Kochi: Twin tour packages by the Matsyafed take travellers along the state's famed backwaters. This trip is punctuated by resting spots amid bamboo thickets on the shore where tasty food comes as added attraction. The service by the apex body of the state's fishermen cooperative societies also features a visit to its three aqua tourism centres located in the districts of Ernakulam and adjoining Kottayam.
Njarakkal and Malippuram are the two aqua centres in Ernakulam, while Palaikkari, near Chempu village in Vaikom is the one in Kottayam district. The three aqua centres of the 1984-founded Matsyafed are being linked in the new tour package and all of them could be visited in a single day.
You need to only give a ring at 9526041209 and book the tour named 'Bhoomika'. The week-old tour has already attracted quite a few tourists and travellers. The second such package is called 'Pravahini.'
Bhoomika is the Njarakkal-Palaikkari-Malippuram tour spanning the whole day and concluding at the starting point. The charge is Rs 3,000 per person and half of it for travellers between the ages of 5 and 12. Pravahini is a four-hour tour starting from Palaikkari. Costing Rs 2,500, the tour takes travellers to the farms at Njarakkal and Malippuram before returning to the place of origin. Children are excluded from it.
The breakfast at a tree house on Vanchithuruth islet in the midst of the sprawling backwaters is a highlight of the Bhoomika tour starting from Njarakkal. The timing at 9 am makes it particularly suitable for families to join. Post-breakfast, one even gets the option of resting in one of the bamboo-thatched huts till 10.30 am.
Then starts the roaming around. To begin with, one can do fishing using the hook to which the bait is pinned. The lucky ones will definitely get a catch.
If the idea is to explore more of the lagoons, then one can take an outing in coracles, country boats or pedal boats. Among the new modes of recreation are water-cycling and kayaking, with an optional tea break. The first among the two is an exercise that is perhaps easier than riding a bicycle on the road.
Now, it’s time to leave for Palaikkara. Not by waterways, but on boarding an air-conditioned bus that is waiting for you.
The gateway at the aqua centre in Palaikkara has a tourist attraction: a mermaid sculpture. Down a tumbler of fresh juice and off you go to explore the sprawling Vembanad lake by taking a ride in the wooden boat (shikara) that one usually comes across on the Dal in Kashmir.
On return, a sumptuous lunch awaits you on the table. Tasty items made of fish, prawn and crab define the meals that will also feature duck meat and beef. A cup of ice-cream will top it.
Palaikkara also gives a peep into its heritage as a fishermen countryside. A Kettuvallam museum there displays the paraphernalia of its enterprising populace out on their country boats. Close by, there is also a children's park adjacent to a pisciculture farm. One can feed the fish and see them swim That is before breaking for evening tea and then starting for Malippuram, again by road.
If the round at Malippuram permits speed boating, one can also notice there the poomeen variety of fishing darting swiftly in the waters. Another attraction is a mangrove forest being conserved in association with the state’s forest department. The spot also features sculptures of various animals, much to the fascination of children.
Just as fatigue might have begun to overtake you, a cup of fresh tea would arrive along with snacks. Then is the time to watch the sea. You can see the sunset from the Chappa beach in the neighbourhood. After that, it is time to return to the aqua centre at Njarakkal. There, supper awaits you. Chappatti with chicken curry marks the end of the experience by around 7.15 pm.
Pravahini speed tour
It starts from Palaikkara after breakfast. Half of the four-hour package is spent in an exciting speed-boat ride. On reaching the Vypeen Island, you will be taken to Njarakkal via road.
Lunch at a tree house, and leave for Malippuram. There, after a visit to the mangrove forest, you reach Palaikkara. The trip ends by 6.30 pm, but dinner is offered on request.
P Nisha, who is in charge of all the three Matsyafed aqua firms, informs that both the tour packages feature a full-time guide and individual care besides travel facilities and tasty food.