Spending a night on a private houseboat is a tranquil way to explore the magical backwaters of Kerala and is a must on any Keralan adventure with your very own crew to cook traditional Keralan meals and to ensure you have the most enjoyable stay on board.
At a Glance
Completely private with just you and your very own crew on board
The houseboat drops anchor away from the other boats making it very peaceful and relaxing
You can go on a houseboat for just an afternoon, the one night or even two
The mosquitoes can be a bit of a pest so do remember to take plenty of insect repellent
Watch the Keralan life slide by; children bathing, women washing their clothes, and the men hard at work in the fields
Watch the local Keralan life go on as usual as you relax on the houseboat.Scott Dunn team
You don't have to stay on a houseboat if you don't want to. A day cruise is an equally good way to get a good feel of life beside the backwaters and watch the world go by.Emma Mark
Ask the captain if you can have a go at steering when you're on the lake. I promise you it's not as easy as it looks!Jessica Campbell
The food is simple but probably one of the best meals we had in Kerala!Scott Dunn team
The backwaters of Kerala are a fascinating and integral part of this tropical state and the best way to discover this expansive area is on a converted rice barge. Life in the backwaters is very relaxed and slow paced, like a vast rural Venice. The boat is the main form of transport on the backwaters and they vary from beautiful old rice barges, slowly punted along the waterways to small one man canoes, that nip around the islands, like the scooters of Bombay. The backwaters are fantastically picturesque and enjoyable to visit.
Private houseboats accommodate two people plus a crew of three, including a captain and cook. The bedroom is private and the bathroom modern, with showers, flush toilets and hot water. You will spend the day gently exploring the backwaters and this is best seen from the deck of your houseboat as you watch the world go by. Children playing in the water, fishermen hard at work, women washing clothes by hand, traditional snakeboats floating by, local wildlife and scenery, there is plenty to captivate the senses.
In the evening, you will moor up and a traditional Keralan feast will be served on your deck. Two and three-bedroom houseboats are also available as are two-night cruises that allow you to venture even deeper into the intricate maze of canals and lagoons.
Within the fleet there are one, two or three-bedroom private houseboats. The bedrooms are cosy and provide a small en-suite shower room. The rooms have decent sized windows with views out of one side of the boat. Each bedroom has air-conditioning and a fan.
Children are welcome on board but there are no specific facilities available for them. The chef can certainly tailor make his menus to suit the younger guests on board.
The houseboats are comfortably furnished with an open lounge and dining area and a kitchenette serving traditional local cuisine, with the freshest of fish and local spices all cooked over a coal fire. In the evening relax in an armchair with your favorite drink in hand whilst watching the Keralan life go by before the sun sets and the starry night is uncovered.
Aside from the stunning beaches and waterways why not visit one of twelve wildlife sanctuaries and two National Parks, nestled in the lush forests of the Western Ghats, where you can catch glimpses of elephants, gaur, sambar, deer and wild dogs. The Kerala Hill Stations are also well worth a visit as they are home to beautiful cascading waterfalls, tea and cardamom plantations, and breathtaking scenery ideal for walking and trekking.
Location & Directions
Journey round Kerala's beautiful backwaters which consist of a complex network of brackish lagoons, lovely lakes and canals.
When to go
Isolated from much of India by the Western Ghats, the climate of Kerala & Karnataka is tropical and as a result of the mountain ranges the area isn’t as dry as much of India. The best time to visit is from January through to April. While there can be the occasional light showers these are just a prelude of the wet weather to come. The weather is generally hot and humid during this early summer. The monsoon season arrives in early June and thus can wash out July and August. September is much more humid as a result of the rainy season, and the fall can be dry but with the humidity this makes it feel quite warm. There can be a little rain in the night in October and November. The temperatures cool down and the humidity lets up as winter comes in around December, with this season lasting until February when the dry spring returns. Winter can be a pleasant time to visit, especially if you’re looking to head off the beach and explore the rest of this Indian land of mystery.