Kerala: Rain Forest Trek At Munnar with Kerala Cruise

  • Duration
    16 Days
  • Region
  • Category
  • Best Time
    • November - February


Trek Grade: Easy

The tropical rainforest trail is a wonderful winter trek through the Western Ghat hills of Kerala. The trek takes you through one of the UNESCO natural heritage biodiversity regions of the world with some of the richest combination of rain forests, high grasslands, spice plantations, lakes, wildlife sanctuaries through elephant trails and villages. The combination of the natural beauty, sightings of wild elephants, civet and jungle cats, deer and a very wide variety of birds is a nature lover's delight. Climbing between four to five steep peaks, this trail has its demanding moments, but all worth the while, as the views of the surrounding valleys from the top of the hills are really exhilirating. The views of the distant tea plantations around Munnar, towering jagged hills and views of how the rainforests convert the clouds into streams of flowing water is a great learning in the lap of nature. Camping inside cardamom, cinnamon and black pepper spice plantations is really unique and feeling and smelling the flavours of these precious spices that changed the history of the world, is both fun and educational.

A very enjoyable and lovely trekking trail followed by a leisurely sailing through the Kerala Backwaters with a waterways that combines rivers, lakes, canals and lagoons where there are many exciting experiences to discover with visits to ancient temples, churches, villages, traditional wooden boat building yards, Ayurvedic treatment centres, martial art centres which gave birth to karate, traditional school for teaching traditional temple dances, elephant stables, brass makers village, bird sanctuary while sailing in canals above paddy fields held together by dykes and next to the sea separated by narrow beaches.

Highlights of the Trip

  • 7 days adventure with a trek through Kerala’s tropical rain forest, spice plantation, semi alpine grasslands
  • Trek around beautiful lakes and climb 4 peaks on the trail
  • Experience animal sighting of elephants, deer’s and civet cats on the trail
  • Visit the tea plantations of Munnar along with the visit to the Periyar National Park to see the Nilgiri Tahr
  • Sleep in tents on the four days trek and hotels in Munnar and Kochi
  • Sightseeing in Kochi is included
  • Prices on request

Destinations Covered

Detailed Itinerary

  1. Day 1 Arrive Kochi


    After clearing Customs and Immigration, step into the receiving area, where our representative will meet you and escort you to the hotel.

    Fort Kochi: One of the main attractions which holds a lot of fascinating history. This town was considered as one of the most important trading centre. Fort Kochi was shaped by Portuguese, Dutch as well as British. These influences on Fort Kochi make it a place of valued historical impact.

    Overnight at hotel (No Meals)

  2. Day 2 Kochi


    Today, we have a tour of Mattancherry, the bustling part of Old Fort Cochin and the epicenter of the spice trade for centuries. It remains a densely populated place housing people from different ethnic groups and faiths in very close quarters. Mattancherry is home to a small Jewish community whose origin dates back nearly 2000 years, during the period of King Solomon, when large scale trade took place between the Middle East and the Malabar Coast. Our touring today reveals Kochi’s multi-layered past, a rich brew of Arab, Portuguese, British, and Dutch influences.

    We begin with the Dutch Palace, actually built by the Portuguese as a gift for the Raja of Kochi in 1555. The Dutch renovated and expanded it a century later, earning it its name. The palace also contains some of India’s finest mythological murals; the walls depict scenes from the great Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata (Dutch Palace remain closed on Fridays and Saturdays)

    Then we see St. Francis, India’s first European church (ca. 1510), famed as the original burial site of Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama, who died in Kochi in 1524 while on his third visit to India. Not immune to the turbulence of the colonial era, the originally Catholic St. Francis changed hands – and denominations – with each new power that took control of Kochi, becoming a Protestant Dutch Reformed church under the Dutch in 1663 then Anglican under the English in 1804.

    Next we pay a visit to the picturesque Chinese fishing nets unique to Kochi. These iconic land-based nets combine elegance and ingenuity with their massive frames balanced by counterweights manipulated by teams of up to six men. Long believed to have been introduced by the Chinese explorer Zheng He in the 14th century or possibly travellers from Kublai Khan’s court, these nets actually trace their origin to Portuguese settlers from Macau.

    Overnight at hotel (B)

  3. Day 3 Kochi - Munnar The Hill Country (Approx. 84 Miles / 134 Kms / 4 Hours’ drive)


    After breakfast, you will commence your journey to Munnar.

