Kerala houseboat holiday, India

COUNTRY:
India
LOCATION:
Kerala
HOLIDAY TYPE:
This trip can be tailor made with departures available at a time to suit you
PRICE:
From £592 (7 days) excluding flights
MORE INFO:
Price includes 6 nights full board on a houseboat, current taxes and local assistance. We can arrange flights from the UK and if you book flights with us the whole holiday will be protected under our ATOL. This price is for the season starting 1 Oct 2013 and ending 30 Sept 2014. During the peak season (approx Dec to Feb) the price will be higher and during the low season (summer) it will be lower. Transfer costs to and from the backwaters are not included as the cost will depend on distance.
VOUCHERS:
Gift vouchers can be used with this holiday
Make enquiry
Kerala houseboat holiday, India

Kerala houseboat holiday, India

Make enquiry

Popular similar local community insight holidays

Laos small group holiday
Experience the very best of Laos on this small group holiday, from £995 - £1255 (8 days) ex flights
Morocco walking holiday with nomads
Walking with Nomads - Moroccan Hiking Holiday, from £795 (9 days) ex flights
Trekking in Morocco with a Berber family
Trek in Morocco with a Berber Family and their livestock, from £899 (11 days) ex flights
Fair trade tours to India
Meet the people who make the products, from £1645 - £1745 (16 days) ex flights

The story of the provider of Kerala houseboat holiday, India

Diana and her husband Trevor first travelled to Kerala, South India in the late 80s and fell in love with the place and the people. They kept returning and couldn’t understand why so many people visiting India either went to the North for the culture or Goa for the beaches when South India had both. So in 1998 they set up a company specialising in tailor-made holidays to Kerala and South India – at that time no other UK operator did this. Working with local people, offering accommodation beyond the ‘brand’ hotels, taking their customers off the beaten track and a fair trade policy was their ethos from the start. This company is considered the pioneer of travel to Kerala and is much respected there.

Holiday provider no: 1137

Kerala houseboat holiday, India

Reviewed 27 Jan 2013 by Fran Smart5 star rating

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


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 travellers booking this holiday?


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 holiday 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 holiday overall?


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

Reviewed 24 Apr 2012 by Sarah Beard4 star rating

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


Each place we visited was like a new holiday. 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 travellers booking this holiday?


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

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


Yes.

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


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

Reviewed 28 Mar 2012 by Melinda Letts4 star rating

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


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 travellers booking this holiday?


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 holiday 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 holiday overall?


Marvellous. We will return.

Reviewed 15 Aug 2011 by Julia Kirkland4 star rating

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


Our holiday 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 travellers booking this holiday?


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

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


Yes.

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


Amazing.

Reviewed 06 Mar 2011 by Sumita Guillery4 star rating

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


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 holiday that was well worth doing)...

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


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 travellers 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 holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes.

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


Overall, it was a wonderful holiday 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 holiday 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 holiday. We will look again at the routing of this tour and may make some changes to avoid future disappointments.
Make enquiry

Holiday Reviews

You can trust responsibletravel.com reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays. In addition, we don't run these holidays ourselves - our only interest is giving you the best independent advice.

Read our review policy

Tailor made holiday
The tour operator offering this holiday is a British company with an intimate knowledge of the destination. All their holidays are tailor made which means that they can create a unique holiday 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.

Responsible travel: Kerala houseboat holiday, India

Individual holidays have a lower impact on the environment as waste, power etc is minimal. Travelling 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.

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 holiday. 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).

Convert currencies