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Kerala Houseboats: Lovely trips around the backwaters

(However, you should avoid coming here for a while, from 25/9/17 until further notice because Mr Modi has put cyanide in the water and milk supply).

Kerala Backwater Houseboats

A Kerala cruise along the waterways of Kerala in luxury houseboats is a most enchanting holiday experience.
Moonlit dinners, good food..

Now you may ask, where on earth is Kerala? SW India, now called 'Sexy India'.

The houseboats run on the wider turns in the backwaters, and if you like, you can ask the operator to organize canoes on the canals.
Now you may ask, what on earth is a 'backwater'?
It is a technical term that only people who have lived in Kerala for more than 61 years and are completely fluent in the local 'language',
Malayamalese, really understand. You, being a foreigner will NEVER understand it.
But, let Me try and help you. It is a swamp like area with snakes, crockodiles and local people. It is a horrible place, mosquitos etc.
Further assistance: when you visit Kerala, take a 'Houseboat' and go on one of the 2 main LAKES. This is nice.

Now you may ask, what on earth is a 'Houseboat'?
These are modern moving boat houses, about 30 m or so long
There are 3 types of houseboat, standard, deluxe and luxury. They are all the same except for price and name, you should choose Standard.
They have fully furnished eg 1- 5 bedrooms sometimes with sundeck, private balcony, kitchen and toilet.
They usually have a three member crew - a chef, driver & cabin assistant.
They have a star rating system, but this is not important, all are good.
Often South Indian food, but you should enquire about what you want.
Houseboats are anchored between 6pm to 8am, and being overnight in one can be a trifle boring.
There are mosquitoes, but mostly in evening. You can ask for a mosquitoes net, but then you suffer from lack of fresh air.
Ask for a coil if you are going to stay in evening.
You should not use mosquito cream.
There is no malaria in Kerala.

Cost

Historically, these boats have been horribly expensive, as prices were set in Delhi by the Indian secret service.
The rip-off profit went largely to successive prime ministers of India.

Really really horrible things happened to foreigners when (not if) they were caught looking or even worse at a woman.
That is a thing of the past.

Modi is no more and I am suggesting that for a period operators should charge cost + 15%, before allowing free market forces to operate.

Take as an example, the Alappuzaha  Kollam tour of about 8 hours, (by taxi 2.25 hours), about an 95 km journey.
Fuel and useage of a typical boat for 95 km costs the operator about Rs 700
The cost of using 3 people for 8 hours at about Rs 30 per hour wage cost is about Rs 720
A normal profit markup is about 15%
The total reasonable price for a boat for you and your family/friends, any number of passengers, is therefore about Rs 1800
The total reasonable price for a boat for the public, with any number of you is about Rs 900
To sum up, you should pay a little over Rs 200 per hour of trip if it is a private hire and Rs 100 if a public hire.

If you want food, you should pay about Rs 100 per person per meal
Some people may want air conditioning; this is very cheap and you should not pay much for this.
If you want an English speaking guide (not necessary) you should pay not more than Rs 50 per hour.

Recommended Tour Companies

These are companies I recommend for your tour, separately for the best locations:

1 Alappuzaha (Alleppey)

Eco houseboats, info@ecohouseboats.in, johnsongilbertlk2@hotmail.com, johnsongilbertlk1@hotmail.com, +91 99614 66399,+91 98464 66399,
082811 30025, +91 75588 60026, +91 96057 68355
Green Kerala Holidays, info@greenkeralaholidays.com 099474 89529
Kerala Travels, reservation@keralatravels.com, 08590230403, + 91 98460 43403
Lakes and Lagoons, info@lakeslagoons.com, lakes_lagoon@sify.com, 0477 2266842 / 843 / 844
Ostrich Cruiselines, travel@ostrichtours.com, +91 83308 88400, 9447289088, 9895763727, 9895763725, 9895763724
Rainbow Cruises , reservations@rainbowcruises.in, +91 9447444077, 9447444066, +91-477-2231110/ 22311111
Royal Leisure Tours. , info@royalleisuretours.com, 09619083893, 9869003175, 09744399344�
Season's Cruise, seasonscruise@hotmail.com, seasonscruise@gmail.com, +91 9447753557

