Tailor made houseboat cruise in Kerala, India

“Set yourself afloat amongst the tranquil back waters of Kerala on a one bed crewed houseboat that's designed for intimacy and comfort, not for large groups.”

Highlights

Vilakkumaram Canal | Thannermukkom | Kumarakom | Vechoor | Cheeppunkal | Rajapuram Kayal | village walk at Pulincunnoo | Mancombu | Akkathara Canal | Kainakary | Chavara Bhavan | Cherukayal | Mannar market | Karumadi Kuttan | Sree Krishna Temple | Pullangadi |

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
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Vacation type

Tailor made vacation

The tour operator offering this vacation is a British company with an intimate knowledge of the destination. All their vacations are tailor made which means that they can create a unique vacation for your individual requirements. They offer a range of accommodation from guesthouses and homestays to the more luxurious hotels. Where possible they use properties that are heritage or characterful. Quality and value are the hallmark of these trips. They are licenced to sell flights from the UK and will search for the best airfare for your dates. If you book flights with them, then the whole vacation will be protected by ATOL. This tour operator is also a member of ABTA – this means that all their vacations adhere to the ABTA Code of Conduct, their finances, insurances etc are checked regularly and if you have a complaint that cannot be resolved there is an arbitration scheme available to you.

Responsible tourism

Tailor made houseboat cruise in Kerala, India

Carbon reduction

Your vacation will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this vacation and how to reduce them.

Environment

Individual vacations have a lower impact on the environment as waste, power etc is minimal. Traveling independently means that our customers have the opportunity to interact with the locals. Because this cruise takes you way beyond the range of most houseboat trips, you will find yourselves visiting villages where tourists rarely go.

Our houseboats are operated by Lakes and Lagoons - one of the original and best houseboat companies. They are ISO 9001-2000 certified and were the first houseboat tour company to attain this. Kerala Tourism have a rating system for houseboats and we are pleased to report that the air-conditioned boat used on this cruise has been awarded a Silver Star. The stars are awarded based on safety, quality and service.

Lakes and Lagoons is a purely Indian owned company and all their staff are local people. Each boat has a crew of three – a guide/cook and two boatmen. All the furnishings & equipment on board is sourced and purchased locally and all the food served is bought in the local markets and cooked on board. The food is ethnic home cooking (most recipes handed down through the family of the cook) and may include curries made from locally grown organic vegetables and fish caught in the backwaters themselves.

Kettuvallams are country boats and were originally used for the transport of goods. The advent of roads and bridges throughout the Kuttanad region of Kerala (known as the backwaters) meant that these traditionally made boats were being phased out. But tourism has brought them back and the artisan boat-makers are busy again. The boats are still made in the traditional way from natural materials - wood (mostly anjili), coconut and bamboo.

Teak House - this homestay is the home of Mr and Mrs Sunil Elias and their adult daughter. The house is set on a sizable plot of land adjacent to the Periyar River and is good for bird watching. Mr Elias is a keen bird watcher and photographer and is happy to share his knowledge with guests. There are two guest rooms and a swimming pool.

The ground handling of this tour is provided by our local agent and we supply him with 90% of his turnover. All of the drivers and staff are local people. Thus we have fifteen local families that are directly financially reliant upon us. Our drivers have a contract and are paid a monthly wage. This is very unusual in South India where most drivers are normally employed on a commission-only basis (not easy for such seasonal work).

All of our customers are supplied with detailed information about their vacation. We supply general advice relevant to all customers as well as more specific facts about your particular tour. These documents offer our customers lots of advice and guidance including how to obtain an Indian Visa, which immunisations are recommended, how much to tip people, how to dress appropriately and how to behave in National Parks. We support local charities and invite our customers to do so too (details are supplied with your travel documents).

10 Reviews of Tailor made houseboat cruise in Kerala, India

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Reviewed on 16 Apr 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Just loved the peace of floating down the river, and watching life happen on the riverbanks.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?




