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Arrive at Trivandrum in the morning. You will be met and and transfered by car to the homestay at Kaipattoor (2½ hrs drive). Your hosts, Roy and Anu will have a welcome meal prepared and you will have time to relax. If you wish you can, in the late afternoon, be driven to Konni, an agricultural region rich in cash crops like pepper, ginger and rubber. Konni is also the training centre for elephants.
Wild elephants are humanely caught in the Konni forests and are brought here for taming and training. You can go around the village area and to the medicinal stream for a swim. This is where the virgin river comes out of the forest. On its journey from the forest hills the river flows through herbs and all medicinal plants. A dip in the ice cold water will really refresh you. You will then return to Kaipattoor for dinner at Roy and Anu's home.

After a very refreshing sleep you will awake to breakfast. A visit to Aranmula (30 minutes drive) has been arranged where you can see the making of the world famous 'Aranmula Kannadi' (Metal Mirror), a unique craft not found anywhere else in the world. The 'Vijnana Kalavedi' at Aranmula imparts training in the traditional arts like 'Kathakali', 'Kalaripayattu' and other classical Keralan dances.
Many European tourists stay here for longer periods to get first hand knowledge of the culture of Kerala. If you visit Kerala during the Onam season (August/September) you can witness the Onam Boat Race . The snake boats assemble near Sri Parthasarathi Temple before the grand procession. Each boat is 30 feet long and accommodates 4 helmsmen, 100 rowers and 25 singers. The snake boats move in pairs to the rhythm of the full-throated singing and shouting. A drive to Perunthenaruvi water falls on river Pamba to enjoy the scenic beauty and a variety of birds not seen in Europe. You will return to Kaipattoor for lunch at homestay. A visit to the 'Kuppadom' weaving centre at Kodumon in the afternoon to witness the rare sight of manual weaving work. Visit some temples and churches nearby which are centuries old and stand out as examples of old Travancore architecture. The wood work on these buildings are marvellous. After tea at homestay transfer by car to riverside homestay at Nedumudi located on the banks of river Pamba. On the way you can visit the casting of church bells and 'Nilavilakku' (Lamps) made out of bell metal at Mannar). Dinner & O/N at Nedumudi homestay.

Awake to breakfast at the homestay. A workshop on traditional Kerala cookery is available. You may then wish to drive to Alleppey, the Venice of the East, to see the making of coir and eco-friendly coir products like mats and carpets which are exported to all over the world.
The SreeKrishna Temple at Ambalapuzha built in the typical architectural style is well-worth visiting. Taste the 'Palpayasam', the daily offering in this temple, of deliciously sweet milk porridge which tastes like rice pudding.A drive through Kuttanadu will tell you why it is called the 'rice bowl of Kerala'. After lunch travel through the narrow waterways in a country boat to see the small settlements where people live on carefully cultivated narrow strips of land only a few metres wide. Stretch your legs on the shore, chat with the friendly village folk and take in a quick bottle of fresh sweet toddy from a local pub. Try some sweet tapioca with red fish curry for tea. You may take a swim in the lake or river, or spend your relaxing moments in the evening with a fishing rod on the river front.

Breakfast at Nedumudi. Transfer by car to Cardamom County Resort in the High Range.  This area is renowned for its cash crops like cardamom, cloves, cocoa and coffee. You have an afternoon drive to Periyar Wild Life Sanctuary at Thekkady for game viewing by travelling in a boat. You will stay overnight at an exclusive hotel in the wild life sanctuary.

After breakfast you will have the opportunity to go on a guided tour of the cardamom and pepper plantations and tea estates in Kumili. The afternoon will see you trekking the woods with an experienced tribesman to watch elephants, bison, bear, deer and an occasional tiger up close in their natural habitat. Your accommodation is in a good hotel.

After breakfast at the hotel, you will be taken to Kottayam, the rubber town of Kerala. Whilst here you must explore the local markets for shopping at astoundingly low prices. Take lunch at a local cafe (a meal for two is astoundingly good value). Kottayam is an ideal town to get the feel of Kerala, where traders and shoppers, and business people and workers mingle together in this bustling town. It reminds one of the British Raj! The homestay you will be accommodated in was built about 200 years ago has very picturesque surroundings. The backyard is a light filled sitting area with an abundance of green, and presents the appearance of a covered courtyard. The mango trees offer a green canopy to sit under and relax. Dinner will be prepared for your arrival.


WEEK 2 .../