The last belt of tropical rainforest in the Western Ghats, located at latitudes of 9.15° and 9.40°, and longitudes 76.55° and 77.25°, is the largest and the best known wildlife protected area of Kerala, which is the epitome of Bio-diversity in India. Here nature unwinds all its glory for sustaining wild life. The Periyar Tiger Reserve owes its name to River Periyar whose catchment area forms the major part of the Reserve, which is over 777 Sq. km.
Mother nature is most generous with rich genetic diversity of around 2000 species of flowering plants with more than 150 species of orchids, 171 grass species, a sizable number of them are endangered, endemic and rare. Not to mention the many that remains unknown, there are about 315 recorded species of Birds in the sanctuary including the endemic and endangered Great Indian Hornbill. Among the 62 species of mammals includes the majestic Tiger. More than 36 Tigers are present in the reserve. There are about 43 species of Reptiles. More than 160 species of Butterflies are recorded while many more remain unidentified.
The Ecosystem consists of rain forests, moist deciduous forests, subtropical savannas, grassland, marshy Vayals, lush evergreen forest crowded with grasslands and shola forests. It also harbours an aquatic ecosystem of 26 sq. kms formed in 1895 when Mullaperiyar Dam was built across the riverPeriyar. In 1978 Periyar was declared on Tiger Reserve under project tiger with 350 sq. km core zone, 427 sq. km buffer zone and 50 sq. km tourism zone.
About 5 lakhs of tourists visit Periyar Tiger Reserve every year.
To minimize the impact on the eco system only a maximum number of 20 people will be allowed to participate in the Tiger trail Programme every week. And only five visitors are allowed at a time.
The Programmes are one night / two days and two nights / three days. The camping sites are ideally located near water sources. The safety of the visitors are of highest importance hence all the trekking groups are accompanied by armed forest guards with communication facilities and are geared to face any emergency situation.
Although all precautions are taken to reduce the risk factors during trekking visitors should be alert. An encounter with wild animals and poachers are a possibility. As the terrain will be unfamiliar to the visitor, physical injuries are probable. And visitors should also be prepared for minor sickness.
The undulating terrain ranges between 600- 2000 meters above sea level with Kottamalai being the tallest peak at 2019.
The Trekking Programme
The Trekking Programme starts at 12.00 noon on the first day and ends by noon on the second/third day. Normally about 20 km trekking distance will be covered, though it go up to 35 kms depending on the trail chosen.
Usually it may take about 4 hours to reach base camp. Enroute vegetarian lunch may be prepared and served. One may get a chance to encounter many indigenous Birds and mammals like Nilgiri Langoos, Sambar deer, Wild Boar, Indian Goat, Malabar Giant Squirrel, Elephants etc During the trek, one will be crossing grass lands, teak forest and a wide variety of tropical trees and flowering plants.
Your Escort/Guide is competent enough to explain details about these. Normally , the camp site is near to a water source. Accommodation will be in Tents pitched by your Guides/Escorts. The Tents are with side openings for safety and where the base camp has trenches, closed tents are also available.
The armed forest guards and your escorts will be staying near you in a separate tent. Some members of the team will be staying awake vigilantly, watching over nocturnal animal activities.
Watch the starlit night sky of the tropical rainforest, listen to the cacophony of myriads of crickets, frogs and nocturnal birds, watch the preparation of ethnic cuisine & have a sumptuous dinner under the million stars.
Listen to the unusual adventurous stories about the encounters of former poachers, now donning a different role.
Interaction with the natives will be a unique experience one can cherish always, which is only possible with Tiger Trail Programme.
By watching the first rays of Sun, filtering through the misty mountains and the orchestra of thousands of beetles and birds, one gets an unadulterated impression of the different moods of mother nature.
After the simple breakfast, start the trekking through the forest, looking and learning, observing animals and birds in their natural environment. Some of them are most endangered and on the verge of extinction, which are now conserved and sustained for the next generation. A walk through the jungles offers an unforgettable opportunity for the visitors to have a first hand experience of the harmony and extra ordinary beauty of Mother nature.