This is the best short cruise of the backwaters as you enjoy a complete day of cruising away from the crowd on your second day! Available from Alappuzha or Kumarakom
The two night cruise of the Kerala backwaters is the ideal length of cruise to really get a feel for the ecology and society of the backwaters as well as giving time to relax as you float along.
We set before lunch on day 1 from the jetty (either Kumarakom side of Vembanad or Alappuzha side) and after a short cruise, we stop for lunch. Sometimes, we dont stop but cruise along gently as you munch on delicious freshly cooked Kerala food. We then continue onwards into the backwaters passing the large rice paddy blocks and into the narrower rivers and canals. During the afternoon, we might stop to explore some of the villages of the canals and watch the farmers at work as they prepare paddies for cultivation or flush them off water.
Arrive aboard before lunch and we set off to escape the thronging masses and then either anchor for lunch or continue puttering along the river while you sit down to a lunch of freshly cooked Kerala cuisine.
After lunch we escape deeper into the backwaters, knowing we will not have to turn around for another day. As the afternoon progresses, we will see fewer and fewer houseboats and explore the back backwaters. We might stop on and off to discover how life is lived - see the paddy farmers at their work or visit a community.
As the sun begins its descent towards night we will start searching for our night mooring. You might want to hop aboard a small canoe to paddle into the small canals that connect to the main branches or you might just decide that a sundowner is what is needed.
Dinner is served around 7pm and then there is a chance to simply sit out in the quiet and take it all in before retiring to bed and the calm rocking of the boat at night.
If you can rouse yourself, wake up for dawn and a magical and mysterious moment as the grey glows red, then orange then blue over a ten minute period. If you are snapper, this is your moment! You can go back to bed or simply lie on the day bed and take in the peace of the cool morning. If you are lucky, a cup of coffee will wend its way from the galley to you hand - bliss.
After breakfast, we continue our exploration of the backwaters as we delve into the southern edge of the Alappuzha backwaters. The large paddy blocks give way to smaller fields and a more riverine ecology. You can watch the world waking up with children strung along the canal footpaths on their way to school, the cry of the fisherman as he paddles along the waters warning the village women of his arrival. You may suddenly discover yourself surrounded by a huge flock of Kerala ducks being shepherded along the river by young farmers. Each flock can number over a thousand birds.
During the day, you can entertain yourself by trying to pronounce the names of the different little villages and churches you will pass during the day. The word you hear most frequently is "kayal" which is both a signifier for canals and for rice paddies as well.
As you might expect from this landscape, it is supremely rich in birdlife that lives off both fish and and also the small insects. You will see many, many different species.
The backwaters is predominantly christian with something like 30 churches scattered across this part of the backwaters including the small church at Champakulam which according to legend was founded by St Thomas (the Apostle St Thomas). It is a curious sensation to sit quietly in the nave and reflect on the fact that christianity has been followed here in one fashion or another since just a few years after the death of Christ. It makes these churches some of the very oldest in the world in terms of being places of continuous worship. The buildings are not as old as that, but they are almost more charming for remaining local community places of worship rather than venerated sites of tourism. If there is anyone one within the church, it is most likely to be local woman praying for her son or husband!