An Alleppey houseboat packages are be idea way to enjoy the backwaters on your holiday trip to Kerala.
Kerala's 900km of waterways spread watery tendrils through the region's lusciously green landscape. Palm-shaded, winding canals are lined by back-in-time villages, many of which are accessible only by boat. The best way to experience this backwaters is chose one of the Alleppey houseboat packages.
It is one of India's most enchanting experiences to glide along the canals in a canoe or sleep under a firmament of stars in an Alleppey houseboat. The distinctive houseboats that cluster around the main hubs of Alappuzha and Kollam are designed like traditional rice barges or kettuvallam ('boat with knots', so-called because the curvaceous structure is held together by knotted coir). Kollam backwater tours are not crowded as in Alleppey.
There are several ways to explore the backwaters. The most popular method is to go for a Kerala backwater tour package in a houseboat for a night or two. These sleep anything from two up to 14 or more people. They vary wildly in luxury and amenities.
The hire includes staff, so catering is included, and you'll eat traditional Kerala meals of fish and vegetables cooked in coconut milk. However, the popularity of these Alleppey houseboat tour can mean that the main waterways get very busy, even gridlocked, in season.
Another means of seeing the waterways is to take a public ferry. This is the cheapest way to travel, and you can take trips from town to town, though again you won't see much of the smaller canals where it is really tranquil. More expensive, but still very cheap, is the tourist cruise between Kollam and Alleppey, a scenic slow trip that takes all day.
The best way to explore deep into the network and escape the bigger boats is to take a canoe tour, as this will allow you to travel along the narrower canals and see village life in a way that's impossible on a house or ferry boat.
Village tours with a knowledgeable guide are another tranquil way to explore the region and understand some of the local culture.
Be eco-friendly when you chose your Alleppay houseboat packages
It is not all perfect in paradise. Pollution and land reclamation threaten the habitat of the waterways and the communities on their banks. It is estimated that the water levels have dropped by two-thirds since the mid-19th century, and many migratory birds no longer visit the area.
The sheer numbers of houseboats mean that pollution is a major problem. Although outboard motors are not permitted, some operators use them on smaller boats.
To ensure that your cruise is eco-friendly, ask to see operators' certification: those houseboat owners who have a 'Green Palm Certificate' are the ones to go for, which means they have installed solar panels and sanitary tanks.
It is also better for the environment to avoid using Air Condition as this requires a great deal more power. Best of all are the few remaining punting, rather than motorised, boats.
Things to see around in your Alleppey houseboat packages
The Venice comparisons are mere exaggeration. But step out of the hectic centre, and Alappuzha is graceful and greenery-fringed, set around its grid of canals. Explore the vast watery highways of the region and you'll experience one of Kerala's most mesmerizingly beautiful and relaxing experiences.
It is the gateway to the fabled backwaters, a sprawling network of canals-float along and gaze over rice fields of rich green, curvaceous rice barges, and village life along the banks. Most people in town would like to organise you some houseboat or canoe action. It is also home to the famous Nehru Trophy Snake Boat Race.
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