kerala houseboat india cultural tour

Houseboat, Kerala

Exploring the  tranquil waterways of Kerala by private houseboat is just one of the features of our South India journey. We also discover the ancient temples of Tamil Nadu and look for Indian wildlife at Nagarhole National Park.

Photo by James Sydney / AGE Fotostock

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Treasures of South India route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $7395  
Length: 14 days
Arrive: Cochin, India
Depart: Chennai (Madras), India
Lodging: 12 nights first-class hotels, 1 night aboard private houseboat
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Walking, Archaeology, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: Overland travel with walking tours, cultural explorations


  • Ancient trading port of Cochin on the Arabian Sea
  • Private houseboat with an on-board chef
  • Madurai’s colossal temple, French colonial Pondicherry by the sea
  • South India’s savory cuisine, from curries to dosas

An extremely well thought out and well executed itinerary and the best Trip Leader I’ve ever had.William N.—Long Beach, CA

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A Passage to India, Anne & Ian Gray

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

South India is simply dazzling, with its spice ports, colonial towns, and magnificent temples nestled in a lush tropical landscape. Our hand-crafted journey delves deeply into this colorful realm as we watch an ancient dance-drama performance, explore by houseboat on tranquil Kerala waterways, and discover Tamil Nadu’s sacred architecture, where carved temples soar high above palm forests. Along the way, we savor legendary cuisine, from coconut-infused fish curries to tangy rasam.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-2

In Cochin, with its stunning location along the Arabian Sea, our walks reveal the legacies of its European past, from British mansions and Dutch cottages to a 16th century synagogue.

Days 3-6
Kerala Houseboats / Periyar / Madurai

As we glide by deluxe private houseboat, Kerala’s picturesque rural scenes are all around us. Our journey on waterways through this quiet region reveals the life of people working their fields with water buffaloes and fishing with nets from traditional longboats. We may even see some school boats (no school buses here). After heading through tea plantations to Periyar in the Cardamom Hills, we continue to Madurai. The vast, fortress-like Shri Meenakshi-Sundareshwarar temple dominates this city, and we immerse ourselves in the fascinating temple scene, with its Shaivite priests and ongoing weddings.

Days 7-10
Karaikudi / Thanjavur / Pondicherry

Crossing a green landscape of rice paddies and coconut palms, we discover Chettinard mansions and ancient temples in wayside villages. Bustling Karaikudi, with its antique shops, and famed Thanjavur, a center for art and music, are wonderful highlights. On Day 10, we walk the lanes of the French Quarter of Pondicherry.

Days 11-14
Mamallapuram / Chennai

From our beach resort, we marvel at Mamallapuram’s rock-cut temples by the sea and visit an open-air museum of traditional Tamil culture. Depart on Day 14.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:

What the Trip is Like

This trip is Level 1+, easy, according to our trip grading system. It is a vehicle-based cultural and natural history adventure. Accommodations are in hotels and lodges.

Although this is not a difficult trip, please remember that travel in India is an intense experience. The essential requirements are flexibility, a sense of humor, curiosity, enthusiasm about new peoples and places, and an openness to the unexpected.

Explanation of Trip Levels


Departures & Leaders

Jan 26-Feb 8, 2015  Devendra Basnet
Jan 6-19, 2016

Trip Cost

Prices valid through September 30, 2015
$7395 (13-16 members)
$7695 (10-12 members)
$8095 (7-9 members)
Single supplement: $2225
Forced single supplement: $2225
more on pricing

Extension Costs
Taj Mahal and Jaipur Extension
   from: $2595
Varanasi and Khajuraho Extension
   from: $1295
Kanha National Park Extension
   from: $2095

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20% of trip cost
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

More than 90 days prior to departure: No charge!
90-46 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Accommodations
  • All meals included
  • Sightseeing as noted in the Full Trip Brochure
  • Land and boat transportation
  • Arrival and departure airport transfers
  • Baggage handling

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare to and from India or flights within India, airport departure taxes, any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure, optional gratuities to leaders and staff, additional hotel nights made necessary by airline schedule changes or other factors, expenses such as immunizations (if any), travel insurance, and other items of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, bottled water, etc.).

Brunton Boatyard

Brunton Boatyard

Days 1 to 2 (2 nights), Cochin, India

Set by the water's edge in Fort Cochin, the Brunton Boatyard is a 19th century shipyard that was converted into a charming 22-room hotel that ...
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Traditional Houseboat

Traditional Houseboat

Day 3 (1 night), Alleppey, India

The beautiful houseboats of Kerala, called kettuvallams, were once used to transport rice, spices, and other goods to the port of Cochin. ...
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Elephant Court

Elephant Court

Days 4 to 5 (2 nights), Periyar, India

Set in a lush, hilly landscape near Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Elephant Court is a peaceful retreat for nature lovers, with its grounds full of ...
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Gateway Hotel Pasumalai

Gateway Hotel Pasumalai

Days 6 to 7 (2 nights), Madurai, India

This restored colonial home, with its unique hilltop location overlooking the temple city of Madurai, is full of character and charm. Built atop ...
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Bangala Hotel

Bangala Hotel

Day 8 (1 night), Karaikudi, India

The Bangala is a family-run heritage hotel in Karaikudi, the main town in Chettinard country. It has been in the same family for 100 years and was ...
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Mantra Veppathur

Mantra Veppathur

Days 9 to 10 (2 nights), Kumbakonam, India

This eco-friendly hotel is spread over landscaped acres along the banks of the Veera Chozha River. It has comfortable air-conditioned guest ...
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Hotel de L'Orient

