Unique, unforgettable, mesmerizing, or perhaps, subliminal are adjectives that seem inadequate to describe the houseboat cruise experience. It is a humbling experience to watch local villagers get on with their daily routine without much fuss and with as little as possible. It is equally overwhelming to observe the breathtaking beauty of the backwaters and the rich marine biodiversity.
These houseboats were once used to transport grains and other produce from Kuttanad through the backwaters an were called kettuvalloms. These boats are made from the wood of the jackfruit tree, joined together by coir and painted with cashew nut oil. A single kettuvallom can carry around 30 tons of goods and yet last for several generations. Today, they’re used to ferry passengers across the beautiful lagoons, estuaries and lakes. Although the backwaters stretch across three districts of Alapuzha, Ernakulam and Kottayam, houseboat tourism is most prominent in Alleppey.
Houseboats today are grand and luxurious; some are multi storey and air conditioned m while some are equipped with a plunge pool. Sadly, these are taking their toll on the environment. Engines and toilet waste are major pollutants that destroy the marine life in the swamps.
Rather than a large boat, it makes sense to book a small boat that is either solar operated or has a smaller engine and makes use of a chemical toilet. A smaller boat also offers an advantage in the sense that it can travel to narrower and less visited lagoons.
At Kerala Hop On and Hop Off, we do our bit to the environment by hiring only eco friendly houseboats that use smaller engines and dispose of toilet waste responsibly.