Idyllic rural life is a must see for any Indian adventure. The challenge is a potential overdose of road transport in extremely hot, dangerous, noisy, and all other conceivable vehicular unpleasantries. I found that Kerala offers the ultimate solution – peaceful, safe, and scenic boat tours of incredible water and landscapes. Perfect for families!
Kerala is blessed with hundreds of miles of unspoilt bays, lakes, and “water roads” around and through lush jungle, coconut plantations, farms, and small villages with farmers and families going about their business in an endless series of Kodak moments. My kids and I made a day trip of it but the boats are also used as floating hotels (NEXT TIME!) which are perfect for families.
After a 40 minute shuttle from Fort Cochine we arrived at a small house with a garden and a few farm animals fronting the water with about a 50 foot boat powered by a small quiet motor. The kids loved wandering around, taking pictures and dying of anticipation to get on that boat. Our journey begins!
We saw men raking the lake bottom for the local small clams, people bathing and washing clothes at water’s edge, osprey (fish hawks?), and general bucolic utopia all from the comfort of a quite and shady boat. We stopped on an island to see and learn about a modest clam shell processing plant and coconut plantation, coconut products, and other local foodstuffs and tropical plants. We had the chance to sample and buy authentic clams prepared the traditional way with spices and vegetables as well as the exotic fermented in coconut flower bud “beer” – wow!
After a few more miles of incredible scenery and a million photos, back to the farm house for a fantastic lunch of rice and several vegetable side dishes; many with coconut. I was shocked but proud that my kids tried everything and went back for seconds for their favorites.
At this point I was completely satisfied with our tour, but wait, THERE’S MORE! That was just the “big” boat portion. We were shuttled for about 20 minutes to what I’d describe as a grassy place “down by the river”, and having to walk gingerly past a tied up but not friendly water buffalo, to two 18 foot or so wooden canoes powered by a man and a push pole.
This “small boat” tour takes you up the narrow canals encased in lush jungle and snaking through coconut plantations and right by simple small country homes on the water, along with short stops to see how locals make rope from coconut shell fiber and a tea break for incredible “chai” like tea. Again – the kids went nuts with anticipation about what was around the next bend and the camera battery meter was definitely flashing red and “low”.
A day trip with a reputable company is a must do, but, if I’d have to do it over and you are adventurous – an overnight stay on a boat (all price/comfort ranges available) is highly recommended.
Our hotel hooked my kids and I up with an this unforgettable day long boat tour for about US$ 20 per person including transport and lunch.