India Untravelled invites you to leave behind Kerala’s tourist circuit and discover the picturesque countryside in the north of the state. Pamper yourself in a Kerala of virgin backwaters, misty tropical forests, and sandy white beaches caressed by the waves of the Arabian Sea. Experience life in a postcard bamboo village, indulge your taste buds in the delicious local cuisine, wander along dense coffee, rubber and coconut plantations, and treat yourself to the warm hospitality of your host families. On this trail, you witness the many faces of Kerala, and immerse yourself in its culture, traditions and crafts.
This itinerary takes you to small towns and villages in Wayanad, Kannur and Kasaragod, where local families host you. You ditch popular tourism destinations in the south of the state.
The Best Kept Secrets of Kerala itinerary starts on a coffee plantation among the tropical forests of the Wayanad district, and continues in a small village nestled in the Western Ghats. You unwind in a traditional house at the confluence of the backwaters and a beach formed by the Arabian Sea, and end your journey on a private island by a gorgeous stretch of the backwaters.
The Best Kept Secrets of Kerala trail lets you savor a range of experiences, customized to your interests.
You can rejuvenate by the virgin beaches, take long walks along the scenic countryside, and lie in a hammock watching fishing boats traverse the backwaters. You can mingle on the dinner table with your host families, spend hours talking about life in the region, or try your hand at pruning coffee leaves and helping farmers on their rice paddies.
Adventure enthusiasts can trek through the core zone of the Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary where big cats and wild elephants are often spotted, cycle through the postcard countryside of Wayanad, climb the spectacular slopes of the Chembra Peak, and get lost in the prehistorical Edakkal Caves.
Nature lovers can spend hours watching eagles and other birds by the backwaters, picnic at the Kuruva islands in Wayanad, spot dolphins at the beach in the early mornings, and explore the coconut countryside on a fishing boat or a houseboat.
Culture seekers can participate in music and dance performances by village artisans, shop for bamboo handicrafts in Bamboo Village, learn to make their own metal craft souvenirs in Kannur, and interact with the fishing and mussel farming communities by the backwaters.
Day 1 & 2: Homestay at a Coffee Plantation in Wayanad
The Best Kept Secrets of Kerala itinerary can start in Calicut or Bangalore, both of which are well connected by international flights and trains, and have frequent buses plying to Wayanad. Car transfers can also be arranged from other parts of Kerala.
Wayanad’s hilly district is a treat for nature lovers, adventure enthusiasts and photographers, with its dense tropical forests interspersed with plantations of rubber, coconut, coffee and tea. Your first homestay is located in a small town in Wayanad, where you stay on a coffee plantation with a native Wayanadi family, in a bamboo cottage raised on stilts.
Spend your two days here getting to know your host family, indulging in delicious home-cooked North Kerala cuisine, and strolling along or volunteering in the coffee and rubber plantations in your backyard. Spend some quiet time in your balcony, hearing the orchestra of birds, and spotting fireflies in the dark.
Explore the hilly treasures of Wayanad by car. You could choose to step back in time at the pre-historical Edakkal Caves, visit one of the last standing tribal settlements at Chekadi, spend a late night camping at a forest settlement, or climb the spectacular Chembra Peak, home to a heart-shaped lake. You can also opt for an early morning deep forest trek in the core zone of a wildlife sanctuary, or a jeep safari through the forest.
Days 3 & 4: Traditional Village Homestay in Wayanad
Drive through the scenic terrain of Wayanad (1-1.5 hours), to the small picturesque village of Thrikkaipetta, nestled in the Western Ghats and surrounded by rice paddies and banana & coconut plantations. The craftsmen and women of Thrikkaipetta specialize in bamboo handicrafts, earning it the nickname “Bamboo Village”.
Your next homestay is with a native family in a traditional village home at Bamboo Village, where you get a cosy room to yourself, equipped with basic urban facilities including a western-style bathroom. Indulge in the warm hospitality of your hosts, soak in the spectacular landscape of the village, and make yourself at home on the postcard countryside of North Kerala.
