The backwaters of Kerala?
Hands down one of the most beautiful places in South India.
I was amazed to see how many houseboats were moored in the main port, and then I was floored when we climbed on board a few of them. Some of them were far more luxuriant than the hotels we’ve ever stayed at, in all of our travels together! We were shopping around, trying to decide whether it was worth the money. Average prices were about 100 USD for the two of us, for a private 24 hour cruise and 3 meals.
In the end, we decided to go with the most environmentally and economically friendly option: public ferry. It cost us only 30 rupees altogether.
I enjoyed it very much, and without a sense of guilt… I mean, those houseboats were enormous, and probably ate up a lot of resources (electricity, fuel and water) and it was all just for two people? And at best, it would cruise for 5 hours, tops, and stay docked somewhere the rest of the time.
The public ferry, on the other hand, went far and also plumbed some of the smaller channels. A canoe tour could’ve been a good idea too, but I dislike tours in general, so our 6 hour ferry ride was good enough for me.
We spent the afternoon soaking up the sun, taking in the scenery and the rural lifestyle (and ignoring the trash that floats in the water everywhere).
I especially liked it when school let out and hordes of giggling schoolkids in uniform scattered everywhere… They walked, biked and ran along the canals, waving to the kids that boarded the ferries. It was a burst of energy in the midst of the sleepy backwater canals.
Overall, the town is full of tourists and touts, but the relaxing experience is worth a night or two. I’d recommend it to almost anyone (and I say almost because I know there are those who wouldn’t exactly enjoy floating on a boat all day!)