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Kerala Backwaters

India

1/5 A visitor arrives at Chittor Kottaram, formerly the Cochin Raja's Backwaters' home
A visitor arrives at Chittor Kottaram, formerly the Cochin Raja's Backwaters' home
2/5 A dug out canoe can take you to places other boats can't reach
A dug out canoe can take you to places other boats can't reach
3/5 Sit back and watch the Backwaters go by from the deck of a houseboat in Kerala
Sit back and watch the Backwaters go by from the deck of a houseboat in Kerala
4/5 Alleppey in the Backwaters
Alleppey in the Backwaters
5/5 Floating fruit kiosk in the Kerala Backwaters
Floating fruit kiosk in the Kerala Backwaters

A vast network of narrow canals, lakes, rivers and lagoons between Cochin and Kollam (Quilon) make up Kerala’s unique Backwaters

A vast network of narrow canals, lakes, rivers and lagoons between Cochin and Kollam (Quilon) make up Kerala’s unique Backwaters. Hidden from view from the road the area is filled with groves of mango, papaya and jackfruit, rice paddies and fields of tapioca beneath palms that form green archways over the narrowest channels.

Boats of all descriptions are punted, sailed or motored between the villages carrying people to and from their homes and goods to market. Villagers tend to flocks of ducks and prawn farms, stand in water up to their necks, picking up fish from the muddy bottom with their toes, or dive for mussels. Clothes, bodies, pots and pans are washed on the water edge. Little cormorants, snake birds and night heron, kingfishers and egrets are regularly seen.

Once called the Venice of the East, by Lord Curzon, a Viceroy of India this description of Alleppey rather stretches the imagination these days. It is a busy working town and from here hundreds of houseboats, large converted rice barges, set off to ply the waterways . They used to transport goods, but with the collapse of the coconut farming industry and the modernisation of roads, their popularity with visitors is a godsend to local people.  As well as providing a valuable source of income it has also revived an ancient form of boat making that might otherwise have been lost.  However, if you’re feeling more adventurous you might prefer to explore by paddling your own canoe or jumping on board a government ferry. They are crowded but offer an authentic view of life.

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A few of our favourite places to stay:

The house at Olavipe has been in the family for six generations

Olavipe

More than 120 years old, Olavipe has been in Antony’s

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Houseboats drifting along the Backwaters of Kerala

Kerala Houseboat

Spending some time on a houseboat on the Kerala Backwaters is

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The only way to reach Coconut Lagoon is by boat

Coconut Lagoon

Coconut Lagoon sits on the shores of Vembanad Lake in the heart

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View other places to stay in Kerala Backwaters

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Who to talk to

Andrea Hulme

Andrea Hulme’s travel experiences could fill a small novel; from a bit-part in a Tamil movie, to leading expeditions in Kyrgyzstan and negotiating landslides along the Karakoram highway.

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At Natural High, we've had long experience putting together trips in Africa that really work. Whether it's intimate bushcamps in out of the way places, or a private lodge in one of Africa's top-billing wildlife areas, light mobile camping or remote island escapes, we know there is a lot to choose from. We're absolutely confident that we can recommend the right places for you.

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