Friday, December 2, 2011

Kerala travelogue - Day 4 (23rd Nov 2011) - Thekkady - Wading in the Periyaar Lake

Kerala Toursim
Alleppey | Aymenem | Ernakulam | Fort KochiKalariyapattu | Kumarakom | Paranthampura | Thekkady | Vembanad |
Holiday Destinations in India

Rising early for a change, went to the 'Tourist Information Centre' to collect the entry tickets for the wildlife sanctuary. The ticket issuing person raised concerns on my mother wearing a Saree and we were afraid that she would not be let to take the rafting tour. Did a lot of convincing and finally we were off to the boat landing.

Saw some interesting birds at the boat landing. At 8 pm, we were readied for the trek. There were a total of around 15 people for the tour (2 foreigners, a group of guys back from Hyderabad, back from paying their homage to Sabrimala and us). Everybody had to wear the khaki leg coverings provided to prevent us from the leeches in the jungle. A small raft was pulled and to say it truly, we were a little disappointed cause it didn't have seats on it and thinking spending 3 hrs on this was a little uncomfortable. Our doubts were put to rest as this raft was only for crossing the river from where we were to start the trek.


Boat Landing

At the boat landing

Raft for crossing the lake
As we reached the opposite river bank, tobacco was spread on our leg coverings so that the leeches didn't cling to us. And then started our trek through the dense jungle. It was real fun. We trekked for almost 2 hours and saw an elephant skull and some tiger paw markings - pointed by the forest guard and the other guards accompanying us. We didn't sight any animals till now though. During our break, spotted a beautiful blue roller bird. In flight, it looked like a designer bird with carefully crafted wings of colour.
After trekking for another 30 minutes, voila!!, we saw our rafts and jumped in joy.


Jungle Trek

Elephant Skull

Jungle Trek

Spider Man

Blue Roller bird
Sitting on the rafts and wading through the periyaar lake was like magic. All our panting and huffing and puffing vanished as we sat on our rafts. The guards acted as oarsmen and did the rafting and navigating. You can help yourselves too. We landed on another bank a little ahead for our breakfast break. Breakfast was pineapple jam and bread, coffee and bananas.

We wasted no time after breakfast and got back to our rafts. The Sun was playing spoilsport as it played hide and seek with the clouds. You have to experience to enjoy the fun of rafting on the lake, amidst the jungle. Bare tree stumps lying in the middle of the lake with multi-layered shades of surrounding mountains, birds fluttering, flowers ostentatiously displaying their hues create a magical picture perfect. It's like living for the moment and capturing as much as your visual senses can capture and releasing all anxieties and breathing deep the fresh air to cleanse your inner self. Truly magical!!

We broke our comfortable monotonicity by breaking for lunch. Lunch was on the banks of the river. Before lunch, one of the forest guards managed to catch a big fish, almost out of thin air and everybody got excited. My father got down to fishing and it felt good to see him enjoying. Also saw a shoal of black fish, don't know what they were, fish or tadpoles...


Post lunch, we followed the same route, rafting to our breakfast point, where we returned our life jackets and trekked back to the main point. It was disappointing not to miss out on the fauna. The only animals we managed to see were a group of wild pigs in the distance and some bisons on our way back. Missed the elephants. Did see some interesting birds though. All along, I put my Canon DSLR and my newly bought 55-250 lens to good use and the group ended up thinking I was a professional photographer (which I will be, someday) and an avid bird watcher (which I am). Even the guards helped me out with locating birds and went out of their way to point them out to me more than the rest of the group :) One of the guards, R Mugan also took me around a different path and showed me a tiger skull !!

We were back at the boat landing by 4:00 pm and back at Ambadi by 5 pm. Rested for some time and then ventured to the local market and bought spices at the local outlet in the evening. During dinner, overheard a firang couple discussing that they saw elephants during their trek...boo...hoo...


Our Rafts

Rafting the Periyaar

Periyaar

Wild Pigs

Fresh catch

Fishing

The beautiful Periyaar

Bisons

Annotations:
  • You need to be lucky to spot animals, whether you go on the jeep safari or rafting on the lake. Enjoy the trip though, with or without animals.
  • Spices, if not cheap would be authentic and organic here as this place is full of spice plantations. Hence, one would be better of doing their spice shopping from here.
  • Keep your volume levels down if you want to get lucky to sight animals. Our group wasn't quite :(

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