Highlights
  • Explore Cochin
  • Enjoy a touching cultural event
  • Cruise through bigger channels and across lakes
  • Discover Kerala Spice Belt

Kayaking in India’s Kerala State, you’ll be enchanted by an over-abundance of beauty: between the Arabian Sea and the mountainous Western Ghats lie its stunning white sand beaches, lush tropical greenery, and a huge labyrinth of interconnected channels, lagoons and lakes – the Kerala Backwaters. In this verdant paradise, known by locals as "God’s Own Country", India slows to a relaxed, friendly pace. The climate is idyllic, and the cuisine – a fusion of the many cultures that have been welcomed here for centuries past – is astonishing. We first discovered Kerala in 2008 and were immediately enchanted – we can’t wait to return with you for a brand new Hidden Places adventure!

Trip Description

Our India kayaking adventure begins in Fort Cochin. This ancient settlement was first visited by Phoenician traders over 2000 years ago, and by the 14th century it was a key stop on the spice trade route for Dutch, Portuguese, British and Chinese seafarers. Starting from our boutique hotel in a beautifully restored 300 year old colonial building, we explore this fascinating settlement, checking out atmospheric spice warehouses, the church where Vasco de Gama was buried and the unique Chinese fishing nets, reputedly brought here from the court of Kublai Khan, and still in use. We also attend a stunning performance of Kathakali, the oldest dance form in India that combines drama, music, devotion and elaborate costumes to create a theatrical masterpiece.

Kayaking in India’s Kerala State, you’ll be enchanted by an over-abundance of beauty: between the Arabian Sea and the mountainous Western Ghats lie its stunning white sand beaches, lush tropical greenery, and a huge labyrinth of interconnected channels, lagoons and lakes – the Kerala Backwaters. In this verdant paradise, known by locals as "God’s Own Country", India slows to a relaxed, friendly pace. The climate is idyllic, and the cuisine – a fusion of the many cultures that have been welcomed here for centuries past – is astonishing. We first discovered Kerala in 2008 and were immediately enchanted – we can’t wait to return with you for a brand new Hidden Places adventure!

Our India kayaking adventure begins in Fort Cochin. This ancient settlement was first visited by Phoenician traders over 2000 years ago, and by the 14th century it was a key stop on the spice trade route for Dutch, Portuguese, British and Chinese seafarers. Starting from our boutique hotel in a beautifully restored 300 year old colonial building, we explore this fascinating settlement, checking out atmospheric spice warehouses, the church where Vasco de Gama was buried and the unique Chinese fishing nets, reputedly brought here from the court of Kublai Khan, and still in use. We also attend a stunning performance of Kathakali, the oldest dance form in India that combines drama, music, devotion and elaborate costumes to create a theatrical masterpiece.

India’s best place to paddle is Alleppey, named 'Venice of the East' because of the numerous channels meandering through it. We pick up our kayaks here and for the next four days we head deep into the backwaters, where life goes on as it has done for centuries past. We watch young men climb coconut palms to collect the sap for 'toddy', kayak alongside fishmongers selling their catch from skinny canoes and chat to children paddling to school. We may have to stop for a flock of ducks being ferried across the channel by a farmer, and for sure we'll pull up in our kayaks at a cafe to enjoy cup of chai! This is also a birder's delight, as we catch glimpse of egrets, herons, cormorants, terns and our favorite, the kingfisher, with its iridescent blue wings.

On this adventure tour in India our luggage is transported ahead of us while we paddle "inn to inn", arriving in the afternoons at our comfortable accommodation in heritage villas. Here we have cooking lessons in the famed Kuttanadan cuisine, unique to the backwaters, and enjoy an Ayurvedic massage or simply relax in a hammock as the sun goes down. Every day takes us further into the rich cultural heritage of Kerala, as we watch moving performances by Sopana devotional singers, accompanied by traditional temple drummers.

For another perspective on the Kerala backwaters we board a kettuvolam – a beautifully crafted bamboo and reed boat originally built to transport rice, now converted into a luxury mothership. We spend two days cruising past jewel green paddy fields and groves of mangos, bananas and jackfruit, enjoying fabulous meals and stopping for visits at local villages. There are bicycles at hand for those of us who want to explore the backwaters along its many narrow pathways, or we can simple meander by foot – Kerala is the place for meandering!

The rich spice belt of Kerala, at the foothills of the Western Ghats is our final destination. On a secluded family-run organic farm in a fabulous setting, we go on a culinary journey with our hosts and in-house chef. We help them pick fresh spices, vegetables and fruit, and learn their secrets as they teach us to create extraordinary dishes, each taste balanced according to the principles of Ayurveda. We can also trek in the forest, swim in the river or relax by the pool, do some clothes shopping in the nearby town, have yoga lessons before breakfast and experience a truly authentic Ayurvedic massage. In this little paradise you feel part of the family – a truly immersive experience and a wonderful end to a fabulous trip!

If you’ve never been to India, Kerala is the place to start – as well as being verdant and peaceful, it is has an almost 100% literacy rate, great healthcare, religious tolerance and a rural prosperity that is reflected in the smiles of its hospitable people. And if you're an experienced India hand, but have not explored the south, join us for an intimate journey into "God’s Own Country"!

 
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Hidden Places Travel Travel Reviews & Ratings
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Stride Take

Kerala, in southern India, is known for its interconnecting channels, lakes and lagoons; after kayaking through them, take cooking lessons, and eat.

