Flying solo in Kerala
Another blog written by Nicky Millar giving you the best tips for women travelling in Kerala and the best way to solo female travel in Kerala from a first-hand perspective.
It will hardly come as a shock to anyone planning to take on India that Kerala is one of the “go-to” states. From rolling tea plantations, sweeping game reserves to mystical backwaters. Not to mention the food, people and climate—this place has everything!Plan your trip
Visiting Kumily and Periyar National Park
I started my Kerala adventure in Kumily because mudslides prevented me from getting to Munnar, which is the place to go see tea plantations. Although the weather was a little grim, as it was the tail end of the monsoon period, I felt it to be a worthwhile trip. I decided to get an auto-rickshaw tour guide. This was the first time I had done this sort of thing, but given the distance between the sites it was well work it. I ventured from a coffee factory to an ayurvedic spice farm, a tea plantation and finally a view of the town that I hear is breathtaking (but given the torrential downpour at the time I am unfortunately unable to personally vouch for it!)
The only downside was not being able to visit the Periyer Game Reserve due to extortionist prices if one is travelling alone. One of my tips for solo female travel in Kerala is that the safaris, for some bizarre reason, are priced per vehicle, thereby making them expensive. If you don’t have any friends to fill that vehicle with, well then I am sorry for you. To be fair, I believe that you could go on the boat, which I am sure is fab, but I highly doubt whether wildlife spotting would be the greatest of priorities on a ferry full of families.Plan your trip
Visiting the Backwaters
My advice for solo female travel in Kerala is that you are able to do just as much as you had hoped for. Visiting the backwaters is definitely a must-see adventure.
After only one night (enough if you are not doing the parks), I got the bus to Kottayam and then the local ferry to Alleppey. Although seemingly long-winded, the trip is well worth your time as you meander through the backwaters, at not even a tenth of the price of tourist cruises, and you have the added bonus of getting a sneak preview into the lives of the people who live along these canals. Being the only foreigner on board there was a fabulous atmosphere and feeling of authenticity that you cannot buy for any amount of money!
My lack of friends was glaringly obvious once again when I arrived in Alleppey and found that the houseboats are rented out individually at unattainable prices for a single-backpacker budget. Having spied them from my ferry ride, I have no doubt that it would have been a special experience. If you are able to hire out a houseboat then I recommend staying for more than one night. This will allow you to get away from the throngs of other boats moored up alongside you. For reasons already mentioned, I decided to move on after one night and got an easy bus to Ernakulam then caught a ferry to Fort Kochi.
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Exploring and eating in Fort Kochi!
What a wonderful city, super quaint with an eclectic mix of tourist shops/restaurants and local flavour. Though it is hungry work, I highly advise you to explore the old Jewish quarters by foot – boy was I rewarded that night! I ate possibly my single most favourite meal to date here. Near the Chinese Fishing nets there is a fish market where you can pick out which of the day’s fresh catch tickles your fancy. I chose the squid, snapper and a dash of tiger prawns (I did share with a fellow solo traveller, don’t worry). Once you have sussed this, a little man magically appears to guide you to his restaurant where he cooks the seafood to perfection – grill/fry/spicy/herby you name it, he does it! All for a nice Rs. 210, I could get used to that!
Another activity I decided to do in Kochi was a proper backwater tour, as there are companies that conveniently source a whole bunch of singles/small groups and take them together! This is a lot easier option is you chose to do solo female travel in Kerala. Although I ummed and ahhed for a long while about going, I am so glad I did! While the ferry from Kottayam was great, it is unable to give you a sense of the smaller, more jungle-like backwaters. Therefore a full day trip, with lunch included, was certainly time well spent!
Overall, while Kerala has some of the most spectacular scenery on offer, it may be worth your while doing some research into prices if you are doing it solo or perhaps looking into tour groups. Great tips for women travelling in Kerala is to just be flexible and willing to adjust, you can get just as much out of as you desire.
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