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South India photoblog: From Kerala's Backwaters to old colonial Cochin

In Kerala we journeyed from the Backwaters of Kumarakom and Alleppey to the palm-fringed beaches of Marari, and ended at the colonial heritage city of Cochin, home to Portuguese, Dutch, Arabic and British traders at various times in its history. We have inspected all the good hotels in the region (43 hotels at our last count since arriving in South India) and eaten many delicious seafood curries. Here are a few photos of our Keralan adventure...

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The quirky turquoise houseboat at Privacy, part of the Malabar Escapes group of properties, set in a secluded spot on Lake Vembanad
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Lake view swimming pool at Privacy
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There are thousands of kettuvallom houseboats (rice barges) in the Backwaters and they are the perfect vessels to explore these interconnected canals, rivers and lakes as a half day activity. Some people feel they want a few nights sleeping on a traditional houseboat, but once night falls you cannot see your surroundings and the reality of it is often less romantic than assumed
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You will see ladies washing clothes in the river, children playing and couples fishing outside their homes. Life has changed little here through the ages and it is extremely idyllic and peaceful
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Can you spot the kingfisher? The backwater's lush landscape attracts a huge variety of birds - from egrets, terns, kingfishers, darters, cormorants and other migratory birds
Sit back, unwind and observe local life playing out as you drift by waterfront churches, temples and villages
Sit back, unwind and observe local life playing out as you drift by waterfront churches, temples and villages
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Lunch on board the houseboat is freshly prepared by a fantastic cook
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The kitchen is small but the feast was immense! It was utterly delicious
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The sun falls over Lake Vembanad. In the distance you can see what are known as Chinese fishing nets, which have become ubiquitous with the Malabar coast
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The 'Meandering Pool Villas' at Kumarakom Lake Resort where you can step straight from your villa into a curvaceous, 250-metre long swimming pool
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Marari Beach Resort is the perfect place to kick off your shoes and relax with your feet in the sand. It's very sweet and simple, and we consistently get glowing feedback from our clients who stay here
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Ultra luxury arrives in the Backwaters in the form of Carnoustie Beach Resort & Ayurveda Spa on Marari Beach. It is a brand new property with forty villas of exceptional quality, each with their own pool, lavish bathrooms and a spot-on fusion of contemporary luxury and traditional Kerala architecture
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At a Kathakali performance in Cochin. Arrive half and hour before it begins to watch the performers preparing their make-up on stage
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Kathakali is a classic Indian dance-drama originating in Kerala, known for its elaborate costumes, make up and emotive facial expressions
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A trading port since Roman times, Cochin is a fascinating yet supremely relaxed city. It has an atmospheric colonial vibe and a slow seaside pace - particularly the Old Town, where most of the hotels are. ‘Jew Town’ is an area of the Old Town with a mix of old shops, warehouses, spice auction rooms and a beautiful Jewish synagogue
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Fresh catch straight off the boat at Cochin harbour
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The Old Harbour Hotel in Cochin is a charming boutique hotel, set in a 300-year old building built in the Dutch style of architecture with hints of Portuguese influence
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Handmade tiles and traditional Keralan carvings at Chittoor Kottaram. The house was originally built by the Rajah of Cochin, Rama Verma, and is now run as a boutique CGH property sleeping 6 people for exclusive use
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Hello breakfast! Brunton's Boatyard serve a mean Masala Dosa. The hotel itself is excellent, too - a Cochin favourite of ours, set right on the harbour

Next and final stop on our South India research tour: Hyderabad, to stay at the Taj Falaknuma Palace...



Client Testimonials

So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India
Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
Ampersand’s preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet booking age. They were a delight to deal with!
- Mr David Wallace, North India
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
I would recommend Ampersand without any hesitation!!! The best travel agent that I’ve ever had dealings with. Everything – from the individual care and attention in helping to plan the trip, through to the efficiency of the agents on the ground in India – was handled brilliantly. An absolutely first-class service all round.
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India

From our Instagram

Today marks #InternationalTigerDay & we couldn’t be happier that #India’s wild tiger population now touches almost 3,000! 🐅🐅🐅
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If you’d like to catch glimpses of these magnificent creatures during a tailor-made tour with us, then please get in touch!
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📸 @wildmanrouse
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#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
"They've spotted us!" 🦒 #OkavangoDelta in #Botswana
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One of the most sought-after wilderness destinations in the world. Reigning over 15,000 Square kilometers of land - there's no wonder that its home to 200 different species of mammals!
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If you'd like to be in with the chance of spotting one of these for yourselves, get in touch to start planning your safari adventure! 📸 @ravalli1 @mlabgol @mo_naser 
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
Our Africa Specialist captured these memorable moments during their recent stay at @matetsivictoriafalls 🦓🐘
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A beautifully designed Safari Lodge set in a vast private reserve along the Zambezi River banks. The perfect stay close to Victoria Falls, post or pre African Safari ✨
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To see more, check out our 'on location' highlight to follow our journey!
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#AmpersandTravel
#LuxuryIsInTheExperience
Glide down #ThePerfumeRiver to experience #Hue’s scenery, passing mausoleums as you go 🍃🌿
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📸 Beautifully captured by @soaipham
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#Vietnam #AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
As you travel through #Cambodia’s countryside you’re bound to come across some friendly faces like these! 🧡
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If you’d like to go off the beaten track in this wonderful country and meet some lovely locals along the way, then please get in touch!
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📸 @alesmartan
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#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
One of our #Cambodia specialists, Simon, has just returned from the wonderful #ShintaManiWild & couldn’t recommend it more! 🇰🇭
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Overlooking a crashing waterfall & immersed in rugged jungle, this luxury camp genuinely lives up to its name 🍃
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Swipe to peek inside the tents, designed by one of our favourite designers #BillBensley & get a striking bird’s eye view of the camp...
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#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
Beautiful #Bhutan has topped the @lonelyplanet #BestinTravel list as the top country to visit in 2020 🇧🇹🐉
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Soaring mountains are blanketed with evergreen forests and dotted with Buddhist temples, valleys are sliced by glacial rivers and the piney air is delicious and clean.
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It is already the world’s only carbon-negative country, and the kingdom is set to become the first fully organic nation by 2020, so it’s only going to get more beautiful 🏔 ✨
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Travel to with us to Bhutan & discover its extraordinary natural beauty.
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#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
A team of Ampersander's have officially landed in #Rajasthan. First stop, the Capital - #Jaipur 💗
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Also known as the Pink City because of its trademark colour throughout, its hard to miss a picture perfect moment in front of one of Jaipur's landmark doorways.
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For more inspiration and to follow the teams journey through the Golden Triangle, keep an eye over on our Instagram stories and get in touch if you want to begin your trip!
. 📸 @chrsschlkx
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#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
🇮🇳Reminiscent of a French village, with its bright Mediterranean architecture and flower-laden balconies, it’s no surprise that #Pondicherry (or #Pondi) is nicknamed the ‘Indian Côte d’Azur’ 🇫🇷
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#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience 
#SouthIndia

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