Thekkady: Jungle trekking in National park Periyar
Thekkady is the place to visit Periyar National Park. This is one of the best spots in South India for wildlife spotting, including the tiger! But also wild elephants, bison, and various types of monkeys can just be spotted here. It is a popular destination for nature lovers and adventurers. Read on quickly for all the tips.
Periyar National Park
Periyar National Park is one of the most well-known nature reserves in India, known for its rich biodiversity and wildlife, including elephants and tigers. The park spans an area of approximately 925 m2. There are various treks, wildlife safaris, and boat tours you can book to see more of the jungle. The park also has an impressive variety of flora, with more than 2000 different plant species, including endemic ones.
What animals can you spot there?
If you go to Thekkady, you probably come for one very important reason, namely wildlife spotting. Although the chance to spot a tiger is small, it remains a special thought that you are walking through a jungle where the tiger still lives in the wild. In addition to tigers, there are also elephants, bison, sambar deer, Indian wild boars, langurs, and various types of monkeys. There are also many types of birds to see, such as the Indian hornbill, kingfishers, kingfishers, and many other exotic species.
In total, 35 tigers live in the area. The chance of spotting an elephant is a bit greater, about 1000 elephants live in the whole district of Idukki, where the park is located.
What does a jungle trek in Thekkady cost?
The cost of a trek depends on the type of hike you choose. A short hike costs about 15 euros, but if you go for a trek with an overnight stay, you will quickly pay more than 100 euros. For a full day trek we paid about 50 euros for 2 people incl. lunch.
Is a hike in Periyar National Park safe?
Periyar National Park takes various measures to ensure that walks and hikes are carried out safely. Here are some ways they ensure safety:
- Professional guides: All walks and hikes in the park are led by well-trained and experienced guides. These guides have extensive knowledge of the area, the trails, the flora and fauna, as well as safety guidelines. There is also one guide who is armed with a rifle.
- They always hike in small groups
- The trails in the park are marked with signposts and route indicators. This helps keep hikers on the correct path and prevents them from getting lost.
- The guides are equipped with communication systems to make contact with the park management or other relevant authorities in case of an emergency.
- Regular evaluation of the trails: The park regularly assesses the condition of the trails and conducts maintenance to ensure they are safe to walk on.
Periyar National Park places great importance on the safety of its visitors and takes the necessary measures to ensure that walks and hikes are carried out in a responsible and safe manner. However, it is always important for visitors to follow the instructions of the guides and be aware of their own safety while exploring the park.
- Nature Walk: Trekking in sandals to spot wild animals, birds, and butterflies in the park. Trained guides take a maximum of six people on different nature trails throughout the day. A fun way to connect with nature and hear and see the animals.
- Green Walk: The Green Walk is a 2.5-hour hike that offers a chance to observe birds, butterflies, and wildlife during a 4-5 km hike. Up to 6 people can participate, accompanied by a trained tribal guide.
- Bamboo Rafting Full Day: A full day of walking and rafting program in the Periyar Tiger Reserve. Enjoy panoramic views and observe animals such as elephants, gaurs, and sambars. Includes tea, snacks, and lunch along the way.
- Tiger Trail: An adventurous camping and trekking program lasting one to three days, led by experienced guides, formerly poachers, in the Periyar Tiger Reserve.
- Border Hike Full Day: A full-day hiking program along the borders of the Periyar Tiger Reserve. Explore different altitudes and observe wildlife such as gaurs, sloth bears, and elephants.
- Jungle Scout Night: A nocturnal patrol program in the Eco-development zone of the Tiger Reserve, aimed at deterring smugglers and offering fascinating macro-photography opportunities.
More to do in Thekkady:
Beyond the amazing Periyar National Park, there’s still plenty of other cool things to do in Thekkady. Check out these fun activities:
- Go to a Kalari show: Here you can check out a traditional martial art called Kalari. It comes all the way from Kerala and is truly badass. They show you the coolest moves!
- Visit spice plantations: Thekkady is famous for its spice plantations. Go on a tour and learn everything about the different herbs and spices they grow there.
- Relax at the Mangala Devi Temple: Head to the Mangala Devi Temple on a hilltop and enjoy a stunning view. It’s not just an important spiritual place, but also perfect to unwind and meditate.
And that’s not all! You can also enjoy nature walks, book massages, go bird watching, raft on the Periyar River, explore the local market, and feast on delicious Kerala cuisine. Thekkady has something for everyone: adventure, culture, and natural beauty. So come over and have a blast!
Important to know:
- Spotting animals is of course not a certainty, but a matter of luck
- Treat the environment respectfully and do not leave any trash behind
- Give priority to animals.
- Wear clothing that matches the natural environment.
- Take pictures, but do not disturb the wildlife.
- Respect local customs.
- Keep a reasonable distance from wildlife and do not provoke them.
- Do not talk loudly or play loud music.
- Do not get out of the vehicle or approach wildlife.
- Do not get closer than 15 meters to animals or disturb them while they are resting.
- Do not take flora and fauna in the form of cuttings, seeds or roots.
- Do not feed wildlife.
- Do not stop for more than 5 minutes in the reserve.
- Do not start fires and do not smoke within protected areas. Accidentally caused forest fires cause irreversible damage.
Hotspots & food in Thekkady
Thekkady is a bit of a busy not super cozy town, but there are plenty of nice spots where you can sit down for a delicious curry or ice-cold beer.
Thuskers Café: Indian food at its best
Enjoy delicious Indian dishes at Thuskers Café. Here you can feast on traditional curries and other delicacies.
Grandma’s Cafe: For a delightful beer in the garden
At Grandma’s Cafe, you can relax in the garden and enjoy a refreshing beer. A perfect place to unwind after a day full of adventure.
Pizzato: For a quick pizza
Craving for a quick pizza? Then head to Pizzato. Here you can enjoy delicious pizzas in a cozy environment.
Best time to travel to Thekkady
Thekkady is best visited during the winter months, from October to February. During this period, the weather is perfect and the temperatures are not too high. Also, you won’t be bothered by precipitation. The days are usually sunny and pleasant, making it the perfect day to explore Periyar National Park.
In the summer months, from March to May, it can get quite hot in Thekkady, with temperatures that can rise to over 35 degrees Celsius. We visited Thekkady in mid-March and during the hike we did struggle a bit with the heat. The monsoon runs from June to September. This makes the environment beautifully green and lush, but also causes heavy rainfall.
In short, the winter months are generally the best time to visit Thekkady.
What are nice places to stay in Thekkady?
We stayed at Green View and we found it to be a top-notch accommodation. It’s close to the park in a nice street. The rooms were clean, spacious, and with a little balcony. And it’s also super affordable.
How to get to Thekkady?
The Periyar National Park is located in the tourist town of Thekkady, near the border between the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the sprawling Western Ghats. The nearest airports are Madurai in Tamil Nadu, 128 kilometers away, and Kochi in Kerala, 190 kilometers away. While the distances are not huge, the mountainous terrain and road conditions mean that the journey takes about four hours or more from both airports. The closest train station is in Kottayam, 112 kilometers away or about three hours by car.
From the bus station in Kochi, one of the largest cities in Kerala, numerous buses leave daily for Thekkady. It is the cheapest way to get to the park and relatively straightforward, although the long ride takes about six hours.
We visited Thekkady from the Backwaters and to save time, we booked a private taxi. This cost us about 50 euros.
It’s also possible to travel to Thekkady by public transport. This will cost you less, but the journey will be much longer.