Spend your two days experiencing village life, interacting with your host family and other residents of the village, strolling around the village plantations, and hiking in the surrounding hillocks. Your host family will be happy to have an evening of informal music and dancing for you, sharing their traditions and folklore with you, and learning about yours. If you’re travelling in a big group, you could also opt for a cultural folk performance by a group of village artists and shake a leg with them.
If you feel you haven’t seen enough of Wayanad in the first two days, you could sign up for a half day or full day cycling trip through the sunny plains, fields, lakes and temples of South Wayanad.
Days 5 & 6: Beach Homestay in Kannur
Leave for the sleepy town of Kannur in the morning, on a bus ride (3-3.5 hours) that takes you through the tea plantations and teak forests of Wayanad, and teases you with glimpses of the backwaters. Chances are, you’ll get chatting with one of the gregarious locals on the bus and learn something unusual about each of the sleepy villages you cross on the way. If you prefer, we can also organize a car transfer to Kannur.
Your third homestay lies in a tiny village, at the confluence of a narrow stretch of the backwaters and the Arabian Sea, where you stay in a house built in traditional Kerala style, overlooking a sandy beach. You’ll quickly warm up to the hospitality of your hostess and be treated to delicious home-cooked food.
You can spend the next two days relaxing & sunbathing at the beach, playing in the waves of the Arabian Sea, and birdwatching along the backwaters. You could opt to take a day trip to the magnificent Bekal Fort, rejuvenate yourself with a traditional Ayurvedic treatment, visit an art and craft village by a serene lake to shop for local souvenirs, or relax on a houseboat ride through the backwaters. If you’re visiting in winter, you can partake of the Theyyam festivities in a local household in the village.
Day 7: Private Island Stay in Kasaragod
Set out after breakfast for a short bus ride (1 hour) to a private island by a stunning stretch of backwaters in Kasaragod.
You spend your last night in a small piece of paradise, in a laterite stone cottage with an open-rooftop shower and traditional Kerala-style tiled roof, overlooking an expanse of backwaters as open as a river, dotted on the far end with palm trees. You can spend your time interacting with your personable host, treating yourself to finger-licking good food, and lounging in your balcony or on one of many hammocks across the island, soaking in the spectacular views of the backwaters and watching fishing boats go by.
You can swim in the backwaters (they are that clean!), go on a boat ride along the coconut-fringed countryside, and indulge in a beach picnic on virgin sandy beaches across the coast. You can opt for a traditional Ayurvedic massage on the island, or take a trip to see mussel farming in the surrounding waters.
Costs: INR 17,000 per person on twin sharing.
Does not include:
*Rates may vary if travel dates fall in peak season.
"Wayanad: Our hosts, Sunil and Reena and their two beautiful children were warm and hospitable. Food consisted of simple but delicious Kerala food served in the main house. The cottages, built by Uravu, a small scale bamboo industry in Wayanad, have all the modern amenities and a nice bamboo balcony surrounded by a canopy of trees where one can just sit and listen to the chirping of the birds and see the sunlight filtering through the trees.
Kannur: The golden sands and the sparkling sea welcomed us and we spent most of the day at the beach. The food at Blue Mermaid was authentic, lip smacking Kerala food and had a decent spread.
Kasaragod: The beauty of the landscape cannot be described in words and the photos possibly depict a little of what we actually saw. The cottage with its stone steps almost kissing the backwaters, with a lazy hammock swinging between coconut trees was a dream come true."
~ Asha, travelled with her family in October 2012. Read more about her trip on her blog post: A vacation in the mountains, seas and backwaters -- link to http://themoonstone.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/a-vacation-in-the-mountains-seas-and-backwaters
"I have seen elephants, swam underneath a waterfall, walked around a lake, and watched the sunset over the dam. The country is alive with colour! I am very happy to be here... these hidden gems and locations in India really open my eyes to how beautiful the country is."
~ Kellie, travelled solo in October 2012.
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