Join Deanne Fitzmaurice on an incredible adventure in Kerala, India. We will photograph the expressive Kathakali dancers, experience the gently flowing backwaters, celebrate the majesty of the Asian elephant, and relish the atmosphere in a quaint tea town. With an ending at a perfect beach resort, this Quest has it all.
Jan 20: Arrive Mumbai
You are met by a representative of Photo Quest Adventures on upon arrival at the Mumbai International Airport and escorted to your hotel to check in. Rest of the day is at leisure.
Jan 21: Mumbai – Mangalore – Neeleshwar
This morning after a breakfast, you will be transferred to airport to connect flight to Mangalore. Upon arrival at airport you are driven to Neeleshwar to check in to your resort for the next three nights. The drive is a picturesque one along the coast. Stop to take pictures en route before reaching your destination.
On arrival check in at resort. Rest of the day is at leisure. Evening Welcome dinner for group. (D)
Jan 22: Neeleshwar
This morning, you are briefed about the Theyyam and then driven to a temple where you can photograph dancers prepare for this elaborate dance. After the session, you have some time to walk around and photograph the area surrounding the temple as well as the people who come to witness the dances. Return to your hotel for an evening at leisure.
Theyyam is a popular ritual form of worship of North Malabar in Kerala, as a living cult with several thousand-year-old traditions, rituals and customs. The performers of Theyyam are considered God while they perform and are treated as such by the people, who seek their blessings. There are approximately 400 types of Theyyam and include an elaborately dressed performer, drummers, and singers reciting ritual songs.
In the evening you witness a form of Theyyam. (B, D)
Jan 23: Neeleshwar
This morning, depending on the Theyyam’s being performed in the neighbourhood, you will get a chance to see another form of this exotic dance form. The day is at your leisure to explore the beach and the neighbouring villages. This evening witness a form of Theyyam. (B, D)
Jan 24: Neeleshwar – Mangalore – Kochi via Hyderabad
After breakfast drive to Mangalore airport to connecting flight to Kochi via Hyderabad. On arrival check at hotel.
The allure of a small seaport, the swaying of coconut palms, old heritage buildings, quaint streets all come together to make a lovely city that is perfect for photographers. Kochi is a great city to walk in, and at every turn you are greeted with a new experience, from heritage buildings to churches or temples, beaches dotted with Chinese fishing nets, to smalls village schools and much more.
At sunset photograph the famous Chinese fishing nets brought to the port by the Chinese explorer Zheng He over 900 years ago. After sunset, the fishermen will mount lamps on their nets in the hope of attracting fish. Walk across the fort Kochi area and observe life in this ancient part of the city. (B)
Jan 25: Kochi
In the morning take the ferry to Ernakulam to Broadway market where you will see various wholesale stalls and show the various stall selling fresh vegetables, meats and spices.
This morning, after breakfast proceed for half-day tour of the satellite towns of Kochi (Cochin) and Ernakulam which comprises of visits to the Dutch Palace, the Jewish Synagogue, St. Francis Church and the Santa Cruz Basilica. See the Chinese fishing nets, which dot the harbour as you drive along the coastline. The tour ends in the Fort Kochi area where you can walk through the historical Dutch and Portuguese buildings. Also visit Jew Street, which is famous for antiques and souvenirs.
In the evening enjoy a Kathakali dance performance at hotel. Kathakali is as much a tribute to God and a form of prayer as a folk dance. In this, dancers don elaborate costumes and masks to portray scenes from the Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharat. Using intricate facial expressions and dance movements, the artists tell stories of love, valour, morality and adventure. Kathakali, a dying art is being kept alive in small schools across the state and tourism is the only thing keeping it alive. You will be taken to just such a school, where you can watch the performers adorn their costumes and then perform for you.
Return to the hotel for an evening at leisure. (B)
Jan 26: Kochi – Munnar
After breakfast drive to Munnar, the verdant land of tea plantations. Located at an altitude of 6000 feet, Munnar is surprisingly different from the rest of Kerala. Ensconced by tea plantations, this town is a great place for walks, bird watching and of course the elusive elephant sightings. The Britsh developed this city as an idyllic summer getaway and the imprint of those colonial days has been retained here. Another aspect of Munnar is that it is here that a lot of spices are grown here. The beautifully landscaped expanse get cloaked in clouds giving the whole place a romantic atmosphere.
Check in to your hotel on arrival. Later in the afternoon you will be taken on a visit to the Protestant Christ Church, built in 1910 completely of stone. The church is built completely of stone that has worn out with time giving the church a very rustic look and feel. The interiors of Christ Church are extremely beautiful and have 14 rosewood pews. It has beautiful stained glass windows and still gives a reflection of the British royalty. The walls of the church are beautifully decorated and it also has brass plaques honouring the tea planters of the area. There is also a cemetery on the hill close to Christ Church that has tombs that date back to as late as 1894. After this, visit the Tata Tea Museum where you can see the process of tea manufacturing from leaf to cup. (B, D)
Jan 27: Kolukkumalai
Full Day visit to Kolukkumalai Jeep Safari, Tea Trail and Orthodox Tea Factory Visit
After breakfast drive through the Kanan Devan Hills tea plantations, scenic beauty valleys, Lock heart gap, spice plantations etc. After around 25 kms of jeep ride through the normal road we will reach the rugged road to the World’s highest organic tea growing estate. Once we reach the top we will be on the ridge of Kerala, Tamil Nadu border. From there drive or walk little further to one of the oldest orthodox tea factories in this region. After visiting the Factory we will have fresh tea picked, processed and made on the spot. Soon after we will start walking to a small ground to have our picnic lunch near the cliff with wonderful view around, then will proceed to Munnar by jeep. The ride will be through the tea plantations rugged roads where we can have a close look to the spectacular country side and the rural Tamil people, working in the tea plantations. (B, L, D)
Jan 28: Munnar – Marari
After breakfast drive to the beach destination of Marari. This is a short drive through small villages. Marari is a virgin beach located very conveniently close to Kochi. En-route to Marari, we stop at a coir factory. Kerala is the largest coir manufacturer in the world and you can visit one of the little factories that dot the horizon to see how it’s made. You can watch as the workers use their hands and antiquated milling machines to convert dried husk first to coir length and then to intricate sheets.
