Our last two days in Kerala were the ones we had been most excited about. When planning our trip, everyone we talked to said that floating through the backwaters of Kerala was one of their top travelling experiences. After trawling the internet for hours we booked ourselves in for two nights on our own private houseboat with Spice Coast Cruises. Now, was it really all it was hyped up to be? Oh yes, and more.
The houseboat itself was utterly charming. Rustic, of course, but lovely. We were welcomed onboard by our crew of two and our private chef who would be looking after us for the duration of our stay.
Frosty glasses of homemade lemonade were waiting for us.
We took a sip and clambered through a tiny wooden door into our cosy little bedroom.
Then it was back out onto the deck as the boat was untethered from the riverbank and we set off, chatting away to our lovely captain.
We spent the morning drifting through the huge network of water ways, lined with rows of palm trees and brightly coloured houses, passing by rice paddies, looking out for Kingfishers and watching the locals go about their day.
It’s amazing how much the backwaters are a part of these people’s lives – from fishing for their dinner to washing their clothes and bathing their children. It’s fascinating just to watch the buzz of activity around you.
Although it’s clearly popular with tourists, given the number of houseboats out and about, it feels completely unspoiled. There are no tacky shops flogging cheap sarongs, no overweight tourists with cameras around their necks and no teenagers with selfie sticks. It’s a little piece of paradise and I just hope it stays that way.
Early afternoon the captain pulled up to the riverbank and one of the crew hopped off to tie the boat to a nearby palm tree…
We watched as the chef brought steaming dish after steaming dish out of the kitchen…
And served the most delicious feast on leaves plucked from a nearby palm tree…
This was definitely the highlight of our trip. Our own private lunch spot beneath the trees. The food was, without a doubt, the best we had in India, which is pretty impressive considering it all came out of a kitchen the size of a cupboard.
After a snooze in the shade we set off again, meandering to our spot for the night. Alternating between the pages of our books and waving at passing boats, it was the most relaxed we’d felt all week.
We watched the sun go down with a fresh watermelon juice in hand…
After which we were served another incredible Indian feast under the stars before retiring to our cabin for one of the best night’s sleep we’ve ever had.
In the morning we woke to the smell of sweet spices and the sounds of birds tweeting. We stepped up on deck to find freshly squeezed orange juice and pancakes stuffed with shredded coconut, cumin and cinnamon. Sounds like an odd combination, but believe me, it really works.
We headed straight from the boat to the airport, feeling relaxed to the core and storing away some magical memories for life. Put this on your bucket list, it really is something special.