Sustainable Guide to Kerala, India

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  • India

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  • Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel

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Advisor - Sustainable Guide to Kerala, India
Fora’s Take

Kerala is a fantastic destination to connect with local people and learn about their culture, and it’s also one of the most beautiful parts of India in terms of both nature and wildlife. A diverse region, you can be at the beach for a few days and then go and see one of the tiger reserves in another area, as well as explore the tea plantations of the north. In general, Kerala is a lot more relaxed than northern India and there are many ways to immerse yourself in the region, particularly through sustainable travel experiences designed to connect you with locals.

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Where to stay

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Coconut Lagoon

An interplay of coconut groves and backwater canals on the magnificent Vemband Lake, Coconut Lodge features transplanted old wooden Keralan homes.

Old Harbour Hotel

This historic building is an upmarket boutique hotel right in the center of Fort Kochi and is close to art galleries, cafes, and all the main attractions.

Spice Village

The Spice village in Thekkady has earned CGH Earth recognition and won multiple awards for being India's most sustainable resort. The resort has been designed to look like an old-style spice plantation with thatch-roof guest cottages.

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Day 1: Arrive in Kochi

Sustainable Guide to Kerala, India - Day 1: Arrive in Kochi

Get a Thali

You’re likely to arrive in Kochi at midday. Check into your hotel and then grab a thali for lunch. Kerala is known for Thalis so there’s no better first meal to have than this – the dish is made up of several curries served on a leaf, and you use your hands to eat (so it’s both traditional, as well as zero waste).Try out the Solar Cafe for lunch. 

Explore Fort Kochi

Next, head out to wander around Fort Kochi. 

Visit the Kashi Art Gallery, and walk by churches and museums. 

At sunset, go see the fishing nets and walk along the beach. Be sure to shop a bit, as Fort Kochi has many artisan-style shops including Ayurvedic products. 

Aambal is a great eco clothing store where you can get hand-woven, natural, handmade and recycled fashion.

Kathakali Performances

Grab street food for dinner early before you go see a Kathakali performance at The Kerala Kathakali Centre. The traditional Keralan dance and music features incredible makeup and costumes.

Day 2: Marari Beach

Sustainable Guide to Kerala, India - Day 2: Marari Beach

Take a beach day

Have breakfast at your hotel in Kochi, and then check out. Take a taxi to Marari Beach and check in to Xandari Pearl Beach Resort. Grab a chair and relax by the beach and order lunch and dinner from the hotel whenever you’re hungry.

Day 3: Backwaters stay

Sustainable Guide to Kerala, India - Day 3: Backwaters stay

On your third day, head toward Coconut Lagoon in Kumarakom. Rent a boat for a day trip and have a picnic lunch on board as you explore the backwaters. This will take most of the day, when you return to the hotel, relax by the pool and then go for a walk around the gardens at sunset. Then, have dinner at the hotel’s seafood restaurant which has amazing freshly caught lobster dishes.

Day 4: Thekkady

Sustainable Guide to Kerala, India - Day 4: Thekkady

Head to Thekkady

Take your private transfer to Thekkady. When you arrive at Spice Village, check in and have lunch (you can choose from western or Kerala-style dishes on the property). The eco-resort has its water filtering and bottling plant, a paper recycling operation, several types of compost, biogas and more.

Go on a safari

Go on a rafting safari on Periyar Lake to try your luck at seeing wildlife including elephants, deer, monkeys and even tigers (if you’re lucky). After the safari, have lunch at Chrissie’s Cafe on the rooftop for a meal of western food and baked goods.

Have dinner at the hotel

Enjoy the live cooking show at the hotel. The show is essentially a masterclass on Indian spices; you’ll get to try dishes with different spices that the chef prepares while you're watching the demo, and then you’ll sit down and have dinner.

Day 5: Periyar National Park

Sustainable Guide to Kerala, India - Day 5: Periyar National Park

Jungle trek

Have an early breakfast at the hotel and then head out on a walking safari of Periyar National Park where you may be able to see bison, elephants, leopards and more. Periyar is the lonely National Park in India that you can walk into – but not the area where tigers live.

Go to town

Walk into Thekkady and check out some of the local cafes, do some shopping for spices and banana chips before you leave Kerala.

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on sustainable travel. Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out Fora's guide, An Architectural Journey in Rajasthan, India.