Wildlife watching tours - bird watching holidays -
culture tours for independent travellers and groups
Malabar Coast © J Thomas
Anamudi, from Eravikulam National Park © J ThomasTraditional South Indian cuisine © J ThomasHouseboat, Backwaters, Kerala © J ThomasAtlas Moth © J Thomas

Relax Kerala Style (16 days) B132

Tour ref. no. B132
Duration: 14 nights (16 days taking into account flights which are payable directly)
Kochi – Thattekkad – Munnar – Periyar – Delwalokam – Backwaters – Alleppey – Marari Beach – Kochi
  • Relax as you watch Brahminy Kites from your houseboat on the Keralan Backwaters
  • See rare Nilgiri Tahr and White-bellied Blue Robin in Eravikulam National Park
  • Watch Asian Elephants in Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Search for White-bellied Treepie, Indian Pitta and Black Baza at Thattekkad
  • Enjoy a traditional Kathakali performance or cookery demonstration (optional)
  • Laze on the beach along the Malabar coast

Introduction

Looking for the perfect mix of nature watching and relaxation?   Then this could be just the tour for you!  Begin in the historic coastal town of Fort Kochi and experience the unique art-form of a Kathakali performanceThattekkad’s tropical forests are home to many of South India’s endemic birds including Malabar Grey Hornbill, colourful Crimson-fronted (Malabar) Barbet and Malabar Parakeet.  A short journey takes you to Munnar, higher in the Nilgiri Hills, where Nilgiri Tahr graze the slopes of Eravikulam National Park, also home to a range of species such as Black-and-Orange Flycatcher, Nilgiri Flycatcher and the huge Atlas Moth.  Then to Periyar, where extensive forest attracts Asian Elephant and a multitude of other species.  Unwind even more at Dewalokam Farmstay Retreat, cruise the Backwaters on a houseboat, be pampered at the award-winning Emerald Isle Homestay and complete your tour by relaxing on the beach along the Malabar coast.

There are many ways to extend this tour, so please contact us for details

Itinerary and price

Day 1: Flight to be organised by you

For help with your flight arrangements and to receive a no obligation quote, you can complete the enquiry form on our website or call 0800 280 8947 to speak to a flight advisor at StudentUniverse (in partnership with Gapyear.com), part of the Flight Centre Travel Group, a leading retailer of airfares and worldwide flights.

Note: You can fly into Koch from the Middle East or via Mumbai or Delhi and other key Indian cities.

Day 2: Kochi

Meals: Payable directly today

Arrive at Kochi Airport.  You’ll be welcomed outside the airport building by your driver/guide (look for your name on a placard).  From the airport you’ll be driven (35km/one hour) to Fort Kochi.  Check in at hotel (from 12 noon or earlier if rooms are available), then enjoy a half day sightseeing which will include a visit to the Synagogue, St. Francis Church and the Chinese Fishing Nets.  This evening you’ll watch a traditional Kathakali performance.  Return to hotel for the night.

Day 3: Kochi - Thattekkad

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Today visit Thattekkad (2-hour drive) a lowland forest with several types of eco-system – riverine, grassland, evergreen, scrub, dry deciduous and lowland tropical forest, making it one of the best destinations for birds in India and home to most of the endemics of the Western Ghats.  You could see White-bellied Treepie, Rufous Babbler, Crimson-backed Sunbird, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher, Wayanad Laughingthrush, Malabar Parakeet and Malabar Grey Hornbill.  This is a marvellous area for owl-lovers, with Mottled Wood Owl, Oriental Bay Owl, Oriental Scops Owl, Brown Fish-owl and Spot-bellied Eagle Owl all occuring locally.  You should also be able to watch the cryptic Sri Lanka Frogmouth as well as Red Spurfowl, Grey Junglefowl, Indian Pitta, Black Baza, Black-throated Munia and perhaps even Grey-headed Fish Eagle.  Night at the Hornbill Camp in a cottage tent with attached bathroom.

Day 4: Thattekkad

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

With your guide, enjoy the local birds during the best part of the morning, relax through the middle of the day, then in the afternoon explore locally again.  Your guide will know where to go in the early evening to search for Jerdon’s and Savanna Nightjars and you might be lucky to see or hear two more nightjar species along with the deafeningly-loud calls of Grey Junglefowl.  We should mention that there has been a long-running dispute between park staff and the Forest Department, so Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary has been closed for a few years.  If it remains closed, our guides know many excellent areas of forest to visit outside of the Sanctuary boundaries, so you will still be able to see all the species.  Spend a second night at Hornbill Camp.

