Classic Kerala and the Maldives
Explore the backwaters and tea plantations of Kerala, before heading to the Maldives
Personalised journeys from start to finish
Save an acre of rainforest each time you travel
Every detail taken care of
- A private guide accompanying you from arrival to departure
- Luxury accommodation throughout
- Private transfers and domestic flights
- Full support from your Travel Concierge before, during and after your trip
- Houseboat cruise through the backwaters of Kerala
- Cycle ride through Munnar's tea plantations
- Private city tour of Fort Cochin
- Five nights in the Maldives
At a glance
Kerala is often referred to as God’s Own Country, and is one of India‘s most tranquil destinations. This 11-night trip takes you from the quaint town of Fort Cochin to the lush backwaters and rolling tea plantations, and finally to the Maldives for five nights of island bliss.
Fort Cochin is Kerala’s colonial gem, its streets lined with cottages and elegant churches built by the Portuguese. Hop on a bike and explore this fascinating town, heading off down side streets and paths less trodden to get an insight into local life. The Chinese fishing nets that line the waterfront are one of Fort Cochin’s most iconic sights, and best admired at sunset against the backdrop of a fiery Indian sky.
You’ll then head to Munnar, a patchwork of tea plantations buried high in the Western Ghats. Experience the fresh mountain air as you cycle through the rolling hills, each one a slightly different shade of green. You’ll even have a go at picking the leaves and make your very own cup of tea. When you’re not out exploring, this is a beautiful place to simply sit back and relax; early mornings are particularly atmospheric as a thin veil of mist hugs the lower slopes.
The next two nights will be spent in Kerala’s backwaters. Navigate the emerald waterways on a houseboat, gliding along the network of lakes, rivers and canals and enjoying the leisurely pace of life on the water.
You will then head back to Cochin for your onward flight to the Maldives, where you’ll spend five night snorkelling through crystal clear waters, relaxing on the white sand beaches and enjoying world-class cuisine at your luxury hotel.
Example Trip Itinerary
After collecting your luggage you will be met and assisted through arrivals.
Private transfer to your hotel in Fort Cochin with guide
Accommodation in Fort Cochin
- 22 rooms
- Billiards table
- Swimming pool
- Tea lounge
- Ayurvedic massage room
Over a century ago, Geo Brunton and Sons was one of the most respected shipbuilding companies in Cochin. Sat on the harbour and a proud reminder of this prestigious past, is Bruntons Boatyard, a beautiful boutique hotel full of character. The hotel has been lovingly restored using the same brick, lime and terracotta building materials to ensure it keeps its Victorian charm. On arrival you will immediately be transported back to colonial India thanks to the arched wooden ceilings, tiled floors and traditional punkah fans gently whirring overhead. The walls are adorned with photos and prints of the old boatyard and Dutch maritime maps. All of the hotel’s 22 rooms look out over the sea where every kind of vessel from small fishing boats to trade boats and cruise ships trace their way across the water. Keep you eyes peeled for the pods of dolphins that weave their way in and out of the waterway. Four poster beds and antique wooden furniture give the rooms plenty of character and some come with balconies from which you can sit and watch the world go by. Fort Cochin is a melting pot of cultures and this is reflected in its cuisine, every dish on the menu representing one of the many communities that have called this beautiful town home. A rich mix of Indian, Portuguese, British, Dutch, Arabian and Jewish cuisine makes dining here a real treat and with the Chinese fishing nets just around the corner, seafood is a specialty. For afternoon refreshment enjoy a cup of tea in the tea lounge and come evening the Armoury Bar is the perfect place to sip on a expertly mixed cocktail or beer and enjoy a game of billiards. The hotel’s garden is a calm, green refuge and the outdoor pool provides a refreshing break from the Kerelan sun. There is also an Ayurvedic massage centre for those moments when you simply want to drift away.
- 13 rooms
- Swimming pool
- Open-air terrace
- Lush gardens
In the heart of beautiful Fort Cochin is the Old Harbour Hotel, whose Dutch and Portuguese influences are in keeping with the colonial charm of the town. The 300-year-old building, once the residence for employees of an English tea broking firm, has been lovingly restored with special care taken to preserve its original features. With just 13 rooms, the hotel has a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Its decor is simple yet elegant with a mix of antique furniture and pieces of art from the owner’s own collection. Rooms are named after the old streets of Fort Cochin and feature high ceilings, wooden or tiled floors and windows that look out over the courtyard or the iconic Chinese fishing nets. There are also garden cottages with open-air showers, a verandah and private pond. The lush green garden is an oasis of calm; relax while listening to the breeze rush through the trees and the tinkle of the fountain, or cool off in the refreshing water of the swimming pool. With a large open-air terrace, Ayurvedic spa and daily yoga sessions it’s hard not to feel completely serene during your stay here. The hotel’s proximity to the famed Chinese fishing nets means seafood here is always plentiful and fresh. Every evening there is a barbecue on which to cook the catch of the day as well as a menu of Indian classics made using organically grown vegetables.
