Adventures / Adventure Tapas

Hike, Kayak and Cycle in Kerala

Ramble through lush hill stations, paddle serene backwaters and pedal along the coastline of the Indian Ocean

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Trip Ref #10485

Adventures / Adventure Tapas

Hike, Kayak and Cycle in Kerala

Ramble through lush hill stations, paddle serene backwaters and pedal along the coastline of the Indian Ocean

DURATION

7 nights

LOCATION

India

ANNUAL LEAVE

1 week off work

SEASON

Sep-Apr

GROUP SIZE

Up to 10 people

MEETING POINT

Kochi Airport

ACCOMMODATION

Hotel · Chalet · Boat

DIFFICULTY

Moderate

This is a light adventure with easy-going hikes, paddles and rides, manageable by anyone with basic fitness.

Trek through Munnar's tea plantations and high-altitude cloud forests to reach the stunning peak of Meesapulimala (2640m)

Paddle the network of languid lagoons and lily-strewn canals that make up Kerala's tranquil backwaters

Cycle along the palm-lined waterways and sleepy fishing villages of the Keralan coast

Bunk down in heritage hotels, traditional Keralan houseboats and peaceful waterside retreats

This trip is brand new

We’re still waiting to collect any reviews from other travellers on this trip. However, all our hosts go through an extensive vetting process to ensure that your adventure is awesome.

Included

Guides

Local, English-speaking tour leader plus hiking, kayaking and cycling guides

Accommodation

Think heritage hotels, waterside villas and a luxury houseboat

Meals

All meals included - tuck in to delicious food throughout

Transfers

Airport transfers and everything in between

Equipment

All your kayaking and cycling equipment

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Tips for your guides

Some meals as described

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Cochin International Airport (Kochi)

Any time on Day 1

Ends

Thiruvananthapuram International Airport (Trivandrum)

Any time on Day 8

Transfers

Your host will meet you on arrival at the international airport in Kochi and transfer you to your accommodation in Fort Kochi. On the last day of your trip, your host will transfer you from your accommodation in Kovalam to the airport in Trivandrum in time for your flight home.

Airport transfers are included in the main price if you arrive on Day 1 and depart on Day 8. If you wish to arrive before the trip start date or stay longer at the end, your host can arrange private airport transfers and pre/post-trip accommodation. See Optional Extras for prices.

Travel options

There are direct and indirect flight options to Kochi from the UK, while return flights from Trivandrum will transit in Delhi, Mumbai, Dubai or Bahrain depending on your carrier. Travelling from various US origin points, your journey will usually transit in Delhi, Mumbai or Dubai in each direction between Kochi and Trivandrum.

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2 – Day 3

Chalet · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 4

Boat · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 5

Chalet · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 6 – Day 7

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 8

Departure day

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

South India is up there with the world's best destinations to combine travel with amazing food experiences. From street stall classics like pani puri, breakfast masala dosas and sumptuous thalis served Kerala-style on banana leaves, you'll tuck into a huge variety of dishes on this trip, mostly Indian cuisine but with options for Chinese and Malaysian dishes on some menus.

Vegetarians and vegans are extremely well catered to in nearly all parts of India. Other dietary requirements and allergies can also be catered for - please just request this on your passenger info form.

What is the accommodation like?

Kochi

An incredible welcome to India awaits in Kochi where you'll stay at Forte Kochi, a beautiful 4-star boutique hotel nestled in tree-lined boulevards close to the waterfront. There is a stunning courtyard and swimming pool with iconic yellow decor. You'll stay in twin-share rooms with en-suite bathrooms.

Munnar

You'll spend two nights at either the Windermere Estate or Blackberry Hills Nature Resort (depending on your departure date), nestled in the tea plantations of Munnar.

