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Tea Estates, Munnar, Kerala, India

Highlights of Kerala – Cochin, Munnar and Backwaters



12 Days

Prices Start from

£4,485pp (ex. flights)

With all the ingredients for the ultimate first-time visit to India, this holiday itinerary offers a gentle start to everyone wishing to make inroads into the Subcontinent. Easing you into India, the southern region of Kerala is slower, less frenetic and offers an excellent infrastructure through which you can explore this exotic and tropical state.

See Cochin away from the crowds with specially curated tours of the city. English speaking guides will accompany you into the hinterland to explore the magical tea hills and richly populated national parks. Spend a few nights on a privately owned, immaculately-run houseboat with an electric motor, minimising your impact on the peaceful backwaters. A rustic beach stay tops off the experience of the region.

Included as Standard

Airport VIP meet and greet, a bottle of wine on arrival, a spa treatment, a dedicated member of our team available 24/7, an upgrade at one of your chosen hotels and cars with Wi-Fi connectivity.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Chinese Fishing Nets, Cochin, India 1

Discover Cochin

Explore the old port city of Cochin with our resident guide, a fascinating mixing pot of cultures and religions.

Villager, Paddy Field, Kerala, India 2

Tea, spice and wildlife

Learn of coffee, rubber and spice production in the plantations of Thekkady and visit Periyar National Park.

Tea Estates, Munnar, Kerala, India 3

Explore Munnar

Stroll through the beautiful tea gardens of the Western Ghats (hills) and enjoy the fresh, clear air and breathtaking scenery.

Rice Barge, Kerala, India 4

Backwaters cruise

Spend a night on a houseboat, floating down backwater canals, visiting small, village communities and eating delicious, fresh fish.

How does this journey make a positive impact

All our guides are employed from the local communities that you visit, thus supporting local economies. This journey idea uses hotels that have a strong sense of environmental and community responsibility. Spice Village in Thekkady, Coconut Lagoon in Kumarakom, Marari Beach Resort and Spice Coast cruises (all part of the CGH EARTH group) run on a business model based on sustainable and responsible tourism. Of particular note are the houseboats. Made from natural materials, these spice boats are powered with solar energy and vegetable oils to reduce their impact upon the lake. The crew of these boats are simple fisherfolk, men who know these waters from their early years. Not only are they conscious of minimising the pollution into the lakes and backwaters but are supporting an age-old industry of boat building.

Explore our suggested itinerary

India on your wishlist? Talk to our experts about tailoring this trip for you.

  • Day 1-2


    Explore Cochin

  • Day 3

    Cochin - Munnar

    Drive from Cochin to Munnar

  • Day 4


    Explore Munnar with your guide

  • Day 5

    Munnar to Thekkady

    Drive from Munnar to Thekkady

  • Day 6


    Explore Thekkady

  • Day 7

    Thekkady - Kumarakom

    Drive from Thekkady to Kumarakom

  • Day 8

    Kumarakom - Alleppey

    Board your private houseboat

  • Day 9

    Alleppey - Mararikulam

    Disembark houseboat, drive to Mararikulam

  • Day 10-11


    Time at leisure

  • Day 12

    Mararikulam - Cochin

    Drive from Mararikulam to Cochin, depart

Day 1-2


Chinese Fishing Nets, Cochin, India

During your stay in Cochin, you will be taken on a heritage walking tour by our resident guide. Learn of Cochin’s rich history and heritage, showcasing the mixed Dutch, Portuguese, British and Jewish influences that make the city unique. Visit the old quarter of Fort Kochi, the Chinese fishing nets and the Jewish quarter. Visit the seaside promenade, and get a glimpse of daily life in Kochi.

Day 3

Cochin - Munnar

Day 4


Tea Plantation, Munnar, Kerala, India

The beautiful tea gardens of the Western Ghats (hills) offer excellent walking and breath-taking scenery. A local guide will join you to visit Munnar town and the surrounding tea estates, giving you an understanding of tea production in this region.

Day 5

Munnar to Thekkady

Day 6


Thekkady Lake, India

Our local guide will meet you today to take you for a fascinating walk through the lush green paddy fields and spice plantations of Thekkady. You will also visit Periyar National Park to learn about the fauna that inhabits this region.

