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Ecotourism in Dravidian Country

TOUR WITH A THEME
Walk through the Periyar wildlife sanctuary and watch elephants, ride bicycles along blue mountains, walk through the tea plantations and grasslands surrounding Munnar, kayak along the backwaters, swim in the ocean at Varkala. A journey to enjoy nature in a physical way, to discover the local life of small villages. Do what the others don’t do. See a new way. Experience a totally different journey.

Info Techniques

16 days
Sportive tour
1 full day and two half day trekking in the blue mountain Munnar
2 days cycling between Munnar and Periyar
One full day and two half days kayaking on the backwaters

Highlights
- The amazing landscape around Munnar
- Tea plantation
- The view points on blue mountain while cycling
- French town of Pondicherry
- The Meenakshi-Sundareshvara Temple
- Kayaking in the middle of backwater , discovering the local life
- Old city of Cochin


Dates
18/01/07 - 02/02/07
11/02/07 - 26/02/07
13/03/07 - 28/03/07




Itinerary

D1: Chennai / Pondicherry
Departure for the former French town of Pondicherry. Visit the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and “Mother’s” Samadhi. Stroll along the old French quarter. Hotel in Pondicherry.

D2: Pondicherry / Chidambaram / Tanjore
Visit Chidambaram, one of the great temples of Dravidian India, which is dedicated to Shiva Nataraja (who symbolizes the cosmic dance). It is a compound made up of walls and enclosures with the temple of knowledge in the centre. Many rituals are performed there every day. Then we proceed to Tanjore. Visit the temple of Brihadeswara. Hotel in Tanjore.

D3: Tanjore / Madurai
Departure for Trichy (1.5 hours), visit the amazing temple of Srirangam, built on an island on the Cauvery River. We continue to Madurai (2.5 hours). Madurai is one of the oldest cities in South India. It has been a center of religious teaching and pilgrimages for centuries. In the heart of the city, the Meenakshi-Sundareshvara temple, 1,000 years old, is the most beautiful example of Dravidian architecture, with immense entrance doors (called gopurams) and walls covered with thousands of finely painted sculptures representing mythical characters. It will be an unforgettable experience to enter this temple and stroll along its many corridors leading to inner courtyards and halls where sanctuaries dedicated to the gods are located. Overnight stay in a hotel.

D4: Madurai / Thekkady
Discover on your own this teeming city and its market. Departure after lunch. Ecolodge in Thekkady

D5: Thekkady
Periyar is a wildlife reserve, which is 1,000m high and known for its elephants (nearly 1,000 of them) and tigers. Outing in the reserve, accompanied by our guides, who are experts at observing wildlife. Visit spice plantations. Boat trip on the Periyar National Park lake. (You will be able to spot deer, monkeys and beautiful birds.) Ecolodge

D6-7: Thekkady / Munnar
Superb ride on mountain bikes between Thekkady and Munnar. On a small mountain road, through cardamom plantations and thick forests. Lodging in a guest-house on day 6/ Day 7 hotel in Munnar
Between 70 - 90 kms per day.


D8: Munnar
Free morning to discover this small resort town, haven of peace and fresh air. A temple, a mosque and a church watch over this small colourful village. Transfer to starting point of the trek. The path, which starts at an altitude of 1,500m, reaches 2,300m and passes through vegetation scattered with Cholas and brooks. Elephants and Nilgiris Thars live in this wild setting. Overnight bivouac at approximately 2,300m.

D9: Trekking
Second day of trekking. We walk through savannas, and the path leads us to the top of the ridge close to Meesapulimala (2630m), the second highest peak of the Western Ghats. The view is superb. Then we descend to the camp. Campfire.

D10: Munnar / Cochin
We set out again on foot to discover the valley. A 3 - 4 hour walk. At the end of the excursion, we reach Cochin.

D11: Cochin
The city spreads out over a group of islands and narrow peninsulas. We discover the Old Town of Cochin, with her winding lanes bordered with ancient Portuguese houses. Visit the Dutch palace, the synagogue and the Basilica. At sunset we will see the fishermen hoisting the square Chinese fishing nets. Night in hotel.

D12 : Cochin / Allepey
Free morning in Cochin. Transfer to kayaks, departure in mid-afternoon. We will discover backwater canals, flanked with coconut plantations where villagers are fishing. Stay overnight in a charming guest-house on the banks of the Manumala River.

D13: Allepey
We will discover the local life and set out again in mid-morning on our kayaks. Lunch on the banks of the Vattakayal Lake. Then we will continue our journey along the backwaters until we reach our lodge, a charming guest-house.

D14: Allepey
Last day of kayaking. On the way, we visit a local temple, and “snake boats”. At the end of the trip, transfer to Varkala.

D15: Varkala
Free day on the beach at Varkala. The coast, bordered by splendid cliffs, is lined with beaches where you will be able to swim or visit the fishing villages.

D16: Varkala
Transfer to Trivandrum for the flight (or the night train to Chennai).


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