Cruise in the backwaters of Kerala

The Discovery Houseboat

The Discovery Houseboat

, Kerala
, India

Discovery is a traditional kettuvalam (stitched hull) with a well-insulated aluminium-plywood superstructure. It is the only houseboat with an energy-efficient LPG engine and two silent electric motors (front and back) in Alleppey backwaters. A battery bank allows the engine and the motors to be charged during the day and is used for light and power at night. The boat itself is narrow to navigate easily through even the slimmer canals of the backwaters. The air-conditioned suite has all modern amenities which feel even more lavish, knowing that you are essentially aboard a houseboat in the middle of a nature-plugged experience.

The houseboat is owned by the same Malabar Escapes group that owns Trinity and The Malabar House.

Our Rating: Mid-Range
Property Type: On Water


A labyrinth of narrow backwater canals in Kerala is one of its much touted, but still exciting experiences of the state. The town of Alleppey and neighbouring Kumarakom, are the springboards of this experience. The network of canals, criss-crossing each other have a life of their own. In them, almost 1,500 kettuvallams (converted rice barges) fashion as houseboats that depart daily for a few hours or overnight experiences.

Discovery, the Malabar Escapes houseboat offers the ultimate cruise experience in the sprawling backwaters of Kerala. The traditional hull of a rice barge blends with the contemporary tropical architecture, and has the space for an air-conditioned suite. The deck above becomes your grandstand for the fascinating life along the waterways and your alfresco dining in the tropical evenings. Panoramic windows offer exceptional views of the backwaters.

The houseboat is the ultimate way to cruise the backwaters through this fascinating tropical area. Discovery comprises one double bedroom and an identically sized living room, both air-conditioned, spacious dressing room and bathroom. The living room can be converted into a twin bedroom. Upstairs on the deck, there is a large shaded sitting area and a sun deck. The houseboat comes with its chef who will prepare delicious meals based on the recipes of Purity; Keralan and Mediterranean inspired cuisine is available. Meals are taken either on the privacy of the living-dining room or upstairs on the deck overlooking lake, rivers, and lagoons during the cruise.

Discovery is 65 ft. long, 16ft wide and 18ft high; is the first boat on the backwaters to be completely eco-friendly.


The air conditioned suite inside Discovery sleeps 2-4 people. If you just saw pictures, you’d think it’s a plush hotel room. The suite has a large comfortable bed with a slant of vintage vibe. The rest of the suite has modern fittings, ensuite bathroom with toiletries. The panoramic window offers a great view of the backwaters outside. It’s the deck that is likely to be your focal point during the experience – to sun yourself, chat with the driver while you cruise, watch the world go by and dine under the stars.


Expect fresh lobsters and fish, caught or sourced from local fishermen, as part of the menu. Traditional Kerala cuisine and a Mediterranean inspired menu accompany the Discovery experience.


While Discovery in itself is an eye-opening experience, the curated sight-seeing trips from the group are another way of seeing life in Kerala. This includes lesser-known and busy temples and palaces, a dingy ride in the Vembanad lake for birding, and other local sight-seeing trips.

Choose from two nights or three nights backwater experience that take you from Lake Vembanad to Alleppey through backwater systems and canals. Experiences include guided visits to temples, a traditional meal at an ancestral home, farm visits, cruising on a country boat, market visits, cooking demonstrations, toddy tapping, visiting a bronze casting workshop and evenings under the stars on the deck.

Perfect For
seeing Kerala life around the backwaters through the eyes of locals. This is the best way to navigate the backwaters and see how schools, homes, churches, temples and a whole life exists with the water at its epicentre.

Operational status
– Discovery does not operate in the monsoon season – June to September.

Why we love this place

The fact that Discovery is the only eco-conscious boat on the backwaters, and has been created with awareness of the fragile eco-system, makes it truly special.

About your host

Destiny is one the four intriguing properties and experiences started under the Malabar Escapes banner by Joerg and Txuku 21 years ago. Malabar Escapes and all its properties have ‘art’ at their core – inspired by Kerala and blended beautifully with contemporary influences. In the houseboat as well, you’ll find a tasteful mix of vintage furniture and modern aesthetics. Malabar Escapes offer an earthy and luxurious boutique hotel experience at all the properties. Of course, your definition of luxurious should include nature’s hand and local culture.

Responsible/Sustainable Tourism

Discovery is a pollution-free and energy-conscious houseboat, that does not sacrifice the atmosphere and craftsmanship. It combines the traditional hull of a rice barge with contemporary architecture. It is the only eco-conscious houseboat in the region, with an energy-efficient LPG engine and two silent electric motors (front and back). From local cuisine, to the staff who hails from around and warm hospitality, Discovery ticks many boxes on responsible tourism.

Our Recommendation

Opt for an overnight trip in Discovery versus a shorter one, to get the full experience of life along the truly unique backwaters of Kerala. The day will promise you vignettes of local life, and the night will be ideal to pause and feel the stillness when the boat is anchored on the edge of the backwaters.

Can’t find a suitable itinerary that features a destination, experience or accommodation you fancy? All our group tours and holiday ideas can be personalised, or we can create a tailor made itinerary for you.

Our Accommodation Ratings

Opulent: Exceptional, unashamedly the best of sheer luxury. (£££££)

Luxury: Outstanding levels of 5* comfort, hospitality and facilities. (££££)

Premium: Excellent levels of comfort and hospitality and a wide range of facilities. (£££)

Mid-Range: Good levels of comfort and hospitality, with a reasonable range of facilities. (££)

Simple: Clean and simple, no frills. Often in areas of natural beauty or near wildlife reserves. (£)