India Kerala Photo Adventure Vacations – Inspire. Create. Enjoy.
With the Arabian Sea to the west, the Western Ghats (towering 1600 – 9000 feet) to the east, and a network of 44 rivers, Kerala enjoys unique geographical features that have made it one of the most sought after destinations in Asia. With an equable climate, a long shoreline with serene beaches and tranquil stretches of emerald backwaters, lush hill stations and exotic wildlife, waterfalls, sprawling tea plantations and paddy fields, Ayurvedic health spas, enchanting art forms, magical festivals, historic and cultural monuments, and exotic cuisine… Kerala delivers a unique experience that’s truly beyond your imagination.
Kerala, and the south of India, is more verdant and tropical than the north. The people tend to be more friendly and move at a more relaxed pace. Yet Kerala is anything by relaxed when you think about just how exotic it is. Kerala conjures up images of Aladdin and his magic lantern. On this photographic journey you will experience it all. Hard to believe, but trust us. Kerala will not disappoint you.
The moment you start to think you’re right on the precipice of unravelling one of India’s deep mysteries, she has an uncanny way of reminding you that it would take more than just a few lifetimes to do so. Indeed, demystifying India is a perpetual work-in-progress. And that is precisely what makes the country so deeply addictive. The constant exploration. The playful unpredictability. And knowing that, just when it’s least expected, you can find yourself up close and personal with moments that have the power to alter the way you view the world and your place in it.
This adventure is designed not only to guide you to the most photogenic locations carefully planned for the best light, but to aid you in mentally visualizing a scene before capturing the decisive moment. Our aim is to raise your awareness and spark your creativity, so that you not only go home with images to be proud of, but use your new found skills to improve and expand your photographic technique in general. Apart from the technical aspect of learning your camera settings and capabilities, you will learn how to turn an ordinary image into an extraordinary image by using your own creativity.
In addition, you will become knowledgeable on how to survey the landscape, utilize and approach your environment, photograph people indigenous to the region and the cultural considerations and challenges of photographing in a foreign country. Our time together will include individual and group discussions, inspiring ideas and great fun. We cannot think of a better place to express your creativity than in Kerala, India.
INDIA’S KERALA 10 DAYS
Day 1 | Cochin – Fort Kochi – Chinese Fishing Nets
Whether you arrive the day of or the day before, our airport representative will welcome you at the airport in Kochi and transfer you to our hotel. After settling in we meet for some informal discussions about what our guests are trying to achieve in their photography, subject matters, styles and techniques. In the afternoon our leader will present PWA’s “10 Guiding Principles to Great Photography” as well as our “THE ART OF SEEING” photographic technique. In the evening we will visit the famous Chinese fishing nets of Kochi, brought to the port by the Chinese explorer Zheng He 900 years ago. They’re fascinating old bits of fishing technology — bamboo, teak, stones, ropes and nets — and are fabulous to photograph at sunset and into twilight. The darker it gets, the more attractive the nets become. Later, the fishermen will mount lamps on their nets to attract the fish, posing a fresh opportunity for us. Afterwards, we enjoy an amazing “Welcome Dinner” where we sample various dishes that Kerala is renowned for. (D)
Day 2 | Fort Kochi – Kalaripayuttu – Sunset Boat Cruise
After a delightful breakfast we visit the Jewish quarter and synagogue, the magnificent Santa Cruz Basilica, as well as some street photography around the lanes and alleys of Fort Kochi. After lunch we get to witness Kalaripayuttu, the Dravidian martial art, that’s as Kerala in origin as the six billion coconuts the locals harvest each year. Like most martial arts, Kalaripayuttu is a rigorous system of movements, postures and techniques and is inextricably associated with religious practice and a master-pupil teaching model. It’s top practitioners are formidably fast, supple, strong and graceful — and they are wonderful objects of photographic worship as well. While Kalari is blisteringly fast, the training sessions are usually slow-paced, full of photogenic ritual and elaborate choreography. We’ll see Kalaripayuttu every which way: as a formal performance (with real weapons!), as individual demonstrations by students of their mastery of the art, and with the supporting commentary of the Kalari master to ensure that we connect and understand as well as capture stunning images. There’s so much here for every kind of photographer: introspective slice-of-life closeups, mid-air freezes, fiery action sequences, soft scenes of worship and blessing… 100% pure shooting heaven. In the evening we will take a sunset boat cruise from our hotel. (B)
Day 3 | Fort Kochi – Kathakali – Kochi Beach
