You'll be met by a local representative when you arrive at Kochi airport, who will whisk you away to your hotel, Brunton Boatyard. This attractive building is on the harbour front giving you superb views of the endless parade of ships of all sizes. Leaving you luggage in your room, amble out to the gardens and maybe go for a refreshing swim in the pool. Later, you might want to join the harbour cruise that departs each evening from the hotel's jetty, for an enchanting view of the sunset.
Full day city tour
Having finished breakfast you'll be collected from the hotel for a guided city tour. Kochi has an illustrious history as an important trading post dating back to Roman times and remains a busy port today. The Fort Cochin district is the oldest part of the city with many historic buildings including Mattancherry Palace, St Francis Church, the Jewish synagogue and a number of fine colonial villas. You also visit the Ernakulam district of the city, with its many churches and temples. This full day trip includes lunch at a local restaurant. On conclusion of the tour you are taken back to your hotel.
Transfer to houseboat
This morning you'll be picked up from the hotel for the hour's drive to Allepy, the gateway to the Kerala backwaters where your houseboat awaits. Constructed in the traditional style, it provides surprisingly spacious accommodation with modern comforts like air conditioning. The crew will welcome you aboard and as you settle back into your comfy chair on deck you'll be served drinks. Relax and enjoy the beguiling backwaters views and scenes of everyday life. Later the cook will create a delicious dinner full of local flavours.
Full board, dinner
Drive to Periyar
Your gentle backwaters cruise ends after breakfast. Your driver and car will be waiting to transport you to Periyar. The drive will take about 4 hours and you'll be able to stop en-route to break up the journey whenever you wish. You'll arrive at your hotel around mid-afternoon and will have time find your bearings and maybe enjoy a swim in the pool. Later you'll be taken to a nearby spice plantation for a tour and chance to learn about the cultivation and production of these ingredients, so key to South Indian cuisine.
Village visit, jeep ride and evening show
This morning you take a jeep ride in Periyar, also known as Thekkady. With its lush green scenery and clean mountain air this is a lovely spot and your excursion showcases some of its highlights. You also get a human angle on life in this region when you visit local families to see how they earn a living from growing and cultivating spices and the importance of the spice trade to the community as a whole. You can also witness sustainable farming practices in use, demonstrating the fine balance between commerce and nature. You have a free afternoon and in the evening are taken to a Kalarippayattu show, a martial arts performance.
Rafting and spice plantation visit
Take to the water comes this morning as you board a bamboo raft for a ride on the lake, a wonderful way to immerse yourself in nature, watching wildlife and taking in the scenery. This afternoon you have a change of scene as you are taken to a nearby spice plantation to learn about the cultivation of harvesting of different species and their importance to the local economy,
Drive to the coast
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast, after which your driver will be ready to drive you to the coast. The overall journey will take about four hours and takes you through changing scenery as the green hills and spice plantations of the Western Ghats make way for the lowlands. You'll travel through the backwaters with their green rice fields finally emerging at the coast. Your hotel for the next few days is Marari Beach Resort, set in 14 hectares of gardens and coconut groves. It's a place that exudes relaxation and you'll soon find yourself succumbing to the gentle pace of life.
On the coast
There's nothing planned today, so you can be as active or inactive as you wish - set your own pace. You can take a stroll in the gardens, watching colourful birds, maybe spotting some of the resident owls, soak up some sun on the beach, enjoy an energising massage or take part in a yoga session. If you feel like spreading your wings a little you can walk or cycle to the nearby village, meeting local people, watching skilled craftsmen creating coir fibre and being greeted by smiling children. In the afternoon if you're feeling sporty you can enjoy a game of tennis or volleyball. You'll have worked up quite an appetite and you can reward yourself with some delicious fresh fish, served by the beach.
On the coast
Wake to the sound of birdsong in the garden, drifting through the open window. Another day at Marari! After breakfast take a walk through the gardens, stopping to observe sunbirds and woodpeckers and gorgeous tropical blooms. At the beach watch crabs scuttle along the shoreline among the breaking waves. Later you can adjourn to the pool, lazing in a hammock in the dappled sunshine. In the afternoon you can visit the butterfly garden where you'll see vividly coloured butterflies and dragonflies. Tonight you'll have your last dinner by the beach.
Drive to Kochi airport, depart
After breakfast, depending on your flight schedule, there may time for one last stroll along the beach before you're driven the 90kms to Kochi airport for your flight home.
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