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If forced to pick just one do-before-you-die boat trip, it’d be drifting lazily along Kerala’s backwaters on a rice-barge-cum-houseboat.

Kerala’s backwaters, India

How to describe the bliss of a couple of days sailing the palm-fringed lagoons, lakes, rivers and canals that meander through this southern Indian state, known as ‘God’s own country’?

‘Paradise’ doesn’t quite cut it. Kerala is astonishingly green, and a medley of shades make an appearance as you glide past the coconut groves and backwater villages that flank this labyrinthine network of snaking, interconnected waterways. 

But it’s not just the peaceful beauty of the still waters and verdant fringes that set this scenery to ‘stun’. The houseboats themselves – once used to transport grain, and now converted into floating accommodation for tourists – only add to the exotic mise-en-scene, their wooden hulls covered over with thatched roofs.

You can easily hire a private boat and three-strong crew from Alleppey, probably the most popular spot to start a houseboat tour. Shop around before agreeing a price – a night on the boat and all meals included should cost about £30 per person, with the option to buy cold Kingfishers while you’re
on board.

Then sit back and relax on the open- air deck and soak up the sights. And if you’re lucky enough to spot a local fisherman hawking tiger prawns, we highly recommend you make a purchase – these succulent beasts were cooked to near-tear-inducing perfection by our onboard chef.

Houseboats come with double bedrooms and Western-style bathrooms, but be sure to spend as much time as you can out on deck. There’s nothing quite like sipping a cold one by lamplight under the Keralan stars. (Tip: wear insect repellent.)

And while the backwaters are an undisputed highlight of a trip to Kerala, we can’t recommend exploring this stunning state more thoroughly enough. Keep an eye on TNT in June for more.


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