Think lush green forests, rippling waters of a lake and boats bobbing lazily on the waves, and chances are you’re imagining a vista quite like Periyar Lake. Part of Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Thekkady, in India’s southern state of Kerala, this stunning lake was formed as a result of Mullaperiyar dam being constructed across the river. It boasts of a vibrant ecosystem, which in turn makes it a prime spot for fishing, bird-watching and picnicking. The surrounding wildlife reserve serves as a home for tigers and other wildlife, so nature walks and jungle prowl programmes are in abundance. So should you wish to get closer to nature check out this guide to Periyar Lake.
Things to do / highlights
Go boating on the lake
When near Periyar Lake, a boat ride on the lake is a must-do. It’s also the primary mode of exploration in the are apart from guided walks. You can book tickets for a boat ride at the ticket counter near the lake, or in advance at Kerala Tourism offices. During peak season, the snaking queues take up to 1.5 hours to clear, so it’s best that you book tickets in advance if you’re visiting during that time. For a tranquil 1.5 hours, the boat floats gently upon the lake, allowing ample time to spot birds, monkeys and wild boar among other wildlife. Don’t expect to spot a tiger, though– you’ll have to opt for a jungle trek to see those!
Go rafting on a bamboo raft - then trek
This is quite a memorable adventure to embark on when in Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. In this programme, visitors can hop on board crudely constructed yet made-for-the-water bamboo rafts to float along the Periyar Lake. There are only a handful of these rafts in service, with only five people being allowed on one raft, so make sure you get up there bright and early to secure a seat. After the raft ride, you could choose to wander further into the Tiger Reserve on a trek with a well-versed guide and a group of other adventurers.
Lace up for a nature walk
Periyar Lake and the surrounding wildlife sanctuary are homes to an abundance of wildlife and species of all kinds. To really get up and close with nature, consider booking yourself into a nature walk that takes winding routes through the reserve. A host of trails cut through the variety of habitats, which means one minute you’ll see a rare butterfly and the next a gorgeous bird up close. This walk through the forests by the lake is the best way to experience the reserve without wandering off on your own or getting lost!
Wander into the forests at night
… with a guide, of course! The many jungle scout programmes on offer allow visitors to venture into the thick of the forests late at night. This is quite an adventure, considering the advent of the night changes the atmosphere from bright and welcoming to eerie and primaeval. The jungle scout programme is an eco-tourism package, which means it is sustainable and doesn’t disturb the natural rhythms of the forest’s inhabitants. Visitors will trek through the forest and along the lake, for a few hours after 7 pm, in the company of armed guards. This isn’t a route for the faint-hearted, but thrill-seekers must take part.
Allow enough time to explore
The boat rides on Periyar Lake takes two hours to complete, so make sure you give yourself enough time to line up, get tickets and board at your leisure. The tours are divided into different time slots; however, veteran travellers say the best slots are the first and last ones as there are fewer people and more wildlife sightings.
Factor cameras into ticket costs
While ticket costs vary for adults and children, there is a standard fare to pay if you’re taking still or video cameras. If you’re all about that wildlife photography and absolutely need to get photos with your telephoto lens, then go ahead and pay the extra fee on your ticket. However, if you reckon you’ll be satisfied with absorbing the sights with your eyes alone, then get a regular ticket without the camera fare.
Book yourself into a tour package
Consider booking a slot on a boat ride, a jungle scout night trek or any other tour package. This way, you’ll get to see wildlife in all its glory while taking safe routes and being in the company of like-minded nature lovers. Most tours will take you to the best wildlife viewing spots, so you don’t need to stumble around on your own for great views!
Keep a first aid kit with you
Once you enter the national park and begin moving through it, you’re less likely to find people other than those on tours. To be safe in case of injury, consider taking a fully stocked first aid kit along. Ensure that it has the basics– bandaids, sprain bandages, surgical tape, gauze, ointments and a bottle of drinking water.
How to get there
From Thekkady, you will need to take the Kumily Thekkady Road to the main gate of the Periyar National Park. The best way to travel to this location is by a private or rental car.
Periyar Lake Thekkady Information
Periyar Lake, Thekkady
Address: Kumily, Kerala
Opening hours: 6.30am - 5pm (daily)
Cost: 0.56 USD for adults; additional 0.35 USD for still cameras and 2.8 USD for camcorders
Official Website: Thekkady
Department of Tourism: Kerala Tourism
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