The Charm of Southern India

This fabulous tour takes you to the state of Kerala – also known as “God’s own country”. From the Malabar coast to the Western Ghat mountains, Travel Scents will take you on a dizzying journey of food, tea, culture and diverse landscapes. In all locations, you will stay in unique resorts, and will be offered cooking lessons by the local chefs. Keralite cuisine is inspired by two of its main products – coconuts and spices. Coconut is often used instead of onions to thicken sauces, and the spice gardens provide cardamoms, cloves, pepper, cinnamon and more, which flavour the dishes. A visit to a spice shop is highly recommended – get a package of fresh spices sent home.

The tour starts in Cochin – “Queen of the Arabian Sea” – a fascinating city of ancient palaces and religious buildings, and the burial place of Vasco da Gama. From here we travel to Munnar, the centre of the tea industry in Kerala, high in the hills. For miles around, the hillsides are covered in tea plants (camellia sinensis), as high up the steep slopes as can be reached on foot. Various resort villages are situated in the area. You can tour the local tea plantations and factories to see and learn how the tea is cultivated, picked and processed. There is also the opportunity to visit spice gardens, or just enjoy the spectacular scenery with a pot of the local beverage.

The next stop is Thekaddy, heart of Elephant country – if you are lucky you may see wild elephants. There is also the famous Periyar nature reserve. You can walk in the forests, browse the spice gardens, relax with an Ayurvedic massage or a chocolate facial! And you can ride an elephant too. From Thekaddy we visit Komarakom, and then on to the tour highlight – two days on the Kerala backwaters, with a cooking class on-board.

The backwaters comprise some 900kms of rivers, canals and lakes – the lives of the people of the region depend on the waterways for transport and food – it is a fascinating experience. At Alleppey, learn to match seasonal food from the organic garden with spices, in a cooking lesson from the expert chef, and eat in the eco-friendly restaurant. Stay in a wonderful, relaxing resort, with palms, pristine beaches, great food, and fabulous service.