Its physical beauty is outstanding: the beaches, the mountains, the unique system of natural channels and lakes that make up the backwaters. Its history is fascinating, stretching back 2000 years, with many cultural influences from around the world evident in its architecture and world-renowned cuisine. Infused throughout all of this a strong tradition of dance and music. It's also a very easy and comfortable place to travel – see below for more details. All in all, a simply delightful place!
Kerala is truly 'India Lite'. The pace of life is slow and laid back, there is good health care, excellent education with an almost 100% literacy rate, and virtually no corruption. It is the perfect start to your explorations of India, gently easing you into the culture.
Delicious and unique. The cuisine reflects the diverse history and culture of Kerala, with its many influences from all over the world. There is a huge array of textures, flavor and colors in the food, and if spiciness isn't your preference you don't have to worry, as many dishes are very mild. We'll have an in–depth look at the cuisine, with cooking lessons in two of the places we stay, and the chance to see first hand where some of essential ingredients come from – and also to help gather them! And, of course, we will be enjoying great food every day.
It starts in Fort Cochin, in Central Kerala, and ends in the Spice Belt. We provide airport transfers from our last accommodation to Cochin Airport – the driving time is approximately the same as from Fort Cochin (approximately one and a half hours).
Cochin International Airport has regular flight connections to the main hubs of the Middle East – particularly Doha – and South East Asia. There are also regular domestic flights from Mumbai. Coming from the East coast of North America, you can fly with Eithad or Emirates Airlines, transiting in Doha. From the West coast of North America, you can fly with Qatar, transiting through Montreal, New York or Frankfurt, and Doha. Please contact your travel agent for other options, as there are many!
On our kayaking days, we paddle for two to four hours at a gentle pace. The beauty of paddling here is that it gives us an intimate view of daily life, so we won't be hurrying! And we have a support boat close by, in case you need to take a break. The walks on the trip are very gentle. The bicycle ride is about 2 hours, on mostly quiet rural roads.
No. The backwaters are protected and flat calm, and the kayaking is suitable for beginners.
This is not a problem on any of our trips; you just need to let us know in advance what you can and can't eat. In Kerala there is a strong tradition of vegetarian cuisine, and it is famous for its sadhya, a vegetarian banquet.
The daytime temperatures will be up to 28–30 degrees, and by night they drop to between 20–25 degrees, with fairly high humidity. There may be occasional showers, but these will be short.
You will require a visa, and it's advisable to apply for it well before trip begins. You can apply directly through an Indian embassy, or use a visa agency.
Medical insurance, including emergency evacuation, is mandatory on all our trips. We also strongly advise you to purchase trip cancellation insurance which should be done within a few days of making your booking.
Your routine vaccinations (tetanus/diphtheria, polio, etc.) must be up to date. Another general precaution for travelers anywhere in the world is a hepatitis A and possibly a typhoid vaccination. If you are travelling to India from a country where yellow fever is present, you must have a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate. Please consult with your physician or local travel health clinic.
The parts of Kerala where we will be travelling are considered very low risk for malaria, but it is present in other parts of India. It is always best to consult your local travel clinic and follow their advice.
Airport transfers on the first and last days of the trip, all cultural tour guiding and entrance fees, all accommodation, kayak guiding and instruction and equipment, all meals, and water.
International flights, airport transfers not on the first or last days of the trip, soft and alcoholic drinks, personal insurance and gratuities.
ATMs are available in Fort Cochin, on our way to the backwaters and to the Spice Belt.
When you sign up for the trip, we will provide you with a comprehensive clothes and equipment list.
Absolutely not. We have many guests who travel with us on their own. They appreciate the camaraderie of our Hidden Places groups, and usually go home with new-found friends.
Of course. Just ask and we will be happy to put you in touch with one of our Hidden Places guests.