Periyar Tiger Trail
It is an adventurous trekking and camping programme in dense forest. It is offered in two packages, one- night and two-night stays, depending upon the preference and the budget of the tourist. Trekking in the Thekkady Tiger Trail is in reality participation in forest patrols within Periyar Sanctuary and National Park. Trekking with tourists during peak season is normally limited to two occasions a week. Each trekking is unique in the sense those different paths are chosen randomly. The physical condition of the trekking tourist determines to some degree the difficulty of the path chosen. As the terrain is undulating, every trekking program demands that each participant is in good physical condition. From the beginning, the trekking follows an easy footpath, but then the team enters terrain and vegetation of varying difficulty to penetrate, in an untouched landscape without tracks. There are no facilities within the Sanctuary, so everything needed has to be carried along. Under the scheme, a maximum number of five tourists will be accompanied by five guides and one armed forest guard.
The guides are very knowledgeable on every corner and crack of Thekkady forest, and on wildlife behaviour. During the night, the guests are put up in temporary erected tents right in the interior. Guests feel at the lap of Mother Nature and can have a close-up view of wildlife and observe their behaviour. Considering the vulnerability of biodiversity the number of slots has been limited although much publicity has been given to the project recently and its popularity is considerably increasing, the number of trekking is limited to not more than a couple of tour per week. This is typical of ecotourism. An ecotourism project is never meant to be expanding with increasing popularity - then it ceases to be a true ecotourism project, Which entails a minimum of damage and disturbance of the environment. One very important result of the project so far, is that the former poachers have been converted to devoted trackers with a genuine interest in conserving the Sanctuary. Some trackers have reported that the number of wild animals is already increasing. One national award for ecotourism was given to this project by The Ministry of Tourism for excellence in environmental concern in January 2000.
A full day nature trail package is offered to nature lovers to enjoy the panoramic beauty of Periyar Lake and undulating surroundings. A maximum of ten tourists can be accommodated in one slot. They will be accompanied by five guides and one armed guard. Only one slot will be allotted per day. Under this package the guests can enjoy two-hour long trekking, one and half hours long rafting upwards, and then after lunch break the party returns in the same manner. During the trail the party can have a feeling of pristine forest, see even large mammals, birds and indigenous people fishing in the lake. The guests will be helped to identify flora and fauna.
Day Trekking Programme
Trekking programme, conducted by EDC, an Eco-development Committee (involving Tribal trekkers cum Guides), formed by 20 selected youths from the nearby tribal hamlets, offers a possibility to know the richness of an ideal tropical evergreen forest within a short span of time. The trekking duration is 3 hours. Five guests will be accommodated in one slot and they will be accompanied by one tribal youth. Born and brought up right in the lap of forests, the guides are well familiar with the forest life. The guest will be taken through selected nature trails. The programme is also ideal for bird enthusiasts as it starts early morning.
A well furnished hut-like building right inside the forest, near by a vast expanse of wetland, is open to the tourists for night-stay. Two tourists will be accommodated and one guide will accompany them. During the stay in the inn they can have a close watch of the movement of wildlife and if it is a full moon day their experience in the jungle will be unforgettable. The guests will complete short duration trekking to and from their destination. The accompanying guide will serve light food during the stay in the inn.
Learning Program in Bamboo Grove
Typical tribal like huts and tents erected right in a vast bamboo grove in the middle of Anavachal vayal are offered to serious nature lovers for their experiential learning programme. In addition to the huts and tents, a seminar hall also exists for conducting sensitization programs. These programs include interactive lectures by topic specific faculties/ professionals, simple food, accommodation in the tent etc.
Under this programme tribal life and culture of 50 years ago has beenrecreated in an exhibition centre right in the tribal hamlet. It is a 2-hour program and includes an exhibition and interpretation of the heritage and a nature trail in the hamlet. The guest can get acquainted with their traditional life, such as medicinal herbs, weapons, musical instrument, household articles etc.
This programme involves a close interaction with the nature in the midst of a typical evergreen forest in Gavi, about 40 Kms. from Thekkady. The full programme is conducted by the eco-development committees of Meenar, Gavi and Kochupanpa. The package includes vehicle safari from Thekkady to Gavi and trekking in the forest. Animal sighting is common and abundant. Night-stay is also facilitated for a limited number of tourists. Rowing, bird watching, outdoor camping in the forest, tree-top stay and night safari are also arranged on request.