Kayaking in the Keralan Backwaters

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Departure information

This trip can be tailormade at a time to suit you and can be adapted to suit your interests, budget and requirements as necessary.
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Kayaking in the Keralan Backwaters

Kayaking is the best way to explore the backwaters of Kerala, impacting minimally on the environment. The expedition presents an opportunity to meet up with the villagers, understanding their culture and enjoying their hospitality all essential ingredients for a responsible traveler.

By staying at home stays, heritage villas and small family-owned resorts, you will be supporting small ventures & positively impacting the livelihood of the local villagers who are employed there. The kayaking guides are from the backwater villages and this activity provides them with a decent livelihood. Moreover, the guides at the home stays and villas are also local communities, giving them employment and respectability.

Reviews of Kayaking in the Keralan Backwaters

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 01 Aug 2016 by

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


Exploring the smaller waterways by kayak and observing the daily routines of the people amongst such beautiful colourful vegetation. It was all wonderful amongst such friendly people ( trek guide, boatman and home stay hosts).

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


Be sensitive to local culture

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


Only benefitted locals in that home stays were used for accommodation. Environmental impact reduced slightly as kayaking and not in large houseboat, but we were backed up by small motor boat.

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


Fantastic. One of the best holidays we have been on. Very well organised by Thomas who runs the operator we travelled with

Reviewed on 21 Apr 2016 by

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


The overnight on the houseboat was magical and a perfect point half way to recharge after hiking and biking and before kayaking. The backwaters we both cruised and kayaked through were spectacular and not busy, the accommodation we chose carefully and it was great, the hiking up Meesapulimala was beautiful. The mangrove kayaking was short but amazing.

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


The holiday provider was very patient at responding to our (many) emails just because we had a number of questions at the start and changed our plans halfway due to unforeseen circumstances. Clarify what kind of experiences you would like and they will do their best to create it for you. We opted for a mix of hiking, biking and cycling so we got the best of all worlds. Our guide
was young, fit and very experienced and we always felt safe and he went out of his way to mix it up for us and make changes when necessary which we appreciated. We appreciated the back up vehicle although we didn't use it often. Be aware it is super humid and hot in some areas and adjust what you can do physically accordingly. Definitely do some kayaking. There was a lot of small tipping involved and sometimes we were lost as to what and who to give a gratuity to because we were using so many different local services so carry small bills as we kept running out.

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


Definitely benefited local people and supported conservation efforts.

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


It was very good, great guide, and we would use them again. There aren't many groups doing adventure tours in this area and it is a great way to see Kerala, which itself is quite touristy in places, so it was always great to go off and see areas in modes of transport solo. We're pretty independent and we appreciated that our guide left us in the evenings to do our own thing, we never felt suffocated we had a good degree of time alone which we personally wanted.

Reviewed on 01 Jan 2015 by

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


Kayaking through the small canals and connecting with the locals

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


Don't hesitate as it was wonderful for activities, food and accommodation!

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?


Reviewed on 10 Nov 2015 by

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


The incredible beauty of the backwaters, especially in the smaller waters which houseboats could not go down, seeing women doing their washing in the river and children playing. A glimpse of the peaceful, slow pace of life in this part of India. I also want to give a special mention to our guide Praveen, who was excellent and helped us identify many birds.

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


Some upper body strength is needed for the kayaking! However it does get much easier after the first day. Bring a t-shirt, suncream and hat as you will need them.

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


As far as I could tell. A small boat followed us with our bags and valuables, but compared to the gigantic houseboats the pollution from this was hopefully minimal. We stayed in traditional homestays which were run by local people and very good quality.

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


Excellent, would do it again

Reviewed on 23 Oct 2015 by

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


Kayaking through the lovely backwaters off the main channels where you can see
people going about their everyday activities and spot interesting wildlife.

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


The quality of the accommodation and food is excellent so don't worry about needing to rough it at all because you won't need to!

Suggest you ask if it is possible to spread out the activities before and
after the hottest hours of the day rather than doing them all in the morning and
early afternoon as it gets pretty hot! It is also worth pressing for regular breaks
after set distances so you don't burn out too quickly and going via as many small
channels as possble (more interesting and shady), avoiding the main river channel.

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


Yes - the guides were local, and the kayaking/biking was low impact. I'm not
sure we really needed the support vehicle for the biking trip.

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


Good overall - but with some small organisational changes it could be really
good.

Reviewed on 16 Apr 2012 by

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


Visiting a local village Theyyam festival in Northern Kerala. Not a tourist experience but a real festival with wonderful people and amazing costumes and customs. Also the walking safari in Periyar NP - we saw 14 wild elephants in total and felt very privileged.

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


Kayaking in the backwaters was really the best way to get away from the main routes and the motorised rice boats (with air con)!

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


Yes, we stayed in homestays and so our money went straight to them. All places we stayed had environmental policies to be proud of.

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


A very relaxing but energetic 18 days in Kerala which has to be one of the most beautiful and friendly states in India.

Reviewed on 22 Nov 2011 by

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


That is impossible to answer. It was so varied and exciting that I cannot pick out one thing. We walked, cycled, bird-watched, searched for elephants and found them, travelled the country stopping to buy bananas and lemonade from roadside stalls, lazed about on a beach, visited local families, stayed at all kinds of places from fancy resorts through eco-lodges to family homestays. All were wonderful.

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


Stay longer at Dewalokam - it turned out to be such a lovely place. Get all-in at Marari Beach. We were on B&B (our choice), and the restaurant food is relatively dear. The quality is great, though, so worth the expense, but if you're on a budget, you're pretty much stuck and it would be a pain to go out of the resort to look for cheaper places.
Take binoculars! Take few, quick-drying clothes. Our holiday was tailor-made. Should you want to do something similar, just ask the operator.

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


Yes, we had a local driver, local guides throughout, stayed at places owned and/or run by locals and visited local enterprises. Although our car was a 4x4, it would not have been possible to have anything less rugged, what with the state of the roads and the need to carry bicycles occasionally.

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


Absolutely brilliant. One of the best we've ever had. We wouldn't hesitate to go with thie operator again. The standard of care was truly excellent and all the staff we met were lovely.

Reviewed on 12 Nov 2007 by

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


There were many highlights, but the most vivid memory is of arriving at the Spice Plantation after a tough ride up the mountains through monsoon rain. The house, the view, the company and the morning walk around the plantation to see the many different spices all made this a special place. The garden at the Emerald Isle, the visit to the Fishing village and the food on the Rice Boat also figure highly.

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


You need to be fit for the cycling; quick drying clothes are important, both because it's hot and humid and at the time of year we went (October) it rains heavily most days. A camelbak was useful, for the cycling.

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


I think its good to deal direct with companies that are small and local. We definitely met more local people and had more conversations with them than would have in a hotel based holiday. We learned a lot about Kerala and I hope we benefited local people. Not sure the impact on the environment was that good - a return flight to India and motorised support both when cycling and kayaking - however I'm not sure I'd change anything.

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


Best holiday ever, great people from the tour operator, especially Peter, Jerrim and Ummi; great organisation too.

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