We leave Mysore and Karnataka behind to set foot on our first destination in the famous state of Kerala. Our final intention was to reach Alleppey, but given the distance that separated us, we decided to make the trip in two days with the intention of reaching Kozhikode (Calicut) and spending the night and then leaving for Alleppey. When we told our plans to the guy on the bus he told us that to get to Kozhikode we would do it at night, so we finally took a bus from Mysore to Sultan Bathery for 250 rupees for both of us and we found a room in Alfa Tourist home for 500 rupees a night in a double room with bathroom.
We made a stop at Sultan Bathery to avoid doing the entire stretch at once, we stayed there for two days and took the opportunity to take a small bus (12 rupees per person) and visit the Edakkal caves (30 rupees entry per person). Inside the caves there are inscriptions from the Neolithic period that can still be distinguished among the rocks.
After our little technical stop we headed to Alleppey, we took the bus to Kozhikode (Calicut) for 125 rupees both. As you can see, what seems to be a few kilometers ended up being transformed into three days of travel since the roads turn around which is pleasant for what is likely to be more hours than you generally expect on any journey to the interior of the state. In Kozhikode we stayed at Marhaba tourist home for 500 rupees a night in a private room with bathroom.
We arrived in Alleppey in the middle of the afternoon after having paid 100 rupees both for the transport between Calicut and Alleppey, the first thing we did was look for accommodation, which we were lucky to find in Whitehouse Inn for 400 rupees a night in a private room with bathroom. Our main objective, like that of many travelers, is to travel through the canals or Backwaters de Kerala and one of the most common points to do it is Alleppey, so you will see quite a few tourists in the area since it is one of the most striking attractions in the state.
Alleppey backwaters tours
The backwaters, or channels of Kerala, are a group of small rivers and streams that build a network of more than 800 km fully navigable. Kerala, in this area, is like a tropical Venice. Along its canals there are entire neighborhoods, houses or towns and they have a life that has nothing to envy to the streets of the rest of the country.
There are several ways to know the backwaters, everything will depend on your time and budget. We explain a little the best known so that you can choose the one that best suits your trip.
Take the public ferry
It is the cheapest option but also the most limited, to do it you will only have to get on the public ferry (the one used by the locals) that goes from Alleppey to Kottayam. The trip will only cost you 40 rupees per person round trip but you will not see the smaller channels and where more life is concentrated. Still, it is an ideal option if you want to have the experience but do not have the money.
We use the ferry to return from the excursion and the truth is that it is easy to use and comfortable.
Rent a motor boat for the day (or a seat)
In the so-called Shikara There is a maximum of 15 people, including the captain, and prices are usually around 800 rupees for a 4-5 hour trip. The price will increase or decrease depending on what you include, since in some cases they can have meals.
This is another of the cheapest options, the good thing about steamboats is that they go faster but they are also a tad bigger than canoes and they do not usually go through little or very small channels.
Rent a canoe for the day (or a square)
Similar to the previous option, it is possible to get on a canoe where you can fit 7 people (including the captain) that will move with shovels. That is to say, your good captain will stick with the whole excursion, give it to him and therefore the trip will go much slower and you may not get very far, but without a doubt, the most beautiful thing is that it is a small group and that also, yes you are lucky and a worthy captain, you will go through super narrow channels and you will see the life of the area a few inches away, slowly but surely.
We decided on this option, it is possible to get it from 800 to 1200 rupees, we paid 1000 each with breakfast and lunch included and the truth is that we loved it. Lasts most of the day.
Sleep or rent a Houseboat for one or more days
The so-called Kettuvallam are undoubtedly the most expensive option and although we did not see much of the sense, one of the most demanded. We say that we do not see much sense because they are the ones that most create the difference between tourist and local and it is very likely that you do not mix much with the inhabitants of the area. Of course, you will have all the comforts available and to have.
Houseboats are small floating houses that you can rent either during the day or for several days to spend the night navigating the widest canals. As it has a decent size, you will not be able to do it in the smallest areas.
Ships are normally manned and can go out for up to Rs 10,000 a day per boat (€ 120) if you want it private, yes, with all the comforts. Although it is possible to find them cheaper if they are shared like this for € 60 a night.
In our case, as you have read, we opted for the canoe and we are more than delighted, it was an extremely beautiful experience and we were sorry for 4 people on the boat (plus the captain). We were traveling with another canoe that was a little further behind or ahead. We stopped at various points, first to do a mid-morning refuel at a small local business next to the canal and the second time to eat in what is basically the house of one of the fishermen, where they prepared a delicious Thali (reduced from spicy for tourists) in banana leaves and enjoyed the company of the rest of the group.
The easiest thing is to hire the excursion at the hotel where you are staying, but you can also simply go to the port of the channels (you will see it because there are several stacked boats) and ask. Most likely, you will find a local offering the excursion and with some luck to the fisherman directly. It is also possible to rent the canoe for yourself only if you want a private trip, obviously paying a little more.
Regarding the price, keep in mind that these good men spend their days shoveling to take you, so you don’t have to be a rat either. Find something that fits your budget and make sure you get what you have agreed to, but don’t overdo the haggling because it is quite an important manual job.
Finally, to say that our canoe had a small awning to cover us from the sun, which was VITAL since it hits over your head at all times during the day. By the way, that awning doesn’t cover our friend the captain. Another reason to consider the price.
Enjoy the trip!