One of the key things to do while in Kerala is to go on a houseboat cruise down the backwaters.
So, I did another splurge and went for a 24-hour stay on a houseboat. I had doubts with the regular motor boat cruises on the Vembanad Lake due to the following reasons:
- It is not eco-friendly.
- It is going to be on Vembanad Lake with the other motor boats and I did not want to crowd with the other tourists.
- Finally, 9000 INR for a night’s stay? Hmmm.
My hostel recommended the usual motorboat for 8000 INR. I decided to shop around for better deals.
And I found it at the travel counter of Elite Hotel in Fort Kochi.
Initially, I was reluctant to take it up – it was more affordable compared to the motor boat cruises. So I was suspicious of being scammed. However, there was something about him that felt trustworthy, and he was not pushy. Plus, he’s Catholic. (Sorry, I am biased) Look for Augustine at the Elite Hotel travel counter.
The official backwater cruise company’s website (Breeze Homes) offered the same cruise at 6000 INR for 2 people. The initial price offered by Augustine was 5500 INR, plus taxi to the cruise start point (includes 700 INR for the car ride to the cruise start location). Since I am only one person, I managed to haggle the price down to 5300 INR.
Do note that this cruise starts from Cherthela and not Alleppey. Cherthela is a small village located about an hour’s bus ride from Alleppey. This cruise company is owned by Sreejith, a local who stays in Cherthela. This is his backyard.
Read reviews of Breeze Homes here.
I was the only person on the boat. There were 3 other people on the boat with me: the steerman, the cook and the row man. They speak very little English, and we communicated through hand signals.
The village of Cherthela is located along a small river. In some months, the water of the river is seawater. In other months, the water changes to freshwater. This is due to the different water levels of the Vembanad Lake (freshwater) and the seawater. The river will take the water of the water body that has a higher water level.
I had 3 meals on the boat. At the point of booking, Augustine asked me what kind of meals I would like. I chose fish and vegetables.
The boat cruise lasts for a day. In the evening, the boat will dock in Cherthela. There was a canoe ride in the evening.
I slept on the boat, and checked out at 9am the next morning.
I would recommend this over the regular motorboat as this is eco-friendly and supports the locals who live around the backwaters.
Price of overnight stay (booked with Elite Hotel): 4600 INR, excluding car ride to Cherthela
Amount of food consumed: Too much
Some swimming was done. Please ask the crew. Although: I encountered some difficulty while trying to haul myself back on the boat from the sea. Ab muscles are required for this stunt. All 3 crew members had to haul me back up like some whale.