Trekking the Western Ghats of Kerala (3 nights)

KOC 415-301
  • Trek and camp in Kerala’s Western Ghats
  • See the biggest shola forest (tropical evergreen forest) and endemic flora and fauna
  • Explore a Tea Factory and Museum
  • Learn more about the Tea factory’s welfare center
Program Overview
Country: India
Depart: 10/27/2017 0900
Return: 10/30/2017 1300
Duration: Overnight
Difficulty: Moderate
Capacity: Min 20 / Max 30
Category: ILLUMINATE: Active / Adventure
Program Fee
$1057 (early booking: $1013)

Field Class Conflicts
  • PSY 315 Social Psychology

Registration for overnight programs in India has closed. We are no longer accepting registration for this program.

Get in some nature time trekking and camping through the beautiful Western Ghats of Kerala. This South Indian mountain range is replete with rain forests, tea gardens, and a multitude of flora and fauna. Participants will also have the opportunity to explore a local Tea Factory and Museum and learn more about the factory’s welfare center supporting children with disabilities. This is a great program for those that want to escape from the chaos of the city and reconnect with the outdoors. 

Begin this trekking adventure by travelling to Munnar, one of the most popular hill stations in India. Located 5000ft (1524m) above sea level, Munnar is situated at the confluence of three mountain streams. Here explore a local Tea Factory & Museum run by the TATA company and as well as Srushti – a welfare center owned and operated by the tea factory. At the museum, participants can see demonstrations of the different stages of tea processing and view exhibits highlighting Munnar from its discovery until present day. Srushti Welfare Center runs a number of different projects that aim to help disabled children secure a better future including: Development Activities in Rehabilitation (DARE), a center for special education; Aranaya – a natural dye project; and Athulya, which manufactures handmade paper and paper products.

After breakfast the following morning, its time to start trekking through those Ghats! The first day starts with a 4-6 hour (16km/10m) hike from Vattavada to Kovilore Camp (650m/2133ft elevation gain throughout the day). Vattavada is a virtual rain shadow village, lying in the eastern side of the Western Ghats on the north side of Munnar. Vattavada is famous for its terrace cultivation and wide variety of crops, which include apples, oranges, strawberries, blackberries, plums, gooseberries, egg fruits, peaches, and passion fruits. This agricultural diversity is not seen in any other part of Kerala. As participants trek through nearby villages, grasslands, and green plantations, vegetable gardens will lead the group to a 420 years old traditional village where the group will meet with locals and then continue on to Kovilore camp. The Western slope of this village is under the shade of the biggest shola forest (tropical evergreen forest) in the World – Anaimudi Shola National Park. Spend the night in tents here at Kovilore camp.

The next morning, travel to the day’s starting point and continue trekking 4-5 hours (~9km/6m) into the mountain ridges of the eastern slopes, which offer fantastic views of tea plantations, the second highest peak in the region, the highest tea estate, and the lowest lands in all of Tamil Nadu. The vegetation and ecosystem along this hike is a habitat for some of the endemic birds and wildlife in the region. If participants are lucky, they may be able to spot the Kerala Laughing Thrush, the Nilgiri Flycatcher, or the Black and Orange Flycatcher. In the afternoon, arrive to Camp Footprint and enjoy dinner in front of a campfire before turning in for the night (600m/1969ft elevation gain throughout the day).

On the last day, awaken early to watch the sunrise from the camp’s vantage point on the eastern slope of the Western Ghats. After breakfast, trek for about 40 minutes to an hour to reach the main road where a bus will pick up the group and begin its return back to Cochin (~ 5hrs drive).

“We sat around the campfire and sang songs together which was an amazing way to get to know other SASsers that I hadn’t gotten to know yet on the voyage.” – Allison D. Spring 2017 Student Voyager

“I loved being in the mountains.  It was refreshing and really nice to see a part of India that most people didn’t.” – Allison B. Spring 2017 Student Voyager

“The program itself was unforgettable — trekking through lush green mountains and tea plantations, much different from the typical India city experience. All around, one of the best planned and most memorable trips ever.” – Amanda E. Spring 2017 Staff Voyager

“Overall, I was HIGHLY blown away by this trip and it was a great experience.” – Catherine C. Spring 2017 Student Voyager


Day 1

  • Travel to Munnar (~3hrs)
  • Tea Factory & Museum and Srushti
  • Dinner and overnight at hotel

Day 2

  • Easy walk to Kovilore Camp
  • Trek through a rain show village, traditional villages and grassland (lunch en route)
  • Overnight and dinner at tented camp

Day 3

  • Trek to Top Station – Camp Footprint
  • Trekking
  • Overnight and dinner at tented camp

Day 4

  • Wake up early for sunrise
  • Trekking
  • End with packed lunch (no dinner included)
  • Travel back to Kochi (~5hrs)

*Please note, times and activities are tentative and subject to change.

Meals Included

Day 1: lunch, dinner
Day 2: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Day 3: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Day 4: breakfast, lunch (no dinner)

Special Note

  • The days of trekking will involve a high level of physical fitness.
  • The tented accommodations and other facilities will be basic.