Hotel de L'Orient

Day 11 (1 night), Pondicherry, India

The Hotel de L’Orient is a heritage building in the heart of  Pondicherry's French district.  A restored mansion, it has the feel of ...
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Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay

Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay

Days 12 to 13 (2 nights), Mamallapuram, India

Spread across 46 acres along a stretch of private beach, this resort complex has spacious, well-kept  rooms, either beachside or poolside, as ...
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Extension Accommodations

If you would like to view the accommodations offered with our extensions options:

Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Devendra Basnet

Devendra Basnet was born in the foothills of the Himalayas in Darjeeling, India, and makes his home in Kathmandu, Nepal with his wife and two children. A WT Trip Leader since 1987, “DB” leads our cultural and hiking journeys into the Himalayas, across India, and along the ancient silk roads of Central Asia. His university studies in Zoology launched him in an early career as a naturalist guide, tracking tigers and spotting rare birds in Nepal’s renowned Royal Chitwan National Park, and collecting elusive Himalayan butterflies for the British Natural History Museum. “I love working with people and working in beautiful surroundings, so guiding is a natural for me. I especially love being in the high Himalayas, from Tibet to Bhutan to India, and in areas rich in nature and wildlife. I want my trip members to appreciate how fast everything is changing, and help them take back wonderful memories of the wild places and rich cultures we visit.” Devendra speaks English, Nepali, Hindi, as well as some Tibetan and Bengali and is learning Chinese.

Upcoming Trips:

Treasures of South India, January 26-February 8, 2015
Annapurna Adventure, February 27-March 10, 2015
Magical Tibet, May 30-June 14, 2015
Journey to Ladakh, September 17-28, 2015
Annapurna Adventure, October 9-20, 2015
Sikkim, Darjeeling and Bhutan, October 28-November 10, 2015
Kaziranga, Nagaland, and the Hornbill Festival, November 24-December 6, 2015

Recent Photo Blog Posts

Client Testimonials:

Devendra did a terrific job well beyond what I was expecting and in many ways throughout the trip. Nancy D., Ultimate Everest D.B. is one of the best trip leaders we’ve ever had with WT. Bill M., Magical Tibet D.B. is an excellent guide, very knowledgeable, but more importantly, in his continual care and concern for the group’s health and safety. Ann C., Magical Tibet Extremely well organized, thoughtful, and detail oriented. We all learned to trust his judgement and were never disappointed. Andrea N., Magical Tibet D.B. did a wonderful job, very attentive to the needs of individuals. He’s good humored, even tempered and very competent. Terry W., Magical Tibet Devendra Basnet is a joy to travel with. He’s thoughtful, humorous, very knowledgeable about the history, sites, and wildlife. He takes time out to let you meet the people and interact so that you have an appreciation of local life. Peter W., Cincinnati, OH Devendra Basnet was marvelous and he has a fabulous sense of humor. Carolyn M., Portland OR
Royal Rajasthan
Devendra knows the territory and the profession. He kept a close eye on us all, in a quiet way, and his ‘lecture’ on Buddhism one day on the bus demonstrated his teaching skills. Tom M., Hanover NH
Royal Rajasthan
Devendra (DB) is a top notch trip leader, knowledable, articulate, and experienced. He is a guide we could trust to make the right decisions to keep us safe and comfortable. We would travel with him again. Barb R., Mifflinburg, PA
Annapurna Adventure
I have been on many adventure travel trips and D.B. is best of the best. David H., Makawao, HI
Himalayan Mountain Kingdoms
Devendra was amazing. He worked so hard to make this trip perfect for all of us. Always calm, informative, and helpful. Cathy S., Truckee, CA
Himalayan Mountain Kingdoms
Devendra is an outstanding trip leader—extremely conscientious, always considerate of trip members' needs and well being, well organized, and a wealth of information about the places we visited. He is also a genuinely nice person, with a good sense of humor and fun to be with. Jack S., Evergreen, CO
Magical Tibet
Devendra was incredible! I would travel with him again in a heartbeat. Rachel B., Clifton, VA
Magical Tibet
Devendra did a fantastic job! His knowledge of the area and of the area's wildlife was nearly encyclopedic. Paul W., San Diego, CA
Sikkim, Darjeeling and Bhutan

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:


Kanha National Park Extension

Gameviewing in one of India’s Great Wildlife Reserves

Wildlife & Natural History
5 days  -  Level 2

taj mahal agra india cultural tour

Taj Mahal and Jaipur Extension

Romantic Rajasthan, Land of Princes

Cultural Adventures
4 days  -  Level 1

Varanasi and Khajuraho Extension

Holy City Along the Ganges, Magnificent World-Famous Temples

Cultural Adventures
4 days  -  Level 1

Client Comments

An extremely well thought out and well executed itinerary and the best Trip Leader I’ve ever had. William N., Long Beach, CA Hashmat's enthusiasm for his country is infectious, his enjoyment of people unending, and his work and efficiency unbelievable. I'm looking forward to another trip with him. Roberta R., Woodstock, VT One of the best trips we’ve ever been on. Joe K., Mission Hills, CA
One of the best trips my husband and I have taken—a feast for the senses and the intellect. Fabulous temples, beautiful countryside. I especially appreciated our many glimpses into village life, religious practices, and traditions. Joanne C., Pittsboro, NC

Recent Photo Blog Posts

A Passage to India, Anne & Ian Gray