Fodor's Expert Review Houseboat Cruise

Kerala Tour–Sight

The Kuttanad, a 74-km-long (46-mile-long) network of beaches, lakes, canals, rivers, inland sea, islands, and brooks, links Alleppey, Marari, Quilon, Kochi, and beyond to Varkala, Kovalam, and Poovar. It's a tropical kingdom of coastal canals, sheltered by trees, that wanders past two houses-and-a-palm hamlets, mosques, temples, whitewashed chapels, flocks of ducks, floating bazaars, paddy farms, and bridges. Your camera will have a hard time keeping pace with the scenes flitting past.

Shaded by a woven bamboo canopy and fanned by cool breezes, you can drift past simple but often gorgeously colored, tile-roof houses with canoes moored outside; and people washing themselves, their clothes, their dishes, and their children in the river.

A houseboat cruise provides a window into traditional local life. Women in bright pink-and-blue dresses stroll past green paddy fields, their waist-length hair unbound and smelling of coconut oil. Graceful palms are everywhere,... READ MORE

The Kuttanad, a 74-km-long (46-mile-long) network of beaches, lakes, canals, rivers, inland sea, islands, and brooks, links Alleppey, Marari, Quilon, Kochi, and beyond to Varkala, Kovalam, and Poovar. It's a tropical kingdom of coastal canals, sheltered by trees, that wanders past two houses-and-a-palm hamlets, mosques, temples, whitewashed chapels, flocks of ducks, floating bazaars, paddy farms, and bridges. Your camera will have a hard time keeping pace with the scenes flitting past.

Shaded by a woven bamboo canopy and fanned by cool breezes, you can drift past simple but often gorgeously colored, tile-roof houses with canoes moored outside; and people washing themselves, their clothes, their dishes, and their children in the river.

A houseboat cruise provides a window into traditional local life. Women in bright pink-and-blue dresses stroll past green paddy fields, their waist-length hair unbound and smelling of coconut oil. Graceful palms are everywhere, as are village walls painted with political slogans, the inevitable portrait of Che Guevara (worshipped in Kerala), and ads for computer-training courses. Backwater trips can be designed to suit any time constraint or budget. Motorized or punted canoes squeeze into narrow canals, taking you to dreamy roadless villages, and big ferries ply the eight-hour Quilon–Alleppey route as if it were a major highway. Romantic houseboats give you the opportunity to stay overnight on the water. Any travel agent, hotel, or the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, can help you hire a private boat or plan a trip. Most cruises depart from Quilon, Alleppey, or Kumarakom. In addition, the Trident Hilton (Oberoir) in Kochi can book you a stateroom on the MV Vrinda, an eight-bedroom luxury cruise ship.

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Tour–Sight

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