Wayanad, in North Kerala is an area of more than 2000 sq km in the magnificent Western Ghats. Blessed with outstanding natural beauty, far from commercialisation, Wayanad is home to tribes as yet untouched by civilisation.
Jewel like Hill Stations, wide grassy savannahs, deep forests and fragrant spice plantations, plus a cultural history reaching back as far as the Mesolithic age, Wayanad offers a rich tourist experience.
The wildlife sanctuary is made up of two distinct areas, Muthanga in the south, and Tholpetty to the north both are part of the Nilgiri Biosphere.
Hills, mountains and thick forest form the habitat, a third of the forest is deciduous and semi evergreen trees, bamboo and low growing shrubs give cover for smaller animals. Marsh lands and natural ponds are watering holes, a good place to spot wildlife. Elephant, leopard, tiger, giant squirrel, sambar, langur are just some of the animals that visitors have seen here. Because the sanctuary is managed ecologically there is a small area in the centre where only rangers and researchers can go, this doesn,t spoil the visitor experience in any way, jeep safaris can surprise and delight with the wide range of animal and bird life to be seen.
Edakkal Caves are evidence that this area was inhabited by man at least 5000 yrs ago, carvings (petroglyphs) inside the caves showing human figures and the tools of their daily life, plus symbols that as yet, no one has understood, suggest this was a prehistoric settlement. The climb to the cave over rocks and steep slopes is worth while for the magnificent views, including Phantom Rock in the distance. On reaching the cave, it is worthwhile for a few Rs to take a guide who can point out many figures and symbols that otherwise could be missed. These stoneage carvings are rare, the only examples in South India.
Soojipara waterfall near Meppady is reached by a downhill trek through woodland, it falls from 100 ft into a rocky pool below making it fun to stand under the fall and bathe in the pool, the rocks are good picnic spots…….then you trek back up ! Near the parking area at the top good tea and coffee are available alongside places to by tea, spices and souvenirs.
Chembra Peak is the tallest peak in Wayanad, Chembra is above all a fantastic trekking location, after taking a ticket from the forest office and getting a guide if you wish, drive to the watchtower, about 5 km away where the trek begins. The short drive takes you through tea gardens which is a good start to the day. Walking at a medium pace, the trek to the peak will take at least four hours, taking you upwards past a heart shaped lake and giving dreamy views. It is possible to drive part way to Chembra, winding through tea gardens till you reach a spot where you can the ribbon of road you travelled up and the distant misty hills beyond.
Pookot Lake is a large freshwater lake where you can hire canoes, row boats or pedal boats or walk the perimeter path shaded by forest trees. The waterlilies on the surface of the water are a joy to see, visitors are not allowed to pick them. There are tea and snack facilities at the entrance, and a souvenir shop selling items made from bamboo and coconut husk, spices and herbal medicines are also available.