Publications.

    India: TTK State Road Maps. Kerala and Tamil Nadu sheets

    Fairly basic maps showing main towns, roads and railways. Relief is not shown but administrative boundaries are marked. Intermediate driving distances are marked on major roads. In the jacket of each map is a reference booklet giving background information about the state's geography, history, cultural aspects and main towns.

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