One of the best ways to enjoy nature in Kerala is by experiencing a day in Periyar National Park. This beauty of a place is situated in Thekkady, and it’s surrounded by hills and a plateau. Moreover, the two famous rivers of Pamba and Periyar also run through the national park. They are the major sources of water for the wildlife here. The amazing thing about Periyar National Park is that it has so many things to do.
So here’s all that you can do when you plan on experiencing a day in Periyar National Park.
How to reach the Periyar National Park?
By Air – This is the best option for people who are coming from far off. The two nearest airports to the park are the Cochin International Airport (around 156 kms) and Madurai Airport (around 16kms). From either of these airports, the best way to reach would be by road. Either get a bus or a cab.
By Rail – Taking a train means you’ll be getting down at Kottayam. It’s the nearest railway station to Periyar National Park. Which means that you will still have to cover around 97kms by road. But again, getting a bus from there shouldn’t be a problem.
By Road – You could very well enjoy a road trip down to the national park if you have your own vehicle. There are many private and state transport bus services available to get here. You will have to get down at the nearby town called Kumily, which is just about 4 kms away.
What to do in Periyar National Park?
You’ll be surprised at how many interesting experiences are there within the national park itself. Here’s a list of all the adventurous possibilities.
Camping in Periyar Tiger Reserve
Living in the wild is as exciting as it can get. There are numerous programs and activities planned around this. You get to live deep inside the jungle, next to the banks of the Periyar River. The wholesome experience also includes activities like trekking, birdwatching and boating. You even get a chance to interact with the local Urali tribe. Spending a night in a tent deep inside the forest is hands down one of the best ways to be in touch with nature.
Another fun and peaceful experience you can enjoy is Bamboo Rafting. You can choose the activity for half a day or even the entire day. The full day program goes on from 8 am to 5 pm. If you want to go for the half-day activity, you can choose between 7:30 am to 12:30 pm or 9:30 am to 2:30 pm. You often get to spot wildlife like Gaur, Sambar and Elephants, on the fringes of the lake. Also, it’s interesting how much insight you get from the guides.
The backdrop of the lush green hills simply add to the charm of this experience. When it comes to safety, they got that covered too. There will be an armed guard with you at all times. We can stress on how relaxing it can be to just float in the lake and admire the scenic surroundings. The lake is also where you come across a variety of birds. And just the sound of nature can be a kind of therapy of its own.
There’s no national park without a safari. Periyar National Park however has a lot of options under this category. You could experience a Boat Safari, a Jeep Safari or even an Elephant Safari. Each of these are interesting experiences which let you have a closer look at wildlife. Boat Safari might not be the best one if you’re specifically looking to spot a lot of wildlife. These safaris also let you get a taste of the Cardamom Hills and the dense tropical rainforest of the park.
These safaris start from early morning to the evening. While the Elephant Safari is an interesting experience for some that you get for 30 minutes, we are not big fans of it. Purely because domesticating the elephants in a national park seems counterproductive to us. For Jeep Safaris, you have the options of half-day and full-day safaris. All in all, these safaris are definitely worth it to get a taste of nature and wildlife to some extent.
There’s no doubt that this is a very intriguing way of witnessing wildlife and the wilderness in general. An experience in which you are accompanied by 2 tribal guides and an armed forest guard. This unique night safari in Periyar National Park lasts for 3-4 hours. Coming across the flying squirrel, civet, owls and other creatures, become a lot more fascinating in the dark of the night. You get a very different perspective of the forest altogether under the moonlight.
There are also some other experiences and activities within the park, such as Tiger Trails, Hiking and just eco-lodges. Each of them are interesting in their own unique way.
Things to know about Periyar National Park
Okay one thing you should know is that the national park has a Tiger Reserve and an Elephant Reserve. But quite frankly, you should manage your expectations a little. People often have preconceived notions that they will spot a lot of wildlife. Or maybe they will see a tiger up close. However, that’s not happening here unless you are very lucky. Sure, you will come across some animals which are more common but spotting Tigers are rare.
You have to understand what Periyar National Park is all about. You won’t be visiting the place specifically for a wildlife experience. Instead, you should be visiting this place for a forest experience. You will definitely come across some interesting birds and a few mammals. Even on your safaris, exotic wildlife sightings are not common. But there are unique programs designed for visitors to specifically experience the wildlife here.
Trust us though, with so many things to do, Periyar National Park is a great place to visit for nature lovers. It’s like an adventurous forest experience that you should definitely add to your bucket list.