Kerala Houseboat

Kerala Houseboat

The backwaters of Kerala, most famously those around Alleppey, offer a glimpse of an unusual environment and a way of life not seen elsewhere. The rivers and canals of the backwaters, plied by boats large and small, are like the highways of the area, with countless smaller streams and creeks something akin to side roads. There are also countless footpaths connecting villages and hamlets. The entirety of this area is known as the backwaters, and converted rice barges are one of many ways to explore this part of Kerala.

Overnight and lunchtime houseboat trips allow you to cruise through the beautiful and serene canals with the palm-lined shores. The greenery of the paddy fields provides a luscious backdrop as you pass by small villages and wend your way between fishing canoes, flocks of waterbirds and pass people going about their daily lives on the riverbanks.

You’ll likely see people working in the rice paddies, fishermen and duck-minders as well as local children going to school by means of country boat, a small, low-riding canoe which may be punted or motorised. This is the only means of transport between many Alleppey villages.

See the backwaters as the locals do

While houseboats are the iconic way to see the backwaters, there are limitations to this method of travel, as these boats are large and can only access a small portion of the totality of the backwaters. Our recommendation is to combine houseboat travel with several other methods to really experience this part of Kerala to its fullest.

While a houseboat has definite advantages- you’ll be able to enjoy delicious food, cooked on board the boat, on a lunchtime cruise, and of course there’s more space to stretch out and relax, there are several types of small watercraft which offer a very different view. Public ferries are how locals get around, and while not many tourists venture on to these, they are a great experience and most memorable. A bit less adventurous- and a bit more comfortable- is a motorised boat which will have a shaded area on the top deck, and seating below. Great for families with kids as you can get away from the busier routes, and close enough to the shore to get a real sense of what is happening along the riverbanks. More adventurous still are the smaller country boats, which give the best access into the smallest possible streams and creeks, getting you right into the heart of village life and seeing areas which are well away from the houseboat routes. Add to these walking or cycling along the countless kilometres of paths and lanes, and a night or two staying alongside the backwaters at a traditional heritage villa or more modern resort, and your backwater experience will be both unforgettable and much more in-depth than if you only see this area from a houseboat.

Cruise Across The Water Lanes - Houseboats