Day 1 UK - Cochin
Today you'll depart on your overnight flight to India.
Day 2 Cochin
On arrival in Cochin we will transfer you to your hotel for a two-night stay. Cochin is Kerala's cosmopolitan capital, where you'll discover a beautiful harbour and tranquil backwaters.
A wonderful time to appreciate its beauty is at sunset, and an optional excursion this evening gives you the chance to do just that. You'll board a motor boat and cruise through the heart of Cochin, known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea. Take in amazing views of picturesque islands and the traditional Chinese fishing nets that the area is famous for as you watch the sun dip behind the horizon.
Day 3 Cochin
You'll get to know Cochin on a tour this morning. Highlights include the Jewish Synagogue, Mattancherry Palace - built by the Portuguese in 1557, and St Francis Church, which is the oldest European built church in India.
At lunchtime we're invited to a local restaurant, God's Own Curry, for a cookery demonstration, which will take place in the beautiful garden overlooking a river. Kerala was once the spice trade centre for India and the chef will show you how to use these aromatic ingredients in your cooking. After the demonstration, we'll enjoy the dishes that have been cooked for lunch.
Tonight, you've a display of Kathakali classical dance to look forward to. It's a traditional art form dating back to the 17th century and we'll learn about this before enjoying a 'Sadya' vegetarian feast with the group. This shared meal will take you on a gastronomic journey through Kerala as you try a tempting selection of dishes from many different regions. Each is served following local customs and come in an order which is said to help digestion. You'll eat from a banana leaf, which points in a certain direction, with rice served on the bottom half and other items placed in clockwise order. You'll find that your hosts serve dessert mid-way through the meal.
Day 4 Cochin - ThekkadyAfter breakfast we are going to drive to Thekkady. Our journey takes us past mountains, vast carpets of tea plantations and gardens of coffee, cardamom and pepper. On arrival we'll head straight to our hotel, which is located close to the Periyar Game Reserve. This evening we'll visit a spice plantation, where exotic aromas fill the air.
Meals included: B,D
Day 5 Thekkady
Our optional early morning nature trek is a must for wildlife enthusiasts. The forest is a haven for a huge variety of flora and fauna, and a Local Guide will point out interesting sights. Look out for guar bison, sambar deer, otters, macaque monkeys, the Malabar giant squirrel and many species of bird.
This afternoon we'll step aboard a traditional vessel and cruise through the Periyar Game Reserve.
This evening you have the chance to watch the spectacle that is Kalaripayattu - believed to be the oldest form of martial art. Originally practised by the most powerful warriors, it features intense and physically demanding moves with the perfomer using every muscle in their body.
Day 6 Thekkady - Vayalar
After breakfast this morning, we'll drive to the small, traditional village of Vayalar. We'll stay here for the next two nights, in a hotel with an idyllic pool area and luxurious spa. It's a lovely place to relax and there are lots of opportunities to get out onto the backwaters and explore this intriguing environment.Meals included: B,D
Day 7 Vayalar - at Leisure
Spend some time at leisure relaxing in this idyllic location. Ayurveda treatments are offered at your hotel and a specialist is on hand to give you an insight into this style of treatment. If you wish, you could head to the spa for a treatment such as an Ayurveda massage. Alternatively, you might prefer to lounge by the pool or explore the lake. It's home to a wide variety of fish, so why not see how many you can spot.
If you want to carry on exploring, we recommend an optional excursion to a village located along the backwaters. Here you'll enjoy a tour and witness the unhurried pace of life in rural Kerala. You'll also watch as the villagers carry out traditional work such as boat building, prawn cultivation, sand mining and basket making. You'll enjoy a lunch of local specialities, served in the traditional way on banana leaves, before returning to your hotel. Meals included: B,D
Day 8 Vayalar - Alleppey
Your adventure continues with a drive to Alleppey this morning. On arrival we will transfer you to one of Kerala's famous houseboats for an overnight stay. These 80ft long kettuvallams have been converted from rice boats and turned into modern, comfortable vessels. They offer an unforgettable experience in traditional surroundings.
Day 9 Alleppey - Kovalam
Breakfast will be served on board your houseboat, and then we will disembark and drive to Kovalam. Located on the coast, there are some lovely beaches here and you're free to soak up the sun this afternoon.
Day 10 Kovalam - UK
After an early breakfast you'll transfer to the airport for your flight back to the UK.Meals included: B