Holiday review by Annie Mitchell
Name: Annie Mitchell
Date of trip: 26/12/2016
Number of people: 2
Hard to pick out but I would say having two nights on the rice boat on the backwaters was a real treat. We loved watching the people living by the water, the scenery, the birds - I had never seen anyone herding ducks before - wonderful food and the best nights sleep! Seeing wild elephants including a large male, gar, wild dogs on a kill, tiger scratches on the trees, some lovely birds. Walking through the paddy fields, spice gardens, the Arabian Sea. Sleeping in a tree house up a banyan tree. The friendliness of people.
Kerala is an excellent destination with lots to see if you are interested in wildlife and lovely scenery. The colour, noise and people are what strikes you as well as some pretty exciting car journeys! We enjoy spending more time exploring a smaller area rather than trying to do too much and Kerala was ideal for that as it has enough variety to keep it interesting
We had some excellent pre help and advice from Tribes with choosing and booking the holiday and flights. When we were in India we did however feel that some of the written advice that had been sent through was a bit out of date and needed revising. We were also left struggling in India because of the currency situation which although we had been warned about in advance - the effects of the changes, availability of money, empty ATM machines, non-availability of smaller notes had not been adequately explained.
Tribes Comment: The currency situation has been changing constantly in India, and the final withdrawal of the last notes during the tour worsened the situation.
We had a mix of guides but overall some were spot on with good knowledge of local area and customs. We also had specialist wildlife guides and again, some of the specialist birding guides were excellent. We also found in some instances that the local spotters were better than the specialists at finding the birds - even without binoculars!
Social & Environmental Responsibility:
We did feel that a good number of the places that we stayed were very proud of their environmental credentials and certainly were happy to show guests what they were doing to preserve the countryside. Outside it is hard to gauge on the impact on people - India is a poor country and the prices paid in the hotels is probably not reflected in the workforce wages. However, we were happy to give employment to the driver (Excellent) and to the guides who were all helpful and polite. Our one big concern was that not all of the places we stayed provided accommodation for our lovely driver and he had to sleep in the car - which is a very uncomfortable situation - though I would emphasise he did not complain once about this situation and took it as part of the job.
Tribes Comment: In India it is not uncommon for drivers to occasionally sleep in the car even though money for accommodation for them as their car is their most valuable possesion and they want to protect it at all times.
The places you stayed
A wonderful start to the holiday. We had a lovely suite overlooking the water which was bigger than out flat at home!
Good location for the old city and happily for us was right next door to one of the venues for the biannale that was taking place while we were there. Good pool and food.
Loved this experience as reported above. I would certainly recommend two nights if you have the time as the river is getting more crowded with houseboats and having the extra time allows you to go beyond the crowds. We were able to watch all the boats heading back as we sat enjoying our breakfast. The pace allows you to stop and relax and just enjoy the sights around you - not for everyone but certainly fascinating. I do not know how the cook managed to make such delicious food in such a small space and our bed was soooo comfortable.
We were feeling a bit sad leaving the houseboat until we were dropped off at Coconut Lagoon. The bungalow was excellent and we had some delicious food here. They were very proud of their eco credentials here and there were some lovely birds and butterflies around the resort. Good pool too - mainly European visitors but a very comfortable stop-off
We enjoyed our stay in Spice Village both for the location and the accommodation. The staff here were also very friendly and helpful and there was a real emphasis on the eco credentials of the resort. Lots to explore around the area and again, the food here was very good.
The location of Windermere near Munnar was very good with lovely views and surroundings on the estate. The room was large but was a bit dated. Again , the staff were very friendly and they have just put in a very beautiful infinity pool. Being that much higher though it was a bit too cool to tempt us in.
I think the disappointing part of Windermere is the food. It is a set meal with a few slight variations for vegetarians etc but was a bit mundane compared to some of the choices we had enjoyed previously.
What can you not say about how lovely Neeleshwar is. The blue of the Arabian Sea, the golden sand, palm trees - in short paradise. We stayed 4 lovely nights here at the end of the holiday which provided a great relax after a fair amount of busy days and traveling.
The bungalow was beautiful, the staff attentive and helpful, yoga in the morning, breakfast, lunch and dinner by the beach and just delicious. Not a lot of guests so peaceful, but enough so you don't feel isolated and an infinity pool that was beautiful. I think you might guess we loved this place - if you want to be up and doing you may find this is not your thing - but otherwise a piece of paradise