Tea Estates, Munnar, Kerala, India

Highlights of Kerala – Cochin, Munnar and Backwaters



12 Days

Prices Start from

$7,089pp (ex. flights)

For a slower but no less rewarding Indian holiday, head south to the laid-back state of Kerala, home to hillside tea estates, exceptional beaches, wildlife parks and vibrant ports and cities.

Our guided heritage tour of old Cochin is a firm favourite with our clients, especially when combined with exploring Munnar’s lush tea estates. An overnight journey on the Keralan backwaters, travelling on a boat powered by solar energy, is the epitome of low-impact, slow travel. Ending with a rustic stay on Marari Beach, this holiday is the perfect antidote to India’s frenetic big cities.

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 about coffee 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 and enjoy the fresh, clear air and breathtaking scenery.

Rice Barge, Kerala, India 4

Backwaters cruise

Spend a night (or two) on a houseboat, floating down backwater canals, visiting villages and eating delicious fish.

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) perfectly reflects the eclecticism of Kerala. With a 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.

Read More
Rural Paddy Fields, Kerala, India
Kerala, India

Thekkady Spice Plantations

Spend time in Thekkady, a region renowned for its 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, which is a particular favourite of bird-watchers.

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.

Rice Barge, Kerala, India
Kerala, India

Slow Boat Along the Backwaters

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 laughing and playing 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 prepare 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.

Read More

How does this holiday make a positive impact?

Made from natural materials, the houseboats we use are converted spice boats, powered by solar energy and vegetable oils to reduce their impact on the waterways and lakes. The crew of these boats are from local fishing communities who have lived and worked alongside these waters for many years. Not only are they conscious of minimising the pollution in the lakes and backwaters but are supporting an age-old industry of boat building.

The Periyar Tiger Reserve is home to many tribal communities including the Mannans and the Palians. An initiative has been created called the Tribal Heritage Programme which not only gives tourists an opportunity to visit local communities in a sensitive manner, but also gives local minority communities opportunities for employment in the tourism industry. Your walking guide in Periyar Tiger Reserve will be from the Mannan community, one of the earliest aboriginal tribes to inhabit this part of Kerala.

Coconut Lagoon in Kumarakom pays homage to the local yet sadly declining architectural style of the region. Guest cottages have been built from the remnants of old mansions called tharavads, that in some cases have been left to slowly disintegrate. The owners of Coconut Lagoon, GCH Earth, have bought sections of these old mansions to the site of the hotel, and using local, skilled craftspeople have painstakingly incorporated these features into the design and build of the property


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

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

Start planning your trip

Send us an enquiry

Complete our enquiry form and start your next journey.

Review Contact Form


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 $7,089 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, curiosity and expertise set us apart, driving us to create remarkable holidays and Beautiful Adventures tailored perfectly to you, carefully curated to help protect and conserve our planet.

Are you ready to Discover Extraordinary?

More about Steppes

Get in touch

  • By sending your enquiry you are stating that you agree to our T&C

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.