Elephant tracking in the Western Ghats
Trip Start May 01, 2010
90Trip End Apr 30, 2011
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Where I stayed
Rainbow Cottage Kumily
Read my review - 4/5 stars
Read my review - 4/5 stars
On arrival, we checked into Rainbow Cottage, a psychedelically decorated and very clean guesthouse on the edge of town
The next day we decided to visit one of the many spice gardens in the local area. We went to Highrange Spice Gardens and spent a fascinating hour being shown around by the owner George who was a walking encyclopaedia on all things botanical. He showed us many different spices, medicinal Ayurvedic herbs and vegetables all growing in his lush gardens. Then we took a brief walk through the plantations where we saw cardamom and coffee growing under the shade of tall trees. We learnt so much in a short space of time like the fact that cinnamon and bay leaf come from the same plant.
In the evening, we went to watch a Kathakali performance, a traditional Keralan art form, which uses dance and miming to tell a story, usually based on one of the Hindu epics. Actors/dancers dressed in elaborate costumes do not speak but instead convey the story through a series of bizarre facial expressions, which involves much eye rolling and eyebrow wiggling, and hand gestures
The following day we got up early to get to the Periyar entrance gates when they opened at 6.30am so that we could go on the early morning boat trip around Periyar Lake. Periyar is south India’a most popular park and this was apparent when we arrived to find a long line of cars and buses waiting outside the gate. We paid our entrance fee and took a rickshaw into the park. When the rickshaw could go no further we jumped out and had to run to try to overtake the crowds of Indian tourists all rushing to buy boat tickets! Why you are not able to pre-book boat tickets the day before or when you pay for your park entrance ticket at the gate seems crazy. If you’re not quick enough then you might literally miss the boat even though you have already paid the entrance fee!
Anyhow, we did manage to catch the first boat and enjoyed a 2 hour trip around the lake. We spotted some bison and wild boar in the distance and got close to a couple of Sambar deer with a young fawn. After the boat trip we wanted to go trekking so our rickshaw driver took us to yet another office where you can buy a trekking ticket (why is there not one main office where you can buy all tickets?!)
The guide told us to keep low to the ground but be ready to move quickly if we had to run! They were a small group of females and a calf. We watched them quietly eating and drinking for a good twenty minutes. Then they must have got our scent as they started making deep grumbling and then loud trumpeting noises. Our guide motioned that it was time to leave so we walked briskly away from the area. It was an absolutely amazing experience and we were all grinning for ages afterwards! Our guide told us that he had never managed to get so close to elephants in the six years that he has worked in the park so we were incredibly lucky.
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