Cruising the winding backwaters of Kerala, Southern India

Last week we introduced you to Alyce, one of our new India Tailor Made specialists, in her blog about her whirlwind tour of India’s Golden Triange and Rajasthan. She’s here to help you plan your perfect trip to India, based on exactly what you want to do, when you want to do it and how you want to do it.

This week, Alyce is back, to take us through her favourite experience in India so far, cruising the backwaters of Kerala on a traditional Indian house boat.

Alyce, and our other India Tailor Made specialists Thomas and Nick, have been trained to create bespoke and personal trip itineraries in India, so we sent them on their own adventures there to make sure they are super clued up and ready for your call. Here’s Alyce’s favourite memory of her trip to India’s beautiful south…

Take a traditional Indian house boat for a relaxing cruise down the beautiful backwaters of Kerala, India.

The Highlights of Alyce’s Experience of Kerala Backwaters

Possibly my favourite part of my recent trip to India was a night spent on a houseboat, cruising the back waters of Kerala. My sister had done this before and loved it, so I was pretty excited to try it out. If you have been to India before and experienced the craziness of the north, then the slower pace of the south, may be a welcomed change for you, and there’s no better way to sit back, relax and unwind than some time on a house boat.

We were only on the boat for about 24 hours, however it’s possible to do a longer tour, using the boat as a mode of transport rather than just an experience. After driving from Cochin to Kumarakom, we boarded our house boat which would take us through many of the backwaters and eventually see us arrive in Alleppey.

Kerala is tropical, so we were surrounded by palm trees and lush greenery throughout. We were also able to spot a few Kingfisher’s as we were sailing around, they’re small, but their blue is distinctive and they look amazing.

The whole point of the house boat is to relax. There is no TV or radio, just the sounds of the water and the local villages to keep you company, and it is utter bliss. They move quite slowly, so we just sat back, relaxed and watch the beautiful scenery.

We also got an insight into the lives of the local villagers and how much the local communities live off the waters. It’s used for everything from a source of food and water, to washing clothes and is constantly utilised by the locals, so this gave me the opportunity to get up close with a community, which is so different from my own, and how they operate day to day.

Just one of the views it's possible to see along the river.

There are a number of main routes that can be taken where you’ll have the company of many other houseboats, however, we opted for the lake less travelled and ended up rarely coming across other tourists, which personally, I loved! I was able to take a little side trip off the house boat in a canoe along some of the smaller canals, which I highly recommend! This is for the canals that are too narrow for the houseboat, however it gave me the opportunity to be see both nature and the community up close and the view from the canoe was awesome!

The boats themselves are relatively basic however you have options with it, depending on the kind of experience that you want. If you prefer, you can have a boat with no air conditioning and bamboo and coconut leaf shutters being the only barrier between you and the outside world, or you can go for a little more luxury and have glass windows, air conditioning etc… we went for this option, it was great! The boats are fully self contained and the crew prepared all of our meals for us, seafood was the order of the day, as you are so close to it all, however all diets were catered for.

After a day of sun, scenery and amazing food (try the plantain pakoras), the boat parked up for the night and we were gently rocked to sleep by the calm waters. The following day there was time for a little more R&R, before leaving the boat late morning and continuing on to see more of beautiful Kerala.

It was an awesome experience and a great way to see India from a different point of view than you might otherwise have, I would highly recommend it – even just for a night!

If you’ve been inspired to travel to India, give Alyce a call and challenge her to create your dream trip.