    Playing host to one of the best scenic regions in south India with the view of the lush carpeted green hills, Munnar is the largest Tea growing regions in south India with tea plantations stretched across the hills. The cool pleasant climate, picturesque views, winding roads, calm ambience and sprawling flora and fauna make Munnar an exclusive tourist destination. Munnar can be the destination for leisure and adventure at the same time. Check into hotel, refresh and hand relax for the day, walk around the plantations that surrounds the property. You can also visit the tea factory to know about the history of tea cultivation and culture. In afternoon, go for bazaar walk and where you can stock tea or spices.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  4. Day 4 Munnar - Meesapulimala Trek - Munnar


    Your rain forest trek begins early at Munnar, as you to have to ascend to a height of 2640 metres, where the peak of Meesapulimala is located. Meesapulimala is the second highest peak in the Western Ghats and your rain forest trek at Munnar involves navigating through the high altitude cloud forests and grasslands to get to this peak. After a brief stop to feast your eyes on a brilliant view of forests and tea estates down in the valleys below, you will trek down to the tiny hamlet of Silent Valley from where we get transferred back to Munnar.

    Activity : Meesapulimala Trek
    Trek Distance : 14.4 kms.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  5. Day 5 Butterfly Forest Trek

    Mathikettan Shola National Park

    You will awaken to the melodious strains of the Malabar Whistling Thrush singing in the cloud forest next to your hotel early in the morning. We will start the day with a nearly morning transfer to Suryanelli. The trek starts with an ever-remembered walk atop the tallest feature nearby called the Phantom’s Head where you can take in the spectacular view of Papathy Shola (Butterfly Forest – so named for the mass migration of butterflies in October & November).

    Activity : Papathy Shola Trek
    Trek Distance : 11 kms

    Overnight at Camp (B, L, D)

  6. Day 6 Mathikettan Shola National Park

    Mathikettan Shola National Park

    Today’s trek is through the Mathikettan Shola National Park. A treasure trove of biodiversity, this national park is home to endemic flora and fauna and to wildlife like the Asiatic Elephants and Nilgiri Langurs. Your destination is Santhanpara, set amidst luxuriant vegetation and cardamom spice plantations that give the surrounding area the name 'Cardamom Hills'. This is the capital of the spice cultivating areas that have made Kerala famous through the ages and attracted multitudes of traders from across the world.

    Overnight : Camp
    Meal Plan : All meals
    Activity : Mathikettan Shola National Park Trek
    Trek Distance : 14.4 Kms

    Overnight at Camp (B, L, D)

  7. Day 7 Chathurangapara Peak Trek

    Mathikettan Shola National Park

    You will be trekking from Santhanpara to Chathurangapara, the final part of your Rain forest Trek at Munnar. This route is a challenging one and goes through the ridge of the Western Ghats. There is a tough climb involved to the view – point from where the plains of the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu are visible.

    Your camp will be setup within the confines of the forest, allowing you to spend the night amidst the wilderness and experience a sense of peace that comes with the sounds of the wild.

    Overnight : Camp
    Meal Plan : All meals
    Activity : Chathurangapara Trek
    Trek Distance : 13 kms

    Overnight at Camp (B, L, D)

  8. Day 8 Chathurangapara – Pallippuram – Vaikom


    After breakfast we Transfer from the Camp in Chathurangapara to the embarkation jetty at the ancient village ‘Pallippuram’, at the northern border of Cochin Enroute, we visit a Kalari – the traditional training centre for authentic Martial art (Kalarippayattu). Kalarippayattu in Kerala has its origin from the ancient Indian scripture, Dhanur Veda.

    This training helps to understand the 107 energy points in human body, learn the practices to maintain the normal flow of the energy and to heal ailments by Marma therapy. The exercises help to gain stamina, flexibility, calibrated functioning of body and mind, and quick reflexes required for self-protection.

    The south-west corner of a Kalari houses the guardian deity of the Kalari. The seven tiers symbolise the seven abilities that each person must possess: Strength, Patience, Power to command, the posture, the expression and the Sound. Flowers, incense and water are offered to the deity every day. Before starting the day’s practice, it is the norm for practitioners to pray to the deity. There is also a Guruthara inside all Kalari, where a lamp is kept burning in reverence to all the gurus (masters) of the Kalari.

    After the performance, we drive to the embarkation jetty.

    Our welcoming team on-board will help you with smooth check-in, give a briefing about the facilities on-board the safety measures to be familiar with. Relish the Sadya, the traditional freshly cooked complete meal served on clean Banana leaf. Unwind as the boat leaves behind the bustling township and cruises gently to the remote villages. By evening we arrive at the ancient pilgrim town Vaikom and drop anchor.

    We will have a short walk to visit local cultural centre to watch Kathakali, the traditional dramatic and mimetic dance form, which plays stories from epics. It is a unique blend of dance, music, action, literature and make-up.

    We will experience the short tuk-tuk ride to the ancient temple. The town is centered at the ancient temple of Lord Shiva. The town made an indelible mark in the history of Casteism in Kerala, when the feudal ban on underprivileged communities from entering temples and their premises, was abolished due to a massive protest of the public. This incident had set in motion the social reformation in Kerala.

