The varieties of forest dwelling species in Kerala are a photographer's delight and a trekker's paradise. A safari along the inner veins of the jungle would reward you with a glimpse of the eluding deer or mighty elephants, and sometimes even the monstrous gaur. Venturing deeper inside the jungle would bring to your view the more ferocious beasts of the cat family.
Kerala is home to 13 wildlife sanctuaries and 5 national parks, and in this article we would discuss 9 of the ‘wildest’ ones. Innumerable wildlife lovers and photography enthusiasts come from everywhere in the world to spot the exotic flora and fauna of the forests in Kerala.
Following is a list of 9 wildly popular wildlife destinations within the state.
A delightful and enchanting experience awaits you!
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Thekkady town is a land of mesmerizing beauty and it culminates when you catch a glimpse of the endemic flora and fauna. You can trek or take a jeep safari down to the pristine waters of the Periyar Lake, which forms the main watering point for animals, small and large.
If you sit quietly and wait, you can glimpse a herd of elephants or gaur making their way down to drink water. Meanwhile, you can watch the sambhar deer, Malabar giant squirrel, Nilgiri langur, flying squirrel, krait, woodpecker, viper, grackle, kingfisher and other birds. Patience is the key, if you want to see the animals. And of course, silence!
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary
Hugely wild, tread with caution!
Located on the north of Marayoor town of Idukky district, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary has documented a name for itself, thanks to the presence of the endangered Grizzled Giant Squirrels. If you are lucky, you can see some Mugger crocodiles and Indian Star Tortoise.
Other animals you can easily spot on a trek are gaurs, elephants, spotted dear, Nilgri Tahr and Bonnet Macaque. On a trek within the forest, the sandalwood trees will lure you with their enticing smell while the cascading waterfalls mesmerize you with their sheer beauty.
Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary
Nature awaits your arrival, all clothed and decked in mesmerizing greenery!
Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary in the Chittur Taluk of Palakkad district is proud to be recognized as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. Home to 268 varieties of birds, 124 types of butterflies, 16 species of amphibians, 39 species of mammals and 61 species of reptiles, a trek through the enchanting forests of Parambikulam would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for you. Along the way, you can enjoy the charm of mystic valleys and picturesque peaks.
Indulge in the thrill of being in the midst of the untamed!
Muthanga and Tholpetty sanctauries form the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and are important components of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. The sanctuary is well known for its 'Protect Elephant' project and its rich collection of more than 216 aviator species including babbler, painted bush quail, black woodpecker and pariah kite. The forest is mostly covered in semi evergreen trees and moist deciduous teak trees.
Eravikulam National Park
Observe the intrinsic beauty of the rolling plateaus!
It is said that the sanctuary houses more than 132 species of birds, an impressive collection of mammals like Indian Muntjac, Indian porcupine, small clawed otter, leopard, tiger, jackal and Nilgiri Langur. Eravikulam sanctuary is divided into three main zones and they are fiercely protected by the forest department, so tourists are allowed only into the tourism area and not the buffer or core areas.
Delve into ‘pristine wilderness’!
Peppara can be easily accessed from Thrivananthapuram. The forest surrounds the catchment area of the Karamana River and is the natural habitat of wild dogs, panthers, wild boars, lion tailed macaque, tigers and of course elephants, and interesting varieties of aviator life.
The forest has moist mixed deciduous, tropical and semi-evergreen trees. The thick forests, rocky terrain and undisturbed streams add to the mysterious, magnetic quality of these forests.
Chimmini Wildlife Sanctuary
Marvel at the abundance of nature in the form of flora and fauna!
Chimmini Wildlife Sanctuary is an incredible mix of semi-evergreen, evergreen and moist deciduous trees. A trek along these trails would take you into a different and mesmerizing world of incredible beauty comprising of flowers, birds and of course, wildlife.
Southern Birdwing and Blue Mormon- two of the largest butterflies in India, are found here. Located in Thrissur district, the sanctuary boasts of an abundance of sambhars, elephants, gaurs, Malabar squirrels and sloth bears.
Image by ManojK via Wikimedia Commons
A dense canopy of greenery lends a treat to the eye!
Idukki has a wildlife sanctuary between Periyar and Cheruthoni. Rich in natural greenery with an enchanting canopy of deciduous trees and tropical ever-green forests, the sanctuary with its hidden treasure of flora and fauna is a must-visit. You will find poisonous snakes like cobra, viper, kraits and many more, birds like grey jungle fowl, bulbuls, woodpeckers, Malabar grey hornbill, flycatchers, and so on.
Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary
One of the main attractions of visiting Neyyar sanctuary, nestled between Thiruvananthapuram and Tamil Nadu, is the lion safari park where you can closely observe the mighty lions in their natural habitat. Neyyar Dam also boasts of a huge repository of natural herbs within its fold.
Neyyar sanctuary is quite unique from other wildlife sanctuaries, not only because it is small, but also because you have full chances of seeing a lion as it is a guided park. Other activities include boating, visiting crocodile park, children’s park, and so on.
This article is just a glimpse of the wild adventures that await you in the popular wildlife sanctuaries of Kerala. Be sure to include a visit to at least one of these places in your next travel itinerary!
For more info open Paradise Holidays, Cochin - a Kerala based tour operator.