Day 7

Thekkady - Kumarakom

The drive from Thekkady to Kumarakom can take up to five hours. Spend the afternoon relaxing on the edge of the backwaters, emersed in nature and the peace and tranquillity of this beautiful part of Kerala.

Day 8

Kumarakom - Alleppey

Rice Barge, Kerala, India

You board your own private, fully staffed houseboat on which you spend the night. Float down the backwater canals watching river life pass by. Disembark to visit local communities and find out about coir production and local fishing techniques. The chef will prepare you amazing meals while you sit back, unwind and take in the picturesque scenery.

Day 9

Alleppey - Mararikulam

Day 10-11


Marari Beach, Marari Beach Resort, Kerala, India

Marari Beach is ideal for anyone who’s looking for somewhere to feel the sand between their toes, watch the sunset over the ocean, take long beach walks and view the local fishermen bringing in their daily catch.

Day 12

Mararikulam - Cochin

Our travel experts can tailor this itinerary to suit you.

More details

Chinese Fishing Nets, Cochin, India
Cochin, India

The Cultural Melting Pot of Cochin

Cochin is the oldest European settlement in India, with an amazing blend of architectural styles making it a delightful place to stay.

Set on a cluster of islands and narrow peninsulas, linked by a network of ferries and bridges, the ancient water city of Cochin (Kochi) reflects the eclecticism of Kerala perfectly. With its rich past and a bustling present, it has been the business hub of the region for centuries.

The influence of Chinese, Jews, Arabs and Europeans is evident throughout Cochin and its people, with colonial houses sitting alongside Chinese fishing nets and an ancient synagogue. Cochin is an attractive city with serene backwaters, lagoons overhung with feathery coconut palms and picturesque islands.

It’s always fun to ride on one of the local ferries and visit the wonderful spice markets. Cochin also stages performances of Kathakali, a classical Keralan art.

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Rural Paddy Fields, Kerala, India
Kerala, India

Thekkady Spice Plantations

Spend time in Thekkady, a region adorned with rubber and spice plantations. Take a farm or village walk and taste traditional recipes passed down through the generations. Cooking lessons are available to anyone showing a passion for local Keralan food. Naturalist-led walks are the perfect way to learn about the flora and fauna of this region. Bird watching and fishing enthusiasts will discover all sorts of oddities.

Peacock, India

Walking and Rafting in Periyar National Park

Close by to Thekkady, situated in the Western Ghats of Kerala, Periyar National Park is a sanctuary to the tiger and a significant elephant population, as well as macaques, sambar deer, leopards and Indian bison. One of the great community-based initiatives involving the native tribal community involves a guided walk of about two hours deep into the park. Part of the walk involves boarding a Bamboo raft to reach the more remote areas of the lake and park. This particular excursion gets you up close and personal with the flora and fauna in the park and is utterly thrilling.

Rice Barge, Kerala, India
Kerala, India

An Unforgettable Cruise

Board your own private houseboat and drift along the tranquil Keralan backwaters. Relax on the deck while you watch fishermen balancing on their narrow canoes, women weaving and chatting onshore and children laugh and play in the water.

Undisturbed by the sound of traffic and the modern world, this laid back journey offers the chance to experience a way of life that has changed little over the past years. Sail into the evening, taking in the majestic surroundings and exotic sounds of the local wildlife.

The boats themselves consist of two or three bedrooms with attached bathrooms and a larger, open-sided sitting area from where you can watch the world go by. They are fully staffed with a captain and a cook who will serve you up delicious and varied meals of fresh fish and local specialities. The boats that we use are electric, make hardly any sound and have their own private mooring away from the mass of other boats.

We recommend doing a two-night trip so that you can really explore the narrower waterways.

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Beach, Kerala, India
Kerala, India

The Malabar Coast

India’s southwestern coast, sometimes referred to as the Malabar Coast, runs from the south of Goa to Kanyakumari on India’s southern tip. If considering some rest and relaxation at an undeveloped beachside location following a tour of Kerala, consider spending a few days on Marari Beach.

A short drive from Cochin and the Keralan Backwaters, Marari Beach is ideal for anyone who’s looking for somewhere to feel the sand between their toes, watch the sunset over the ocean, take long beach walks and view the local fishermen bringing in their daily catch.


