The Keralan backwaters are a network of interconnected canals, rivers, lakes, and inlets, a labyrinthine system formed by more than 900 km of waterways, and sometimes compared to the American Bayou. They lay parallel to the Arabian Sea coast in Kerala, a state in southern India. They are a lush, beautiful spot for outdoor enjoyment, and can be enjoyed in various ways.
The first and most popular mode of the journey in the city of Allepey's backwaters is, of course, via houseboat (called kettuvallams in India). These wooden luxury boats can be rented out for days at a time, often including a cooking staff. These boats can be rented through many many companies, and it is best to book in person, where bartering is possible then online or pre-booking. Always talk to locals for reasonable prices - get close to your hotel owner, or neighbor, and they will point you to the best deals. Due to houseboats' touristy nature, this can be a pricey endeavor (costing up to $100/day) compared to other adventure activities in India.
Another less famous but equally beautiful way to enjoy the backwaters in Southern India is via canoe or kayak. Though this method is less luxurious (don't expect a personal cook), it has its own benefits including the ability to travel deeper into the backwaters (smaller boat = fitting into tight squeezes), and naturally being much cheaper than a houseboat. Though you can likely find lone rentals, it is best to book a kayak or canoe trip with a local guide, as you will learn a lot about the local culture of living in the backwaters. Many guides will also offer a stop-over meal at a friend's home where you can experience authentic South Indian cuisine. Again, these tours are best booked after doing some in-person research and bargaining. This can be done through the Paradise Inn Hotel, whose owner is kind and can help find options for cheap.
On your journeys, you will enjoy lush vegetation along with wildlife spotting that will likely include the national treasure and beer mascot, the Kingfisher.
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