Kerala in southern India is renowned for its wonderful palm-fringed beaches and the rich tropical landscape of its interior. Our trek takes in the lush green forests, cardamom-scented hills and photogenic tea plantations of the Western Ghats.
From the beautiful colonial hill station of Munnar, we trek over forested hills and open ridges, passing plantations of coffee and mango as well as the famous tea. En route we take in Meesapulimala Peak, the highest accessible point in southern India, where the views over this beautiful area are breath-taking.
The cool mountain air is perfect for trekking these wonderful hills; afterwards we head down to the beautiful lagoons and rice paddies of the coastal backwaters, where we discover the local way of life on a relaxing houseboat cruise.
On arrival we transfer to our hotel. After time to freshen up, we are free to explore this lovely old city, also known as Cochin. Founded by the Portuguese in 1503, it is India’s earliest European settlement. The brightly-painted buildings, narrow streets and food stalls are very atmospheric, and the bazaars and old harbour area are fascinating. In the evening there is an optional visit to see a Kathakali display, a dance unique to Kerala. Night hotel. (Lunch not included)
Leaving the coast behind, we drive up into the hills to Munnar (1600m). A beautiful hill station on the Western Ghats, Munnar was the British summer resort of southern India. It is surrounded by tea plantations and still retains its colonial charm. We spend the afternoon exploring the town and its markets, and enjoying the views over the sprawling hills and valleys. Night hotel.
After an early breakfast we drive out of Munnar to the tiny village of Nagarmundi, where we start our trek. We ascend gradually through the tea plantations, our trail climbing up into the Seven Malai hills. Our surroundings are spectacular, with hill-slopes covered in verdant plantations and forests, sparkling waterfalls, and tiny villages set among the rolling valleys. We pass through cardamom and coffee plantations before reaching the hilltop, where we can soak up the wonderful views over Annamudi Peak, Changulan Lake and back down to Munnar. We descend on the same path, and return to Munnar. Time permitting, you can visit the tea museum if you wish (optional). Night hotel (1600m).
After yesterday’s taster, we should be raring to go! We drive past tea estates to the Silent Valley plateau, a haven to the rare goat-like nilgiri thar, as well as many bird species. We start our trek from around 2000m, initially on wide jeep tracks which ascend steadily through forest into natural, grassy wilderness with wonderful views down over the tea estates. We continue over rougher grassland to open ridges, our way becoming steeper as we near the top. Meesapulimala Peak (2630m) is the second-highest peak in South India; the highest is in a restricted area. Afternoon cloud often obscures the summit, but when the views are clear they are breath-taking, reaching across Kerala and Tamil Nadu. After time to enjoy the views and the sense of achievement, we descend to our camp. Night camp.
Today’s trek takes us through the Shola forest, where we’re rewarded with magnificent scenery. We walk through hills thick with red rhododendron and many endemic plants, passing small streams as we go; we may even spot wildlife including wild goats, deer, giant squirrel and wild boar. We stop for a picnic lunch midway in a shaded spot. Our route is undulating, as we head towards the foothill of Yellapatty, passing through friendly traditional villages where we can see the local way of life. From Yellapatty, we will take a short transfer (approx. 30 mins) to Oorkad (Top Station). Night camp.
We descend from Top Station – named for its location in the shipment system for tea and other goods in the early twentieth century – through eucalyptus plantations and farmers’ fields. Before long, we reach an undulating trail road leading to the old tribal village of Vattavada. Stopping for lunch in the village, we continue on our trek, enjoying panoramic views of the cluster houses of the Koviloor village. Crossing a small canal, we head on in to the village, where we take a short transfer in 4x4s to Top Station (approx. 20 mins). Here we’ll meet the waiting vehicles and begin our beautiful drive through the hills to the bustling village of Thekkedy. This area is known for its spice-growing. Night hotel.
We say farewell to the beautiful Western Ghats as we wend our way back down to the coast, the temperatures increasing as we leave the hills. Coming to Alleppey, we board our houseboat and can relax as we cruise the serene backwaters, a network of lagoons, rivers and canals, lined with coconut palms and dazzling green rice paddies. Watching the beautiful scenery and villages glide by is a wonderful way to relax and contemplate our achievements! We spend the night on our houseboat.
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. They are also trained in expedition first aid. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader. Usually leaders are based in the UK or other English-speaking countries and lead for us regularly throughout the year in many different countries. In some instances, trips are led by in-country guides with a wealth of knowledge about the region; they have been trained by us to provide the level of support expected on a Discover Adventure trip.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with communication devices (eg phones, radios and/or emergency satellite phones), medical kit and other safety apparatus appropriate to the destination. Our leaders always have access to our 24-hour emergency UK back-up. They are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary, should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration - such as medical questionnaires and travel insurance as appropriate - is all done with your safety in mind.
Group flights leave from London Heathrow or Gatwick on scheduled airlines and are booked through Discover Adventure Ltd under ATOL licence 5636. By travelling with Discover Adventure you are protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Your journey may involve a transit en route, details of route and flight times will be confirmed several months before departure. We do not always use the same airline for each destination; if you wish to know the probable carrier and flight times, please call for details. You will usually receive confirmed flight details several months before departure. Our itineraries are always based on current flight schedules and are therefore subject to change by the airline. If you prefer to book your own flights please ask us for a land-only cost.
We camp in two-man tents; these are usually expedition-style (ie sleeping room only). Camps are usually simple, in remote locations with great views! We have communal dining areas (usually with tables and chairs/stools) and toilet tents, and the local crew look after us very well. We stay in hotels (of a 2-3* standard or equivalent) at the start and end of the trip; standards may vary between different hotels, but they are generally clean and comfortable with good facilities.
Entry requirements vary depending on your destination and nationality. It is your responsibility to ensure your passport is valid, and any visas are obtained in good time. Check the FCO’s advice on entry requirements for your destination to be sure. To find out if you need a visa you can check your requirements using our partner, Visa Machine, website here; please ensure you allow plenty of time.
Your routine UK schedule of vaccinations should be up-to-date (especially tetanus). We recommend you check Fit For Travel for further details. You should always check with a GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.
We plan our trips around the optimal weather conditions, but could still be exposed to bad weather at any time. It is vital you are prepared for all conditions. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.
If you are still to buy some kit don’t forget that Cotswold Outdoor, Snow and Rock, Cycle Surgery and Runners Need offer all Discover Adventure participants 15% off any purchases you make with them. Please ask us for the code if you do not have this already.
Travel Insurance is compulsory on our challenges; we strongly suggest that you arrange insurance cover as soon as your booking with us is confirmed. Should you need to cancel on medical grounds, you will need insurance to cover the costs involved (registration fee and any trip costs depending on cancellation date).
You should also ensure that you have adequate cover for the type of challenge you are taking part in as well as medical emergencies, evacuation and repatriation.
You can obtain a quote with Insure to Travel from our website here, or you may choose to take out your own travel insurance, just remember to let us know the policy number and emergency phone number!
For more information about travel insurance, please click here.
For most people, the main attraction of travelling to a different country is to see new sights and enjoy new experiences. Sometimes those new experiences can make life harder or more inconvenient than you may like, such as toilet hygiene or different food, or simply a different attitude to solving problems. This is all part of the challenge you are signing up for! We are very privileged to live in a country with a high standard of living, and travelling exposes us to different challenges – all of which help broaden our horizons. We can guarantee that coming face-to-face with experiences outside your normal ‘comfort zone’ will help you bond with your fellow participants and provide you with plenty of things to laugh about! A sense of humour and sense of adventure are two of the most important things to bring with you!