The Windermere Estate's series of chalet-style bungalows with beautiful natural designs are inspired by old plantation homes. Each has a balcony overlooking tea valleys on one side with the majestic high ranges on the other. There is a Chai Kada (tea shop) on the estate where you can sip a cup of chai. Evening meals at Windermere are a treat -their chefs let nature dictate the menu, picking out the freshest seasonal produce from their gardens and the local markets to whip up a feast for you.

Sixteen cottages make up Blackberry Hills, and you'll stay in one of the Altos Suites which comes with a balcony overlooking the forest, plus a living area. Evening meals will be at the on-site Hornbill Restaurant, and hotel also has a spa. A network of trails lead through the surrounding tea plantations and shola forest.

Houseboat on the Kerala Backwaters

A quintessential experience awaits in the backwaters, with an overnight stay on a luxury houseboat. The traditional name for the boat is a kettuvallam or 'boat with knots'- so called because the entire boat is held together with coir knots; not a single nail is used during the construction. The kettuvallams have been converted into houseboats using only natural materials and feature all the comforts of a good hotel: furnished bedrooms, modern toilets, cosy living rooms, a kitchen and a balcony overlooking the backwaters. You'll stay in a twin-share cabin with an en-suite bathroom.

Backwaters

Your second night in the backwaters is spent at Punnamada Resort on the peaceful banks of Vembanad Lake. Staying in lakeside villas with traditional Keralan architecture, you'll be surrounded by orchids, coconut palms and mango trees. The resort is heavily influenced by ayurveda and yoga, and makes for a very peaceful and rejuvenating combination with your night on the houseboat. Again, you'll stay in twin-share rooms with en-suite bathrooms.

Kovalam

Your final two nights of the trip are spent at Niraamaya Retreats. Perched on a dramatic cliff edge and flanked by secluded beaches, there are spectacular views of the Arabian Sea. You'll stay in twin-share heritage cottages, nestled in the shade of coconut trees. The retreat has an award-winning spa with a strong focus on ayurvedic practices, plus a separate cafe, restaurant and bar - perfect for relaxing at the end of your adventure.

Upgrades

For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room and houseboat cabin can be booked for an extra charge, see Optional Extras for the price. Please request this at the time of booking (this is subject to availability).

Day 1

Welcome to Kerala

Meet your host at Kochi Airport and head into Fort Kochi, a ramshackle melting pot of Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese and British influences. Settle into your hotel before meeting up with your guide and fellow adventurers for a welcome dinner and a chat through the trip to come.

Day 2

Meander to Munnar

Hiking

2.5-3hrs · 3-4km · 125m up · 125m down

Driving

4-5hrs · 130km

Hop in the van for a scenic road trip to Munnar, stopping for lunch en route as you head into the verdant landscape dotted with hill stations. Check into the beautiful Windermere Estate and shake off the drive with an evening hike around the nearby tea plantations, with the chance to sample a few local teas.

Day 3

Trek to Meesapulimala

Hiking

5-6hrs · 16km · 700m up · 700m down

Head to the top of Meesapulimala, the second-highest peak in Southern India and the highest passable trekking route. Beginning at the trailhead at 1500m, you'll gradually ascend through grasslands and cloud forest to reach the summit at 2640m. You'll be rewarded with sweeping views over the Western Ghats before heading back down to the Windermere Estate.

Day 4

Munnar to Alleppey

Kayaking

3hrs · 6km

Driving

5hrs · 162km

Following an early breakfast, get back in the van for the drive to Alleppey - the gateway to the Keralan backwaters. Head straight for the jetty to board your houseboat. Here, a smaller vessel will be waiting for you and you'll slip into your kayak to explore some of the narrower backwater channels beneath the lush forest canopy. Back on board the houseboat, tuck into a tasty South Indian dinner, watch the twilight turn to night and bunk down for a memorable night.

Day 5

Kayak the backwaters

Kayaking

5-6hrs · 13km

Head to a different part of the backwaters for further paddle explorations today, putting in at Chennamkary and heading to some smaller channels. These areas are great to explore by kayak, as larger boats and houseboats cannot navigate the narrower strips of water, leaving you free to weave past the palm-fringed banks and many local houses at the heart of the backwaters. Back on dry land, head for dinner and spend the night in beautiful villas on the shores of Vembanad Lake.