    The architecture of the temples in Kerala is based on ancient science of construction and geographical features of the land. As per the traditional architecture, each element of temple represents an element of human body and, a temple is not only the space for spiritual enlightenment but also the venue for harmonious social networking. Even the devotees from far off places come all the way down to Vaikom for ritualistic ceremonies such as the first meal of babies, marriage and thanks giving offers such as meal for the poor, cultural performances and specific rituals prescribed by the Veda.

    After watching the ritual by sunset, we return to boat and relax. (The pompous 12-days’ long annual festival of this temple is vibrant with ancient Vedic rituals and cultural performances of devotees.) Return to the boat and relax.

    Overnight onboard RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

  9. Day 9 Vaikom – Chenganda – Kumarakom


    After breakfast, we sail to Chenganda village. The people of this rustic village are having a laid-back and peaceful life.

    We visit the village spending time with the coir weavers, the shell harvesters and farmers, engaging in conversation with them about the riparian life, and watching various indigenous techniques of fishing. Coir, one of the major exports of Kerala, is of much more relevance today than ever before when plastic has become a global menace. The people of Chenganda are major suppliers of this cottage industry.

    Return to our boat and cruise to Thanneermukkom.

    Cruise to Thanneermukkom. The barrage at Thanneermukkom built across Vembanad, the largest lake of Kerala, divides the lake into two; one half with perennial salty water and the other with fresh water enriched by rivers. The barrage at Thanneermukkom built across Vembanad, the largest lake of Kerala, divides the lake into two; one half with perennial salty water and the other with fresh water enriched by rivers.

    Relax on the boat, enjoying the soothing breeze and the exuberance of the energy that the majestic lake is spreading around.

    Dinner on-board.

    This afternoon, we visit the house of a Syrian Christian family for a home-hosted lunch/din. This house is located on an island which was made by the men of the house, by reclaiming land from Backwaters. A walk in the farm will be educative. The hostess will demonstrate the preparation of traditional Syrian Christian cuisine. You may also try your hand at cooking and listen to the story of her family, of three generations of laborious men, and equally strong women who supported their pioneering spirit. We continue the cruise till evening.

    Overnight onboard RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

  10. Day 10 Kumarakom – Kavalam


    By early morning, we set out by country boat to explore the migratory and endemic birds of Kumarakom, which is a cluster of lagoons of Vembanad wetland eco-system at the backdrop of mangroves, paddy fields and coconut groves. It is home to Waterfowls, Cuckoos, Owls, Egrets, Herons, Moor hens, Cormorants, Gulls, Terns, Skimmers, Storks, Vultures, Storks, larks, flycatchers, wood beetle, and many more.

    Return to the boat, refresh and have breakfast.

    As we cruise on the majestic Lake -Vembanad- its expanse, the calmness, the soothing breeze, the interspersed coconut groves and long stretches of vast expanses of paddy fields lying below the sea level by 2-6ft, give a treat for our eyes. Lunch will be served while cruising. We arrive in Kavalam where river Pampa reverses its course and drain into Lake Vembanad. You may take the ferry to explore the region, walk along the dykes surrounding the expanses of paddy fields and interact with the farmers and members of ‘Kudumbha shree’ -women’s collective for women empowerment and poverty alleviation in rural villages.

    As we cruise, along the way we interact with toddy tappers and watch how they collect the sap of coconut palm and make the alcoholic beverage – Toddy. We continue the cruise till dusk, through the remote interiors of Kavalam.

    Dinner on board.

    Overnight onboard RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

  11. Day 11 Kavalam – Kainakari – Mankompu


    After breakfast cruise to Kainakari village. We will explore the narrow remote canals by country boat, cruising closer to the laid-back, yet harmonious, life along the way.

    Stop by Chavara Bhavan, the ancestral home of the Saint Chavara, the first canonized Catholic male saint of Indian origin, the co-founder of the first congregation for men, the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate – C.M.I, and of Congregation of the Mother of Carmel C.M.C. He had dedicated his life for the upliftment of the poorest among the poor. Now this house is preserved as a museum.

    Return to boat.

    After having lunch onboard, we continue the cruise to Mankompu village, which is home to the State Rice Research centre.

    While cruising, we will have an informative lecture by an Ayurveda doctor to know about this 5000-years old Science of life – Ayurveda, which is still being practiced by the local people. Cruise to Mankompu village where we will witness a cultural performance. During harvest festivals such as Onam (August/September), Thiruvathira (middle of December) and the annual festival following Vishu (middle of April), the village comes alive with various rituals and cultural performances.

    Overnight onboard RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

  12. Day 12 Mankompu – Champakkulam – Changankari


    Excursion to Aranmula

    After early breakfast we drive to an ancient village ‘Aranmula’ which is famous for its metal mirrors. The technical know-how behind the making of this unique metal mirror is confined to only some households of master craftsmen in Aranmula. These mirrors have the distinctive feature of 100% reflection unlike the common mirror. These mirrors are unique to this locale and haven’t yet been replicated anywhere else in the world.

