Passage through Kerala ... and the Maldives
Our trip was based on Cox & Kings’ Passage through Kerala itinerary, but run as a private tour. We omitted two days on a rice barge in the Backwaters, which we had done previously, and added a beach extension in the Maldives. All our accommodation, transfers and flights were excellent.
Serpent eagle, Nagarhole National ParkAfter this, we drove to Wayanand in Kerala, a hilly area, thickly covered in vegetation inter-twined with steep ravines. The tree canopy and lush vegetation with different coloured foliage is reminiscent of autumn colours on English forested hillsides. It was very tranquil and a world away from the towns and cities with many birds, monkeys and butterflies. We went for a short night walk around the grounds and our guide showed us large moths, some tiny frogs and strange worm-like creatures with hammer shaped heads. The food was traditional Indian style and quite spicy so we needed plenty of yoghurt to calm our palates!
Indian meal, WayanandOur next stop-over was Coonoor, the second largest hill station in the Nilgiri mountains and part of Tamil Nadu. It is a bustling town full of local colour, famed for tea and eucalyptus oil production. However, it still retains some influences of the time when the British Raj encamped here to escape the heat of the plains for the cooler climate of the hills. From this base, we visited the Botanical Gardens in Udhagamandalam, more commonly known as Ooty. Created by the British in 1847, the rolling lawns fringed by borders have a very English feel. Being February, there were not too many plants in bloom, but the trees and shrubs were interesting and many were species that grow in the UK. We took a trip on the Blue Mountain narrow gauge railway, which gave lovely views of the hills and tea plantation terraces. The line was built between 1891 and 1908, with the section below Coonoor being one of the oldest and steepest rack and pinion systems in the world. The train is now largely a tourist attraction, but originally would have transported families of the British Raj and estate workers.
Botanical Gardens, OotyOur last stop in India was to Kochi (Cochin) in Kerala. Having seen the interesting historical sites on our previous visit, we mainly used this stay to reacquaint ourselves with the charming Fort Kochi area browsing the market stalls, seeing the Chinese fishing nets and enjoying a drink by the waterside.
Bandos IslandThe next day we flew to the Maldives for five nights. As keen snorkelers we have visited the Maldives many times and it was an opportunity to have time to relax on a beach after a busy tour of south-west India. We stayed at Bandos Island resort, which is a short boat ride from Male airport. We had visited this island six years ago and were pleased to find the resort still providing good accommodation and plenty of different dining options. The snorkelling was as good as ever and we saw turtles, reef sharks, numerous species of colourful butterfly as well as parrot fish, squid, string ray and clown fish.
Double-saddled butterflyfishCox & Kings' India experts can organise a tailor-made holiday to Kerala and the Maldives. Alternatively, you can join our Passage through Kerala escorted group tour.
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- Tags: Adventure, Cox & Kings Staff, Culture & History, Food & Wine, India, Indian Subcontinent, Landscape, Train Journeys, Wildlife