Kerala, known as “God’s Own Country,” is a land of scenic landscapes, lush greenery, and tranquil backwaters. A trip to Kerala’s backwaters is a dream come true for nature lovers and those desiring a peaceful getaway from the rush and bustle of city life. In this blog, we will guide you through everything you need to know to plan a memorable backwater trip to Kerala in 2023.
What is unique about the Backwaters of Kerala?
The Backwaters of Kerala are a natural wonder, boasting a network of interconnected canals, rivers, lakes, and inlets that stretch over 900 km, forming a mesmerizing labyrinthine system. What makes these backwaters truly unique is the delicate balance of freshwater and seawater ecosystems coexisting harmoniously.
The meeting point of freshwater from the rivers and the saline waters of the Arabian Sea creates a fascinating blend of environments. In certain areas, such as the Vembanad Kayal, ingenious barrages have been constructed near places like Kumarakom, preventing seawater from intruding deep into the backwaters, thus preserving the purity of the freshwater. This freshwater serves a crucial role in sustaining local communities by being extensively used for irrigation purposes, nourishing lush paddy fields, and green landscapes.
The Backwaters of Kerala are teeming with a rich biodiversity of aquatic life, including unique species of crabs, frogs, and mudskippers. The waters are a haven for diverse avian species such as terns, kingfishers, darters, and cormorants, delighting birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike. Along the banks, one can find otters playfully diving in and turtles basking under the sun, adding to the charm of this natural sanctuary.
Lining the backwaters are palm trees, pandanus shrubs, and an array of leafy plants and bushes, creating a lush and verdant setting. The abundant greenery harmonizes with the tranquil waters, painting a picturesque landscape that soothes the soul and awakens a sense of wonder.
When to Visit the Backwaters of Kerala
The ideal time to visit the Backwaters of Kerala relies on your choices and the adventures you desire. Kerala’s backwaters have something to offer throughout the year, but different seasons present varying advantages and considerations. Here’s a breakdown to help you plan your visit –
1. Winter (November to February)
This is considered the best time to visit the Backwaters of Kerala. The weather during these months is pleasantly cool and dry, making it ideal for sightseeing, houseboat cruises, and outdoor activities. The skies are clear, and the humidity is low, offering a comfortable and enjoyable experience.
2. Summer (March to May)
Summer in Kerala can be quite hot and humid, which may not be the most comfortable time for outdoor exploration. However, this period allows you to find great deals on accommodations and houseboat rentals, as it falls under the off-peak season. If you can bear the heat, you can still enjoy the backwaters and explore the nearby attractions.
3. Monsoon (June to September)
Kerala experiences heavy monsoon rains during these months. While the lush green landscapes and the sight of rain-soaked backwaters can be enchanting, the continuous downpour may limit outdoor activities and houseboat cruises. The monsoon is also the breeding season for mosquitoes, so be prepared with appropriate repellents if you choose to visit during this time.
4. Post-Monsoon (October)
After the monsoon season, the Backwaters of Kerala come alive with renewed vibrancy. The landscape is lush, and the water levels are high, providing an excellent opportunity for boat rides and witnessing the beauty of nature in its full glory.
Things That You Should Know About Backwater Trip in Kerala
1. The Beauty of Kerala’s Backwaters
Kerala’s backwaters are a network of interconnected rivers, lakes, and lagoons that stretch along the Arabian Sea coast. The most famous backwater destination is Alleppey, also known as Alappuzha, where you can embark on a houseboat cruise and witness breathtaking vistas of palm-fringed canals, verdant paddy fields, and traditional village life.
2. Houseboat Experience
A houseboat cruise is the highlight of any backwater trip in Kerala. These classic Kettuvallams, once utilized for transporting goods, have been transformed into luxurious paddling homes with modern amenities. Spend a night or two on a houseboat, gliding through the tranquil waters while indulging in delicious local cuisine prepared by onboard chefs.
3. Exploring the Villages
Venture off the hit path to examine the quaint villages scattered along the backwaters. Take a walk or ride a bicycle through narrow paths flanked by coconut groves and explore the vibrant rural life of Kerala. Interact with friendly locals, witness age-old traditions, and get a peek at the original civilization.
4. Wildlife and Bird Watching
Kerala’s backwaters are teeming with diverse wildlife and bird species. Hold your camera prepared to catch sightings of colorful birds, playful otters, and even majestic elephants on the riverbanks. The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is a must-visit spot for birdwatchers, with migratory birds flocking here during the winter months.
5. Ayurvedic Wellness
While in Kerala, don’t miss the opportunity to relinquish rejuvenating Ayurvedic treatments. Many resorts and houseboats offer Ayurvedic treatments to relax your body and mind. Experience traditional massages, herbal baths, and therapeutic yoga sessions to attain holistic well-being.
