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RV Vaikundam

Cochin & Kerala Backwaters Cruise

11-day tailor-made journey from £2,395 pp incl. flights

Summary

Short description

Explore Kerala's backwaters in style

Highlights

  • Cruise through Kerala’s idyllic backwaters
  • Meet local artisans in remote villages
  • Spot colourful birdlife amid mangroves and paddy fields
  • Learn about the region’s ancient spice trade
  • Enjoy an included stay in vibrant Cochin

In Brief

  • 2 Nights Cochin
  • 1 Night Vaikom
  • 1 Night Kumarakom
  • 1 Night Kavalam
  • 1 Night Kainakary
  • 2 Nights Changankary
  • 1 Night Kanjippadam

About

Recommended for:
History & culture | Natural world | Relaxation | River cruise

Kerala’s dreamy Backwaters provide the idyllic setting for this cruise holiday, which sees you sail across mirrored lagoons and through palm-fringed canals to explore artisan villages and ancient temples in truly laid-back style. Your ship – a traditional Kettuvallom house boat – will whisk you between ports, with included touring in the company of expert guides showcasing the very best of the region’s unique culture and breathtaking natural world. You’ll also be treated to a host of unique experiences including dining in a local’s home. It’s all enjoyed alongside included transfers and superb full-board dining on board the ship, which makes the most of Kerala’s famed seafood and spices. 

Day by day itinerary

Day 1
Depart UK

Begin your Indian adventure in style with included airport lounge access before boarding your overnight flight to Kerala.

Days 2-3
Cochin

Arrive in Cochin where you’ll be met for an included transfer to your chosen hotel. Then, after a free day to settle in, you’ll join your guide on day three for a tour of the city, taking in the historic area of Mattancherry in Old Fort Cochin where you’ll trace the region’s unique heritage through its Dutch and Portuguese architecture, iconic Chinese fishing nets and Jewish and Arab communities, all of which speak of Cochin’s remarkable cultural diversity.

Stay: Taj Malabar Resort & Spa, Kochi (Superior) or Brunton Boatyard, Kochi (Deluxe)

Meals: B

Day 4
Cochin/Vaikom

Leaving Cochin behind, you’ll transfer out to the village of Nettoor where you’ll be introduced to the local martial art of Kalaripayattu. You’ll then continue on to Marad, where you’ll board your boat – the RV Vaikundam – gathering in the lounge for a safety briefing before cruising out through a network of rivers, lakes and millpond-still lagoons. After a traditional Keralan lunch, served on board, you’ll enjoy some time to relax, perhaps joining a local expert to learn more about the region, before an evening arrival in Vaikom. Here, you’ll be treated to a tour of the local Shiva temple, later returning to the boat for dinner and your first night on board.

Stay: RV Vaikundam

Meals: B L D

Day 5
Vaikom/Chenganda/Kumarakom

Today’s itinerary begins with a performance of Kerala’s traditional dance – Kathakali. You’ll enjoy this blend of music, dance, literature and spectacular make-up and costume at a local cultural centre before visiting the nearby village of Chenganda. Here, between coir weaving and fishing demonstrations, you’ll have the chance to meet and converse with the locals, followed by lunch back on the boat. It’s then on to Kumarakom via a cruise through the Thanneermukkom barrage, a dividing point on the vast Vembanad Lake – Kerala’s largest – where the salt water of the Arabian Sea meets the fresh water, fed by five rivers, which flow down from the surrounding hills. This afternoon, you’ll have the chance to explore the lake’s wetland ecosystem and visit a local farm, where you’ll try your hand at cooking traditional Syrian-Christian food and tuck into a delicious dinner in the farmers’ home – a truly unique experience.

Stay: RV Vaikundam

Meals: B L D

Day 6
Kumarakom/Kavalam

After a light breakfast, you’ll head out on a country-style boat to spot some of the region’s migratory and endemic birds amid the mangroves, paddy fields and lagoons of the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary. Keep an eye out for egrets, herons, fly-catchers and colourful parrots in the early morning sunshine while further exploring Vembanad Lake’s vast expanse and enjoying a more substantial breakfast. After a full morning’s cruising, and a delicious lunch, you’ll arrive in Kavalam where the Pampa river drains into the lake. Here, you’ll have the chance to explore further by ferry, take a relaxing stroll between the patchwork of rice fields, or enjoy the chance to chat with the villagers. You’ll then return to the boat to sail on until nightfall.