After this visit, continue to Marari and check in at the Marari Beach Resort. Marai Beach Resort sprawls expansively across 25 acres of land. The resort, like its namesake, is separated from the sea by a windbreak of stretching palms. There are a mere 52 cottages, separated by generous stretches of open parkland, dotted with fruit-laden trees. The rest of the day is at your leisure. (B, D)
Jan 29: Marari
Morning for your own activities.
The morning is at leisure. You can choose to relax by the pool, explore the local village or indulge in a fabulous Ayurvedic massage. The resort also offer a whole range of activities for you to choose from.
This evening you will see Martial Art show called Kalaripayattu at your resort. Depending on weather conditions, we will arrange for photography to be done on the beach as well as the grounds of the resort.
This is a martial art, originated in Kerala and is. The word kalari appeared first in the Tamil Sangam literature to describe both a battlefield and a combat arena. The word kalari tatt denoted a martial feat and each warrior in the Sangam era received regular military training. It is considered to be one of the oldest fighting systems in existence and was originally practiced in northern and central parts of Kerala and southern parts of Tamil Nadu. A farewell sdinner is arranged for the group tonight. A last opportunity to share all the experiences, pictures and impressions of your visit to this verdant land. (B, D)
Jan 30: Mararikulam – Kochi – Departure
After a leisurely breakfast, you are driven from your hotel to Kochi International Airport to board your flight home. (B)
Deanne is a Pulitzer Prize winning documentary photographer and multimedia storyteller based in San Francisco, California. She is a regular contributor to Sports Illustrated and ESPN the Magazine, and has been published in TIME, Newsweek, The Economist, Stern, and GEO. Deanne’s work has received awards from Pictures of the Year International, NPPA Best of Photojournalism, and the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. Her imagery is part of the permanent collection at the Newseum, and their traveling exhibition of Pulitzer winning photographs. Additionally, her work has been exhibited at Visa pour L’Image in Perpignan, France, and with UNICEF Photo of the Year. When not on assignment, Deanne often lectures and teaches workshops.
Cochin (Kochi), known as the “Gateway to Kerala,” is a vibrant city situated on the South West coast of the Indian peninsula along the Arabian Sea in the breathtakingly scenic and prosperous state of Kerala. Hailed as “God's Own Country.” Kerala is rated in the top three tourist destinations by the World Travel & Tourism Council and featured in National Geographic Traveler's '50 greatest places of a lifetime'. The proximity of this seaside city to the equator, the sea and the mountains gives Kochi its year round warm climate.
Over the years, Kochi has emerged as the commercial and industrial capital of Kerala with a world-class port and is perhaps the second most important city on the west coast of India after Mumbai. Kochi experienced decades of economic stagnation from independence until 2003, when it entered a period of economic growth, leading to a spurt in the city's development. A growing centre of information technology, tourism and international trade, Kochi is the commercial hub of Kerala, and one of the fastest growing second-tier metros in India. Successive waves of migration over the course of several millennia have made Kochi a cultural melting pot. Despite the risk of overdevelopment, the city retains its distinct colonial heritage and a blend of tradition and modernity.
Kochi also boasts the region of Alleppey (Alapuzha) situated 63 kms south along the coast. Alleppey is connected to Kochi by rail and road. It is called the Venice of the East due to its extensive canal network of “the backwaters” dotted with many small islands. A boat ride on a traditional kettuvallom through these backwaters is a unique experience and one of the best ways to explore this region.
Please note that the passport will need to be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of your return to apply for your India visa.
All foreign nationals require a visa to enter
India. Visas are valid from the date of issue. Visas must be obtained from the Indian
consular office in your country of residence.
Please note that eVisa facilities have been extended to citizens of more than 100 countries and the information, eligibility, cost and time lines are given on the eVisa website:
European plug with two circular metal pins South African/Indian-style plug with two circular metal pins above a large circular grounding pin 230-240V 50Hz
DO NOT brush teeth with tap water! Most hotels offer a complimentary bottle of mineral water. Use this to brush your teeth.
As India is a developing nation, visitors need to take special precautions against illnesses not normally encountered at home. A trip to a doctor or travel clinic is recommended well in advance of your departure date to ensure that you receive all the necessary immunizations and medications.
Lightweight clothing is suggested since we will mostly be in the southern more tropical regions. But light, wicking, high performance layers are always recommended in case it gets cool at night or if there is rainfall.
India is a developing country with conservative dress standards. In smaller cities and villages, people still dress conservatively. The most important rule for both women and men is to keep the legs and shoulders covered. Wearing shorts and short skirts should be avoided
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$6200 based on double occupancy. Single supplement is an additional $1650.
PQA will try to match you with a roommate if you do not opt for a single supplement. However, if a roommate is not available, you will be charged the additional single supplement fee.
Limited to 12 participants.
We highly recommend that you purchase travel insurance.