With a laid-back atmosphere and a thin coastal strip layered with diverse landscapes, Kerala is a world away from the hyper pace of India and is regarded by many travellers as South India’s most alluring stop. Up for offer are tea-blanketed hills of the Western Ghat, almost 400 miles of stunning coastlines and a meandering network of backwaters. But Kerala is not just limited to its alluring landscapes and fine ayurvedic treatments. Adventure seekers, pay attention. This scenic nirvana also offers a variety of water sports, paragliding, biking, mountain climbing, bamboo rafting, kayaking and tree climbing. Animal enthusiasts can enjoy wildlife safaris and elephant rides. Also because of the immense waterbodies in the state, fishing is also a possible activity to compliment the scenic views.
Best time to visit: November to February
Ideal for: Trekking, mountain climbing, scenic views
Tickets: entry gate at trek starting point
The trekking trail across Chembra peak exposes you to massive tea plantations, verdant forests topped with misty clouds and surrounded with lush hills. Being the tallest peak of the Wayanad hills in the Western Ghat mountain range, the 8 kilometre-long (up and down) trek takes a total of roughly 4 to 5 hours (to climb up and get back down) and is ideal for individuals with a bit of trekking experience and sound physical health. Your hard work will pay off when you stop at the famous heart-shaped lake locally named as ‘hridaya thadakam’ before returning back. It is believed that this picturesque lake has never dried up. The spectacular sceneries and rare species of flora are bound to make your trip an exciting one.
The trek begins from the watchtower at the base of Chembra Peak which is approximately 7 kilometres from the nearby town of Meppadi. Every group will be appointed a forest guide at the entry point. The best time to start the trek is between 7.00 am and 12.00 pm to be able to return back before 4.00 pm.
Eravikulam National Park
Best time to visit: March to June & October to December
Ideal for: wildlife safari, trekking, scenic views
Tickets: entry point at Munnar- Udumalpet main road
Founded as a sanctuary and home to the endemic Nilgiri Tahr, Eravikulam National Park spans 97 square kilometres and is divided into 3 areas. Locals also visit the park to view the unusual flower that blooms once in every 12 years, Neelakurinji. The Rajamalai region of the park falls under the tourism area and acts as a viewpoint for the Nilgiri Tahr. Made up of rolling hills, grasslands and tropical montane forests, the park also promises sightings of other common and endemic birds and animals. Trekking is also allowed within the Rajamalai region and guided minibus tours of the national park will take travellers to the viewpoint to observe breathtaking views of the mountains.
Best time to visit: November to May
Ideal for: Trekking, mountain climbing, wildlife sightings, scenic views
Prior Permission: Eravikulam National Park Authorities
Anamudi, the tallest mountain in India outside the Himalayan range is situated in Kerala and is accessible through Eravikulam National Park. Rising 2,695 metres off ground allows travellers to enjoy a picturesque trek across verdant hills, valleys, tea estate and spice plantations inhabited with native wildlife like the Nilgiri Tahrs, Asian Elephants, leopards and, Nilgiri wood pigeon, to name a few. What makes the mountain a famous trekking location is the purple-hued neelakurinji flowers that carpet the entire hill, a phenomenon that occurs only once in every 12 years. The 2 to 3 day long trekking excursions begin at the base of Eravikulam with night stops at tribal settlements within the forest. This trekking route is ideal for intermediary or expert trackers.
Best time to visit: May to November
Ideal for: Trekking, mountain climbing, waterfalls, wildlife sighting, scenic views
Prior Permission: Forest Range officer at Olavakkode
A reserve forest promising several natural treasures and scenic vistas, Dhoni hills is 12 kilometres from Palakkad and lies on the northern border of the Western Ghat. A 4 kilometre trek from the base of Dhoni hills is the Azhakampara waterfall. Spotting wildlife like leopards, Nilgiri Langurs, bonnet macaques and other rare species is one of the highlights of Dhoni hills. Other attractions include a farmhouse with hundreds of Swiss cattle and the abandoned British Karakunnu bungalow which was constructed in 1857.
Silent Valley National Park
Best time to visit: October to May
Ideal for: Trekking, mountain climbing, wildlife sightings, wildlife safari, scenic views
Forming the core of the Nilgiri Biosphere reserve, Silent Valley National Park is home to the world’s largest population of lion-tailed macaques. The hotels and resorts near the park offer safari tours across the parks breathtaking scenery consisting of humongous trees, evergreen forests and montane forest grasslands. The park is also thriving with a variety of wildlife and flora. Climb atop the 100 feet watchtower and be mesmerized by the views of the forest and Kunti river. The safari also covers a trek to the Kunti river that is interspersed with cane. The trek across Silent Valley National Park is ideal for families and novice trekkers.
Best time to visit: October to March
Ideal for: Trekking, hiking, wildlife sightings, scenic views
Tickets: at entry point
A hill station in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram district, Ponmudi is at an altitude of 1000m. Popular as a trekking and hiking destination in Kerala. Ponmudi has a wealth of natural beauty with the deer park, Kallar river, Ponmudi waterfall, Meenmutty falls and the Peppara wildlife sanctuary. Apart from being the breeding place for the broad-tailed grassbird it is also a place for ayurvedic treatments. The famous trekking trail begins from the kallar River Bridge continues along the banks of kallar river and heads upstream to Meenmutty waterfalls. This trekking trail is ideal for families.