Living in a world of hectic schedules and metropolitan lives, people have forgotten how precious silence and solitude is. Being in the lap of nature, exploring the wilderness, and doing absolutely nothing has its own charm. So, if you yearn to traverse diverse terrains where you can witness the untamed life of the massive and elusive denizen of the forests, the Periyar Tiger Reserve Thekkady is your best bet.
Saddled high on the Cardamom and Pandalam Hills of the South Western Ghats along the Tamil Nadu border, the Periyar Tiger Reserve is spread across an area of 777 sq. km. The forest land is home to an eclectic collection of unique species of flora, fauna, and avifauna. This mesmerising stretch of this foliage gets its name from the River Periyar that originates deep within the reserve.
For centuries, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Thekkady has been home to an exquisite diversity of wildlife and nature, attracting excursionists in great numbers each year. Known for its pleasant weather, the Periyar Tiger Reserve offers a bird’s eye view of the untamed life in a forest from up close. It is now a veritable pit stop for people travelling to places near Kerala. Here are all the amazing things that you can see and do while you are in the Periyar tiger reserve area:
1. Things to See
The Periyar Tiger Reserve is divided into four major areas. The huge open grasslands are where you can spot elephants, bison, sambar deer, Nilgiri langur, bonnet macaque, lion-tailed macaque, and barking deer. And if you are lucky enough, you can have a successful sighting of the wild boars, tigers, leopard, and jungle cat. These sprawling prairies will bestow you with spectacular views of the biota here. While the deciduous forest is dominated by trees like Terminalia and Teak that shed leaves during the fall season, the semi-evergreen forest along the stream areas offers a rejuvenating and fresh vibe. Both of these forests bequeath an enthralling sight. Lastly, there are the tropical evergreen jungles which are popularly known as ‘Sholas’. These are commonly found in the entire Western Ghats but abounds in the reserve.
2. Things to Do
2.1 Jeep Safari
One of the best ways of exploring the Periyar forest is through a jungle safari in a jeep. When booking a Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary safari, look for an early morning slot. This will help you get some of the most remarkable views from your off-roader. Usually, the Periyar Tiger Reserve jeep safari starts at 5:30 in the morning. Since the ambience is serene and the tourist bustle is at a minimum during this time, you will be able to experience all the troughs and peaks of the hilled valley and witness wildlife up close. Moreover, you will be accompanied by a forest guard who can guide and give you some interesting insights into the wildlife, flora, and fauna around.
2.2 Bamboo Rafting
Periyar Tiger Reserve lets you witness the untamed and pristine beauty of nature and wildlife. By sculling your way through on a bamboo raft, you can explore all the amazing spots of the forests around you in the best way possible. You can voyage through the pristine waters and the verdant foliage of the reserve in utmost peace and solitude. Enjoying raft rides and boating at the Periyar Tiger Reserve are some of the most adventurous and immersive ways of witnessing the denizens of the forest.
There are two available slots when it comes to bamboo rafting at Periyar Tiger Reserve. You can either spend an entire day rowing the raft while exploring every nook and corner of the reserve or reconnoitre the diverse terrains of the region in the other half of the day.
2.3 Tiger Trail
Ultimately, this reserve is all about the majestic striped cat. So, embark this trail to get a glimpse or two of this regal member of the feline family. Housing around 30 Bengal tigers and a few white tigers, Periyar Tiger Reserve is the best place to sight this majestic being!
The tiger trail at the Periyar Tiger Reserve is a guided trek that traverses a distance of 20 to 35 km. There are usually two types of packages. While one lasts for one night and two days (1N/2D), the other is two nights and three days (2N/3D) long. You will be provided with meals during the day and tents inside the forest where you can stay in the night time. Well, that is enough time to come across a sight of this fierce quadruped making this Periyar Tiger Reserve trekking trail an adrenaline-pumping experience.
2.4 Border Hiking
If you are here to scout some rippling terrains and witness the untouched beauty of nature, you should definitely sign up for border hiking. It is a day-long activity within the Periyar Tiger Reserve. This includes all the undulating topographies and altitudinal hiking trails of 900 to 1300 metres where you can get a glimpse of the soaring slopes that border the region. You can also witness some unique and vibrant species of birds and butterflies here apart from gaur, sloth bear, and elephants. While hiking through the twisted trails, listening to the chirping birds on the distant mountain ranges, and enjoying silence and solitude, you will find yourself in an entirely new place.
2.5 Tribal Dance
Periyar Tiger Reserve, Thekkady is globally known for the harmonious co-existence between indigenous tribal communities and the forests. There are six tribal communities settled within the reserve including Mannans, Malayarayans, Paliyans, Uralis, Mala Pandarams, and Ulladans. These tribes perform cultural dance forms, granting you an exclusive opportunity to witness their rich cultural heritage. The tribal dance performance usually lasts about an hour, giving you a brief introduction of the local tribal hamlets. Do not forget to capture this remarkable moment through a memorable photo. A big plus is that they are not usually camera-shy!
Breathe in the fresh forest air, romp through those leaves, and immerse your feet in the gushing stream of River Periyar to let all your worries wash away. After all, these are the experiences that make it one of the most coveted tourist places to visit in Kerala.