3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


not sure

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Wonderful experience

Reviewed on 03 Dec 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


We have been able to totally relax and let the world go by due to the lovely boat, the brilliant crew who looked after our every wish and the unspoilt area.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


I would suggest using Teak house on the first day/night when arriving in Kerala (we were so tired after the plane journey) then go to the boat for the relaxing part.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Absolutely our purchases helped local people and businesses I hope we had a minimal carbon footprint while on the boat.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Absolutely brilliant.

Reviewed on 30 Nov 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The houseboats in Kerala

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Take the upgrade options - the hotels and rooms we had were fantastic.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes. We used smaller local hotels and transport. They were all careful with their environmental impact - as much as they could.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Amazing. We enjoyed every part of it. Our tour operator built us a great tour which worked really well. There was lots to do and plenty of variety. Our driver,
Sidgi (not sure about the spelling) was helpful and friendly. He was flexible and helped us to find what we most enjoyed on the trip.

Reviewed on 25 Oct 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Every aspect of our trip was memorable and it is impossible to select one particular feature that stands out. We particularly appreciated the houseboat in traditional style, unlike some of the more modern closed in boats with what we assume would be A/C and which were, as a result, not open to the surroundings. We didn't need A/C by day because of the style of the boat and the A/C at night was excellent. Our staff of 3 was excellent and non-intrusive and the food was spectacular.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Take a waterproof or umbrella in case of rain and any alcohol you might wish to drink as alcohol is not available on board.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Unsure about this. Certainly, from the response of the local people, tourists are appreciated but are not hassled in any way. From the welcome received, one must assume that tourists are seen in a positive way as contributing to the local economy. As to the environmental impact, that is uncertain, but if to guarantee tourism conservation and eco projects are necessary then such vacations must have a positive impact.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


The vacation, which was recommended to us as excellent, proved to be such and we have no hesitation in recommending it to others. Indeed, we already have, and specified this company. We have no criticisms, only the greatest praise.

Reviewed on 25 Apr 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


All of it. Every day was a new adventure. From the excellent food to the beautiful scenery and friendly helpful crew.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Travel light, relàx and enjoy. Take a good camera and binoculars.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Our crew took us to various places where we could spend money but you get a
real feel of local people when you have time to walk and talk to them which
they are very keen to do. The crew buy fresh supplies from local sources.
The boats themselves however pump out diesel fumes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


This was a thoroughly relaxing, enjoyable experience watching nature and dining on far too much food. However the bird sanctuary had no birds in it, the
snake boats only race in August and the coir industry has moved out of the
area. Six days was a little too long but it enabled us to travel further to more
beautiful places and travel along some of the smaller canals.

Reviewed on 27 Jan 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The houseboat, and the precious three days at the Carnoustie Resort. The houseboat, arranged with Lakes and Lagoons, was run so professionally by Suresh and his team. Our room was spotless, the living accommodation at the front of the boat was comfortable and spacious, the food amazing (we were offered and enjoyed all manner of Keralan dishes) and plentiful, the staff genuinely friendly and helpful - taking us twice to a local church along a waterside path in the dark, so that we could attend a Christmas Carol service; getting us fresh coconuts so that we could drink the juice; sharing recipes for the delicious food we'd eaten; pointing out kingfishers and explaining the mechanics of a rice paddy. Nothing seemed too much trouble to them, and we were so glad we had two nights on the boat.
The Carnoustie Resort was a dream; our own wonderful villa, more delicious food, the friendliest staff everywhere, excellent yoga teacher, spa treatments, bikes to borrow so that we could visit the local village, a fabulous pool and perfect beach with comfortable loungers and always iced water provided free... They even arranged an abbreviated evening of Kathakali for us, staged dramatically against a backdrop of swaying palm trees, and a morning visit to the beach by an elephant - wonderful for the lucky children who were staying there too. We hated having to leave.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Our contact in Kerala did a marvellous job of keeping in touch with us at every stage, and made sure we could get in touch if we needed to (we didn't). They gave us sensible advice on what we could expect, so that we could make an informed choice, and when our travel pack arrived, it contained the most comprehensive information on everything from getting an Indian visa to tipping. They even arranged to have a couple of bird books delivered to us before our trip with them began, so that our days on the houseboat were made even more memorable by our attempts at identifying the myriad of birds we saw.
Next time we would arrange our whole trip with them, instead of booking some of it ourselves.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes. Both the houseboat staff and the Carnoustie encouraged us to go out into the community , where we spent money on local products. The air conditioning in our bedroom on the houseboat was only on during the night, when we really needed, and Suresh gave us candles in the evening when it was dark, so that we wouldn't attract insects with electric light and need to have the mosquito nets down, and that worked well. The Carnoustie recycles grey water and grows its own fruit and vegetables.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


It was a wonderful vacation, and we would love to go back.

