Kerala has long captivated adventurers, explorers and traders. Poised on the magical Malabar coast, for thousands of years the southwest Indian state was among global leaders for spice production and trade, attracting Babylonians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and British, among others.
Add all of those influences to the local culture, traditions, religions and cuisine of Kerala, and the result is a brew as intoxicating as its coconut palm-lined beaches, rolling hills and rugged mountains, and forests of leopards, tigers and elephants.
This tour of Kerala and Sri Lanka begins in Kochi, also known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea. Here. you’ll discover amazing spice markets and its famed Jewish Quarter, with its 400-year-old synagogue. You travel down the coast, past villages like Kollam—an historic fishing and seaport dating to the 16th century—tranquil canals, quiet lagoons, bustling markets, temples and tropical beaches. Try an Ayurvedic massage or some yoga, visit a local healer or take in a traditional Kathakali dance, all while overnighting in quaint hotels, local guesthouses and even homestays.
After flying to Sri Lanka, you explore the island nation from Negombo in the west and Anuradhapura in the north, down to Hikkaduwa in the far south. You travel by private vehicle through remote villages and captivating countryside. Climb to the ancient (and formidable) mountaintop Sigiriya Rock Fortress, and visit ornate temples and deep caves. Perhaps catch an inning of a local cricket match or pick up a few traditional medicine secrets from an Ayurveda student.
Spend time in Kandy and trek the trails of Horton Plains National Park on the watch for sambar deer, birdlife and maybe even a leopard. Climb Little Adam’s Peak with its panoramic views and tour a 16th-century Portuguese fort, before reaching your end destination of Hikkaduwa, where you can relax on an Indian Ocean beach or venture off on a dolphin-watching tour.
- Phone: 888.800.4100
- Length/Departs: 18 days/Feb. to Apr., Aug. to Dec.
- Accommodation: Hotels, guesthouses, homestays
- Starting Price: from $2,499 to 2,819, depending on depart date
- Difficulty: Easy