Back to nature
One of the first things that you notice in Kumarakom is the peace and quiet along with the very laid-back feel of the place.
We travelled the short distance from Allepey, where we spent a day and a night on a rice barge, which was nice, but we sincerely wished we had done our trip from Kumarakom as it is much less crowded and you can picked up by boat from where you are staying.
The nature reserve
The village of Kumarakom is, in fact a cluster of small islands on Vembanad Lake, joined together by a series of channels.
The bird sanctuary is full of migratory birds and a paradise for wildlife photographers, although it is better to go as early as you can or as the sun is going down to get any sightings of birds.
We walked through the bird sanctuary and apart from the odd monitor lizard, there was not much to see, apart from beautiful views through the thick vegetation to the lake – where we did catch a sighting of some otters fishing.
The quiet of the reserve, however is a welcome breather from the busy cities that we had arrived from and it is a nice, easy walk through the reserve.
You will be pestered by some of the locals in pretty dodgy looking canoes along the way for a boat trip with them, but we would recommend one of the official trips organised by the nature reserve – see below.
What to see
We really recommend taking one of the boat trips organised by the nature reserve – it really is worth it. We took a two-hour boat trip with an official guide with just the two of us and our guide.
Our guide was excellent with a huge knowledge of the flora and fauna in the reserve and knew exactly where to go to get some sightings of birds and animals, as a bonus, he also spoke excellent English and stopped the boat along the way for me to get some good shots of birds.
As it is only about a 30 minute drive from Aleppey, this is another reason to short-circuit the boat trips there and go to Kumarakom – it is much quieter, less commercialised and isn’t full of diesel fumes. The thing is, you travel down almost identical backwaters and not in boat-traffic-jams, it is so quiet here.
The nearest airport is at Kochi, which is only 62 kilometers away, but will take about 1 and a half or more hours by car. The train takes about 3 hours.
Where to stay & eat
We stayed at the excellent Mango Kerala Homestay, which looked absolutely fabulous on the Internet when we booked it – but don’t they all!
This place is actually better than the photos and is one of the best places we stayed in south India. We had a huge air-conditioned room with a view over the backwaters from our balcony, but that is not all.
The food here was fabulous, all of the usual Kerala stuff, (Appam, aloo gobi, butter cauliflower, chai …) and all beautifully home-cooked and the hosts are so nice and friendly.
I would just like to say that we are not paid to write this and have no commercial link whatsoever with the Mango Homestay, but credit where credit is due, it is a fabulous place.
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More photos of Kumarakom