Day 5: Thattekkad - Munnar

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

There’s a choice of what to do this morning.  If you thoroughly enjoyed your time in and around Thattekkad yesterday, it’s possible to spend more time here this morning, or set off earlier for the drive to Munnar;  you can make your decision the night before.  Depending on when you leave Thattekkad, you may arrive at Olive Brook Hotel in time of staff to prepare lunch for you – your guide will need to phone ahead to arrange this; otherwise, you can pick up something to eat on the way to Munnar and this would be payable directly.

Check in at Olive Brook and feel free to ask if it’s possible to watch how the staff create a traditional Keralan dish for your evening meal.  Depending on the time, enjoy local walks, look for birds such as Yellow-browed Bulbul, White-cheeked Barbet, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, Little Spiderhunter and Plain Flowerpecker, or perhaps visit local hot spots for views across the lovely wooded valley as the sun starts to set.  Located at a higher elevation, you will find the climate at Munnar a bit cooler

Day 6: Munnar

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

This morning the guide will take you to Rajamalai, the tourist zone of Eravikulam National Park where, amidst stunning scenery, you can see Nilgiri Tahr, a rare member of the goat or ibex family.  Also look for birds endemic to the area which may include Black-and-Orange Flycatcher, Nilgiri Flycatcher and Nilgiri Woodpigeon.  The huge, beautifully marked Atlas Moth is also found in this area.  A small interpretative centre explains about the area’s unique wildlife.  Spend a second night at Olive Brook.

Day 7: Munnar - Thekkady (Periyar)

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Today you will drive (120 km/4 – 5 hours) to Thekkady, the gateway to Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve.  Check in at Wildernest.   Although the habitat is excellent for tigers, seeing one here at Periyar is difficult, but you should see Gaur (Indian Bison), Bonnet Macaque, Nilgiri Langur and perhaps Crimson-fronted Barbet and White-bellied Treepie.  Your guide will help you to explore or you can relax for the remainder of the day.

Day 8: Thekkady (Periyar)

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Periyar Tiger Reserve is one of the finest wildlife and birding destinations in South India.  With over 320 bird species identified and a leading habitat for the Bengal Tiger, this sanctuary is an ideal destination for anyone interested in wildlife.  Your guide will assist with treks and with luck you should see Asian Elephant, Nilgiri Langur, Gaur, Sambar and Wild Boar; this is also an ideal place to look for the Great Hornbill.  Tiger and Sloth Bear occur, but are seldom seen.  Return to your hotel and relax for a second night.  Note: for any forest treks it is advisable to wear leech socks.  Your guide should carry some, but you may wish to bring your own. Night at your hotel.

Day 9: Periyar - Dewalokam

Meals: Breakfast at Periyar, lunch and dinner at Dewalokam
Today you will depart for your Farmstay Retreat where you can relax for the remainder of the day (110 kms/3 hours).  During the drive or whilst staying here you will see firsthand how spices are grown and how the ayurvedic plants are nurtured in the backyards of most Keralan homes.  You can also visit a rubber processing area, walk through the local village and enjoy some lowland forest walks.  A visit to the local school might also be possible on request.

Day 10: Dewalokam

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner at Dewalokam
Relax for the day and enjoy the local area and a second night at your farmstay.

Day 11: Dewalokam - Alleppey

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

After breakfast you’ll head for Alleppey, a drive of (75 kms/2 hours).  Alleppey is on the edge of Vembanad Lake, in the area known for its azure backwaters, swaying palms and floating houseboats.  The scenic drive takes you through typical Keralan villages and paddy fields.  On arrival you will check in to your Kettuvallam, the local name for a houseboat. You will be travelling on a standard houseboat, where all meals will be served, starting with lunch.  We will ensure you settle in and then your driver will leave you (another driver will meet you for tomorrow’s short transfer).  Cruise through the unique landscape of coconut palm-fringed lakes, canals and rivers, watching fishermen and scenes of village life, and enjoy a spectacular sunset.  You’ll be able to get off the boat to take a walk from time to time in local villages.  Dinner will be served on the houseboat.  Spend the night on board the houseboat in the middle of the lake.

