JOHNSON'S ECO Houseboats

Questions about houseboats in Kerala

What you need to know about Houseboats in Alleppey

Do houseboats cause pollution?

- Yes, it definitely does. Johnson’s boat is fitted with inboard engines & bio toilets. It’s as bio – friendly without the pretence as can be. Read more in “WHAT’S ECO ON JOHNSON’S ECO HOUSEBOATS”?

What is the route that the houseboat takes? Where is it moored at night? Does it go to Kollam?

‘Genesis’ eco houseboat takes its guests through the waterways in & around Alleppey (the most meaningful & scenic part of the backwaters is here). It goes into the large Vembanad Lake for a small period of time (about an hour or so) before getting into the smaller canals.

The boat is moored in a quiet part of the backwaters where there are hardly any other houseboats with the canal on one side and rice fields on the other – (quiet, scenic & safe).

No, it does not go to Kollam- even though the route is scenic, it’s also the most boring as it’s one straight canal without much variety, village life, etc. that makes the backwaters in & around Alleppey so meaningful, enchanting and beautiful.

How many days can guests take the houseboat for?

The record on Johnson’s boat is 4 consecutive nights. The record for the longest stay on a rice barge in Alleppey (not on Johnson’s boat) is 29 nights -believe it or not.

Does the crew speak English?

- Not at all. But an English speaking guide can be provided for a couple of hours on request. Not really necessary.

Is there beer for sale on the kettu vallom?

- No, but guests are welcome to buy as many as they want and bring it on board. It’s kept in a cooler for use anytime.

Is the punted houseboat more eco-friendly?

- Yes, it definitely is. But there are hardly any in Alleppey. Of the few left, most are fitted with outboard engines anyway. That’s to take the boat out of the main jetty to the smaller canals where punting is possible. And there goes eco-friendliness. Also, it’s painfully slow. And hard labour for the staff. Because there’s not many left, if at all, it does not make it any cheaper, either.

Does the houseboat run during the monsoon?

- Yes, it does. The rain only enhances the beauty of the backwaters. It’s greener and cooler. Harvest season is just after June, July. Onam, Kerala’s main festival season is end August, beginning of September, when there’s still rain. Boat race season starts during the monsoon. If there was no rain, Kerala probably wouldn’t exist, the way it does now, leastways.

How about the mosquitoes?

Yes, there are mosquitoes. About the same as anywhere else in Kerala. On Johnson’s boat mosquitoes nets are provided. And coils lit in the evenings when its’ peak mozzie time. Add mosquito cream that most tourists carry along with them- and you’re safe enough. No malaria in Kerala anyhow.

Isn’t Johnson’s houseboat too big for a couple? And is it more expensive than other houseboats because of it’s size?

- No, it only makes it roomier. Most builders choke up space on their boats with as many rooms as possible. On ‘Genesis’ there are only two large room and a wide expansive longue area in front. Quite a few onboard guests have done yoga exercises on Johnson’s boat.

Are there off season discounts?

- Except for a peak season hike of 20% Johnson’s houseboat tariffs remain the same throughout the year. And in that, it’s probably the only houseboat that does not change. There are 3 tariff options anyway for customers to choose according to their budget.

Is Canoieng/Kayaking a better option to experience the backwaters?

-- Canoeing is nice but is it a better option? - Yes, for those who cannot afford to do the houseboat cruise. Kerala kayaking? No. Kayaks are great for Europe. In the rustic country side of Alappuzha- it is totally out of place. Want the exercise ? Go for the indigineous canoe.

Johnson's Column

I reckon I am a good salesman, with one big drawback. I cannot sell a damn thing if I did not like it myself. Back when I was a DJ, I used to find it hard to make people dance to Rhythm 'n' blues tracks. I did not like it, could not make others enjoy it either. (Trance and House was more my thing). :-)

Man, I love the backwaters, as well as the houseboat experience. Everytime I go out there, I find something new that amazes me. It could be something as silly as someone fishing with a crossbow, or a child flying his kite along the banks of the canals, a bird spreading her wings readying for flight, etc. Silly maybe, but it's akin to a place that time forgot. The people who live on the backwaters, live off the backwaters. Seeing the almost primitive ways of their lifestyle sometimes makes me envious. Wish I could go there and live like that, get off this rat race where you and I live - in the modern world. And to think that it's just a twenty minute drive to the backwaters from where my guesthouse is located in the town.