Discover the tropical luxuriance and eclectic culture of Indias Kerala province, which lies along the rich Malabar Coast. Stroll along picturesque, golden-sand shores; glide through jungle-lined backwaters on a traditional wooden houseboat; and savour one of the most enticing cuisines the country has to offer. Steer off the beaten path on this refreshing journey, exploring rural villages, spending time with local fishermen and farmers, and experiencing the serene charm of southern India.
Arrive at any time; your arrival transfer is included.
Set out to explore Kochi, an enchanting port city on the Malabar Coast and the site of the first European settlement in India. Visit Mattancherry Palacebuilt in the mid-16th century by Portuguese colonists and expanded later on by the Dutchand venture to the colourful streets of the Jewish Quarter, where antique shops and cafs abound. Then travel to Thekkady, the spice capital of India, and tour a spice and tea plantation with a local expert to understand the medicinal value of the regions signature spicesfrom cardamom and nutmeg to vanilla and turmericas well as the process of producing black tea, Indias favorite drink.
Thekkady is also home to Periyar National Park, one of Indias most celebrated elephant reserves. This morning, enjoy a boat ride on the stunning Periyar Lake, looking out for elephants, deer, monkeys, and a variety of rare birds. Afterward, visit the home of a local family for a cooking demonstration and a delicious, spice-filled lunch. Relax this afternoon, or opt to take a nature walk before heading to a local theatre for a performance of a kalaripayattu, an ancient Kerala martial art.
Continue to the lush village of Kumarakom on Vembanad Lake, the largest freshwater lake in the state of Kerala. Explore the rural, palm-lined backwaters of this renowned bird sanctuary and hop on a boat to Manjira village, where well meet local villagers and learn about coconut farming and rural customs. Witness a fascinating toddy tapping demonstration and enjoy a refreshing swig of coconut water, straight from the tree.
This morning, meet with a representative of the Vembanad Wetlands Conservation Program to learn about the ongoing work by local communities to conserve the lake and surrounding wetlands. This project was created by the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), an organization that National Geographic has collaborated with in the past. Continue by boat to a fish sanctuary established by local fishermen with support from the program, and see firsthand how their traditional ways of collecting and processing clams have become models for the sustainable management of the lakes resources. Then venture on a private houseboat to enchanting Alleppey, a golden streak of land surrounded by rivers, lakes, lagoons, and canals. Relax on the deck and enjoy the scenery, watching daily life unfold along the water.
Drive back to Kochi and take a walk in Fort Kochi, a delightful seaside district with vestiges of Portugese, Dutch, and British colonial architecture. Visit a local fish market and explore a maze of stalls selling fresh seafood. This evening, attend a performance of kathakali, the classical dance-drama of Kerala which combines storytelling with acting, dance, and martial arts.
Depart at any time.