It was “baschert” (meant to be) that we began our unique backwater excursion to the Kerala town of Kumarakom the day before Valentine’s Day, for I fell head over heels in love with this lush, tropical paradise on earth. Even the mode of transportation was lovely – a houseboat with 4 beautifully furnished en suite bedrooms, enclosed air conditioned lower deck and both closed and open above decks. The construction of these boats are eco-friendly – using such materials as jackfruit tree wood, palm wood, coconut fibre, bamboo poles, ropes, etc. They are quite beautiful.
I have always had any affinity with water – all my homes have been next to or within walking distance of a bay or sound, I am also a nature photographer who over the years have developed a particular love of bird photography as it comes with a special set of skills to track, locate and get the shot before the birds take wing. You will see some amazing South India birds in a later post. Once I hit the open upper deck of our houseboat and saw what my view would be for the next few hours, I was in bliss.
The first photo doesn’t show my initial view. The Kerala backwaters are a network of brackish lagoons and canals that flow parallel to the Arabian Sea off the Malabar Coast of Kerala. In fact, the backwaters have a unique ecosystem: freshwater from the rivers meets the seawater from the Arabian Sea. Palm trees, shrubs, leafy plants, and bushes grow alongside the backwaters. Floating islands of lilies and hyacinth blanket parts of the canals and unfortunately as beautiful as they are hyacinth are an invasive species which can double its populations in two weeks. Sadly these hyacinth plants clog waterways and cause damage to boats. It is a shame as they look so pretty:
It took a bit of maneuvering from the boat captain to traverse these clogged waterways but he successfully conquered and the rest of our journey was clear and most tropically spectacular:
Gave you a sneak peak of two of the birds encountered in the backwaters – a cormorant and an egret – but the best is yet to come!