Lonely Planet Writer

You can now explore India's longest lake on a tour with local people

Vembanad Lake is the longest lake in India and the largest of its state, Kerala. Not only is it protected by India’s government under the National Wetlands Conservation Programme, but it’s also the heart of Kerala Backwaters tourism. And now there’s a new tour created entirely by locals that can help you explore it.

The Kerala Backwaters are found in Southern India, close to the Arabic Sea. Photo by Eddie Gerald/Lonely Planet

The Kerala Backwaters are a chain of lagoons that run parallel to the Malabar Coast on the Arabian Sea, and a new tour called “Tales of Vembanad” by Indian travel agency WanderNow will lead you to discover the lake and its surroundings through a series of experiences by relying on the lake community. “It’s created by locals and relies on local homes, guides, chefs and experts,” WanderNow co-founder Nebu Sam John told Lonely Planet. “This type of ‘Experiential Trip’ is a first for Indian tourism, and it will support the people who live around Vembanad Lake,” he continued.

The Tales of Vembanad tour is entirely created by locals. Photo by Vivek4447/Shutterstock

The Tales of Vembanad tour will include a toddy tasting, complete with a lesson about how it’s extracted and produced; a day spent in a traditional canoe sailing through the canals with lunch served on board; a class on learning how to make products from the water hyacinth, a plant that threatens the Kerala Backwaters environment and is turned into objects like lamp shades, paintings and book-bindings. There will also be a day spent painting shells with the guidance of local artists and a day of mud-walking through the fields. “It will be a rejuvenating experience for you,” Nebu Sam John ensured.

The tour comprises several experience guided by local experts. Photo courtesy of WanderNow

The Tales of Vembanad tour, planned out in the most sustainable way possible, was launched late in September by hosting the members of the Australian World Orchestra— now, it’s open to visitors from everywhere around the world.

The first guests of the tour were the 100 members of the Australian World Orchestra in September. Photo courtesy of WanderNow

If you want to know more about the Tales of Vembanad tour or WanderNow, you can check out the agency’s official website here.