Hidden Kerala

Cochin and Backwaters to Hills and Plains

We’re very interested in local culture, markets, seeing people working, going about their daily routines etc. We love Indian food and would like a cooking lesson if such a thing is possible! ”

Judith and Thena

What we recommended and why

We suggested a trip to Kerala, using a private car and driver to make a circular route inland from Cochin on the west coast, to the countryside of Palakkad and Thattekad, before climbing tea-covered hills to Munnar. After visiting the lively temple town of Madurai the return journey to Cochin was via the jungles of Periyar and languid Backwaters. 

We included a mix of fabulous excursions and activities from a guided forest walk with reformed poachers and superb bird watching to using local transport - rickshaws, bus and ferry - with a guide for short transfers around Cochin and gentle cycling to farms and rural villages to really experience local life.

Along the way we included market visits, taking part in a temple ceremony, learning to cook Keralan cuisine and finding out about culture, religion and politics at a couple of great homestays in Palakkad and the Backwaters.

The journey

Begin in colonial comfort and get to know Cochin just like a local (3 nights)



With its natural deep water harbour Cochin was already a centre for India’s spice trade before the Portuguese founded the first...

Head to a homestay in Palakkad for an insight into village life (2 nights)

Kandath Tharavad


Kandath Tharavad is an ideal place to experience the true village life of Kerala. The majestic 'Tharavad', the ancestral home of...

Via bird watching at Thattekad (1 night) discover tea plantations from a hill top estate (2 nights)



The town of Munnar situated at an altitude of 1524m in the Western Ghats does not have much to recommend it, but its attraction...

Descend to the plains, vibrant bazaars and millions of gods at a Hindu temple (2 nights)



The second largest city in Tamil Nadu, Madurai is one of India’s most sacred pilgrimage centres and has been mentioned in Tamil...

Join reformed poachers on jungle hike and cycle to farming villages (3 nights)



Periyar Lake was formed by the building of a dam on the Periyar River at the end of the 19th century, and the area of forest around...

Drift through a tropical labyrinth of lakes and lagoons on a houseboat (1 night)

Kerala Houseboat

Spending some time on a houseboat on the Kerala Backwaters is one of the most relaxing ways to explore this tropical area of south...

Kick back in the Backwaters and discover the secrets of local cuisine (2 nights)

Philip Kutty’s Farm

Philip Kutty’s Farm offers the chance to stay with a local family and experience the way of life in Kerala’s Backwaters while still...

We truly loved it all! It exceeded our expectations, and each day was engaging and delightfully different. The experiences were superb and definitely off the tourist loop. Thank you for your care in planning the many details which provided such rich experiences! We returned with a great appreciation of Kerala, some delicious recipes to try, a zillion photos and many wonderful memories.”

Start your journey...

Speak to one of our experts about planning a trip like this for you.

Andrea Hulme
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Our team

Our experienced travellers include:

Rod Tether
Catherine Ronan
Andrea Hulme

It takes genuine local knowledge to craft trips that go beyond the ordinary. All of us at Natural High have over 20 years’ experience in the countries we offer. We’ve lived there, worked there and arranged countless one-off journeys for clients. We live to travel – and love to share our tips on what’s really worth doing. For expert advice (and a traveller’s tale or two), speak to one of our team. They’ll be happy to let you in on their travel secrets, and help you plan a tailor-made trip that’s truly unforgettable.

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