The best way to get to know a place is to go outside and meet it. CGH Earth leads the way. By Team T+L India
Travel doesn’t end when you reach your destination; it’s just a stopover on your holiday journey. To get an intimate experience of the place, you must go out and explore the forest, swim in the river, sail across the lake, climb up the mountain, and dive into the sea, to get to know the heart and soul of the destination. These are the adventures you will remember and cherish for years to come. Here are some of the experiences waiting for you in the hills, backwaters, beaches, and rainforests of South India and the Andamans.
Explore a Wild Wonderland in the Misty Hills of Thekkady at Spice Village
Spice Village, as the name suggests, is a reimagined tribal village surrounded by the famous spice plantations of Thekkady. The village, modelled after the dwellings of the local Mannan tribe with elephant grass thatched cottages, feels completely at home in the lush nature that surrounds it. Here, you have a unique opportunity to reconnect with nature away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Take advantage of the guided treks through the Periyar Tiger Reserve next door, the cycling tours through villages and farmlands, bamboo rafting across Periyar river, night trekking with naturalists, and jeep expeditions through wild wonderlands to discover the beauty of nature in the pristine highlands of Thekkady.
Live the Backwater Life on the Banks of Vembanad Lake in Coconut Lagoon
Set on the coconut-studded banks of Vembanad lake, amidst the unique wetland ecosystem of the Kuttanad region, this is the quintessential Kerala backwater experience. Your time on the backwaters begins in 150-year-old Tharavadu mansions and bungalows that have been painstakingly transplanted and meticulously restored to preserve their regal heritage. From these Kerala-style abodes, you will venture out to discover and explore the backwaters – on foot with guided village tours, and on boats with kayaking, standup paddling, and country canoes. On these voyages into the heartland of the backwaters, you will discover the true soul of Kerala.
Discover the unexplored Andaman Sea from mystical Havelock Island at Tilar Siro
Far from the chaos of city life, 1,400 km from the east coast of mainland India, is the little explored Havelock Island, home to Tilar Siro. Thi-Lar-Siro, as the Great Andamanese Tribe calls the island, means ‘land emerging from the sea’. This emergence is still underway which is why the best way to explore the island is under the sea. There are around 20 dive sites around the island that act as portals to underwater reef forests and vibrant coral gardens. Snorkelling and diving give you ringside seats to this spectacle called the Andaman Sea. On land, the dance between the moon and the tides reveals intertidal zones rich in marine life. This adventure continues inland, as the insulation of this remote land hides unique flora and fauna that is best explored with naturalists, as you trek through the rainforests of the island.
Encounter a Hidden Wildlife Kingdom in an Eco-Biosphere from a Forest Lodge
The Western Ghats is one of 18 protected biosphere reserves in India, and where Wayanad Wild by CGH Earth has set up a basecamp. From here, you can explore a hidden kingdom rich in diverse flora and fauna with a naturalist to guide you through the rainforest. Explore the wilderness as you go hiking across the Silent Sahyadris (as the mountains are called), go on a night expedition to discover the nocturnal forest, and spot rare migratory birds with your DSLR to add to your wildlife photography repertoire. Uncover the forest’s best kept secrets and create lasting memories of your foresting adventures.
Cruise Across Vembanad Lake and Explore the Backwaters in a Handmade Traditional Boat
The waterways of Vembanad Lake are best explored by boat—but not just any boat. A Kettuvallam is a traditional boat that has for centuries traversed the backwaters carrying agricultural produce and transporting people across the waterways. Spice Coast Cruises — a CGH Earth experience—offer this handmade boat as a floating hotel, your home on the lake for one to five days or more. Spend days sailing across the open lake, photographing migratory birds, exploring winding canals, cycling through farmlands, tasting local delicacies, experiencing village life, and meeting the people of the lake.
There is something very comforting in these experiences. A happiness that we can only find when we venture out into the unknown, exploring nature on the open waters and lush mountains, in the narrow canals and hidden forest paths. It’s something that’s been missing in our lives these last few years. So, let’s make up for lost time and do something that surprises us. After all, life is unpredictable, so why shouldn’t your holiday be.