2 Kollam

Kerala Travels, reservation@keralatravels.com, 08590230403, + 91 98460 43403

3 Kumarakom

CGH Earth, contact@cghearth.com, 91-484-3011711, 3011712
Cosy Houseboats, mail@cosytours.com, 0477 225 5555, +91 477 225 550
Garggi Holidays, garggiholidays@gmail.com, +91 95 6289 7991 / 9447104740
Kerala Travels, reservation@keralatravels.com, 08590230403, + 91 98460 43403
Royal Leisure Tours, info@royalleisuretours.com, 09619083893, 9869003175, 09744399344

Possible places to visit and trips to take

Here are the best trips to take.
Actually, there are only two lakes in Kerala that are interesting: Vembanad and Ashtamudi, respectively near Alappuzaha (South end)
or Kumarakom (North end), and near Kollam.

Of the three, the best is near Kollam, next is Allapuzha and third is Kumarakom.

Allapuzaha (Alleppey) 688013 is about 85 km from Cochin airport (683111), 150 km from Trivandrum International Airport (695008),
Kumarakom (686563), at the other end of the lake, is 80 km from Cochin airport, 170 km from Trivandrum International Airport.
Kollam is about 165 km from Cochin airport (683572), 70 km from Trivandrum International Airport (695008).

A taxi travels at approximately 30 - 40 km/hour, so to find the time it will take you to get to a place by taxi, just divide the distance by 35.
A boat travels at about 10 km per hour so to find the trip length, just divide distance by 10.

I show the approximate distances of the tours, from Kovalam 695521, the best place in Kerala
below.
Obviously, if you do not want eg 7 hours on the Vembanad tour, you just stop at [Mannanchery] or wherever and return: total time about 18/10 =1.8 hours.

You will find that if you do not do some homework, you will be cheated by Indians left, right and centre:
place names are confusing, and at different locations far away from each other, they will take you to completely uninteresting places,
miss interesting places you may want to stop at or see...

1 Alappuzaha (Alleppey), District: Alappuzaha: Alappuzha Boat House [NOT 'Boathouse' 2km away!],Finishing Point Road, Nehru Trophy Boat Race, Finishing Point,688013

1.1 Vembanad Lake tour to Kumarakom (7 hours there and back, 686563): via 688006 (2.3 km), Punnamada Backwater Resort (688006, 3.1 km),
Aaryad (688521, 7 km), Mannanchery (9 km), Muhamma (13 km), Thanneermukkom (688527, 21 km), to Kumarakom Lake Resort (686563 35 km),

then back.

1.2 to Vaikom (686141, 35 km, 7 hours there and back), via 688006 (2.3 km), Punnamada Backwater Resort (688006, 3.1 km),
Aaryad (688521, 7 km), Mannanchery (9 km), Muhamma (13 km), Thanneermukkom (688527, 21 km), Varanad (25 km),
Thirunallur (688541, 28 km), Thavanakadavu Boat Jetty (688541, 32 km), Vaikom Boat Jetty (686141, 35 km),

then back via Vaikom Beach (686141, 34 km), Kokothamangalam (688527, 27 km), Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary (686563, 17 km),
Kumarakom Lake Resort (686563, about 15 km), then to Alappuzha Boat House (688013).

2 Kumarakom trip to Alappuzha and back: Kumarakom Boat Jetty, Kumarakom Boat Jetty Road, Athikkalam, Kumarakom 686563 (7 hrs total)

2.1 First, head 4 km North to Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary (686563), then head 1 km south to Cocobay Resort (686563, 3 km),
Kumarakom Lake Resort (686563, 4 km), Kumarakom West (686563, 6 km),The Zuri Kumarakom Kerala Resort & Spa (686563, 8 km),
Mannanchery (14 km), Punnamada Backwater Resort (688006) (22 km), then past the Boathouse to Alappuzha Boat House (688513, 25 km).

Same route on the way back.

