Backwaters Houseboat to Munnar

#1 Jan 12th, 2009, 22:19
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#1
Hello fellow IMers,

Looking for some Kerala help from fellow India travelers.

I am going back to India in mid-Feb. I am on a very tight schedule but was really hoping to check out Kerala and maybe do a little of the backwaters tour. So here's what I was hoping/planning and need your feedback:

Day 1:
- Fly from Delhi to Cochin
- Head to Kumarakom and rent a houseboat
- Do houseboat for a day and night
Day 2:
- Leave houseboat
- Head to Munnar
- Check into hotel and check out the sights
Day 3:
- Finish up in Munnar and head back to Cochin
- Flight back to Delhi

Now, before anything else, I realize this is a very ambitious plan. So, can one of the fellow IMers be kind enough to set my expectations straight? Is Munnar close enough to Kumarakom? Is 1 day and night on the houseboat sufficient enough? Can I do Munnar in a day and night? What are the costs like?

Any help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
#2 Jan 13th, 2009, 02:37
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#2
Yes, it's ambitious, but it is also just about doable.

First question is what time your flights are? They'd need to be early arriving and late departing to make it work.

Houseboats are generally rented from late morning one day to earlyish (9am) morning the next day, so depending on flight timings you may want to reverse your days 2 & 3. There's really no advantage to doing it one way or the other mileage-wise.

Not sure of costs, but if I wanted to pack this much into this little time I'd use a travel company to organise it - there's no room for mistakes in this one! I'd recommend Indian Panorama having used them in the past.
#3 Jan 13th, 2009, 02:41
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#3
As beautiful and peaceful as the Backwaters are, you might find more than one night rather tedious.

At first, I thought you were asking about taking a kettuvalam to Munnar. That, I thought, would be something to write home about if you could do it.

I agree, though, that your itinerary is super-ambitious. However, most of the hotel owners in Kochi can set you up with a package. The problem is that you can't always get things when you want them: tours are booked up, etc., and it takes time to make arrangements. One of the tour operators in Kochi, though, could save you a lot of trouble for the price of a fee. They've got a lot of experience setting up the whole Backwaters cruise, elephant camp, hill station circuit thing. It's not cheap, but they often smooth out all the rough edges for you.
#4 Jan 13th, 2009, 06:59
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#4
It's an impossible itinerary. Apart from your time on the houseboat you'll be in a car all the time.

My advice - drop either Munnar or the houseboat. Personally (and despite the fact that I enjoyed my 3 nights in Munnar enormously) I'd recommend dropping Munnar. Then you'll have a little time to explore Cochi Fort also.
#5 Jan 13th, 2009, 07:33
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#5

Drop Munnar

Quote:
Originally Posted by obione980 View Post It's an impossible itinerary. Apart from your time on the houseboat you'll be in a car all the time.

My advice - drop either Munnar or the houseboat. Personally (and despite the fact that I enjoyed my 3 nights in Munnar enormously) I'd recommend dropping Munnar. Then you'll have a little time to explore Cochi Fort also.
I would love to go for munnar. But not for 1 day. You can hardly do anything other than check-in, coffee, dinner, sleep and checkout. Instead spend the 2.5 days in and around Kochi. You will certainly spend a relaxed holiday.
#6 Jan 13th, 2009, 10:24
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I would agree with the advice of the others here.

Fort Kochi is a very nice place. Munnar is, too, but you'll take nearly half a day just getting up there unless you're really, really lucky. I think once you get to Kerala you'll realize that even though it's a small state, you just can't zip around that quickly, even with a car. In three days you can do one or two day trips from Kochi, but that's all, and even that keeps you quite busy.

There are fairly inexpensive day-trips to the Backwaters, from Kochi, that will give you much of the feel of the place. Once you've seen the Backwaters, you can decide if you want to splash out for a house boat if you ever come back. Anyway, from what I saw of the houseboat business in Kerala, last time I was there, you want to make enquiries and check around to make sure you're getting value for money. As more people crowd into the kettuvalam business, the quality of the houseboats seems to be all over the map.
#7 Jan 14th, 2009, 00:40
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#7
Thank you fellow IMers for your expert advice.
If I were to add an extra day to the itinerary, would it then make it possible to "squeeze" in Munnar?
Our flights haven't been booked yet, but we would most likely arrive in Cochin either in the early afternoon or late morning. If so, would it then be possible to transfer to houseboat for the remainder of the day and night (from Kumarakom) and head up to Munnar on the 2nd day?
This way we can drive up to Munnar on day 2, check into hotel and use Day 3 to sightsee around Munnar. Returning to Cochin on Day 4 for our flight back to Delhi.

Again, due to lack of travel times I am still making inquiries so I apologize if I sound like a broken record.

Thanks everyone.
#8 Jan 14th, 2009, 00:59
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#8
I think trying to fly into Cochin in the afternoon, expecting to be on a houseboat later that day, and then on to Munnar, is expecting too much. I fear you will very likely be disappointed. "Transferring" just doesn't happen that fast in India. And most Backwaters tours leave in the morning, from what I noticed.