Day 12: Houseboat (Alleppey) - Kurialacherry Homestay (near Alleppey)

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

In the morning disembark from the houseboat at the jetty where your car and driver will be waiting.  From here you’ll be transferred to your homestay, only a short drive away.  Spend the rest of the day bird watching locally.  You’ll find this a tranquil location to relax and enjoy a family environment with superb home cooking, whilst retaining your privacy and independence.

Day 13: Alleppey)

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Enjoy more birdwatching in and around Kurialacherry homestay and spend a second relaxing night here.

Day 14: Alleppey - Marari Beach

Meals: Breakfast at Kurialacherry

Today you’ll be transferred  to Arakkal Beach Villa.  Here you can relax by the Malabar coast.  Your driver will leave you and we will arrange for your transfer to the airport on your last day.

Day 15: Marari Beach

Meals: Breakfast

Full day at Marari Beach where you can totally relax.

Day 16: Marari Beach - Kochi

Meals: Breakfast

You will be transferred to the airport (approx. 2 hours)  Tour ends.

Tour ends

The price, names of hotels and a list of inclusions/exclusions are shown below.  Note: we can tailor the itinerary to suit you with changes to hotels, adding days and/or adding new locations.  Tour extensions are available eg. The Andamans, so please contact us for details.

Price per person:

2 people travelling together (on a twin share basis) £1450
4 people travelling together (on a twin share basis) £1385
Single room supplement £235
Price is based on the following hotels:

Place Hotel name No. of nights
Fort Kochi CGH Casino 1
Thattekkad Hornbill Camp, Cottage Tent with attached bathroom 2
Munnar Olive Brook  2
Periyar Wildernest  2
Dewalokam Mundakkal Farmstay  2
Backwaters Standard Houseboat  1
Alleppey Kurialacherry Homestay 2
Marari Beach Arakkal Beach Villa 2

Price includes

  • Accommodation in standard rooms/cottages with meals as listed
  • All mentioned transfers by air-conditioned vehicle
  • English speaking driver/guide
  • Additional guide for sightseeing in Fort Kochi and monument fees
  • Entrances to all Sanctuaries and National Parks as listed in the itinerary
  • All currently applicable taxes

Price excludes

  • Any international airfare to/from India including International airport tax
  • Any internal flights within India
  • Meals not specified
  • Tourist visa and travel insurance
  • Camera fee where charged
  • Any additional taxes levied by the Government of India on the tourism sector in future
  • Any expenses of personal nature such as hard/soft drinks, laundry, phone/fax calls, tips etc.
  • Any item not mentioned in the price includes section.
  • Cost incidental to any change in the itinerary/stay on account of flight cancellation due to bad weather, ill health, roadblocks and/or any factors beyond control

How to book

The booking of this itinerary is with Wild About Travel Limited and our booking terms and conditions apply. In order to protect your payments we operate a trust account in accordance with the requirements of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992.

Please contact Jo Thomas at Wild About Travel (jo@wildabouttravel.co.uk) / 01480-370593 to register your interest and request a booking form.

To confirm your booking please complete the booking form and send a 25% deposit by £ sterling cheque * payable to Wild About Travel Trust to the Wild About Travel Office, 25 Sapley Road, Hartford, Huntingdon, Cambs PE29 1YG. The balance payment would be due 40 - 60 days (to be confirmed at the time of booking) prior to your travel dates.

* Note: Where a price is given in another currency you can pay in £ sterling. We will use the Lloyds Bank exchange rate at the time of making the deposit payment and the balance payment to convert the figure to £. If you would prefer to make a payment by internet banking please let us know and we can supply you with the bank details.

Flights

We can advise on appropriate flights and timings that you may wish to book, but we do not organise or arrange flights on our customers’ behalf. You will need to make your own flight arrangements directly with a flight retailer or the airline concerned; we recommend StudentUniverse (in partnership with Gapyear.com), part of Flight Centre Travel Group. They can be contacted by completing the online enquiry form or you can call 0800 280 8947 to speak to one of their flight advisors.

For any help or advice please call or email Wild About Travel and we would be happy to assist.
Tel: +44 (0)1480 370593 Mobile: +44 (0)7817 574235
Email: jo@wildabouttravel.co.uk
Wild About Travel Limited is a company registered in England and Wales.
Reg. no. 5522066. Registered Office: 25 Sapley Road, Hartford, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE29 1YG, UK

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