Today we set out for some early morning low light photography throughout the streets of Fort Kochi as the markets open up and the locals fill the streets. We’ll return to our hotel for breakfast. After reviewing our favorite photos from the first two days, we set out to photograph the dance forms of Kerala. These classical dance styles offer everything photographers could ask for: rich colors, dramatic makeup, vivid and elaborate costumes. Rather than an off-the-shelf tourist shoot, we’ve planned a private performance and venue where we’ll be able to get access to the artistes. Kathakali is a dance form which evolved during the 17th century. It has dance song, literature and make up art at its best. It is traditional and depicts stories from Hindu mythology. It is composed for overnight performance. Elaborate headgear, facial decorations and dressing, marks the dance form. In the evening we will walk the beach at sunset before enjoying a wonderful dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants. (B)
Day 4 | Cochin – Munnar – Pothamedu
After breakfast, we check out and head for the hills. It’s a four-hour drive to Munnar, and you’re going to love it! Winding roads run through dense forest and scenic hills; you’ll get your first glimpses of the ribbed emerald-green carpets of the tea-planted slopes. Munnar is a hill region and we’re there at the perfect time, when it moves from the winter season into summer. Munnar is an important high-point on our Kerala photography adventure. It’s storybook pretty, it’s authentic Kerala. We’ll be making frequent stops along the way to grab some great photos. We will arrive in Munnar for a late lunch. The afternoon is free to settle into our hotel. Early evening we head to Pothamedu to photograph the whole transition from day to dusk, with stunning tea-estate scenery at our feet. (B)
Day 5 | Munnar – Kolukkumalai – Tea Plantations
This morning is a high point of our Western Ghats exploration. It’s the loftiest tea-growing plantation in the world, perched at 2,400 meters (7,875 feet) with it’s green slopes overlooking some truly remarkable Kerala scenery. The photographic treasure-hunt today is about tea-garden landscapes, sometimes with the clouds high above, sometimes with clouds so low that we literally drive through them. We’ll capture the bright colors of the estate workers’ clothes and machinery against the verdant green, and at the tea factory itself we’ll walk into an engineering time-warp where old, battered machines process the tea leaves into top-quality tea. At Kolukkumalai, you’re right at the historic heart of Kerala tea. Here on this estate in the 1930s, the British constructed a small processing facility to turn the freshly picked tea leaves into the classic cuppa — and that same factory is here today, with the very same Gainsborough-built machines whirring and clanking as they do the withering, rolling, sieving, fermenting, drying, extracting and grading stages of making tea. Anywhere else, these machines would be museum-pieces — but here they seem to be perfectly suited to the time-honored traditions of tea-making. After a long day photographing the most amazing tea-plantation panoramas, and the locals working the tea mills, we head back to our hotel for dinner. (B)
Day 6 | Munnar – Allepey – Backwater Houseboat
After breakfast we depart Munnar for our drive to Allepey. Upon arrival we check in to our beautifully appointed houseboat at the Lakes & Lagoons Houseboats. Referred to as the Venice of the East, Allepey has always enjoyed an important place in the maritime history of Kerala. Today, it is famous for it’s boat races, backwater holidays, beaches, marine products and coir industry. Alappuzha beach is a popular picnic spot. The pier, which extends into the sea, is over 137 years old. Entertainment facilities at the Vijaya Beach Park add to the attraction of the beach. There is also an old lighthouse nearby which is greatly fascinating to visitors. Another delightful experience while in Alappuzha is a houseboat cruise. The ones you find in the backwaters of Alappuzha are in fact reworked versions of Kettuvallams of olden times. The original Kettuvallams or rice barges used to carry tons of rice and spices. The Kettuvallam or ‘boat with knots’ was so called because the entire boat was held together with coir knots only. Of late, houseboats come with all the creature comforts of a good hotel, including furnished bedrooms, modern toilets, cozy living rooms, a kitchen and even a balcony for angling. And one can always enjoy uninterrupted views of backwater life while staying on a houseboat. We’ll spend the afternoon making our way through the backwaters on our houseboat. Perhaps buy some prawns from a local fisherman and have our onboard chef prepare them for dinner. After a sunset shoot, we’ll relax and chat with our crew. (B)
Day 7 | Allepey – Backwater Houseboat – Alappuzha – Vijaya
On our second day on the houseboat we will cruise deep into the backwater canals of Allepey where there are many isolated communities to explore. In the afternoon we will leave our boat and head for Alappuzha beach, the 137 years old pier and Vijaya Beach Park. We’ll return to our boat for dinner and another night onboard. You are sure to enjoy our day in this very unique location. (B)
