Original photo: Mark Mrwizard
Kochi (formerly Cochin) is a large historical city in southwest India well-known for its proximity to the backwaters of Kerala.
Famously a seaport since the year 1341, fort Kochi has architectural influences from times of Portuguese, British and Dutch rule and is the perfect place to start exploring Kerala from. Kochi, Kerala is home to stunning beaches, surrounded by the sloping hills of the Western Ghats and the lush greenery of rice paddy fields.
Once you’ve decided to volunteer in Kochi, exploring the city is a must in your free time. After you’ve taken in the sights at Fort Kochi, there are a number of places to visit in Kerala, under 100 miles from the city center.
The backwaters of Kerala are often a great starting point: especially the Kochi to Alleppey route. However, we have found some other offbeat day trips to take! Here are our five best day trips.
Kumarakom Backwaters: 30 miles from Kochi, India
Original photo: Sanjoy Ghosh
No Kerala trip is complete without a chance to visit the backwaters. Kochi to Alleppey is the most traveled route of the backwaters of Kerala. However, the more remote area of the backwaters is the area surrounding Kumarakom.
Perched on the edge of Lake Vembanad, explore this area by houseboat for the ultimate Keralan experience. The web of islands, streams and blue waters surrounding this tree-lined lake has been ranked as one of National Geographic’s destination of a lifetime.
Imagine sitting on a narrow wooden boat, with tall coconut trees to your right and the gentle sound of the water rushing past you.
The boat turns and you head toward a small mangrove, where the trees are bowed over, dipping their leaves into the sparkling water. Monkeys call to one another in the trees above you. The sunlight dances across the water as the bow breaks the flat surface, sending ripples toward the boat.
It takes just over one hour by car to get to these backwaters of Kerala from the GVI base in Kochi. Public transport is reliable, with the option of a bus ride to the village of Kumarakom.
Athirappilly Falls: 41 miles from Kochi, Kerala
Original photo: Ponraj Krishna Pandi
Take a day trip to the largest waterfall in the state. The Athirappilly Falls is a top place to visit in Kerala. The waterfall cascades down 80 ft into the Chalakudy River, with a dramatic roar as it meets the pool below.
Athirappilly Falls can be experienced from above or below. After monsoon season in Kerala (after October) the waterfall will be at its most dramatic. The wet Kochi weather causes water levels to rise. Unpredictable currents make the pool dangerous for swimming year-round, but is spine tingling to watch as the waters swirl around the pool beneath the fall.
This can be connected to a hike through the forest, as a more adventurous day trip from Kochi India. As the tallest waterfall in Kerala, it is worth the drive through the frenetic Keralan roads to uncover this beauty for yourself.
Thattekad Bird Sanctuary: 40 miles from Kochi, India
Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, also known as Salim Ali Sanctuary, is a 15 square mile habitat that is perfect for bird watching and experiencing nature on your Kerala trip. The sanctuary is one of the most popular places to visit in Kerala, as it was the first sanctuary in the state.
The wildlife is varied, mixed between forest and water birds for spotting. The sanctuary is also home to three different varieties of cuckoos, including the common hawk-cuckoo and the fork-tailed drongo-cuckoo – earning itself the name of ‘cuckoo paradise’.
Kerala’s state bird, the great Indian hornbill, can be found among the waters of Thattekad, and with good Kochi weather, even birds of prey can be spotted.
The two-hour drive from the base in Kochi, is worth it to Get lost between towering trees, water-filled landscapes and a chorus of birdsong.
For nature lovers, this place presents an idyllic break from the bustle of Kochi and a chance to spot some of the rarest birds in Kerala, India.
Cherai Beach: 20 miles from Fort Kochi
Original photo: Liji Jinaraj
Kochi, Kerala is famous for its proximity to the beach and the calmer seas of West India.
This six and a half mile long beach sweeps along the coast just a short drive from the GVI women’s empowerment project in Kochi.
This beach is clean, with white sands and is popular across Kerala for being a hotspot for dolphin sightings. The most popular time of year to visit is from September to May when the Kochi weather is a little cooler, but the peak season is between December and February.
The clear waters are perfect for spotting the shoals of bright fish that attract dolphins to the area. It’s a combination that will brighten up any Kerala trip. The beach itself is picture postcard worthy and is lined with coconut trees, making this the ultimate day trip from Kochi, Kerala.
Thommankuthu waterfall: 46 miles from Kochi, Kerala
Original photo: Bimal K C
This waterfall is named after Thumban, a tribal leader who died in its waters and is another thundering waterfall, although wider and shorter. Thommankuthu is located inside a luscious forest trail.
The trail runs through the forest, past the waterfall, and carries on for 6 miles deeper into the forest. The trees surrounding the pathways are home to some of Kerala’s famous wildlife, from mountain hawk-eagles and great hornbills to lion-tailed macaques.
However, for safety reasons, entry into the waterfall itself is strictly prohibited. It is notorious for slippery rocks and strong currents of water.
The surrounding area tops our list of places to visit in Kerala. Perched alongside the Western Ghats, there are more than enough hikes from Kochi, Kerala to Thommankuthu waterfalls to keep even the most outdoorsy of volunteers happy.
If you are keen to try out these fantastic day trips from Kochi get in contact today.