Below you can see some of the wonderful places we have recommended for this journey.

Coconut Lagoon £££££

  • India

This traditional-style, eco-friendly hotel promising complete escapism. Individual cottages, called tharawads, are set amongst lawns and gardens amid a network of pools and waterways.

View Property

Malabar House Residency £££££

  • India
  • City

The Malabar House Residency is a pretty, boutique hotel with just 17 rooms and suites. Situated in Fort Cochin, overlooking the parade ground, some of Cochin’s finest sights are just a short walk away. The feel of the place is intimate and personal. The hotel is based around a colonial-style courtyard where you find a small plunge pool and restaurant.

View Property

Marari Beach Resort £££££

  • India
  • Beach and Island Escapes

Sprawled expansively across 25 acres of land, Marari Resort is separated from the sea by a windbreak of stretching palms. There are a mere 52 cottages, so the sense of space here is much more dramatic.

View Property

Spice Village £££££

  • India

Spice Village is a collection of individual cottages set in a landscaped spice garden in Thekkady, close to Periyar Wildlife Reserve.

View Property

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Everything went smoothly, we were met as arranged by extremely knowledgeable personnel. The guides and drivers came up to and exceeded, our expectations.


A note on price

Prices will vary depending on the time of year you are travelling. Prices do not include international flights. Please ask one of our Travel Experts for an accurate quote. Flights purchased through Steppes Travel departing from the UK are ATOL protected.

This Itinerary
From £4,485 Per person

When to travel

India in January

January is a very popular time to travel to India, due to mild temperatures and very little rainfall. The climate varies across India from snow in the Northern States to the Southern regions experiencing daily sunshine – perfect for an escape to Kerala’s beaches.

India in February

During peak season, February is an ideal month to travel to India, experiencing all regions of the country from Rajasthan in the North to Karnataka in the South.

India in March

Temperatures begin to rise with March typically being the last month of the peak season. A significant month for religious, Hindu festivals, March can become busy in some regions however also a perfect time to travel to experience Indian culture and wildlife.

India in April

With temperatures starting to rise, regions in Northern India start to become more accessible with excellent opportunities to discover hiking trails and the wildlife of these regions. Temperatures can sometimes exceed 40°C, with high levels of humidity in Southern India.

India in May

From May to September, Monsoon rains affect the North and Central states of India with daily rainfall and thunderstorms. During the Monsoon season, it is best to experience high altitude regions and avoid beach resorts.

India in June

Most regions of India will experience the Monsoon season in June alongside high daily temperatures and high levels of humidity. Whilst, not a popular time to travel, experience the mountainous regions as opposed to Central India to experience slightly cooler temperatures at the start of the month.

India in July

At the peak of the Monsoon season, most of the country experiences frequent, heavy rainfall. Whilst travel plans may be interrupted due to the climate, it is a great time to visit India to experience the national parks and the great outdoors.

India in August

As the Monsoon continues, the climate is very similar to that of June and July. Whilst not a suitable time to travel to India’s Southern beaches, other Northern Regions are popular with locals for hiking and outdoor pursuits.

India in September

As the final month of the Monsoon season, rainfall will be less frequent with the occasional sunny spell showcasing the lush, green vegetation that has flourished during the heavy rains.

India in October

As the monsoon rains have finished, humidity levels remain high and the peak travel season begins. During the month of October, there are lots of religious festivals, including Diwali, where some regions may become busier with domestic tourists.

India in November

As one of the best times to visit the country, November brings comfortable temperatures for sightseeing with the monsoon rains dying out from October. As the temperatures drop, however, Northern India and the Himalayas will become less accessible.

India in December

In December, temperatures and climate will be dependant on the region. In the Southern States, India will see a pleasant and mild climate, ideal for sightseeing, whereas, in Northern India and mountainous regions, snow and cold temperatures are likely.

Holiday Inspiration

Our experts have created and curated these tailor-made holiday ideas to get you started. Take the time to search through them and find something that is the spark for your unique adventure.

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise set us apart. So too our curiosity. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you, all the while ensuring we travel and operate sustainably.

Are you ready to discover extraordinary once again?

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