Some travellers visit Kerala, in South India, for the breathtaking coastlines, the gorgeous mountains and the glorious tropical beaches. Others want to experience the tea plantations, lively cities, tasty spicy food, abundance of wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. There are so many reasons to visit, but for us, the vibrant culture, the welcoming people and nature in Kerala are the greatest reasons. Kerala is Human by Nature, and it was our experiences in Kerala with both humans and nature that were some of the highlights of our visit to India. In Kerala, we were met with kindness everywhere we went. Strangers went out of their way to ask if we needed help or to say hello. Furthermore, our boat trips on Kerala’s backwaters are highlights of our travels in over 50 countries.
Our Kerala Journey
Our journey started with an overland trip from the port city of Kochi to the beach town of Varkala. We loved travelling by train in Southern India, as we got to meet and chat with many welcoming locals. We enjoyed Varkala. The charming town introduced us to the friendly people of the Keralan coast, the tasty foods and the remarkable nature of the tree-lined cliffs and beaches. But it was Kerala backwaters that we had dreamed about, ever since seeing photos of houseboats cruising along palm tree-lined waters in paradise. We had longed to float on the beautiful houseboats and watch the world go by. They are a must-stop on any itinerary and a bucket list item.
Once we researched the houseboats, the idea of travelling on the government boats sounded more enticing to us. Thus, we chose the government tourist boat as our first boat trip in Kerala backwaters. Eight hours of floating in calm waters past wildlife, palm trees, nature and with the chance to see how the local people lived were what we wanted to experience.
Boat Trip on the Kerala Backwaters
The day of our trip we ate masala dosa, a delicious South Indian pancake, for breakfast at a small restaurant near the ferry. Packed with locals, everyone that passed our table smiled at us. It was a cheerful start to our adventure of Kerala’s backwaters.
The ferry travels in both directions, but as we were travelling from Varkala, we decided to go via the Kollam to Alleppey route. We boarded the boat, along with tourists from many parts of the world and domestic tourists. As we started to cruise down the waterways, our cameras didn’t stop clicking. Passing fishermen, farmers and local people living life along the river, we caught a glimpse of their world. We soon found that Kerala is human by nature.
Human By Nature in Kerala
As we passed people on the river, they waved out to us. In fact, we had this experience throughout much of Kerala, people waved, smiled or came up to say hello with no expectations. People even asked to take photos with us.
When travelling, we love exploring the countryside and viewing natural wonders, but it is the interactions with the people we meet that is the most memorable part of travel. For long after the feeling of a place is forgotten, the memories that last are the interactions with people.
To our delight, we must have waved to over 100 people well before our lunch stop.
Lessons in Human By Nature
At our lunch stop, we were delighted that we got to eat traditional food and walk around the local village. We were even more thrilled when three young girls came to practice their English on us. We attempted learning some Malayalam, their official language, but our pronunciation was terrible. Nevertheless, we laughed together and got caught up in the moment and didn’t want to leave the blissful paradise they called home.
Back on the boat, we asked for a photo next to the skipper and the helm. The next thing we knew, we had a lesson in steering a boat. We loved this experience and the opportunity to speak with a native Keralite. He generously told us stories of the backwaters and the local people’s affinity with their surroundings.
Our day trip continued with us observing a way of life removed to most of the world, a life that embraces nature. The local people’s love for nature was visible in their life along the backwaters. Nature in Kerala is abundant, and the way of life revolves around appreciating its bounty of offerings. Further, the culture was also evident along the backwaters as we passed elaborate temples, monuments and heritage buildings.
Unlike the hustle and bustle of places like Delhi and Varanasi and the mass tourism in Agra, Kerala has its unique laid-back character where humans and nature meet.
When we arrived in Alleppey in the early evening, we had already started planning the next few days of exploring nature in Kerala’s backwaters. From houseboats to rejuvenate in, to canoes and ferries to the remote villages, we wanted to see it all.
Seeing the pace of life on the backwaters, Kerala taught us to appreciate our surroundings, the people we meet and a slower pace of life.
One of the Best Boat Trips in the World
We love boat trips and have taken many epic ones all over the world. The ones that stood out were the ones that offered more than just views and where we were able to interact with people and learn about new cultures. We found this in Kerala. The awe-inspiring nature and wildlife, the vibrant culture and the heartwarming people with their laid-back life are why we love Kerala’s backwaters.
They say Kerala is Gods own country and after having visited, we have to agree. Kerala is like paradise on earth, and it is human by nature.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Kerala Tourism.
All words and opinions expressed are our own.