Nestled on the north west tip of Cochin’s peninsula, Fort Cochin is a quaint coastal region with strong links to its colonial history. Having been under the rule of the Portuguese, Dutch and British, the town has a distinctly European feel, its narrow streets lined with cottages and bungalows. Colonial relics are scattered throughout Fort Cochin, from the remains of Fort Immanuel and St. Francis church, both built by the Portuguese, to the Dutch cemetery.
Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at your leisure, then in the late afternoon take a walk with your guide through the backstreets of Fort Cochin, ending at the iconic Chinese fishing nets to watch the sunset.
Today you’ll explore Cochin’s Heritage Zone, whose architecture reflects the many foreign rulers that came to settle in the area. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to set foot on Cochin’s soil and they built the St Francis Church in 1503, where explorer Vasco Da Gama was buried before his body was returned to Portugal. You’ll also visit the Santa Cruz Cathedral with its impressive muralled ceiling and wander the narrow streets lined with Dutch and British buildings before ending at the Chinese fishing nets. You will also visit the Dutch Palace and the synagogue in Mattancherry. There will be time to wander through its winding streets, past antique shops and spice bazaars should you wish to purchase souvenirs.
Kathakali is a classical dance form popular in Kerala. Its name translates as ‘story play’ and the dances present themes derived from mythology and legend. Kathakali is well known for its elaborate costumes and heavy make-up and if you arrive early you can see the performers getting ready.
Explore the areas of Fort Cochin and Mattancherry by bicycle, riding down side streets to get an insight into local life. You’ll cycle past the Chinese fishing nets, dhobi ghats (open air laundries), temples, churches, mosques and the beach. Continue past spice warehouses, the air rich with the smell of dried ginger, cardamom and pepper. This area is very diverse and home to a variety of communities, each with their own dress and language. You’ll cycle for approximately 8km at a very relaxed pace, with plenty of stops for your guide to point out interesting sights along the route.
Private transfer with guide to Munnar via a spice and rubber farm
Accommodation in Munnar
- 18 rooms
The Windermere Estate comprises 55 acres of undulating land on the slopes of the Western Ghats. A homely atmosphere, first-class service and connecting its guests to the natural surroundings are all part of what makes a stay here so special. Rooms are housed in traditional bungalows with gabled roofs, high ceilings, wooden beams and terracotta floors. Linen furnishings are embroidered by local women and crotchet and cross stitch artwork adorn the walls. Each room comes with views across the hills, valley or garden with some of the larger ones featuring a verandah or balcony. The garden is filled with flowering shrubs as well as coffee, guava, peach and pepper trees and the gentle mountain breeze carries with it the scent of wild flowers and herbs. There are plenty of quiet spaces in the garden, hammocks are strung up between the pine trees and colourful butterflies and birds flit through the skies. The estate grows its own fruit and veg with bananas, passion fruit, tomatoes and gooseberries finding their way onto the menu, as well as honey from their bee hives. Enjoy traditional Keralan food in the peaceful restaurant and enjoy a cup of steaming tea in The Hut – a outdoor covered area where the seats and tables are carved from eucalyptus and oak trees. Family recipes have been passed down through the generations and the chefs are more than happy to share their culinary wisdom with guests who are keen on cooking.
- 14 suites
- Two pool villas
- Outdoor swimming pool
The peaceful mountain retreat of Spice Tree is sandwiched between the Devan Hills and the Bison Valley Hills, surrounded by rolling plantations and lush green forests. There are 14 suites, some of which come with freestanding copper bath tubs or a Jacuzzi, as well as two pool villas where you can take a dip while gazing out across the mountains and valleys. Warm tones of orange and red and dark wooden panneling create a cosy atmosphere, making this the perfect hideaway up in the cool mountains. This part of the Western Ghats is famous for the quality of its pepper and cardamon and a delicate balance of spices is used in the restaurant which serves traditional Keralan cuisine. Spices also form the base of many of the Ayurvedic treatments that are offered in the spa. The outdoor pool is heated by solar energy and uses mountain spring water; it is also fairly shallow, making it suitable for children. Take the plunge or simply sit back and enjoy the breeze that carries with it the scent of wild flowers. This is one of India’s most verdant and beautiful regions and is the perfect place to hike, visit the tea plantations and visit local villages. Spice Tree also offer cooking classes as well as yoga and meditation.
