We had gone to Kerala with our 2 kids (7 and 5) this Dussehra break for 5 days. Had focused on the backwaters. It was relaxing, we got to spend time together (with almost no laptops, internet and blackberry) and were wow’ed with the amazing nature, culture and ecology. Thought would share some highlights...
Backwaters are network of 900 sq kms of interconnected rivers, lakes, canals and lagoons. It is mostly fresh water but in parts during the dry season, the sea water mixes in and there are also sea water lagoons. It has it’s own ecosystem and are like roads for folks living around there. We stayed at the CGH properties (known for being eco friendly) like Coconut Lagoon and Marari Beach resort and one night in the houseboat. Coconut Lagoon is in Kumarakom on the lake Vembanad (India’s longest lake and about 200 sq km area) part of backwaters. You arrive there in a boat. Marari beach resort is near Alleppey near a fishing village. Some sea-side fun as well.
Fun lessons and insights in ecology
At the risk of sounding like an ad for the CGH properties, was really impressed with the resorts. Truly eco-friendly and good local flavour (of course with all the comforts). Not just lip service. For example:
Houseboat (Kettuvallam) and the backwaters
This was a highlight especially for the kids. Very relaxing and beautiful. Just gazing at the water and seeing life go on in the backwaters—kids going to school, kids even rowing boats themselves, watching birds...We stayed at night as well. These houseboats are very comfortable and have a staff of navigators and a good cook.
Note: The houseboats dock at around 6 pm (because of fisherman’s nets being laid out after that). You cannot get out of the boat. There is no TV, you cannot really see much in the dark. Luckily we had taken lots of books, drawing stuff etc. for the kids and they play a lot together. They got inspired and made drawings of the backwaters. ;-) They dozed off early. We too had good books and there was beer on board. So we were set. ;-) But otherwise it might have been a little slow. I still think it was a memorable adventure but just a day on the houseboat might be fine as well and a night in the resort might be more comfortable. They did have carom board etc. in the houseboat. You could check. Also, lots of mosquitoes. They do have kachua chaap but take Odomos as well.
When to go
Kerala is always expensive. But last few days in September might be optimal—high season starts Oct 1 (prices shoot dramatically), it is still not so warm or rainy and the kids have Dussehra break. Also, end Jan or early Feb might be okay. Check with your agent. Peak season (really really expy is Dec 21 to Jan 11). A travel agent friend had told me that there are lots of great homestays and good moderate price hotels as well.
Do not forget
Of course we had our share of ayurvedic massages, Malabar cuisine, fun in the beach and the pool...lovely! Please share your travel experiences as well...
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