Floating down Kerala’s scenic backwaters and lagoons on a charming houseboat is one of the most relaxing and picturesque experiences in India. The experience is further enhanced with well stocked chilled beer and the on-board chefs that cook up fresh local Kerala delicacies including the classic Kerala Parotta and Meen Pollichathu. The city of Alappuzha, also known as Alleppey, is one of main hubs for houseboats. There are many vendors available, so make sure to book a trip early with your trip agent or hotel.
Varkala Beach is a stretch of beautiful sands, white waters, cliff sides and shacks serving up fresh and delicious seafood. Less developed than Kovalam beach, Varkala resort area has attracted a heavy crowd of backpackers. However, the southern portion of the town is very religious, attracting thousands of devout Hindus every year who come to conduct rituals for passed away loved ones.
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is a noted elephant reserve and tiger reserve in Thekkady. Though a safari boat ride is usually touted for visitors, unless it’s dry season or summertime (April), it’s unlikely that visitors will spot any leopards or tigers by the river. Rare birds pitching on tree logs or herds of elephants are more common. Better options to truly enjoy the area would be a jungle trek or overnight at a jungle lodge. In addition to the safari and jungle experience, visitors would also be supporting the local Ecotourism program which aims to preserve natural resources and generate income for conservation work.
Though the drive to this hill town is a bit dizzying, visitors are rewarded with a view that looks to be a neverending green carpet – hillsides covered in tea plantations. Munnar is the largest tea-growing area in South India, with abundant tea estates. There are affordable modern hotel options close to the city centre, but for those looking to spend a bit extra, lovely house and villa rentals are available as well. For a more authentic experience, check out the four charming old heritage bungalows at the Tea Sanctuary, operated by the Kannan Devan Hills Plantation Company.