Nestled in the mighty Western Ghats and surrounded by sprawling tea plantations is the hill station of Munnar. A favoured summer retreat of the British who were lured by the cool mountain air and refreshing climate, the surrounding mountains and valleys are one of India's most picture-perfect destinations. Munnar sits at the confluence of three rivers and is the centre of Kerala's tea growing region. The surrounding hills and plantations create a sea of green as far as the eye can see, interrupted only by a sprinkling of colonial-style bungalows and paths that wind their way through the estates. A veil of mist hangs over the lower slopes while higher up, crags and peaks soar towards the clouds.
A short drive will bring you to the start of your cycle ride where you will meet your guide, who will be waiting with your bikes and all the necessary gear. You will cycle through the rolling hills to Talayar Bungalow, a private tea estate located in one of the most beautiful areas of Munnar. The ride is approximately 15km. After a tour of the garden and learning to pick your own tea leaves, you'll head to the factory to make your very own cup of tea. Enjoy lunch in the garden overlooking the valley before cycling back - there is the option to return by vehicle, should you prefer.
Private transfer to the Keralan backwaters with guide
The Kerala backwaters
Accommodation in The Kerala backwaters
- Private two bedroom villa
- Swimming pool
- Expansive lakeside gardens
- Wi-Fi throughout the property
Sat on a little peninsula on the western banks of Lake Vembanad, Vismaya is a historic timber house that dates back over three centuries. Painstaking restored with contemporary luxuries subtly introduced, it is now an exclusive use villa with two bedrooms, a double and a twin, each air conditioned with en suite bathrooms. The property is surrounded by typically lush Keralan gardens and features an expansive granite swimming pool and peaceful coconut grove with hammocks to soak up serene views across the lake. Meals – with freshly caught fish bought straight from local fishermen – can be served wherever takes your fancy, be it out on the veranda, in the lounge, poolside or in the gazebo. From the villa’s private jetty embark on meandering boat tours of the backwaters, or borrow bicycles to explore the surrounding countryside. Village walks can also be arranged as can visits to nearby temples, churches and Alleppey town.
- 30 villas with private pools
- Ayurveda spa
- Two restaurants
On the shores of the Arabian Sea and close to the famed backwaters of Alleppey, this verdant resort is beautifully placed to explore the best of Kerala. There are 30 villas set in the sprawling gardens, each a luxurious blend of modern and traditional Keralan design with private pools, lavish bathrooms and walk-in dressing rooms. A major draw here is the stunning Ayurveda spa which offers a huge range of treatments and tailored wellness programs using age-old practices, with a focus on rejuvenation, stress management and detoxing combined with personalised Ayurveda diets. For those seeking to explore, take bicycle rides around local villages for a glimpse into rural lifestyles in this beautiful corner of India, discover the Jewish and colonial history of the region on historical excursions, explore sacred temples or visit the nearby Kumarakom bird sanctuary. There are also daily yoga sessions, the peaceful Marari beach and the Carnoustie’s own wonderful houseboat for private lunch and evening cruises along the backwaters. Making the most of the surrounding water and its bounty, the Chimaera restaurant serves up the freshest seafood while Ida has something for everyone. Being a resort dedicated to body and mind, there’s no alcohol available.
- Six villas
- Thatched pavilion
- Dining room
Sat on a beautiful farm island on land reclaimed from the backwaters of Lake Vambanad, is Philipkutty’s Farm. A family home where the emphasis is on welcoming people into the fold, a stay here is to experience Keralan hospitality at its finest. Each of the six spacious villas are named after local plants, trees and birds and look out over the peaceful backwaters. Decor is simple but homely with tiled floors, wooden ceilings and antique furniture. Windows and doors flood the villas with natural light and a verandah is the perfect spot from which to sit back and watch life on the river. A thatched pavilion on stilts overlooks the farm and is where communal meals are served. As a working farm, there is plenty of local produce and delicious meals are made using coconuts, vegetables, fruit and spices grown in the garden and freshly caught fish. Take a walk through the plantations, making friends with the hens, duck and geese that call the farm home. The family residence is set apart from the villas to ensure total privacy, but they are always happy to chat to guests. The lush, green surroundings provide the perfect haven in which to simply relax and unwind but there are also cooking classes, sunset cruises and outdoor activities for those who wish to explore the beautiful Keralan backwaters.
- 59 en suite villas
- Seafood bar
- Tea lounge
- Infinity pool
- Fitness centre
Surrounded by paddy fields and mangroves and nestled on the banks of Lake Vembanad, Kumarakom Lake Resort is a collection of villas that seamlessly blend traditional charm with modern luxury. Each of the villas have been reconstructed the traditional homesteads of Keralan villages, many of them lovingly reassembled from the original materials. High ceilings, tiled floors and huge windows keep the villas cool and flood them with natural light while open-air bathrooms . Some come with private plunge pools and Jacuzzis while others sit along a meandering 250m pool that weaves its way through the resort. The eight-sided Ettukettu restaurant was originally commissioned by King Marthanda Varma as a gift to his favourite martial arts tutor, and has been dismantled and restored piece by piece in its new location at the hotel. Being in the heart of Kerala’s backwaters means fresh fish is in abundance at the seafood bar, which is one of the best places to watch the sunset. There is also a traditional tea shop set among the verdant gardens. An infinity pool looks out over the shimmering lake and there is an Ayurvedic spa for when you want to relax and unwind. For those who want to explore, there are guided walks and bikes to hire as well as boat cruises and fishing trips.
