Kerala culture tour is concieved by Johnson Gilbert, who has over 10 years experience in Tourism and Event management experience. It is formulated by him for the traveller who are keen to combine their vacation in Kerala and who also want to experience the culture of the Kerala way of life. Through countless conversations with tourists who frequent his guesthouse since the early 90’sJohnson realized that there ‘s a growing demand among tourists to get off the beaten path and get more out of their holiday than just ticking off tourist landmarks and taking phtographs for their India scrapbook.And so, the tour he designed is more people to people oriented. Unlike Varkala or Kovalam, (where you see more foreigners than locals), Johnson would rather you visit his Secret beach. At the Secret beach, you have a beautiful sugar white sandy beach where there are no other tourists, no beach front restaurants, no touts, etc. but where you will encounter fishermen going about their business. Maybe a couple of dolphins, if yourr’e lucky, and definitely pass through a fishing village while you get there.Now, the normal hill stations that tourists flock to are Periyar in Kumily, Thekkady or to Munnar. While both were once beautiful , the influx of tourists, both domestic and International has lessened it’s appeal. There’s hardly any wildlife left in Periyar wildlife reserve. What’s left of the tigers, elephants, etc. (sadly, after poaching), has retreated deep into the forests – away from clicking, interfering toursits. In Munnar, perhaps there are more hotels and resorts than tea plantations now. Johnson recommends Wayanad, the least poplated of all of Kerala’s districts, where there two wildlife sanctuaries, where elephants, bison, spotted deer, monkeys, peacocks, do not just reside in the forests, but overflow across the forest boundaries into the roads.Where there are tribal hamlets still in the forests, where you can trek across valleys, climb into underground caves, picnic at waterfalls, and experience nature at it’s virgin best. It’s also the place for Theyyam, Kerala’ premiere theatre art form practised only at temples during it’s season in February, March.
So while your’e observing village life while cruising the backwaters in Alleppey on Johnson’s houseboat or relaxing in the soul fulfilling silence of the Artist’s abode at Vagamon, the Kerala Culture Tour aims to expose travellers to
The arts, customs & lifestyles of the average Kerallite.
Taste authentic Kerala cusine at all the venues where your’e hosted during the tour.
See places that are not just scenic and beautiful, but is also meaningful, and less crowded adding more value to your holiday.
In the process, we hope to foster more understanding between people of different cultures, band new firendship, thereby taking a samll but important step in making the world a better place.THE TOUR
Pick-up at Kochi airport for 2 night’s stay at the Secret beach guesthouse. One hour ayurvedic massage is arranged for the guests near an authentic Ayurvedic clinic nearby.
Drive to Johnson’s (20 minutes from Secret beach) for one night’s stay. Alleppey tour by Rickshaw/tuk tuk is arranged.
To Johnson’s “The Pride” Eco houseboat for 3 day 3 night’s tour of the wonderful, magical backwaters of Alleppey. The highlight of the Kerlala Culture tour.
To Vagamon, Artist’s abode for 2 nights of great views, silence, solitude and to rediscover yourselves.
Back to Johnson’s to prepare for the 9 hour journey to Wayanad.Day 10,11,12
At a farmhouse homestay in Wayanad for wildlife sanctuary safaris, cave sojourns, picnics at waterfalls, spice plantation visits, etc.
To Kochi for 2 night’s stay in a Fort Kochi guesthouse prior to departure.
Almost all guesthouses where you say during the tour are at homestays, exce0pt Vagamon and the houseboat. The guests can tips on Kerala cooking from these homestays during their stay there.
The tour will try to incorporate an event which may be on during the tour like Kathakal, kalaripayattu (kerala martial arts) or a a special presentation of these or other Kerala art or dance forms at a temple or other venues during the tour.
EVENT TOURISM/REAL ESTATE
Johnson Gilbert was Kerala’s first and for a long period before retiring, top DJ (Party Disc Jockey). He also dabbled in Event management before venturing into and establsihing himself as a leading player in the tourism business.
It was only natural that with his extensive contacts in both fields, he would merge both his careers into one- Event Tourism.
Over the lat 2 seasons Johnson organized events related to the famous Alapuzha Snake boat race. Inspired by the success of these events, he plans to turn into an annual event.
Early this year -2011- Johnson organized almost the entire leg of Gregory Walker’s ( world renowned violinist and lecturer at University of Colorado, U.S.A.) musical exploration and journey through Kerala. IN Kerala Gregory and his film crew led by Chuck Fryburhger spent 3 days on Johnson’s Eco Houseboat. Since both Johnson’s and Gregory’s interests include martial arts, Johnson arranged a Kalari _ Kerlala martial arts lesson for Gregory at a scenic locale off the backwaters off his houseboat.
Gregory’s Wayanad visit, where he encountered Theyyam artist, and interactive session with a DJ in Kochi was also co-ordinated by Johnson. And on the penultimate day of departure, a jam session with a flutist fiend of Johnson along with his Indo jazz band was arranged at the musician’s riverside home in Kochi.
This entire event was captued on film by Chuck Fryburgher and the resulting product “Song of the Untouchables” premiered in the United States a few days back.
Johnson can also be aproached for advise on tourists wanting to invest or buy property in India.