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Things to do in Thekkady

The allure of the nearly 100% humidity started to fade after several days spent exploring Kochi and Kerala’s backwaters. In search of some cooler air and fresh experiences, we decided it was time to move inland and upward. We took a bus from Kottayam to Kumily, which is the closest town to Thekkady, and we almost got to see some breathtaking views of the hills, tea plantations, and jungle as we drove up the ghat (there are a total of nine hair pin turns). Unfortunately, our bus driver appeared to be either extremely late or simply determined to drive as erratically as possible. Hire a taxi or private driver for the trip for less of a “thrill,” more comfort, and view/photo stops.

When we arrived in Thekkady, we were greeted with a refreshing breeze and a little town that caters to the numerous visitors who visit the Periyar Tiger Reserve, the region’s main draw.

Activities in Thekkady:

The majority of the “activities” as they are known in this area centre in some way around Periyar. We took pleasure in exploring the town on foot, trying banana chips and negotiating over their cost, and relaxing in the stunning (and extremely sustainable) resort of Spice Village; more on that later.


Here are a few activities in Periyar (which are called Periyar Tiger Reserve and Periyar National Park interchangeably). However, it would probably be best to be clear up front that there are very few possibilities that you will encounter a tiger in this area. Instead, staying in Thekkady is a fantastic chance to reconnect with nature, relax, and take in Kerala’s breathtaking scenery and wildlife.

We had the chance to experience the tranquilly and beauty of the forest in the early morning, as well as observe several bird species and learn about various plant species. We came upon a herd of hungry byson (wild buffalo) that were engaged in physical altercation with one another. We hastily moved backwards while admiring the activity and commotion.

 

One of Periyar’s community tourism efforts is the nature walks, which are great because you get to view Periyar in a way that you’re unlikely to see anywhere else and because they help the local tribal people that surround the national park. The walks create jobs and directly boost the park’s finances because the guides are mostly from these indigenous towns.

Boat Tours on Periyar Lake: Boat tours of Periyar Lake depart throughout the day, with the final (and most well-liked) one leaving at 3.30 p.m. The KTDC office is located inside the park, contrary to what we were informed, therefore you can purchase tickets there on the day of the event (turn up 1.5 hours early to buy). The most popular activity in Periyar is boating on the Periyar Lake, which we found to be the least enjoyable in Thekkady. Resorts In Thekkady


On Periyar Lake, you can choose to float across the water on your own bamboo raft as an alternative to the clamorous and overly crowded boat tour. The rafts depart at 8 am, and space is limited, so make reservations in advance! A guide and an armed forest ranger are in the raft with the passengers. This would be our preferred method of exploring the lake if we returned to Periyar.

 

Trekking – A variety of different trekking possibilities are available into the stunning surroundings, in addition to the nature hikes into Periyar (see above). One-day to multi-day treks are available, with the lengthier ones covering greater distances and being more challenging. Guides and armed forest rangers are always present on treks. Through your hotel, learn more about treks.

Support Tribal Heritage – Several tribal tribes have been residing on the park’s borders in and around the Periyar forests for many years. The Paliyan and the Mannan are two of the bigger tribes. Such groups stand the risk of losing their traditions to time and memory as India’s rapid growth progresses. Tourism offers a chance to support the preservation of some of their customs, pique interest in tribal life, and give locals financial gain. Go on a tour with a guide from one of the tribal communities or check out the museum dedicated to tribal heritage.


The resort is also one of the few organically certified hotels in India.

 

As we explored the area, we came across the enormous solar farm, which houses over 650 solar panels and powers the majority of the resort’s operations by storing solar energy in over 70 enormous batteries. Three distinct forms of compost are created on site from various wastes, part of which is utilised to create biogas that is then used as fuel for cooking in the staff housing. Both the guest toiletries and the cleaning supplies used throughout the resort are ayurvedic or organic.

Drinking water is locally filtered (naturally without chemicals) and then packaged in glass bottles. Plastic is not used. All guest rooms have conspicuous notices reminding us to use water when brushing our teeth or shampooing our hair. Perhaps most notably, every paper used in the resort is recycled because Spice Village has a paper manufacturing facility on-site where paper is manufactured from recycled garbage.


Thekkady’s responsible tourism

Thekkady and Periyar are two popular tourist destinations in Kerala, which has gained popularity with both domestic and foreign visitors. As a result, tourism is exerting more pressure and having a bigger influence. Wildlife habitat shrinks as tourism grows and more development takes place. Here are some suggestions to help you make the most of your time in Thekkady and contribute to its preservation for future tourists.

Try to book a room in a resort or hotel that works ethically and sustainably. This entails doing things like recycling their waste, hiring locals, and buying local goods, to name a few. Try Spice Village (above), as a hint!

Anywhere you can, stay away from plastic, especially water bottles. We observed an upsetting number of plastic water bottles in the Periyar lake and its surroundings, many of which end up in the stomachs of animals. Drink safe filtered water and set an example for others to follow (we recommend our handy UV filter in case you find yourself in a hotel without a RO/UV filter). Or, if unsure, ask for boiled water at your lodging and fill up your water bottle.

If you find any trash while in the park, take it home with you. Since there are typically few garbage facilities, take your trash back to your lodging with you to avoid having it end up on the floor.

Please explain the issue to anyone else who may be dropping trash and ask them to clean it up if they do.

Animals often have incredibly sensitive hearing, so keep quiet when you’re out in nature. Making noise will reduce your likelihood of spotting wildlife and that of future guests.

The best encounters with wildlife should be had at a distance. We understand that each person must make their own decisions, but we oppose encounters with interactive wildlife. Therefore, we do not advise going to any of the nearby Periyar elephant experiences that provide riding, washing, bathing, etc. We have heard varying opinions on this and that the elephants are cared for well, but we are aware from prior experience that it can be challenging to determine how animals are actually treated. Therefore, our rule is to stay away if you can ride it, embrace it, or take a selfie with it.

Be a local ally. Around the world and in India, rural communities are in danger because younger generations are leaving the countryside in search of employment and because local customs are vanishing. Do your part to assist them out by shopping locally. Stay in accommodations owned by locals, dine at restaurants run by locals, buy souvenirs created locally, and even engage in conversation with younger locals to help them improve their language skills and gain an understanding of their culture.

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