Photographer's Note

Kerala’s houseboats

The houseboats on the backwaters in Kerala are a rather recent phenomenon.
By that I mean that they were built in large numbers as the region developed in terms of tourism.
Today there are thousands of them. You can find them in all sizes and shapes. Some are a monstrous design, others are beautiful.

During my visit in January of this year there were more houseboats than visitors.
This has to do with the decrease in the number of foreign visitors to Alappuzha after the disastrous monsoon season of 2018.
The heavy rains during the previous monsoon season (= European summer of 2018) had caused a lot of damage. This was also shown to me in Munnar where large mountain slopes had collapsed.
In the region of the backwaters, the heavy rainfall led to severe flooding, houses were flooded and people drowned.

That news in the press apparently led to the fact that a lot less Westerners went to Kerala during the dry season of 2018-2019. The hotels in Alappuzha complained about rooms that remained free.
The same consequence for the many houseboats. Many houseboats had no customers. You could see long rows of houseboats without tourists moored along the quay.
I definitely do not recommend visiting Kerala during the rainy season, although one year can differ greatly from another.

Kerala is ideal to visit during the dry season (= European winter time).
Of course not everyone has that option. During most of my life I have only been able to make a long journey during our summer time. It is only fairly recently that vacation arrangements became easier at work.
From that moment on I benefited of the new possibilities and I visited India twice, Nicaragua and Vietnam in another season than our summer.

Travelling in the dry season poses no problem for the traveller. Roads have been restored and you can fully enjoy Kerala and for instance that exceptional region of the backwaters.

The sad thing is that this summer (monsoon season in India) is again having a disastrous monsoon in India ...
Again a lot of people died. Also in Nepal and Bangladesh.

I have to mention that houseboats are relatively expensive.
I make little or no travel notes and cannot give the prices here. It is not unbelievably expensive but an individual budget traveller will think twice before deciding to board a houseboat.
Equally important to know is that these houseboats sail only on the large canals, the lake east of Alappuzha or even the sea.
They cannot enter the smaller canals and for me that was exactly the most interesting part of the backwaters.

Fortunately there are also lots of smaller and medium-sized boats in abundance and trips with these are a bargain.

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Additional Photos by Paul VDV (PaulVDV) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4992 W: 17 N: 11983] (48350)
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