    We will then visit the ancient temple of Lord Krishna “Aranmula Sree Parthasarathy Temple”. The story goes that the temple had its idol brought here in a raft made with “Aru (six)” pieces of “Mula (bamboo)”. This is what gave the place Aranmula its name as well. Dedicated to the Hindu Deity Lord Krishna, the temple is situated on the banks of the Pampa River.

    Watch cooking demo at a local house and relish a sumptuous meal with the family.

    We drive back to board our boat and sail to Champakkulam village. Kerala’s old spice trade used to pass through this town enroute to Cochin and other ports on the west coast. Champakkulam settled more than 1000 years ago by Syrian Christian traders, who later converted to Roman Catholicism under the Portuguese. We will visit the St. Mary’s Church, one among the oldest churches in Kerala, the St. Mary’s Church or Champakkulam Church in Alappuzha is believed to be one of the seven established by St. Thomas in AD 427.

    As you stroll along you get the chance to interact with the school children, local small-scale entrepreneurs and the local artisans (open on weekdays) who make biblical heroes. Continue cruising to the remote village – Changankari, passing through the serene canals.

    Dinner on board.

    Overnight onboard RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

  13. Day 13 Changankari – Thottappalli


    Early this morning we can enjoy a leisurely walk in the laid-back village.

    After breakfast, we will continue our sailing towards the coastal village, Thottappalli. The spillway at Thottappalli prevents the saline sea water from flooding the low-lying paddy fields during high tide and eases the flow of the flooded water from the low-lying paddy fields in to the Sea. We get to know about indigenous practices of paddy cultivation at lower altitude than the Sea.

    Honouring your cruise with us, we shall plant a sapling of coconut. Coconut tree is considered as the ‘Kalpavriksha ‘or the Divine tree of Kerala because all parts of coconut tree are useful to earn a livelihood or: the water inside is a healthy drink; the fresh kernel and the oil extract from dried kernel are inevitable components of South Indian cuisine; fibre from the coconut husk is used to make coir, mats and geotextile; the palm fronds are used for thatching roof; the wood suitable for making furniture and all the dried parts of coconut make good firewood. Last, but not the least, the toddy – the boost for the labourers toiling in the fields.

    By evening we take a walk along Thottappalli beach.

    Overnight onboard RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

  14. Day 14 Thottappalli – Karumadi – Kanjippadom


    After breakfast, we will board the vehicle for a short drive (approx. 30 min) to visit an ancient sacred grove where serpents are worshipped, the only temple in Kerala having female priests. We will walk inside to see the rituals going on. The cult of snake worship in Kerala is closely interwoven with the life of the people and is a component of its rich cultural heritage.

    We then continue our drive (approx. 45 minutes) to an ancient village Mannar (45 minutes) which is famous for bell metal craft to watch casting of traditional lamps, ornate locks, bells, cauldrons and various types of vessels being used in temples. Fine clay, which is easily available on the bank of the river and rivulets flowing through the region, is being used for the lost-wax method of casting of these bell metal products (The workplace remains closed on Sundays and religious holidays).

    Return to the boat for lunch as we sail to a quaint village Karumadi. The small shrine preserving an ancient ruin of a sculpture of Buddha, speaks of legacy of the value creating Buddhist philosophy underlying the rich cultural heritage of Kerala. Buddhism prevailed in Kerala for around 8centuries, from 3rd AD onwards. On-board our boat we will watch a presentation and discuss in detail about the cultural heritage of Kerala.

    We will drop anchor at Kanjippadom, where we will explore the village by a leisurely walk. We will also visit the boat building yard to understand the traditional method of building wooden boats (Kettuvallom) by joining wooden planks using coir, cotton and natural resin.

    Tonight, we celebrate our sojourn over farewell dinner on board RV Vaikundam.

    Overnight onboard RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

  15. Day 15 Kanjippadom – Punnamada & Disembark at Alleppey & drive Kochi


    After breakfast, we cruise to Punnamada Lake. Punnamada Lake is the venue of the annual Snake boat race which is held on the 2nd Saturday of August every year. People gather in large numbers to watch nearly 100 ft. long boats compete against each other to the tune of old boat songs.

    We disembark by 9.30 AM at the IWAI Jetty, Punnamada, and Alleppey.

    From here we will drive to Kochi.

    Arrive and check in into the hotel.

    Overnight at the hotel (B)

  16. Day 16 Kochi & departure


    On time check-out from the hotel, our representative will meet you at the lobby area and escort you to the Kochi International airport to connect with your flight to onward destination.


Ask The Expert

Indicates required field

Personal Information

Booking Information