Alappuzha – more romantically known as Alleppey – is the hub of Kerala’s backwaters, it is nicknamed ‘The Venice of the East’ and is home to a vast network of waterways and more than a thousand houseboats.
Renting a houseboat and sailing the backwaters in the most popular thing to do here and it was definitely something myself and Ami wanted to do. So we hopped on a train from Varkala and headed to Alleppey. We checked into a 6 bed dorm room at Vedanta Wake Up hostel in the hope of meeting a fun bunch to share the experience with, UNFORTUNATELY, we were the only ones in the room. We’d normally appreciate this privacy blessing, but we were kinda fishing for friends here. (Note: this was late April and fast approaching the rainy season down south so not many westerners around).
We didn’t find any so, instead we booked a tour from our hostel which saw us sailing through the narrow canals in a small canoe boat with two German ladies and a guide.
Our day trip lasted a full working day (9 – 5) and cost 900 rupees each (£9) which, is pretty extortionate in Indian prices. (A houseboat would have cost around £80, which split between a group would have made a really good deal as you spend a night on the boat and catch fresh fish for dinner.) I would recommend heading to the river and making a deal with a local boatsmen instead. They will tailor make your itinerary for about 150 rupees per hour. You’d probably need around 4 hours – my bum started to go numb about 2 hours in so was a bit over it by lunchtime, but as we were on a tour with other people had to power through!
We stopped for lunch (included in the tour price) at an adorable and welcoming local family’s house. There was a 9 year old daughter who could answer pretty much any geography question you through at her. She also spoke about 5 language – very impressed and envious as I struggle with my mother tongue at time! DOH!
We sailed through the canals and watched as kids played, women washed clothes and dishes and bathed in the river. There were also fishermen sailing round selling their fresh produce on their way. Despite being on the river all day, we didn’t actually get bitten that much which was a result!We really enjoyed the stunning greenery and relaxed atmosphere around the backwaters and would definitely recommend it! I feel we had a more personal affair by taking the small rowing boat as opposed to the large house boats.