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India
Good Karma in Kerala
"The locals were all very friendly and open and the less frantic pace suited us. We would absolutely love to return to Marari, for its fabulous beaches and the excellent services of the hotel, and we’d also like to go back to see the tea plantations in the highlands, something fellow travellers recommended to us."
Shelley Kay
UK
They travelled with Exoticca in February of 2019.

‘It really WAS good karma in Kerala!’


After going on a Golden Triangle tour with Exoticca in 2018, we fell in love with the people, diversity and colours of India and were keen to experience more of the vast country. We’d loved the busy, chaotic northern part of the country but this time we were looking for a more laid-back experience. We had attempted to piece together an itinerary in the south of country ourselves, but it was proving to be quite expensive, so when we saw that Exoticca was offering a tour of Kerala, it seemed to be really good value so we booked up. In the past, my husband, Frank, and I have travelled throughout Europe and around the world to destinations such as Egypt and Thailand. Only in recent years have we been opting for tours packages, but we’d had a good experience before with Exoticca so we were looking forward to a stress-free trip back to the land of a thousand colours!

After smooth flights with Ethiad, we arrived in Cochin and were met by our guide who transferred us to the hotel, where the food, gym and pool were all very good. We had the bonus of being the only two travellers on the tour, so received a really bespoke service, with the guide happy to change and rearrange trips and tours as and when we liked. We had a direct number for the guide so we could contact him whenever we needed and he was also happy to arrange additional extras for us, such as visiting a local bird sanctuary in Kumakaron. The entire guide and transfer experience was very slick and always arrived on time and exactly as promised. The travel times between destinations on this tour were much quicker in comparison to the Golden Triangle trip, and the drives we did have were always very pleasant; I enjoyed watching the lush tropical landscapes and idyllic coastline of the region pass us by.

Shelley on the traditional Houseboat
Our first few days were spent in Cochin, a large port city, where we had an informative and interesting city tour with a great guide who understood our requests when we asked not to be taken to shops at the end of the tour. She also gave us good insights into the politics and culture of the region. The next day we enjoyed a trip to Kumbalangi village, where we watched fascinating demonstrations of traditional Chinese net fishing, rope making and coconut processing. This was followed by a peaceful canoe ride across the lake and a delicious lunch. That evening, the adventure continued with a cultural performance of Kathakali, a silent performance art which tells stories through vividly colourful costumes and mimes. It was an interesting experience. Whilst we were in Cochin our guide also took us to the Real Marigold Hotel, where they shot the popular television series.

From Cochin, we passed by lakes and backwaters to Kumarakom, a charming lakeside village, where we checked into the Lakesong Resort. We had a room upgrade here and loved the complimentary sunset boat rides on the lake, where there was a refreshing breeze, which was welcome in the 34 degrees heat! The grounds were lovely and the guide took us to a local bird sanctuary for our first taste of Keralan wildlife. Next, we were off for a nights stay on a traditional Houseboat in Alleppey, one of the signature activities on a trip to the region. We saw lots of bird-life from the boat, as well as local communities, washing and doing their laundry on the riverbanks, as we passed slowly through the sleepy backwaters, lined with lush palms. It was a nice novelty and I’m glad I experienced it and we slept very well on the tranquil waters.

Marari Coastline
We loved the laid-back atmosphere of Kerala and were already feeling quite at home in the region, but the best was yet to come! Our final stop in Marari was undoubtedly the highlight of our holiday. The resort was to die for, and our room was amazing with an outdoor rainfall shower and views across the landscape. There were plenty of activities to enjoy, from yoga and meditation classes to Ayurvedic massages and walks on the untouched beaches. We loved listening to the birds and took a guided walk with a naturalist who helped us to see kingfishers in the wild and crabs on the beach. The cottages, food, people and surroundings were all fantastic, and we particularly liked the afternoon tea offerings. I would go as far as to say that the place was paradise! We could have easily stayed there for a week!

We saw a lot of differences in Kerala in comparison with the northern part of the country. It felt a lot more relaxed and there was less traffic and people seemed to dress less conservatively. The locals were all very friendly and open and the less frantic pace suited us. We would absolutely love to return to Marari, for its fabulous beaches and the excellent services of the hotel, and we’d also like to go back to see the tea plantations in the highlands, something fellow travellers recommended to us. We had a wonderful time and felt the trip lived up to its name… it was a good, calming trip to Kerala!

Top 3 Tips

1
CHAI & MASALA TEA
Try the local teas, available in all the hotels we stayed in. They are delicious!
2
AYURVEDIC MASSAGE
The hotels often offer Ayurvedic massages, along with traditional Ayurvedic health consultations to help treat common ailments. They’re very relaxing and really boost your wellbeing.
3
DRESS
Unlike the north of India, the dress-code seems more relaxed, so be sure to take your beach clothes!

Editor's note

The 6th largest economy in the world and home to a staggering 3 billion people, India holds within its territory some of the worlds most mythical and iconic sights and cities such as the eternal Taj Mahal, Varanasi, the Ganges River, the lush beaches of Goa and Rishikesh, the world centre of yoga, not to mention the lively capital of Delhi.
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