The experience of the backwaters is amazing.
I am giving 2 stars because of hygiene issues with the boat. There were bed bugs and both me and my wife have got red marks after we stayed for a night at the houseboat. I think the boat is not cleaned properly, and hence i can't even trust if the food which was served was made in hygienic conditions or not. Overall my experience was spoilt due to this.
It is a good houseboat. Enjoyed our one night stay. The captain,chef and manager were very friendly. The vegetarian food was delicious.
the backwaters are an amazing place to relax. the aquajumbo house boat experience was very good. they ask your food preferences in advance. the driver of the boat and the chef were pleasant folks. its a good place to see many colourful tropical birds too . the food on board the houseboat was good. v stayed there for one night on 15th August ..
Aqua Jumbo will not provide you what you see and book here. I planned a trip with my parents via GoIbibo and selected this Aqua Jumbo stating the worth 10000/-. however when I reached there, I was made to travel all through the city by changing pick up 3 times and then, a pathetic boat was offered that was in no comparison to the boat that we see, while I was discussing for the authenticity of Aqua Jumbo, they gave that stupid boat to someone else. And there was no boat available under my booking later on they agreed that the boat I booked was sold out. How was that done?? it is a completely fake running company. there is a huge difference in what they show and what they give. they did not give me any boat also. and refused to refund amount also. DO NOT GO FOR AQUA JUMBO. IT WILL ONLY SPOIL YOUR VACATION.
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I had business in Kottayam, so booked an overnight cruise with Aqua Jumbo Tours as they have boats moored at the Kumarakom Government Jetty, just 15km from Kottayam. (on the opposite side of Vembanad Lake to the more common embarkation city of Alleppey.)
I used "Booking.com" to make the reservation.
Aqua Jumbo Tours arranged for a driver to meet me at the Kottayam train station, and bring me to the Kumarakom jetty, on the side of a small waterway clogged with hyacinth, where there were about five houseboats moored. AJT had requested that I pay 50% in advance into their Paypal account, which I was unable to do, so I paid cash to them after the cruise.
The boat that I was shown onto was the Babilu. The boat consisted of an open lounge area to the front where the skipper sat, with lounge chairs, and comfortable mats, a dining table, flat screen TV, DVD player, etc. There were queen bed bedrooms, both with full modern airconditioning units and their own ensuite bathrooms with shower and western toilet. The lounge area was open to the elements with screens that could be rolled down, but the bedrooms had glass windows and could be sealed from mosquitos, heat etc.
The rear of the boat had the kitchen.
There were three staff, who seemed to be jack of all trades including skippering the boat, cooking and general work. They were very nice guys, although only the skipper had a reasonable command of English.
The boat was not luxurious, but it was certainly comfortable, spotlessly clean, and very relaxing. I was its only passenger but it would have ideally suited a family of four, or two couples.
The hireage included lunch, dinner and breakfast cooked on board. Aqua Jumbo had already contacted me by email to ask if I wanted veg or non-veg food. I chose non-veg. (with meat).
The boat does not carry its own alcohol, so I had one of the boat staff purchase some beer for me from a local shop at the jetty, just before departure, and they kept it cold for me in the refrigerator on the boat.
We departed the dock at exactly 12 noon, onto Venembad Lake, and cruised for about an hour before pulling over to the side of a wide canal while the chef served a huge and delicious lunch, with about eight different courses of food.
At about 1.30pm we started cruising again, entering the main lake, the skipper let me navigate the boat for about half an hour, before we stopped alongside a number of other houseboats at a lakeside store that specialised in selling huge fresh tiger prawns 1,000 Rp/kilo or a variety of freshwater fish, if you wanted to buy for dinner. I didn't buy any, but in hindsight wished I had, as they were a great price for such enormous prawns.
We then cruised up a succession of waterways, until finally docking on a riverbank at about 5pm. The skipper told me that there are approximately 300 houseboats that call Kumarakom home, and more than 1500 boats based at Alleppey, and certainly at times we were one of many, many houseboats on the water, especially on the lake itself, and on some of the wider "access" waterways. Not all were houseboats. We passed a nubver of boats of day trippers, some local Indian men drinking and singing loudly, and some obviously on scenic excursions from local hotels. However as we moved further up the waterways and past the shoreline villages away from the main lake, you also lose all the masses of boats and it becomes more of the picture postcard experience. By the time we docked in the evening, we were only one of a handful of boats in the area.
In the early evening a couple of the crew took me for a half hour walk along narrow canal paths, to visit rice fields, and a village, where I was welcomed into someones house for refreshment, before we headed back to the boat. By this time, a number of other boats had tied up alongside ours and attached power cables to a nearby house, presumably to power their lights, dvd players etc. We had our own generator onboard the Babilu, so the skipper powered up the boat and moved us a few hundred metres further downstream, away from the more noisy boats. I thought this was a nice gesture.
Around dusk, the cook served the dinner which again was excellent - local Keralan food, really tasty and filling. I recommend that you bring your own mosquito repellent spray if you don't like mosquitos, as they only had mosquito coils onboard, but I have to say that I only noticed mosquitos were present for about half an hour directly after dusk, and didn't pose a problem at any other time. Whether that is the same for other people, or other seasons i don't know.
Air Conditioning was only provided at night, and power to electrical sockets was only provided during the day (apparently to prevent undetected electrical fire).When I decided to turn in for the night, the airconditioning had already been turned on in my bedroom.
In the morning, the motors were started at about 6.30am, for the two and half hours direct cruise back to Kumarakom Jetty, by a different route that we had travelled the day before. This was especially pleasant as the dawn air was cooler, the sun a beautiful pink colour, and the shallow lake dotted with small boats fishing, setting nets, or diving for shellfish. Breakfast was delicious, with toast and jam, sliced fruit, omelette and coffee, and served enroute.
We arrived back at the Kumarakom jetty right on 9am, where my taxi was waiting to return me to Kottayam.
I absolutely loved my overnight cruise. It was completely relaxing, and cost little more than the price of a high quality hotel for the night, although there are many many different boats on the backwaters, and you can definitely pay for a much higher level of service. I even saw premium boats with fully Air conditioned glass enclosed lounge spaces if that is what your budget stretches to. Just google search let the boat companies know your preferences for luxury, airconditioning, mosquitos, food etc as i suspect there is a boat to suit every customer.
Its an experience I would totally recommend, and I was very happy with the service I got from Aqua Jumbo on board the Babilu.
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Really enjoyed our one night stay on the Aqua Jumbo, so relaxing and tranquil. From the moment we came aboard we knew we had made the right choice. The boat is just as it looks in the photographs and it was lovely to sit and relax on deck and enjoy the views of the lake and backwaters. The crew of three were all really nice guys and looked after us very well. The food was amazing and such an array to choose from.
Definate highlight of our trip to Kerala.
We thoroughly enjoyed our 2 nights experience on the aqua Castle house boat.
Staff very friendly and helpful, cook prepared the best Indian food we have eaten during our entire stay in India. (Better than some of the 5 star hotels/recommended restaurants we have visited!)
Facilities are good, don't expect 5 star hotel-luxury, but rooms are clean and very comfortable. At night the AC will go on and during the day there is a fan to control the temperatures.
There is a nice outdoor lounge which makes for a nice place to just sit, relax and enjoy the backwaters.
Staff will arrange for a mosquito net after sunset but do bring repellent and as with any other outdoor tropical activity there may be the odd creepy crawly.
Staff is very person able. One of the team took us to his village and introduced us to his family and showed his house. Definitely a highlight of our holidays and can recommend! Feel free to send message if you like additional info.