Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Periyar, tiger reserve, lake and nature walk

Munnar was wonderful. But we had to leave, get along with our trip plan and move on. So, after having lunch, we moved out for Thekkady. We had a plan already in place and to materialize it, we had to hurry.

  As the whole route from Munnar to Thekkady goes through the mountains, you just cannot rush too much. Still, when we reached Thekkady, it was 5 minutes past 5 pm. The Tiger reserve was just closed for the day. Our plan had nothing to do with the Tiger reserve for that day. We had to find the forest department office. The plan was to book a whole day Bamboo Rafting activity that can only be booked in person or through a draft in advance. Well, we didn't opt for option two. And guess what, there was no seat left for the next day. All booked. Phewwww.

  All the blogs we read talked about similar experiences. So it was time to re-plan. Oh! By the way, while we're on the topic it might be good time to tell you about the different type of activity you can do at Periyar Tiger Reserve.

  The most common thing people do at Periyar Tiger Reserve is take a boat ride across the lake and try their luck with spotting wild life. It's an hour and half long boat ride and with luck, you might just spot some wild life. We did; just a few. It needs no previous booking and there is a mad rush when it happens. It has it's own story and we'll come to that soon. The other things you can do at Periyar are more versatile in nature. Bamboo Rafting is a whole day activity and is quite famous. It starts at 8 AM and stretches till 5 PM. It includes a three hour bamboo rafting and a three hour nature walk with breaks for lunch and snack. Then there are other activities like Border trekking, Nature walk, Bullock cart riding etc. 

  Back to our story. Our re-planned plan for the next day was to opt for the first boat ride on the lake. And then go for a Nature Walk activity. Yes, the Nature Walk was still available for the next day. With things settled for the next day, our search for a hotel began. By then, it was around 5:45 PM. We tried out some homestays but ultimately settled for a hotel which was quite near the entry gate of the tiger reserve. The room was good with clean bathroom. The restaurant was outside, just opposite to the hotel.

  When we were getting our luggage from Sparky(our car) to get to our room, we found a family of nilgiri langoor hanging around, on a tree opposite to the hotel. They were having a snack comprising of flowers ,from the tree. We also took some snaps of those friendly jungle dwellers. 

  Around 8 PM that night we went for dinner at the restaurant. We ordered a fish curry and chicken roast. It was awesome. Kerala food is just great as always. 

  We hit the bed early that day because according to the tiger reserve ticket seller, the queue for entry starts at around 5 AM in the morning. The ticket is distributed from 6 AM. Our plan for the next day was to check out of the hotel at 5 AM and get into the reserve with the car and eventually leave for Trivandrum once our Nature Walk was over. 

  The next morning at around 5:05 AM we reached the gate of the tiger reserve. Well, not exactly the gate; but behind a queue of 20 cars from the gate. At that early hour, there were so many people lined up for tickets. You don't get the boat tickets at the gate though. It's only the entry and parking ticket. You need to collect the boat ticket from the boat jetty counter which is like 2 KM inside the gate. And you can get only two tickets per person.

  Once the gate was open, every single car was rushing for the boat jetty. Not many overtaking, but definitely speed driving. And it got even better at the parking lot. Everyone started to run for the ticket counter which was still about 1 KM away. If you don't know the context, it would appear as if the last boat from earth is leaving and the meteor would hit within seconds.

   Anyway, we joined the mad rush too. We made it to the counter in time and there were only around 10 people ahead of us. Our running was propelled by the idea of having an upper deck ticket so that our chances of spotting wildlife increases. One important point is that you need to carry your gate entry pass to the boat counter. They stamp it or you don't get to get on the boat. Back to the story. When we submitted a form for tickets, I was awestruck to find that there were no upper deck available. 

  Anyway, after a brief waiting of 30 minutes, we got to get on the boat and soon all the boats got filled.

To facilitate the foreign tourists they are generally allocated either top tier or side rows.These are generally the best seats for wildlife spotting.So if you are a foreign tourist its a good news for you!!

Landscape of Periyar Lake

Landscape of Periyar Lake

  The boat ride is pretty good and we did spot some wild dogs,sambars,gaurs and boars. Birds were in abundance. There were cormorants, cranes, herons, kingfisher, snake bird and many more. But we think that the landscape by the lake has its own appeal. The misty morning costume gives the forest a different mysterious appearance. When we were back at the jetty, we still had about an hour before our Nature Walk. So we just relaxed and had a little snack at a restaurant near the jetty. 

Cormorant Family

Some sort of stork maybe

Group of Gaurs.

Sambar Deer.
  The Nature Walk is light trek kind of activity. Every group is led by an experienced forest guide. Although the cost per person is Rs. 200, you have to book it with minimum Rs. 800. You can find more info at Periyar Tiger Reserver Website

  Our guide was Mr. Raju and he seemed to be a very knowledgeable about the jungle. First he briefed us about the program and then took us inside the jungle. You have to cross a small creek before you get to the side of the jungle.

   Throughout the three hours trek, we learnt about several different types of plant and animals. He explained the ayurvedic nature of different types of plants. He helped us spot birds like great Indian hornbill, warbler, ground thrush, split tail drongo and some others. 