If you've got loads of money, though, you might want to hire a driver and car once you get to Cochin. That would maximize your flexibility. Arranging tours, etc., though, takes more time than you're allowing.
#9 Jan 14th, 2009, 01:00
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#9
Quote:
Originally Posted by sam371 View Post Thank you fellow IMers for your expert advice.
If I were to add an extra day to the itinerary, would it then make it possible to "squeeze" in Munnar?
Our flights haven't been booked yet, but we would most likely arrive in Cochin either in the early afternoon or late morning. If so, would it then be possible to transfer to houseboat for the remainder of the day and night (from Kumarakom) and head up to Munnar on the 2nd day?
This way we can drive up to Munnar on day 2, check into hotel and use Day 3 to sightsee around Munnar. Returning to Cochin on Day 4 for our flight back to Delhi.

Again, due to lack of travel times I am still making inquiries so I apologize if I sound like a broken record.

Thanks everyone.
If you have 4 days, do it in the reverse.
The day you arrive, plan to take a taxi or so to munnar. It is about 130 km. You will reach late evening to munnar. Check in (Make your reservations in advance) and stroll around until dinner and sleep.
Next day spend at munnar. Sleep there again.
Day 3 after an early breakfast head back to kochi/kumarakom.
House boat until next day after noon.
Day 4 afternoon/evening fly back.
#10 Jan 14th, 2009, 01:01
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#10
Yes, Take a cab from Cochin to Kumarakom, immediately upon arrival at the airport. Ask for a house boat. Expect to pay RS.8000 for the overnight trip and meals on the house boat for two people. Add another 1000 for two more people. Sometimes people have been able to get the house boat for 6000 in case of idle capacity.
Munnar and Eravikulam national park is good but i would rather go to Periyar for its wildlife sanctuary, the lake boat ride in the forest, the jungle walk in the morning and the spices and tea estates tour. It has all that Munnar has with some more.

The cochin backwater is a small boat trip, a different experience. I love both, cochin and Kumarakom backwaters.
Alone I walked. Strangers joined in. We became a caravan.
#11 Jan 14th, 2009, 03:28
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#11
OK - it's beginning to make more sense now. Thanks everyone for that feedback.

Based on webtraveller's rec, here's how it should play out:

Day 1: Land in Cochin, take taxi from airport to Munnar
Check into hotel, dinner, sleep
Day 2: Sightsee around Munnar
Day 3: Breakfast and taxi to Kumarakom; Houseboat for backwater tour
Day 4: Finish backwater tour, taxi to Cochin, check out fort, head to airport for late evening flight

Does this seem reasonable? I hear everyone on the whole rushing thing and I agree whole-heartedly that you have take things slower in India. I wish I had more days but the damn job will only allow me to take so many days off.

At any rate, your suggestions and comments on this plan are very welcome.

Lastly, any reputable houseboat companies I should go with? Should I book in advance from the US? Or am I better off booking in Kumarakom? How about the taxi to Munnar and lodging while in Munnar.

Thanks everyone.
#12 Jan 14th, 2009, 05:53
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#12
Your last proposal is possible - in theory. BUT!! The road to Munnar from Cochin is mountainous and slow driving. The best places to stay are not in Munnar itself, but beyond - (Sienna Village and similar). Munnar is a fairly grotty town these days. The drive back to Kumarakom - again slow. Assume an average road speed of 40 km per hour at best!!

Houseboats follow a routine (almost ritual). They leave base at midday - follow a fairly set route - tie up on the bank on dusk; return to base by about 10am the following morning. It's relaxing and enjoyable. Step outside the pattern and costs will rise.

I'd suggest you hire a car and driver for the whole deal. Any reputable Indian Travel Agent in Cochin will be happy to set the whole deal up for you: car and driver, Munnar accommodation and houseboat. Sorry I can't recommend one in Cochin as we used a Delhi agent to set up our whole 8 weeks in India in Oct, Nov and December.

I'd still cut Munnar out and just 'do' Cochin and the houseboat myself.
#13 Jan 14th, 2009, 06:51
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#13
Perhaps it's time to ask that God-awful question:

1) Why am I on vacation?

a) Is it to touch all the bases, all four sides, see points 1,2,3, and 4. Take lots of sexy snaps and then say, "Well, we weren't there long. Had to go...."

b) Am I trying to overcome the logistical challenges and say I did more than "one thing only?"

c) Am I trying to relax in a tropical clime before I have to return to the "god damned" job?

d) Do I want to show my special someone the "best of Kerala" in the time allowed?

Even your last itinerary, although plausible in theory, sounds like a mad rush to me. I refer to this itinerary as a "seven-eight-nine" itinerary. I once went on a package tour of Holland and Scandinavia with a Dutch drillmeister who used to say to us, "Seven, eight, nine!" Meaning, seven: bags outside the hotel door, eight: breakfast, nine: board the bus! All I remember is getting on and off the bloody bus. Occasionally we stopped for FIFTEEN MINUTES to see a sight or two. Fell behind schedule, once, and WHAM! There went Stockholm. We got Goteburg instead. If you've ever been there, it's the Detroit of Scandinavia. O, joy. I'm just glad I wasn't the one paying for this forced march through Viking-land.

Alas, you won't even have time for seven-eight-nine with this plan. Only if Lord Ganesha is really benevolent for several days in a row will you pull this off without pulling your hair out.
#14 Jan 14th, 2009, 23:27
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#14
Yes, Cochin harbour cruise/Synagogues, Cochin back water boat 3 hours Rs.500 per person + Kumarakom backwater 24 hours. Add two days to add another destination.In Cochin the Bolgatty lake palace of Kerala Tourism is a heritage place to stay on an island separated from mainland by a few hundred meters. I liked the experience.

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