Kerala with Kids

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This is a guest post by Lorraine who believes that travelling with kids is a fabulously enriching experience.

“Are you crazy?”

“They are too young to go to India.”

“Everyone gets sick in India; it will be too difficult with them.”

“India is too dirty.”

A houseboat on the backwaters of Kerala.

These were just a few of the many comments we received from friends and family when we were planning our trip. Despite all of this, we embarked on an adventure with two boys under 5 (one still in nappies).

One of the highlights — Kerala is amazing, so everything was a headlight — was a night on a houseboat in the Backwaters of Kerala. This was the only part of the trip we were worried about. 24 hours on a boat with two active boys. In preparation, we packed as many books and toys we could fit in our rucksack. However, we had no reason to fear. Onboard there was a TV and DVD player, with cartoons. “Yes!!!” we thought, it would be Ok after all.

During our trip, the boys were not bored once. Mr C drove the boat, while Mr G ran himself ragged. The crew played with them. They looked from our houseboat as India flowed past us. They laughed and they smiled with the local children as they left their schools and ran to their homes. At the end on our night on the Keralite houseboat, as they waited in an old Ambassador taxi, their sadness was mixed with excitement at what other adventures India had in store for us.

The boys waiting in the Ambassador taxi Coco Bay Resort

Waiting in an Ambassador taxi — Coco Bay Resort

Next we moved on to Coco Bay Resort. It was a small and extremely friendly resort. It is quite isolated, requiring a boat on a canal to get there, so not for those who want to escape to the night-life of Kumarakom. This was another child friendly choice, with its inviting pool, the beautiful gardens, great food and the lack of escape routes for adventurous boys.

From Coco Bay we made our way to Periyar Wild Life Reserve in Thekkady. It’s a small town, not unpleasant, but very much centred on the reserve. With young children we were very limited in what we could do. We could do none of the jungle walks, but we could do the boat ride. It was certainly an experience; pushing and shoving to walk the plank to board the boat. Next was a painful two hours on board a hot boat. We did see some elephants and buffalo-like animals called guar, but alas no tigers.

The highlight of Thekkady was the gorgeous guest house where we stayed. It was actually about 10km out of the main town, up a mountain road which looked impassable, called Cardamom Club. We had delicious food every night for dinner, all from the plantation and delicious coffee, again from the plantation. There was a tree house, which the kids loved, as well as lots of space for the boys to wander. The owner took us on a wildlife walk up the hillside which led to the edge of the reserve, telling stories of the workers previously encountering large mammals.

Cardamom Club Elephants at Periyar Wild Life Reserve

Elephants at Periyar Wild Life Reserve

Next on the agenda was the hill-station town Munnar. Famous for its tea plantations, Munnar, at an altitude of 1600m, was a welcome relief from the heat. We stayed in the gorgeous Blackberry Hills. Set amongst the tea plantations, it was the perfect point to explore the area.

Munnar was quite a pleasant town, with an interesting market and great spice shops. Vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and of course tea are good purchases here. I think this was probably my favourite spot in Kerala.

Perched at the top of the tea plantations is Blackberry hills

Finally, we made our way back to Cochin, where we stayed in the Fort House Hotel. Again, another gorgeous hotel and pretty child friendly; watch out for the jetty and young ones though.

Tea Plantation in near the hill station of Munar.

Tea plantation near Munar, Kerala.

Cochin is not an easy place with young kids. We found a rickshaw driver we liked who took us to the sights for a day. When we came to places that Mr C did not wish to venture, we left him in the rickshaw with the driver. Of course, we frequently looked out to ensure he was still there! The old part of Cochin is pretty interesting to wander around, stopping for frequent breaks of gorgeous fruit drinks or coke in not so trustworthy places.

Kerala was a great introduction to India. It is relatively hassle-free, clean and easy to get around. Most importantly, it is child-friendly. So began our love affair with India. Almost two years later, we embark on our third visit to this amazing country.

10 questions and comments

  1. AvatarKerala Family Vacation

    Thank you for your insight! My husband’s family is actually from Kerala but he has never visited Kumarakom, Thekkady and Munnar. We are actually taking our 4 & 6 year old this Fall with their grandparents. Your post provides a better understanding of we may expect and quite a few ideas with the our munchkins!

    Thank you again!

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave My Little Nomads

      Great. It’s a wonderful area. Enjoy.

  2. AvatarMunnar Tea Country Resort with Kids

    Lovely blog post – the caption especially. We at Munnar Tea Country Resort would have loved to have you stay with us as we have been rated the best family resort in Kerala.

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave My Little Nomads

      Thanks Abbas.

  3. AvatarKayal Island Retreat

    We invite you to our island resort in Kerala. You can find us on the secluded shores of Kakkathuruthu, the Island of Crows. We are also children friendly as we recently hosted our first families with children.
    Learn more about us on our website.

  4. Avatarkarilyn owen

    i was curious why you couldn’t do any of the jungle treks in periyar? was it because your kids couldn’t do the walks or they wouldn’t let you? i don’t see anything on the periyar website stating kids aren’t allowed. we are looking to go with our 4 yr old. he hikes 3 mile hikes regularly already, so i think he would be up for the walk if it is allowed.

    we lived in india for 10 years, our son was born there and now after 2 yrs away we are going back. can’t wait!

  5. AvatarAmber

    Hi , we are planning a trip to kerela with our two kids ages 8 and 11. Can you tell me if you and your kids took malaria pills as my research about it suggests low risk and that antimalarials are not needed whereas some people seem to think we should take them. Obvioulsy I would rather not but don’t want to be worried by taking any risks with malaria!
    Any advice?

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave My Little Nomads

      As you can see by looking at the CDC malaria map for India malaria is found everywhere in India. So I’d say it’s highly recommended. Talk to your doctor or travel health clinic.

  6. AvatarFiona

    Hi, Thanks for your post.
    We are traveling to Kerala this winter with our two kids, ages 6 and 1.
    I would love to go houseboating in Kerala again as I did that when I travelled to India several years and loved it. But my concern is (a) toddler falling overboard, and (b) backwaters seem like a potential haven for malarial mosquitoes.
    Your views/experience on these two points?

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave My Little Nomads

      Hi Fiona, haven’t done it myself. Maybe this post will be of some help.


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