The slow paced village life along the backwaters of Allepey can be experienced in a boat. It’s by far the most sought after thing to do in Allepey and almost everyone look forward to hiring a houseboat for the night. However, not many know of all the boat options available to explore the Allepey backwaters. You can take an auto rickshaw or walk until the boat jetty and opt for any of the boat you’d prefer. Just so you don’t get conned, here’s a list of the boats you could pick, depending on duration, budget and preference; and a few tips on which one’s offer what sort of experiences.
Types of boats in Allepey
Public ferries: The cheapest and the most crowded boats to explore the backwaters. If you are there for long, you can take a ferry from Allepey boat jetty to any neighbouring village. Probably take one multiple times to check out different routes. The route fares are nominal and you get to interact with loacals. It stops at multiple stops and people hop off and get on there. Rs 10/-.
Shikara: The joyous rides in a Shikara are perfect if you’re looking to explore the backwaters for only a few hours. They have a roof and have comfortable seating arrangements, and are pretty! You can hire one for yourself and the rates vary depending on the number of people and time of the year. Rs 500/- an hour.
Motorboat: A slightly better version of the Shikara, these are more modern and are closed boats with large windows. They can accommodate up to a dozen people and are more sturdy, as a result of which they function even during the rains. You can choose one depending on the number of hours you wish to spend in the backwaters. Rs 600/- an hour.
Canoe: Though these lack all sorts of comfort, these are truly wonderful means of exploring the backwaters considering they can go through even narrow canals into the villages. They accommodate fewer people are a riskier option during bad weather. But it’s a truly wonderful experience if you’re an adventure seeker. Rs 600/- an hour.
Kayaking: If you’re up for it, a kayak is a wonderful way to explore the backwaters. This is a great combo of water sports and exploring the backwaters. They are available at different rates for three, four or seven hours and usually commence operations early in the morning. Rs 2000/- an hour.
House boats: These most luxurious boats are honeymooners’ paradise. They are spacious, sturdy boats which is like a floating hotel. You can check into it at noon, and stay overnight. Like every inland hotel, they are equipped with facilities for a comfortable stay. They serve you lunch, dinner and breakfast, before dropping you off the next morning. They are relatively expensive and aren’t meant for budget travellers! Between Rs 7000/- to 25,000/- depending on size and luxury offerings.
Some tips before choosing a boat:
Which boat do you choose? These are all the types of boats you can hop onto to experience the backwaters of Allepey. While I’d recommend a house boat if you want the experience or if you’re in Allepey for a special occasion. If you do not have the budget or the time, I’d recommend a canoe, a shikara or a motorboat. Just in case you’re a backpacker and there in Allepey for a very long time, try hoping onto the ferry. You’ll have to be able to communicate locally, considering most people don’t speak in English or Hindi, and only speak in Malyalam. If you’re a watersports enthusiast, a kayak would be great!
Try to bargain at the boat jetty! They do quote exorbitant prices. I got a motorboat for Rs 1000/-, for which he initially quotes Rs 1800/- for three hours. Also try to get a captain who knows English or Hindi and chat up with him. The backwaters have wonderful stories which he will be able to share. Also, since the boat guys are locals, they know the places around and are in the position to explain the route and the places visited.
Make sure you’re there during the afternoons, so you can stop by for lunch at a local restaurant. There are several local restaurants lining the backwaters once you reach the villages. I remember my boat took me to Kuttunad and I had the best local meal there. What’s the food like? They serve a local thali, with a bunch of veggies, rice, fish curry, papad and a variety of pickle. They have fresh seafood stocked, so you can take a pick and they cook it for you right there in the preparation style you desire. Trust me, this will be the best decision of your life. The food is relatively cheaper as compared to Goa, and the seafood fresh and tasty. The local aunties take pride in their cooking style, and leave it to them. They make sure you enjoy your time there.
Also, make sure you stop by at a local toddy shop. The little joints has some freshly tapped toddy and some amazing spicy seafood to go with it. Either pull over and chill at one of the toddy shops by the backwaters, or grab some toddy and sip on it on your boat as you relax on the deck and enjoy the scenic view. Perfect way to unwind and watch the village life…
I hope you enjoyed this post. Hoping this will help you while booking your backwaters boating experience in Allepey. Have fun! Happy cruising. J