FINALLY I’ve gotten on the Kerala backwaters! It only took me three years of traveling India to finally check it off my “India travel bucket list“. It was pretty much what I expected except for a couple things.
- The boats have way more amenities than I thought: hot water, generators, comfortable beds, multiple bedrooms (3 on this one), a fully stocked kitchen, and all rooms had A/C. Granted, not all houseboats are like this. You get what you pay for.
- The backwaters are way more crowded than I imagined. Yes, people passing by took photos of us (a group of 6 foreign girls) but, in their defense I took some photos of other people’s boats too!
What to expect on a Kerala houseboat in Alleppey
So, for all our amenities, it was 1800 Rs. for each person. This was part of our goMowgli tour and they negotiated the price for us. I know you can get cheaper overnight houseboat rides, but maybe not with such legit food and A/C, etc. The more people you have the more you save.
Gomowgli is no longer in operation as of 2018, but you can book a tour on Viator if you want something ahead of time. That link will give you all the tour options for Alleppey and you can compare the reviews.
The reason I never did a houseboat ride when I was traveling is because I backpacked India alone and didn’t have anyone to go with me! It’s lame, I know, but it’s a problem solo travelers face as they don’t want to pay so much to take the whole boat, and in my case I didn’t want to be overnight on the river with male staff I didn’t know – secluded from everyone else.
As for the food, it’ll be traditional Kerala style and the fish you get on these boats is apparently not like fish you can get anywhere else. A few questions I had before going were Can I swim? The answer is no. Can I wear a bikini? The answer is if you want to. Is it totally appropriate? No, but we wanted to tan and I don’t think it’s the first time someone has worn a bikini on these boats.
The boat does dock at night and I was surprised to see that they kind of all dock up near each other. We were lucky a family was right next to us because many of the other boats were dudes on their bachelor parties being loud and wasted.
They offered a couple bonuses because we were with goMowgli. One was at sunset a small boat took us for a little cruise once we were docked. It was beautiful. The other was a village tour in the AM for sunrise. If you’ve read this blog a while, no surprise I skipped that. I am not a morning person! You can buy toddy (kind of like a homemade wine) from the locals in the village.
If you want beer, you need to buy at a government shop and bring it on the boat.
Lastly, do not hang your laundry out to dry on the boat! The wind took my favorite tank top, never to be seen again. Whoops.
If you’re on a budget, I love this idea of doing a canoe tour to save dough.
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