Kerala Kayaking, Culture and Cuisine

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CP

Recommends

We had a wonderful time! I absolutely loved it! January 2017

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
The hotels, food, activities were just great. All the hotel owners and managers were welcoming and keen to provide good service. We loved the visits to both Moni's and Praveen's homes! The food in all places was excellent. I honestly thought it was a given that if I went to India I'd pick up some kind of food related stomach issue. I was wrong. None of us got sick.
We had such a great time with Moni, Praveen, Radeesh and Moni the boat driver. A warm, fun, thoughtful group. I was the weakest kayaker and Praveen was great at keeping an eye out for me when I was on my own, and paddling for me in the double when I needed a break. A very patient, kind, strong person. Moni and Praveen organized a biking and kayaking day that was ideal. As the group leader, Moni was keen to ensure we were all happy with the plans, even providing chocolate for our rest stops when Cathy mentioned we liked chocolate. Despite the crazy roads in India I felt confident Radeesh would get us around safely, and with a great smile too!
I loved this holiday and will truly treasure it. A great mix of different activities and rest time, including an "interesting" massage. A wonderful group looking after us. A heartfelt thank you to you and the team for providing us with this opportunity. Well done!
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Operator Hidden Places Travel

C

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Hidden Places Travel exceeded our expectation! August 2015

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Thank you Hidden Places for an incredible journey kayaking in Croatia. It exceeded our expectations. Our guide was knowledgeable, fun and so helpful. I hope to travel with you all again soon!

Operator Hidden Places Travel

C

Recommends

We Loved it all. August 2015

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
The Sri Lanka trip was over the top wonderful. What a country! So lush, verdant, beautiful, friendly, and then there were the Buddhist shrines, HIndu temples, elephants, birds, tea plantations, great food, and wonderful hotels. Dag and Maria are the best guides of all time and now there is another: Darwyn. What an adventure! Oh yes, our local guide Pria was superb. We loved it all.
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Operator Hidden Places Travel

C

Recommends

Superb! August 2015

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Kayaking in Kerala was superb. I never expected so many wonderful cultural surprises to be included in the active itinerary. The boutique hotels were so charming and in the best locations.

Operator Hidden Places Travel

M&R

Recommends

Fantastic tour! August 2015

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
As always Hidden Places revealed to us a world unknown to most. Dag and Maria are the best hosts. Sir Lanka was absolutely fantastic, the people, culture, food and weather couldn't have been better. We can't wait for the next new adventure, which will probably be in the north of Spain where the surfing picture was taken.
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Operator Hidden Places Travel

Itinerary

Day 1: Fort Cochin

Settle into our hotel, an exquisitely restored 300 year old heritage building. Wander a short distance to the beach to see the famous Chinese nets being worked as they have for centuries. Meet your travel companions and enjoy a welcome dinner and your first tastes of Kerala’s world-renowned cuisine.

Day 2: Fort Cochin

On a morning walking tour with a history guide, explore the old town, follow your nose to the fragrant spice warehouses, check out the architecture left by Portuguese, Dutch and British traders of old, and visit the church where Vasco de Gama was buried. After a free afternoon, marvel at the skills of heavily bejeweled and painted Kathakali dancers as they re–enact Hindu epics.

Day 3: Kerala Backwaters

Head to the serenity of the backwaters – 900 km of waterways winding through swathes of paddy fields, orchards and palm plantations, which are 'roads' for villagers who farm and fish here. Go local as you begin your kayaking journey along tiny channels and past peaceful villages, arriving at our small family run resort.

Day 4 and 5: Kerala Backwaters

Paddle past duck farms (and stop for duck crossings!) and watch the traditional toddy tappers at work in the coconut palms. Our destination, and home for the next two nights, is a waterfront heritage house, set in 9 acres of lush paddy fields. From here we go deep into a maze of tiny channels, meeting ladies doing their washing on the ghats and children running along paths on their way to school. To stretch our legs, we walk to a local village to watch the sunset over the paddy fields, and enjoy a touching cultural event.

Day 6: Backwaters

Today we paddle across Vermbanad Lake, arriving at a village for a special lunch with a local family. Our final destination is a Tharavadu (ancestral home) built according to ancient rules and rites, converted into a lovely boutique hotel. As night falls, we are treated to an incredible musical performance from world-renown local musicians.

Day 7 and 8: Rice boat mothership

After a final early morning paddle, we have a leisurely breakfast then board our "kettuvolams" with en suite bedrooms and a gourmet chef. We cruise through some of the bigger channels and across lakes, stopping at villages to go for stroll or a bike ride through the lush countryside.

Day 9, 10 and 11: Kerala Spice Belt

Something completely different: after farewells to our mothership crew and the backwaters, transfer to a secluded organic farm – and beautiful homestay – in the rich spice belt of Kerala. Take a culinary journey into the intricacies of Keralan food, from the field to the kitchen to the table. Go walking in the rubber plantations, swim in the tranquil river, lazy by the pool, join the morning yoga classes, take a shopping trip to the local town – and don’t miss the opportunity of a wholly authentic Ayervedic massage.

Day 12: Depart

Say farewell to your newfound friends and transfer to the airport for homeward or onward journeys.

Dates & Pricing

Price From

$ 3,990

Price Per Day:

$ 333 per day
 
  • Single Supplement (Single Occupancy): $ 950
Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.
Details
Trip Includes
  • 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
Trip Excludes
  • International flights
  • Airport transfers not on the first or last days of the trip
  • Soft and alcoholic drinks
  • Personal insurance and gratuities.
Flights & Transport
Only ground transport
Group Size:
Small Group - 24 max
Maximum Number of People in Group: 10
Group size: 10
Start City
Cochin
End City
Spice Belt

Trip ID#: KerKayHid

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