Between Kochi and Quilon (Kollam), to the south, is the immense labyrinth of waterways called kayals, through which much of the life of the Malayalee has historically flowed. From the vastness of Vembanad Lake to quiet streams just large enough for a canoe, the backwaters region, Kuttanad, has carried Kerala's largely coconut-based products from village to market for centuries, and continues to do so today. You can relax at some of Kerala's finest resorts, or briefly join the floating lifestyle by taking a boat cruise for a few hours or a few days. A houseboat cruise is one of the best ways to see the fascinating river village life of central Kerala and should not be missed. A day’s worth is quite adequate, but a few days of cruising can be magical.
The terrain rises and the temperature drops as you move inland, up into the teak-forested hills of Thekkady and Munnar. Kerala's interior is elephant country—you'll find them roaming in Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and even appearing in the mists of Munnar's tea plantations.