Put your trust in your driver and drive up along the meandering roads of the tea plantations to Munnar. The district is home to some of Kerala's most dramatic views with rows and rows of tea bushes blanketing the rolling hills. You can enjoy a range of activities here including a visit the Tea Museum, a local village walk or a trek to experience the sunrise over the Western Ghats. Alternatively, if you want to use this time to sit back and relax, the mild climate and characterful hotels in the district can allow for a peaceful break between busy itineraries.
I have been lucky to have travelled extensively, but India is the only place that keeps drawing me back. During my first trip, I visited many states, but as it’s such a vast and diverse country, I knew I had only scratched the surface. I have since revisited India with Audley on multiple occasions.
The Golden Triangle and Rajasthan are perhaps the most ‘Indian’ of my specialist areas and I personally love the colourful chaos of the region. I can also say with confidence that the Taj Mahal lives up to its reputation.
Further south in Kerala the warmer and more humid weather lends itself to a luscious green landscape and tea plantations. A short trek in Munnar was a highlight for me, as I got to watch the sunrise over the Western Ghats — I would definitely recommend this to any active travellers.
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Nestled in the Tamil Hills, the Rajakkad Estate offers rooms in an ornate 18th-century wooden building. Driving up the steep and winding roads to the property, nothing quite prepares you for the scenery once you arrive. The grounds are home to an extraordinary collection of flora and fauna and offer views of surrounding plantations, the forest canopy and the mountains beyond. Rest, clean air and fresh food are key elements of a stay and the large yoga platform, communal meals prepared from ingredients grown on the estate farm and simple life here will all contribute to the deep level of relaxation.
I'll never forget when…
Prior to my trip to India, I had managed my expectations of wildlife sightings and what I might or might not see. I told myself the animals are wild and therefore sightings are completely out of my control. However, I will never forget when my guide and I stumbled upon a male elephant grazing at the edge of a watering hole in Periyar Tiger Reserve. This experience was made all the more dramatic by the fact I was on foot and the knowledge and professionalism of my guide meant that I still felt incredibly safe just a short distance away from this beautiful giant.