Famous Kerala backwaters in Alleppey

Our memories from Alleppey in Kerala are not so good. Before we came there we had read a lot articles about Kerala Backwaters. Everybody said it’s beautiful place, worth to see and it’s worth to rent a houseboat or canoe. Theye were suggesting taking a tour through Kerala small canals, but the reality was different. How do Alleppey and Kerala backwaters look like? Do we recommend going there? What about pre-booked tours from travel agencies?

 

Hotels in Alleppey

Right after drop off we saw noisy and dirty India again. Although Alleppey is small town, the air is polluted with rickshaw’s fumes. It was hard to breath. Very hot air was making it even more difficult. There were canals in the town, but nowhere near Venice. Town was small so we were hoping for cheaper room than in Cochin. As always we checked few hotels and prices were going up the roof! We couldn’t believe that in such a small and filthy town could be so expensive. We were walking from one hotel to another for over 3h, thinking about coming back to Cochin. We tried the outskirts of the town but no luck too. We were going to go back to bus stand and then back to Cochin, but suddenly Anna noticed a sign „Dream Heaven Cottages”. It was looking expensive, but desperately we decided to ask and it was good move. Very nice cottages with big porches, clean and bright rooms with huge bathroom. Hotel was far away from town centre so finally we could open windows to hear exotic birds singing. One raven was wakeing us up every morning by knocking to the our window. 🙂 We had fast internet in the room. All that for 400 rupiees ( about £4), so we settled there for another 5 days.

dream heaven cottages
Our charming bungalow for £4
 

We found good restaurant in the town centre, serving tasty food. Near our cottage we had small local shop where we could buy what we needed. It was perfect place to stay for longer and catch back with writing. It was the place we wrote about South Goa and planned our further trip as well.

allepey kerala
Alleppey – deluxe version
sinking boats
Alleppey – the reality
 

Kerala Backwaters by a public ferry

In the town centre we managed to find a real official tourist information what wasn’t easy at all. More than often in tourist places travel agencies advertise themself as the Official Tourists Information and it takes some time to find the genuine one. We had taken pictures of timetables of public ferries and the next day we went for 3h trip on famous backwaters of Kerala. We liked it a lot, finally we saw something interesting in this place. Ferry took us through canals with many palms and small houses merged in between.

 

There were many of houseboats floating slowly on the canals – one of the best tourists attractions of Kerala. For 5-7k (£50-70) rupiees you can hire one for 24h, full board with the chief and guide. Every so often we saw it on the backwaters. Interesting thing is boats like that are more often rented by Indian tourists than foreigners. Anna heard sometimes rats had been found on some boats, so we took much cheaper ferry and then canoe…

houseboat kerala
Houseboat on Kerala Backwaters

 

All Indian tourists from top deck of the boat were picking bench in front of us to take picture with us in the background. 😀 They were keep switching between to take that place for a picture, imagine how funny it was to see over 15 of them keep changing seats. We couldn’t resist to take one too!

funny pic from india
We were celebrities in India!

 

Kerala backwaters with tour agency – avoid!

We liked backwaters, but saw only wide canals and still wanted to check narrow ones as they were looking very interesting and tempting. Our first thought was to hire kayaks and do it by ourself but it was off season for that place so all places were closed. We had no choice but to take canoeing with whole package from travel agency. We were told that whole trip would take place from 8am untill 5pm and breakfast, lunch, mineral water, tea, coffee would be included for free. We were promised to see small village where people make ropes out of coconut, we were promised to try coconut beer too, but most important part for us was narrow canals. Promise from the leaflet from agency was one thing, but reality turned to be completely different.

We were at the place bang on at 8 as we were told, but guy who came to pick us up turned at 9, breakfast was horrible made out of rubbish or something not edible at all and restaurant… well we don’t want to recall picture of it. Dinner was like for infants, very small, like 5th part of what we would get in restaurant, water we had to buy by ourself. We were in the village to see bats hanging off the tree, to made it more entertainig our guide was pounding some stones into that tree to get bats airbone. When we asked about coconut beer our guide didn’t know what we were talking about. We know he knew and must have drunk all of it as he was keep sipping some yellow fluid from the bottle wraped in the paper. When we had dinner he dissapeared somewhere. We ate our dinner and waited for him. It took nearly 2h. We all had enough of waiting so Chev went to find him. Lazy guy was having a nap in the bed! (we had dinner at his house not restautant), after being proper told off he moved himself of the bed to take us in promised places. Whole day we were floating on wide canals, the same canals we had done on the big boat day before. Only last 45min we went to see narrow canals. Everything supposed to finish at 5pm but we were back at our cottage just before 4pm. It was let down all the way, so if anybody will be in Allepey do not take any tours from agencies, waste of money and time. Moreover everybody pays different price. At very begining guy from the agency asked to keep in the secret price we paid. That gave us shadow of the doubt in that agency, and when two girls from Germany that were with us on the same tour, but on different boat asked us about costs, we told them the true. Unlucky German girls and French guy who was with them too, paid more than us. Luckily for them, they managed to knock the price down at the end of not very entertaining tour. To be honest, it would be better to take a local ferry to small village at backwaters and ask one of villagers to take you around the place and pay him for it or just hire small canoe from him. We had enough of it and we lost our sympathy and trust in Indian people. We left Allepey the next day.

 

Travel tips:

  • Dream Heaven Cottages are the best place to stay in Alleppey – best price and good standard, quiet neighbourhood, good wi-fi; we paid only 400 rupies for the bungalow;
  • Annapurna, the restaurant opposite Official Travel Agency near the canal, was the cheapest and the best restaurant we have spotted in Alleppey; delcious food for a low price;
  • we paid 750 rupiees per person for the Kerala Backwaters tour on canoe; there is a lot of travel agencies which offer those tours; remember, you have to bergain!
  • public ferry runs couple of times per day, one way ticket costs 40 rupiees, 10 rupiees more if you want to sit in the upper deck (better views, less people).