The Perfect Kerala Trip

Colourful architecture, verdant tea estates and plentiful wildlife along with gorgeous beaches and backwaters, friendly homestays and delicious food, Kerala’s got everything you need for a perfect holiday.

I was lucky enough to have been paid to travel straight out of college. As a tour leader, I would accompany groups of travellers around India, often following the same itinerary several times in a row. My very first trip went through Kerala, and, even though the group included a client who nearly made me quit after the first week, she wasn’t able to sour my growing fondness for the state. That first year, I spent about two straight months travelling around Kerala, adapting to its unique pace, learning to laugh with its people and falling harder for it every day. Seven years on, I’m looking to revisit the highlights, attempting to create a tasting menu of the various experiences it has to offer and string them into an itinerary to create the perfect trip.

With its easy distances, Kerala lends itself well to a driving holiday, but the staggering amount of options really makes creating an itinerary rather difficult, even downright controversial if your family’s anything like mine. We argue over which beach destination to visit – the tourist-ridden Kovalam with its numerous fusion food offerings, or the utterly peaceful Mararikulam. Tiny Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, which, as home to the heart spotted kingfisher, the unbearably cute Ceylon frogmouth and the crimson-throated barbet, reaches above its size, distracts us for a while before we relegate it reluctantly to a stop and decide to stay instead at the Periyar Tiger Reserve in the hope of seeing elephants in the wild. And then there are the places that are always unanimous favourites – Fort Kochi, the quiet hillsides of Munnar, and watery Alleppey. Kerala has a number of corners we’ve yet to explore, but we’re loath to miss out on any of the greats and therefore choose to be less adventurous but more certain of going to places that are just right.

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