Reviewed on 24 Apr 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Each place we visited was like a new vacation. Brilliantly put together, great choice of places to stay. And of course Kerala was amazing, and the food to die for.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Don't rush - spend as long as possible in each place! You won't want to leave...

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent. Thank you to the operator for a really great, relaxing and memorable vacation.

Reviewed on 28 Mar 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


It's hard to say, because so much of it was memorable, but if pushed I would say that the most magical moment was waking up in the houseboat on the Kerala backwaters to see, way across a paddy field, an elephant trudging along the road amid the usual chaotic cacophony of cars, lorries, tuk-tuks, bikes, motorbikes and unaccountably still living pedestrians.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Don't try and do a hill station visit in two days. We spent the best part of one day driving up there, and half of another day driving back down again. The drives were fascinating and never dull, and we stopped for photos of tea pickers, a Hindu temple ceremony, monkeys on the roadside and lots more; but it would have been good to have had two full days up in Periyar itself, to enable us to visit the wildlife park as well as doing all the things we did on the day we had (elephant station visit, ayurvedic massage, spice farm
walk).

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I think it benefited local people, eg by our buying direct from as many small producers as possible, eating Indian food in Indian outlets, and generally avoiding manifestations of the global commercial behemoth. We learned a lot about spice farming, elephants and the communities of the Backwaters. I'm not sure how it reduced environmental impact, since we did a lot of driving and our houseboat was also motor-powered. I refused plastic bags in every shop, much to the surprise of most shop-keepers!

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Marvellous. We will return.

Reviewed on 15 Aug 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Our vacation was amazing, lots of fantastic places. Staying in treehouse overlooking waterfall, watching world go by from houseboat and trekking through Periyar reserve, just few of memorable moments.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Use really good mosquito spray. DEET didn't seem to deter them in the least.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Amazing.

Reviewed on 06 Mar 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Eyes and ears wide open from sunrise to sunset, India at a relaxed pace, stunning scenery, friendly and easy-going local people, excellent boat crew and fabulous boat, amazing birdlife, superb freshly prepared food (some of the best we've had on our extensive travels in India), scrubbing and bathing baby elephants in the river (an add-on to the vacation that was well worth doing)...

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Most people take shorter cruises of 1-2 nights. Visiting Kerala for the third time, we wanted to be able to get off the beaten track and explore more in depth (we were led to believe that this would be possible on the 6 day cruise). However, we found the 6-day houseboat cruise itinerary had not been checked in advance and the local staff had no prior knowledge of the itinerary. Some of the narrow canals were no longer navigable. This needs to be checked regularly in order to avoid disappointment.

We arranged to pay a little extra for A/C to be available in the bedroom during the day if required. This was well worth doing as the heat was quite intense when the boat was stationary or when we returned from one of our village/market walks. Some travelers complain about the noise of the A/C but we found it was very quiet and unobtrusive.

We would also highly recommend our hotel in Cochin (The Old Lighthouse Bristow). Lovely views on the Arabian Sea, clean swimming pool, friendly and incredibly helpful staff, 5 minutes walk from the Chinese fishing nets.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Overall, it was a wonderful vacation which could be further improved with careful checking and planning of the houseboat itinerary in advance.

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you for taking the time to submit feedback on this tour. We were delighted to see that you enjoyed your vacation but sorry to hear that there were some failings with regard to the 6 day houseboat cruise. We do not know why the local agent’s staff appeared to have no prior knowledge of the itinerary when the tour was originally devised by them and we supplied them with your full itinerary in advance. We were sorry to hear that some of the narrow channels were impassable at the time of your vacation. We will look again at the routing of this tour and may make some changes to avoid future disappointments.

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