Ground Thrush

Scarlet Minivet


Great Indian Hornbill

Nilgiri Langoor

  However, the bulls eye was hit by Soma. You know, she has this thing about wild life. Somehow she knows where to look. Even the experienced guide missed it. But Soma silently motioned us towards the branch of a tree that we were just crossing under. And there it was. A giant malabar squirrel. It was so well camouflaged that I have no idea how Soma found it. It played all around different branches of the tree. It noticed us for a moment but then completely ignored our presence.  It was a beautiful animal with vibrant colors on it.

Giant Malabar Squirrel

Giant Malabar Squirrel

Giant Malabar Squirrel
  The trek was over within three hours but we started to feel how much we walked. Anyway, we walked to the parking lot and relaxed for about 15 minutes before moving on. And again, it was Soma to do the wonder. Giant Malabar Squirrels again. And this time two of them. And they even did some circus tricks for us. Hats of to Soma, we got to see these animals from so close. BTW, we never got to see a single one of these at Bhadra.

  So, Periyar Tiger Reserve was a fantastic experience for us. And we would like to come back to this place once again. We moved on for Trivandrum.

Part of a hive.

Olibanum or Frankincense

The tree from which you get Olibanum or Frankincense.

Tiger's victim.

Cobra tree, cause it looks like it.


Same butterfly.

Forest office, reservation center.

Rubber tree.
  Here are some info you might find useful:

  Our travel time: 1st week of February, 2013.

  Activities in Periyar Tiger Reserve:
  Boat ride: Rs. 150 / person (only two tickets issued to one person)
                 The first ride in the morning or the last ride of the day gives
                 the maximum chance to spot wildlife.

  Bamboo Rafting: Rs. 1500/ person (minimum two person to operate)
                          Should be great. No personal experience.

  Nature Walk: Rs. 200/ person (minimum Rs. 800 to operate)
                     It's a 3 hours jungle trek and it rocks.

  Other activities: Border hiking, bullock cart ride etc.

  Packages: Periyar Wildlife Department has packages for one night jungle camp and other activities. You can find more info at Periyar Tiger Reserve Website

   Hotel where we stayed: Green Palace Hotel. Double bed room rate is Rs. 750. The rate is likely to go up in peak season.


  1. Excellent travelogue. Lovely clicks too.


    1. Hi Raj, thank you very much for your lovely complement.

  2. Had been there once. Nice place to refresh and recuperate. Like all the pictures, they're simply superb

    1. Hi Arumugam, we're really glad that you liked the photographs.

  3. superb captures.. interesting travel experience..

    1. Thank you very much. We're glad you liked the photographs.

  4. What a wonderful Travelogue . Frankly after reading this post I envy you . You have been to such a wonderful place . This is the place where we feel GOD i. e. Mother nature. Truly enjoyed and satisfied . Apart from this the pictures were mind blowing. For me Giant Malabari squirrel stole the show. Which camera do you use, can you share ????

    Travel India

    1. Thank you very much Vishal. We're really glad that you liked the travelogue and the photographs.

      We use two cameras. One is an Olympus 565UZ and the other is a Canon 550D with (Canon 18-135 IS and Sigma 70-300).

      And yes, the giant Malabar squirrel is pretty amazing.

      We actually uploaded even more photographs of Kerala trip on G+; if you want, you can have a look at :

  5. Mind blowing captures......


  6. Wow! Wonderful photos! You are able to convey the beauty and uniqueness of each of your pictures. It's just great! And I loved the squirrel)

    1. Yes, the squirrel is very beautiful. Thanks a lot for your complement Migalayte.

  7. Excellent pictures. I had missed the nature walk during my trip, thanks for taking me through

  8. Replies
    1. Yes, it's a fantastic place. Thanks for stopping by Pradyumna.

  9. Wonderful pictures!


  10. Awesome capture...
    The periyar lake looks so inviting and I must compliment on the catch of the giant malabar squirrel..
    Thanx for all the info..


    1. Thank you Manjulika......yes the Periyar lake is amazing..

  11. Replies
    1. We stayed in Green Palace Hotel.It is very near the sanctuary

  12. I’ve just go through this whole post and it is very interesting. You shared your experience to us which helps us when we visit Periyar national park in future. As I am a photographer and love to do travel, I personally like these pics very much. I will visit soon this blog and I hope you will share more interesting posts to us. Thanks

    1. Thank you so much for the lovely comments....great to know that you loved the clicks!

  13. wonderful photographs its really amazing.....but just one thing some say that the Honey of Kerala is Bitter is that true???????

    1. thanks for stopping by....oh...not sure about the taste of honey in Kerala :)

  14. Hi, Very nice article...would you be able to suggest if i will need to book with package or just accomodation?

    1. Hi
      Thanks for your compliments.
      For the boat ride on Periyar lake, you have to book on spot.
      For the nature walk, you need to book the tour from the Periyar Tiger Reserve office located a little away from the
      sanctuary gate.The number of tours per day are limited, so you can make an arrangement with your hotel.

      I do not think there is any package as such, you can book an accomodation and after reaching periyar book the tours/rides yourself.
      But I think the hotels too will be willing to do the service for you for some extra payment.

  15. how to book the nature walk in Periyar national park? or is there any option to book the boat ride online?
    thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Koustav
      As far we know there is no online portal to book the nature walk at Periyar online. The best you can do is contact your hotel and ask them to pre book the package for you. Actually a lot of people book the nature walk this way since its hihi in demand and gets sold off very fast.

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