The Canals of Kerala
This is a fascinating area and is featured in the list of the "1000 things to do before you die" book. This is a lush, tropical area with narrow canals and people living along the canals. Most are farmers. This is a water locked area so the only means of transport is by the waterways. The children wave and smile, the residents are actively going about their daily lives. Canoes are going up and down, children are swimming, the women are doing the washing; it is truly fascinating.The area is also very scenic as the trees cross over the canals and the lushness of the foliage and all the different shades of green combine to create a magical experience. Drifting along in such comfort and style with the friendliness of the local people, it feels like a different country from the chaotic atmosphere of Mumbai. If you visit Southern India, this should be on your tour plans.
Whether to do the Oberoi cruise or the Houseboats is each personís choice. The difference lies in details of the experience. The canals and what you see will be the same.
Oberoi Cruise Ship - Vrinda
About one hour out of Cochin you can board the cruise ship, Vrinda.
This is a 2- or 3- night cruise that is operated by Oberoi Hotels. This is a
pretty comfortable and luxurious ship that carries 18 guests. The cabins
are a nice size, with king size beds, air conditioning, flat screen TV,
DVD players and nice sized bathroom. The dining room is air conditioned
and they have an open air lounge and sundeck. This cruise does travel
to the same backwater canals that the houseboats travel. This looked
pretty good to me and a nice and easy way to see the backwaters.
This cruise does travel to the same backwater canals that the houseboats travel and also offers daily excursions, a one night pre- or post at the Trident Hilton in Cochin, and you are transferred to the performance of the Kathakali Dancers on the first night on board. The excursions, and meals are included in the rate, tips and alcoholic beverages are extra. Price about $800 per person for a 2-nights and $1100 per person for 3-nights. More details are in on our Oberoi Vrinda Review
Houseboats On The Backwaters
These can be a one night cruise up to a seven night cruise. There are so many canals that you could do a 7 days cruise and not repeat the same canal twice. The cruises travel along the canals and into the larger lakes. They stop along the way so you can visit a village or take a walk. Most include all meals, and then tips and alcoholic drinks are extra. Prices vary according to the luxury of the houseboat you chose. A nice boat would be around $400 a night ($200 per person).
There must be 100 houseboats. Some are basic and some are very luxurious. The sizes range from one to three bedrooms. The boats look pretty basic from the outside and are made of local products. Bamboo, coir from the coconut palms, the main rafters of the thatched roof are made from arecanut palm bark and the boat itself is crafted out of the hardwood of the evergreen tree, Anjili. Once aboard, the inside of the boats is very nice and comfortable.
We were on a one bedroom, air conditioned boat that was extremely nice. The bedroom had a wood floor, a ceiling with wood squares with a cloth tapestry inlay, a king size bed, TV, air conditioning, a small but nice bathroom with a full sized bathtub. Upstairs from the bedroom, was a private deck area with chairs and a lounging area covered with pillows. Total decadence, of course we had to lounge on this and have our pictures taken. The main sitting area of the boat featured a dining table, chaise lounge many overstuffed comfy chairs and two chairs on the very front. Beautiful wooden floors and woods were everywhere on the boat and the wood was enhanced on the doors by brass hardware. We had a lot of fun on this boat, drinking wine, eating and taking pictures. The food was too spicy for me so they cooked me a piece of fish with no spice. It was good.