Kerala in Southern India:
The top 10 musts for those who like slow and active travel
I spent two weeks on the blogger trip #KeralaBlogExpress in India. By far one of the coolest trips I have ever been on. 30 Bloggers from 22 countries on a 2500-km-long road trip through the region of Kerala in the South of India.
We explored Kerala in depth and here are my personal highlights and tips for everyone who likes to travel slowly, get in touch with nature and to be active while traveling. My favourite hotels can be found in this article.
The south is the tropical paradise of India and famous for its white beaches and green vegetation. Apart from that, Kerala is famous for its Backwaters, the cities Trivandrum and Kochi, its mountains as well as spices and coconuts which shape the not too spicy cuisine of the south of the country. In India, the individual traveller can find everything apart from structure and punctuality. But who needs that anyway while on holiday.
1. Get an Indian SimCard
Yes, Wi-Fi connection in accommodation in Kerala is not always the best. So, first thing to do, get yourself a prepaid SimCard for your smartphone. Top up on the go for example from AirTel. It can also come in handy in order to make some domestic and cheap international calls. WhatsApp continues to work with your old number – don’t worry.
2. Taste South-Indian cuisine
Kerala is famous for its tea plantations, coconut trees and its various spices. The cuisine is diverse and different in comparison to the rest of India. Taste it yourself and you will know what I mean. It’s also ideal for anyone who doesn’t like it too spicy. Go to places where locals eat or try it in your Indian accommodation.
3. Sleep on a houseboat & sail through the Backwaters
Kerala’s Backwaters consists of 38 rivers and five big lakes which form a 1500-kmlong water system. It runs through the whole region of Kerala and originates from Dutch colonial times. During the day you can sail and chill on the houseboat which is run by local farmers and fishermen through the idyllic Alleppey Backwaters. In the evening a rich dinner will be served with local fish, rice, spices, potatoes and traditional side dishes.
4. Spend a day in the responsible tourism village in Kumarakom
In the responsible tourism village you experience first-hand how to live from Mother Nature: You learn how local products are produced in a sustainable way, how fishing and agriculture are promoted and how alcohol is obtained from a coconut tree.
5. Camp and hike in Kerala’s mountains
Far from civilisation at Suryanelli Camp of Calypso Adventures up in the mountains of Kerala you move into your tent. Everything is there, even towels and sheets so no need to bring any. From there you will go on a full day hike along the Butterfly Forest Trek (Pappathi Shola Trek). Breath-taking views and challenging walks through the undergrowth included. After 1000 m you will have reached the mountain called Phantom Head with a great view over the Anaerangal Lake. In the evening there will be traditional Kerala food waiting for you at the bonfire in the camp.
6. Paddel through the Backwaters on a kayak
There is no better way to explore the Backwaters of Kerala than in a kayak. You are close to nature and travel at a perfect speed. Alongside the small villages, through fields of water-lilies up to the big lakes. The guys from Kalypso Adventures are super great and concerned about eco-tourism too. As well as the trekking above, they also organise Kayak tours and rental. You start at the temple in Akkarakalam. You can also visit a cooking demonstration there before entering your kayak.
7. Spend a night in a tree house in the rain-forest
Spend a night in a real 60-foot/20m-high tree house in the rainforest. Afraid of heights? No problem. Comfortable suites and even a honeymoon suite are available in the Eco Tourism Resort Vythiri. Little monkeys are playing by the pool and if you are an early bird you will hear the Malabar Whistling Thrush singing. If you hear it, you will know why I mention that here. You will find tasty locally sourced organic food at the buffet. And flora and fauna are waiting to be explored. 2-3 days are ideal for every slow traveller. Check out the responsible tourism resort website.
8. Go on a trip in Nationalpark: Periyar Tiger Reserve
You can go by boat, canoe or just walk through Periyar Tiger Reserve. It’s a national park in which many protected wildlife species are at home. See elephants, butterflies, monkeys, birds, deer and many others. If you are lucky you can even see a tiger!
9. Sail On a bamboo raft though Kerala’s Tea Gardens
Kerala is famous for its tea plantations. You should visit one of them such as the Pattumala or Poopara tea plantations. Or even go on a bamboo raft and sail through a tea garden.
10. Spend a day at Marari Beach
Whoever is searching for relaxation after all these activities should spend a day at Marari Beach. Even though the coast of Kerala includes a lot of white sand beaches the Edenic Marari Beach was my highlight. There are nearly no tourists around. Only a few fishermen here in their boats who are open to having a chat if you feel like interacting. If you want to stay here longer, you should book yourself into the CGH Earth – Marari Beach Eco Tourism Resort next door.
I hope there is something in for your needs. For accommodation just check out my previous post about the best hotels to stay in Kerala. If you want to book some trips I recomend it either on site or online for example with KeralaTourism who organizes Kerala tour packages.
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Eventhough this was an unpaid press trip, all the opinions are my own and I was under no obligation to review these activities!