Day 8 | Allepey – Kovalam – Lighthouse Beach – Hawa Beach
After a lovely breakfast on our houseboat we de-board and begin our drive to Kovalam. Kovalam is located on the southern tip of India, where the Arabian Sea meets the Indian Ocean. Kovalam is a small coastal town, south of Thiruvananthapuram. At the southern end of Lighthouse Beach is a striped lighthouse with a viewing platform. Palm tree backed beaches also include Hawa Beach and Samudra Beach. Heading south to Vizhinjam, Juma Masjid Mosque overlooks the busy fishing harbor. Inland, Sagarika Marine Research Aquarium displays technology used in pearl production. We’ll have an afternoon of leisure followed by a sunset shoot and dinner. (B)
Day 9 | Kovalam – Vizhinjam – Samudra Beach – Juma Masjid Mosque
In the early morning we will take you to Vizhinjam village, a busy port flooded with fishing boats. We’ll photograph the many fishermen venturing into the distant sea. The village which is rustic and earthy, is very different from Kovalam in diverse aspects. We will witness the real life of fishermen who push their boats into the sea and fish from dawn to dusk. We’ll have lunch on the beach and an afternoon of leisure. We’ll photograph the lighthouse, coastal area and the sunset once again. In the evening we celebrate our amazing 10 days together with a “Farewell Dinner” fit for a king. (B) (D)
Day 10 | Kovalam – Trivandarum – Cochin (Flight)
After our morning breakfast we depart Kovalam for Trivandarum Airport for your fight back to Cochin where we will bid you farewell. If you are continuing on to our Goa Extension, we will be escorting you on a flight to Goa. In November, if you are continuing on to our Pushkar Camel Fair Photo Adventure, you will be flying to Delhi (instead of Cochin or Goa). (B)
NOTE: From Trivandarum you can fly to Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Goa and several other cities for connections. We can arrange these for you instead of flying to Cochin.
Experience | Difficulty
Beginner, amateur, enthusiast and semi-pro photographers
DSLR, mirrorless, compact or iPhone cameras
Travel by car or minibus, boat
Minimal elevation changes and lots of walking
(non-photographers also welcome)
Travel, landscape, architecture, seascape and people photography
Professional photographer | guide
Photo walks & discussions
Small group size (4-8 guests)
5 star luxury hotels
Lakes & Lagoons superior houseboat
Modern AC mini-bus
Fort Kochi – Brunton Boatyard Hotel, Fragrant Nature or similar
Munnar – Blanket Hotel & Spa, Spice Tree Munnar or similar
Allepey – Premium Lakes & Lagoons Houseboat
Kovalam – Vivanta by Taj – Green Cove or similar
Arrival & Departure Airport: Cochin International Airport, Kochi, India (COK)
Our adventure begins at 11 AM on the first day and ends at noon on the last day.
Travel Visa: A visa may be required depending on your nationality.
Single Supplement: $1500
(Optional) Early Arrival Hotel Room: $350
(Optional) Late Departure Hotel Room: $350
Options and Benefits
Private Guided Tours & Adventures
We offer amazing private guided photo adventures, cultural tours and vacations for individuals, couples, families and groups. We can customize any of our published adventures, as well as others, to meet your individual needs, schedule, budget and interests. This may include the finest 5-star accommodations, business-class travel, and private guides and fixers who are able to make the impossible possible. If you are not interested in a photo-centric vacation, but you love our approach to private travel, we will be happy to design and deliver an amazing adventure focused on travel, culture and cuisine.
We offer travel insurance through Travelex. The cost for travel insurance can be as low as 4% of the total trip cost, depending upon age and other factors. Knowing you have trip cancellation coverage can make a big difference should you have to cancel for some unforeseen reason. Travelex Insurance Services is a BBB Accredited business with an A+ rating.
Travel, Wildlife, Landscape, Cultural and Aerial Photographer
An aspiring photographer who gave up his career as an electrical engineer to focus on his passion for photography in his native Kerala and throughout India. Sebinster, often referred to as Sebin, hails from the small town of Munnar, known for its amazing landscape, nature, wildlife and tea plantations. Beyond the beautiful nature that has surrounded him throughout his life, he enjoys capturing the cultural aspects of India including street and people photography, as well as colorful festivals and local authenticity. He aspires to showcase different cultural aspects of India through a photographers eye. He is an aerial photographer who loves to play with patterns created from the bird’s eye view.
He is a naturalist and a licensed Tourism Guide holder. Sebinster’s association with the Kerala Forest Department, gives him opportunities to travel to isolated and unique locations within India. He uses his photographs from these explorations to spread awareness about nature and wildlife protection. Sebinster has an extra special interest in elephants and their preservation and treatment.
He is an avid traveler throughout India and the Indian subcontinent, always on the lookout for new photographic opportunities and cultural experiences.