Sustainable Guide to Kerala, India
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
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.
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
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). I recommend 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.
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
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
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
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
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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