The beautiful state of Kerala in southern India is known for its lush surroundings and serene ambiance but the most splendid natural wonder of this state is its backwaters- a chain of lagoons and lakes.
Something that you must do when in Kerala is hop on a houseboat and sail the backwaters for a few days. In this post, I will show you what amazing scenery you will see during a trip in Kerala on the backwaters and what you should know when booking your very own boat.
THE BEAUTY OF KERALA
The backwaters consist of an elaborate network of canals, inlets, and lakes which is more than 900 kilometers in total. Along the way, you will encounter small towns and a stunning nature with lots of wildlife.
The backwaters have a unique ecosystem, where the waters of the Arabian Sea meet the freshwater of the rivers. Because of its unique nature, it is also home to different species of aquatic animals including turtles, otters, frogs, crabs, along with water birds such as darters, terns, cormorants, and kingfishers.
Thick bushes, palm trees, several leafy plants, and pandanus shrubs flourish on the banks of the river, giving you a lush leavy view from the water.
The best way to explore the backwaters is by houseboat. These can be found PLENTIFUL all throughout Kerala. Often you hire a private boat for 1-2 days. You get your own boat with a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living room.
The minimum rate for overnight hire is around 5,000 rupees ($90), this is for a basic boat without without air-conditioning. Most people opt to pay a bit more, around 10,000 rupees ($150) upwards, to hire a deluxe air-conditioned houseboat. But rates can easily go up to 18,000 rupees ($250) or more for a luxury houseboat.
The majority of houseboats are hired from Alleppey, the gateway to the backwaters in between Kochi and Kollam. Most houseboat operators and around 500 houseboats are based there. Most people depart from here and do either a round trip or a one way trip to Kottayam or Kochi
Underneath are just some examples of trips that you can do.
- Alleppey to Kuttanad – Stunning views of paddy fields and narrow backwaters. This will really show you what rural India is like.
- Alleppey to Kumarakom – many luxury resorts are located on the banks along this trip. It’s also renowned for the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary.
- Alleppey to Alumkadavu – This is a particularly long cruise and is either a one-way day trip or overnight return.
HOW TO BOOK
I do advise you to book a boat in advance. Underneath you can find some reputable companies that you can use:
- Spice Coast Cruises – Probably the best houseboat of the backwaters. Nice space and very clean.
- Lakes and Lagoons – Good for group/family/friends. General cost for one day is 15k.
- Ayana’s Houseboats – Luxury houseboat | Enjoy honeymoon cruise in Kerala backwaters.
For a luxurious boutique experience, try Xandari River Escapes. (Read reviews and see prices on Tripadvisor).
Language: Hindi, but a lot of the population also speaks English very decently.
Capital city: New Delhi
Time Zone: GMT+5:30
Electricity: In India, the power sockets are of type C, D and M. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
Currency: Indian Rupee (₹)
Tipping: On totals ranging from 300 to 1000 INR, you can tip anywhere from 7 to 10%. On-bill amounts above 1000 INR, tipping 5 to 7% is sufficient. Restaurants in Delhi and Mumbai often charge a ‘service charge’, not to be confused with ‘service tax’ (which is a government-levied tax).
Weather (southern India): Summer or pre-monsoon season, lasting from April to June (April to July in northwestern India). In western and southern regions, the hottest month is April; for northern regions of India, May is the hottest month. Temperatures average around 32–40 °C (90–104 °F) in most of the interior.
WORDS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Underneath are some words in Hindi that you could try. Most people do speak English, but it is always polite to know a few basic words in their native language.
- Hello/hi: NA-MA-SKAR or NA-MA-STE
- Thank you: DHAN-YA-VAD or SHU-KHRI-YA
- Bye: NA-MA-SKAR or NA-MA-STE (same as hello)
- Please: KRIPAYA
- It is nice to meet you: AAP SE MIL KE KHU-SHI HUI
- Help! BACHAO (BA-CHOW)
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Though the backwaters of Kerala are a year-round attraction the best time to visit them is between August and May.
Kerala has two rainy seasons, the first starts in June and the second in mid-October and finally ends around mid-November. So try and avoid this period.
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