Depart from origin. If you are commencing your journey from the United States, we can recommend the best airlines and routings for your particular needs. We can also introduce you to consolidators who offer discounted fares (First, Business and Economy) on these flights. This is a service provided solely as a convenience and extra value for our guests. We do not sell airline tickets to people not touring with us.
Day 1: Cochin/Madurai - Thekkady (Periyar National Park). Check out from your hotel in the morning and enjoy the fascinating drive through the Western Ghats as you head for Thekkady. This is one of the most beautiful drives in all of South India. Arrive at Thekkady and check-in to your scenic nature resort. You are now in the heart of spice country, and, if you breathe deeply, the mild and pleasant aroma from the surrounding plantations will fascinate you when you arrive.
There is a break for lunch.
Periyar National Park is located around a picturesque artificial lake that was formed in 1895 by building a dam on the Periyar River. The terrain is hilly and the elevation of the park ranges from a few hundred feet to about 6,000 feet above sea level. The lake occupies the valleys of the thickly forested hills serving as a permanent source of water for wildlife in the Park. Although it falls under Project Tiger, the main attractions of the park are definitely elephants.
Periyar is home to just under a thousand elephants and also more than 60 other mammal species including tigers, bison, deer, wild boar and wild dog. There are more than 300 species of birds, and even 160 species of butterflies. Prominent among the birds are Cormorants, Kingfishers, Darters, the great Malabar Hornbill, and the racket-tailed Drongoes. Unlike Ranthambore, your chances of seeing a tiger in this park are extremely slim. Thekkady is a great stopover on this itinerary for a variety of reasons, only one of them being the National Park. The Spice plantations are another reason to stop here, as is the fact that this rural area happens to be located in one of the most picturesque parts of the Western Ghats.
Afternoon - Visit a neighboring spice plantation where an experienced naturalist will guide you through scores of different spice plants and illustrate their medicinal and gastronomical properties. Your luxury jungle lodge offers among the best Ayurvedic treatments in their spa and we can make prior reservations upon request.
Day 2: Thekkady (Periyar). Start your day with a drive up to Lake Periyar and embark on a lake cruise on the spectacular lake. Periyar is a man-made lake that was created by the building of a dam in 1895. The scenery is both gorgeous and surreal, as ancient tree stumps still protrude from the waters of the 26-square-kilometer lake. Although Lake Periyar is officially a Tiger Reserve, chances of you seeing a big cat here are almost non-existent. What is very common is to see elephant herds as they come to the lake to drink, or as they traverse the terraced hills surrounding the lake. Wild boars are also a common sight.
There is a break for Lunch after the cruise.
Afternoon - you can choose to enjoy your scenic pastoral resort and its surroundings this afternoon, or you can opt to visit Elephant Junction. The flora (and other attractions) of your nature resort are very impressive, as is the nearby spice market that sells locally grown products. The resort staff will be happy to give you a guided tour of the variety of plants and trees there, as well as their organic gardens. Upon request you can spend time with the chefs who will give you insights into the preparation of the delightful local cuisine that they offer. There is also a great Ayurvedic Spa that you can try - advance reservations are recommended.
If you choose the Elephant Junction option (no charge), you will get a couple of hours where you can mingle with the trainers and other staff as they go about their daily business. You will have opportunities to feed and assist in bathing the gentle giants, as well as experience elephant back rides.
Day 3: Thekkady - Cochin/Madurai. You will be taken by a 45 minute or so jeep ride to a scenic village that lies hidden in the valley behind the mountains of Periyar Tiger Reserve. The village is rich in bird diversity and has diverse agricultural crops such as mango, tamarind, onion, sunflower, jasmine and dozens of other fruits and vegetables. The drive and the village are both very scenic and the excursion is fascinating, especially the glimpses of rural life that you will experience. Your Tour Guide will illustrate how farming has woven itself inextricably with the culture and the life of the natives. After this experience, you will join your chauffeur at a scenic spot next to some grape plantations and then you will be driven to Cochin/Madurai. A bagged lunch will be provided for this journey. Arrive at Cochin/Madurai and you can be dropped off at the airport or at your hotel.
Our services end at Cochin/Madurai.