The languid Kerala Backwaters typify the relaxing pace of this laid-back part of the world.
The backwaters meandering throughout Kerala link a network of canals, lagoons, lakes and rivers, watering rice paddies and dotted with an enviable armada of live-aboard houseboats.
Whether you set sail for an hour or a week, you’ll take in palm-fringed lakes, boat-filled canals loaded with coconuts and cashews, and backwater villages washed by the waters that provide villagers with their main form of transport.
The heady mix of fresh and salt water provides a haven for a varied array of wildlife, from frogs and water birds to otters and turtles.
Navigating the backwaters in a traditional houseboat is the ideal way to experience life in Kerala, complete with onboard chef, crew and entertainment. The boats are modern-day versions of the traditional kettuvalam haulage vessels, crafted from woven coconut-fiber coir without the use of a single nail.
Houseboat itineraries run from Alappuzha, dubbed the Venice of India, to Thotapally, Kottayam, Kidangara or Mankotta.
The Kerala Backwaters flow inland from Alappuzha on the west Malabar coast. The network of waterways measure 900km (558 miles) from their headwaters in Cochin Harbour on the Arabian Sea. Stops along the backwaters include Kuttanad, Kumarakom, Kollam, Thiruvallam, Ashtamudi, Vembanad Lake and Ponnumthuruthu Island.