Day 6

Cycle to the Indian Ocean

Cycling

4hrs · 50km · 40m up · 90m down

Driving

2hrs · 77km

Bid farewell to the backwaters as you drive to the coastal village of Thottappally, heading south by bike. Hug the coast as you pedal through the tranquil countryside, passing lakes Ashtamudi and Paravur. Cross the many canals where the Arabian sea converges inland with patches of wetlands. Cycle further along a narrow strip of coast, with lakes on one side and the sea on the other, passing fishing villages before ending this memorable ride at the small beach town of Kollam. A short transfer will take you further down the coast to Kovalam, where you can check into your cliffside beach hotel.

Day 7

Beach time

Enjoy a well-earned day off today - Kovalam's beaches and the relaxing surroundings of Niraamaya Retreat are yours to soak up as you please. There are optional visits to the ancient temple of Attukal Bhagavathy and the old signalling station of Anchuthengu Fort, if you would like to explore the area around Kovalam.

Day 8

Goodbye Kerala

Indulge in one last breakfast overlooking the Indian Ocean before checking out. Your host will transfer you to Trivandrum Airport in time for your return flight.

15% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What's included?

  • Kayak, paddle and life jacket
  • Bike and helmet for the cycle day

What do I need to bring?

BAGS

  • You can bring any kind of case of backpack for your main luggage
  • Daypack (20-30 litre rucksack) for personal belongings on hikes etc.
  • Waterproof cover/liner for daypack
  • Small drybag to take on the kayak for phone/camera and wallet etc.

CLOTHES

  • Light waterproof jacket
  • Light waterproof trousers
  • Fleece jacket or similar for cooler evenings in Munnar
  • Buff or neckscarf for sun protection
  • Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts
  • T-shirts
  • Underwear & socks
  • Swimwear (for the beach at Kovalam & swimming pools at accommodations)
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Something to sleep in
  • Hiking boots or shoes (worn-in)
  • Sandals

OTHER

  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Ear plugs
  • Insect repellent
  • Suncream
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • 1/2 x 1-litre reusable water bottles
  • Biodegradable wet-wipes
  • Energy bars and snacks - read our article on Best Hiking Snacks

Post trip accommodation in Kovalam (single, twin or double)

Payable Before Departure

Post trip accommodation in Kovalam (single, twin or double)

Pre trip accommodation in Kochi (single, twin or double)

Payable Before Departure

Pre trip accommodation in Kochi (single, twin or double)

Optional Private Room Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room Upgrade

Private airport transfer - each way

Payable Before Departure

Private airport transfer - each way

We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 527kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

This is a light adventure, easily manageable by anyone with basic fitness and able to walk or ride a bike for a few hours. The Meesapulimala trek is the most strenuous part of the trip - it's not an overly difficult trek, with no lung-busting climbs or technical terrain to manage, but you will be on your feet for 5 or 6 hours. The cycling is very easy going on flat, coastal terrain with plenty of stops. As long as you can ride a bike, you will be fine. The kayaking is a very gentle and relaxing activity in the backwaters, with still, calm water - there are no huge distances to cover.

Houseboats in the Kerala backwaters have a mixed history with regard to their impact on the environment. In short, some are excellent, but some leave a lot to be desired, so we have carefully selected a boat and crew with a strong approach to sustainability. The Marvel houseboat is certified Golden Category by the Department of Tourism in Kerala, using solar power for all the electrics on board and bio-septic plumbing to ensure non-toxic and non-harmful waste disposal. They have their own sewage plant, so waste is treated properly rather than being dumped in the backwaters. From 2022 onwards, the crew are moving away from using bottled water and will instead use a large water dispenser to reduce their single-use plastic footprint. The houseboat only moves through the canals, lakes and rivers up until 5 pm, after which it is anchored in a safe lake area. 5 pm to 6 am is the time when local people go fishing in their small boats, so any noise will disturb their fishing activity which is their livelihood. The crew are all locals of Kuttanad in Alleppey whose families depend on the backwaters - this gives the staff the ultimate incentive to protect this area.

Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

We recommend booking this trip in good time to ensure availability but if you must book last minute then there are a few things to be aware of. If booking this trip within 31 days of departure, your enquiry will initially be 'on request' as the local host will need to check availability with each of the hotels before accepting your booking - this may take a day or two. Please do not book flights (or make travel arrangements) until your booking has been accepted by the host. If at this stage some of the hotels only have availability in a higher room category than is included in the tour price, the host will let you know, and if you wish to proceed with your booking you will need to pay the supplement to cover the upgrade cost. Whilst we try to avoid supplements wherever possible, we feel that this is the fairest solution for everyone booked on the trip.

Please also allow enough time to get an India visa.

All foreign nationalities entering India require a valid visa and in most cases, this must be obtained in advance (please check the regulations for your nationality). You must have a machine-readable passport, valid for at least 180 days from your arrival date in India, with two blank pages for your visa. Persons of Indian origin must have an OCI card.

UK Nationals need to apply for a visa through the India High Commission's Visa Facilitation Service (VFS). Visas are valid for a year from the date of issue so we recommend starting this process well in advance of travel (at least 12 weeks before your trip). You will need to attend an in-person appointment at a visa application centre (even if applying through a visa service agency) and these can get booked up a few months in advance so don't delay.

Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion but there is an expectation to tip for good service. Your guide will help with advice, however we suggest the below as a guideline per person:

500 Indian Rupees per activity to the guides; 1000 Indian Rupees per day to the driver; approx. USD 3-5 per person, per day to the tour leader.

Of course, you are free to tip more or less, and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality - a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

Filtered water is available at most of the hotels you stay at on this trip - you can fill up your refillable bottle and bike bottle from your hotel each day. Additionally, your tour leader and driver will carry a large container of purified water for the group to refill their bottles from.

Kerala's weather and climate can be split into 3 seasons:

Winter season: September to March
Summer season: March to the end of May
Monsoon season: end of May to mid-November

Winter season is generally the best time to visit Kerala, with comfortable temperatures, pleasant weather and lower humidity. Expect temperatures between 22°C / 71°F and 30°C / 86°F, however, in the higher altitude area around Munnar things will be much cooler at 10-15°C / 50-59°F. In the summer months of April and May, Munnar becomes a great place to avoid the heat, as while temperates creep up in lower areas, they remain in the late teens at the hill stations. We don't run trips between June and September during the monsoon season.

This trip starts and ends at different hotels in different parts of Kerala, so it's not viable to leave luggage in Kochi at the start of your trip. The same vehicle is used throughout the adventure, so you are free to leave additional luggage securely in the vehicle for the duration of your adventure through Kerala.

We recommend checking out the country specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

No. You'll need to have a larger bag suitable for all your belongings which will be transported for you, and then a small daysack to carry personal items during each day of activity.

You'll be using sit-on-top kayaks. These are very stable and easy to paddle for everyone, from new paddlers through to experienced paddlers. Sit-on-top kayaks can be used on the sea, estuaries, rivers, lakes and canals. Your host has a mixture of single and double kayaks for use, depending on the group size and individual preference. It's more than likely that you'll be able to have a go at both during the trip.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

You're in good company. Our adventures are typically made up of a mix of solo travellers and small groups of two or three friends who simply love adventure, pushing themselves and meeting awesome like-minded people. See here for more info about our lovely bunch of Much Better Adventurers.

Want to book a private trip? Just tap ‘Private Group’ in the dates and prices tab.

Your trip is led by carefully curated local hosts and expert guides. See here for more info about the guides we work with.

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