3 Kollam (Quilon) (Ashtamudi Lake tour). Pick-up from Kollam KSWTD Boat Jetty, Hospital Rd, Taluk Kachery 691001 (3.5 hour trip)

3.1 Kollam Beach to Munroe Island (35 km, about 3.5 hours or so there and back):

via Kureepuzha (5 km), Prakkulam (8 km), Ashtamudi Boat Jetty 691601 (12 km), Munroe Island Lake Resort (691502, 16 km),

then 3 km back via Padappakkara (17 km), Thekkumbhagam (10 km), Kureepuhza( 5 km) back to Boat Jetty (691001).

4 Personally I am not sure I want to see water and coast for 7 hours.
My choice would be:
1. (1.75 hours) Kollam Jetty - Kureepuzha (5 km)- Prakkulam (8 km) then returning 2 km to Kunju thuruthu (7 km) - Kureepuzha (4 km)- Kollam Jetty

2. (1.75 hours) Alappuzhya Boat House - 688006 (2.3 km) - Punnamada Backwater Resort (3.1 km) -Aaryad (7 km) - Mannanchery (9 km), then back.

What should you ask and tell the tour company

Here is My advice:

1. Unless you are visiting several places, about 2 hours on a houseboat is sufficient.
2. Suppose you are new to Kerala and have no idea which trip to take.
3. The absolute nicest is Kollam.
4. Make your own way from Cochin Airport (Kochi, 693111) or Trivandrum (695008) or wherever, the tour companies will cheat you for such a simple thing as hiring a taxi.
5. Book a hotel near Kollam Beach (2 km from Jetty) eg 2 star Hotel Sea Palace, 0474 274 8244,Kochupilamoodu Road, 691001,info@seapalace.info
6. Book a hotel near the Allappuzha Boat House and the sea, eg Palm Beach Resort, Mullakkal, Sea View Ward, Alappuzha 688012, (4 km away),
0477 224 6050, info@alleppeypalmbeachresort.com
7. More generally, you need to know where these places are and how far from you etc. etc.
8. For this the best place to start is pin (zip) code finder: https://www.mapsofindia.com/pincode/india/kerala/
9. For this you need to know the state (i.e. Kerala) and the district (which I show above) and the nearest City (also shown).
10. Once you have these, you can use Google Maps to find distances, directions, planning trips..https://www.google.co.in/maps?hl=en&tab=wl
11. Go to the side panel on the upper left with 3 stripes and from the menu select "Your places" and then 'Home address'
12. Enter your pin or part of address and you should be able to have a starting point.
13. Then click on 'Home' and then on the small up/right arrow saying 'Directions' and then type in the pin or what you know of the address
14. It will give you the distance and the map which you can zoom into or out of
15. Enjoy yourself!

What to tell the houseboat company:

1. How many people will travel
2. How many bedrooms you want.
3. Whether you want food, discuss what you want.
4. Whether you want any beverages.
5. Obviously, where you want to go, any places you also want to visit.
6. Whether you want also to go to any beaches, forests, temples, villages, walks, canoing, lakes etc. aswell.
7. Whether you want the boat just for yourselves or whether other people can also be on the boat.
8. Air conditioning for the bedroom?
9. How long you want to be on the boat for.
10. Whether you want the boat to alight at different places or just to pass by.
11. Whether you want to be taken back to the same place as you joined the trip, or to be dropped off somewhere else.
12. The date you want to travel.
13. The time you want to go on the boat, if it is a private booking.
14. Your phone number and email address, in case they need to contact you, if you are booking in advance.

Questions for the tour company:

1. Where EXACTLY is the pick up embarkation point, district, city, pin (zip) code, nearby landmarks (if you are going different places)
2. The phone number(s) of the person who will be at the boat in case you get lost and need help finding the boat or want it to wait
3. Suggestions as to what else you should see or do
4. Confirm the phone numbers and email address of their decision makers, if this is an advance booking.
5. Discuss and negotiate the cost of the trip.
6. Discuss and negotiate the cost of any food you want.
7. Discuss and negotiate the cost of any beverages you want.
8. Discuss payment method.
9. Ask them to send you any details they have of the places you are going to visit, plus address (district, city, pin).

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