A guide to Alleppey backwater cruising in a houseboat

Kerala backwaters is almost a 900 km waterway consisted of a network of lakes and lagoons interconnected through canals.The backwaters were formed by the action of waves and shore currents creating low barrier islands across the mouths of the many rivers flowing down from western ghat range. In the midst of this landscape there are a number of villages and small towns, which serve as the starting and end points of backwater cruises.

When we planned out trip to Kerala, Alleppey (also known as Allapuzha) backwaters cruise in a houseboat was on the top of the list.Houseboats are basically hotels but inside a boat.Yeah as fun as it sounds.Typically inside all the houseboats you will find bedrooms,washrooms,dining area and kitchen.We actually found hard time to finalize the houseboat for ourselves and hence I decided to write this blog to help others.

How to reach Alleppey:

We took a direct one hour fight to Kochi from Bangalore.Kochi airport to Alleppey boat jetty distance is around 80 Kms and will take you around two hours by car.Now we stayed in Fort Kochi for a day and started for Alleppey the next morning.The distance from Fort Kochi is lesser; around 60 kms and took us less than one and a half hour.We booked an outstation cab(AC sedan) from Ola for thousand bucks but the driver cancelled and within a minute he called me back to and agreed to come with us for the same fare but without OLA’s intervention.I was initially skeptical but we did not have any other option and we were also getting late.Thankfully the driver was really nice and the experience was seamless.So I will suggest you to book a cab through local travel agents because OLA service is not great there.Anyway the journey was really great.You will get to see some beautiful churches and luscious greenery on your way.

How did we book our houseboat:

Well we booked our houseboats at least more than a month prior to coming.You can book through booking.com.However, the type of houseboats available there were mostly shared and we were looking for private accommodations and also Google reviews were not great about those houseboats either. The most important parameters we took into account before deciding on a houseboat were of course price,hygiene and safety.You will get premium houseboats with all the luxuries and the price for one night stay can go up as high as 50K(INR).The price for deluxe houseboats starts from around 7K (INR).From a friend who recently visited Alleppey we got to know about http://thehouseboatkerala.com or more commonly this one is known as bluelotus houseboat.I contacted them through their whatsapp number and they promptly responded.Based on the number of people they will suggest you the perfect houseboat for you.If you are going for a honeymoon or a romantic holiday then the one bedroom houseboat will be perfect for you.The one bedroom houseboat costs for 8K (INR) inclusive of all taxes and 3 times food as well.You will have to pay 2K upfront and rest 6K on your arrival day.

Things to expect on your houseboat:

So ours was a one bedroom houseboat. Ideally in all the houseboats there will be one captain,one cook another helper. At the front there is a dining area and also the captain of the houseboat steers from there.The bedroom had a very clean attached bathroom with all the necessary amenities.I will advise you to bring your own towel and other toiletries. One side of the bedroom had an entirely glass wall and at the night you can just look out the window and you will feel you are just floating in the sea in the midst of nowhere. Amazing right! The kitchen was at the backside with a refrigerator,cooking gas and drinking water cans.The most amazing part is obviously the upper deck where we spent all our time( except the sleeping part).There were sofa,coffee tables,fan and a bluetooth speaker as well to play our favourite songs.Overall the houseboat was super clean and that was definitely a heart winning point.

Food:

Once you book the houseboat you will receive a mail asking for your food preference Veg/ Non -veg. The non veg options can be either fish or chicken.For vegetarians you can ask for local Kerala style meal and you will be up for a treat.For lunch they served both rice/roti, fries, salad, daal (lentil soup), 2 kerala style sabzi (curry), beetroot and curd chutney (local dessert).For evening snacks they served coffee and bread pakoda and in dinner again they made separate veg curries along with chapatis.For breakfast along with coffee local breakfast dish ‘Puttu’ (made with rice flour and coconut) was waiting for us.

Puttu

How was our day in houseboat:

So we started from Fort Kochi at around 9.30 am and reached the Alleppey finishing point/boat jetty at around 11.Our houseboat captain guided us till the parking area and then he escorted us to the houseboat.He already bought all the fresh vegetables and drinking water.We entered the boat and got freshen up and the boat immediately started at around 11.15 am.The owner already communicated that the AC timing is 8pm till 7 am in the bedroom.So we immediately went to the upper deck along with a cup of tea.A serene view along with the soothing breeze was just the perfect for the soar eyes.Along with us there were plenty of other houseboats but all of them maintained distance from each other.Based on your budget the houseboats will pick up the route.

Our houseboat first anchored at around 1.30 pm beside a paddy field, away from all the hustle and bustle.We had our lunch and then again it started at around 2 and went on cruising till 4.30 pm.We already asked them to arrange for a canoe tour so that we can enter the canals where the houseboats cannot go.Accordingly the canoe came and took us for an amazing experience to feel and breathe in the local life.We clicked pictures, saw some unknown birds,waved at strangers and yes it was a very happy experience away from the worries 🙂

We came back to our houseboat at around 5.30 and there was local ayurvedic spa as well.Although we did not opt for it and instead went for a stroll beside the banks of the river and picked up a few raw mangoes :p After coming back to the boat they slowly took us to a place just beside our captain’s home and anchored there for the night.The sunset looked serene behind the coconut trees.

The houseboats cannot operate after 6 pm as per the local guidelines.So make sure the boat is parked at a safe place for the night.So that was the end of the day for us.Honestly I was little disappointed as I was expecting a night cruise as well but that was not allowed.Hence, nothing to do about it.

Again in the next morning we woke up early and went to the upper deck to experience the sunrise and yeah trust me that view was surreal.Pictures will not do justice to the feeling.

We had our breakfast and our captain dropped us to the finishing point (where we started) at 9 am. They helped us with our luggage till the parking lot and it was the end of my houseboat experience but surely something I will forever keep in my heart.

Some further tips:

  • You can book your houseboats at the jetty on the same day as well but be prepared for bargaining and during the tourists season I will advise you to book it atleast a month back.
  • The ideal time to go is basically the end of monsoon till the beginning of summer i.e. September to February. If you want to experience the famous snake-boat race then you can go somewhere in between September to November.
  • We did not experience any mosquito bites but you can carry an odomos and carry your other toiletries kit as well.
  • I will not recommend solo travelers especially girls for a night stay at the houseboat.You can opt for day cruise in a shikara. That will be much cheap as well.
  • Was it worth it? Yes for a one night experience spending 8k-10k for the experience was worth it.However I will not recommend for staying more than a day.If you are on a budget a day cruise will be perfect for you.You can also stay at lake palace resort which is situated overlooking the Vembanad lake and was exactly opposite to the place where our houseboat was anchored for the night.

Hope you find this blog helpful.Keep travelling 🙂

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