With the Western Ghats towering to the east and the Arabian Sea flowing out from the west, Kerala is one of India's most verdant and beautiful states. Crisscrossing this green lung are the backwaters that snake their way through towns and villages. Teeming with aquatic life and providing an invaluable resource to all who sit on their banks, these waterways have helped create an impossibly lush pocket of India.
Transfer to your houseboat
Kerala is affectionately known as God's Own Country, and as you glide along the network of lakes, rivers and canals that make up the backwaters, it's easy to see why. A houseboat cruise is a great way to explore rural India and you'll pass locals washing, fishing and bathing while enjoying the shade of the lush green surroundings. You'll transfer to a smaller canoe to explore the very narrow canals.
Private transfer to Cochin airport with guide
Flight from Cochin - Male
Private transfer to your hotel in the Maldives
Accommodation in Maldives
- Swimming pool
This lively barefoot resort sits on a secluded island just 25 minutes from Malé via seaplane. With house reefs to discover the thriving marine life and a sociable atmosphere in the evenings, there is no need to venture beyond its tantalising white sand shores. The wooden, bamboo and thatched roof bungalows unite a tranquil feel with modern-day amenities. The villas that sit on the wooden decking over the sea allow you to slip straight into the shallow lagoon for snorkelling. Beach villas are more simplistic with front terraces leading onto the sand. Dining here consist of the main sand-floored buffet restaurant, offering an extensive range of international dishes. Or there’s the à la carte beachfront grill just a few steps from the waters edge. As the sun sets, head to one of the bars for DJ-spun tunes. As well as some of the best diving and snorkelling available, leisure is more than catered for here too, with 15 exclusive spa villas including four water treatment villas.
- Tennis court
- Games room
One for design-savvy travellers, the resort was conceptualised by the go-to-guy for extravagant hotels, Jean-Michel Gathy, who has now brought detailed perfection to the Maldives. Every element of the resort oozes chic style, from the sand-disc artwork to the palm-fringed slate-lined pool and marbled bar. The 45 villas, each with its own private infinity pool, overwater deck, private beach and exquisite bathroom, have drawn celebrities and royalty including Prince William. Travel 40 minutes by seaplane from Malé to reach this eye-pleasing oasis. Guests can pamper themselves with spa treatments, an onsite hair salon and impeccable service with each villa assigned its own butler and concierge. Other than the obvious water sports options including snorkelling and diving at nearby reefs, the resort also has a tennis court, gym and a kids’ club.
- 33 overwater suites
- Restaurant and bar
- Watersports centre and dive centre
- Yoga pavillion
The embodiment of minimalist elegance, the 33 overwater villas sit on snaked wooden decks, where you can slip straight into the soothing turquoise lagoon for world-class snorkelling and diving on the private reef. The suites on Makunufushi island resemble a collection of Kerelan boathouses, each with a private sundeck, vintage-style ceiling fans, whitewashed walls, and lavish en-suite with roll-top bathtub. The ultra-private one-bedroom villas also offer dining bales and outdoor showers. As one of the smaller resorts, there is a definitive calmness to Cocoa Island that is hard to beat. From the gardens to the infinity and hydrotherapy pools, yoga pavilion to the renowned COMO Shambhala spa, wellbeing is central to life here. The resorts main restaurant, Ufaa, has a daily-changing menu specialising in Southeast Asian and Mediterranean dishes, using organic vegetables and freshly caught seafood. Romantic candlelit dinners and glamorous picnics are served on the beach. Diving and snorkelling are the main attraction here, with parrotfish, rays and small sharks spotted in the surrounding waters.
Spend your days relaxing on the picture-perfect islands of the Maldives. While away the hours on the powder soft sand or take to the sparkling waters to discover the wealth of marine life that teems beneath the surface. Your luxury accommodation is the perfect place to simply switch off and enjoy the fine dining and impeccable service, but as soon as you want to take it up a gear and explore, the Maldives are one of the world's most beautiful destinations in which to do so.
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Classic Kerala and the Maldives
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We create fully personalised trips from start to finish, working with you to pick locations, accommodation and guides that suit you.
Each time you travel with us, you preserve an acre of precious rainforest through our partnerships.
From in-depth private tours to restaurant reservations, we take care of every detail so you can make the most of your journey.