Kerala, in the southwest region of India, is an incredible, diverse state: from tea plantations to the Western Ghats, from tropical beaches to tiger reserves, there’s really something for everyone in Kerala.
The most famous landmark of Kerala, though, is the backwaters region, a network of lakes, natural canals, estuaries and rivers on the western coastal belt.
There are over 900 km of navigable waters and the views and landscapes are truly breathtaking.
Sustainable cruises along the backwaters of Kerala
The best way to explore the area is to take a cruise on a traditional houseboat along the canals.
The traditional boats, that are called “Kettuvallom”, were once used as cargo boats as navigating the canals was the only way of transportation.
The houseboats are made of wooden planks that are tied with coconut ropes, and made with other ecofriendly materials such as bamboo poles and mats.
There are many companies offering day and one-night cruises, but some companies are more interested than others in limiting the impact on the environment.
I highly suggest Spice Coast Cruises , which is part of the CGH Earth Group: this company is highly engaged in giving back to the local communities, respecting the environment and implementing energy and resource saving practices.
The houseboats are solarpowered and include one or two ensuite luxury bedrooms, a dining room and a terrace where guests can relax while navigating through villages and the jungle.
A crew of two or three people takes care of the guests and will prepare mouth-watering traditional Keralan meals.
Taking a one-night cruise is a magic experience that will stay with you forever: imagine to lazily navigate through villages and see life going by marked by the rhythm of nature, see the sun setting over the rice fields, waking up at sunrise to see the waters turning pink and orange. It doesn’t get more romantic than this.
Where to stay: a special ecolodge in Kumarakom
Two days, in my opinion, are really not enough to truly experience this amazing region: a great place to stay is the Coconut Lagoon resort, an ecolodge which is once again part of the CGH Earth group.
There’s only one way to reach the resort not far from Kottayam: a short boat ride brings guests to the hotel, where they are welcomed by the incredible gentle staff and fresh coconut water.
The wooden villas, laid out on two floors, are meticulously furnished with local crafts, furniture and materials, offering a traditional yet elegant and luxurious experience, and the outside bathroom adds something unique to the whole experience.
At Coconut Lagoon you can choose to spend your time in many different ways: you can just relax by the pool, get a treatment or massage at the Ayurveda Centre, canoe in the canals or take a sunset cruise.
Moreover, guests can experience a traditional Keralan meal served on a banana leaf, attend a traditional dance show or learn how to wear a saree.
All of this, while respecting the environment and helping the local communities.
Visiting Kerala soon? Make sure not to miss the backwaters: it will be the highlight of your holiday.