A Walk Through the Villages in Wayanad

Wayanad in Kerala, is a popular tourist destination, with thousands of travellers reaching here, to explore and revel in its untainted natural beauty. Wayanad is picturesque and beautiful all year round. Perennial streams and waterfalls, luxuriant greenery, pleasant weather, green-carpeted hills, misty environs, exotic flora and fauna.

Nestled in the Western Ghats this place is a piece of paradise; its scenic beauty is unparalleled. Wayanad is a few kilometers away from Bangalore and the region is filled with natural beauty, flora and fauna. The beautiful trekking routes make this place a treat for adventure seekers.

One of the best-preserved gems of Kerala, Wayanad is cozily perched atop the Western Ghats in northern Kerala and is one of the most favored destinations in the South. The rich environs here breathe life into you. The lush greenery is spread as far as the eyes travel and the cool weather here would surely make your monsoons lazy, cozy and quiet.

tribal tourism in Wayanad

Day 1

After leaving Kannur and our dream of a few days at the beach, the destination was Wayanad. Given the unexpected change of plans, we had to look for a place that would not deviate us from the route that would later take us to Karnataka. The options were not many or very interesting, so among all that we could choose we stayed with Wayanad because we read that it was, according to the inhabitants of the State, one of the most beautiful places in Kerala.

We spent practically the whole day on the road, although the distance was not very long, just over 100 kilometers. The roads were not good: many curves and traffic, ups and downs. And the uncertainty of where we could stay once there.

Wayanad is a reserve divided into two distinct zones. I found that in our guide, but had little information other than that it is divided into two zones, one on the border with Tamil Nadu and the other on the border with Karnataka. To this I have to add that our tour guide had been there a few times and he couldn't quite get where he was, so we went around a lot and crossed many villages that didn't look very interesting. In some we stopped to have a snack, in another to stretch our legs, a little further on to drink water.

Finally and after many searches we found a room to our liking at a village hotel. The truth is that we would have preferred something cheaper, but we didn't like what cost less and after the experience in Kannur it was clear to me that I wanted to be in a comfortable, clean and pleasant place. So they gave us a good price for the room even before telling them if they would reduce the rate for each of the two nights we would spend there. So ready, we had a room.

We agreed with our tour guide to go out the next morning and after getting settled in our room and giving ourselves a stretch of legs for a while we went out to dinner. There was nothing near the hotel, and the town didn't seem to offer anything interesting either, so we decided to go up to the hotel restaurant and have the buffet for dinner.

Then we went for a walk in the gardens and immediately noticed that the weather was milder than in other parts of Kerala, and that even putting on a jacket was feeling nice. Back in the room, it started to rain and we fell asleep with the window open (thanks mosquito nets!) listening to the water on the leaves of the trees.

Day 2

After a copious breakfast, we leave the hotel towards Pookode Lake, a place full of locals who come to spend the day, eat, ride a boat and take pictures with the trained elephants. It was not a very interesting visit but since it was so close to the hotel we did not want to miss it. The most exciting thing was that we saw a small shiny snake that the locals who were there told us was very poisonous.

When we left, it was time to set off to visit the Wayanad reserve, so we went to the part that our tour guide told us was closest to the hotel and was the area that borders Tamil Nadu: Muthanga.

Again, a lot of time in the car, a lot of traffic and many curves. Almost two hours to reach our destination, I couldn't believe it could take so long, but here things are like that, they have their own rhythm.

Once in Muthanga the adventure of entering the reserve began. There was no order to get the pass and many people crowded into a booth trying to buy tickets. I immediately realized that either I was making myself heard more than the folks there or after the whole story we would be left out because there is a daily quota of visitors.

So I pushed myself into all the folks who were struggling to get the passes. I think they were so surprised by my energy to make room for myself that I left everyone paralyzed and the goal of getting to the window was easier than I expected. But curiously, the staff at the window acted as if they didn't understand me or anything, maddening.

I began to speak very loudly and then, surprise!, they reacted. I got the attention, I put the fees in front of them. I told them that there were two of us and to give me the tickets. And I got it, although at that moment I was already quite annoyed by the poor organization of all that.

Once we had the passes, the matter of the car remained. Because you can't enter the reserve except in a jeep with permission. Each of them can fit between 8 and 10 people (it depends on how willing visitors are to squeeze in). The price of the jeep is paid by everyone, and here came another of the things that bothered me. One of the guards in charge of that topic told us that we were going to get into a jeep with a family of five people.

Perfect, it was now time to squeeze. The guide informed that the family paid half the amount, and we should pay the other half. I explained to them that the price of the car can be divided by seven, and I would pay two parts. The family should pay for five. Luckily everyone understood.

At that point we were ready to enter the reserve but we had to wait for all the people with assigned jeeps to enter before us. In total we spent three hours there waiting, with nothing to do, just that: wait.

Finally the time came and I took a seat next to the driver in the front. Behind is the family with a park employee armed with a shotgun. We were very disturbed if a tiger would attack us or if could we even see it up close.

We started the ride. A place without much attraction, some deer, some elephants quite far away. Nothing so interesting as to have spent five hours between traveling and waiting. What a disappointment! But suddenly the driver steps on the brake.

And he says “TIGER”. I looked at him as if saying “what a joke”. I didn't believe anything, I thought he was trying to add a little excitement to the boring ride. He was driving very slowly, switching off the engine, when suddenly just two meters from the road on the driver's side there was a beautiful leopard sitting and looking in our direction.

It was amazing, it was a big, bright specimen and prettier than I thought leopards would be live. He looked at us, bared his teeth, roared and walked off into the undergrowth. Everyone in the car was delighted, happy. Suddenly all the waiting to enter the reserve, the trip, everything had been worth it for those seconds.

The driver looked at me with a big smile and he asked me if I had taken a photo. I did not do it, nor did he give me time nor did I react. But I don't care. What matters is that I saw it in Wayanad and that image remains in my memory forever.

At the end of the walk we went looking for our tour guide to tell him excitedly the story of the leopard and he was happy for us and told us that we had been lucky. We all got into the car to return to the hotel, where we arrived almost at nightfall. Shower, dinner and rest. The next day we would go to another state: Karnataka.

Kalyan Panja