The Kerala Backwaters are an extraordinary experience. While navigating on the dark waters, you will see houses built on the smallest strips of land, exotic flora and amazing fauna. However, doing so in the tourist-packed houseboat means missing out on some of the smaller canals and contributing to the pollution of the waters.
Choosing to explore the backwaters using small and non-motorized canoe only has advantages. It is a much more personalized and mesmerizing experience because it has a maximum capacity of two to four people on a boat, plus the guide. No chaos, only peace and serenity. Ecotourism in the backwaters means being closer to locals, rice paddies and other sights. Skipping on the houseboat also means lighter footprint, and ligther costs. And if that wasn't enough, hire a guide for a whole day and you will most likely be taken to their house for delicious home-cooked keralan meals, for both breakfast and lunch, served on banana leaves. Just ask your hotel to set you up.
Don't forget sunscreen, and enjoy the lush backwaters at their fullest potential !