Stay: RV Vaikundam

Meals: B L D

Day 7
Kavalam/Kainakary/Pulinkunnu

Visit Chavara Bhavan, the ancestral home of the Catholic saint, Kuriakose Chavara – the first canonised Catholic of Indian origin. Then, after lunch on board, you’ll sail on to Pulinkunnu village for a relaxing afternoon spent exploring the town and its surrounding canals. Dinner will be served on board.

Stay: RV Vaikundam

Meals: B L D

Day 8
Pulinkunnu/Nedumudy/Champakkulam/Changankary

This morning’s cruise sees you to Nedumudi, where you’ll disembark for a scenic drive to the bell metal and brassware village of Mannar. Watch the local artisans crafting traditional lamps, utensils and ornate locks, then return to the ship for lunch and the chance to relax on board. In the afternoon, there’s the chance to learn more about Kerala’s spice trade with a tour of Champakulam, whose inhabitants still embrace the traditions of the Syrian-Christian traders that settled here some 1,000 years ago. It’s a culture showcased in the village church and school, and in the skilfully crafted biblical figures that are the stock-in-trade of the local artisans. You’ll also head to the shore to see the villagers’ snake boats which, under the power of more than 100 oarsmen, are still used in races to this day. Your day ends with a meandering cruise through a network of serene canals to Changankary, accompanied by a magnificent sunset. 

Meals: B L D

Day 9
Excursion from Changankary

Leave the boat behind for a full-day excursion to Aranmula to watch skilled craftsmen making ornate, metal-framed mirrors, followed by a tour of the Krishna Temple and the chance to take in the town’s heritage architecture, showcased in the snake-boat building and local houses, one of which will play host to your delicious lunch, where you’ll learn more about the art of snake boat building and the town’s colourful annual regatta. You’ll arrive in Thottappalli this evening where, after some light refreshments, you’ll enjoy a stroll on the beach, returning to the boat for dinner. 

Stay: RV Vaikundam

Meals: B L D

Day 10
Thottappalli/Karumadi/Kanjippadam

Your final full day starts with an early breakfast and a guided tour of the ancient sacred grove of Harripad, where serpents are worshipped. Here, you’ll plant a coconut tree as a lasting symbol of your visit before sailing on to Karumadi, where you’ll visit the local Buddhist shrine and meet the local toddy tappers, who collect the sap from blossoming coconut flowers to make the potent alcoholic drink. Your day ends in Kanjippadam where you’ll watch carpenters at work in the boat yard and learn about the construction of the emblematic Kettuvallom house boats, which ply Kerala’s backwaters. Tonight, you’ll celebrate the end of your trip with a farewell dinner on board.

Stay: RV Vaikundam

Meals: B L D

Day 11
Alleppey/UK

Enjoy a final breakfast on board and a scenic cruise on Punnamada Lake before disembarking and transferring to the airport in time for your flight home, arriving in the UK the same day.

Meals: B

Map

Pricing

Any element of this itinerary can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.

Accommodation rating: Superior Deluxe

11-day tailor-made journey from £2,395 incl. flights

Superior

Low Season

from £2,395 pp. incl. flights

High Season

from £2,520 pp. incl. flights

Includes:

  • Complimentary UK airport lounge access
  • Return flights between the UK and Kochi
  • Private airport return transfers
  • 2 nights accommodation in a 4* (Superior) hotel in Kochi on B&B basis
  • 7 nights cruise aboard RV Vaikundam in a Deluxe cabin, on a full-board basis, including (several) daily sightseeing tours
  • Private Kochi sightseeing tour 
  • Courtyard by Marriott Cochin day-use room included on the last day

Terms & Conditions

Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin/double room; prices are subject to availability and possible change; normal booking conditions apply.

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At Wexas, we specialise in bespoke travel experiences. Our itineraries are just samples of what we can arrange, and can be changed depending on your precise needs, finances and ideas by our experienced destination specialists.

Contact one of our consultants on 020 7590 0798 to discuss how we can tailor your holiday.

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