“Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life.”– Michael Palin.
I happened to visit Allappuzha (aka Alleppey) in April 2011, along with my office mates.Alleppey is situated in between Kochi and Kollam. It is famous for being the starting point of the houseboat cruises. The backwaters of Kerala are a network of inter connected canals, rivers and lakes.
There are 3 major backwater travel spots in Kerala:
1) Allappuzha (Nearest Airport: Cochin)
2) Kumarakom (Nearest Airport: Cochin)
3) Kollam (Nearest Airport: Trivandrum)
Frankly speaking, the number of house boats in Allappuzha is on a higher side and it’s a little crowded here.
We had booked the house boat (including food), well in advance. As we were a group of 18, we decided to take a bigger house boat.The Backwaters of Alleppey have been used for centuries by local people for transportation, fishing and agriculture. Today Backwater/house boat tourism is quite common in Kerala.These days we have house boats with all sort of facilities like Bath attached A/C rooms, Conference halls and so on. There are luxury and premium house boats aswell, which will be very costly.
So when you plan a trip to Alleppey, you should also plan about the type of the boat that you want. Whatever is the type that you select, I would personally suggest to add the food package (Veg and Non veg options available) along with your house boat booking. Also you will have to decide if you are taking a day trip or a Night/stay trip. My personal preference is a day trip. Normally there will be 2-3 staff in the houseboat.
The day trip would start around 9 Am and drop you back by 5PM and the night/stay trip house boats usually depart around midday and return the following day at 8Am.
Different operators will offer slightly different routes, depending on your budget.
Your trip will usually start with a welcome drink which is a fresh coconut. For lunch they usually prepare rice, Sambar, mixed vegetables,chicken ,Fish Fry (fried fish), pickles and fruits. Dinner, you can expect an Indian curry veg or non veg, Chappati, Dal, Rice vegetables or salad. If you looking for a snack you will get tea, coffee and banana fritters. Finally for breakfast you will get a choice of eggs, bread, butter and Jam and either a Dosa or Poori Masala.
Some house boats will also stop at nearby toddy shop, where you can try some Toddy.
You can also buy lobsters, prawns and so on from local fishermen and the house boat cook would prepare some tasty dishes with that fish. Obviously, such fish would normally be very costly.
Note: The food is normally prepared using coconut oil, but if you have some oil preferences, please communicate the same to the house boat staff/owner/booking agent, in advance.
The best time to visit Alleppey is during the months of September to March. Alleppey has moderately hot summers with April and May being the hottest months.
If you have enough time, you can also explore the backwaters in the Government Ferry/boat. There are boats that are run by the State Water Transport Department (SWTD) of Kerela. There are many stops in different locations with people getting on and off. The ticket rates will be extremely low in these types of boats. You can also see a lot of tourists taking this means of transport aswell.
You can also try some local Canoe here
Important Note: If you have small kids in your trip, please be very careful. The water here is very deep.
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