Nestled in the luxuriant forests of the Western Ghats in Kerala are fourteen wildlife sanctuaries. And skirting these exotic destinations are some of the most delightful trekking trails in the country.
All awash in the spice-scented air of endless acres of plantations ranging from cardamom, vanilla and pepper to tea and coffee.
Neyyar Sanctuary In Kerala (30 km from Thiruvananthapuram):
A haven for exotic flora and fauna, 12,000 hectares of natural vegetation is spread across an undulating terrain interspersed with rushing brooks, flat meadows and gentle slopes. An ideal trekking destination, the 1868 m Agasthyamala Peak is its highest point.
Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary In Kerala (50 km from Thiruvananthapuram):
This Sanctuary spread over 53 sq. Km on the Western Ghats, has rich flora and fauna and is interspersed with hillocks, forests and eucalyptus plantations.
Shenduruney Wildlife Sanctuary (66 km from Kollam):
Declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1984, the region is unique for its bio-diversity, remains of a Stone Age culture and an important ecotourism resource, Thenmala.
Idukki wildlife Sanctuary In Kerala (55 km from Thodupuzha in Idukki):
A charming canopy of dense tropical evergreen forests, tropical semi-evergreen forests and moist deciduous fringe the scenic lake that surrounds this protected area on three sides.
Periyar Tiger Reserve In Kerala (4 km from Thekkady in idukki):
Snuggled in the Western Ghats,one of the world's richest bio-diversity spots, is the fascinating natural wildlife sanctuary of Thekkady - the protected periyar Tiger Reserve. There are two watch towers inside the forest teeming with exotic wildlife.
Eravikulam National Park In Kerala (15 km from Munnar in Idukki):
The main attractions of this park situated in the Devikulam Taluk are the Nilgiri Tahr and the Neelakurinji flowers that bloom just once in 12 years. The highest peak in South India, Anamudi (2695 m), is located in the southern region of the park.
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary In Kerala (60 km from Munnar in Iddukki):
Situated on the Tamil Nadu border, the Rajamala-Udumalpet Road winds right through it, enabling travellers to view wildlife including elephants, sambar, gaur etc.
Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary In Kerala (20 km from Kothamangalam in Ernakulam):
Also known as Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad nestled in evergreen forests, was discovered by the renowned ornithologist of India, Dr. Salim Ali and is named after him.
Peechi-Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary In Kerala (20 km east of Thrissur):
Established in 1958, this is one of Kerala's oldest wildlife reserves. Formed around the twin reservoirs of Peechi and Vazhani, the sanctuary is a rich repository of bio-diversity with several endangered herbs, shrubs, rare medicinal plants and innumerable variety of orchids.
Chimmini Wildlife Sanctuary In Kerala (37 km from Thrissur):
With its dense forests, a variety of birds and butterflies and innumerable trekking trails, this is a sanctuary that provides a heady experience for nature enthusiasts. The Forest Department organises trekking and bamboo rafting programmes in and around the sanctuary. But the highlight of all excursions is the Moonlight of Sonata, which involves rafting on full moon nights.
Parambikulam wildlife Sanctuary In Kerala (110 km from Palakkad):
Sprawled across 285 sq. Km, the Parambilkulam Wildlife Sanctuary is home to rare wild animals. Boating/cruising facilities are available at the parambikulam Reservoir.
Silent Valley National park In Kerala (40 km Northwest of Mannarkad in Palakkad):
The 89.52 sq. Km national park is believed to be the sole surviving bit of evergreen forests in the Sahya Ranges. The peculiarity of the Silent Valley Forest is that it is devoid even of he chirping of cicadas.
Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary In Kerala:
Established in 1973, the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary encompasses an area of 344.33 sq.km and is made up of two discontinuous pockets - Muthanga in the south and Tholpetty in the north. Muthanga is located 18 km west of Sulthan Bathery while Tholpetty lies 15 km from Mananthavady.
Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary In Kerala (35 km from Thalassery in Kannur):
At this 55 sq. km sanctuary, nature walks, soft trekking, bamboo rafting, coracle boating, stay at three houses in Pariputhodu and Bhoothamkallu etc. are possible.