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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 59: Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary

INDIA | Thursday, 3 January 2008 | Views [972]

Thursday 3rd January

The night was a cold one, similar to those I experienced in the north of the country at the start of the trip, so my sleep wasn’t the most comfortable. After breakfast, Anja and I bought tickets for entry into the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, the main tourist attraction in the area. The guide book had suggested that, although tigers live within the park, sightings are rare, but that the chances of spotting elephants, monkeys and many types of birds were greater.

We took a guided walking tour of some of the vast park area (75,000 square kilometers), a fellow called Kibby taking the two of us around. The trek lasted three hours in total but, unfortunately, we saw very little in the way of wildlife; save for a few monkeys, a giant Malabar squirrel and a few birds, there was very little else observed over the walk. The closest we got to elephants was a few mounds of their rather large turds. Despite this, it was a very pleasant walk on a beautiful day through a remote and peaceful area, far away from the busy town. Birdsong played out amongst the trees and it was a particularly relaxing place to be. The exercise, although not exactly strenuous, was also welcome, and I began to once again remember what my legs are capable of after they spent so long out of any serious action in Goa!

After a fine feed of dhal fry, jeera rice and chappati for lunch, we took a boat trip on the lake (itself manmade in the nineteenth century). After the usual confusion and lack of information concerning exactly which boat we were supposed to take, we set off in the hope of seeing some wildlife walking along the shoreline. It didn’t start off too promising, with the odd bird or deer providing the only hint of life on the waters edge. Then, out of the blue, someone shouted ‘Elephants!’ and we looked over to see a family of about eight or nine elephants – all of different sizes including a calf – eating, drinking and playing at the shore of the lake. It was really a very special sight, to see these creatures free to wander where they liked, and such a beautiful, peaceful environment. We didn’t get too close so as not to scare them, but I was very happy to have seen them at all.

We moved on and saw a turtle jump into the lake (so special!) and also saw a bird that resembled a cormorant feeding its chicks on an old tree protruding from the middle of the water. However, we had seen what we had come for (well, we had come to see some tigers but that was always highly unlikely to actually happen), so we climbed off the boat and onto the shore, tired after an energetic day in the open air.

On the way back to the restaurant for dinner, we stopped at a few spice shops that line the road leading up to the park entrance. The area is a very important spice, tea and coffee producing area, and all types of produce are available to buy, and at very cheap prices. There is also a big emphasis on using these natural resources for ayurvedic treatments, something about which I know very little, but am very aware of how popular it is amongst western tourists. It was all very interesting, and I had a visit to some of the local plantations on my list of things to do.

After dinner, Anja and I attempted to book accommodation at our respective destinations of Madurai and Varkala, but we were largely thwarted by problems with the phone exchange in the area, so it was the same old shit, just a different town. It had been a very good day, busy and tiring, but also very satisfying, with the highlight undoubtedly the sighting of the group of elephants during the boat trip. It makes you wonder why there aren’t more places like Periyar to conserve wildlife as beautiful as this, as it’s important that everyone should get the chance to see something as awesome as this.

Tags: The Great Outdoors

 

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