6. Responsible Tourism
As you engage yourself in the natural magnificence of Kerala’s backwaters, remember to be a responsible traveler. Respect the environment, avoid plastic waste, and support local communities by purchasing handmade souvenirs and dining at local eateries.
7. Pre-Book Accommodations
Given the popularity of Kerala’s backwaters, it is advisable to pre-book your accommodations, especially if you plan to stay on a houseboat. Schedule your trip in advance to ensure the most suitable deals and assure a hassle-free experience.
Things to Do at Backwater Trip in Kerala
A backwater trip in Kerala presents a surfeit of special and enriching adventures. From serene houseboat cruises to exploring quaint villages, here are some of the must-do activities during your backwater trip –
1. Houseboat Cruise – Embark on a leisurely houseboat cruise along the tranquil backwaters, immersing yourself in the picturesque surroundings. Experience the unhurried pace of life as you glide past palm-fringed canals and lush paddy fields. Indulge in delicious Kerala cuisine prepared by onboard chefs and witness mesmerizing sunsets from the deck.
2. Village Walks – Take a stroll or rent a bicycle to explore the charming villages nestled alongside the backwaters. Interact with friendly locals, experience the essence of rural life, and learn about the region’s culture and traditions.
3. Birdwatching – Kerala’s backwaters are a haven for birdwatchers. Keep your binoculars handy to spot a diverse array of avian species, including kingfishers, darters, cormorants, and migratory birds. The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is a prime spot for birdwatching enthusiasts.
4. Kayaking and Canoeing – Earn up close and intimate with the backwaters by engaging in kayaking or canoeing activities. Paddle through narrow canals and explore hidden corners, providing a unique perspective of the waterways and their surrounding beauty.
5. Visit Local Attractions – Don’t forget the opportunity to research nearby appeals along the backwaters. Visit historic temples, serene churches, and ancient forts that mirror the area’s prosperous cultural origin.
6. Enjoy Traditional Performances – Some houseboat cruises and resorts offer traditional performances like Kathakali dance or Mohiniyattam, providing insights into Kerala’s classical art forms.
7. Taste Local Cuisine – Savor the flavors of Kerala by trying traditional dishes like appam, puttu, and fish curry. The backwaters offer an authentic culinary experience with freshly caught seafood and locally sourced ingredients.
9. Experience Ayurvedic Wellness – Treat yourself to rejuvenating Ayurvedic therapies. Many resorts and houseboats offer Ayurvedic massages and spa treatments, providing a soothing and holistic experience.
10. Sunset and Sunrise Views – See the stunning splendor of sunrise and sunset over the backwaters. The changing hues of the sky make a magical ambiance, perfect for relaxation and introspection.
11. Night Fishing – Some houseboat cruises offer the unique experience of night fishing. Try your hand at fishing under the starlit sky, guided by local experts.
How to Reach Kerala
Reaching Kerala is relatively easy and can be done by air, train, or road, depending on your location. Here are the main transportation options to reach Kerala –
1. By Air
Kerala is well-connected by air, with several major airports serving different regions of the state. The main international airport is Cochin International Airport (COK) in Kochi, which has frequent flights from major cities in India and abroad. Other airports include Trivandrum International Airport (TRV) in Thiruvananthapuram and Calicut International Airport (CCJ) in Kozhikode, offering domestic and limited international flights.
2. By Train
Kerala has an expansive railway network, and all main cities and towns are well-connected by trains. The major railway stations include Ernakulam Junction (ERS) in Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram Central (TVC) in Thiruvananthapuram, and Kozhikode (CLT). There are frequent trains from significant municipalities across India, making it a convenient and scenic option to reach Kerala.
3. By Road
Kerala is well-connected by road, and the condition has a network of national roads and state highways. If you prefer a road trip, you can drive to Kerala from neighboring states like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. There are also interstate bus services and private buses operating from major cities to various destinations within Kerala.
4. By Sea
For a unique and luxurious experience, some cruise liners and luxury ships operate from select international destinations to Kochi. Cruising into Kerala’s coast offers a memorable and picturesque path to reach the state.
5. Internal Transportation
Once you are in Kerala, getting around is convenient due to the well-developed transportation system. You can use local buses, taxis, auto-rickshaws, and even app-based cab services to travel within cities and towns. Houseboats and ferries are popular modes of transport for exploring the backwaters and coastal areas.
Kerala’s backwaters offer an unparalleled experience, merging nature’s tranquility with cultural richness. A trip to the backwaters in 2023 promises to be an enchanting voyage full of memories you will cherish forever. So, pack your bags, embark on this serene adventure, and witness the timeless allure of Kerala’s backwaters!