An island on Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom is just 16 km west of Kottayam and only 1 hour 30 minutes drive from Kochi (Cochin), and is used as the base for most backwaters excursions. This sleepy agricultural and fishing town is accessed by the navigable waterways known as the Keralan backwaters. On the water the locals punt narrow dug out boats carrying their loads of coir, copra and cashews, whilst on the wider waterways the larger rice boats ply their trade. This area is one of extraordinary natural beauty, characterised by lush tropical vegetation, coconut palms and colourful birdlife, including kingfishers, fish eagles, storks and egrets.
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